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joe bill schirtzinger

ANTISEMITISM IN WESTERN KENTUCKY


ANTISEMITISM IN WESTERN KENTUCKY

joe bill schirtzinger

A Brief Report from a Small Messianic Group In Princeton, Kentucky


December 2017 – 1.0
Joe Bill Schirtzinger: Antisemitism In Western Kentucky, A Brief Report
from a Small Messianic Group In Princeton, Kentucky, © December
2017
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but
there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
— Elie Wiesel

Dedicated to all those whose voice did not or has not carried. May
this, in some small way, allow them to speak.
viii contents

vi the second attack


6 attack two 35
6.1 Once Was Apparently Not Enough 35

vii the voices speak


7 the voices speak 44
7.1 Statements From Our Group 44

viiiregional influences
8 environmental influences 48
8.1 Sociology and Patterns 48
8.1.1 The Cherokee Indians and the Trail of Tears 48
8.1.2 The Immensely Strong "Confederacy" 49
8.1.3 The Local Black Patch Celebration 50
8.1.4 Walter Merrick Lynching 51
8.1.5 Secret Societies 55
8.1.6 The Over All Pride Level 55
8.2 Nearby Regional Influences 56
8.2.1 Dawson Springs 56
8.3 Summary of the Region 56

ix conclusion
9 conclusion 60
9.1 Summation of the data 60
9.2 Suggested Course of Action 63
9.3 Final Words 63

x addendum
a addendum 68
a.1 Additional Material 68
FOLDER LABELINGS AND NUMBERS

This paper makes use of shorthand for labeling different items that
are supplementary to information contained. Some of this informa-
tion is quite long but crucial. Below is the logic behind how every-
thing is numbered and labeled in case of any confusion:

Table 0.1: Shorthand Abbreviations Utilized


Folder Name Abbreviation
Attack 1 A1
Attack 2 A2
Statements S
Miscellaneous MS

The numbering in most scenarios is mostly sequential and where


numerical jumps are present they proceed in the logical numerical
order.
Part I

T H E B A C K G R O U N D O F T H E AT TA C K

A Description of the Background Which Germinated the


Attack.
INTRODUCTION
1
1.1 the focus of this paper

On September 21st, Rosh Hashanah, our small Messianic Jewish group


was attacked publicly with an intent to harm our livelihood. These at-
tacks divided our group and led to us leaving our homes and shutting
our business doors to the public. This event has negatively impacted
both ourselves and our small group. I intend to show that this event
did not occur in isolation, and is, in fact, a symptom of a greater prob-
lem. To do this, I will rely on many statements from others as well
as my personal experience with the town. I will labor to show that
I believe its origins are likely Antisemitic and that this pattern may
well extend to the state of Kentucky in general—particularly within
the branches of government and law enforcement. This is not to sug-
gest that all members are guilty of such a heinous thing. Rather, it is
noting the establishment of a pattern that indicates that something is
wrong that allows things of an Antisemitic nature to flourish.

1.2 my personal spiritual experiences in princeton

I (Joe Bill Schirtzinger) have lived in and round Princeton Kentucky


for approximately 20 years with some intermittent breaks. When I
first came to Princeton where I attended my Junior and Senior years
of high school, I did not know anyone. I did not yet understand that
my own beliefs were Jewish either as our family had hidden its Jewish
heritage. I did, however, take note that within the Caldwell County
School System a strong Pauline belief in Jesus was present. So strong
was this belief that when one day I was pressed by my fellow class-
mates to explain whether I believed in Jesus I replied simply, “Not in
the way you do.” This led to what to me seemed to be a sudden push
to convert me instantly to Pauline Christianity. I did not assent to this
practice, and so remained somewhat of an outsider. Later, a history
teacher in the school posted up the Ten Commandments in his class-
room in direct defiance of the Federal Government and invited any
of us to report him. His own beliefs were, naturally, of a Christian
disposition, or so he said. During the tragedy of a student death, we
were all assembled within the gymnasium as well, and invited to per-
form a "group prayer” involving Jesus. We were allowed to leave if
we disagreed, and so I was one of the few who left.
I have been made aware that the staff still to the present day prac-
tices group prayer for those that work for the school in a manner
4 introduction

that is at best playing favorites and at worst outright discriminatory.


The default condition seems to be set where prayer to Jesus Christ is
encouraged and nearly mandated. (See Folder Statements: S-8)
I make note of these things not to damage the reputation of those
involved, but rather to establish a basis for what I have experienced
subsequently within this area—there is a religious prejudice which
can often times combine with more troubling undercurrents such as
the KKK—a not unfamiliar organization around the area. (See Misc.
Folder: Document MS-71)
A trip downtown will yield no fewer than three major churches
dominating the landscape. Though many of these churches casually
relate to being "Christians", their actions are inconsistent with their
philosophies. Doctrinal differences are nothing new, and so if their
disagreements were simply a matter of differing points of view, there
would be no issue. Unfortunately, this is not the case as often it seems
different churches are more akin to different mafias.
Even all of this would be inconsequential if there were tolerance
among these places of worship for other points of view. Sadly, one
will find little to no Jewish population here likely because there is so
little tolerance afforded for those of that belief system. It is as if one
must relate in a gentile way, and if one fails to do so the matter will
be forced either through Lashon Hara, lack of financial support, or
a general conspiracy of silence where people refuse to acknowledge
the existence of those different from themselves.
Granted, most of these statements are broad generalizations, but
the basic applicability of the principles are essentially true in my
twenty years of living here. These conditions are what allow attacks
like those we experienced as a group to thrive—there is no check and
balance on those who would use their spiritual beliefs as a batter-
ing ram as opposed to something that supports living life in a richer,
fuller way.

1.2.1 Life Beyond High School

After graduating in 1999, I went to college and got married. I attended


college in Murray, and lived in Calloway County. Later, I would move
to Marshall with my then wife to Benton. I do not remember feeling
any particular problem in Calloway although it too had its fair share
of religious issues. I do, however, remember having problems within
Benton. For one thing, that was where I would get a divorce. For
another, however, it was my first real experience with the legal sys-
tem. My ex-wife made the allegation that I was domestically abusive
within that area—a claim that was false and unsubstantiated. During
the proceeding I was given the microphone to be allowed to speak,
but was silenced by the judge. The procedure that took place after-
wards was anything other than just and I was told with derision by
1.2 my personal spiritual experiences in princeton 5

both the judge and opposing council that if I did not like how things
had gone I was free to make a bar complaint. Everyone then laughed
as though such a thing were the biggest joke imaginable. I did not
understand what was happening other than my life was being torn
apart and the legal system was enabling it to occur. My own attorney
was later disbarred for drinking and driving. He disappeared during
the ordeal along with what little money I then had. It is worth noting
that Benton has a strong KKK presence as well—which locals tend to
acknowledge jokingly. In fact, while living there, I once had a friend
from India who rode his bike to our house and had people swerving
in an effort to hit him by his own report. (See Misc Folder: Documents
MS-74, MS-75.)

1.2.2 Life After Divorce

After the divorce I had to move back to Caldwell County. I moved


in with my Mom and Stepfather having little recourse. Soon they lost
their jobs that they had had in the community after my stepfather had
a brush with cancer. His employer, located in Princeton—fired him
while he was away for treatment of the condition. My mother who
worked at the same place, was also fired as a consequence for seem-
ingly no other reason that being married to my stepfather. The place
they both worked was right next door to the Trail of Tears which runs
through this town. The Trail of Tears, for those who may not know,
was the Native American Holocaust—something this town relates to
in troubling ways.
I existed as well as I could for seven years. I tried to get a job
several times in the community without success. It seemed like all
doors were mysteriously closed. Finally, in 2013 a little metaphysical
store opened up that was all about alternative healing. I was able to
find a place there. Soon thereafter, my future wife joined me from
Illinois. We bought the little store here in an effort to reach out to
the community and help those who we could. It has been a horrible
experience on average which has cost us all the savings we have had
and our basic ability to support ourselves and feel safe within the
community. We stay here for the few who have valued us although
as I intend to show even that may not be possible in the future with
the undercurrents of the town as they are.
Part II

T H E F I R S T AT TA C K

A Description of How the First Attack Was Carried Out.


Part III

F O R M U L AT I N G A C T I O N S A S A R E S P O N S E
WHILE IN EXILE

Steps we could and could not take, half-fulfilled actions,


impediments—all owing to the community in which the
incident occurred.
3 D E T E R M I N I N G A N A P P R O P R I AT E R E S P O N S E

3.1 what were we to do?

After we left town, things did not get easier. If anything, they were to
get more bizarre than they had hitherto been. One thing that was
problematic was that many of our group members had been too
timid to speak out about the matter. The attack had caused fracturing
within the group as well, since many of them it seemed had to pick
an allegiance to either their basic perceived continued safety as a res-
ident of the town, or as a loyal member of our group. This fracturing
initially had not reached a critical point, but by Yom Kippur it would.
In essence, more than a few of our members through their fear of
speech had allowed us to be skewered. This fear, of course, was born
from a pattern present in the town. People were not speaking because
on some level they knew that the town would likely take issue with
what the had to say.
One was reminded of the work by Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not
speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to
speak for me.

The difference, in this situation, was that those who were not speak-
ing out also claimed to be Messianic Jews. Is it better or worse when
your own people refuse to speak on your behalf? Regardless, it was
becoming clear to the group and us that action was needed. The prob-
lem, however, was dealing with what bred the silence with which
to begin—namely the institutionalized apathy, corruption or Anti-
semitism which seems endemic to the town. How does one speak
when people brazenly defy the laws? What would normally look to
a branch of law enforcement, but for us, we realized this was likely a
dead-end.
3.2 why local law enforcement was not seen as a viable option 15

3.2 why local law enforcement was not seen as a viable


option

My wife, who has been deeply involved in Messianic Judaism for


most of her life, moved into this town with me under unfortunate cir-
cumstances. Her mother had died, and my grandmother had passed
as well. My family had to sell their home owing to the job loss I de-
scribed. I could see no future in going to Florida where they were
heading, and it just so happened my wife had hit a dead end where
she was. She moved here with her inheritance from her mother. We
were forced to inhabit a building that was basically unlivable as no
one wanted to offer us housing. We lived in the back of what was
once a drug store. There were no windows within the building, nor
was it equipped with basic living facilities. We made do with it, with
the idea we would hopefully be able to find a house later. Imme-
diately upon arriving here, my wife’s car had the tires slashed and
some unusual material stuffed in the exhaust of her car. No one was
held responsible or admitted to the deed. We reported the incident
without resolution.
Another thing my wife had from her former living situation was
a van. She no longer needed it, and it just so happened that some-
one we knew through the store needed a car. It had a flat, and we
told them that we would be happy for them to have the van if they
could change the flat and pay us $500 for it. We asked them not to
drive it until they got the proper insurance for themselves. Several
days later, we saw the van being driven. We immediately contacted
them and asked them again not to drive it. Many weeks passed, and
no money materialized. Eventually, by the third week, we received a
partial payment. After several more weeks has passed, we asked for
the van back and that we would simply re-fund the money since this
arrangement was not working. We were instead told we could go to
the police to get it back, and good luck getting it off the property and
a variety of other hateful things. The police refused to help us on the
matter, saying that since an verbal agreement had been made, it was a
civil matter. Eventually, my wife simply agreed to give them the van
out of a sense of peace I suppose. My wife’s good nature was taken
advantage of, and the police were useless. This has also been a pat-
tern I have experienced here, as during my divorce my ex-wife broke
the mutual restraining order she requested. The local police said they
could do nothing about it, although the judge made it clear to me
that breaking the order would be a felony for me. I had no intention
of breaking it.
Why were the police so useless during these ordeals? It seems to
me some form of discrimination is in place—whether it be Jewish or
a local town prejudice against people it deems as being “outsiders”.
16 determining an appropriate response

Likewise, the town of Princeton has a strong “Southern Heritage”


as typified by the Confederate (rebel) Soldier statue by the courthouse.
According to the Wikipedia article concerning it, it is stated he has his
back "Defiantly turned on the North.” This statue was installed by the
Daughters of The Confederacy which has a strong presence in Prince-
ton still. It is not uncommon to see rebel flags displayed. (Indeed the
Union Jack appears on the statue) It is likely no coincidence that the
majority of the wealth of the town lies to the south of the aforemen-
tioned statue. (See Misc. Folder: Documents MS-1, MS-72 and MS-73).
All of these events taken as a whole indicate a pattern of defiance,
apathy, unconcern, or an outright blatant Antisemitism in some in-
stances. A rebel flag does not necessarily mean someone is an Anti-
semite, however a failure to act and a statue that endorses the confed-
eracy that proudly states it is "defying the North" indicates a place
that on some level feels that it is above the law. This would certainly
account for the common attitudes we experienced on the website. If
then people that are Jewish are acknowledging God as the law, it
makes sense that people who are already trying to defy that law
might have a hatred toward such people. These people would hate
the law, and then they would hate those who are trying to hold it by
extension.

3.3 why we were also not keen on consulting attorneys

3.3.1 My Own Experiences

My experience with my wife and with my previous divorce had also


given me a taste of how the local law enforcement conducts itself. It
seems there is an institutional web of deceit or at the very least a net-
work of people who are proactively denying justice within the state.
This same basic prejudice appears to be at work in the tiny town of
Princeton. I do not believe every piece of the system is corrupt but I
do believe that the system is corrupt enough that it is unlikely that
our complaint would have been acted upon with the seriousness it
deserves. I believe it would be more likely swept under the rug and
ignored even though the financial damage to us and our store and
way of life had been done. Certainly, this is precisely what is hap-
pening with the case that has connections to the Holocaust. People
directly financially benefited from the wholesale murder of a people.
Likewise, the same process has occurred with the Native Americans
and continues to be an issue within this town. Though most every-
one acknowledges the Jewish Holocaust, few acknowledge the Native
American Holocaust. Certainly, more than a few tribes involved were
linked to the Lost Tribes of Israel. How is it that we can, as Jewish
people, lift up a Holocaust personal to us, and fail to recognize it
so utterly in our brothers and sisters who are Native American? Per-
Part IV

LIFE OUT OF TOWN

After having to leave town, our strange experiences did


not cease. We continued to encounter what certainly felt
like discrimination or Antisemitism
4 U N P L A N N E D T R AV E L

4.1 on the road in search of solid ground

We spent the better part of three weeks away from the town of Prince-
ton. Our first stop would prove to be most strange.
We stayed at a house in Eddyville, Kentucky through the service
of Air B and B. Upon renting the house, the owner of the house who
lived in New York, neglected to mention that the house in question
was also for sale. She rented us the place only to then request that
we allow her to show the house to a Realtor after stipulating that the
place had been empty for several months and she was glad to be able
to rent it since it would pay for some of the bills that her mother had
accrued in the nursing home. After some negotiation, we were able to
secure the house. We asked for some additional days beyond our nor-
mal rent because we enjoyed the location. The owner seemed agree-
able to this at first. While staying there, however, two men showed
up in a pickup truck to go “out to the barn” and declared themselves
friends of her mother who they referred to as “Lucy”. This involved
a direct confrontation concerning these people being on the property,
and the owner said there was “nothing she could do since she was
so far away in New York but that no people should have been on the
property”. In the mean time, Yom Kippur was on the horizon, and so
we faced whether or not our group should try to meet to celebrate
it. We ultimately decided that since this was an extremely Holy Day
that we would meet. So we met and celebrated Yom Kippur and the
home owner shortly after we had finished our celebration seemed to
be agreeable to our extending our stay. We were grateful to have some
place relatively near Princeton to collect ourselves and to figure out
what our next steps would be.
Then, suddenly, the home owner changed her mind. She quickly
was concerned about a “hunting trailer” that was illegally placed on
the property although how she concluded this was there from her
previously stated inability to do anything about the property in her
remote location I am uncertain. It was as if there was a camera on the
property since we had hiked on the property that day and discovered
an old camper that looked like it had been there for 15 years. The
owner was then committed fully to “coming in” to the house as soon
as our original stay date terminated despite our suggestion we would
extend our stay. Something felt highly suspicious about her change
of heart. Her behavior continued to become more bizarre, but more
on that in a moment.
24 unplanned travel

met with the owner who was involved in a legal dispute which she
described to us. One of us who has the legal case involvement had
experience in such matters made some suggestions for her to pursue.
We explained we were Messianic Jewish in our beliefs in part because
she had expressed curiosity about why we were traveling. We told her
we had had some issues where we normally lived but that we were
dealing with those matters. She was very happy we were there and
suggested we pay her directly instead of Air B and B. She claimed it
was cheaper. When we next saw her, she had completely changed her
demeanor and had decided not to take any of our advice at all. We
were uncertain why she chose this course, but what was becoming
apparent to both my wife and myself was that by the end of Sukkot
we would have to return to our hometown even though our desire
to be there was minimal. In between times, we had a car from At-
lanta show up that gave us the distinct sensation of being observed
or followed. We finally left the day Sukkot ended, while one of our
party stayed behind for a while longer. He left in peace but forgot a
few items. When he discussed the matter with the formerly friendly
lady, she informed him that he had left burn marks within her rental
unit on one of the tables and also a dresser from some incense he had
there. He offered to reimburse her the cost of the table admitting to
a very small diameter burn mark—smaller than a dime in fact. She
further claimed that there was a burn mark on the chest of drawers
in the bedroom my wife and I had stayed in. That was highly curious,
since we had burned absolutely no incense there and neither had our
member. She proceeded to demand compensation from our member
and it was only when our member pointed out that the owner had vi-
olated the policy of Air B and B by asking us to participate outside the
terms of Air B and B did she back down. She never named the price
she felt she was entitled to but it certainly left a distinct impression
where this trip was concerned.
In all instances, after people learned we were Messianic Jewish, or
we celebrated a Jewish holiday, people’s behavior drastically changed.
What would explain this behavior other than a latent hatred of Jews
or perhaps people who hate YHVH generally? Furthermore, why
should what we believe or what we choose to celebrate change how
people treat us? Either this is all a colossal universal coincidence, or
something that is highly Antisemitic is taking place.

4.4 time to go back home

When we finally returned home we faced what might be termed a


post traumatic reaction. For one thing, we were uncertain who we
could trust in the community. For another, we needed to decide how
we were going to make a living. We fortunately had received assis-
tance from someone we had barely known to enable us to get our
Part V

T H E C O N S P I R AT O R S

A list of Known Conspirators


Part VII

THE VOICES SPEAK

Voices from The Group


Part VIII

REGIONAL INFLUENCES

An Analysis of the Environmental Factors Present that


May Be Contributing to Antisemitism.
8 E N V I R O N M E N TA L I N F L U E N C E S

8.1 sociology and patterns

Since all of these things have happened, it has given me time to


think about why things are as they are. It was not that any of these
things simply occurred, but it was rather a gradual accumulation like
a snowball that led to the experienced outcome.

8.1.1 The Cherokee Indians and the Trail of Tears

The first aspect, as alluded to previously, has to be a basic insensitivity


to the obliterated Cherokee Indians in the region. The town of Prince-
ton is keen to place pieces of art depicting them on buildings. As I
have been in the process of writing this paper, the town has rather
boneheadedly elected to make a brass statue on the water source the
town was founded upon of a Native American. Within the Trail of
Tears park across from it, it has decided to erect a granite structure
that looks like a tombstone entitled "A Mother’s Burden".
The problem with all of these solutions is that there are still Chero-
kee Indians that are alive that have been forced onto reservations.
Native Americans did not believe in things like sculpture or having
their pictures made because they considered those acts to be the same
as stealing their souls.
So then, we have to ask ourselves if the placement of such monu-
ments is not for the spiritual good of the Native Americans who were
butchered here, who exactly are they for?
The funding for this "work of art" came from a group of affluent
town members. It is they who have decided along with a minority
of the city who control a fair amount of wealth to implement these
changes that the rest of us are expected to endure. What’s worse is
that in order to place the statue, they have cut down a number of
trees upon the natural cave opening from which the water issues in
the town.
I personally have spoken several times concerning the matter to a
city council member, but I gather he is frustrated to the point he no
longer wishes he was on the council.
It becomes clear, then, who these statues are to serve—the vanity
of the rich in the town who do not wish to try to acknowledge in a
humble way that what happened was wrong.
The wholesale destruction of any people is always going to be a
problem. One cannot harden their hearts to the removal of an entire
8.1 sociology and patterns 49

civilization and expect that the one they try to replace it with will be
free from the stain of the blood of the vanquished. If Germany put a
statue up of a stereotypical Jew on the site of a concentration camp
to boost tourism, everyone would lose their collective minds. Such an
act would be odious beyond measure, and yet here in this small town,
it is understood in exactly that light for the Native American people.
This, then, begins a serious cultural issue within the town. Our sym-
bols and city areas are meant to be reflections of our communities in
some way. If the community has a complete disrespect for the culture
it obliterated and now comfortable sits upon land of that culture and
makes statues and has a winery that it formerly named "Medicine
Man" vineyards, you have a culture that is drunk on genocide with-
out ever considering the implications.
A much better solution would have been to make an educational
museum with the funds, or even more practically to give money to
the Cherokee themselves and perhaps have them come to the town to
talk about their culture.

8.1.2 The Immensely Strong "Confederacy"

The Confederate Soldier on the Courthouse grounds, as mentioned,


is another factor. The deportation of the Native Americans to reser-
vations and the civil war are both events that are not distant in time
from one another. The statue here was placed in 1912 and it is said
that most businesses shut down for the event. For all the controversy
of the civil war and what it was or was not about, we can say it
condenses to two central points: 1. Do states have individual rights
which supersede the federal level and if so under what circumstance?
2. Should another human being either be the property of another hu-
man being?
It should be clear that in the first instance, the answer Lincoln is-
sued was that the second point was not a reason for the first—particularly
not if the second point was economic in nature. None of us have dif-
ficulty understanding the principle of human beings not being prop-
erty when we are the human property under consideration. It seems
that the only debate begins when one has someone else as property
and is economically doing well because of it. This amounts to a moti-
vation of greed and has nothing whatsoever to do with liberty.
With a Confederate soldier, then, there is a mixed message. Was
the South’s identity directly correlated to slavery? If so, who, in their
right minds would want to be proud of that? For that matter, where
does the slavery in such a situation stop? Often times the hatred of
African Americans courts the hatred of Jews, and so on. Is that part
of Southern heritage too?
The civil war is over. Such a statue, in my opinion, does not merit
being torn down, but it does merit being moved into a place like
50 environmental influences

a cemetery or museum. Otherwise, the message it broadcasts when


combined with the above mentioned genocide of the Native Ameri-
cans is nonsensical unless you wish to be likened to genocidal mani-
acs.
Yes, many Southern soldiers died in the war. Historically, relatives
within my family were on both sides of that divide. It was a horrible
war for everyone involved. However, the war proved the point that
the intrinsic freedom of a human being was a battle worth fighting
over. It is a pity, however, that it had to claim so many lives to learn
such a simple truth.
The only reference to Lincoln in town is a small block atop the
courthouse which faces our store toward the north side of town. It
seems to me that the town and the country owe much to the sacrifice
of all those who were killed for this conflict, including Lincoln. To
effectively honor Booth more heavily is to align ourselves as a town
as a bunch of thugs and killers who wish we could go back to the
good ole days of "owning niggers".

8.1.3 The Local Black Patch Celebration

Black Patch has substantially diminished in the past 20 years I have


been here. This festival celebrates the Black Patch Variety of tobacco.
It also rather sneakily celebrates a time at the turn of the century
when local people gathered together into what amounted to a paramil-
itary organization against a tobacco monopoly that was hurting their
ability to earn a living which was called the Night Riders. This orga-
nization took over the entire town and burned down factories rather
like terrorists. They pulled people from their homes and beat them
for not joining their group or selling tobacco behind their backs. It
became so volatile here that eventually Marshall Law was declared in
the region.
People were hurt and killed during these events as they spread to
various cities. Why then, does the town celebrate it? It makes sense
that people would feel some sense of accomplishment having stood
up for their rights as farmers, but the problem that is present is that
Princeton, again, takes pride in the event itself that was operating
well outside the law. It goes without saying that the Night Riders
were not especially sympathetic to the African American population.
When we examine the local culture’s attitudes to rebellion, disre-
gard for the law, and disregard for human life, we might feel unset-
tled. When we see those things being actively praised and celebrated,
however, we find soil ripe for things like Antisemitism. Of course,
what is said is that it is about tobacco, but then, in the twenty years
of seeing this festival the only tobacco I have ever seen present was
one huge leaf we had present at our store one year. Since what the
Night Riders were involved in was dubbed The Black Patch Wars, it
52 environmental influences

He also shared his opinions outside the town’s borders,


by way of opinion pieces in the Louisville Courier-Journal
and possibly other publications.
In March 1934, while walking home about 2 miles out-
side the city limits, Taylor was robbed, shot and seriously
wounded. Taylor alleged that the attack was motivated by
his quest for justice in the Merrick case.
Three months later, another tragedy would strike the city
and cause Taylor to shift his attentions in its direction.
Young sisters Wanda and Maurelle Cox both died, some-
what mysteriously, in early June. Wanda was 10, Maurelle
18.
Arsenic poisoning was believed to have been responsible
for the deaths, and indictments were returned against the
two people alleged to have been behind the plot — the
girls’ father, Charles W. Cox, and a nurse, Nell Baker. The
pair were believed to be romantically involved.
The murder case against Baker in the death of the younger
Cox sister went to trial in March 1935.
After 2 hours and 7 minutes of deliberation, and despite
testimony from two physicians that Wanda’s death was
the result of arsenic poisoining, the jury returned a verdict
— not guilty.
The Commonwealth’s attorney in the case then moved to
dismiss the murder charge against the girl’s father.
The Associated Press reported the prosecutor “told the
court that he believed the nurse was guilty, and that Cox
aided in the alleged poisoning of his two daughters, but
that he believed it was useless to try Cox after the nurse
had been acquitted.”
Indictments were not pursued against the pair in the death
of Maurelle Cox following the jury’s verdict.
Taylor responded by printing and circulating a new hand-
bill, entitled “Poison the Children Protect the Chickens,”
taking essentially the entire court system to task for their
failure to secure a conviction.
Citing six years of experience as a criminal investigator in
New York and Chicago, Taylor railed against the handling
of the case.
“Practically no investigation was made in this case, which
was one of the most important cases that has developed
in this county in a number of years,” he wrote.
8.1 sociology and patterns 53

“I ask the people of Caldwell County if we are maintain-


ing the court here, consisting of Commonwealth Attor-
ney, County Attorney and Circuit Judge, for the purpose
of convicting chicken thieves and freeing such murderers
as those who blotted out the tender lives of Wanda and
Maurelle Cox. It is my honest opinion that somebody has
pussyfooted in this case.”
If the Maurelle Cox indictments were not pursued, he
wrote, “their death will rank as a challenge to the world
that little innocent babes are not safe in the cradles of Cald-
well County.”
Taylor pledged to investigate the case on his own, and
pursue action at the next grand jury session that June.
Instead, Taylor found himself in his own legal trouble.
A newspaper clipping (origin unknown) dated June 11,
1935, on file in the Glenn E. Martin Genealogy Library
reads as follows:
“State Rep. John W. Taylor of Caldwell County was placed
in jail last week pending trial on two indictments charg-
ing him with criminal libel” for the circulation of those
handbills.
An AP report, preserved in a clipping from the Kingsport,
Tenn. Times dated June 9, 1935, elaborates:
“Declining to make two 500 bonds, John W. Taylor, insur-
gent member of the house of the Kentucky legislature, re-
mained in the county jail here tonight awaiting trial of a
criminal libel charge.”
After discussing the circumstances of the case, the arti-
cle notes that Taylor was seated as a member of the 1934
legislature after his Democratic opponent unsuccessfully
contested the election.
Taylor, the article continues, “figured in the famous ‘psalm
of politics’ episode that resulted in the jailing of Vance Ar-
mentrout, associate editor of the Louisville Courier Jour-
nal.
“Armentrout went to jail rather than disclose the author
of the ‘psalm,’ a letter to the editor criticizing the speaker
and the rules committee of the house for handling of leg-
islation.
“During stormy debate in the house over the ‘psalm,’ Rep.
Taylor said he had been accused of writing it but denied
authorship. He offered a resolution, however, commend-
ing the unknown author, and promised to write a sequel
after the legislature was over.”
54 environmental influences

I have not yet been able to determine the outcome of the


libel case. Taylor, however, followed up the proceedings
with another fiery handbill, again railing against the same
system and, at the same time, announcing his intent to
seek re-election.
“Everybody knows that I am qualified to fill the office I
now hold, for I have been to the asylum once, in jail four
times and voted against the sales tax,” he wrote.
“I live in Caldwell County and pay taxes here. I have fought
for what was right and have gone to jail for expressing
myself. I made the Republican party in Caldwell County
what it is today, and the people of this county are going
to stay with me, with the exception of a few half-baked
Republicans . . . I hope somebody answers this so that I
can write again, for ‘you ain’t heard nothing yet.’”
Taylor said he would open the campaign soon, “and it will
be plenty hot.”
Supporters were encouraged to meet at gatherings in Flat
Rock and Farmersville in July of that year (1935), then to
vote for Taylor in the primary Saturday, Aug. 3, “for he
can’t be bought out, and is crazy enough to speak what
he thinks, in jail or out.”
That re-election attempt, though, would not succeed, and
a little over a year later, the headlines Taylor was making
were quite different:
“JOHN TAYLOR DIES IN CHICAGO FROM GUN-SHOT
WOUNDS,” a headline from the Twice-A-Week Leader on
Sept. 29, 1936, reads.

Most disturbingly, these stories suggest the same pattern that ap-
pears to be present in this region—a deeply rooted cultural silence
that seems to be based on wrongs and a violent vigilantism. These
wrongs that are perpetrated whether allegedly blowing up a ware-
house because of a disagreement or poisoning children are not mat-
ters to be taken lightly. In the first case a lynching occurred due to
group dynamics—in the second a dismissal of something that would
appear to warrant more consideration than it received.
These matters are not Antisemitic in nature, but it is clear how
something like Antisemitism can take root here with a cultural history
that is and was being suppressed until this very day as a cover for
unjust actions resulting in murders. If people are willing to cover up
murder for whatever reason, it is not surprising that they might also
cover up things that have been said or done of a lesser nature which
only serves as a breeding ground for further pathological thoughts
and actions.
8.1 sociology and patterns 55

It is not the less troubling that many of these issues I have outlined
are entwined in child sacrifice which is the very thing I wrote a letter
to the editor concerning and was censored for out of consideration
for the families involved who had lost children. If the children in
question are being basically murdered by the town at least sometimes,
it stands to reason that the parents might not be as terribly upset as
thought.
Who then, in their right mind is going to attempt to report a thing
like Antisemitism in a culture of silence that appears to extend pos-
sibly quite far into Kentucky? Indeed, even the ADL has noticed a
silence from the region of Kentucky regarding Antisemitism. (See
Miscellaneous Folder: MS-77, MS-78, MS-79, MS-80, MS-81) Rather,
most are likely to remain silent because it is easier and institutional-
ized and what good do such complaints do anyway when they are
not acted upon?

8.1.5 Secret Societies

Princeton does have an assortment of Secret Societies. There is evi-


dence that the downtown once had an Elk’s Club, an Odd Fellows,
and a Masonic Lodge all on or near the Courthouse Square. There are
probably more than these in the region. I only note them to comment
on the aspect of silence that they represent. It stands to reason that
within institutions such as these, extreme members may decide to
keep additional secrets or else do favors well beyond anything these
institutions are supposed to endorse. For instance, if there is a sub
group of people in these institutions who are also tightly integrated
into the Daughters of the Confederacy, it becomes apparent that such
a blending could become more Antisemitic since the KKK has a nat-
ural sympathy with the Confederacy.
Indeed, an often advanced theory is that the aforementioned Night
Riders consisted of many former Masons who had broken away from
the Masonic Lodge to carry on their paramilitary exercises.

8.1.6 The Over All Pride Level

The Princeton High School has a mascot that is a Tiger. The school
band that plays is known as "The Band of Pride". The over all attitude,
in Princeton, essentially boils down to a tone-deaf Southern Pride that
refuses to bend to obvious losses.
The Confederacy was only in occupation of Princeton until 1862.
The Native Americans are quite evidently missing. The water at Big
Springs, the area where the Trail of Tears is located, loudly claims
that it has E. Coli in it now because of waste water. An entire solar
eclipse greeted the region in August which should have been a mass
event but instead the city was barely prepared for although it was
56 environmental influences

slightly nervous about the matter. It seems like unless God himself
comes to Princeton, nothing will slow down the bubble that this little
town has established for itself. This is without a doubt, a tremendous
issue, and certainly supports problems like we have experienced.
The basic feeling one gets is that one can speak but it will make lit-
tle to no difference because the town will operate in the way it always
has. There is a constantly stifling and a feeling of being "pushed" to
allow those who make the decisions to make decisions without inter-
ference. No battle, it seems, is worth fighting because the town will
simply carry out its agenda regardless concentrating power within its
select groups and shutting the voices of others with different view-
points. This is done, it seems, from within the confines of a "Good
ole’ Boy" network and if you are not in it, then your opinion does not
really count.

8.2 nearby regional influences

In the nearby town of Hopkinsville, Kentucky stands the Jefferson


Davis memorial which is an obelisk in the style of George Washington.
Again, it does not require a far stretch to understand how such a
monument can begin to be interpreted in a way that might encourage
some unsettled persons to adopt an Antisemitic approach.(See Folder
Miscellaneous: MS-68, MS-69, MS-70) The nearby military base might
feed even more notions that would be unhealthy in an unbalanced
disposition.

8.2.1 Dawson Springs

There is also the matter of a former KKK compound having been


located in Dawson Springs, Kentucky. (See Miscellaneous Folder: MS-
71) Although it appears to be mostly inoperative, one wonders where
all those who were associated with it previously have gone? Did they
all leave Kentucky? Probably not. So, we can see how such an insti-
tution against the region and combined with the elements outlined
can lead to a particularly resilient strain of Antisemitism or outright
murder.

8.3 summary of the region

In short, when we see the clear pattern in Princeton of a silencing


and what amounts to groups of people or mob actions doing various
things they ought not to and an underlying tone that seems to en-
courage the culture under which these troubling behaviors formed,
it becomes much easier to understand how something that appears
to be Antisemitic can flourish. Any one of these activities would be
enough in a court of law for a convicted criminal to be further sen-
8.3 summary of the region 57

tenced. One goes to a penitentiary, it is hoped, to learn penitence.


What then of the criminal who comes out of the penitentiary and
boasts of his crimes and lawlessness? What then of people who com-
mit murder who are allowed to do so because other people in other
places are happy to turn a blind eye? What makes this fundamentally
different than Nazi Germany? How can one have a business or any-
thing else in a community which is holding itself in such a manner?
For that matter, what can an organization, like the ADL, expect if
such silencing techniques are so profoundly used and implemented?
People in the town will become the unwitting censors because they
do not know why they do not speak—only that they feel generally
uncomfortable in so doing. For those that do know, this allows them
to get away with everything up to and including murder. With so
many monuments and endorsements of questionable causes on fed-
eral ground, it appears they have the right to do as they wish. If I have
a prejudice, the Confederate monument on the courthouse square
with his back turned on the north might embolden me to be more
prejudiced and feel as though I have friends that will support me.
If I do not like what a people believe or a store is doing, I can
invent a story that paints them out to be monsters to others because
of whatever cause it is I support. If the town is not widely in support
of that place or belief, I can get away with ruining their livelihood or
whatever so pleases me. I can defame with impunity because no one
will hold the law anyway.
If someone should attempt to break the silence, then all manner
of nasty consequence might occur. This, I think, should explain why
there are so few complaints coming to the ADL.
Part IX

CONCLUSION

Concluding remarks regarding this analysis.


9.3 final words 65

that model leads to defamation at the least and severe loss of life at
the worst. Is that really a world any of us want to live within?
Part X

ADDENDUM
A ADDENDUM

a.1 additional material

The town of Princeton is a moving target. While writing this paper,


part of the proposed memorial was put in place although this part of
the memorial was not expressly mentioned. The original paper article
speaks of the memorial thusly:

Members of the Princeton-Caldwell County Trail of Tears


Commission want to memorialize the Cherokee people
with a bronze sculpture at the East Washington Street Trail
of Tears Commemorative Park
While many visitors stop to walk through the tear-shaped
park, located across from the Big Spring, the commission
believes more tourists and community members will be
drawn to the park and drawn into learning the history of
the Trail of Tears once the sculpture is placed.
“And we’d like to have it done before the end of the year,”
said George Large of the local Trail of Tears Commission.
Michigan-based sculptor Matt Large was contacted about
the project and submitted two proposals to the commis-
sion.
The local volunteer group decided on a 2x4 foot bronze
bas-relief sculpture that depicts a Cherokee woman with
her child.
It is a piece the artist describes as being able to “bring
awareness to the plight and deep hardships to the women
and children of the Cherokee Nation.”
Princeton was on the overland route taken by a major-
ity of the Cherokees on the Trail of Tears. The first ma-
jor group of emigrating Cherokees passed through Prince-
ton in November 1837. More contingents passed through
Princeton in November and December of 1838.
Princeton’s commemorative park is a National Park Service-
certified site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.
The commission’s plan is to install Large’s sculpture on a
large, natural rock base near the street side of the park.
The total cost for the project and installation is estimated
at near $20,000.
A.1 additional material 69

Commission members have been discussing the project


and receiving input from Princeton Main Street Manager
Dakota Young, Princeton Art Guild Director Melissa Peek
and Princeton Mayor Danny Beavers.
Currently, the Trail of Tears Commission members are col-
lecting donations from across the community.
“We have received some wonderful donations from indi-
viduals and groups in Princeton who see the importance
of this project and recognize the potential and beauty this
sculpture will add to the park and our town as a whole,”
said George Large.
“But we can use more help and more support.”
WoodmenLife Chapter 92 of Princeton recently contributed
$1,000 to the project, and other donations have been com-
ing too, according to Large.
“We appreciate any support we can get,” he said.
“We think this is going to be something our community
can be really proud of.”
Those interested in learning more about the Trail of Tears
Commission sculpture project may contact any member of
the commission, including Large, Linda Johnson-Higgins,
Robert and Linda Ward, Judy Boaz, Sherman Chaudoin
and Charlotte Stoneburner.
Donations may be sent to Trail of Tears treasurer Diane
Knox.
Checks should be made payable to Trail of Tears Commis-
sion and mailed in care of Diane Knox, 206 East Market
Street, Princeton, Ky. 42445.

As can be seen, nowhere is discussed a huge granite slab which is


also being placed in the Trail of Tears park itself next to the tear drop
which looks like a cemetery headstone. Written in Cherokee on it are
the words "a mother’s burden". When it is remembered the Cherokee
did not wish any visage of them to be made and furthermore that this
trail does in fact mark the spot where the Cherokee had to sacrifice
their children and lives, it makes absolutely no sense as a solution.
Why was such a high level of money allocated for this instead of a
museum? Trees had to be cut down to place these pieces. The issue
of pride is self-evident. This pride, without a doubt, blinds the region
into doing foolish things that make matters worse.
D E C L A R AT I O N

This work is none other than my own and the voices within are no
one else’s work other than those to which those voices are ascribed.
Of course, to the extent that we all make decisions to create reality
together, it is all of our works.

Princeton, KY, December 2017

Joe Bill Schirtzinger