Who Killed Andrew Boggs?

(by John G. Wilson)
No. 45.
From: Folklore and Legends

Submitted by: Sharon M. Kouns

Ironton Register, Thursday, May 21, 1896

For the Register.

About sixty years ago there moved to what is now called Macedonia, a colored man named Andrew Boggs or Box, as the people called him. He came from North Carolina and had the blood of three races in his veins white, black and red. His wife was almost white. He was a man of enterprise, attended strictly to his own affairs and soon succeeded in accumulating some property, both land and chattel. He was noted for his good horses and cows, keeping them in the best of order. He was a very stern man, speaking but seldom, and then only when his business relations demanded, all of which tended to make him enemies. His credit was good and his word was his bond.

After he had lived here for several years and was well acquainted with the citizens of this township, he mysteriously disappeared. Nothing was thought of it for several days, until his folks were questioned and they could give no account of him. He was not wont to make anyone a confident and went and came without the knowledge of any. They only knew that he was gone but where they could not tell.

After a few weeks and just after a hard rain, his body was found lodged in the willows just below town. Burlington was the county seat then, so the Coroner was notified and the body was hauled up to the Courthouse, where it was recognized by one of our merchants who was well acquainted with him, and with whom he dealt. On examination, it was found that he had been murdered. His head bore the marks of a pick or mattock, and his skull had been broken by the same in many places. The verdict of the Coroner’s jury was that he had been murdered by parties unknown. Warrants were issued for several of the family, as suspicion was aroused on account of their not making inquiry about him. They were arrested and brought to town and the trial began. The prisoners were guarded by armed men, and much excitement prevailed. I was quite a lad but remember that one witness, an old hunter testifying to the kind of blood which was found on the bottom of his Bogg’s wagon, he the hunter, said, that he had killed many deer and had skinned them on his cabin floor, and that there was a very decided difference between animal and human blood; that the animal blood left a different stain from that of human blood and could be washed out, but that human blood could not be washed out; and that in his opinion the blood stains in the wagon were made by human blood. There were indications of the bottom of the wagon being washed to get rid of the stain but like the stain on Macbeth’s hand it would not out.

Examination, also, showed that the clothing of the dead man was covered with creek soil which indicated that he had been buried in the creek bank and had been washed out and into the Ohio river by the hard rain.

The prisoners on examination said that the stains in the wagon were made by hogs which they had killed and hauled in the wagon; and as to the killing of the old man, they knew nothing about it. As it was before the war when this trial took place, the evidence of a colored person had very little weight, and there were people who were ready to convict on the slightest evidence, but fortunately for them there were others who were more reasonable and they had a fair trial. It developed that there had been two strange white men in the neighborhood who were gamblers and very bad men, and they were trying to play a game on the man Boggs, in offering to sell him counterfeit money that would pass; and an old citizen who told me the circumstances said that Boggs informed him of their attempt to induce him to give them $150 for $300 and that he had met them by appointment and that he had his money ready, and that they had a small wooden box, the kind axes are shipped in, but he required them to open the box before he would part with his money. Upon their refusal, he pulled a pistol and made one of them open the box, which revealed as its contents, a lot of scrap iron packed in sawdust. He thereupon threatened them and charged them with acting falsely. Soon after they disappeared and it was not long until he too was missing, and nothing was heard of him until his body was found.

No evidence being offered of a convicting nature, the prisoners were released and who killed Andrew Boggs remains a mystery to this day. My informant said that Boggs had mentioned to him, about the men and their wanting to exchange the money, two dollars for one, and he was advised to draw them on to see what kind of money they had or whether it was a trick. There had been some counterfeit money passed and the authorities were wanting a clue, and when their trick was explored by Boggs nothing more was thought of it, until the body was found, when it was surmised that someone had killed him for his money as he carried it most all the time on his person; but time rolled on and the mystery has never been cleared up. Most all of those who were living here at the time have passed away. G.