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Easley to discuss book about 1921 slaying

BY ANDREA MOOREamoore@paducahsun.com

A story he heard from his mother as a child inspired Murray lawyer Sid Easley to write his first book, "A Courthouse Tragedy: Politics, Murder, and Redemption in a Small Kentucky Town."

The book takes place in 1921 and tells the true story of the slaying of Graves County Sheriff John T. Roach, who was shot by his deputy and best friend Sam Galloway inside the courthouse in Mayfield.

Easley, a native of Graves County, took three years to write his book.

"I have a great love for local history," he said.

The story presented Easley with a difficult challenge because of the lack of historical documents in the case.

"It was very difficult because I did not have a legal transcript of the trial," Easley said.  "However, the newspapers were marvelous in those days, and there were two local newspapers in Mayfield that reported on the case with extensive detail."

Easley said the most rewarding times while writing this book were when he was able to speak with descendants of the book's main characters. Among those he interviewed were Terry Ferguson, grandson of Roach, and Doris Galloway, daughter-in-law of Sam Galloway. He gained useful information from both. 

Easley also discovered an oral history interview with the sheriff's widow, Lois Roach, and obtained records through Ancestry.com.

Easley said he had an inside perspective on how the trial might have played out.  

"I have tried several cases in that old courtroom, and I could easily picture the trial in black and white with people fanning themselves with church fans, and the bloody clothes of the victim being shown to the widow," Easley said.

Another reason Easley decided to write the story is because it dealt with the important aspects of human nature such as betrayal, honor and redemption.

"I delved deeper and thought about the betrayal Sam Galloway felt when a man he considered his best friend decided to fire him," Easley said.

Easley was also drawn to the story because of the importance that religion played in the characters' lives.

"I could see that young widow as she sat in church and this wonderful loving preacher speaking to her about her loss," Easley said.

Easley said: "During the 1920s Mayfield had two newspapers, eight passenger trains and 1,500 people working in their woolen mills. I was amazed at how strong Mayfield was during that time."  

Easley hopes readers gain an appreciation of local history and come to understand that despite tragedy, people are good and able to overcome. 

Easley will discuss his book at an event hosted by the Jackson Purchase Historical Society at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in the Graves District Courtroom in Mayfield.

Copies of the book will be available for sale.

"I am excited about (Saturday's) reading because attendees will be sitting on the same benches that the characters in the story sat on," he said.

Contact Andrea Moore, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8684.

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