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Murder on Madison

The Beauchamp - Sharp Tragedy


Solomon P. Sharp was born in Virginia on August 22, 1787 and moved to Kentucky about 1800.   In 1806 he was admitted to the bar and set up a practice in Russellville  He was later was elected to the state legislature from Warren County and was twice elected to Congress. Sharp returned to the legislature and in 1820 Governor Adair appointed him attorney general.  He moved his family to Frankfort and later resigned his position as attorney general.  In August 1825, Solomon won a seat  representing Franklin County in the legislature for the New Court party.  The fight which was made against Colonel Sharp in his race to represent the county was extremely bitter.  The friends of the old party used every influence known to discredit Sharp and defeat him.  John U. Waring, was a desperate and dangerous man, who became prominent in the politics of Kentucky and was a supporter of the old court.  Waring and Patrick H. Darby became the most active and bitter partisans against Colonel Sharp. Waring wrote a letter threatening his life in which he boasted that he had stabbed to death six men.  He also made up a story in reference to MISS ANN COOK, and distributed hand bills to the public. Darby made many threats both private and public.  He was heard on several occasions making the statement, "if Colonel Sharp was elected he would never take his seat and would be as good as a dead man."

The legislature was to convene on Monday morning November 6, 1825. On Sunday evening Solomon went to the Weisiger House and met several members of the legislature and later went to the Mansion House where he stayed until midnight and then return to his home on Madison Street.  About 2:00 AM he was awaken by a knock at the door and minutes later he lay dead.  The legislature convened that day and authorized the Governor of Kentucky to offer a reward of three thousand dollars for apprehension and conviction of the assassin.  The trustees of Frankfort also offered a reward of one thousand dollars.  A few days after suspicion rested on JEREBOAM O. BEAUCHAMP, a young attorney located at Glasgow, Kentucky.  A warrant was sworn out and he was arrested and brought to Frankfort. He was tried before an examining court and released from custody.  Jereboam claiming his innocence agreed to stay in Frankfort for ten days in order to give the Commonwealth ample time to investigate the case. John U. Waring and Patrick H. Darby were under suspicion.  Mrs. Sharp stated the voice of the assassin had sounded to her like that of Waring.  A warrant was issued for Waring; however, an investigation revealed that Waring had been shot through both hips on the Saturday preceding the Sharp tragedy.  Patrick Darby having heard he was suspected of the murder took it upon himself to investigate the facts in the case.  Through his efforts Jereboam O. Beauchamp was arrested and convicted. The indictment on file in the Franklin Circuit Court Clerk's office charges that. "Jereboam O. Beauchamp, Attorney at Law, on the sixth day of November, 1825, in the night of the same day at Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky, with a certain dirk which he held in his right hand stabbed upon the front side of the body of said Solomon P. Sharp and two inches below the breast bone of the said Sharp, a mortal wound of the breadth of one inch and of the depth of six inches from which he instantly died."  Patrick H. Darby was one of the chief witnesses against Beauchamp.  In the fall of 1824, Beauchamp had applied to him to bring suit against Colonel Sharp for certain claims which are not specified in the record on file in the Franklin County Circuit Court Clerk's office.  In this conversation Beauchamp stated that he had married Miss Cook and spoke of Colonel Sharp's bad treatment of her. He swore that if he ever saw him he would kill him and if he could not see him in any other way he would ride to Frankfort and shoot him down on the street.

Darby went to Simpson County, home of Beauchamp to locate evidence in the case.  He met a man by the name of Captain John F. Lowe, who had received a letter from Beauchamp in which there were some very damaging admissions against himself.  Lowe also stated that Beauchamp gave him a detailed account of the assassination and in conclusion said, "don't speak of this before Ann you know what talk has been about Sharp and her; none of the people about here talk to us about him, they all think he was the cause of her leaving society."

In Beauchamp's confession, he describes the circumstances of the murder.  "I put on my mask, drew my dagger and proceeded to the door; I knocked three times loud and quick, Colonel Sharp said; "Who's there" - "Covington I replied," quickly Sharp's foot was heard upon the floor.  I saw under the door as he approached without a light. I drew my mask over my face and immediately Colonel Sharp opened the door.  I advanced into the room and with my left hand I grasped his right wrist. The violence of the grasp made him spring back and trying to disengage his wrist, he said, "What Covington is this."  I replied John A. Covington.  "I don't know you," said Colonel Sharp, I know John W. Covington."  Mrs. Sharp appeared at the partition door and then disappeared, seeing her disappear I said in a persuasive tone of voice, "Come to the light Colonel and you will know me," and pulling him by the arm he came readily to the door and still holding his wrist with my left hand I stripped my hat and handkerchief from over my forehead and looked into Sharp's face.  He knew me the more readily I imagine, by my long, bush, curly suit of hair.  He sprang back and exclaimed in a tone of horror and despair, "Great God it is him," and as he said that he fell on his knees.  I let go of his wrist and grasped him by the throat dashing him against the facing of the door and muttered in his face, "die you villain." As I said that I plunged the dagger to his heart. The next morning Beauchamp left Frankfort and returned home on Thursday afternoon and was arrested the next day.  Beauchamp was prosecuted by Charles S. Bibb, Daniel Mays and Attorney General James W. Denney and was defended by J. Lacy, Samuel Q. Richardson and John Pope.  Mr. Pope closed the argument for the defense. His remarks against Darby provoked Darby to attempt to assault Denney with his cane. This incident caused excitement which resulted in a stampede from the court room. After an hour deliberation the jury returned a quilty verdict. The execution was to take place on Friday, July 7, 1826 at the gallows which was erected near the Glenn's Creek road.  Location now on part of the property owned by the Department for Human Resources. On Saturday, Beauchamp's wife was taken before the justices on a charge of having been an accessory to the murder.

In the days prior to the execution Mrs. Beauchamp stayed with her husband.  She secured a vial of laudanum which was divided between them; however, it failed to have the desired effect.  She then secured a case knife and about ten in the morning on the day of the execution, upon request from Mrs. Beauchamp, the guard went up the ladder and turned the trap door. Beauchamp called to him, "we have killed ourselves."  The guard stated Mrs. Beauchamp had a knife in her hand which was bloody about half the way up.  She had a stab wound a little to the right of the center of the abdomen.  The guard ask Beauchamp if he was stabbed and he replied that he was. He had stabbed himself first and then his wife took the knife from him and plunged it into herself. Beauchamp was in such a dying condition when he was taken to the gallows he was too weak to stand while the rope was being adjusted around his neck. Beauchamp and his wife died about the same hour and were buried in the same grave at Bloomfield, Kentucky. Each or the three victims of this tragedy had a wound located at almost the same point in the body.

There has been doubt in some as to whether or not the alleged confession of Beauchamp was made by him.  There is evidence disclosed in the damage suit of Darby vs. Jereboam Beauchamp, uncle of the assassin, that Beauchamp did in fact make the confession.  Darby also brought suit against Dr. Leander Sharp, Mrs. Eliza T. Sharp, and Amos Kendall whose cases were tried in Woodford County Court on a change of venue.

Colonel Solomon P. Sharp was thirty-eight years old when he was assassinated.  He was one of the great leaders in Kentucky politics and was shoot down in the prime of his life. He married Miss Eliza T. Scott of Frankfort on December 17, 1818 and their marriage produced four children. Solomon Sharp and Eliza are buried in the Frankfort Cemetery.  A square marble monument marks their last resting place. The inscription reads, " Eliza T. Sharp, wife of S. P. Sharp, died January 4th, 1844 in her 46th year, under which the following, "Precious in the sight of the Lord, is the death of his saints."  On the east side is stated, " Solomon P. Sharp was assassinated while extending the hand of hospitality on the morning of November 7th 1825 and beneath this is "What thou knowest not now, thou shalt know hereafter."

Sources:
History of Franklin County, Kentucky, by L. F. Johnson
The Kentucky Encyclopedia, by Kleber


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