Monday, July 25, 2011

The Murder of Elijah Blankenship


Disclaimer: This is a legend passed down by word of mouth.  I have not proved or disproved this legend.

Here is another legend from the darker side of Izard County’s history.  This is a legend about the murder of Elijah Blankenship.

Elijah was about 7 years younger than his wife, Sarah Jane Goodrich Blankenship, and they had five children together, Poline, Mary, Elijah, Jerusha, Altha.  They lived on Pine Ridge just off state hwy 56.

Elijah was cruel to his family and a heavy drinker.  He was known to spend their money on liquor instead of providing for his family.  It has also been said that Elijah would hide the money under rocks to keep it away from Sarah Jane.  Elijah would come home drunk and beat Sarah Jane and threaten to kill her. Instead of whipping his children, Elijah would make them place their hands on a hot wood stove for punishment.

Sarah left Elijah sometime around August 1877. Elijah had this notice printed in
The Melbourne Clipper on August 7, 1877

“Notice
Is hereby given that my wife Sarah J. Blankenship has left me without just cause and that I will not be responsible for any debt, contract,  or promise she may make from this date henceforth.  This September 13th, 1877. Signed Elijah Blankenship”

But, by 1880 Sarah Jane was back living with Elijah.  Sometime in 1880, Elijah came home very drunk and said when he got up one of them is going to die.  Sarah was unable to take the abuse anymore.  So sometime during the night Sarah sewed a sheet around Elijah so he could not move when he woke up.  Sarah then took an ax and struck Elijah in the neck cutting his Jugular vain and took the children and hide.
Some how Elijah managed to get out of the sheet and get on his horse, or mule.  Elijah was able to get to the end of their lane before falling from his horse and bleeding to death.

Some believe Elijah made to the Doctor in Brockwell and got treated.  After he healed he moved north and started a new family.

It has been said it was Sarah Jane’s half brother, Tom Rushing, who killed Elijah.  Sarah admitted to the murder  because the courts would be more lenient on a woman. 

During the preliminary hearing the judge, who is believed to have been Judge Cap Hanley Sr, said “You should have chopped the old devil’s head off a long time ago”.
The judge dismissed the case.

We may never know which one killed Elijah or what was said at the hearing because all the records of the hearing were lost when the court house burned down on the mourning of April, 11th 1889. 

Sometime after the hearing Sarah Jane and her family, the Goodrich’s, moved to Texas.

I have tried to lay the facts of the legend out so the reader can decide for them selves what to believe.  I have, have you?

2 comments:

Gail said...

I have enjoyed both of your sites and am sad that it is not updated and current.

Thanks for what I have read.

Connor Thomas said...

My family has been in the Myron area since the mid 1800's. Sometime in the early 1900's, a skeleton was found on one of our farms and it was believed to have been an indian that had died on the trail of tears. The skull was kept, placed on a mantel and is now at the bottom of a debris pile which used to be a house.