Page:History of Richland County, Ohio.djvu/451

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HISTORY OF RICHLAND COUNTY.

page 437

...the air, not daring to venture an attack. The object appeared stone still and like a naked child to the hunters. Lewis, being full of pioneer bravery, ventured up to it, and still it appeared to be a nude child. He grasped the object, and, as he felt its long wool, his fright can better be imagined than described. The ghost proved to be a pet lamb that had wandered away from home, and when the dogs came about, it sat up, as a child.

Samuel Bushong came from Pennsylvania in 1837, and purchased land thirty-five acres of Section 26. He paid $400 down, and secured the remaining $400 by giving a mortgage. He failed to meet the obligation, and, in the summer of 1840, a judgment was obtained against him and the Sheriff advertised the homestead for sale. Mr. Bushong had made diligent efforts among his friends to procure money and have the property saved, but without success. On the 3d of October, 1840, he attended the election at Bellville, and no one noticed any peculiarity of conduct on his part.

Very early the next morning, the news spread through the neighborhood that Bushong had murdered his family, consisting of his wife and four children, the oldest, Mary, aged twenty-two years, the youngest, Susan, aged fifteen, and two sons. The neighbors soon gathered, and found Mrs. Bushong lying on the hearth, before the fire, where she had been sitting in a chair, browning coffee in a skillet, with her head literally mashed by an ax, and a portion of her blood and brains were mingled with the coffee. The two girls were found in a room up-stairs. Mary had received a heavy blow with the poll of the ax on the front of her head, which glanced and left the skull unbroken. Susan was struck with the edge of the ax, making a deep wound the full length of the bit, one end of which was above the left eye and the other end below the right eye. Both were alive and in great agony. The sons were sleeping in a room adjoining that in which the girls were, and were partially awakened by the disturbance. The moon was shining through the window, and they soon observed the deadly ax descending toward the head of the younger brother, who lay next the wall.

He dodged, and both brothers caught the ax-handle and held to it, and were dragged out of bed on the floor, where a life-and-death struggle ensued between the sons and the father. They proved his superior in the fight, and finally wrenched the ax from his murderous hands. The oldest boy was severely wounded in the arm, and the younger was hit with the poll on the head. The murderer then seized his razor and renewed the attack; but the weapon was taken from him and cast away. Thereupon he started for the woods near by, and was soon after captured by the neighbors. The scene in the house was most ghastly, and the murderer was carried through the house and compelled to view his horrible doings. His wife was lying in a pool of blood, mingled with her brains, and the daughters lay upon their bed, in the greatest agony.

Excitement ran high. Some said, "Kill him, and throw his body on the pile." Others said, "Hang him," and for a time it seemed that the man would be lynched; but a few negative words by Dr. Eels and a few other dispassionate persons calmed their vengeance. He was roughly handled and uncomfortably tied on his horse and escorted toward Bellville by twenty or more men. They were met about one mile from town by the Constable, R. Evarts, who unbound him and walked with him to town.

The preliminary trial was held before Esquire Heath, which ended by noon, and preparations were made to send him to jail. Bushong remonstrated against being tied, and pledged his honor and life that he would go quietly and civilly to jail, which was accepted, and the two started on their way, arm in arm, in a single buggy, and Horace Baker and Hugh Oldfield