On June 8, 1883, Rev. Elisha Green was traveling by train from Maysville to Paris, Kentucky, when about forty students from the Millersburg Female College crowded onto the train at Millersburg accompanied by George T. Gould, the school's president, and Frank L. Bristow, their music teacher. Gould grabbed the reverend by the shoulder and ordered him to give up his seat. When Green refused, Bristow and Gould assaulted Green until the conductor intervened and ordered the assailants to stop or he would throw them off the train. Friends advised Green to take legal action, and he did, winning his case against them in March 1884, though with only token compensation. The significance of this case lies not only in prevailing justice, but that a black man won a lawsuit against two white men.
In The Assault on Elisha Green: Race and Religion in a Kentucky Community, historian Randolph Paul Runyon tells the story of Green's life and traces the network of relationships that led to the event of the assault. Tracing these three men's lives brings the reader from the slavery era to the eve of the First World War, from Kentucky to New Mexico, from Covington to the Kentucky River Palisades, with particular focus on Mason and Bourbon counties. The Assault on Elisha Green recounts one man's pursuit of justice over violence and racism in the nineteenth century. In this engagingly written tale, Runyon masterfully interweaves background information with the immediacy of the harrowing attack and its aftermath, revealing the true character of the primary actors and the racial tensions unique to a border state.