Ripley in Jackson County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)
Pfost-Greene Murders / Last Public Execution
On November 3, 1897, John Morgan murdered Chloe Greene and two of her three children, James Greene and Matilda Pfost. Daughter Alice Pfost managed to escape despite being wounded during the attack. G.W. Shamblen captured Morgan who was tried and convicted of the triple murder. O.J. Morrison paid Morgan for an exclusive prison interview about his life.
While awaiting execution, murderer John Morgan escaped from jail but was recaptured in Roane County by local authorities. On December 16, 1897, thousands of spectators converged on Ripley, creating a carnival like scene. As a result of the spectacle, in 1899, State Delegate John S. Darst sponsored legislation that ended executions in public places in West Virginia.
Erected 2014 by Jackson County Historical Society and West Virginia Archives and History.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Law Enforcement • Notable Events. In addition, it is included in the West Virginia Archives and History series list. A significant historical date for this entry is December 16, 1897.
Location. 38° 49.167′ N, 81° 42.715′ W. Marker is in Ripley, West Virginia, in Jackson County. Marker is on North Court Street north of Main Street (U.S. 33), on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Ripley WV 25271, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Civil War Memorial (a few steps from this marker); Partisan Raid (within shouting distance of this marker); Ripley (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Ripley (within shouting distance of this marker); Brother Harry Ripley (within shouting distance of this marker); Jackson County Veterans Memorial Park (within shouting distance of this marker); Raid on Ripley (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Ripley (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Ripley.
Also see . . .
1. “W-e-l-, w-e-l-l-, the world is shet of John F. Morgan, I reckon.”. Murderpedia website entry:
1951 reprint of a New York Sun article first published in the Jackson Herald in 1897. It begins: “That’s the way they say it in Jackson county. W.Va. The Sun told briefly on Friday how the world became ‘shet’ of Mr. Morgan by legal execution in the presence of 5,000 of the good people of the surrounding country gathered in a ten-acre lot—5,000 people, on foot, on horseback, in wagons, up trees, and on fences. Some of them had started from their homes two whole days before. From as far away at Calhoun, two counties distant: from the upper edge of Meigs county in Ohio, from Mason and Kanawha and Wood counties, from 60 miles in every direction these people had come to the ‘shettin’ out’ of John F. Morgan.” (Submitted on October 14, 2018.)
2. The Slaughter of the Pfost-Greene Family of Jackson County, W. Va: A History of the Tragedy. Amazon website entry:
1897 book by Okey J. Morrison. This link is to a reprint on Amazon.com. “The deadly hatchet, with which the women had been killed, was found some little distance from the house in the garden toward Mr. Chancey’s, near where Alice first hid, covered with blood and to which gray hairs were clinging. Morgan had, no doubt, started to follow Alice as she went to Mr. Chancey’s, but was detained too long in the butchery of the other members of the family, and here, abandoning the pursuit, threw down the cruel hatchet and endeavored to make his escape. He went home from the Greene residence, getting there about daylight. Rushing through his house excited, he says to his wife, ‘all of them are killed down to Cloies’ (this was the name he always used when referring to Mrs. Greene.) His wife saying, ‘law, who done it?’ Morgan making the reply, ‘you will hear who.’” (Submitted on October 14, 2018.)
Credits. This page was last revised on January 23, 2022. It was originally submitted on October 14, 2018, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 884 times since then and 414 times this year. It was the Marker of the Week December 16, 2018. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on October 14, 2018, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.