Richard Harry “Dick” Knapp 1847 – 1889

The Pocahontas Times,
January 9, 1890
Dick Knapp, very mysteriously disappeared from his home near Edray a few weeks ago, and a short time after, was reported as being found dead in the woods. When a coroner’s jury was summoned and repaired to the scene it was found to be only a paddy with Dick’s clothes. Very conflicting reports have been circulated as to Dick’s whereabouts, and it is believed by some that he has really been killed, though no apparent motive can be assigned.
The Pocahontas Times,
January 16, 1890
The Paddy Mystery
Very nearly a hundred people attended the investigation, held by Justice Barlow at Edray, on Saturday the 11th, in relation to the mysterious disappearance of one, Dick Knapp, and the coroners pretty well demonstrated that there had been foul play, and that Dick had been put out of the way. Further developments are anxiously looked for, as the whole country is aroused, and further investigation will be made. The justice failed to find who was the author of the Paddy Joke. On the 12th between fifty and sixty men spent the day searching over Marlin’s Mountain for some sign or indication, as to whether Knapp could be found, but failed, so far as we know, to find much. Except that at one place near a rough laurel hollow quite a stench was smelled by some of the men. This place was examined partially, further investigation will be made. The famous bee tree was found, and the whole section searched, but little sign was found. It is now surmised that if Knapp was killed, that his body was taken to the river and sunk. More is known about this affair than has as yet been made public, and it is likely that other disclosures will soon be heard. It is strange that some parties keep out of sight. 
The Pocahontas Times,
February 7, 1890
A new trace of the missing R. H. Knapp has been found.
It is now thought his body will be found soon. A reward is offered and it will have its effect.
The Pocahontas Times,
January 11, 1894
About four years ago this month the mountains around Edray were filled with men hunting for the body of Dick Knapp, who was supposed to have been murdered. So much evidence accumulated that if the body could be found, a remarkably strong case could be made against certain parties, and a reward of considerable amount was offered at that time for the body. Last week some hunters found a grave on the east side of the river not far from the place where the piece of cloth, which was considered such a strong clue, was found. The grave was unmistakable, and was discovered by the fact that it had sunk in the ordinary way. It will be opened shortly.
The Pocahontas Times,
June 8, 1899
An Old Mystery
About 1890 Dick Knapp disappeared from his home near Edray, and it has always been believed that he was murdered, though the failure to find the body has been effectual to prevent any prosecutions in the courts. Last Saturday Scott Kelley was tried at Green Bank before a justice on a peace warrant and the charge was dismissed. Then came Enos Sharp and swore that the prisoner had admitted to him that he had cut Dick Knapp’s throat with the assistance of some others. Thereupon the magistrate committed him to jail on the charge of murder.
It is considered that there is no case against the prisoner and not likely to be. Such evidence should be weighed with care for it is of a character which innocent men have cause to fear, and if it received credence no man would be safe.
The Pocahontas Times,
June 29, 1899
The Enos Sharp Cases
A section of country near the line of the Huntersville and Green Bank districts is interested vitally in the investigation into the matters pointed out by Enos Sharp, which has resulted so far in getting himself bound over to appear before the grand jury, while the other side remains at large.
This section has suffered greatly in the past few years from thieves, and so many sheep have been driven off that some farmers have ceased to raise sheep. Hanson Dilley alone has lost 65 sheep. George Fertig lost eight and found his bell sheep with the bell muffled, indicating that an attempt had been made to drive the whole flock off. Hogs running in the mountains and poultry in large quantities have also been taken. There is no question but that an organized gang is at work; but the authorities cannot be too careful for with such a condition of affairs it is not hard to raise suspicion against almost everyone.
The racket started when Scott Kelley was arrested on a peace warrant and at the hearing Enos Sharp declared that Kelley had admitted to him that he had assisted in the cutting of Dick Knapp’s throat, and that he could name the men who had been driving off people’s sheep from the range.
Kelley was sent to jail without the formality of issuing a warrant and on this meager evidence. Upon a hearing, Judge McWhorter turned him loose. He had been about to die in confinement and had the courtesy of “prison bounds” extended to him before and he had become a familiar feature of the village and seemed to enjoy his visits to Marlinton immensely. He does not look like a murderer.
In regard to the sheep stealing he detailed the circumstances attending the driving off of sheep on Elk on the day of the Confederate Reunion at Marlinton in 1897, when the whole county was away from home.
Unfortunately the witness’ reputation for truth and veracity in the neighborhood in which he lives has been successfully assailed in two late trials and his evidence made of no effect.
A few days after, Amos Wooddell, one of the men he had accused of lifting sheep, had a warrant issued for Sharp for shooting at him. After some delay Sharp was arrested, examined last Tuesday, and held to await the action of the grand jury. Uriah Hevener, one of our most prominent stock men bailed him out of jail.
Then Enos Sharp had a warrant issued against Henry (alias Pea Lea) Rider and John A. Hooks for breaking and entering the house of his father, Lindsay Sharp. They were arrested and examined before Squire Grose last Thursday.
Lindsay Sharp’s house is situated in a lonely place on the Hunters-ville and Dunmore road. Enos Sharp’s house is near his father’s. Both testified that on the night of the 17th some six or seven men came to the house and with much cursing and swearing invited them both to come out and be killed. When they refused to respond they broke open and searched both houses. While they were attacking Enos’ house, old man Sharp got up and fled to the woods from where he watched operations. Enos remained upstairs and testified that he heard the voice of Henry Rider and the sound of his peg-leg on the floor. “You’re a damned liar!” shouted the prisoner suddenly making a false movement with his fist. The court quieted the confusion incident to this interruption and the case proceeded.
Lindsay Sharp is a decrepit old man who calls himself seventy-five in round numbers. His testimony was substantially the same as that of his son. He said that he sat out in the woods all night. He has the reputation of having hoarded a fine bag of gold, and the defense attempted to show that it might have been for that the house was broken into.
The defense said that the Constable Moore had asked them to locate Enos. This was confirmed by Moore’s testimony. They had gone there and hollered for Enos and when he did not answer had gone to Mrs. Rebecca Miller’s house and watched for him all night. Floyd Rider corroborated this evidence, and the evidence of Enos Sharp being impeached, the prisoners were discharged.
The Pocahontas Times,
October 5, 1899
One of the most extraordinary scenes ever witnessed in a courtroom took place at this court. Last spring Enos R. Sharp testified that Scott Kelley or Scott Bowers had admitted that he had killed Dick Knapp, whose fate has been a mystery for the last ten years. A justice of the peace committed him to jail and he was released at the June court, the evidence being considered insufficient to hold him.
Sharp attended this court as a witness before the grand jury, and was standing in the hall outside the courtroom. Kelley came up the stairs with a horse whip in his hand and seeing Sharp attacked him with the whip. Sharp sought sanctuary in the presence of the Judge who was presiding in the court, and came running through the door into the bar, Kelley striking him terrible blows with the whip every step of the way. Kelley was leaping at every blow and the whip fairly whistled.
Forest Hill, Deputy Sheriff, jumped at Kelley and with the aid of several lawyers and bystanders got Kelley down and overpowered him. Kelley had every appearance of a lunatic. He was shouting and cursing that Sharp had sworn a lie against him. They hustled him off to jail. Sharp’s face was literally cut to pieces.
When brought before the Judge to be sentenced Kelley said he did not remember the occurrences of that day.
He is not very bright at best. He said he had taken a drink or so.
He was given thirty days in jail for contempt of court.
“You couldn’t take it in money, could you, Judge?” he inquired.
“Have you got any money?”
“Well, no, but I might get some. And I’ve got a wife and five children, Judge, and they just ain’t got any house to live in. And when I come up the stairs that day somebody hit me with a stick, you kin see the place, Judge, and I thought it was Sharp. He was the only man I saw and I thought he had done it, Judge.”
“But you said you did not remember anything that occurred that day,” said the Judge.
He was trapped, but the prisoner was too dull to even see that he had contradicted himself. He is now serving out his sentence.
Sharp thought there was something back of Kelley’s attack on him, and he asked for peace proceedings against A. J. Hook, Amos Wooddell, and Henry Rider. Hook and Rider came into court on an attachment awarded against them, but Wooddell had left for home. Hook gave bond to keep the peace especially so far as Enos R. Sharp is concerned, for one year. Rider has so far been unable to find a bondsman.
This trouble with Sharp is the outgrowth of a series of trials and accusations with which the people of the county are familiar.
The Pocahontas Times,
September 24, 1903
A letter addressed to Dick Knapp, who mysteriously disappeared about 14 years ago, is advertised at the Marlinton Post Office.
 The Pocahontas Times,
April 1, 1915
Word was received here this morning, April 1st,  that the bones of a man had been found by lumbermen cutting timber on Bear Tree Run, a tributary of Thorny Creek. The bones were said to have been found beside a large soggy log. The bones were left as they were found, but a shoe was brought to the camp. Twenty-three years ago a man named Dick Knapp mysteriously disappeared in these woods and has not since been heard of.
 
Article provided by
Kay Wilfong King

more recommended stories