A Bloody Tragedy Darkens Another Page of Kentucky's History

Two Brothers Engage in a Drunken Encounter and One May Die

Article taken from The Columbus Evening Dispatch, October 21, 1895

Special to the Dispatch

Portsmouth, O., Oct. 21

A desperate encounter between Charles and William Sempler.  Saturday night, bids fair to add another to the astounding list of murders that are continually recalling Kentucky's title of the "Dark and Bloody Ground."  The fight occurred at Beattyville, a small village opposite the mouth of the Scioto river and about two miles from this city.  The two men, who are twin brothers, had been in Portsmouth all the afternoon, drinking heavily, and started home late in the evening.  Upon arrival, William, who was married, announced his intention of going to a dance that was in progress at an abandoned school house near by, and ordered his wife and Charles to come along.  They endeavored to dissuade him but he insisted upon going.

Soon after they got to the school house, William became involved in a quarrel.  Charles, who was in a better condition than his brother, separated the men and tried to get William out of the house.  William drew a razor and made a savage lunge at his brother, missing him and falling to the floor.  As he rose, he slashed at him again, cutting a long gash in Charles' thigh.  The latter, with the remark, "I always swore that if any man ever cut me I'd kill him," drew a revolver and fired twice, the powder burning the clothing of William and of his wife, who had thrown her arms around him, endeavoring to shield him.  But one shot took effect.  The bullet of a 38 caliber, passed down and through the stomach and abdomen, lodging in the spine.

The dancers dispersed, the wounded man was taken home and medical aid summoned from this city.  When the physicians and a reporter arrived the sitting room of the Sempler house, lighted only by a lantern, present a grewsome aspect.  Charles, who had resumed his drinking after the tragedy lay in one corner mumbling and cursing in a drunked stupor, the revolver still in his hand.  A sister lay where she had fallen unconscious when her brother was carried in apparently dead, William was lying on the floor, where parties from the dance and hastily laid him, his young wife bending over him, and calling to him in agonized tones.  Both men were bleeding freely.

Charles' wound, which was a superficial one, was soon dressed.  William did not recover consciousness and there is scarcely a possible chance for his recovery.