Murder in the Mountains

holster_cpFor today’s post, I’m going to continue the theme of the Goins family.  I’ll tell you the story of a murder in the mountains of Virginia.  One thing I’ve discovered in my reading and research, is that in the 1800’s, people would pull out a gun and shoot you for the smallest of infractions or insults.

In 1844, there was a man named Alexander Goins who lived in Lawrence county Kentucky.  He was murdered and buried where he fell while traveling on horseback in the vicinity of Big Black Mountain and Nine Mile Spur.  This would be near Appalachia and Stonega.  As with all things, there are multiple versions of exactly what happened.  Perhaps the truth is somewhere in the middle.

According to the Church family, who were residents of the community at the time, Alexander Goins was a respectable horse trader.  He drove horses between Kentucky and South Carolina, bred horses, and maintained his own racetrack.  Goins carried large sums of cash during his horse trading travels.  He also employed a helper named William.  On the day of Goins’ murder, William called in sick.  But he wasn’t sick.  He had teamed up with some others who set out to ambush Goins and rob him of the $9,000 in cash he was carrying.

According to the Maggard-Craft family, who lived across Big Black Mountain in Kentucky, Alexander Goins was a horse thief and a bad man in every respect.  This version indicates that Goins was killed because he had stolen livestock from his neighbors, and perpetrated other crimes and bad behavior.

Goins was buried by the side of the road.  The site of the grave eventually became part of the acquired property of the Interstate Railroad which hauled coal between Appalachia and Stonega.  No word on what happened to the money that Goins was carrying.  And, there’s no record of any sort of law enforcement action related to the murder.  I guess that’s the way they rolled in 1844.

But I found the story highly intriguing and I feel like it would make a great song (I’m looking at you OCMS and Willie Watson!).  Oh wait, someone already wrote a song about it!  Well actually, it was a poem, “Poor Goins” written by Gabriel Church who was alive to experience the event at the time it happened.  But I still say it would be delightful to dust it off and make a great new song about it.  Willie Watson or OCMS could definitely do it justice.

Click here and here to read all the details of the story that I couldn’t include in this post.

Click here for the lyrics to “Poor Goins”, and to listen to an audio clip.


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