Fri, Jan. 17

1899 ATROCIOUS MURDERS: Some Information About Black Jack.

"PREPARING TO TRY BLACK JACK: A Number of Witnesses in the Case Have Arrived in Las Vegas."

"The following witnesses for the United States, in the Tom Ketchum (Black Jack) case, arrived Tuesday from the north: H. D. Lewis and Geo. W. Tinsworth, both deputy sheriffs of Las Animas county, Colo., who stood guard over Ketchum while at Trinidad, shortly after his capture; the entire engine and train crews that were on the train at the time that Ketchum attempted the hold-up near Folsom composed of Engineer Kirtchdriher, Fireman Skinlin, Conductor Frank Harrington and his two brakemen, and the postal clerk who was wounded by Ketchum. Harrington is the man who shot Tom Ketchum. He used a short shot gun, the buckshot with which it was loaded taking effect in the left arm of the robber, just above the elbow, lacerating the arm so badly, that it had to be amputated later. Conductor Harrington received a pistol wound from Ketchum, the ball taking effect in the conductor's arm. Mr. Harrington stated that the postal clerk was shot by Ketchum about five minutes before Ketchum was wounded. He said that owing to the darkness he held off taking a shot at any one until he was positive of his man, and as the train crew, postal clerk, head brakeman and Ketchum were apparently huddled up near the engine, he was afraid he would shoot the wrong man. Ketchum was about fifteen feet from Harrington when the latter fired and both men fired at the same instant. Had the conductor's aim not proved effective it is probable that there would have been a number of dead railroad men lying around the engine and a Black Jack still puzzling the officers."

"Harrington is the man who had been held up once or twice before by bandits and who made up his mind that he would not be again. He had accordingly taken out $10,000 of life insurance, made his will and securing a shot gun proceeded to load it with buck shot, taking it with him on his trips, fully determined that when he was held up again either his wife would be $10,000 better off in hard cash and in a position to choose another husband, or there would be a train robber or two less and he did not have to wait long before an opportunity presented itself and the greatest outlaw of them all was in the hands of the law, although the insurance company came very near having to pay out the $10,000. --- 'Optic'"

"HE PLEADS GUILTY: News reached Albuquerque last night that the notorious bandit, murderer and train-robber, Tom Ketchum, had plead guilty to the charge of holding up the United States mails and was taken back to the penitentiary at Santa Fe last night. He will probably be sentenced for life. By this step he saves himself a hanging, for train-robbery in New Mexico is made a capital offense."

(Albuquerque Daily Citizen; November 16, 1899; page 3.)

"MORE ABOUT BLACK JACK: He is Recognized as one of the Murderers of Young Herezstein, at Liberty."

"When Tom Ketchum was taken to the train Thursday by United States Marshal Foraker and Deputy Marshal Hall in a hack, the train being a little late, a curious crowd gathered around the hack to get a look at the boldest robber and murderer that has operated in New Mexico since the days of Billy the Kid, says the Las Vegas 'Optic.' But Black Jack was not in the humor to stand on exhibition and drew his hat over his face while he remained in the carriage and when he walked to the train threw his overcoat over his head. He is a big man, almost as large as the worthy United States marshal. While at the train the only person who he deigned to talk to was a one-armed man who was standing in the crowd and whom he asked where his arm was taken off, saying that his own was taken off at the shoulder."

"Among those who were in the court room Thursday when Ketchum pleaded guilty was a Mexican who was working for young Herezstein at the time that Herezstein and another employe, a Mexican, were killed at Liberty two years ago. This man recognized Ketchum as one of the murderers who after killing Herezstein and the other man came up to where the bodies lay to see if they were dead. He says he had thrown himself on the ground and feigned death, and Ketchum, after examining the other two bodies came up to where he lay and rolling him over remarked to his companion who was doubtless Sam Ketchum: 'I wonder if he is dead; I have a notion to put a ball through his head anyway.' Whereupon Sam replied, 'O, let him alone he's dead enough.'"

"It is said that Black Jack has killed no less than fifteen men during his murderous career and with the evidence against him on three or four different charges, for which he can be tried, it is difficult to see how he can hope to escape for many months more the fate of wearing a hempen cravat, with one end tied to a beam."

(Albuquerque Daily Citizen; November 18, 1899; page 2.)

There were conflicting physical descriptions of the murderer at Camp Verde as time passed. At first, the physical description reported his height as 5 feet, 2 inches or 5 feet, 3 inches. Later, the height was described as 5 feet, 10 inches. However, Tom Ketchum was a large man whose height was 6 feet, 2 inches.

See: Verde Independent; "A Real Whodunnit: Camp Verde's 1899 Wingfield-Rodgers Murder;" by Steve Ayers; March 24, 2009.

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