Writing about post Civil War Kentucky takes me down a lot of different roads. Revisiting the Regulator Uprising of 1879 took me on a road back home to Eastern Kentucky. There were Regulator problems in most Kentucky counties throughout the decades of discord,the decades from the end of the Civil War through the early 1900's. In 1877, a large portion of Martinsburg (Sandy Hook) was burned by Regulators. The uprising had its beginning in Elliott County, but quickly spread to Lewis, Carter, Boyd, and Rowen.
On the night of October 20, 1879, about 200 armed men took two prisoners (John W. Kendall and William "Bill Muck" McMillan) from the Martinsburg jail and hanged them from a tree in the court house square. The hangings started a virtual vigilante takeover of local government. Hundreds of men joined the Regulators and thousands of families lived in fear of their version of law enforcement. During their vigilante governing of Eastern Kentucky, these masked men acted as the legal and moral police of the region. They took it upon themselves to discipline not only lawbreakers but drunkards, abusers, derelicts, loose women, adulterers, etc. Regulators would swoop in on horseback, threatening, beating, and often driving offenders from the community.