We recently received information regarding a line of duty death back in the 1920s.
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Patrolman Wilbur Grubb was born February 19, 1894 in Upshur County. He was the son of Columbus and Milanda Grubb. Grubb served as a City of Buckhannon Police Officer for 2 years and 6 months. April 21, 1940 Grubb arrived at the home of Byzantine Hartman to investigate an attempted rape. Upon Grubb’s arrival, Hartman fired a shotgun blast hitting Grubb through the screen door. Hartman's neighbor, Ben Thomason was with Grubb as he approached the Hartman’s door. Thomason was wounded in the leg by a second shotgun blast from Hartman. Hartman then fired a third shot hitting Grubb a second time as he lay on the ground. Thomason was able to reach a phone and notify the Fire Department of the murder. Hartman was captured later that day. Hartman was sentenced May 16, 1940 and hanged June 28, 1940. News articles from that time indicate that Hartman was the first resident hanged. Officer Grubb was survived by one son Charles Ray Grubb, Widow Mrs. Grace Miller Grubb, 4 brothers, and 3 sisters. Grubb also served as a commander of the American Legion for 15 years.
Below is textual content from various newspapers regarding this event.
Articles have been retyped as they appeared and cited as completely as possible.
Officer Grubb's Memorial Page (NLEOMF)
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund
As printed in the Republican Delta on Thursday April 25, 1940:
Hartman Is Held on Two Counts By Special Jurors
Grand Jury Holds Killer of Officer on Two Counts in Special Session Thursday. Court Names Local Lawyer as Attorney for Byzantine Hartman Who Prepares to Stand Trial for Murder and Attempted Killing of B. H. Thomason.
Rites Held For Slain Officer - William H. Grubb is buried at Lorentz
Funeral services for the slain officer were held on Tuesday at the Whitescarver funeral home on Kanawha street with the Rev. E. L. Arnold in charge. Members of the American Legion post here, of which Patrolman Grubb was a past commander assisted in the funeral service. Born in Upshur county February 19, 1894, Patrolman Grubb was the son of Colombus and Miranda Grubb of Route 2, Buckhannon. Survivors include the widow, Mrs. Grace Miller Grubb; on [sic] son, Charles Ray, 6; four brothers, Delbert, of Buckhannon; Harold, of Queens; Ralph, of Route 2, Buckhannon; and Cecil, of Uniontown, O.; and three sisters, Mrs. Nettie Beer, and Mrs. Zona Mills, both of Ivanhoe, and Mrs. Mabel Reger, of Uniontown, O. Pallbearers were past commanders of Frank B. Bartlett post No. 7 of the American Legion: Charles Tenney, R. Worth Shumaker, Earl C. Congelton, Ray Light, John W. Shiflett, and J. L. Harvey.
Hartman To Stand Trial - Officers Return Killer to City For Hearing
A hurried drawn grand jury returned two indictments against Byzantine Hartman, 30 year old slayer of Patrolman Wilbur Grubb, Thursday when the special session ordered him held trial on the killing of the police officer and the attempted killing of Ben Thompson, Buckhannon resident who was aiding the officer in his investigation when the fatal shots were fired last Sunday morning. The jury deliberated the testimony of the witnesses called for the hearing but in a few minutes before returning the twin indictments. Attorney J. D. Jennings was named by the circuit judge, John H. Brown to defend Hartman when he appeared before the bar on Thursday afternoon and stated that he would stand trial. The appointment of Attorney Jennings to represent Hartman at the coming trial which has been tentatively set for May 6 was made necessary when Hartman that he had no funds with which to pro- ... (unreadable text)... this nature it is necessary for the circuit judge to name some member of the bar to handle the defendant’s case. Failure to comply with that particular case set up by the judge throws the lawyer in question in contempt of court and liable for fine. Attorney Jennings asked for a demurrer in the case until Friday, so that it is believed that Hartman will be arraigned sometime Friday afternoon. Grand jurors who were drawn for this special session called after the fatal shooting of the police officer were as follows: W. E. Sutton, Garland West, H. C. Farnsworth, H. C. Freeman, E. A. Marley, L. W. McClain, R. R. Colerider, Orth Gould, (unreadable text)...
As printed in the Buckhannon Record on Friday May 17, 1940:
HARTMAN WILL HANG For Murder of Officer Grubb
WILL BE TRIED AT PRESENT TERM OF CIRCUIT COURT, OFFICERS SAY
Accused Man Is Held In Lewis County Jail; Hundreds Attend Rites For Grubb Tuesday
Thursday afternoon at 3:15 o’clock Hartman was arraigned in court, and his attorney, Dowell Jennings, who was appointed by Judge Brown to defend him, announced that Hartman will not enter a plea of guilty. He further asked the court for time to study the indictment against Hartman, and the points of law in question regarding the indictment will be argued today. Judge Brown, at the request of Prosecuting Attorney A. Jeromo Dailey, indicated that the trial will be held Monday, May 6, but Mr. Jennings suggested that he may ask for a change of venue, and if it is granted, no date for the trial can be set until later. Hartman, who was brought here from Weston a few minutes before he was taken to court, appeared stolid and disheveled. He was returned to Weston at 4:15 o’clock until a time is arranged for him to enter his plea before the court. His mother stood by and watched as officers drove away with him. Thursday a special grand jury convened and indicted Byzantine Hartman, 28, for the murder of Wilbur Grubb, 46, Upshur County jailer and City policeman early Sunday morning as Patrolman Grubb went to Hartman’s home to investigate an attempted assault. The special grand jury was summoned to investigate the case as the April term of Circuit Court is now in session, and the petit. jurors now in attendance can be used for the trial. It is probable that Hartman will go on trial the latter part of next week.
As printed in the Republican Delta, VOLUME LXXI. NO.17
Hartman Given Death Sentence
Judge Brown Names June 29 As Date Of Execution
Judge John F. Brown in Upshur circuit court chambers Thursday morning sentenced Bizentine Hartman, 28 years old, to death by hanging for the fatal shooting of Patrolman Webb Grubb, Buckhannon city officer on the night of April 21. This is the first case in which capitol punishment has been the sentence in Upshur county, according to court officials. Hartman took the sentence of the court calmly and did not show any signs of emotion as sentence was passed upon him. He was hurried to jail by officers following the adjournment of court. When asked by the court as to whether he had any statement to make before sentence was given, he merely shook his head and though [sic] the judge’s statement showed no signs of visible emotion. Defense attorneys who were appointed by the court to handle Hartman’s interests stressed the mercy plea made by the defendant in a lengthy commentary at the opening of the court session, and final statements were made by Prosecutor A. Jerome Dailey and Judge H. Roy Waugh, acting in the interest of the state. Court was adjourned shortly after 11:15 when sentence was passed on the defendant. A crowded courtroom witnessed the action of the trial Thursday morning as has been the case throughout the entirety of the hearings, and an audible murmur not be arose as sentence was passed. Previous action saw a group of physicians including Dr. H. O. Van Tromp of the staff of the Weston State Hospital examine Hartman with a reference to his sanity, but reported him to be in sound mind. Dr. Van Tromp stated that Hartman was “crazy drunk” on the night of the slaying which reiterated the testimoney [sic] of officers who arrested him. Witnesses in the case included, Ben Tomason, local funeral home employee, who was with Officer Grubb at the time he was killed and who was wounded by a shot from the gun which with Hartman killed the officer. Dr. I. F. Hartman, local physician, testified that he examined the body of the slain officer and that the second shot fired at close range was the charge which proved fatal. The date of the execution of Hartman was set for June 28, 1940 at Moundsville that state penitentiary, by the judge, who in sentencing the red-haired killer called his crime “one of the most brutal in the annals of West Virginia history.
Excerpt 1 as printed in an unknown newspaper article on unknown date:
WILL BE COUNTY’S FIRST MAN TO HANG, OLD RESIDENTS SAY
Prisoner to be Taken To Moundsville Today; Shows No Emotion As Sentence Pronounced
Byzantine Hartman will be hanged at the state penitentiary at Moundsville on Friday, June 28, for the murder of City Policeman Wilbur H. Grubb on April 21. The sentence was pronounced by Judge John F. Brown Thursday morning at 11:15 o’clock. Hartman, who is 28 years old, had placed himself on the mercy of the court by pleading guilty to an indictment in which he was charged with the murder of Officer Grubb. In pronouncing sentence Judge Brown said: “This is a very great duty, but in doing so I must keep my conscience clear because I have to live with myself. The doctors found that there was no form of insanity in their opinion now or at the time of the commission of the crime. It is known that you had been drinking, but there is some question as to the amount. The doctors, as well as all the parties who testified, are in the opinion you knew what you were doing at the time of the tragedy. The facts before and at this time showed this was a vicious, brutual [sic] murder, too gruesome to retell. In my judgment, it was possibly the most vicious, brutual [sic], and deliberate murder in the annals of West Virginia. I had always hoped that this duty would never come to me, but justice demands the extreme penalty and without any malice on the part of the court, the judgment of this court is that you be hanged by your neck until you are dead, within the walls of the West Virginia penitentiary at Moundsville on Friday, the 28th day of June, 1940. I understand from your statement to the doctors who made the examination that you stated you didn’t believe in a hereafter. I do believe in a hereafter, and by such a confession you have nothing to lose, but everything to gain. While you have time, make peace with your God.” The hanging of Hartman will be the first case in which capital punishment has been imposed in Upshur County, oldest residents of the County declare, and it is one of the few cases in West Virginia in which a man has pleaded guilty to first degree murder. Immediately after the trail Hartman was removed to the Lewis County jail where he has been confined since the morning of the murder when an angry mob milled about the Upshur County jail where he was being held. Today Sheriff H. A. Zickefoose will remove Hartman to Moundsville. The case was opened Wednesday morning. Judge Brown, speaking to Hartman, told him that he had been informed he (Hartman) wanted to change his former plea of not guilty to guilty, but that the court had not accepted his change of plea until he had more time to consider. Hartman’s attorneys, Dowell Jennings, and U. G. Young, Jr., who were appointed by the court, stated that after due consideration Hartman decided to change his plea to guilty Judge Brown then proceeded to take testimony in the case for his own information. The first witnesses called to the stand were Dr. H. O. Van Tromp, of French Creek who is assistant superintendent at the Weston State Hospital, and Dr. F. A. Irmen, psychiatrist at the same institution. They had examined Hartman to determine his mental condition, and both testified that Hartman was sane when they examined him. They further reported that Hartman is not suffering from any venereal disease. The doctors testified that Hartman gave a clear account of his actions on the night of the murder. Dr. Van Tromp declared that Hartman was “crazy drunk” when he killed Officer Grubb. Dr. Irmen said he was intoxicated to the extent of... (no further text available)
Excerpt 2 as printed in an unknown newspaper article on unknown date:
...home in an intoxicated condition and threatened Mrs. Hartman. She picked up a poker and ran from the house, her son followed, caught her, and threw her to the ground. She succeeded in beating him off with the poker and then made her way to the home of a neighbor, Mrs. Dorothy Thompson. Mrs. Thompson called the City police station, and Patrolman Grubb answered the alarm. Mrs. Thompson’s son, Ben Thompson, 23, accompanied Grubb to the Hartman home which was dark by that time. As Grubb approached the front door, lighting his way with a flash light, followed by Thompson, Hartman stuck a shotgun through the glass in the front door, and fired at the two men through the screen door. Patrolman Grubb was knocked down by the charge which struck him in the left shoulder. Thompson ran and Hartman followed, firing another shot which struck him in the calf of the right leg. Hartman chased the youth to his home, and there fired another shot, which missed its mark. Returning to his home, Hartman placed his fourth and final shell in the gun. He placed it in Grubb’s ear and fired. The charge did not completely emerge from his head, but completely distorted his facial features. Hartman left his gun beside Grubb and drove off in the City police car which had been used by the officer. He left Buckhannon on the Elkins road, striking a tree as he turned from the Florida Street bridge to Island Avenue. Near the City limits he lost control of the machine, which left the highway and turned over the bank toward the river. In the meantime the Thompsons had notified Assistant Chief William Curtis of the Buckhannon fire department of the murder and he immediately spread the alarm to all State, County, and City Officers who began a search for Hartman. While they were spreading to all parts of the City, Hartman walked from the wrecked car through the central part of Buckhannon, yelling loudly for a policeman. He went directly to the County jail and asked the wife of the man he had killed for a knife and a gun, that he had killed two men and he wanted to get some more. Mrs. Grubb hid herself, and Hartman went from the jail building to Franklin Street where officers found him about 4 o’clock. After he was placed in jail, Hartman made two attempts to set fore [sic] to the building by igniting mattrices [sic]. Officers continued their search for the City automobile, and about daylight it was discovered, its lights still on, and a window broken out. The machine also showed marks of the shotgun fire at the officers. Because officers felt that Mrs. Grubb, who was the only person left in charge of the jail, should not haft [sic] to care for Hartman, and because feeling was growing against the prisoner, he was taken to the Lewis County Jail in Weston. Hartman talked to officers freely about his actions, remarking: “Well I got two of them, didn’t I?.” [sic] thinking, evidently, that he had also killed Thompson who he believed was an officer. He made other taunting remarks to officers to the effect that if he hadn’t run out of shells, he would have killed them. Thompson was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital for treatment, and he is recuperating satisfactorily at this time. Hartman had a former criminal record, having served a sentence in the state penitentiary for attempted rape, and having once broken from the Upshur County jail. His brother, Cenis Hartman, is now serving a sentence in the state prison for the murder of Wallace White in a beer garden brawl several years ago. Members of the special grand jury who indited [sic] Hartman were: W. E. Sutton, Garland West, H. C. Summers, H. G. Farnsworth, J. W. Knabenshue, H. C. Freeman, D. A. Marley, W. L. McClain, R. R. Colerider, Dean, Porter Brinkley, Terry Hinkle, David Gooden, and Jesse Martin. Funeral services were held for Patrolman Grubb Tuesday morning at the Whitescarver Funeral Home before one of the largest congregations that ever attended a funeral in this City. The Rev. E. L. Arnold, pastor of the Central Methodist Church, was in charge of the services, and Dr. W. H. Barlow, pastor for the Baptist Church spoke. Members of the Frank B. Bartlett Post No. 7, American Legion, assisted with the funeral. Pallbearers were the following six past commanders of the Legion, a position which Grubbn had held: Charles tenney, R. Worth Shumaker, John Shifflett, Ray Light, Everett Williams, and Earl Congleton. Interment was made in the Methodist Church cemetery in Lorentz. Besides his widow, the former Grace Miller, Mr. Grubb is survived by one son, Charles Ray; his parents, Columbus Lee and Malinda Elizabeth Zickefoose Grubb, of this County; three sisters, Mrs. Nettie Beer and Mrs. Zuma Mills, both of Ivanhoe, Mrs. Mabel Reger, of Uniontown, Ohio; and four brothers, Delbert, of Buckhannon, Harold, of Queens, Ralph, of Sago, and Cecil, of Uniontown, Ohio.
Excerpt 3 as printed in an unknown newspaper article on unknown date:
... Those subpoened [sic] to testify before the grand jury were as follows: Corp. Troy Alkire, Capt. J. C. Berry, John Martin, B. F. Whitescarver, H. A. Zickefoose, Dr. I. F. Hartman, and Ben H. Thomason. Thomason was carried into the court room to make his testimony in the case since he has not fully recovered from the injuries inflicted by the gunshots Sunday morning. Hartman, an ex-convict, coldbloodedly [sic] killed Patrolman Wilbur Grubb, Buckhannon city police officer, as Grubb attempted to investigate a disturbance at the Hartman home early Sunday morning. The former convict, who escaped from the county jail after his conviction some years ago, also shot and painfully wounded Ben Thomason, a neighbor as Thomason went to the door of the Hartman home with the police officer. According to the report of police who investigated the shooting and later captured hartman in a chase that ended on Franklin Street. Hartman fired the first shot from a 12 gauge shotgun through the front door of his home, giving the officer and his aid absolutely no warning of his intention. This shot hit patrolman Grubb in the head and shoulder and also downed Thomason. Thomason, however, was also shot again, this time thorugh the leg, as he attempted to get help after noting that Grubb’s condition was serious. Returning from shooting at Thomason, Hartman apparently placed the shotgun at the side of Grubb’s head as he lay on the ground and fired, killing him immediately. He then stole the city police car and wrecked at a point near the city limits on the Elkins road and returned to Buckhannon on foot where he entered the county jail and demanded a gun or knife from Mrs. Grubb to continue his “killing spree”. He was arrested a few minutes later by police officers who had been called byu a member of the fire department after Thomason phoned the fire department and reported the murder. Following his arrest by Corporal Troy Alkire, Sheriff H. A. Zickefoose, and Patrolman John Martin on Franklin Street, Hartman attempted to fire the jail twice during the night. On Sunday morning he was removed to the Lewis county jail after a large crowd gathered at the county jail here. Feeling that the temper of the crowd was dangerous, officers placed him in a car and drove him to Weston.