|By Bob Weaver|
This tragic tale is recalled in the flowery prose of a time when little was done for those who suffered from severe mental illness.
"The people of this community have often read blood curdling accounts of murders and suicides pictured as they were in crimson hue by the most sensational writers," wrote a Calhoun reporter in 1894.
"Some have looked upon the lifeless form of a man whose lifeblood had been spilt by a knife in the hands of an assassin, but the thought of all such scenes vanish from the memory like the morning dew," when a terrible Calhoun tragedy is recalled.
The writer, who went to the scene, said accounts pale in comparison to an event that happened in the Nobe community, the suicidal hanging of twenty-six-year-old Floyd Radabaugh, who also took the life of his two infant daughters by the same method.
The newspaper headline read "Triple Hanging Shocks Citizenry - Father and two children meet death by the insane actions
of a once fond and tender hearted father,
the wife visits her parents on Laurel Creek, two miles away, husband commits the awful crime."
Mrs. Radabaugh, who had been married only four years, returned from a visit to "behold the dead body of her husband and the lifeless but angelic forms of her two innocent, defenseless babes, hanging in that silent, tomb-like shed by the barn.
"Just as the last ray of the evening sun was kissing the brow of the surrounding hills a calm and gentle good-night, the misty shades of evening were hovering o'er that lonely vale."
"The Poor woman was alone ... she uttered one scream after another and ran in the direction of the nearest neighbor. The news, as if by electricity, flashed from house to house, women swooned and strong men cried with each other. "
J. E. Snider, a county Justice of Peace and coroner, empaneled a group of jurymen in the shed to determine the cause of death. They issued this report:
"State of W. VA., Calhoun County, to wit: An inquisition taken at the stable of Floyd Radabaugh in the county of Calhoun on the 15th day of April, 1894, before me, J. E. Snider, a Justice of Center district, and as such, one of the state coroners of the said county, upon the view of the bodies of Floyd Radabaugh and his two little children, Edith and Cloe, their bodies found hanging by the neck dead."
The document continued, "The jurors sworn to inquire when how and by what means the said Floyd Radabaugh, Edith and Cloe came to their deaths, upon their oaths do say: They came to their death by strangulation by the hands of said Radabaugh. In testimony whereof the said coroner and jurors here to set our hands. (Signed) J.E. Snider, coroner, W. H. Jackson, J. H. Roberts, Jas. Wilson, M. M. Richards, E. V. Richards, J. D. Collons, C. W. Richards, John Belford, G. F. Dillon, E. W. Snider. W. R, Norman, R. P. Wilson."
Mrs. Radabaugh left her husband and two children at home on Sunday and went to see her invalid mother, Hannah Moniinger about two miles away on Laurel Creek. Returning to her home about 4 o'clock in the evening, and not finding her husband and children in the room, she discovered a note on a table:
April 15, 1894
"dar wife, it seems that it is on the acount of me and my little children that coses all of the trouble, and to think of it is too much for me to bare."
"And I think if we wer gone that maby that would (glad). I am sory that I have fetched you to sorrow. and it would bin better if we had never not. Withstanding, I love you as dearly as ever a man loved a woman. With the difference that I am treated at home and my children and am blamed for all of fathers insanity, I have resolved end all of tem. What that belongs to me, and take what that is yours, and maby that will be satisfied. Bury us all in one coffin. May the god of heaven comfort you in your affliction.
yours truly husband ,
Mrs. Radabaugh discovered the bodies hanging from rafters about eight feet from the ground. Radabaugh had clasped the children in his arms before he pushed a wagon aside, effecting the hanging.
They were interred in the No. 7 Baptist Cemetery (currently known as Nobe Cemetery beside Chapel Baptist Church) with a large congregation being present. The two children were laid in one coffin and grave and he in another. After the funeral services the caskets were opened, and the procession filed in one door of the church and out the other.
Floyd B. Radabaugh's (1868-1894) marker says he was the son of Marion and Mary E. Radabaugh.
"A look at those sweet babes unfolded the picture of wingless angels and a glance at the heartbroken mother suddenly reminded us of a passage in Holy writ: In Rama was there a voice heard lamentation, weeping, and great mourning. Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted because they are not," wrote the reporter.
"Finally, on behalf of the deceased husband and father, let Godly charity and humanity plead ... Let a sprig of evergreen be planted at the head of the children's grave to denote that of such is the kingdom of heaven. To the sympathy of the God loving and God fearing people of the (Nobe) community we commend the disconsolate widow."
Floyd Radabaugh reposes in what is now the Nobe Cemetery a few miles from State Route 16, his two children in unmarked graves.
- Norma Knotts Shaffer provided research for this article from Calhoun Chronicle.