Henderson County, Kentucky Biography


Seized with attack of heart trouble at 5:30 o'clock on Wednesday and dies three hours later - had been complaining of rheumatism for several days but did not know seriousness of the disease.

Judge Thomas J. McHugh died Wednesday night at 8:30 o'clock at his room in the police station. He was seized with an attack of heart failure at 5:30 o'clock in the afternoon. The attack is believed to have been super induced by rheumatism. Three physicians and a nurse worked from 6:00 o'clock till death in an effort to save the life of a stricken man. Though sudden his passing away was peaceful and towards the end he seemed free from pain. He was too weak to make a statement to the men who watched at his bedside and his life fluttered from his body almost before the physician though expecting the end at any time realized that death had come. The news of the passing away of Judge McHugh cast a gloom over the officers and men who had heard of his illness and rushed to the station unequal to anything of the history of the many tragic events, which have marked the existence of the police force.

His brother patrolman, William J. McHugh, was a watcher at his bedside and the grief of the heart broken brother was pitiable. Though he had been in ill health for several weeks and had only a few days ago left the sanitarium where he went for treatment for rheumatism, no one not even the sick man himself, had the remotest idea was so serious. He had spent the day between the police station and the courthouse where he was an interested spectator at the Egard trial. Shortly before he was taken seriously sick, he had issued a warrant for a Negro and his brother made the arrest. During the day he had gone into the cell room and after examining a man who desired to remain in the station overnight had ordered him to leave. Though showing the affects of his illness, he had complained but little and until strickened his genial good humor and dry witticisms had created amusement among the officers and loungers at the station. When the physicians struggling over the prostrate man in the room upstairs sent word that they feared the end was near, grief rung the hearts of the little group of grim faced men in the office. In tender words, each recalled a pleasant interview with the dying man and the story of his actions during the day was told and retold. Judge McHugh spent the greater part of the afternoon in the circuit court room. Shortly before 5 o'clock he walked down to the station and after issuing a warrant at the request of his brother started upstairs to his bedroom. Night clerk, Elijah Henry, Jr. had just come on duty and city attorney, W. E. Gallaway, was leaving the station on his way home. They heard loud cries as if someone was in great pain coming from the rooms above and both rushed up the stairs to investigate. The attorney and clerk found the judge holding to the door leading to the police court room. He was apparently in great agony and told the two men that he believed he was dying. When they took him in their arms he clasped his hands to his heart. Mr. Henry held the ill man up while Mr. Galloway rushed down to get assistance. Charles E. Sugg was passing the station and responded to the call and assisted in carrying the judge to his bed in the front room of the building. Drs. Stone, Graham and Quinn were hurriedly called. Miss Flaherty, matron of the sanitarium, was also sent for and assisted the physicians in the heroic work, which was to occupy the next few hours. The physicians found the sick man was suffering from some kind of an internal rupture. The heart action was weak and the pulse was not apparent. Attempts were made to start an artificial respiration but the arteries soon collapsed and their efforts were fruitless. Just before the end, the patient was seized with a violent vomiting spell and from that time until the end came at 8:30 o'clock. It was known that it was only a matter of a few minutes before life would be extinct. Dr. Graham knew that Judge McHugh was a member of the Catholic Church. After he arrived at the bedside, he telephoned to Father Lynch and shortly before 8:00 the latter arrived and absolved the dying man. Though very weak, Judge McHugh welcomed the arrival of Father Lynch and gave a clear answer to the questions propounded to him.

Patrolman McHugh had gone on an errand to the jail for some warm water and when he arrived the news was broken to him that the end was only a few minutes off. He went to the bedside and waited until death had come. The news of the serious illness had already been sent to the mother and sisters of the dying man at their home on First St. A messenger was dispatched to the home as soon as possible after death had come. About three weeks ago, Judge McHugh began to complain of rheumatism in his shoulders. He was the subject of good-natured jokes from the men at the station for several days. It was seen that his illness was more severe than he would admit and he was at last prevailed upon to go to the sanitarium, where he remained for several days. He left the sanitarium last week.

Wednesday, he complained but little of the rheumatic pains but wished that the weather would moderate expressing the belief that he would improve if it should. During the afternoon, after leaving the courthouse, he expressed a fear to patrolman Jones that the disease was affecting his heart. The patrolman advised him to begin a more systematic treatment for the disease, but the Judge remarked that it would hardly have no ill affect on one so strong and healthy as he seemed to be. Later in the afternoon, he was crossing the street in front of the city building and was seized with an attack of weakness, but even then he did not express a fear of anything serious.

The deceased was one of the most popular judges ever in office in this city. He was elected three years ago and his term would have expired next September. During his administration, he had always maintained a high standard on the bench and though his court was limited in its jurisdiction he endeavored and had succeeded in making it a court of fairness and high ideals. At times his natural humor created amusement, but he never permitted the frivolities to stand in the way of justice. Judge McHugh was 35 years of age and single. He was the son of Barney and Catherine McHugh and was born in Cincinnati, OH. He came to Henderson when a small boy with his parents. His father was a contractor and died several years ago. His mother resides on First St. Besides her, he leaves one unmarried sister, Miss Katie McHugh and one married sister, Mrs. Maggie Carroll. Besides his brother, William J. he leaves one brother, Frank who resides in Evansville where he is employed in the Goodwin clothing factory. For years, Judge McHugh, was a foreman in the local woolen mills. He was well known as a musician and for years played with the Henderson band and in orchestras about the city. Though he had not played with orchestras in some time, he was still a devoted lover of music and was a member of the choral society.

He was also a devoted member of the Church of the Holy Name, of the Catholic Knights of American, the Musicians union and also held a membership in the Knights and Ladies of Honor. The arrangements for the funeral had not been completed last evening. The body was removed from the police station to the home of his mother where it was prepared for burial. There were few men in the city official family who had more friends than Judge McHugh. Always in good humor, always a congenial soul he became a fixture at the police station and his absence was always noticed.

One of the touching characteristics of the deceased was his love for dogs and other dumb animals. He had one pet that was always with him. A curly haired insignificant looking little King Charles poodle was his favorite and he was seldom seen on the street unless little "Trixie" was trotting at his feet. When the judge went to the hospital a few days ago the little dog was left behind. She searched through the streets, the public buildings and her master's favorite haunts almost continuously until he returned to his duty. There was a great rejoicing when the two friends met again.

Shock to the City.

The news of the death of Judge McHugh spread over the city Wednesday evening in an astonishingly rapid manner. Everywhere it was received with a shock. Expressions of regret were heard from every source, and it has been a long time since the death of a local public man was received with more sincere expressions of sorrow.

The death of Judge McHugh.

The silent hand of death has taken from the city one of its most lovable men; one of its characters; one of the men who has strived to do his duty and succeeded. The passing of Thomas J. McHugh, judge of the city police court, will bring sorrow to the heart of every good citizen in the city.

Though the shock of his sudden death will be great, though it will be hard for the ones dearest to him to bear, it was fitting that his end should be marked with memories of his genial nature, his bright and sunny disposition. For thus he will be remembered and his memory will be the brighter in the minds of the many who loved him and delighted in his friendship.

He had been given an office by the people. He died almost while in the discharge of his duties. He felt the responsibility of the trust imposed in him and had struggled to be true to it. His court will live in memory. Often permitted to be a place where there is more frivolity than justice, he had maintained a standard for duty and respect that was a surprise even to the most exacting lawyers. His decisions were always made in an effort to be fair and just and thorough, as will always be the case, amusing incidents and frivolous occurrences cropped out. Judge McHugh showed that he was worthy the honorable title he bore.

The memory of his big, good-natured soul will be sweet to his friends during their lives. His sunny disposition will not be replaced with ease. His dry, witty remarks will be missed by the officers and frequenters of the station.

A man great in his realm; a man true to his friends, a man of high ideals and a man with the heart and tastes of a true lover of music has been taken away. His life will be a lesson to those with whom he mingled and whom he loved.

Funeral services over the remains of Judge Thomas J. McHugh were held Friday morning from the church of the Holy Name. The Catholic Knights of America, the Knights & Ladies of Honor, and members of the musicians union with members of the police department and city officials attended the services in a body. The large sanctuary was filled with many friends of the deceased who had come to pay their last respects. The services were very touching and impressive and the floral tributes were among the most beautiful seen in the city in years. Father Lynch conducted the services. He spoke feelingly of the life of the deceased telling of the splendid record he had made as a public official and the multitude of friends he had made during his life. The song services from the beautiful Werner's mass were rendered by the choir. It had been one of the deceased favorites in church music. The members of the police department in full uniform rode to the cemetery in the patrol wagon.

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