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David Sheely and the Murder of Nancy

Upon a gravestone at the Mt Pleasant Methodist Church graveyard is etched the name of Nancy Ann Maynor, born June 18, 1819 and “murdered” June 8, 1847… just 10 days from reaching her 28th birthday.

What happened that June 8th morning that caused Nancy to take her last breathe? Was it her husband, David Sheely, who murdered her in a drunken fit of rage? It was David who got the blame. Sure, he liked the Whiskey. He was even a drunk. Violent? Yes, but he loved his wife and children. So he took the blame. Arrested and tried for the murder of his wife, David was found guilty and sentenced to hang from the neck until dead. On a cold November morning in 1847, on a hill overlooking Cynthiana to the north of town, David’s sentence was carried out and he was hanged for murder.

As the crowds dispersed and his body was buried on that hill, that should have been the end of his story. But like all good ghost stories, this one doesn’t end with death…that’s where it begins. Over the hills and through the hollows of Harrison and surrounding counties, the ghost of David Sheely roamed for years…looking for justice. But why? Was he a man who got what he deserved? Or was he innocent and given death for a crime he did not commit.

Find out more by taking the Cynthiana Ghost Walk in downtown Cynthiana. Every Friday and Saturday in October.

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