Triple Hanging Shocks Citizenry in 1894

(05/14/2001)

Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from microfilm of the Calhoun Chronicle dated 4/24/1894.

TRIPLE HANGING
Father and Two Children Meet Death by the Insane Actions
of a Once Fond and Tender Hearted Father
The Wife Visits Her Parents on Laurel Creek, Two Miles Away
And While Away The Husband Commits the Awful Crime

The people of this community have often read blood curdling accounts of murders and suicides pictured as they were in crimson hue by the most sensational writers.  Some have looked upon the lifeless form of a man whose lifesblood had been spilt by a knife in the hands of an assassin but the thought of all such scenes vanish from the memory like the morning dew at the approach of noonday sun, when we attempt to compare them with the triple and horrible scene that met the eyes of Mrs. Radabaugh when she beheld the dead body of her husband and the lifeless but angelic forms of her two innocent defenseless and only babes, hanging in that silent, silent cold tomblike shed by the barn.  Just as the last ray of the evening sun was kissing the brow of the surrounding hills; calm and gentle goodnight, and the misty shades of evening were hovering o'er that lonely vale, she was led to the awful scene by a little dog, whose animal instinct seemed to realize that all was not right.  Poor woman! she was alone.  Reader, you will have to imagine as we cannot describe the horror that met her awe stricken gaze.  As is common to her sex, she uttered one scream after another and ran in the direction of the nearest neighbor, arriving, breathless and heart broken she told her sad tale of woe, and the news as if by electricity flashed from house to house, women swooned and strong men cried with each other.  Half stunned by the shock and scarcely believing the report true, people went upon the errand only to realize that the heart rending tale of woe had been but feebly told.  A coroner was sent for, a jury impaneled and after examining the premises, the bodies and hearing the evidence recorded the following verdict.

"State of W. VA., Calhoun county, to wit:  An inquisition taken at the stable of Floyd Radabaugh in the county of Calhoun, on the 15th day of April, 1894, before me, J.E. Snider, a Justice of Center district, and as such, one of the state coroners of the said county, upon the view of the bodies of Floyd Radabaugh and his two little children, Edith and Cloe, their bodies found hanging by the neck dead, the jurors sworn to inquire when how and by what means the said Floyd Radabaugh, Edith and Cloe came to their deaths, upon their oaths do say: they came to their death by strangulation by the hands of said Radabaugh.  In testimony whereof the said coroner and jorors here to set our hands.  J.E. Snider, coroner, W.H. Jackson, J.H. Roberts, Jas. Wilson, M.M. Richards, E.V. Richards, J.D. Collons, C.W. Richards, John Belford, G.F. Dillon, E.W. Snider. W.R, Norman, R.P. Wilson."

News of the unfortunate occurrence above related reached us about noon on last press day and as soon as possible thereafter we went upon the premises with a view to ascertaining as nearly as possible, the facts in the case.  The information that we have is that Mrs. Radabaugh left her husband and two children at home, about __ o'clock on Sunday morning, which was no unusual occurrence, and went to see her mother, who is an invalid, about two miles away.  Returning to her home about 4 o'clock in the evening, and not finding her husband and children in the room usually occupied by them, she immediately instituted a search and not finding them in any of the apartments of the house was about to go and look elsewhere.  Just at this time she discovered a note on a table, which tells its own sad story:  Following is a verbatim copy of the note.

April 15, 1894

dar wife it seems that it is on the acount of me and my little children that coses al of the trouble: and to think of it is too much for me to bare.  and I think if We Wer gon that maby tha Would glad I am sory that I have fetched you to sorrow and it Would bin better if We had never not Withstanding I love you as dearly as ever man loved a woman.  but With the difference that I am treated at home and my children and am blamed for all of fathers in sanity I have resolved end all of I give tem. What that belongs to me and take What that is yours and maby tha wil bee satisfied. burry us all in one coffin may the god of heaven comfort you in your affliction.

yours truly husband
Floyd Radabaugh

The note read, the next question was, where are they?  Going out of the house the little dog pranced, barked and seemed to say, "come this way" and ran direct to the memorable shed, which is about 100 yards from the house.  Just how long they had been hanging or how and by what means they had been so systematically arranged is only a matter of conjecture.  The distance from the floor, which was ground, to the joist to which the children were hanging was about 7 feet and to where Mr. Radabaugh hung the distance was about 8 feet.  The two children were facing each other about two feet apart, and he facing the children about three feet from them.  The roaps were fastened around the neck by a common loop knot and to all appearances had been tied to the joist before they were fastened around the victims necks, as one of the ropes had been spliced by a piece of wire the wire being around the joist.  In the shed was two sulkies one of which was standing up and the other the wheels were off and the bed laying close to Mr. Radabaugh's feet.  All things considered it looks like he had taken the two children in his arms, stood on the bed of that sulky, adjusted the ropes and then kicked it from under him, thus hanging himself and children at the same time.  However the impression the rope had made on the smaller child's neck would seem to indicate that it had been drawn tight before it was hung up.  How it was done God alone knows and in the living it makes no difference.  They were interred in the No. 7 cemetery on the following Tuesday, a very large congregation being present.  They were not burried as requested in is note, the two children were laid in one coffin and grave and he in another,  Funeral services were conducted at No. 7 Baptist church, of which Mr. Radabaugh was, til this unfortunate occurrence a consistent member, by Rev. Nicholson of the M.E. Church South and a U.B. minister whose name we do not remember.  After the funeral services the caskets were opened, and the procession filed in at one door of the church and out at another, the children being at the right of the door where the procession entered and he (Radabaugh) at the right of the door where it filed out.  A look at those sweet babes unfolded the picture of wingless angels and a glance a the heartbroken mother suddenly reminded us of a passage in Holy writ.  "In Rama was there a voice heard lamentation, weeping, and great mourning.  Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted because they are not."  Finally, on behalf of the deceased husband and father let Godly charity and humanity plead.  The wisest as well as the best have erred.  Let a sprig of evergreen be planted at the head of the children's grave to denote that "of such is the kingdom of heaven."  To the sympathy of the God loving and God fearing people of that community we commend the disconsolate widow.


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