Henderson County, Kentucky Businesses



Grocery store gun battle leaves one dead, one in jail

John McCLARNEY and Ed SUTTON not only were cousins but apparently were good friends, too - until a tangled domestic situation caused one to spill the blood of the other.

Only two days before Christmas 1906, the two men stood about three feet from each other in VOGEL'S Grocery Store in Henderson's Audubon section and both opened fire. Whether by intention or accident, SUTTON missed. McCLARNEY didn't.

According to a newspaper account, he fired at SUTTON two or three times - he wasn't sure how many - and one bullet went through SUTTON'S intestines. That shot proved fatal, but not instantly.

Somehow, the wounded man managed to walk out of the store and reach his own residence next door to the grocery. There, he lay down on his bed and awaited the arrival of doctors.

When the physicians examined him, the December 24, 1906, edition of the Daily Journal relates, they "immediately saw there was no possible chance for his recovery." He died within the hour.

"Coroner Hart FLOYD held an inquest," the Journal said. "The finding was 'died of pistol wounds.'

"Chief HELD hurried to McCLARNEY'S home, where he was told that McCLARNEY (who was not injured) had already gone to headquarters. As McCLARNEY'S charge was undoubtedly to develop into murder, he could not be allowed bond and was locked up."

It was a tragic ending to a relationship that previously had been close enough to prompt the cousins to become partners in a meat business in the east end.

Their estrangement, the newspaper indicated, was caused by an alleged liaison between SUTTON and McCLARNEY'S wife. That led to a break-up of the business partnership and to even more problems as they disputed about a settlement of accounts.

"Several weeks ago the relations between SUTTON and McCLARNEY became so strained that SUTTON left Audubon," the Daily Journal related. "McCLARNEY and his wife separated, he retaining their three children."

Then McCLARNEY "went to the country to spend the greater part of his time" and SUTTON returned to Audubon. "McCLARNEY claims that (SUTTON) openly exhibited a pistol and stated that it would be used on McCLARNEY," the newspaper said. "He also armed himself and both awaited a meeting."

That encounter occurred at the grocery.

"McCLARNEY claims that SUTTON first reached for his pistol, but was too slow and he got the first shot," the reporter wrote. "He claims that SUTTON shot at his face when only three feet away, but missed and then fired two more shots."

Reprinted with permission
Progress Edition, The Gleaner, Saturday, March 30, 1996
Written by Judy Jenkins

Contributed by Netta Mullin, HCH&GS
Copyright 2002 HCH&GS