This is a newspaper account of the murder of James Sparks which was reported in an Ohio County Kentucky newspaper on November 22, 1907, four days after the shooting. The editors were probably in a hurry to get the story printed. You will notice the first two sentences in the third paragraph do not make sense. I enclosed in brackets my interpretation of what they may have meant to print. Next week I will share this story as found in the Rockcastle County newspaper. They are very similar so you may want to save this issue and compare them. The Rockcastle paper provides additional details from an eyewitness.


Former County Attorney James Sparks Shot and Instantly Killed

A special dispatch to the Louisville Times says: The most sensational tragedy in the history of Laurel county occurred here at 10:30 o’clock a.m. today. James Sparks, former County Attorney, now candidate for Commonwealth’s Attorney, and one of the best and most widely-known lawyers in Kentucky; was shot and instantly killed.

The shooting was done in the Circuit Clerk’s office in the court house by Robert Boyd, Jr., Master Commissioner of the Laurel Circuit Court and one of the most prominent young attorneys in this part of the state.

Circuit Court is in session, and hun dead man and created a panic. An old dead man and created a panic. [Circuit Court is in session and hundreds of people rushed to the clerk’s office to view a dead man and created a panic.] An old grudge had existed for some time between them.

The shooting is said by eyewitnesses to have been on slight provocation and the result of a petty quarrel over a settlement Boyd was making as Master Commissioner in a suit in which Sparks represented one side.

Sparks took exceptions to Boyd’s official conduct in selling the land in litigation and over fees which he contended Boyd was not entitled to. Sparks is said to have been unarmed.

Boyd fired at short range, Sparks falling at his first shot. Boyd fired three shots into his victim’s body after he was on the floor. Sparks and other attorneys had brought suit to set aside the will of the late Judge Robert Boyd, young Boyd’s uncle, in which young Boyd was made administrator and had received a good share of an estate valued at about $200,000.

The suit was brought for Lilly Hobbs, an illegitimate, and only child of Judge Boyd, who was left nothing and seeks to break the will. Sparks was regarded as an overbearing and dangerous man. Boyd promptly surrendered to Sheriff Swanner, and is now in jail.

The Laurel County Historical Society is located at Located 310 West 3rd Street in the old Health Department Building. We are open on Mondays & Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. We will open on other days by appointment. Please contact us far enough in advance to schedule a volunteer to open the library. You may contact the Laurel County Historical Society by calling 606-864-0607 or e-mail us at (The first character is a lower case L as in Laurel.)

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