By: Cheyenne Jones
Jackson County is known for 4-H and 4th of July, but we are also known for the last public hanging in West Virginia.
A man named John Morgan stopped by the Pfost-Greene family, on Grasslick Road in Fairplain on November 4, 1897. Answering the door was 70-year-old Chloe Pfost Greene with her two daughters, Alice and Matilda Pfost and her son, James Greene. They were very happy to see John, he had once lived with the family while working on their farm. As the night wore on Mrs. Pfost invited John to stay the night. John stayed, knowing the family had sold a horse for $100. In 1897 $100 was a lot of money, $4,000 to be exact, however it is still not enough money to kill a whole family for.
Around 4 a.m. James woke up to feed the hogs as he did every morning. That morning John followed James to the pig pen where he killed him with an axe. Then John went back into the house where the women were serving breakfast. He struck Matilda twice, killing her. He went after Alice next, thinking he had killed her. After that he went after Mrs. Pfost and killed her while she was making her bed in the upstairs bedroom. Alice managed to run out of the house half conscious and make it to the neighbor’s house for help. She was the only one to survive the murders. John Morgan was arrested the next day and was hung 43 days later on December 16, 1897.
The hanging took place on what is now the Ripley High School football field. It was the last public hanging to take place in West Virginia. The farmhouse where the murders took place was later torn down. Before the house was torn down, it was said to have a blood stain on the floor that couldn’t be removed. Today it is rumored that at night you can see Alice running through the fields screaming for help.
Information from: The Marietta Times