GRANT COUNTY, INDIANA

Really Bad Men

MARION, Ind., Dec. v.—"Buck" McKinney, a Mexican war veteran, who was once noted as an outlaw and crook, died in the hospital at the Soldiers' Home to-day, aged seventy-four years. His funeral will take place tomorrow. There are many people in Southern Indiana who yet remember "Buck" McKinney. He was a sergeant of Company F, Third Indiana Infantry, during the Mexican war having enlisted at New Albany in June, 1846, and receiving a discharge at New Orleans a year later. He is  said to have distinguished himself in the battle of Buena Vista, He returned to Columbus, Ind., immediately. after the. war and his criminal career dates from then.

 He was first ,accused of stealing a horse from a business man, William Hayes, and although he was acquitted, many believed him guilty. This was in 1850. The court records a year later show that he was arrested for assaulting a woman, was charged with attempting * to commit murder, and with official contempt. He managed to clear himself of these and many other charges in the next few months, but "Buck" 'McKinney came to be looked on as a criminal of the worst class. In McKinney's company there was a man named Mike Emig. who became his friend and who played an important part in the tragedies of which he was the central figure.

On the 20th of November, 1857, he committed a murder, which with the supplemental events, was the talk of all that part of the 'State. "Buck" was walking along Washington street, in Columbus, Ind„ with a boot under his arm, when some one shot at him, but missed. McKinney was infuriated and would have killed the man had not Emig induced him to return home. Had it not been for a slight circumstance he probably would not have committed the murder. His wife wanted him to so for a bucket of milk, and he went. When he returned he was a murderer, but he brought the pail of milk home as if nothing had happened. As he walked up town on his errand a saloon keeper named Pettilott, whose son is serving a life sentence in the State's Prison for killing his wife, rushed from his saloon and fired at him. McKinney was not harmed, and he pursued his would-be murderer into his saloon. Jacob Rubrecht, a prominent German, tried to stop him and McKinney, thinking he was about to be attacked, shot Rubrecht in the forehead. He died two days later. After the shooting McKinney secured the milk he had been sent for and calmly walked home, the officers followed him, but he would not .give himself up for two hours, holding them at bay with drawn revolver. His friend Emig finally induced him to surrender, and he was placed in jail. The murder of Rubrecht created great excitement that nothing but the sight of McKinney dangling from a limb would appease. A mob was organized to take him out of jail and hang him, and it would have done so had not Emig appeared among them, and, after a strong speech to let the law take its course, persuaded them to go home.

But another attempt would have followed had not McKinney been taken to the jail at Madison. "Buck" escaped from the Madison jail and committed a number of depredations before he was retaken. He was placed in jail again at Columbus and closely guarded every night, as it was known that there were plans to lynch him. It was shortly before the trial that another thing occurred which greatly incensed the public against him. A new guard had been placed at the jail, and one night, seeing a man slipping by, he fired and killed him instantly. He thought ho was a member of a mob, but it happened that he was a friend of the sheriff returning home. McKinney -was tried for murder during the April term of court, 1857, and was found guilty of the crime in the first degree. His punishment was a great disappointment, as it was fixed at life imprisonment. He was taken to prison, and, although he was an orderly prisoner, he added another murder to. his list of crimes. McKinney, all through his career, had been noted for his "cleanliness". One morning, after he had drawn a bucket of water, a convict, who was especially dirty, dropped a cup into the water and reached for it with a filthy hand. This so enraged McKinney that he struck the man several times with a knife which he happened to have in his hand, and the unfortunate convict lived but a short time. McKinney was not  punished for this crime, as he was already under life sentence.

After a few years he became a trusty and friends began a move to get him a pardon. Mr. Emig started a petition and 0. 0. Staley, at that time with the Louisville Courier-Journal, at Louisville, and Washington correspondent for that paper at present, who had made "Buck's" acquaintance, helped him. finally they succeeded in getting Governor Hendricks to sign a pardon. It was the last official act of the late Governor, as he placed his name to the paper a few minutes before hip tenure of office expired. After McKinney returned to Columbus he was constantly in trouble and once nearly lost his life. A man named John Miller shot him through the right arm in self-defense. His son was compelled to whip him nearly to death to protect his mother. McKinney was then growing helpless from the rough life he had led, and friends secured him a place at the Soldiers  home at Dayton, O. He was transferred to the home here in 1890, and was in the hospital nearly all the time. His son made one visit, but "Buck" showed his dislike so plainly that he never showed his dislike so plainly that he never returned. He spent most of his pension buying presents for other soldiers He was kept alive for  nearly three years on alcoholic stimulants.
Contributed by Janice Rice




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