(Transcribed from the November 18, 1908 edition of the Adair County News.)

An Incident of War


The Killing of Capt. John R. Curry by W. S. Long, in this place, September, 1864.


A Display of Genuine Courage


In September, 1864, the population of Columbia was not more than one-third as large as it is at this time, and notwithstanding the war of the rebellion had not closed, the inhabitants were quiet, law abiding citizens.

Captain John R. Curry at that time was stationed here with a company of Federal soldiers, and they were camped  back of the Presbyterian College, but Curry boarded at the hotel which was run by the late I.C. Winfrey, located on the same corner and in the same building the Citizens Bank is now doing business.

Some time during the Summer months of 1864 Mr. W.S. Long, a young man 22 years old, reached Columbia, en route for Clinton county, his home. He had been a soldier in the Confederate army and had been in a Federal prison, having been taken a prisoner, but who had been released through the influence of Col. Thos. W. Bramlette, who at that time was the Governor of Kentucky and a relative of Mr. Long.

When Long reached Columbia, Mr. Alfred Gilmer, doing business on the corner now occupied by W.F. Jeffries & Sons, was needing a salesman. He knew the Long family and knew that the young man had been brought up in a store. He met him and an agreement was reached whereby [Long] was to remain in Columbia and do business for [Gilmer].

He had not been in the store but a short time until Capt. Curry took a dislike to him, it was believed, because Long had served in the Confederate army, and he was often heard making rough remarks about the young man.

In August, of that year, a young  man named Ryne, who lived in Burkesville, and who served in the Confederate army, rode into Columbia and direct to Mr. Gilmer's store.

He and Long were together in the army; he was also captured, placed in the same prison with Long, and through Governor Bramlette's influence he was also released.

Capt. Curry on that day was very much under the influence of liquor, and seeing Ryne go into the store, he buckled on his revolvers and went over. He immediately commenced abusing Ryne  for being a rebel, etc. Mr. Long said to Capt. Curry: "Captain, I rather you would not make any trouble in the store." Thereupon Curry became furious and wanted to kill Long. Lieut. Huddleston and one or two soldiers took hold of Curry, carried him to the hotel and put him to bed. The next morning he was sober, but he did not renew the trouble.

Just one month to the day from that time he got drunk, buckled on his revolvers and went to Gilmer's store. Long was behind the counter. When Curry entered he walked up to the counter, facing Long, and said:

"Mr. Long have you anything against me?"

Long dropped his head for a second or two, raising it, and looking Curry in the eye, said:

Captain, just one month ago you acted a scoundrel in this store."

Curry's response was, "Get your pistol; I have come to kill you."

Long reached in the money drawer, picked up his revolver, pointing it at Curry's head, said, "I have got it."

The writer was in the store at the time and he is not certain whether it was Mr. Sinc {Sinclair] Wheat, who was in the store, or Mr. Gilmer who said, "Billy don't shoot."By this time soldiers entered, and again carried Curry to the hotel.

In a few minutes a squad of soldiers entered the store, arrested Long and marched him to the corner where the post office is now located. While there, and under arrest, Curry was being held by two soldiers, but making all manner of threats. Finally, a very large soldier, named Stuckey, who was from Tennessee, put his arms around Curry, drawing him close to his breast, and at the same time telling Long to get out of the way.

Long passed up the street until he reached the place where McLean Bros. are doing business. At that time there was a vacant lot where the store house now stands, cut off from the livery stable lot by a low fence. When Long had reached this vacant lot, Curry was turned loose, and he started after Long, pistol in hand. Long, seeing him coming, and being unarmed, he jumped the fence, intending to make his escape through the stable. Curry in the meantime whirled, came hurriedly back and entered the stable from the front, just as Long entered from the rear. Long turned and came back to the fence and in jumping over it, Curry fired at him twice. Long ran on to the square and hallooed, "For God sake, somebody bring me a revolver."

Dr. S.K. Rhorer was selling drugs in a room just above where Triplett & Eubank are doing business, and hearing Long's cry, he ran out of his store, handed him a revolver, telling him to defend himself. Long turned, and as he did, Curry had reached the fence. Long fired twice, and evidently Curry received his death wound at this place for he ceased to fire, turned, went back through the livery stable, and at the same time Long walked down the pavement and took his stand on the pike half way between the hotel and the building where the post-office now is kept. Curry came on through the stable, and reaching the front, he fired at Long twice, the shots being returned by Long. When the firing ceased Long had yet one load remaining in his revolver. He cocked it, walked into the livery stable, and seeing Curry lying in a stall, stepped out and returned to the store.

Hon. George Alfred Caldwell was here at the time to see his sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Trabue, and while the shooting was going on he was in his buggy and upon the square. After it was over he remarked that he had seen a great many brave men, but that Long displayed more courage that he ever before witnessed in any man.

It was war time, and Curry had at his back a hundred soldiers.

Curry lived a day, but before he died he sent for Mr. Long, told him that he was to blame for the trouble; that he was going to die and asked that [Long] forgive him. Long readily consented to the request, and in a short time Curry was dead.

In three or four days the civil authorities arraigned Mr. Long and he was tried and acquitted.

Mr. Long now lives in Paris, Texas.

When this killing occurred the writer was but a small boy, but he witnessed the affair from the beginning to the ending, and is satisfied that the narrative is told correctly.

*A military marker in the Curry Cemetery near the Vester community of Adair County has this information: Capt. J.R. Curry, Co. L., 13th Ky. Cav.