Robert Haggard of Winchester, Kentucky was born in 1873. According to the 1880 Census data, Robert Haggard lived with his mother Nelly, and two brothers, Dillard and West, in Pinchem, a small area outside of Winchester. Robert’s oldest brother, Dillard, was born enslaved sometime between 1840 and 1845. It was likely that Nelly was born enslaved as well, though there is no extent slave schedule recording her birth. In 1880, Robert Haggard was seven years old; he attended school and was learning to read and write. According to the website FindAGrave.com., the Haggards were the only black family in the area that owned their own home.
On July 15, 1895 in Winchester, Kentucky the Cincinnati Times reported that Elizabeth Richards accused Robert Haggard of trying to rape her granddaughter, Myrtle Elkin, who was reportedly mentally and physically disabled. The Times reported that Richards saw Haggard on her property near her granddaughter. Haggard was 21 years-old at the time and he worked as a tobacco sharecropper. The land was owned by Richards.
According to the Lexington Leader, Ezekiel Elkin, the alleged victim’s father organized a mob of 200 men to kidnap and hang Haggard. However, Haggard escaped before the mob found him. As he ran, Haggard was shot by Ezekiel Elkin. A police posse intervened and brought Haggard to the county jail. A telegram was sent to the county judge and sheriff warning of the imminent threat of the mob. The mob arrived at the jail, and according to newspaper reports, overpowered the jailer and kidnapped Haggard a second time. The mob dragged Haggard to the Kentucky Central Bridge in Winchester, tied a rope around his neck, and threw him over the edge.
An investigation led by the Louisville Commercial found that Elizabeth Richards fabricated the charge of rape of Myrtle Elkin. The Commercial found that Richards had several people in her home on the night in question and that she and her granddaughter attended church the following Sunday. The Hartford (KY) Republican also repeated the story of the false accusation and of Haggard’s innocence. In late July 1895, the Lexington Leader reported that a grand jury had been assembled to investigate the murder of Haggard. There is no information following up on the outcome of the grand jury. In early August 1895, the Lexington Leader stated that an unknown group of persons burned down the stable of John Jones, a suspected leader of the mob in retaliation for the murder of Haggard.