Sometime in the late 1930’s Dan Box and a friend posed for this picture in the boat with no bottom at Moore’s Mill, south of Vernon. Moore’s Mill was probably built in the late 1800’s but was called by several names. The mill still stood into the 1940’s. Source: Personal collection of Rose Marie Smith housed in History room of Mary Wallace Cobb Memorial Library Vernon, Alabama.
ACCIDENTAL KILLING – A Joke Ends in a Tragedy
On Tuesday night there were assembled at Moore’ Mill two miles south of town, a party of young men who had done, some early in the day and some at night fall to have a pleasant fish fry. This is usual every year, the young men of Vernon taking an outing like this. The party consisted of Messrs J. E. MORTON, V. E. MORTON, J. L. GUYTON, DICK NESMITH, W. A. COBB, DEWITT MORTON, FLINT MORTON, DICK MORTON and several others.
They were joined in the day by GEORGE JOHNSON, a lad of about 17 years and son of a widow lady who lived a few miles south. The boy remained with them as one of the party, enjoying their hospitality, until about 11 o’clock that night when some of the party decided to visit the hooks set out, and young JOHNSON was one of the party to go along.
An agreement was made to have a sham attack made on the party, some one feigning to be shot, to scare the boy. Mr. DICK NESMITH went forward some distance and stopped by a stump at a bluff in the turn of the road, when the party carrying a lantern camped, he cried hault and fired a pistol, the party began to run and he shot again, back the way they had come, and unfortunately shot the boy, hitting him in the shoulder and ranging downward, it is supposed entered the heart killing him almost instantly. He seemed to have taken in the situation or from some cause had not run on with the other party, and to their utter dismay and awful sorrow there lay the boy dying
There is no question about the harmless intention of the parties in the joke that proved to be so sad a tragedy. It was some time before some of the party could realize that such an awful thing had happened. The young man sent to town for friends and justice to act as coroner if one should be needed but no inquest was held as it was known how he came to his death.
The young man had every necessary preparation made for his burial and turned his body over to this relatives who were possibly no more heartbroken than themselves. Nothing has so profoundly stirred the community for years. There is profound sorrow and sympathy for the poor boy and his mother, and then for the young men who in jolly good humor, by one of those unaccountable accidents that no one could dream of or foretell to have such a shadow cast upon their recreation and their lives calls the deepest sympathy.
They do not seek to evade the responsibility but each seems to reproach himself as being the greater to blame, and those who knew nothing of the intended joke until it was over seem to feel the same. It was one of those things that have happened that could have been avoided; but who would ever think of such results.
We are surrounded by a world of the unforeseen; we may go one road to a place and one unaccepted thing may lead to fortune or calamity. We might have gone another quality as near to the destination and missed it all. No one and tell what an hour may bring forth. Source: The Vernon Courier Vernon, Alabama July 18, 1895. Transcribed from microfilm by Veneta McKinney.
Aberdeen, Miss., Oct. 17. – (AP)- Dr. George Barker of Sulligent, Ala., lost the sight of an eye today when a nail flew from the hammer of a blacksmith here. Dr. Barker was driving past the shop when the nail flew through the lowered car window striking him in the eye. Date: Thursday, October 17, 1929 Paper: Daily Herald (Biloxi, Mississippi) Page: 1.
Who was Dr. Barker?
1930 U. S. Census Lamar County, Alabama Moscow Beat 9 Sulligent, Dwelling number 141, George Barker, age 49, occupation: dentist; industry: general practioner; listed with wife Cordella, age 38; daughters: Willie M. age 18, Faye age 14. Neighbors: Dwelling number 139: Jud C. and Ellis Buckelew; Dwelling number 140: Dudley and Etta Cooper; Dwelling number 142: James E. and Ella Metcalfe; Dwelling number: 143: Everette and Birdie Metcalfe; Dwelling number 144: Acklen U. and Fannie Hollis.
Information from U. S. World War I Draft Registration Card: George Jefferson Barker; Address: Berry Fayette, Ala.; Birth 6 June, 1880; Occupation: Dentistry Self Employed; Business Address: G Berry Fayette, Ala.; Tall Height; Slender Build; Blue Eyes; Red Hair.
From 1910 U. S. Census Beat 5 LaFayette, Mississippi, it appears Dr. Barker’s father was John J. Barker.
BATHING THE BABY
Those who have once become accustomed to the daily bath will be loath to give it up. I never think we can commence a good habit too early’ so I have always had my babies put into the bath from the time they were a fortnight old, says a lady correspondent. My last baby, however, proved an exception. For five weeks after his birth I was too ill to attend to these things myself, and the nurse was too ignorant or too idle. The consequence was, when I was able to take charge of the young gentleman myself, there had to be a battle. I had the water slightly warm, so as to cause no chill, and when baby was undressed I popped him straight in. The little man kicked and screamed for a minute or two, but soon ceased. For the next two or three mornings, there was a slight resistance, fainter every time; after that, the crying was performed when he had to be taken out of the bath; not when he was put in.
A warm or tepid bath should be given every night, until the child is three or four years of age; then a bath twice a week is quite sufficient. After cold bath the children should be well and briskly rubbed all over with a coarse towel. This is of great importance. If a child displays symptoms of weakness in the spine, indicated by general lassitude and an inclination to stoop, it is a good plan to put a handful of very coarse salt into a bowl of water, and sponge the little one’s back and chest with this when it is in the bath. No one, either old or young should stay in cold water more than a minute or two at the outside.
Source: The Lamar News March 11, 1886, transcribed from microfilm by Veneta McKinney.
REUNION OF CO. K. AND G. OF 16TH ALA. INFANTRY
THE REUNION AND PICNIC AT OGDEN’S MILL
Saturday the 20th of August will long be remembered by the citizens in and around Cansler and Moscow. And the train of memories awakened from the slumbering past by the 1st reunion of veterans in Lamar County will be green in the hearts of all who remember the bitter struggle of twenty-six years ago.
On the 19th the survivors of Co’s K and G of the 16th Alabama Infantry met at Cansler bringing with them the simple rations of the soldier, and when the shades of evening were darkening gathered round their campfire, cooked their frugal meal, and after the repast was ended lit their pipes and around the smoldering fire recounted the deeds and memories of the campaigns in which they had figured so gallantly.
On the next morning a large number of citizens assembled and the matrons of the company, the gentle commissaries of all successful out door fetes came well supplied with baskets of the choicest viands.
At eleven o’clock the two companies were formed and under the command of Hon J. H. BANKHEAD, former Captain of Company K., marched in double file to the grove where the appropriate ceremonies of the occasion were to be performed, and halted in front of the speaker stand tastefully decorated with flowers and evergreens, surmounted by the motto “Co. K.” framed in an artistic garland of flowers, the work of Mr. G. E. BANKHEAD.
1st Sergeant D. W. HOLLIS opened the ceremonies with a few elegant and feeling remarks that sent a thrill of emotion throughout the large assemblage, and proceeded to call the roll of Company K in the midst of a profound silence. Twenty-two answered to the call and Sergt. T. M. WOODS accounted for the silent ones whose voices had been hushed forever in roar of battle, or the groans of the hospital. The frequent answer, killed at Fishing Creek, Shiloh, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Knoxville, Jonesboro, Newhope, Atlanta, told eloquently of how unfalteringly those gallant men who went forth from the quiet hills, and marched though the red path of battle to the leaden halls of death.
The roll of Co. G was called by Sergt. A. J. HAMILTON, now one of Marion’s noblest sons whose patriotism and public spirit is well-known throughout the land. Here was a touching episode. The first name upon the roll was that of the Sergt’s father who was among those who had laid down their lives upon the altar of their country. The gallant sergt’s voice quivered with emotion as he called the name and manly tears that brave men shed trickled down the veterans cheeks as they stood in line and listened to a repetition of the story of heroism and sacrifice that had glorified their comrades of Co. K. in the struggle that tired men’s souls. Eight responded to the roll, these were all who had been apprised of the reunion of Col. K. and had responded to the invitation of their comrades to be present.
As it was soldier’s day a still older reminiscent of the patriotism of our citizens was given to the audience. The roll of the Company of Capt. D. U. HOLLIS which had enlisted for the Indian War of 1836, up on the self same spot where their sons enlisted for our late war, was called by Sergt. HAMILTON from an issue of the North Alabamian, published at that time, and which has recently been found among Judge TERRELL’S (deceased) papers. But one answered to the roll, Mr. JOHN W. GUYTON, an old citizen of this county, a venerable pure and patriotic man who is now going far down the western slope of life, adorned with shining habiliments of good deeds, and upright character and blessed with the reverence of all. The roll of this Co. will appear elsewhere in this issue. We will also give a list of Co. K. and G. in next weeks issue.
Capt BANKHEAD gave an interesting synopsis of the history of the Company, and was followed by Capt. BISHOP, of Co. G. who enunciated the principles of constitutional liberty for which those companies fought, and exhorted them to always defend them whenever the occasion should arise.
Capt. S. J. SHIELDS was then called to the stand and delivered an appropriate speech up on the occasion.
Dinner was then announced, and such a dinner – can we describe it – we are now as we were then too full for utterance, suffice it to say that it was all that could be desired, and was such a one as the people of Cansler and Moscow, always renowned for hospitality and good cheer, had busied themselves in spreading for delighted guests.
The entire entertainment was a success and all retired when the lengthening shadows were falling upon the hillside, sated guests from the banquet, and with heats filled with solemn and reverent thoughts of the brave who had passed away and those who still lingered upon the stage and proud emotions in view of the fact that they had been face to face with living witnesses of the valor and devotions of our citizens for half a century. (SOURCE: The Vernon Clipper Vernon, Alabama, August 26, 1887 – transcribed from microfilm by Veneta McKinney).
Taken from The Vernon Courier Vernon, Alabama Thursday, April 16, 1896
The news of a terrible affray in Sulligent in which two former citizens of Vernon were the actors startled our town last Saturday morning. The parties were Mr. A. – SMITH and Mr. A. L. GUIN. GUIN received wounds from which he died that night. SMITH was considerably bruised up and shot — the to-. It is said that Mr. SMITH will surrender himself and have a trail soon, but nothing definite is known. He has been in consultation with lawyers, and his friends inform the Sheriff that he will surrender in a day or town. The matter when investigated in the courts will then be a subject of a newspaper comment, but before that time a very great injustice might be done the state or the defendant, therefore, it is not decr— prudent to give details of the affray.
Taken from The Vernon Courier Thursday, April 23, 1896
A. Q. SMITH, who shot A. L. GUIN at Sulligent on the 11th surrendered to the sheriff last Saturday. He was brought before Judge YOUNG and a new warrant was sworn out charging him with murder in the second degree. The first warrant having been issued before the death of the wounded party was only for assault with intent to murder. Mr. J. C. MILNER is prosecuting the case. Messrs. MCCLUSKEY, SHIELDS, and NESMITH appear for the defense. Bail at $1,000 was agreed on and the trial set for next Friday, 24th. Thirty-nine witnesses have been summoned. The defense will set up self defense, while the prosecution will contend that the force used exceeded that required and proper under that plea.
Taken from The Vernon Courier Vernon, Alabama Thursday, April 30, 1896
Preliminary A Synopsis of the Evidence in the Trial of A. Q. Smith.
Testimony Will be Heard Today.
The case of State vs. A. Q. Smith, for the killing of A. L. Guin, was on trial last Friday and Saturday, and on account of absent witnesses the court adjourned until today. Some previous engagements of parties interested and the sickness of Capt. J. D. McCluskey, one of the attorneys for the defense, caused the continuance to be made longer than otherwise. There was considerable interest manifested during the whole trial. There has been a most solemn air pervading the court room. The mother of the deceased, with some other lady friends, have been in constant attendance upon the trial. The serious of the affray seems to have impressed itself on many of the witnesses in a way that they do not easily shake it off. In that awful struggle not a word was spoken. It appears from all the eye witnesses that though no word was spoken they knew at once it was a struggle to the death. The trial has gone on smoothly. There is but little clashing between the lawyers, when an objection is interposed, it is promply settled. The examination of the witnesses has been thorough and covers the ground fully. The Courier gleaned the following from the testimony, being substantially what the witness said:
The first witness for the prosecution was Mr. H. S. Henson who testifies as follows: “ I know defendant and knew A. L. Guin, who is now dead; was about sixty feet from front door heard noise, saw Guin at the door he had an axe handle drawn. Smith was leaning over, witness saw no lick – Smith shot, and Guin followed Smith about ten feet down the aisle in Ogden’s store in the town of Sulligent, in Lamar County, Alabama. Smith fired second time, then Guin followed Smith two or three steps and stopped, and Smith turned walked back and fired upon Guin – think the ball struck deceased about the jacket pocket in front. Afliant was about twenty feet from defendant when the last shot was fired. Had talked with Smith in regard to decedent; defendant said Guin was making grave charges reflecting on defendant’s character- that defendants character was worth as much to him as deceased’s character – that there was a law to protect a man’s character. There was a back entrance to the store house which was open at the time.
On cross-examination – “I was sixty feet from the door and heard a noise; saw Smith drawing a pistol. He was in a leaning position at the door as if he had been struck and had fallen back. Didn’t tell Ed Molloy, in the post office, that Smith turned and cocked his pistol. Did not get under the counter part of the time; was not in the grocery department during the fight. Didn’t say the presence of J. T. Thompson, at the post office in Sulligent, that Smith ran forward and cocked his pistol and run back and fired, did say that it looked like he went through the motion of cocking his pistol. At the firing of the third shot, deceased was standing with an axe-handle resting on the floor – deceased had followed defendant about three steps down the aisle and stopped and defendant walked six or seven steps down the aisle and returned to within about six feet of deceased and shot; defendant was rather to the South or East side of the aisle when he fired the last shot and Guin on the West side; defendant was about six feet further from front door than the deceased”.
The second witness for the state was Mr. Van Livingston, who testified as follows:
“I know both defendant and deceased. Guin is dead. On Saturday, about the 11th of April, 1896 in Ogden’s store my attention was attracted by a noise in front of the store. I am a salesman in the said Ogden’s store and was about thirty feet from front door behind the counter in the dry goods department. I saw Guin in the door with an axe-handle. Smith had been sitting inside or outside the door. I saw that there was trouble and drooped behind the counter. There was two shots fired after which I looked up and Guin was about opposite me across the aisle. Smith was in a leaning position, leaning from deceased and was straightening up; when up he stepped forward and fired a pistol at the deceased. The pistol was pointed at the body of deceased; think it would range about the stomach. The parties were about six or eight feet apart. The defendant walked to the front door and out and the deceased followed and I took hold of his arm there at the front door; deceased walked slowly to the door, soon he remarked to me, ‘He has killed me.” The shots were in quick succession. I think the second and third were the closer together.
Dr. R. J. Redden
Dr. R. J. Redden, the next witness says: “I am a practicing physician and was called to A. L. Guin on the 11th day of April, 1896, when I found the deceased suffering from three gun or pistol shot wounds. One in his left wrist ranging up breaking the bone in the forearm; another had passed through the fleshy part of the arm and the third entered the body just below edge of the ribs, about two inches to the right side and passed through the body and lodged under the skin in the back. This wound was mortal, producing profound shock and internal hemorage from which death ensused.” On cross-examination –“The deceased when intoxicated had reputation as quarlesome and dangerous man. Others spoke of him as rather a bluff than dangerous.
Capt. F. Ogden
Capt. F. Ogden, the next witness for the state testified as follows: “I was sitting leaning against the front of the store house of F. Ogden & Son in the town of Sulligent on the evening of the 11th of April 1896, when Mr. A. L. Guin came across the street from the office of Dr. R. J. redden,. Mr. Guin had an axe-handle in his hand. He came by and went to the door. Mr. A. Q. Smith the defendant was sitting in the door. I heard the disturbance to my right and looked around and saw a blow with the axe-handle falling upon the arm of Smith. The blow was struck by Mr. A. L. Guin, I immediately rose up and my eyes were turned from the combatant. Two pistol shots followed in quick succession. I stepped back behind the wall. I again looked in either at the door or window. I think it was the door, and saw defendant and Mr. Guin standing facing each other. Mr. Smith had his pistol pointed at Guin and fired instantly. I think the pointed or ranged to the stomach of the deceased. The defendant walked back and out at the front door. The deceased followed and the defendant turned in the street and started back. Some one shouted ‘go away’ and he crossed the street. I stepped in the store and picked up the defendant’s bat and laid it on the counter. There was not a word said that I heard by the combatants. The deceased was naturally slightly stooped in the shoulders; my best judgement is that he looked a little more stooped than he is at the moment of the last pistol shot.
Trial of A. Q. Smith for Guin Murder continued.
J. A. Poe
Mr. J. A. Poe, witness for the state testified as follows:
“ I was sitting in front of Ogden & Sons’s Store on the evening of 11th of April, 1896. I saw Mr. A. L. Guin coming from across the street from what is known as the Pennington corner. His little son was with him – he stopped and sent his on back. He had an axe handle in his hand he came on and when near the door he made a quick step and struck defendant Smith with the axe-handle. They both went into the house. Two shots were fired in very quick succession. I then went to the door of the dry goods department and just before I looked in I heard another report. I then turned back and defendant came out of the front door and Mr. Guin followed after him to the door. The defendant stopped and turned, Dr. Hollis shouted ‘Go on and have no more fussing here’. He crossed the street. There were only three shots fired. The first two were fired so close together as to be hard to distinguish from one report. The third report was after a longer interval. The third shot was a very short time from the second shot. The shots were fired almost as fast as cold be counted. I was sitting about midway between the door and window, I got up and went to the door-just before I looked in I heard third report. I was sitting about six feet from the door. I commenced to rise from my seat when the difficulty commenced.”
Perry Gilmore, another witness for the state testified as follows: “I heard the defendant telling M. W. W. Ogden about one month ago that if M. A. L. Guin did not let him alone or if he run on him he would shoot him. That he had ran on him the evening before with a knife.
A.U. Hollis, the last witness for the state testifies that on the morning before the killing that the defendant was in his office and said to him he had head that Guin was cursing out him and his friends and that Guin had better let him alone, he was not interfering with Guin.
Dr. D. D. Hollis
Dr. D. D. Hollis, the first witness for the defense said: “I was sitting on the pavement in front of Ogden’s store and the defendant was sitting in the door, his face was out of the door and his feet were on the door sill. Mr. Guin came up and made about three rapid strides and struck the defendant with an axe-handle. The handle was home made and not exactly finished. Smith threw up one hand and possibly both and from the effort to evade blow or the blow itself defendant fell back into the house on his back. While in a recumbent position defendant fired a pistol at deceased-that the deceased pursued defendant with axe-handle drawn and struck him again. As to whether both blows were struck before the first shot, I am not able to say. When Smith had gained an upright position he fired again. The range of the pistol appeared to be at the breast of the deceased. The deceased continued to advance after the second shot. Affiant saw defendant presenting his pistol in position to shoot the third time, the deceased was advancing with axe-handle drawn. Affiant jumped behind the wall to get out of range of the bullet. The defendant walked out of the front door and rather up the street. He then turned down the street in front of the door and affiant told him to go away,-defendant made no effort to re-enter the house nor did he come toward it. The deceased came to near the front door where Mr. Livingston took hold of him. As to the difference in the time of fireing affiant thinks and it is his best judgement that from the distance moved and the positions occupied that there was a longer interval between the first and the second shot than the second and third. Affiant examined the wounds of decendant. The wound in the arm and the stomach very nearly on the same elevation. The ball entering the body ranged downward two or three inches. Affiant knows the reputation of the deceased for violence and peacelessness, and that deceased was not regarded as a peaceable man when in liquor and that deceased had appearances of having been drinking. The whole time consumed was not more than seven or eight seconds, possible less am not positive as to the time between second and third shots. The bullet striking the forearm was evidently weakened in force or its penetration would have been greater. Some years back there was unpleasant feelings between affiant and deceased, the day before the killing the deceased while in liquor seemed to be angrey with affiant and spoke unkindly. Affiant refused to bandy works or say anything unpleasant to the deceased. The deceased came next morning and apologized for his speech the day previous.
Thomas Harris, also for the defense says: “I was not present at the difficulty. Deceased made threats at different times. On Friday night before the killing he said to me, “Gus Smith has robbed me and we both can’t stay in this town three days.” He said, “you are a friend to me aint’ you”” I said yes, he said, “you come down tomorrow and bring your big pistol, and stand by me.” He said “tomorrow is you democrats election day – I will have an election.” I have heard him at other times say that he and defendant could not live in the same town. About one month ago when he was drinking he wanted me to go down town and back him up that Gus Smith was trying to run over him. Communicated the threats Friday night. When drinking he was regarded as dangerous. At one time he said one or the other would have to leave the country or die. This was said on Friday night before the killing. Communicated these threats on Friday night before the killing. I told Guin that he ha better watch Smith. I knew of the ill feelings existing, and thought that they would both fight. Smith told me that, “Guin had better le t me alone,” he said.” He would let him [Guin] alone if he let me alone.’ Did not tell J. R Guin in Sulligent on Sunday morning after the killing that both had made threats. I told him that I guess they both have made threats.
Pleas May testified for the defense as follows:
“I was sitting on the dry goods counter in the store of F. Ogden & Son at the time of the difficulty. The first thing at attracted my attention was the first pistol shot. Guin was striking the defendant with an axe-handle. Three or four blows were struck at the firing of the second shot Smith was down, not exactly flat one the floor. At the firing of the third shot Smith had gotten about straight. I think that Smith was nearer the front door. The entire difficulty was quick and there was no stopping of the fight until Guin stopped at the front door. Smith had gone out. The combatants were close together, rather too close for effective use of the stick in my judgment. No words were spoken. When the difficulty was over I went out at the back door which was open. judgment is that the second and third shots were closer together than the first and second. The distance covered by the combatant between the first and second report being about twenty feet, while the distance covered between the second and third shot was less. My best judgment is that the deceased struck defendant with the axe handle after the third shot was fired. The deceased was rather beside the defendant as they went back into the room. Defendant had his head tucked down. The blows appeared to fall on defendants head and shoulders.
Joe Noe, another witness for the defense says
“I was standing in Ogden’s store in Sulligent, and looked around after the first report of the pistol and saw deceased strike the defendant on the side of the head with an axe-handle; they came back toward where I was standing. Smith was stooped over. After the second shot was fired the deceased knocked defendant down, and defendant got up about straight and fired. There was no cessation in the fight from start to finish. After the third shot I got behind the counter. I had been standing in front of the counter up to that time. The combatants came to within fifteen feet of where I was standing; I dropped under the counter after the firing ceased, was very much excited, but remember distinctly what I saw. I am nearly 21 years of age.”
J. A. SMITH
J. A. Smith, testified for the defense as follows:
“I examined the person of defendant on the morning after the difficulty and found a bruise on this muscle of his arm; one on the back of his hand and two bruises on the back, well up on the shoulders. I knew the general character of the deceased. He was a dangerous violent man when in whiskey; when sober, otherwise. The relation between deceased and myself have always been pleasant. I and defendant are warm friends.
C. G. SWAN
C. G. Swan testifies that he, on the day after the difficulty saw the person of defendant and he had a bruise on his arm and hand and there were three or four bruises on this leg below his knee and thinks it was his right arm and leg that had the bruises. The bruise on the arm gave indications of a severe blow.
Ed Molloy also for the defense says: “Heard shooting in Sulligent Guin had in my presence said that he and defendant could not be in the same town many days longer. I heard H. S. Henson say that defendant cocked his pistol and shot. I told him that the pistol was a hammerless pistol,. Henson said he acted as though he was cocking his pistol quite a crowd heard the conversation. I did not communicate the threats to the defendant.
Taken from The Vernon Courier Vernon, Alabama Thursday, May 7, 1896
In the case of the State vs A. Q. SMITH in preliminary trail last week the result was the defendant held in $500 bond to answer the charge of manslaughter. The witnesses examined last Thursday gave testimony favorable to the defendant. The argument by the counsel consumed the entire afternoon session. The prosecution was opened by Mr. J. C. MILNER for one hour and was then followed by Messrs SHIELDS and MCCLUSKEY for the defense for one hour each. The speeches showed preparation and would have done credit to any bar in the state. It is said by spectators that no more painstaking and dignified examination has ever been witnessed. Numbers of the friends of both the deceased and the defendant attended the trial The contention of the prosecution was that at the time the last shot was fired, which the state contends was the fatal one, that the defendant could have retreated without endangering his life or limb, or increasing his peril, or suffer great bodily harm. Even the proof supporting this contention was not sufficient to make the offense in the opinion of the Judge more than manslaughter in the first degree, while the defense offered contradictory evidence tending to show that he was at all times trying to get away and that he was being assaulted when the last shot was fired, and that the affray only lasted about eight seconds and was continuous from start to finish.
Newspaper transcriptions by Veneta McKinney (microfilm) and Barb Carruth (printed copy).
HAMILTON NEWS PRESS, Dec. 12, 1895 – pg 5 GOOD MAN FOULLY MURDERED – a Shocking Crime Committed in Itawamba transcribed from microfilm by Veneta McKinney.
One of the most horrible murders ever committed in any country, and the details of which are sickening in the extreme, occurred in the eastern part of Itawamba County, Miss., near Rara Avis, last Friday morning. We refer to the murder of E. JORDAN CHASTAIN near his home. To add to its horribleness his own wife is under arrest charged with the crime.
Mr. CHASTAIN was one of the oldest and best known citizens of Itawamba. He was over 75 years of age, and was very badly crippled. He could not walk at all without the aid of a crutch. He had lived at the same place as a merchant and farmer where he met his death for over 50 years, and was universally liked by his neighbors. In fact, every one in this scion who had the pleasure of his acquaintance speak of him in the highest terms of praise. Mr. and Mrs. CHASTAIN had lived together 48 years and reared a large family, seven sons and two daughters, and they are prominent citizens in the communities in which they reside.
From the evidence adduced before the coroner’s jury it seems that h e and his wife , who is over 68 years of age, but a well preserved and fine looking woman, of late had been at outs about several little trivial matter, and for two or three days prior to the fateful morning had not spoken to each other. The last row grew out his buying some package coffee and failing to bring home the glass prizes given away with it.
On Friday morning about 9 o’clock he took his ax and went to the woods about 150 yards from his house for the purpose of cutting some fire wood. He had been at work for some time when his wife sent a negro girl named Fannie that she had hired to the post office, which is a mile from the house. It is claimed that this is an unusual thing for her to do. The girl claims that she noticed him chopping about 10 o’clock. When she returned from the post office she prepared dinner, and Mrs. CHASTAIN instructed her to go after her husband. The negro girl, not hearing him chopping, went to the woods and finally found him cold in death with three frightful gashes in his head and his skull split wide open, which had been done with a small ax. She at once gave the alarm, and the neighborhood gathered there to witness the gruesome spectacle, and to find out if possible who had committed the foul deed. Upon inspection, it was found that some one whose track exactly tallied with that of Mrs. CHASTAIN had passed from the house through the orchard going in the direction of where the murdered man was found. The premises were examined, and the small ax was found with human blood and gray hair all over it. This was examined and tested by competent physicians present, who swore before the jury that the ax was the instrument used and that the hair and blood was that of the dead man.
The body of the unfortunate man was consigned to its last resting place on Monday evening, and was followed to the grave by all of his neighbors as well some friends from a distance who had heard of his terrible death. The Masonic Lodge, of which he was an honored member, will hold memorial services at some time in the near future, as it was impossible at the time to get that body together in order to have a Masonic funeral.
Rube Talks The Atlanta Constitution Nov. 10, 1889. Family legend is Rube did not give this interview. The interview with a Rube imposter was a hoax planned by Rube himself.
A CONSTITUTION MAN TRACKS THE OUTLAW TO HIS LAIR
FACE TO FACE WITH BURROW
THE TRAIN ROBBER SAYS HE HAS NEVER TAKEN A POOR MAN’S MONEY
LED ASTRAY BY JESSE JAMES
THE TERROR TALKS FREELY ABOUT HIS LIFE AND ADVENTURES
ON SAND MOUNTAIN
RUBE HELPS HIMSELF BUT PAYS THE PEOPLE FOR WHAT HE TAKES
WOULD ACCEPT A PARDON
A HOST OF KINSMEN AND FRIENDS BACK THE BANDIT AND WILL STAND BY HIM
Special to the Constitution, Gattman, Miss., November 9
Rube Burrow, the most daring and reckless desperado this country has ever produced has a word to say about himself.
He denies but little, is somewhat tired of the life of an outlaw of (sic) would surrender if absolutely sure of a pardon. But he tells it all, of his train robberies, of the men he has killed and wounded, of his pursuit by the posse in Blount County – it was either kill or be killed – of his escape to the crest of Sand Mountain, and then of his joining the posse and searching for himself. Some of his past record he regrets and some he is proud of – but he says he will never be captured even dead or alive, and has not been off his guard an instant for two years.
Last week when in Lamar County, I arranged with the family and friends of Rube Burrow to get an interview with the famous outlaw, if by any possible means they could get me to him alone, and at a place where there could be no probability of pursuit.
It was arranged, and I have had the interview.
On Tuesday night information that Rube was in Lamar County, Ala. was obtained.
AT RUBE’S HOME
Reaching Sulligent Wednesday morning, a saddle horse was obtained and the trip to old man Burrows home, seventeen miles distant, was made by early afternoon.
The old man, as is his nature, gave me a hearty welcome and read carefully a batch of letters I bore pledging secresy (sic) of whatever he desired.
“I want nothing kept a secret,” he said, “except where Rube is. Rube ain’t going to allow the detectives to get him and I don’t want to hear of no more killing.”
Being assured that Rube’s whereabouts would not be divulged, the old man said:
“I don’t know jist where I’ll see Rube, but when I do, if I can, I am going to fix it for you to see him, of course, provided he agrees. I might see him tomorrow, I might see him next week and I might never see him.”
After a long conversation, but one in which no other information than the fact Rube was in the neighborhood was gained, I left and spent the night at a country inn five miles distant.
A CLEW (sic) TO RUBE’S WEREABOUTS (sic)
Early Thursday morning I rode to Jim Cash’s, Rube’s brother-in-law and devoted friend. I learned there that Rube was not far off, but that I couldn’t be led to him without Rube being first consulted. However, I was directed To Rube’s most hearty supporter, near relative and truest friend, some twenty miles distant, just across the line into Mississippi.
The country intervening is as sparsely settled as the mountains of Blount County. It is perfectly wild and the roads, which go through dense oak and hickory woods for mile after mile without a break, appear as though they were not traversed once a month by the wheel of a wagon. I passed four houses on the trip of fully thirty miles, for I lost the road many times and went at least ten miles farther than the direct road.
At one of the houses I got dinner and gained some valuable information. Late in the afternoon I reached Galtman (sic) a new station on the Kansas City, Memphis and Birmingham Road, containing just three houses and a depot in course of construction. One of the houses was a general store, which I approached. It was just about three hundred yards over the Alabama line
“Good evening, gentlemen,” I said to three men who sat in front.
“Good day, sir,” said one as he eyed me critically.
“How far is it to Sulligent?”
“Seven or eight miles up the road.”
“Is there any place here I can get supper,” I asked. “I have ridden twenty or thirty miles today and am very much fatigued.”
“Well, I don’t know – you might,” said one.
“Anyhow, if you don’t object I will rest with you a short while.”
“Alight and have a seat,” said all three in chorus.
I jumped from my horse and leaned against the building. There was silence for a few moments. Then I said:
“Seen anything of Rube Burrow lately?”
If a bombshell had exploded right there no more consternation could have ensued. Every one of the three men was on his feet in an instant and the hand of each rested upon a pistol.
“Hold up,” I cried as my hands went up, “I am simply a newspaper man – no detective – I want to see Rube Burrow and get an interview with him – I have seen old man Burrow and Jim Cash. I was told to come over here and see a Mr. Smith, Rube Burrow’s cousin.”
“Are you the fellow that wrote up Rube in The Atlanty Constitution!” asked one of the party.
“I am, and here is the paper.” I said as I handed it out.
“Well, Rube ought to kill you for publishing such a looking man as him.”
“That’s what I am looking for him now for. I owe him an apology.”
THE FIRST SIGHT OF RUBE
At this instant I looked up, and, standing in the door with a Winchester rifle in his hand, and the muzzle pointing directly at me, was a tall, muscular fellow, as straight as an Indian and as brawny as a woodsman. Even his face was muscular. A pair of deep-set, cruel, piercing grayish blue eyes, that flashed like the eyes of a tiger, a long, almost straight and perfectly chiseled nose, a square and heavy chin, a prominent lower jaw protruding way back under his ear, and a heavy drooping mustache all went to show that he was a man of great determination and will combined with the reckless, daring nature of the most ferocious beast, and as if by instinct I knew I was in the presence of Rube Burrow, the man known throughout the southwest as Red Rube, the outlaw.
I was uncomfortable, as the muzzle of the Winchester was upon me, but realizing that the time had come for the long sought interview, I was determined to have it.
Turning to Smith:
“If there was an hundred thousand dollars reward upon the head of Burrow, and even though I was in his presence I would certainly not be foolish enough to attempt the capture of any such man – and again, I would rather have an interview with Rube than a reward.”
RUBE IS INDUCED TO TALK
“I’ll see you directly,” said Smith, as he and the man who stood in the door drew off.
Smith came back in a few minutes, asked me a score of questions, and then returned with the large man behind the house in a clump of woods.
The two walked up, and the large man sat just at the edge of the door on a stool. Across his lap lay a Winchester rifle. Smith stood near.
“Well, Rube will talk to you,” said Smith.
Then a firm, rather hard-sounding voice was heard. It was the first time Rube Burrow had spoken.
“If you are, as you say, a reporter, all right. If a detective —“
“I am simply after an interview with you, and you may rest assured that I will say nothing calculated to cause pursuit.”
“Then I’ll talk to you,” he said, leaning rather over in his chair with the Winchester, however, still in his lap and pointing towards me.
HIS MUSTACHE DYED
I leaned my chair back against a post and then had a good look at him. His mustache had been dyed a black but since the dye had been put on it had grown out fully a quarter of an inch and the reddish, sandy hue was plainly visible.
Looking straight at me, and his eyes seemed to pierce almost through me, he said:
“Well, as you said, I reckon you want to know about my life?”
“When a boy of sixteen,” he continued in an almost totally unassuming manner, “I went out to Wise County, Texas with an uncle. I went to farming, and in a few years married. My father-in-law gave me some land, and on this I farmed until almost three years ago, without any unusual occurrences.
THE LIFE OF JESSE JAMES THE INSPIRATION
“When a boy I had read the life of Jesse James, and I always had an ambition to equal him in daring deeds. But when I married I gave up all such ideas and settled down to quiet farming,” he went on talking as smoothly as a scholar, but all the time glancing in every direction to see that no one approached.
Then he went on:
“But my wife died. I got in with a crowd of fellows in Texas who had robbed trains. They invited me to join them, and I did not hesitate to do so. I joined Nip Thornton’s gang, and I ain’t sorry for it,” he said, as his eyes flashed.
“Well, go on. Give me a full account of your life.”
HIS FIRST ROBBERY
“The first trip I took with the boys was up into the Indian territory. We went there to rob an Indian woman of a wad of money we knew she had, but we didn’t get it. Coming back in the pan handle, we struck a Texas Pacific train taking water. Jim, my brother who afterwards died in the Arkansas penitentiary, and Harrison Bromley, was with Nip and myself then. We got on that train and went through the passengers in a little while.
“There were four soldiers in the car but they were worse scared than anybody else. I took their pistols from their pockets while they held up their hands. We didn’t get much though. I believe it was not quite $200.
“A little while later,” he continued, with another nervous glance around, “we held up another train on the same road at Ben Brooke, and went through the express car, and in all made a haul of most four thousand, but I wasn’t satisfied with that, and a week after held up another on the same road, but didn’t get but four hundred.
THE GORDON ROBBERY
“Then me and Jim went home and stayed there. I got married again, but soon wanted to get out again. We got the boys together, took our Colt’s shooting irons and went for the same road again at Gordon. Bromley covered the engineer, while Nip, Jim, and myself lifted the cash from the express and mail cars and got off without a hand being lifted against us.
“When Bromley got on the engine and covered the engineer it happened that he was the same fellow we had struck before, and though he was mad, he did as Bromley told him. But you had nearly all this in that paper,” pointing to a copy of The Weekly Constitution, which they had evidently been reading.
A WORD ABOUT A DETECTIVE
“That little detective you’ve got something about – that fellow Burns – why he don’t give me no more trouble than a fly. I’ve played around that fellow a good deal, but they did have a fellow after me once that I didn’t like. He’s gone though, or I ain’t seen him lately and he wasn’t up in Blount.”
“Tell me about that later. Go on with your story,” I said.
“Well, we got seven or eight thousand on that haul, but as we was leaving some fellow on the train winged Nip a little.
“We got the same road again later, just like Burns told you, and then I took my boy and girl, both little chaps, and came here to Lamar with my father. Jim came too.
“I stayed around here a while. Then Jim and myself went back to Texas, telling the folks here we were going for a drove of Texas ponies. Well, we didn’t get the ponies, because they were selling too high, and just as we got back the St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas train was held up at Genoa, Ark. A scoundrel named Brock, who I had known in Texas, was arrested, and to save himself swore that Jim and I was with him.
A RACE WITH DETECTIVES
“We warn’t that time, and if I ever get at Brock I’ll teach him a lesson.
“Well, a whole drove of detectives then come oyer here to Lamar after us. They first surrounded Jim’s house and when he ran for the woods shot at him. The whole crowd shot and not a ball touched Jim, but one went through his coat sleeve. I was at Kennedy that day. One of the boys beat the detectives to me and I got off without them seeing me. I joined Jim and sometime later we went down to Montgomery. Then you know how a flock of police gathered us in, how they got Jim and how I got away. I didn’t want to shoot that fellow Neil Bray, who tried to head me off as I was running from the police, but I had to do it.
“I stayed in that negro’s house that Sunday night, for I thought I might be able to get Jim out in some way. But when they surrounded that house next morning I knew I had to run and do some shooting or it was all up for me. So I pulled off my shoes and the run to that swamp was the best I ever did. That was one of the narrowest escapes I ever had, and when I got off with only a load of bird shot in my neck I thought I was doing powerful well. I shot back as I run, but didn’t think I could hit them. I shot to keep them back.
A LOAD OF BIRD SHOT IN HIS NECK
“But still I didn’t go far off. I got a doctor to pick out the shot out of my neck, laid around there until I thought it was getting a little hot, and then went back around home.”
“Then, what did you do?”
“Well, the next time I was heard of was when Joe Jackson and myself held up the Illinois Central train at Duck Hill, Miss., last December. It was late one dark night. Joe and me crept behind the water tank and when the train started off we jumped on behind the engine. Then we covered the engineer. He started to reach down, and I hollowed (sic):
“Hold up that hand, or I’ll bore you.”
“He did it in just about a quarter of a second.
“Now you stop out the other side of that trestle,” I said, and he did it.
“I then jumped back on the platform of the express car. The train stopped, Joe came back with me and with our shooting irons out we rushed in the express car, scaring the sleepy messenger pretty badly I tell you.
A DARRING(sic) ROBBERY AND MURDER
“Quick, open that chest and out with the valuables or I’ll put a hole in you,” I said and you bet he woke up and did it pretty quick.
“We had just got the money when two fellows rushed to the platform and commenced shooting. One o’them had a Winchester. The other had a pistol. Joe shot quick and I shot – the Joe shot again and again. The other fellows was shootin’ too, but we got the fellow with the Winchester and then left. I afterwards learned the fellow we killed was named Hughes – Chester Hughes – and I’ve always been sorry for killin’ him, though I don’t know who killed him, whether it was me or Joe. Anyhow, he was a young fellow and had plenty of grit, and I’m sorry for it,” he repeated, as he again glanced nervously around.
Then continuing he said: “But we got something over ten thousand that time, and lots of people were kept from suffering by it.”
“What do you mean by that?” I asked.
“Just what I say.”
“Oh yes, that’s the money you paid for your father’s place, and some of which you –“
RUBE SEEMS ANGERED
“Look here, boy” he broke in, and his eyes flashed in anger, “I don’t git mad easy, but I don’t want none of your jaw. Now what I did with that money is my business – none of yours – but my folks ain’t goin’ to live in want while trains run and tote money.”
“I see in that paper the little puffed up detective accuses me of robbing safes in country stores and holding up poor farmers. Now, that’s a lie. I have held up trains and I have killed a few men, because I had to, but
I NEVER ROBBED A POOR MAN
in my life and I’m never goin’ to. I have took things I needed around in the country, but no man can say that he wasn’t paid for what I took. There are some little thieves around this country who steal all they can get, for they know it’s goin’ to be laid on Rube Burrow. I can’t help that, and though I have done a good many bad things in my day, I never robbed a little storekeeper or a farmer.
“How about the killing of Postmaster Graves at Jewel?”
“Well, I was comin’ to that. Mose Graves was killed –“
Rube stopped a minute, and his face seemed to harden. Then he continued:
“Yes, Mose Graves was killed because he had a false beard sent to W. W. Cain, and told it around that Jim Cash wanted it for me. He said before he died I did it, and said Jim Cash was knowin’ to it. Now there ain’t no use in denying it. Everybody says I killed him, and it don’t matter whether I did or not, but Jim Cash or none of my family didn’t have nothin’ to do with it, and didn’t know nothin’ about it. That’s all I’ve got to say about Mose Grave’s killing.
“How did you get away when the military went to Lamar County after you?”
The outlaw laughed heartily, then jumped up and looked around, as if expecting some danger.
CHILD’S PLAY TO ELUDE MILITARY
“Why,” said he, when he resumed his seat, “I didn’t care any more for that crowd than I would for a parcel of school boys. I went off a little and stayed quiet. Just after they turned Jim Cash and the Old Man and Bud loose when they couldn’t prove nothin’ on ‘em. I went home one night, but there was so many detectives around, and as I didn’t want to kill ‘em, so I went right off.”
“Then I knew them detectives had told John Thomas’s boy they was goin’ to hang him, and he told all about how Joe and me had stayed in a little room of his house, and lots of other things – some of ‘em they boy made up. Anyhow we left, but didn’t go far, and on the night of the 25th of September just past we held up the Mobile and Ohio at Buckatana. The whole crowd on the train was so scared we didn’t have no trouble and got 31,100.”
“What did you do between that time and last week when Sheriff Morris and his posse got after you on Sand Mountain.”
“Well, Joe and me just laid around keeping quiet, for it won’t do to do too much at once,” he said with a confident sort of smile.
“Why did you go to Blount County?”
“You want to know lots, boy, but I reckon I’m just about as sharp as you,” he replied. “That fellow Morris and his two men came on me before I expected them, but I saw from the distance they stood from the house them fellows
WERE NO FIGHTERS.”
“Joe and me were eating at Ashworth’s when the sheriffs rode up the women of the house were right badly scared and one of them run out towards the woods. I saw this was a good chance, so Joe and me run also, keeping the women between us and the sheriffs. I know that fellow Morris said that I took her in my arms, but I never touched her. When we got to the edge of the woods the woman fell down. Morris and his crowd didn’t come towards us at all while we were running, and when the woman fell we were a long ways off, but both of us took a shot and then went on in the woods. The sheriffs went away and didn’t try to come after us. That was on a Thursday.
“Friday we were laying out in the woods not far off, when a crowd of forty or fifty armed men came upon us almost before we knew.
“When I saw them surrounding us we were in a bunch of trees in a sorter low place.
“Joe,’ said I, “it looks sorter like we’re in it sure ‘nough this time. There’s goin’ to be some killin’ here and I reckon we’ve got to do it.
“Joe didn’t say a word, but I knew by his looks he was goin’ to fight hard.”
THE FIGHT ON SAND MOUNTAIN
“We laid low and the crowd commenced to close in. Then I looked around and saw we must get out on the side next the mountain. We waited a while longer and then the fun commenced. We took good aim every time and give ’em the best our Winchester had. I believe my first shot got that fellow in the head – Annerton, the papers said his name was. Then I got another one on that fellow Woodward, I reckon, when we grazed the other fellow and broke one’s arm – well that crowd was purty badly rattled and we got out of our cover in a hurray for them buckshot had been falling pretty thick around us and neither one of us was as comfortable in our feelings as we might have been.
“As we run out,” Rube continued, “we kept up shootin’ at every fellow who showed up and then we left, and we was in a pretty big hurry, too, for if them fellows was scared, there ain’t no use in taking too many chances.”
Then Rube told of spending a part of Saturday at the house of a friend four or five miles off.
HE KILLED THE BLOODHOUND
“On Sunday,” he went on, “three hounds got on our track, and they were right pert in following us. When the head one – an old bitch – got in about fifty or sixty yards of us. Joe and me pulled down on her and I think we both got her. The other one ran off. Then down at the foot of the hill we saw the crowd. It looked like a whole army, so we took a shot apiece and pulled out, and I couldn’t help from yelling at them as we did. I believe I invited them to come and see me again, for I knew they couldn’t get at us on that mountain. Then we got supper that night at an old man’s house nearly in sight of the crowd.
HE HAD FRIENDS IN THE CROWD
“I had my friends in that crowd, too,” he said with a smile of satisfaction. “I knew them Birmingham fellows was coming and I knew they had good guns and wasn’t feared to use ‘em. Anyhow I didn’t care nothin’ about tackling ‘em.”
Then Rube leaned back a little and a smile came over his rough face.
“I’ve always been most too reckless, I reckon.” he continued, “and when them fellows know what I did on Tuesday they’ll be red-hot mad. We went way up in a rough part of the county – up in the mountains – to a fellow who I knew was my friend. Joe, he stayed there, and two fellows, who I knew were all right, and myself went down and
JOINED THE CROWD.
“It was on Tuesday and you was there. I had on a beard, and rode a medium size brown mule, and nobody seemed to suspect me. I remember riding by a little fellow, looks sorter like you, who was on a white mule, but he didn’t think much of me, and soon got in front with that fellow Morris, the sheriff. I reckon that fellow was the Birmingham paper man.
“Well, I went below Walnut Grove, where the dogs struck that track at the creek, but I kept sorter off to myself, and left the crowd just afterwards, when I knew they was going to give up the hunt.”
“Then what did you do?’
“We laid around there awhile, and then I came over this way to see my folks.”
“How did you come here?”
“Were you not afraid?”
“Well, not much,” he said in a confident tone, “but I don’t take chances when they are too risky.”
“Are you not afraid of being captured around here?”
“Who’s going to do it,” he replied in a tone that showed his utter recklessness.
“I believe you have such a reputation that few men would care to make the attempt, notwithstanding the heavy reward.”
IN SOME TIGHT PLACES
“Well, I don’t know about that. They don’t bother me as much as they might, but I’ve been in some right tight places and expect to be in more, but the man who captures Rube Burrow’s got to be a good one. I haven’t seen the man yet who could outshoot me.”
“Are you not tired of this life?”
“Well, I don’t know,’ he said in a doubtful sort of way, “but if I was absolutely certain of an immediate pardon, provided I lived at one place and led a quiet life, I believe I would give up. But I’ve got to know that it’s all right – it’s got to —“
“Rube” said one of his friends, who came walking up.
Rube jumped up and the two men walked off together in the woods. I talked for some time with a relative of his and as Rube did not return, after another promise that nothing would be told until too late for pursuit, I left.
It was after 7 o’clock but moonlight, and I rode back to Sulligent, seven miles off.
Friday morning I took the train to go to Amory and at Gattman was surprised to see Rube and a pal, who from his limping walk and appearance was evidently Jackson.
RUBE AND JACKSON RIDE
Rube led a red fox hound, resembling the one that had chased him in Blount, by a rope. The dog was quickly hustled in a baggage car and Rube and Jackson, with no visible arms, seated themselves on the rear seat of the passenger coach. As the train started Rube saw me and gave me a look that I knew full well meant he wanted no recognition nor action of mine to betray him. At any rate, I accepted that as law.
His mustache had been roughly trimmed off since the previous evening, evidently with scissors by an inexperienced hand. His hat and coat were the same – the coat of a rough badly worn and dirty brown material, hanging low down in front from the weight of something in the pockets, while the hat, a broad-brimmed slouch, was of the same color. His pants were of a dirty greenish speckled goods.
Jackson wore a dirty and badly worn black suit, a narrow brimmed slouch hat, with high crown, smeared over with cotton.
Rube would give me the most ferocious, piercing look every time I turned, and his while frame seemed nervous. He would first look out the window and then all around the car, while on his deep-set blue eyes was an expression of the deepest anxiety bordering on fright.
But no one seemed to recognize him.
As the engine blew for Amory he leaned way out and took a good look ahead. At Amory he and Jackson alighted on the right side, quickly crossed back over to the left walking up to the baggage car. Then they crossed back over as quickly, got their dog and walked rapidly off into the woods to the south.
Amory is the dinner station and as everyone was rushing for dinner no one seemed to give even a second look to the couple.
He is by this time safe in central Mississippi, but the chances are that it will not be long before Rube Burrow will be heard from again in a reckless and daring train robbery.