Snow White and I enjoyed our invitation to Light Up Jeffersonville on Thursday. It was a little cold but the hospitality was warm as I served as MC for the annual event. Remember to shop Spring Street! I had my plate full on Thursday and did not look at the weather at all. It’s cold. Maybe some snow flakes on Saturday.
On This Date in History: Jarbidge, Nevada is in the northwest quandrant of Nevada in a pretty out-of-the way
place along the Idaho border. It had a population of nearly 1200 in 1911 but mining operations ceased in the area by 1932. The town population has dwindled to around 20. While it has people and the post office is still open 5 days a week, it either is or has a ghost town…not sure if the ghosts are counted among the 20 or not. I”m also not certain if it was supposed to be JarbRidge but someone stole the “r”.
Anyway, on December 5, 1916 it was a rather cold and brisk day in Jarbidge, which is not too surprising given its location and its reputation as a town that collects lots of snow. The postmaster grew concerned because the mail stage was 3 hours late. Remember, the automobile had not been around for very long and in difficult terrain, a horse was a much better mode of transportation. So, a search party went out and found the empty stagecoach at 11PM. They also found the driver with a fatal bullet wound. Nearby lay a bloodstained overcoat.
I’m not sure if the detective on the case was Columbo but they certainly seemed to solve the
crime before the closing commercial because authorities went straight to Ben Kuhl who was known thereabouts as a drifter. People in the town knew that Kuhl had been seen in a similar overcoat. In Kuhl’s tent, they found a pistol. Another key piece of evidence was an envelope that was picked up near the coach. The envelope had a bloody palm print. Now, police work was starting to line up with science around that time (Remember Hec Ramsey?) and so they made an impression of Kuhl’s palm print and it was identical to the one found on the envelope. The sherrif also arrested 3 other men known to have run with Kuhl. It’s a long story (here’s a version) but they released one guy and another got off for agreeing to testify against the other two. One of the men was given a life sentence but he only served a little more than 6 years before being paroled. In Kuhl’s case, the jury took but two hours to determine a conviction of murder in the first degree. His sentence was death. He chose a firing squad over a hanging but neither was necessary. After numerous appeals, his sentence was commuted to life. But, he too was paroled, but his trek to freedom took longer as he got out in a little less than 28 years. Ben Kuhl died a year later of tuberculosis.
This marked the first time that a palm print was admitted as evidence in the case. It also marked the last time that a stage coach was ever robbed. The jury bought the latest in technology relating to crime-scene evidence and Kuhl was convicted. But, of the $3000 taken in the robbery, only $182 was recovered. Maybe the ghosts of Jarbidge spent the rest. Or maybe, the guy that they released spent it all. But the man responsible for putting Kuhl behind bars in the first place was also the man who set him free. See, the prosecutor at Kuhl’s trial was a man named Ted Carville….the very same Governor Carville who paroled Kuhl on April 16, 1943.
On a side note, in the trial of the man who only served 6 years, Carville asked the press not to report the trial, in fear that it would taint the jury in Kuhl’s trial. The press obliged. Think that would happen today? Do you think that two men who were convicted of being an accesory to murder would get paroled 6 years and 28 years later?