Penn Trails

Somerset County Newspaper Articles About Crime


The Murder of James Pollock by John Pascal Arnaud and Noel Hugus

The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), February 4, 1807

Bedford, January 27

We had prepared for this day's paper, a lengthy statement of the horrid murder, committed on the Allegheny mountain, in Somerset county, on Friday last; but, as we understand, by a letter, received in town last night, from a gentleman (a professed friend of ours) in Somerset, giving a detailed and circumstantial account of the transaction, that many parts of our statement (which was gathered from common report) was erroneous; and, as the writer has, by an injunction laid on the gentleman, to whom the letter is addressed, for reasons best known to himself, prohibited the Editor (and he alone) from a perusal thereof; we shall only, for the present, give publicity to the following FACTS.

It is well ascertained that Mr. James Pollock, son of Justice Pollock of Ligonier Valley, Westmoreland county, is the person murdered. He was shot through the body - his throat was cut open - and received thirteen stabs in the breast - where was found sticking, the blade of a knife.

The supposed murderers are Frenchmen, of the names of John Pascal Arnaud, and Noel Huguel; and the presumptive evidence of their guilt is unusually strong and convincing. They were taken after the most desperate resistance on their part, - which had liked to have proved fatal to some of their pursuers - and not until Arnaud had fallen. He was shot through the body, in the act of attempting to fire on those around him, and died in a few seconds afterwards. Huguel is now safely lodged in Somerset jail.

The names of these villains were first discovered by a perusal of protection, found in their pockets, signed by Mr. James Madison, secretary of state.

He hope that we shall be able (without the assistance of our Somerset friend,) to collect a full and correct statement of all the prominent facts relative to this shocking murder, for publication in our next Gazette.

The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), March 18, 1807

Noel Hugas, the Frenchman, charged with the murder of Mr. Pollock, was brought to trial as Somerset, on Wednesday the 24th ultimo. The trial commenced at 10 o'clock A.M. and continued without adjournment until about 1 o'clock on Thursday morning; when the jury retires, and at 7, returned with a verdict of "guilty of murder of the first degree."

On Friday, the prisoner received the awful sentence of death.

The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) April 8 1807

Bedford, march 24

Noel Hugus

We learn from Somerset, that Noel Hugus, who was lately convicted of the murder of David Pollock, is preparing himself for the awful fate that awaits him. He prays fervently and almost constantly - reading occasionally in his prayer book. He has painted a gallows on the jail wall, with a man hanging on it, over whom is written "Hugot." He has painted a Virgin Mary - an Altar, with candlesticks, a Cross, &c. so the Virgin he pays adoration, and chants hymns - kneeling before the Altar and Virgin alternately. He has also painted what he says is the likeness of his wife and children, which he frequently kisses. These are his daily exercises - persisting in his innocence and declaring his determination to die like a Frenchman.

The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) April 22 1807

Noel Hugus - Executed

On Saturday, the 11th inst., was executed at Somerset, Pennsylvania, pursuant to his sentence, Noel Hugus. He left the jail at about half an hour after 12 o'clock and was turned off a few minutes before one. He died with the greatest intrepidity - mounting the cart with alacrity - Just before he was turned off, he declared himself innocent - said he forgave every person, but Koontz and the others who assisted in taking him. He confessed he had attempted some time since, to hang himself by cutting up his shirt and twisting it into a rope - said he did not care about death - that he had faced it frequently but disliked the kind of death he was about to experience - gave directions about tying the rope around his neck, &c. It is thought that there were about 2,500 persons present. - Bedford Gazette.

Henry Dennison (or Pearson) Robbed and Stabbed

The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), Wednesday, May 4, 1808

Pittsburgh, April 19, 1808

On Monday the 11th inst. A man of the name of Dennison, traveling on foot in company with two Frenchmen, was attacked by them on the Allegheny mountain, not more than four hundred yards from the place where Mr. Pollock was killed about a year ago. One of the men first struck him in the forehead with a stone which knocked him down, then cut a large gash in his neck with a knife, and dragged him two or three perches from the road and supposing him to be dea, took ten dollars from his pockets and left him.

Fortunately those brutal savages, in their hurry had not succeeded in cutting any of the arteries in Mr. Dennison's neck and in a few minutes after they left him, he recovered sufficiently from the blow he had received, to make to a house four or five miles from the place he had been left by the Frenchmen; they had it is supposed, taken a circuitous route through the woods, as they came past the door of the house where Mr. Dennison was but a few minutes after his arrival.

A party was soon railed, who immediately apprehended them and took them before a justice, to whom they confessed the fact, and said they had had it in contemplation for three days previously. They are now in Somerset jail. He lived near Washington, in the state of Delaware, was coming out to see some relations in the state of Ohio, and first met with the Frenchmen at the Susquehanna river.

The Centinel (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), June 22, 1808

The two men (Jospeh Gouzles and John Patterson) who robbed and attempted to murder Mr. Henry Pearson on the Alleghany mountain, were tried at Somerset during the late court - both were convicted, and sentenced to ten years confinement in the penitentiary.

Attempted Mail Robbery

Gettysburg Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania)
November 27 1822 Page 3

Somerset, Pa., Nov. 20

We have been informed by a friend that an attempt was made, on the 18th instant, to rob the U. States' Mail, some place between Stoystown and Greensburg. The circumstances, related to us, are as follows: That a person was discovered by the stage driver proceeding from the woods, who immediately attempted to seize the bridle-reins of the leading horse; failing in this, he endeavored to stop the near wheet creature, by taking hold of the bridle, when, at this instant, the driver discharged a loaded pistol at him, when he was observed to fail, and the horses taking flight proceeded rapidly without further material accident. The moment the horses stared, a pistol or gun was discharged, the ball passing through the body of the stage, close to the driver. - Whig.

"Simon Drum, Esq., the Post Master at Greensburg, offers a reward of $100 for the apprehension of the persons who made the above attempt to rob and murder."

Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania)
July 2 1823 Page 3

Somerset, Pa. June 25

Three persons, residents of Bedford county, were committed to the jail of this county on Saturday evening last, suspected of having robbed Mr. Bagley of 3,960 dollars, on the 10th inst. A few miles east of Stoystown; the particulars of which robbery was given in our last. One of these persons was yesterday brought before his honour, Judge Black, on a wit of Habeas Corpus, and after a short hearing remanded back to prison; another hearing was had this day and the prisoner again remanded. --Whig.

Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) April 27, 1825

Somerset, April 20


On Sunday morning last, between 2 and 3 o'clock, the Lutheran Church, in this place was discovered to be on fire and in two hours this noble ornament, dedicated to the glory of God was laid in ashes.

The general opinion is that the fire was communicated by an incendiary who has not yet been discovered. On Monday last, $1068 and 25 cents was subscribed for re-building the Church; and $125 is subscribed by the citizens as a reward for the discovery and conviction of the perpetrator or perpetrators of this heinous offence. - Whig.

Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania), July 25, 1827
Somerset, (Pa.) July 18
Shocking Murder
It is this week our painful task to record one of the most atrocious and unprovoked murders that ever was perpetrated in this part of the country; at the recital of which, every humane and honest heart must shudder, and at the same time fill with indignation and revenge against its author, and those who would in the least degree attempt to screen the murderer from apprehension, or at all assist in his escape from that punishment which the offended laws of God, humanity and civilized people require.
The murder was committed in the meadow of George P.H. Walker, in Brothersvalley township, in this county, on the 11th inst., by Andrew Burns. The father of the deceased verbally communicated to the editor of this paper, the following account of the heart rending circumstance:
On the 11th instant, Christian Fritz, Daniel Shultz, George Shultz, Jr. and Andrew Burns were engaged mowing in the meadow of George P. H. Walker, the mowing of which was given out to Christian Fritz, who had employed the hands. In the forenoon George P. H. Walker went to the mowers & observed that Burns should point in lower. Burns replied that that was his way of mowing. Walker said no more, but went to his own work, which was mowing in another part of the meadow and altogether separate from the company names. About four o’clock in the afternoon, Walker took the hands some whiskey and water and again observed the Burns was pointing in too high and must do the work better. At this Burns became enraged and bantered him to fight. Walker replied that he would have nothing to do with him in that way, Burns stripped and struck Walker, when Walker threw him down, after which, Burns again struck him, when the hands present observed that Walker should go to the house, that Burns was in a rage and it would soon be over. At this suggestion, Walker made towards the house and passed the scythes. Burns at this instant picked up his scythe and made a pass at Walker which cut him to the bones in the arm, laid open his breast and side in so shocking a manner, that a part of his liver fell out and his inside laid open to view. Walker staggered a few steps, exclaimed O God, and fell, when Burns threw his scythe after him, as if it were to finish his victim. The attention of the persons present was at this time directed to Walker, who was carried to the house and shortly after expired. Burns in the meantime, picked up a part of his clothes and made his escape to the woods.
This is the relation of the distressed father, as near as we can recollect, and while he was reciting it, we could refrain from joining with him in dropping a tear, which fell in showers over his furrowed cheeks.
Burns has been able to elude detection, notwithstanding the vigilance of many worthy and meritorious citizens, who immediately turned out in pursuit of him and who have not yet given up the praiseworthy cause.
A reward of 200 dollars is offered for the apprehension of Burns, by the fall of the ill-fated George P. H. Walker, and we have no doubt but that the Executive of the State will offer such reward as this aggravated crime calls for. Burns is a native of Ireland, about five feet six or seven inches high, dark sandy hair, rather of a dark reddish complexion, sharp nose, speaks broad when not endeavoring to avoid it, and supposed to be 30 years of age, his clothes cannot be well described, but were few.
We were well acquainted with Mr. Walker, he was a useful enterprising citizen, in the prime of life and his loss is much regretted by all who knew him, his age was 30 years, 6 months and 11 days; his family consisted of an amiable wife and six small children, the former deprived of an affectionate husband and the latter of an indulgent father by the ruthless hand of a murderer. Since writing the above, we have been informed that Burns was harbored for a day or two after the murder, at the house of Joseph Logsdon, in Allegheny county, Md., where he procured a straw hat and a pair of shoes, and it is said proceeded towards Wheeling, or some other western port, to take shipping down the Ohio river.



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