The Sardis Murder

Full Partieulars[sic] Obtained on the Ground

The Murder, the Escape, the Pursuit, and the Capture

Verdict of the Coroner’s Jury

This article appeared July 20, 1875 in the Spirit of Democracy, Woodsfield, OH


In the town of Sardis, this county, on Saturday, the 17th [July 1875], was perpetrated one of the most brutal murders that has ever occurred within our county limits, and there have been some committed that people thought could hardly be surpassed for cold-blooded brutality.

Finding that it would be impossible to obtain a correct version of the affair without visiting Sardis, we, on Monday, in company with Mr. O. F. Little, drove down and obtained the following particulars:

On the day above mentioned, George and Benjamin Barker, brothers, residents of Jackson township, went to Sardis, as has been their custom, at times, for years past, to have a carouse. After their arrival in town, they obtained liquor at a shop kept by Mrs. Presentine, her husband being in jail at the time for violating the liquor law.

Soon afterward they each offered to two citizens fifty cents if they would persuade John Michel to come out of his house. About 5 o’clock in the evening they went into Michel’s liquor shop, which is in the basement of his dwelling, and called for liquor. Michel refused to let them have any, when they commenced cursing and abusing him.-

Michel passed ‘round his counter  and succeeded in getting them out of the door, which he immediately locked.- They remained standing near the door, keeping perfectly quiet, and in a few moments Michel unlocked and opened it, thinking, no doubt, that they had gone, when both men sprang upon and shoved him aside, and then commenced a desperate fight in the cellar.

Fight in the Cellar.

George Barker picked up a chair and struck Michel, knocking him down. He then jumped upon him and stamped him in the face and upon the body in a most brutal manner, crushing in several of his ribs on the right side, and injuring him on other parts of his body. At the time George engaged Michel, Ben Barker caught Mrs. Michel by the throat and was choking her, but before he had injured her very badly, Mr. Alex McGrew, who had been called in, pulled him away from her, and when released she struck Ben a heavy blow across the head with a poker, cutting it severely, and from which blood flowed quite freely. Mr. James Havely took George off of Michel, and with Mr. McGrew’s assistance, succeeded in getting both men out of the door and up the steps to the street.

Outside they commenced cursing and swearing and throwing stones through the widows of the house. They threw a box through a window, tore a shutter off, wrenched three palings off the gate and threw them in with great violence and also threw large stones in; for a while it appeared to the citizens as though the fiends from the lower regions had been loosened, so terrible was the uproar.

When the Barker’s retired from the cellar, Michel went through a back door, up stairs and procured a single barreled shot-gun and came out the front door into the street, where the Barker’s were, for the purpose of protecting his property. He struck at George Barker a feeble blow with his clubbed gun, but missed him, when George seized hold of it and then ensued a tussel for its possession. While they were engaged Ben Barker picked up a stone about 11 inches long, 3 inches wide and 1 ˝ inches in thickness and threw it, striking Michel on the right side of the face, breaking his jaw bone and knocking him down. The force with which the stone was thrown broke it about one-third off. This blow caused him to release his hold of the gun when George Barker Swung it ‘round, and brought it down on Michel’s head just behind his left ear, crushing in the skull, making a hole as large as a silver dollar, and producing a fracture of 9 inches in length across the crown to just above his right eye.

The Barkers then paraded the street, back and forth for more than a quarter of an hour swearing what they could do, and what good men, physically, they were, after which they started for home, taking Michel’s gun with them. A short distance up the street Ben drew his knife and started back swearing he would have Michel’s


Heart’s Blood.

But George prevailed upon him to go on and let him alone. Near William Faggert’s, three-fourths of a mile below town, George threw the gun over the fence into the weeds. It was afterwards found by Mr. Faggert, and proved to have been empty when Michel came onto the street with it.


The Murdered Man

Michel, after the Barker’s had left, was placed on a lounge and carried through a gate way to the rear of his house. Mr. Koenig asked him if he was suffering much, and where the greatest pain was. Notwithstanding the fact that he was almost wholly unconscious, and pressed it down on his side upon his broken and crushed ribs, and uttered in guttural tones something like “h-e, her,” as though trying to say “here.”

Michel’s suffering’s were terrible, at one time he raised himself to a sitting posture, and almost instantly fell back. Dr. Roe was called, but could do nothing to relieve him. He expired within an hour after being struck with the gun in the hands of George Barker.


The Barker’s Return

At Mr. Faggert’s, the Barker’s concluded to return to town for their hats and Ben’s coat, which had been left on the ground in from of Michel’s house. They compelled Mr. Faggert to accompany them.

They entered town with stones in their hands, and George had a knife drawn. Mr. A. R. Bridgman informed them that Michel was dead and they replied that they didn’t care a G___d  d___n. they had sent him to Heaven in a hand basket.


An Attempt to Arrest Them

They recovered their hats and coat, and were on their way up the street again, and had reached Mr. Brannan’s store, or near there, when two officers, accompanied by not less than 20 other citizens, approached them and announced that they proposed to arrest them. Ben replied, “all right” George swore and oath and remarked to Ben, “ let’s run.” They dropped the stones they were armed with and started. Up Street they ran, the citizens following, firing at them with revolvers. Opposite Mr. J. M. Goodwin’s store they turned into a lane leading towards Mr. Jas. Nesbitt’s new house; the firing still kept up. George was hit by one shot in the left hip, inflicting a pretty deep but not dangerous flesh wound. Ben was hit twice, once in the left shoulder, the ball glancing ‘round under his left arm and stopping nearly over the region of his heart just under the skin; the other ball struck him in the left shoulder embedding itself, but making only a flesh wound.


George Barker Arrested.

 The shots failed to stop them, and at the end of the lane both men climbed the fence leading to Mr. Nesbitt’s house, passed it, and hid in a corn field just below the house. After searching for some considerable time George was found. His captors told him to get up and come along that he had killed Michel. He swore that he hadn’t killed anybody, and didn’t know what they meant. He was taken to town, securely chained in the shoe shop adjoining Mr. John Harmon’s hotel, and a guard placed over him. Ben could not be found, although his pursuers were sure that he was concealed in the corn field. About an hour and a half after the return of the pursuing party to town, Ben crawled out of some tall grass, made his way down to Mr. Faggert’s, got on his horse, and started home, but from reports that came from the neighborhood of his home the following day, he failed to reach there that night, perhaps purposely, and laid out in the woods all night.

On Sunday, the 18th, two men came into Sardis, and reported that when Ben hid in the corn field he pulled some long grass over himself, and laid still; one man stepped over him, that then he thought they would certainly find him, and not less than a dozen were close to him; and further that Dr. Dally, of Antioch, had attended him that morning and extracted the balls.

Constable John Shrive, of Ohio township was sent for on Sunday morning,(Lee township not having a Constable, both of those elected last Spring refusing to serve) and given a warrant for Ben Barker’s arrest. In the afternoon, accompanied by five men, he went to Ben’s house, and was shown Dr. Dally’s written certificate that Ben was not in a condition to be moved. The officer did not see him, neither did his posse, but it was their impression that he was concealed not far away.

Some of the friends of Ben, who saw him after the murder was committed, state that he declared that he would never be taken alive- that he had been in the penitentiary once, and that he would take his own life before he would ever go there again.


The Body

In company with Mr. Jas. Nesbitt and Mr. James Havely, we went into a shed, or kichen, in the rear of Michel’s house to see the remains. The body was in a large pine box, and was packed in ice. We did not look at his face, it being wrapped about with a sheet, but was informed that it was fearfully swollen and distorted.

John Muhleman, Esq., of Ohio township, Coroner of the county, was sent for on Sunday morning, the 18th, to hold an inquest upon the remains of Michel. The following citizens were empanneled and sworn to inquire and present in what manner he came to his death:

M. Brenna, Jas. Nesbitt, Jacob Bumbarger, John Thompson, Christian Koenig and R.T. Richardson.

After an examination of the following names witnesses, Dr. J. A. Boice, Dr. T.J. Roe, Alex McGrew, Christian Koenig, Jacob Drollinger and James Havely, and viewing the body, the jury returned the following verdict:

“We the undersigned Jurors, empanneled and sworn on the 18th day of July, in the year 1875, at the Township of Lee, in the County of Monroe, and State of Ohio, by John Muhleman, Coroner in and for said County, to inquire and true presentment make, in what manner, and by whom, Hans Michel, whose body was found at his residence in Sardis, Monroe County, Ohio, on the 17th day of July, in the years 1875, came to his death. After having heard the evidence, and examined the body, we do find that the deceased came to his death by violence, and that said body has on it the following marks and wounds, inflicted by George Barker and Ben Barker, (known to the jury) as follows:

Wounds on back part of head and back of ear on left side of head, also contusion on left side in region of Floating Ribs, also contusion on right cheek bone, and which the Jury do find caused the immediate death of said Hans Michel whose body was found as afore said.  Given under our hands, at the time and place of said inquisition above mentioned.”      Signed by the Jury.

In Jail

Monday morning, the 19th, officer Shrieve and five guards, all well armed, placed George Barker in a wagon, chained him securely, and started by the way of Baresville to Woodsfield, where they arrived about noon and committed their prisoner to a cell in the jail.


The Funeral

 The funeral of John Michel took place on Tuesday, the 20th. The remains were interred at the Zion Lutheran Church, four miles back of Baresville, in Ohio Township, and were followed to the grave by a procession nearly a mile in length.


George Barker’s Statement

          We went to the jail on Friday and inquired of George Barker if he had any objections to giving his version of the killing of Michel. He replied that he did not know much about it. He gave us the following:

          After we got to town I bought one glass of liquor at Presentines, and drank it. Don’t know how much wine I drank there. Ben bought half a pint of liquor at Schaubs; helped to drink that. Don’t know when we went to Michels. I mind something about Michel telling us to go away when we first went into his place; don’t remember anything about the fight with Michel in his shop.

Do you remember what occurred after you went up the steps from Michel’s shop?

No sir, I don’t. Can’t tell whether I could walk straight or not. If I could remember that I could remember something more about the affair. If parties in Sardis had not told me what had been done, I would not have known anything about it.

From the above it appears that George has no recollection of the difficulty with, and the killing of Michel, or at least that he is unwilling to communicate what he knows.


Monday morning, the 19th, when the officers were getting ready to leave Sardis for Woodsfield, with Geroge Barker, one of the men engaged in the murder of John Michel, he remarked, “boys I would not have been here if I had not returned for my hat Saturday night, but whisky is the cause of all of this.”

Reward- The County Commissioners off a Five Hundred Dollars for the apprehension and confinement in county jail of Benjamin Barker, charged with the murder of John Michel at Sardis, Monroe County, Ohio, July 17, 1875. See notice in another Column.

Our Baresville correspondent informs us that considerable ill feeling was manifested by the friends, at the funeral, of John Michel, on the 20th, caused by remarks of the officiating minister, the Rev. E. Huber. During the discourse he referred to his course in life, his terrible death, and unbelief in the existence of God, when the friends left the church and exhibited bad feeling in their acts and conversation. Considerable excitement prevailed for a time, but quiet was restored and the ceremonies concluded with further difficulty.

On Sunday, the 18th, the ladies of the town of Sardis, visited the liquor sellers in that place and gave them notice that they must quit selling intoxicating liquors against Wednesday, the 21st. The citizens are determined to sustain the ladies in the movement. Monday evening the boat from Wheeling put off some freight in the shape of jugs filled with liquors for Presentines doggery, the ladies repaired to the wharf and demolished the entire lot, allowing the whisky to run, where it would not cause delirium and murder- into the Ohio river.

Spirit of Democracy, Woodsfield, Ohio

August, 3, 1875

Page 2

Two men are now occupying murderers’ cells in our jail, for the pleasure they could get out of a pint and a half of whisky. It is too high a price.

Spirit of Democracy, Woodsfield, Ohio

August 3, 1875

Page 3.

Arrest of Benjamin Barker- Committed to Jail on Friday, the 30th.

At 10 o’clock Friday morning the 30th, Mr. John Hathorn and Mr. William Hoburg arrived in town with Benjamin Barker, charged with the murder of John Michel, at Sardis, this county, on Saturday the 17th. We gathered from them the following particulars:

Ben remained in the neighborhood up to Wednesday evening, the 28th, when he went to a friends near Maramoras, in Washington county.

The morning of the 30th, at 5 o’clock he came to the house of Mr. Hoburg to advise with him as to the best course to pursue. Mr. Hoburg and Mr. Hathorn advised him to give himself up and they would pledge themselves to look after his family. He replied that he had determined to not be taken by force, and that he regarded them as being his friends and would take their advice, they being members of the Grange, to which Order he belonged; and would leave his wife and children to their car and protection. He then permitted them to arrest him and was committed as above stated.

The reward offered by the County Commissioners for the arrest and delivery of the accused, at the jail of the county, was $500, which cannot be paid until the meeting of the Board in September.

From the remarks of Mr. Hoburg and Mr. Hathorn we were led to infer that the $500 will be paid to Ben’s wife for the support of herself and children. Taking everything connected with the arrest into consideration, this would be the proper disposition to make of the money.

Spirit of Democracy, Woodsfield, Ohio

August 3, 1875

Three families in this county have been deprived of their protectors within the past month, and all brought about by intoxicating liquors. They are the families of George and Benjamin Barker and John Michel. The latter was murdered by the first named, who are now confined in jail. Can any one deliver a more impressive temperance lecture?

A mistaken impression has got abroad concerning the members of the Barker family, that is, that they are habitually desperate and reckless characters. Such is not the case. The testimony of neighbors, who have lived near them for many years is, that when not in liquor they are as peaceable and law abiding citizens as can be found anywhere; but that they are reckless, as many other men are, when drinking.

Benjamin Barker was arraigned before Esq. Beard, of this township, Center, on the 31st, charged with assaulting John Michel with intent to kill. J. P. Sprggs, counsel for the defendant, entered a plea of “guilty” and waived an examination. The Justice required bond in the sum of $5,000 for his appearance at the next term of Court, in default of which he was committed to jail.

The County Commissioners [In Jefferson County] have ordered wire screens to be put on the inside of all windows and openings in the county jail, to prevent outside parties from conveying tools or other articles to the prisoners, and workmen are now carrying out the order. The best evidence of the fact that this is a wise precautionary measure is the conduct of the prisoners who are very indignant over the matter.- Cambridge Jeffersonian.

A very wise order: our County Commissioners should order wire screens placed over the cell openings in the jail of this county.

Spirit of Democracy, Woodsfield, Ohio

August 10, 1875

Page 2

We publish an interesting letter, this week, from Rev. J.A. Walters, in regard to the moral of the Sardis murder. We are promised further letters from him in the interest of sobriety and morality, which we shall gladly publish. Anything from Rev. Walters on these topics is invested with peculiar interest, by reason of unhappy circumstances known to many of our readers.

[Letter written for The Spirit of Democracy by Rev. Walters]

The Sardis Murder—Its Moral.

The Accounts, published in The Spirit, of this awful tragedy are truly sad and startling in the extreme. To me these accounts may be, and indeed necessarily must be more sadly interesting than to many others. They are remembrances of events which sorrow-stricken hearts would gladly forget. Nothing less than an earnest desire and hope to benefit some who may perchance read these lines, induces me to refer to occurrences so unpleasant to dwell upon.

Thirty eight years ago, my life on earth began shout midway between Woodsfield and Beallsville, and within the boundaries of Monroe County the greater part of my life has been spent especially my earlier years. Then and there my first acquaintances were made, friendships established and impressions received. Beneath her soil, three brothers, one sister, and as good a mother as God ever gave, now “sleep their last sleep”

These and other circumstances make whatever incidents that connect themselves with her history, whether they be of a prosperous or adverse character, all the more interesting and important to me. The springs and the rivulets, the hills and the fields, and also the woodlands of “Old Monroe,” my native county, will to me never lose their charms.

Whatever adds luster to her reputation on the one hand, or tarnishes it on the other, effects me accordingly, either pleasantly or sorrowfully, as it must every other person who feels for her welfare a like concern. Consequently, there is room for great grief on the part of all well wishers of their fellow citizens, over the bloody and brutally murderous deed recently committed at Sardis.

What does all this mean? And what is to be done to prevent a like occurrence? Let us pause and think a moment. The capturing of George Barker and his brother, Ben, and putting them through a course of law, may satisfy those who think and feel superficially respecting the moral status of society, but those who have a better appreciation of the demands of a high degree of civilization and Christianization will not be, and cannot be, so easily satisfied.

Reader, do you ask, “Are you in favor of lynching them?” I answer unequivocally NO. The Barkers are men. Very bad men, and as such, they must now be treated in harmony with the laws of the country of which they are citizens.

What have they done more than has been done several times before in Monroe County, even within my recollection? They got drunk, and thus became tools with which, in the hands of whisky sellers, to commit murder. In this case it happened that the victim was a liquor seller. I rejoice in no man’s death or injury, but feel much better satisfied with the result than if the victim had been some innocent woman or child, as is often the case.

Some one might suggest that there is one way in which the result might have been bettered, viz: by Mrs. M. dealing out such blows with that poker, on the pates of both murderers of her husband, as would have been to them also a constant quiet; after which she should have (should do so anyhow) at once declared her house no longer a sink-hole of vice, and deeply repented of having engaged in such a nefarious business, leading to such terrible ends.

But remember that George Barker declares he has no recollection of having done any violence to the unfortunate saloonist- Mr. Michel. This may be true. Of course there is but little confidence to be put in the word of either the seller or drinker of whiskey.- that is, respecting the traffic, for respecting other matter they may be as reliable as other people. But whether George Barker was conscious or not of the violence he was doing Mr. Michel, one thing I think may be safely affirmed of him, viz: Had he not been drunk he would not have committed the deed. As much might be affirmed of Ben Barker.

But you may say they always had the devil in them. Grant it; but they could always manage toe sober devil until he was reinforced by the drunken devil.

I tell you earnestly; and as one who can and does feel keenly and deeply on this subject, that most (nearly all, in Monroe County, were committed by whisky, Will someone tell us any one with which whisky had nothing to do? Ah, my fellow citizens and friends, these things ought not so to be,” But you ask what is to be done? That is the question now claiming the attention of every heart. With your indulgence, and that of the editor, I will consider it in my next. The above must suffice at present. – J. A. Walters., Bethesda, Ohio

Spirit of Democracy, Woodsfield, Ohio

August 24, 1875

From July 18th to August 14 there were three inquests held by the Coroner of this county, vis: John Michel, murdered; the child of Miss Suter, found dead, and the body of a child found in the Ohio river.

Second letter to the Editor of The Spirit written by Rev.J.A. Walters


Spirit of Democracy, Woodsfield, Ohio

August 24, 1875

It is presumed that no one who has due regard for truth and the feelings of the unfortunate will question the correctness of the allegation in my article, published in The Spirit of August 10,  that the Sardis murder and the murders generally that have been committed in Monroe county, have had their origin in drunkenness.

“Well, what of it, and what worse is she than other counties?” asks someone with an air of indifference. It is not my purpose to discuss the relative moral status of Monroe county, but it is my purpose to show that she has not yet done what the interests of the cause of moral reform require at her hands. She has not given that protection to the mural interests of her citizens especially of the innocent and helpless, that she could and should have extended over them.

There is another thing which it is not my intention to do: viz: to try to amuse the readers of the Spirit with temperance anecdotes. Or rather anecdotes about unfortunate and ruined inebriates. It occurs to my mind that the cause of sobriety and temperance has been damaged by an effort to please the public ear by sport making of that unforturnate class of our countrymen. Very poorly at least does it become a Minister of the gospel of that compassionate Redeemer whose heart was so easily touched by the miseries and weaknesses of man kind, to indulge” In fun making” at the expense of him concerning whom it is said in God’s Holy word, “No drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of Heaven.”

The charge that Monroe county has failed of duty as regards to the great questions of sobriety and morality may not be well taken by some, and without explanation is quite liable to be misunderstood.

As serious as it appears it could not easily be made more mild. If  there have been no such failures, how then can we account for the awful crimes committed, year after year, upon her soil? And how can we hope for anything better in the future? And why urge reformation in the pulpit or through the press, if there be no room for it?

But it is a foregone conclusion that those bloody deeds would not have been committed had it not been for drunkenness. If this conclusion be not correct, let it be shown to be incorrect. Boldly and yet kindly does it challenge investigation. Probably no one will be found who will dare day that Craig, Henderson, or any one of the notorious Barkers, with others who might be mentioned as Monroe county’s murderers, not even excepting the money loving Daniel Salisbury, would have ever been accused of murder had it not been for the great evil that I do most earnestly desire to help talk down, write down, pray down and also force down.

As drunkenness is a most fruitful cause of murder, than which there is no greater crime, if follows that any community will prevent much of the latter by removing the former- it’s acknowledged fruitful source.

“To do this is a consummation greatly to be wished.” To be indifferent respecting such a result seems to me would not be very commendable to any one.

In thus finding security against like occurrences, namely, by the destruction of their most fruitful cause, we are naturally led to consider the various influences and causes which tend to drunkenness itself. In the investigation of these the reader will likely see the main respect in which it is regarded that the people of “Old Monroe” have not done righteously.

But as I desire not to be tedious at any one writing, nothing more will be added at present.- J.A. Walters, Bethesda, Ohio

Spirit of Democracy, Woodsfield, Ohio

September 7, 1875

At this writing there are five persons confined in the county jail, charged with murder, rape, and horse stealing, vis: George and Benjamin Barker, charged with murder; Winfield S. Troy and John A. Messerly, charged  with rape, and Barney O’Frail, charged with horse stealing. A girl named Suter, a resident of Lee township is under bond for her appearance at Court on the charge of killing her infant child, making in all six State cases for the next term of Court, which does not convene until November 30th. This county has not had such a fearful crime calendar in any one year before, since the close of the war.

Spirit of Democracy, Woodsfield, Ohio

December 7, 1875

George and Benjamin Barker have not, to this writing, Monday morning, been arraigned in Court, but we have been informed by J. P. Spriggs, Esq., one of their counsel, that the trial of one of the accused will be fixed for Monday, the 13th.

Spirit of Democracy, Woodsfield, Ohio

December 7, 1875

Report of the Grand Jury

The Grand Jury returned into Court, the afternoon of the 4th, and submitted the results of their investigation, which is as follows:

 George Barker and Benjamin Barker, indicted jointly for murder in the second degree.

Spirit of Democracy, Woodsfield, Ohio

December 7, 1875

Sixty-six witnesses were summoned to appear before the Grand Jury last week. Twenty-one witnesses were examined by the jury in the case of George and Benjamin Barker.

Spirit of Democracy, Woodsfield, Ohio

December 14, 1875

George and Benjamin Barker, indicted for murder in the second degree, were arraigned in Court the 7th, and both entered their pleas of “not guilty” The case of George Barker was set down for the 13th, and that of Benjamin Barker for the 15th.

On Monday, the 13, at 1 o’clock p.m., the Court ordered the prisoners, George and Benjamin Barker indicted for murder in the second degree, to be brought into Court.

N. Hollister, Esq., of the attorney’s for the defence,[sic] requested leave of the Court to withdraw the plea of “Not guilty” heretofore made in each case, and to enter a plea, in each case, of guilty of manslaughter. With the consent of the Court, the Prosecutor accepted said pleas.

In view of the fact that there was thought to be a difference existing as to the guilt of the parties, the Court ordered five witnesses examined in order to determine the matter; after which the prisoners were remanded to jail to await sentence; the law fixes the sentence at from one to ten years confinement in the Penitentiary.

Spirit of Democracy, Woodsfield, Ohio

December 14, 1875

There was an apparent feeling of relief about the court-room when it was learned that the Grand Jury had found a bill against the Barker brothers for murder in the second degree, and not the first.

Spirit of Democracy, Woodsfield, Ohio

December 21, 1875

In the cases of Ohio vs. George and Benjamin Barker, the State subpoenaed 27 and the defendants 69 witnesses.

Spirit of Democracy, Woodsfield, Ohio

December 21, 1875

Judge D. D. T. Cowen, of St Clairsville, was in attendance at Court last week. He was employed by the friends of the Barker brothers to assist in their defense. The other attorneys for the defense were Hollister & Okey and J. P. Spriggs, Esq. The prosecution was represented by the Prosecuting Attorney and W. F. Hunter, Esq.

Spirit of Democracy, Woodsfield, Ohio

December 21, 1875

Sheriff Little will take Barney O’Fries, George Barker and Benjamin Barker to the penitentiary this week.

Spirit of Democracy, Woodsfield, Ohio

December 21, 1875

When George and Benjamin Barker, charged with the murder of John Michel, came into Court the 13th, they were accompanied by their wives and five little children. Mrs. George Barker, having three and the other two children. The women were distressed and care worn, and there was not a man present that what pitied them, and felt that they would, if they could, spare them from further distress and trouble.

Spirit of Democracy, Woodsfield, Ohio

December 21, 1875

Sentence of George and Benjamin Barker

In Court on the 18th, George Barker, indicted for murder in the second degree, for the murder of John Michel, and who withdrew his plea of “not guilty” to the charge, and entered a plea of guilty of manslaughter, was sentence to confinement in the penitentiary for a period of seven years. In answer to the Court whether he had anything to say why sentence should not be pronounced, the prisoner shook his head.

Benjamin Barker indicted for the same crime, was sentenced to the penitentiary for a period of six years. In response to the inquiry whether he had anything to say why the sentence should not be pronounced, the prisoner said: “I never intended to kill the man; never had that in me to kill a man.”

The Court thought that had the prisoner not yielded to the desire for strong drink, he would not be in the position he was. The prisoner responded: “Yes, I am satisfied of that, too.”

Spirit of Democracy, Woodsfield, Ohio

December 28, 1875

The costs in the case of Ohio vs. Benj. Barker, before F. M. Beard, Esq., were allowed by the Commissioners, as follows:

F.M. Beard, $7.10; Sheriff Little, $29.90; guards, J.M. Hall $4.50, D. Conger $4.50, M. Baker, $3.00. Nine witnesses from Lee and Ohio townships, $13.75. Total $62.75.

We present the above because of the report that Esq. Beard’s fees in the case amounted to $62.75. The statement furnished ought to send that report to it’s little bed.

Spirit of Democracy, Woodsfield, Ohio

January 11, 1876

[From Malaga, Ohio, Dec 29 1875- Letter to Ed Spirit]

People here expressed surprise at the result of the Barker case; thy think Pearson was easy to compromise with. 

Justice to Prosecutor Pearson demands an explanation of his action in the Barker cases. The day set for the trial of George, the Prosecutor informed the Court of the evidence in his possession, and when the plea of “not guilty” of murder in the second degree was withdrawn, by both the accused and pleas of guilty of manslaughter entered. Mr. Pearson stated distinctly that with the consent of the Court he would accept them. – Publisher Spirit.

Spirit of Democracy, Woodsfield, Ohio

February 1, 1876

Allowed John Hathorn and William Hoburgh $ 500, for the Delivery of Benjamin Barker to the Sheriff of Monroe County.

Spirit of Democracy, Woodsfield, Ohio

February 1, 1876

The reward money, $ 500, paid to Mr. John Hathorn and Mr. William Hoburgh, by the County Commissioners, for the delivery of Benjamin Barker at the county jail, will be paid by those gentlemen to Mrs. Barker for the support of herself and children. Both gentlemen informed parties here, when they brought Mr. Barker to jail, that they had agreed to pay her every cent of the money. As they are both honorable men it is fair to presume that they have paid Mrs. Barker the $ 500. She needs it.


Provided by Susan Kay Dierkes Miller