RUSSELL COUNTY HISTORY: Gun battle at ball game leaves four dead in ’31
In Aug. 30 issue, Russell County News By G.K. Gibson lakecumberland.com
There was a time in the first half of the last century that community baseball teams often played games on makeshift fields throughout Russell and neighboring counties.
One of those games ended when gunfire broke out, and four persons lay dead or mortally wounded on the field.
Yet no players in the game were involved.
It was the afternoon of Saturday, Sept. 12, 1931.
The game was being played at the Ucum community, located near the mouth of Indian Creek in Russell County, on the south side of the Cumberland River. The site is now under the waters of Lake Cumberland.
The playing field was located on the Conner farm. A crowd of maybe 300 to 400 persons had turned out to watch a game that was originally intended to be a contest between the Indian Creek team and a black team from Burkesville.
However, the Burkesville team was unable to make the game, and a substitute team was created with a core of four players from the Creelsboro team and several available players.
There was a small stream behind first base, and a ditch behind the third base line.
There was never any official inquiry into the events. The following description is a compilation of a newspaper story at the time, and recorded oral histories made many years later.
What apparent led to the confrontations began before the game. It appears that someone from a neighboring farm had made a complaint against George Elmore for a disturbance.
The game had been underway, but there was a lull after player John Hugh (Monk) Oliver fouled the only available baseball into the opposite field.
It is remembered that in addition to Monk Oliver at bat, former county clerk Kermit Mann was on third base, and Carlos Mann was coaching behind third.
What happened next lasted less than two minutes.
During the break to retrieve the ball, Constable Leo Mann had spotted George Elmore on the first base side of the field. Mann came out of the crowd on the third base side, walked over to Elmore and said: “Come go with me.”
Elmore responded, “I'll go with you when it's over and you know that.” A scuffle ensued between the two, moving them near first base. Constable Mann reportedly pulled his gun and attempted to shoot Elmore, but it jammed.
Meanwhile, Jasper Hadley, a friend of Elmore, came from the crowd behind third base with a gun. Mann apparently saw him coming, and was able to turn Elmore between him and Hadley.
Hadley reportedly fired, hitting Mann. During the recording of his oral history interview, Monk Oliver recalled that moment.
“When (Jasper) fired, I saw the lint fly from Leo's shirt. I knew he'd hit him.”
A second shot from Hadley apparently hit Elmore in the back, passing through his body and coming out his chest. He staggered to near home plate and fell.
Coming to Leo Mann's aid, Bill Mann came from the crowd near first base with his gun. It initially jammed, but he finally got off a shot, hitting Jasper Hadley.
Almost at the same time, Hadley saw Bill Mann and fired back at him, the bullet striking Mann in the neck.
The injured Hadley walked over to the area of third base, handed his gun to Mr. Conners, then fell a few feet from Carlos Mann and died.
Shot in the neck, Bill Mann walked up the bank behind first base and died.
On hearing the gunfire, many in the crowd had moved to the relative cover of the ditch behind third base.
The original combatants, George Elmore and Leo Mann, were place in separate autos. Elmore was taken to the office of Dr. Ballou at Rowena where he died the next morning.
Leo Mann was taken to Dr. McClendon's office in Russell Springs. He lingered until Sunday evening before succumbing to his injury.
Hadley, 32, and Elmore, 25, were both single.
Bill Mann, 35, was survived by his wife and three children.
Leo Mann, 30, was survived by his wife and child.
After the gun battle, farmer Conner never allowed another ball game on his field.
This article originally appeared in The Times Journal in June 2003.
The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
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