This is a newspaper account of the murder of James Sparks which was reported in a Rockcastle County Kentucky newspaper on November 22, 1907. It is very similar to the account published in The Hartford Republican which I printed last week.

A special from London dated the 18th says: The most shocking tragedy in the history of London occurred at 10:30 a.m. here to-day. Robert Boyd Jr., Master Commissioner of Laurel county and a prominent attorney, shot and killed instantly James Sparks, one of the ablest and most prominent lawyers in Eastern Kentucky. Sparks was formerly County Attorney of Laurel county and was a candidate for Commonwealth’s Attorney. The tragedy occurred in the Circuit Clerk’s office, where Boyd as Commissioner, was making settlement in a case in which Sparks represented one side. Bad feeling had existed between the two men for some time, Sparks having taken exception to some of Boyd’s official conduct in the same suit.

Sparks also represented Lillie Hubb, who claimed to be a daughter of Judge Robert Boyd, deceased in which the woman seeks to break the will of Judge Boyd, which made young Boyd, his nephew, the administrator, and gave him a large portion of his estate of nearly $200,000. Eye witnesses say that only a petty quarrel had occurred before the shooting began.

Sparks is said to have been unarmed. Boyd fired four shots, three of them being after Sparks fell.

John C. McKee, a prominent London citizen stated to the Evening Post reporter that Sparks walked into the Clerk’s office, where Boyd was making a settlement in the case of “Tip Sparks against Jordan Smith. “Tip” Sparks was writing checks. Sparks said to Boyd: “You have taxed more cost than you are entitled to, and I will see that the proceeds of sale do not pass through your hands, and you will not get the 2 per cent commission.” Boyd said that the sale bond was made payable to him, and that he would be entitled to collect the money and have the commission.

The two men were standing on opposite sides of the table. Both men walked the floor, talking and watching each other. Both men had their hands in or about their front pants pookets.[sic] Boyd quickly drew a thirty-eight revolver and fired. Sparks fell, crying “Don’t do that; you have killed me.” Boyd fired three more shots. All took effect in Spark’s breast and he died instantly, Sparks had abused Boyd on various occasions when Boyd was unarmed. Boyd is a peaceable, quiet citizen.

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 lchistsoc@windstream.net (The first character is a lower case L as in Laurel.)

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