“General Joseph Neville as Justice of the Peace, already referred to, had arraigned before his court at Moorefield, the first murder case to occur in this part of Hardy County. A man by the name of Shrout who lived near the Geisert place on the Morgantown road about one mile east of the “Mountain” was charged with the crime of killing his wife, which deed he committed by ramming a broom stick down her throat. A man by the name of Bowman, who then lived on the Parker Brothers farm near Mount Storm on the Morgantown road acted as constable.

Shrout was executed at Moorefield according to the method of executing a criminal at that time, which provided that the accused should sit upon his coffin, borne by about six men to the place of execution, usually a tree with an appropriate limb. The prisoner was allowed to carry a small stick to drop as a signal, when he felt that he was ready to take the step into that bourn from whence no traveler e’er returns to tell of tiding on yonder shore.

It is said that Shrout, instead of dropping the stick, threw it defiantly into the air.

This method of executing a criminal in Hardy County was an advanced step, compared to the method at an earlier date, when this part of the country belonged to Hampshire County. The crime of murder, according to old laws in that county, was unclergiable, i. e., the accused was not permitted to have the benefit of the clergy to console him in the last hours of his life. The idea of the law seemed to be to cut short the prisoner’s life “in the blossom of his sin”, and by this master stroke, put him out of commission for all time. in 1789 a law was enacted in Hampshire County making such crimes as murder, hog stealing, and feloniously stealing from a meeting house, and some others unclergiable, and the victim of these crimes was frequently burned with a hot iron before hanging”

From History of Mt. Storm Community


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