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Friends of the E.B.Williams Law Library

Fall 2014 Newsletter

Mass Murder, Mayhem and Hangings...
Special Collections gets Spooktacular!

In the spirit of all things spooky, creepy and otherwise ghastly, the following is a horror story straight from the Georgetown Law Library Special Collections vault.

All good horror stories start out as, “one fine and pleasant day,” but Saturday the 7th of July, 1838 turned out to be a gruesome day in Greensburg, Kentucky for Lucinda White and her family, who were brutally murdered, along with the family horse, for their money and possessions.

The Story of Lucinda White (Image 1)

Carrington Simpson, Pleasant Saddler, and Jason Bell had agreed to help Lucinda White and four members of her family move to Alabama. Instead, they murdered the Whites, deposited their bodies in an abandoned cabin on Simpson’s land, and covered the bodies with tobacco stalks.

It wasn’t until 18 months later, when a family member was unsuccessful in contacting the Whites in Alabama and the clothes of the White family were seen being worn by Simpson’s family, that the suspicion of foul play was considered.

Simpson was known to be a man into his drink, “petulant,” and “a general wrong-doer . . . terror to the neighborhood in which he lived.” (William B. Allen, A History of Kentucky 402 (Louisville, Ky., Bradley & Gilbert 1872)). He was arrested in March of 1840 and admitted to the crime, after a search party discovered the bodies. Saddler and Bell were both arrested shortly thereafter as a result of being implicated by Simpson.

All three men were sentenced to death by hanging, but Saddler and Bell escaped their sentences and would die in jail. It was rumored that Saddler smothered Bell in their jail cell and then hung himself. Justice was served to Simpson though, who was led to the gallows on the 21st of September 1841. Of some unique interest, the executioner, James B. Montgomery, charged $5.00 for the gallows and $1.00 for the rope according to account books.

The Carrington Simpson case materials are a recent manuscript addition to the library’s growing collection of practitioner’s papers from the 18th and 19th centuries. The documents, which span 1840-1841, were compiled by Samuel A. Spencer, Simpson’s defense attorney. They include Simpson’s confession, attorney notes, lists of jurors, depositions of witness, account books, and diaries. The documents provide an interesting example of defense materials from the mid-19th century. Though the crime happened in a small town, the perpetrators were judged by two local justices before standing trial in circuit court.

The Story of Lucinda White (Image 2)

For more information regarding this collection and other historical collections please visit Special Collections in Williams 210 or contact Special Collections at

Happy Halloween from the Library!


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