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From: "bettyputnam" <>
Subject: [KYRUSSEL] Brutal Slaying of Nannie Womack
Date: Thu, 2 Apr 2009 07:40:19 -0400


This story is in the Russell County, Kentucky History & Families, page 41-42.

Brutal Slaying of Nannie Womack

"The crime of the century in Russell County occurred on December 8, 1908, when Nannie Womack, the nine year old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Logan Womack was found brutally raped and murdered less then a quarter mile from her home. Little Nannie died from a blow to the head. It was later determined the murder weapon was a tree limb used after the murderer failed to sucessfully choke the child. Nannie was one of five children. Nannie and two of her brothers attended the Mt. Olive school. On the afternoon of the slaying, Edward and Lucien, her brothers had gone home with some friends to spend the night. This left Nannie to walk home alone. Until she reached the lane leading to her home, Nannie was walking with some friends from school. As they reached her lane, the other children waved goodbye for what turned out to be the last time. The lane to her home was heavily wooded and a bit frightening to the child. Fifty yards down the lane, Nannie was seized, dragged into the woods, raped and murdered.
When Nannie did not arrive home on time, her family began to look for her. Soon the neighbors throughout the Webbs Cross Roads and Mt. Olive communities joined the search. Her badly battered body was discovered by the searchers. One of the men in the team searching the woods around the home was Nannie's grandfather, Morgan Womack. It was Morgan who noticed that the lantern carried by Clay Dammron was not moving. When Dammron did not respond to his call, Morgan went to investigate. Mr. Dammron stood speechless, stunned by the horror of the scene before him. Little Nannie lay violated, her small head and face smashed by the power of the blow from the tree limb, her life's blood spilled around her tiny body on the cold wet December ground.
As was the tradition of the time, little Nannie was "laid out" at home and covered with a sheet while waiting for the coffin to be completed. It was during this time that Mrs. Womack's nephew, Elmer Hill came to view his poor little cousin. According to old newspaper accounts, Elmer walked over to Nannie, uncovered her face and said, "A person that would do a deal like this sure is a mean person." The community agreed.
Many members of the community had gathered at the Womack home to offer comfort and support. The men had gathered outside to discuss the crime and the search for the child's killer. Elmer Hill was among them. While they stood in the muddy yard waiting, a rider came and advised the crowd that the bloodhounds that were coming from Lincoln County would be there shortly. Elmer Hill seemed concerned by this and left the home hurriedly. It took three days for the bloodhounds to trail the killer. The killer was located hiding in an outbuilding in Sano on the fourth day. The killer was Elmer Hill.
The story was later pieced together from Elmer Hill's accounts to several different individuals. On the day of the murder, Elmer was waiting for one of the local "bad girls" in the woods near Nannie's home. The bad girl did not show and Elmer was upset greatly by this. He saw Nannie coming up the lane and popped out from behind some trees. The startled child said "Oh Elmer, I was afraid but I'm not now". Elmer then grabbed the child, took her into the woods where he raped and killed her. He attempted to choke her with her scarf but as he started to walk away, Nannie raised up and called "Mama" three times. It was then that Hill picked up a tree limb and struck the child dead. It is interesting to note that Jocie Hill Womack, Nannie's mother thought she heard her little girl calling Mama and it was this that made them begin looking for her as soon as they did. Meanwhile, Hill then went to his grandfather's to change his bloody clothes. The clothes were later found hidden in the loft. Afraid of the bloodhounds, Hill changed his shoes for a new pair at the home of a Holt man near the Blair Schoolhouse Road.
On Sunday, December 13, Hill was captured by Wolford Wilson and a Shepherd man. He was taken to the Jamestown jail but was secretly moved to Wayne County's jail because of the danger of a lynching. He remained in the Wayne County jail until Tuesday of the following week when the mob that had come searching for him in Jamestown on the night of his arrest decided to take the law into their own hands and rid the world of Elmer Hill. The group was comprised of some 60 to 75 men, many of them prominent citizens. At the time the mob seized Hill, the sheriff of Wayne County was not at the jail and the deputy offered no resistance.
Hill was brought back to Jamestown and on the road known now as Hwy. 92 not far from a spring called Gaddins Spring. At the large Black Oak on the left side of the road coming up from the Cumberland River. Hill was sat upon the horse of Nannie's grandfather and summarily lynched. His body was left dangling there for all the community as well as any passing travelers to view. Eventually, his body was taken down and buried at the back of the Jamestown cemetery. At one point, Hill was asked if he had any regrets and he said. "I wish I'd have give them other three girls down there the same treatment." One of the other girls Hill allegedly referred to was Beatrice Webb Allen. Some newspaper accounts say that Hill told the mob to go ahead "I have it coming to me."
After Nannie's tragic death, the other children would go to the log where her small body had been found and stand and say "This is where little Nannie was murdered." The community rejoiced at the lynching of Elmer Hill according to all the newspaper and printed accounts of the tragedy. The crime was truly one of the most brutal and horrendous in Russell County's 170 years."

There is a picture of Nannie Womack and Elmer Hill as he hang from the tree, on page 42.

Nannie Womack was none of my relation but was a second cousin, once removed, to my aunt (by marriage), Lavona Sullivan Wade.

Betty Wade Putnam



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