February 27, 2014

Traces of Laurel: E.K. Wilson

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — One of the prominent citizens of Laurel County that Charles Kellogg must have been sorry he wrote about was E.K. Wilson.  Of course he could not know, when he penned his glowing profile of Wilson in 1895, that all the fine qualities he detailed about that young man would come into question, or that Wilson would bring disgrace upon himself and the community.

Kellogg wrote:  “Mr. E.K. Wilson . . . was born in Williamstown, Grant County Ky., February 2, 1869.  His earlier education was received in the common schools of his native county, after which he went to Centre College, from which institution he graduated at the age of 18.” 

Wilson went on to attend lectures at the Law Department of the University of Louisville where he got a law degree in 1890.  Kellogg says that Wilson came to London on business and liked “the town and the community so well he determined to make it his future home.”  This was in 1890 and by 1894 Wilson was so well-known in Laurel County that he was elected County Attorney and was greatly respected by the Republican Party. 

Kellogg ends his sketch of Wilson by saying:  “Mr. Wilson is one of the most popular men in the county, and we feel justified in predicting that his future will be a bright one, as it is full of promise.”

That promise was not realized because in January, 1899, the Mountain Echo reported that Wilson had been charged in the death of a young woman servant at a London hotel.  That article reads:  “A sensation that has been smoldering and brewing in London the past four weeks burst forth with all its hideousness and desolating fury upon the peaceful inhabitants of our usually quiet little mountain city last Saturday and Sunday.  It was the exposure of one of the most hideous, black and damnable crimes that ever disgraced our favorite town or blacked the record of our court.  It was the story of the bewitching conduct of a wily, cultured, daring and handsome young barrister, the betrayal, seduction, ruin and agonizing death of a sweet, innocent, confiding, pretty, though unlettered, young lady and servant girl at the Catching Hotel.”

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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
B. Going to the beach!
C. Kentucky has a lot of wonderful state parks, and we plan to visit a few and enjoy quality family time.
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