THE DUCK HILL, MISS., ROBBERY — THE KILLING OF PASSENGER CHESTER HUGHES.
In the cold and cheerless night of December 15, 1888, the northbound express train of the Illinois Central Railway, which left New Orleans for Chicago at seven o'clock a. m. pulled into the station of Duck Hill, Miss., twenty five miles south of Grenada, thirteen hours later. The manner in which the engine was boarded and the train stopped is best told in the language of Albert Law, the engineer in charge of the locomotive. He says:
" I pulled out of Duck Hill Station at 10:05 o'clock p. m. The fireman called to me to look out; that there was a car of cotton ahead on the side track. I pulled slowly by, in order to avoid igniting the cotton by sparks from the engine, and when I passed the cotton the fireman said : All right, let her go.' I started ahead lively, and presently saw the robbers climb up on my engine from the east side.
"The smaller man got on first. I thought they were tramps, and was in the act of slowing up to put them off when the smaller man covered me with a big pistol and said, ' Don't stop here! I then saw that the men were masked. I asked, 'Where do you want to stop:' He replied, 'I'll tell you where to stop.' I pulled along, and when we had gone about a mile he said:
'"Stop here — stop now!' I put the air on full and stopped as quickly as I could.
"The little man did all the talking. When we stopped he got down on the ground and fired his revolver two or three times. The train had hardly stopped when he commenced shooting. The other man said, ' Get down ! My fireman and myself were then made to go ahead, on the east side of the train, to the express car. Here they stopped us, and the tall man called out to the messenger, 'Open up! Open up!' The messenger looked out of the door and the tall man said, ' Where is your other man?' The messenger said, 'I have no other man — no one here but me,' to which the reply was, ' Help this man into the car! ' The messenger being covered by the revolver of the larger man, extended his hand and helped him into the car.
"About this time Mr. Wilkerson, the conductor, came out of one of the rear coaches with his lantern, and the smaller man, who stood guarding us, told me to tell him to go back. I did, and the conductor went back, but in a couple of minutes came out again. I saw two forms get out of the car. They had no lights. I said, 'You had better go back, or they will shoot you; they are robbing the express car,'
"The fireman and I were between the robber and the rest of the train. He kept us in front of him as a sort of breastwork. Some one in the direction of the passenger coaches called out: 'Law, where are you?' When I answered a voice said : * Look out ! I am going to shoot! ' I stepped back from the train and the firing commenced, and I broke and ran for the woods, which were close by."
Meantime the robber who had entered the car handed a sack to Southern Express Messenger Harris and bade him deliver up the contents of his safe. At this juncture the firing on the outside of the car had commenced, and advancing to the door, still keeping an eye on the messenger, the robber fired three shots into the air. Conductor Wilkerson had, on first coming out, taken in the situation, and going back into the coaches announced to the passengers that the train was being robbed, and asked who would assist him. Chester Hughes, a brave young fellow, from Jackson, Tenn., arose quickly and said, " I will, if I can get anything to shoot with." Two colored men seated near by had each a thirty eight caliber Winchester rifle, and these weapons were quickly gathered by the conductor and his gallant passenger, and loading them with cartridges furnished them by the owners they went forced to do battle ?with the robbers. It was conductor Wilkerson who had warned the engineer to protect himself, and he fired the first shot at the robbers.
Advancing abreast of each other these brave men fired shot after shot at the dark form of the robber who stood as a sentinel on the outside of the car, and who unflinchingly held his ground, returning with steady aim charge after charge from his trusty revolver, until finally young Hughes dropped his Winchester, and exclaiming "I am shot!" fell to the earth. Wilkerson raised the brave young fellow to his feet and dragged his unconscious and bleeding form into the coach, and returning to the steps of the front coach renewed the firing at the robbers.
The robber had, meantime, secured the money from the messenger (about two thousand dollars), and backing out of the car, still holding his pistol on the messenger, joined his comrade on the ground, and under the fire of the conductor both retreated to the woods near by.
Chester Hughes had been in charge of a widowed sister, who, with several small children, were en route to Jackson, Tenn. The sister knew nothing of her brother's participation in the fight with the robbers until he was carried back into the coach, when she prostrated herself in affectionate embrace over his body, from which life was fast ebbing away. The scene was an agonizing and affecting one.
The unerring aim of the robber had sent three shots through the body of young Hughes, all entering the stomach within a radius of six inches, and the unfortunate but daring young fellow lived only a few minutes. The same train on which he had erstwhile embarked in the vigor of health and buoyant spirits, bore his lifeless form to the home of his widowed mother at Jackson, Tenn.
The Southern Express Company and the Illinois Central Railway promptly presented his grief stricken mother with a fitting testimonial of appreciation for the heroic conduct of her son. While On Fame's eternal camping ground Their silent tents are spread, And glory guards, with solemn round. The bivouac of the dead," the name of Chester Hughes will be enrolled among the bravest of the brave.
The whole country was electrified with horror at the brutal murder of a passenger on one of the great trunk lines of railway, in one of the most populous districts of the South, by train robbers, and it was determined that no expense or labor should be spared in bringing the criminals to justice. General Manager C. A. Beck and Superintendent J. G. Mann, of the Illinois Central Railway, were in Memphis in a special car at the time. During the night a violent and very general rain storm had prevailed, and the telegraph wires were down in many places. The news of the robbery did not, therefore, reach Memphis until about midnight. The railroad and express officials remained at the telegraph office all night, seeking the details, and left about daylight for the scene of the robbery. The aid of the Pinkertons was again summoned, and several of the most expert detectives of the Chicago agency soon arrived at Duck Hill.
About a month prior to the Duck Hill robbery the United States Express Company had been robbed at Derby, Miss., a station sixty five miles north of New Orleans, on the Queen and Crescent Railway, by Eugene Bunch, a man who is supposed by some persons even at this day, to be identical with Rube Burrow. Eugene Bunch, a native of Louisiana, and long a resident of Texas, bore a remarkable resemblance to Rube Burrow. The description, about thirty six years old, weight one hundred and seventy pounds, height six feet one inch, light complexion, auburn hair, long, drooping mustache, blue eyes, raw boned and stoop shouldered, would fit either Rube Burrow or Eugene Bunch. Apart from this personal resemblance they bore nothing else in common except the title of train robber. Their habits and methods of life were strikingly dissimilar. Bunch was a man of some education, had taught school in Louisiana and Texas, and was for a long period of time a County Court Clerk in Texas, while Burrow was a coarse, unlettered fellow, and it may be stated, as a certainty, that these men never had any association as train robbers or otherwise.
The Pinkerton detectives, on their arrival at Duck Hill, were unable to find a trace of the robbers. There was no clue from which to begin a search for them. Whence the robbers came, whither they had gone, whether on horseback or afoot, was not known. At this juncture Detective D. C. Hennessey, of New Orleans, who recently met his death at the hands of assassins in that city, and a man of undoubted ability in his profession, having received a descriptive circular of the robbers, telegraphed the officials of the Southern Express Company as follows: "Description of the robbers received. I am well aware as to who they are, and am satisfied I can get them."
A conference was at once arranged with Hennessey, who declared the Duck Hill robbery to be the work of Eugene Bunch. An unfortunate combination of circumstances here ensued to corrobarate Hennessey's view. Bunch answered Burrow's description with great exactness. The former was reliably ascertained to have been in northern Louisiana a few days prior to the robbery, and, therefore, within easy reach of Duck Hill; Bunch had an intimate friend who answered Engineer Law's description of the smaller man who stood guard over him at Duck Hill.
The detectives had, meantime, traced two men riding out south from the scene of the robbery in the direction of Honey Island, in the Pearl River, a favorite resort with Bunch ; and, still more remarkable, one of the horses ridden corresponded with the one owned by Bunch's comrade in Louisiana, who was known to have assisted him in his flight from Derby, Miss. The chase that followed, therefore, under the leadership of the Pinkertons, was organized to find Bunch, and not Burrow. From New Orleans to Texas, to Monterey and Mexico City, to Los Angeles and San Diego, and even to San Francisco, the detectives pursued Bunch until, just as his capture seemed certain at San Francisco, he eluded the detectives by taking a Pacific coast steamer. The chase was then, after months of labor, abandoned.
Meantime, in a quiet way, the detectives of the Southern Express Company were at work on the theory that Rube Burrow was the leader in the robbery at Duck Hill. It was discovered that Rube Burrow and Joe Jackson rode away from the farm of Fletcher Stevens in Tate County, Miss., on December 1, 1888, and after paying a visit to Rube's brother-in-law, Berryhill, who lives eighteen miles from Oxford, proceeded to Water Valley, Miss., where they spent the night; and that going thence to Duck Hill they robbed the train in the manner described. After mounting their horses, tethered in the woods some half a mile from the spot on which the robbery occurred, they rode through a drenching rain a distance of forty miles by daylight. The next day they camped in the brush, divided the spoils of the robbery, and at sundown resumed their journey. After another hard night's ride they reached the vicinity of the Pearl River, near Philadelphia, Miss. Here, fearing the news of the deed at Duck Hill had preceded them, and that the detectives might be in waiting at the bridge, they turned their horses into the swamps and two miles north of the bridge swam the swollen current of Pearl River. Reaching the opposite bank, they continued their journey through the wilds of the forest for a few miles, and turning from the southwesterly course on which they had ridden for two days, they rode in a northeasterly direction, traveling most of the distance at night, until they reached Lamar County. Here they remained in quiet seclusion until the tragic event recorded in the next chapter occurred.
THE COLD BLOODED MURDER OF MOSES GRAVES, THE POSTMASTER OF JEWELL, ALABAMA.
The reader may well ask what the detectives of the Southern Express Company were doing while these men remained in Lamar County and the adjacent country, from the time of the Duck Hill robbery until the summer of 1889.
In the contiguous counties of Lamar, Fayette and Marion the kindred of the Burrow family abounded on every hand. The homes of his kinsmen, notably Cash, Terry, Barker, Smith and Hankins, not only furnished a safe refuge for the robbers, but they were worshiped as heroes, and each household vied with the other in its loyalty to the robber chief. "Rube never robs a poor man," they were often wont to say, forgetting that one never gets blood out of a turnip. These people were of a thriftless, restive spirit, and among them were many shrewd and cunning natures, who became the paid scouts of the outlaws. A code of signals was established, and the appearance of a detective or a stranger of any kind in that section was at once ascertained, and the information conveyed to the outlaws. The firing of a gun in a certain locality, the cracking of a whip, the blowing of a horn, and the deep toned "ah-hoo," as well as scores of other signals, all had their meaning. They gave the fugitives warning of the approach of danger; and so, when occasional raids were made, a house was surrounded, a trail was covered, or some solitary scout from among Rube's clansmen was encountered, the stillness of the air would be broken by a signal which plainly told the detectives that their presence was known and the robbers were on the alert. It was even impossible to trail the messengers who carried rations to the robbers while in camp, for these were stored in the crevices of rocks and in the trunks of trees, from which coverts, at propitious times, the food would be taken.
Detective Jackson once followed Jim Cash, with a supply of provisions, to a ravine some distance from Cash's house, and saw them hidden away in the cavernous depths of a hollow log. He concealed himself within one hundred yards of the spot, and, knowing Rube was in that locality, for sure he would be able to pick him off with his trusty Winchester when he came for his rations. Jackson crouched behind the huge trunk of a tree, in breathless expectation of Rube's appearance, After a shot fired from the vicinity of Cash's house dashed his hopes. Half an hour later Cash walked cautiously down the hill, took the food away, and tied a flaming red cloth to the top of an adjacent bush, thus exhibiting for Rube the red signal of danger. Cash had, on his return, with the cunning of his class, discovered strange footsteps on his trail, and rightly divined that his movements had been watched. Although the detective took down the signal. Rube had doubtless seen it. If not, acting on the signal previously given. Rube missed his dinner that day.
Thus fed and harbored, the outlaws remained in Lamar County and the adjacent country all the spring and summer of 1889, without any event of note occurring until on the 7th of July, when Rube Burrow murdered, in cold blood, the postmaster of Jewell, Ala.
Rube had concluded that a wig and false whiskers were necessary in his line of business. His robberies were now of such frequent occurrence that he sought to disguise himself more closely, and after writing for a catalogue and selecting what he desired in that line, he wrote the following letter to a Chicago house :
Rube had written for the catalogue and for the wig in the name of W. W. Cain. The former letter was written from Jewell post-office, and as the name " Sulligent " was not plainly written, the shipper sent the parcel containing the wig and beard by mail to Jewell, Ala.
Meantime Jim Cash had made several inquiries for the catalogue to Cain's address before it arrived. On the arrival of the parcel containing the wig and whiskers, the wrapper being torn the contents were exposed. Naturally great curiosity was excited as to the ownership of these queer looking articles. The rumor soon gained currency that Jim Cash had been inquiring for mail for W. W. Cain. The postmaster recalled having delivered him the catalogue, and this parcel was supposed to be his property. Cash was told that the contents had been examined, and that the postmaster declared he intended to arrest the party who called for the parcel.
When this information was imparted to him by Cash, Rube became greatly enraged. He swore he would go to the post office in person, get the mail, and kill Graves. Accordingly he left the home of his brother-in-law, Cash, about daylight on the 7th of July for Jewell, Ala., distant about six miles. Rube was known to Moses Graves, who kept the post office in connection with a country store, and who was a quiet and inoffensive citizen.
Rube arrived at Jewell early, but the day was not a fit time for the execution of the dark deed upon which he was bent. He lurked about the outskirts of the quiet little village until the shades of night had begun to fall, and creeping, with the stealthy step of the assassin, towards the post office, he entered. Moses Graves, the postmaster, and Rube, companions and playmates in their boyhood, stood face to face, and exchanging a silent recognition, Rube said: "Have you any mail for W.W.Cain?"
"Yes," answered Graves, "but I can not deliver it to you."
Instantly Rube drew his heavy revolver and fired, the ball entering the stomach and piercing him through and through.
"I'll teach you how to open my mail," said Rube.
Graves staggered towards a chair, and falling into it, said: " Rube Burrow, you have killed me."
The murderer then turned, and leveling his pistol at the head of a young girl who was an assistant in the post office, said: " Get my mail or I will blow your head off."
The frightened creature, in her terror, could not find the parcel until Graves, pointing to it with uplifted hand, bade her get it, and sinking to the floor soon expired.
Graves's wife, at the firing of the shot which killed her husband, rushed in from an adjoining room. Despite Rube's threat to kill her if she entered she flew to the assistance of her dying husband. He was conscious, however, long enough for his ante-mortem statement to be carefully taken, in the presence of witnesses, certifying to the fact that Rube Burrow was his murderer. Rube walked out of the town unmolested, and at ten o'clock that night reached the house of Jim Cash, his hands stained with the blood of one of Lamar County's most respected citizens — the perpetrator of a deed as wanton and as cold blooded as ever blackened the annals of crime.
Rube and Joe were not amiss in surmising that the officers of the law would swoop down upon them. As soon as Rube returned to Jim Cash's, about ten o'clock that night, he informed Joe Jackson, his partner, of the events of the evening. The latter had advised strongly against the policy of taking Graves's life, and warned Rube of the consequences; but Rube's spirit was full of revenge, and he determined upon the murder.
All of northern Alabama was aroused with indignation at the cruel and wanton murder and ex Sheriff Pennington, heading a posse of determined citizens, went into the Burrow neighborhood a few days afterward and made an earnest endeavor to capture the outlaws. Too much praise can not be accorded this brave and gallant man, and had the laws of Alabama admitted his re-election to a second term it is more than probable that the career of these train robbers in Lamar County would have been less bold and protracted.
The homes of Allen Burrow, John T. Burrow and Jim Cash were all raided, and these men, who were openly aiding and abetting the outlaws, were arrested and taken to the Vernon jail. Threats of releasing the prisoners reached the officers, and the excitement grew with each passing hour. A strong guard was put around the Vernon jail to prevent this, and at the same time it was whispered that the prisoners were in imminent danger of being lynched.
At this juncture the Governor of Alabama, in answer to a call made upon him by the sheriff of Lamar County, sent a military company from Birmingham to keep the peace. The troops remained at Vernon pending the arraignment and trial of these men, who were released, however, under bond, and being subsequently tried, were acquitted of the charge of being accessory to the murder of the postmaster.
RUBE SMITH JOINS RUBE BURROW AND JOE JACKSON — THE BUCKATUNNA ROBBERY.
The murder of the postmaster at Jewell, Ala., was done by Rube Burrow in a spirit of bravado, and, doubtless, with the design of terrorizing the law-abiding people of that section into such a state of timidity as would give additional safety to his chosen place of refuge, and at the same time knit him all the more closely to the lawless band of his followers, who not only connived at his crimes but profited from the spoils of his misdeeds. Despite the vigilant and unremitting search of the detectives the presence of the bandit in Lamar County had not been definitely known until the murder of Graves occurred. The officials of the Southern Express Company determined, therefore, to either capture Rube or drive him from Lamar County. The task was a difficult one, in view of the fact that Rube never slept under a roof nor broke bread at any man's table in Lamar County after the murder at Jewell. Soon thereafter, when invited by his father to come into his house, on one occasion, he refused, saying, "I might as well give myself up."
Detectives Jackson and Bums, of the Southern Express Company, about this time went into Lamar County and literally camped there. They endeavored by every possible means to discover the whereabouts of the outlaws by shadowing the persons who communicated with them from time to time, but the army of scouts in the secret service of the cunning desperado was so well trained, the field in which they operated so extensive, that the only result obtained was to force them to leave.
About September 1st Rube and Joe concluded to depart. A few days before their departure, however, Mrs. Allen Burrow brought Rube a message from Rube Smith, to the effect that the latter wanted to see him.
Rube Smith is a son of James Smith, who lives in Lamar County, near Crews Station, and about eight miles from the home of Allen Burrow. He is a first cousin of the Burrow brothers. Smith was about twenty-eight years old, five feet eight inches high, weighed one hundred and sixty pounds, and bore a very bad reputation in all that section. He had never followed any legitimate occupation, except that, for a short period in 1883, he had been an itinerant photographer, moving about from place to place, and making cheap photographs in country towns of northern Alabama. In the fall of 1888, however, he was indicted, with James McClung and James Barker, an uncle, for robbery from the person of a Mr. Johnson, a respectable old farmer of Lamar County. Smith and party went to farmer Johnson's home about nightfall, with their faces masked, and at the point of their revolvers demanded his money. The old man hestitating, was cruelly beaten, and at last divulged the hiding-place of his money, some three hundred dollars, which the robbers secured. They left their victim bleeding and maimed, lying upon the floor, where he remained until the next morning, when kindly neighbors came to his assistance. Rube Smith then became a fugitive from justice.
Burrow, knowing of the presence of the detectives in the vicinity, suspected that Smith was being used by the officers to entrap him. After considering the matter several days he sent, through his sister, a message to Rube Smith that he would meet him at the hour of midnight, September 4th, in Fellowship church-yard, a point about four miles from Vernon. Thither Burrow and Joe Jackson prepaired early after dark, on that night, for the purpose of forestalling any plan which the detectives might have to capture them through Smith. The watch was set, and each, by turn, stood sentinel in this quiet and lonely spot, awaiting the appointed hour. Smith, in due course, appeared as agreed. He was alone, and Burrow was soon assured that his proposal to join him was genuine.
There, in the graveyard of Fellowship church, where the body of the famous outlaw now lies buried, at the solemn hour of midnight, the compact which linked Rube Smith's fortunes with his own was made. There was no subscribing to the black oath, no signing in letters of blood, but with the skillfulness of a master Rube Burrow inducted his young kinsman into the office of train robbing to which he had elected him. He described the preliminary step of boarding the engine and getting the "drop ; " the method of "holding up," and all the subtle artifices of the craft, in such a masterly style that the new recruit smacked his lips in anticipation of the rich dish spread before his mental vision, and, after the manner of little Jack Horner, he mentally "put in his thumb, and pulled out a plum, and said, what a good boy am I,"
Setting out, therefore, with the two-fold object of avoiding the detectives in Lamar County, and of robbing a train, the three men journeyed southward, but without any particular destination in view. Going down the west bank of the Tombigbee River, they traveled a distance of about one hundred and fifty miles, to Buckatunna, Miss., on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, seventy-three miles north of Mobile.
After a careful deliberation of the matter. Rube Burrow selected Ellisville, Miss., a point on the Queen and Crescent Railway, sixty-five miles south of Meridian, and distant fifty-five miles east across the country, as the point for making his seventh train robbery.
Leaving the Mobile and Ohio Railway at Buckatunna on the fourteenth day of September, the men walked towards Ellisville, arriving there on the night of the 17th of September. Here Rube Burrow concluded, after finding there were three trains daily each way on that road, that there was no money in robbing a train on the Queen and Crescent Railway. He argued that the shipments would be divided up between the several trains, and no one train would carry much money. He had been so often disappointed in the amounts obtained that he was now planning, with great care, to make a big haul. He concluded, therefore, to reverse his course, return to Buckatunna, and rob the Mobile and Ohio, as the schedule on that line indicated only a single daily express train each way. Accordingly the robbers resumed their journey towards Buckatunna, through the "Free State of Jones."
The county of Jones, Miss., bears to this day the appellation of the " Free State of Jones." During the late civil war the county seceded from the Confederacy and set up an independent government of its own. Here, in the famous Bogue Homer swamp, which covers one-third of the area of the county, hundreds of Mississippians, and Alabamians from across the border, declared themselves non-combatants, and gathering their families about them, set up a military government of their own. Fortified within this inaccessible wild land, by the aid of their flint locks, they defied Confederate and Federal alike, and in the solitude of a peacefulness disturbed only by an occasional unsuccessful raid upon them, lived on, unmindful of the fate of the Republic, One may ride, at this day, over the public road, so-called, from Ellisville to Buckatunna, sixty miles, and in all that distance he will find no sign of human habitation save at intervals of ten miles or so a rude log hut, and here and there a rosin orchard.
Through this lonely woodland, to the music of the soughing pines. Rube Burrow, Joe Jackson and Rube Smith winded their way from Ellisville to Buckatunna. On Sunday night about dark they reached an abandoned log cabin on the farm of one Neil McAllister, a very intelligent colored man, who lives three miles from Buckatunna station. Neil found the men snugly quartered in this outhouse early Monday morning, and had frequent interviews with them during their stay of forty-eight hours on his premises.
The robbers visited a trestle at Buckatunna Creek, two miles south of the station of that name, during Monday, and, after carefully maturing their plans, agreed to rob the south-bound express train, due on Wednesday, September 25th, about 2:30 A. M. at the trestle, one and a half miles south of the station.
Leaving Neil McAllister's cabin soon after dark the trio passed through Buckatunna and went to the trestle, where they remained until the northbound train passed at midnight. Rube Burrow and Rube Smith then walked to the station, where, on the arrival of the south-bound train, in charge of Conductor Scholes and Engineer Therrill, the two men quietly boarded the engine as it pulled out from the station.
The cool and determined manner in which the work was done is well described by Zack Therrill, the engineer, in his statement taken by the express officials next day.
STATEMENT OF ENGINEER THERRILL.
Just as I was pulling out of Buckattinna I heard a voice on my engine, and I thought the fireman was speaking to me. I turned to find the fireman and myself covered with pistols by two men. The larger of the two men, who had his pistol presented at me, said, " Pull on out! " After I had run several hundred yards he said, " Don't be uneasy." I told him I was not uneasy. He said: "I am going to rob this train or kill every man on it. Stop the train on the trestle beyond the bridge, so the passengers can't get off. I will kill every one that hits the ground." I stopped as directed, and was ordered to get down from the engine. When I got down, there was a man standing opposite the gangway on the ground, whom I will designate as number three. He backed towards the express car door. The man number one, who had been on the engine, said, " Call the express messenger." Just then robber number three, who was in front, covered the messenger, who was sitting on the opposite side of the car, with his back toward us.
The conductor came out at this, moment and asked what was the matter. The big man, number one, then fired a shot over my head towards the conductor and said, " Get back or I will kill you!" The messenger had not yet opened the door, but was covered by the pistol of number three. The big man, number one, then covered the messenger as soon as he had shot. The fireman was standing behind me, with a coal pick, covered by number two, who had been on the engine. The messenger shoved the grated door back, the wooden or outside door being already open. The messenger could not have stepped aside, as he was covered by two pistols. Number one then said, "Give me your hand and pull me in the car. Handle my hand carefully, as there are corns on it." He was in the car five or six minutes. Just after he got in the car the conductor again called to know what was the matter. Number three said, in a low tone of voice, " Look out, I will settle him." He went forward a few paces, called out " Come and see," squatted and fired one shot. He then got up, ran forward about ten feet, and laid down flat on his stomach. He laid there until number one, in the car. told the messenger to get out of the car, which he did, in front of the robber, who gave him the bag with its contents to hold, while he himself got out.
Number one then said to me, "Go to the engine with me and pull the mail car off the trestle." I told him it was off, and told him if it was not off I did not have steam enough to move the train. He then said to number two, "Take the fireman to the engine," and added, "Wait, I will go with you." He told the fireman to get on the engine, and told me to stay on the ground. He told the fireman to get his fire started, ordered number two to stay with the fireman, and instructed me to go with him to the mail car. He told the fireman, before he started off, not to move the engine until he came back, and said he would kill me if it started. I went back to the mail car as instructed, and when we got to the express car he instructed number three to bring the messenger up to the mail car. Number three took the bag from the messenger as soon as he struck the ground. I called the mail agent, as instructed, who was inside of the car. As soon as he appeared he was covered by number one, who ordered me to go into the mail car ahead of him, which I did. He ordered the mail agent to get up his registered letters, and said to him, "You have been hiding them."
The mail agent replied, "No, I have only turned the light down." The mail agent showed him the registered mail, saying, "There it is," and added, "You are doing the worst thing you ever did in your life. You will get the U. S. Government after you, and there are not $20,000 in the pile." "That don't make any difference," said the robber; "I will take them anyhow." He left the car and said to the mail agent, "If you don't want to get hurt, shut the door and keep it shut until the train leaves here." He gave the packages he got out of the mail car to number two, who was guarding the fireman, and told me to get up on my engine and pull out. I had started up on the engine when he told me to sit in the gangway between the tender and engine. Number one then said: "Do anything you want to get steam up."
We were there ten minutes getting up steam. During that time he said he worked on a section once — though not on this road — and was discharged and a negro put in his place. He then decided not to work any more for a living. He said he had been around towns and had heard people say what they would do if they were "held up." "What can a man do," I asked, "in the fix you have me in?" "Do as I tell you." he replied.
When I got steam up he said, "Hurry up to State Line, and send a message up and down the road, so they can get after us. Tell the operator I say to hurry up about it. Tell the boss of those cars (meaning the express cars) to put steps on them, or I will stop robbing them. Don't ring the bell or blow the whistle," he concluded, "or I will shoot into the engine."
He told me, going down to the bridge, that he came here to rob this train because there was a boast in the papers last spring that he could not rob it, and he just wanted to show them what he could do.
The other two men, while we were talking at the engine, had gone out in the bushes. While going to the engine with me he told number three to put the messenger back in his car. When I got on the engine to start he said, "Holler to those boys on the other side, and tell them to get back from the train." I thought he referred to his men, but saw none. In coming down from the station he said he had men and tools to do the job with.
The man described by Engineer Therrill as number one is easily recognized as Rube Burrow, number two as Joe Jackson, and number three as Rube Smith. The trestle at which the robbery was committed was undergoing repair by a force of bridge men, and the train was in the habit of stopping and then proceeding slowly across it. When the train stopped, therefore, Messenger Dunning supposed it was on account of the bad condition of the trestle, and gave little thought to the matter. When hailed by the engineer, who had been instructed by the robbers to call him to the door, the messenger found himself, on facing about, covered by revolvers through the grated and barred door of the car, the outer wooden door being open.
" Hold your hands down, and come to the door, or I will kill you," said Burrow.
A shot from the pistol of one of the robbers on the outside of the car gave emphasis to the highwayman's request, and when the grated door was pushed back, as ordered by Rube Burrow, he got in the car and, handing a sack to the messenger, said : " Put your money in there. Hurry up ! I have no time to lose."
Securing $2,685 from the express car, Burrow then went to the mail car and called for the registered mail. Mail Agent Bell had been collecting the registered matter, preparatory to leaving the car with it, when Rube entered and demanded it.
The registered mail, which contained $795, was taken, making the total amount secured $3,480, or $1,160 each.
In stopping the train the passenger coaches had been left on the trestle so as to prevent any one reaching the ground, twenty feet below, and making an attack from that quarter. The shots fired soon after the train was halted, two of which took effect in the steps of the coach on which Conductor Scholes stood, silenced further inquiry, and the work was completed without molestation.
When Burrow joined his comrades, after leaving the mail car, he seemed anxious to have the train start. During the run from the station down to the trestle he had forbidden the fireman to put any coal in the fire-box, and, hence while the train was being robbed so much steam was lost that it was ten minutes after the robbery was over before sufficient steam was obtained to get under headway. Finally the train resumed its onward course, and Burrow, sending a few parting shots of humor after Engineer Therrill, joined his comrades who were anxiously awaiting his coming in the brush a few yards distant.
The train dispatcher's record of that day bore the simple explanation: " Number five delayed thirty minutes at Buckatunna trestle, getting robbed."
The news of the robbery brought the officials of the Express and Railroad Companies by special train to the scene. Possees were at once organized and sent in pursuit. It was evident that the work was that of Rube Burrow. " I will rob this train or kill every man on it " was the identical expression used at Genoa and at Duck Hill. His disposition to be humorous — in fact, every detail of the robbery gave evidence of his identity as the leader.
The robbers were traced from the scene of their crime in an easterly course. Blood-hounds were used in the pursuit, but the trail being cold they were abandoned. The detectives, however, quietly took up the trail and followed it towards Demopolis, Ala. At this point it was found that Rube Smith separated from the other men about October 5th, and went by rail into Lamar County. Rube Burrow and Joe Jackson continued their journey afoot, and traveling by easy stages reached Lamar County on the night of October 23d, impelled by some strange fancy to return to the spot from which they had been so recently routed, and from which they were soon to depart again.
DETECTIVE T. V. JACKSON.
THE CAPTURE OF RUBE SMITH AND JAMES McCLUNG AT AMORY, MISS. — McCLUNG CONFESSION — A PLAN TO ROB THE TRAIN FALLS THROUGH — A SAFE ROBBERY NIPPED IN THE BUD.
THEN the Buckatunna robbery of September 25, 1889, occurred, the fact that three men participated in that deed proved that a third man had joined Rube Burrow since his last robbery at Duck Hill, on December 15, 1888, and the identity of the third man puzzled the detectives of the Express Company for some weeks. An accurate description, however, of all three of the men had been obtained, and Detective Thomas Jackson, after a visit into Lamar County a few weeks after the robbery, became convinced that it was Rube Smith. On the eighth day of October, succeeding the Buckatunna robbery, Rube Smith appeared in Lamar County, exhibited a good deal of money, and was known to be in hiding in the vicinity of his father's home. Here he remained for some weeks, narrowly escaping capture at the hands of Detective Thomas Jackson several times, while the latter was daily securing additional evidence of his complicity in the Buckatunna affair. Finally, in the latter part of November, 1889, Jim McClung, an old acquaintance of Rube Smith's, left Itawamba County, Miss., to visit his relatives in Lamar County, and while en route thither fell in with Rube Smith near the house of that worthy's father. Rube exhibited quite a sum of money to McClung, and invited him to accompany him to the Indian Territory, which McClung agreed to do. This was the hiding place to which Smith had gone soon after the Johnson robbery.
The two men left for the Indian Territory. Their destination was Kavanaugh, and Smith unfolded to McClung, while en route the whole story of the Buckatunna train robbery and the part he played in it. He described every detail and circumstance of the robbery, and McClung, having a very retentive memory, was afterwards enabled to testify about it so minutely that the jury in the Federal Court, before which Smith had a mistrial in May, 1890, concluded that Jim McClung had participated in that robbery. Such, however, was not the fact.
The section of the Indian Territory to which Smith and McClung went was wild and sparsely settled, but no sooner had Smith appeared there than he learned that the officers were after him for a violation of the Federal law forbidding the importation and sale of intoxicating liquors in the Indian Territory, while he was there in the early spring. Smith therefore left within twenty four hours after his arrival, and returned to Lamar County, abandoning a project of robbing the disbursing officer of an Indian agency near Kavanaugh, which he had unfolded to McClung.
McClung soon tired of life in the Indian Territory, and, returning to Alabama, found Smith in Lamar County. Here, on the 13th of December, Rube Smith conceived the idea of robbing the Southern Express car at Bigbee trestle, two miles north of Amory, Miss. The next night, soon after dark, he set out with McClung from the home of Rube Smith's father for that purpose. How the plan fell through is best told by the confession of Jim McClung, after the capture of Smith and himself in the sitting-room of the depot at Amory, Miss.
At one o'clock a. m. Detective Thomas Jackson, assisted by local officers Clay and Aikin, of Amory, made the capture. McClung made but slight resistance, but Smith grappled with Jackson, despite the fact that he was covered by the revolvers of both Clay and Jackson, while Officer Aikin had McClung in charge, and a hand to hand struggle ensued, in which Smith succeeded in dragginghis captors into the doorway of the station house, where he was finally overpowered and the handcuffs placed upon him. The prisoners were taken to the Aberdeen, Miss., jail, and on the i8th of December McClung made the following confession to the express officials, which confirmed the infor- mation already in their possession as to Smith's complicity in the Buckatunna robbery,
My name is James McClung. I am twentytwo years of age. I have known Rube Smith for five or six years, but have not seen much of him until within the past few weeks. I returned from the Indian Nation three weeks ago next Tuesday. I went to Henry Smith's, in Itawamba County, Miss., thirteen miles from Tupelo, and there found Rube Smith and Rube Burrow. Rube Smith was sitting on his horse at the gate when I arrived, about two hours after sun-up. About an hour after I arrived Rube Smith told me that Rube Burrow was there. Smith invited me to go down to the woods where Rube Burrow was. I went down a hollow on the west side, and then went to the south side of the house, in an old field, where Rube Burrow was lying on his coat. Burrow asked Smith what he had decided upon, now that I had come. Burrow said he wanted to go into Alabama, and to this we all agreed. Rube Smith and I went to Tupelo that night. We ate two meals in Henry Smith's house. Rube Smith carried Rube Burrow his dinner and supper in the woods. Burrow promised to meet us at old man Jim Smith's, in Alabama, about five miles from Crews Station. Rube Smith and I got off at Quincy, Miss., and walked over to Jim Smith's.
We were afraid to get off at Crews. Burrow did not join us until last Monday morning. Burrow made his appearance at the spring at Jim Smith's on Monday morning, the 7th of December. I went down to the spring. They were talking of robbing a train at Bigbee trestle, two miles north of Amory, Miss. We all decided on robbing the train on the K. C. M. & B. Railroad on Friday night, the i6th of December. The plan was that Smith and I should board the train at Sulligent and come to Amory. Burrow was to walk and join us Thursday at Bigbee trestle. Smith and I got off at Amory at 3 A. M. Thursday. We went into the woods and slept about one-fourth of a mile from Amory. We went to the trestle about 9 a. m. Thursday. We found Burrow on the south side of the trestle in the hollow. Smith told Burrow he had taken in the situation, and did not think it would do to board the engine at Amory, because there was a night watchman there, and it could not be done. Burrow said all right — he did not care for a night watchman, but was willing to leave it to Smith. It was then agreed to abandon the robbery of the train.
We agreed to go down to Winfield, Ala., and rob Jonathan Jones, a merchant there. Smith proposed that he and I would go over to Hester's grocery, about three-quarters of a mile from Amory, and get some beer. Burrow said he would remain until we got back. We were absent about one hour, and when we came back, found Burrow there waiting for us. All three of us then went to Amory. We stopped at Tubb's spring, one quarter of a mile out of Amory, and stayed there awhile. We went then to Mrs, McDaniel's, getting there about one hour before sunset. Rube Burrow did not go in. We found no one in the house, but got some bread and meat. Smith brought some out to Burrow. It was then nearly dark. Rube Burrow proposed that he would go into the woods on the north side of the track and sleep. Smith and I went to Mrs. McDaniel's and stayed all night. Next morning (Friday, the 13th) we met Rube Burrow in the woods. We waited until Mrs. McDaniel went into the field, and then went to the house and cooked some breakfast for Burrow, because he would not go into the house, nor would he allow us to bring anything out while Mrs. McDaniel was there. We remained about there until ten o'clock a. m., then Smith and I went to John Marsh's and got dinner. We gave Burrow enough for dinner and breakfast.
We all got together at Amory Junction, about one mile out of Amory, late in the evening. Burrow said there was no danger of any one knowing him, and he was not afraid to come into Amory. So we all started in about one hour before sunset. We came up the track until we got near the depot. Burrow went over towards the round-house, among the side tracks, where we went over later and joined him. We all went to a well near Armstrong's saloon and got some water. Rube Smith said he wanted to buy a Winchester rifle. Burrow said, "Go ahead and get a rifle; but be careful about fooling around, inquiring for guns." Burrow said to Smith that he wanted half a pint of whisky. Smith went into a saloon and got it. Burrow said to Smith, "I will meet you and McClung at the round-house." Burrow had hidden the rifle between the Junction and Amory. Rube Smith and I went into several stores inquiring for Winchester rifles, but could find none. We went into Snow's saloon, and Rube Smith bought one gallon of whisky in a jug, also one-half pint. We joined Burrow at the back of the roundhouse. Rube Burrow then ordered us to meet him at Jim Smith's, about three and one-half miles from Crews Station. He said he would go ahead on foot, and would be there between breakfast and dinner on Sunday, the 15th. We went to the depot to take the train. Burrow told Smith and myself to be careful and not get arrested. We were told to be sure and meet him, and were to rob Jonathan Jones on Sunday night. Smith said he had stayed at Winfield, Ala., where Jones did business, and he knew he had a good deal of money. He told how he generally came out from supper and stayed at the store all night, and said we could "hold him up" as he went into the store and make him open his safe.
McClung gave a faithful account of the BuckaTunna train robbery, as detailed to him by Rube Smith, while they were on their way from Alabama to the Indian Territory.
Time afterwards proved that McClung spoke the truth, as before told in his confession at Aberdeen, except as to one particular — he was mistaken as to the identity of Rube Burrow. Rube Smith had brought with him from the Indian Territory a boon companion, McClung had not met, and who somewhat resembled Burrow, but who did not care to reveal his identity to McClung. As the latter had never seen Rube Burrow, Smith easily passed his comrade off as the famous train robber. It was afterwards proved beyond a doubt that Rube Burrow, on the day of the capture of Smith and McClung, drove his ox-cart into the pines near Flomaton, Ala., and camped there on that eventful night. McClung, however, was perfectly honest in the belief that the pal to whom Smith introduced him was no other than his cousin Rube. The man's name is well known to the express officials, but as he never committed, but merely contemplated, a train robbery, he was allowed to go back into the Indian Territory, and is now listed as a suspect only.
Rube Smith had conceived the idea of playing the role of leader in a train robbery, but when the appointed hour came he lost confidence in his ability for so bold an adventure, and abandoned the project for a less daring deed. While awaiting the train, however, to take him to the scene of his contemplated crime, he was arrested as described. He was taken to Waynesboro, the county seat of Wayne County, Miss., and on April 1, 1890, was convicted and sentenced to ten years, the extent of the penalty, in the state-prison, for robbing the Southern Express car at Buckatunna, Miss.
A FALSE ALARM — THE OX-CART TRIP TO FLORIDA — THE SEPARATION — RUBE LOCATED AT BROXTON FERRY — HIS ESCAPE.
RUBE and Joe, on their return to Lamar County, found their lair closely beset by detectives. They found shelter, however, for some two weeks, spending the nights in the barn-loft of Allen Burrow, one of the men standing watch while the other slept.
On the 26th of October, 1889, the following telegram was received by an official of the Southern Express Company from Sheriff Morris, of Blount County, Alabama: "A posse in charge of one of my deputies attempted to arrest two men, armed with pistols and Winchesters, fifteen miles from Oneonta, Ala., yesterday. They killed two of the posse and wounded five. Am positive the men were Rube Burrow and Joe Jackson."
Returning to Blount County, with blood-hounds and detectives, it was soon ascertained by the express officials that the men were not Burrow and Jackson, but two ''moonshiners," who had shot and wounded a revenue officer at Blockton, Ala., about ten days prior to the date of the attack by the sheriff's posse.
Correspondents representing several prominent southern journals hide themselves to Blount County to gather the details of another tragic chapter in the history of Rube Burrow, and one enterprising scribe, fresh from the field of carnage in Blount County, went into Lamar County, bent on an interview with the famous bandit. This was the handsome and gifted Barrett, of the Atlanta Constitution. Arriving at Allen Burrow's, in company with Jim Cash, the young journalist made known the object of his visit.
The detectives having gone on a false trail to Blount County, Rube and Joe were at that time in old man Burrow's barn-loft, and when Allen Burrow took Barrett's horse thither he revealed to Rube the proposition of the correspondent to interview him. Rube declined, saying he knew the paper would publish a description of him, and he did not want that done. Mr. Barrett, however, sent a very elaborate report of an alleged interview to the Constitution which, as a faithful historian, the author is compelled to state never took place.
A crowning sensation in American journalism was reached when the Age-Herald^ of Birmingham, chartered a special train to enable it to place upon the breakfast tables of Atlanta the daring exploits of Rube in Blount County, and the Atlanta Constitution responded by chartering a like train to distribute at Birmingham an interview with the famous bandit while he was supposed to sit under the very vine and fig tree of the Age-Herald but, as a matter of fact, was engaged in combing the hayseed out of his hair after a night's lodging in his father's barn.
As soon as the Blount County sensation had exploded, the detectives of the Southern Express Company returned to Lamar County, and an incessant watch was kept upon the houses of Allen Burrow, Jim Cash, and others. Detectives disguised as peddlers of books, lightning rods, and nursery stock, and others assuming the simple guise of tramps, sold their wares in the one case, and begged bread in the other, from house to house, all over Lamar County, and until Allen Burrow said one day to Rube:
" I believe there is a detective under every bush in the county; you had better leave."
Rube concluded his father was right, and on the twentieth day of November, just about a month after their arrival. Rube and Joe left Lamar County again. The two men went afoot to within a few miles of Columbus, Miss., having resolved to walk into Florida and avoid the necessity of hiding out in the brush all winter in Lamar County.
Joe Jackson was not as robust as Rube, and was not physically equal to the task of walking several hundred miles. He proposed, after trudging about eighteen miles, to return to Lamar County, purchase horses, and make the trip on horseback. Rube dissented, fearing their trail would be discovered and that pursuit would ensue, but suggested that they return to the home of Jim Cash and pur chase a yoke of oxen and a wagon owned by him and make the trip in that way. Joe Jackson was averse to this proposition at first, but Rube argued that as drivers of an ox-cart they could assume the role of laborers and thus fully disguise themselves. Returning, therefore, to Cash's house, the oxen and cart were purchased.
It was the custom of Allen Burrow and Cash to make frequent trips by wagon across the country to Columbus, Miss., and so it was arranged for Allen Burrow to take the two men, in a covered wagon drawn by two horses, to within one mile of Columbus. Jim Cash, according to arrangement, followed with the ox team, and in the outskirts of the town, after dark, on the night of November 28th, the four men met. Through the intervention of Cash an ample supply of provisions, purchased from a store in Columbus, was stored away in the wagon, and at ten o'clock at night the outlaws, in the garb of plodding ox-drivers, resumed their journey southward. Cash and Burrow returned home the next day, the former announcing that he had sold his ox team in Columbus.
The detectives were not long in discovering, by the bearing and manner of the friends of the outlaws, that they had left Lamar County. Detective Jackson, knowing the habits and methods of Rube, was not satisfied with Cash's story that he had sold his oxen in Columbus. Investigation developed nothing to corroborate the reported sale, and Detective Jackson declared: " We must find that team, for it's just like Rube to give us the slip that way."
Going to Columbus, the faithful detective, day after day, sought diligently to discover the missing team, but it was not until about January 15th that his labors were rewarded in finding the trail near Carrollton, in Pickens County, AL., forty miles south of Columbus. The detective was on foot. The outlaws were then forty-five days ahead of him, and were evidently heading for southern Alabama or Florida. Returning and reporting the discovery, it was deemed best to go by rail to Wilson's Station, on the Louisvile and Nashville Railway, and thence to Gainestown, a landing on the Alabama River, about forty miles distant, where it was thought the men would cross. The conclusion had been wisely made. The cunning detective had shrewdly divided the very spot at which the robbers would cross the river.
Arriving at Gainestown January24th, Jackson found that the ox-cart, in charge of two men, had crossed the river on the night of December 9th. Encouraged by this discovery the officer pursued the trail on through Escambia County, and found that on the evening of December 14th the men had driven into Flomaton, Ala., a small station of the Louisville and Nashville Railway, forty miles north of Pensacola. Here it was discovered that the men had camped about half a mile from the station, and had made inquiries concerning a logging camp in Santa Rosa County, Florida.
Leaving Flomaton on the morning of January 29th, Detective Jackson went to McCurdy's ferry, on the Escambia River, two miles south, and there ascertained that a man calling himself Ward had crossed the ferry with an ox team on the morning of December 15th, and that he was alone. Pursuing the trail south some twenty miles, Milton, Florida, was reached. Here it was found that one man had crossed Blackwater with an ox team at that point on the night of December 17th. The belief that Joe Jackson had separated from Rube at Flomaton was confirmed, for the man in charge of the ox team was, beyond question, Rube Burrow.
Leaving Milton, the detective went to Broxton's ferry, on Yellow River, about ten miles south. Arriving at the ferry he was confronted by a stream about thirty yards wide, whose tortuous length stretched itself through a jungle of cane and cypress which seemed to defy his further progress. There was no boat in sight, and the unbroken wild-wood on the opposite bank gave no sign of a mooring. The screech of an owl from his perch in the dark cover of the jungle broke the stillness that prevailed, and awakened the detective from his lonely reverie.
Jackson learned from a man, who came stalking the brush at this juncture, that the opposite bank was that of an island, and in order to reach the south side of the river the point of the island must be turned by rowing about half a mile down stream and then stemming the current for a like distance along the opposite shore. While the distance across the island from shore to shore was only about five hundred yards, the view was wholly obscured by the canebrake that covered it.
By shrewd questioning, Jackson found that Rube, under the name of Ward, was engaged in hauling feed from the landing on the opposite shore to Allen's log camp, about eighteen miles away, and at that very hour he was loading for his return trip on the south bank of the river. Broxton, the ferryman, had, unfortunately, gone to Milton with the only boat used at the ferry, and it was impossible to cross the river that day.
It was ascertained that Rube's practice was to leave the log camp about seven o'clock in the morning, reach the ferry about two in the afternoon, and after loading repair to the house of Broxton, the ferryman, where he would spend the night, and making an early start on the succeed ing day arrive at the camp in the afternoon. It had, therefore, been his practice to reach the ferry landing on Yellow River every alternate day.
Jackson, being unable to cross the river, returned to Milton on February 4th, and sent the following telegram to an official of the Southern Express Company: "I expect to secure title to tract number one, about ten miles south of here, Wednesday, February 6th. The papers are all in good shape."
Rube Burrow had always been designated in correspondence between the officers and detectives as number one, and the telegram therefore meant that Jackson had located his man, that his plans were in good shape, and the capture would be made at the hour and place designated.
At four o'clock on the morning of February 6th Jackson was joined at Milton by the express officials, to whom the details of the situation were given. At an early hour the start for Broxton's ferry was made in a hack, Jackson having selected four reliable men from Milton to assist him. The party reached the ferry landing on the north bank of the river about eleven o'clock a. m., and after some difficulty a boat was secured and a landing on the south shore was effected.
It had been determined at first to continue the journey beyond the river and capture Rube in the road, but on reaching the south landing the surroundings seemed so advantageous that it was decided to await his arrival at the ferry. The roadway, after leaving the south bank of the river a few miles, wends its course through a sparsely timbered pine forest. It is very straight, and persons traversing it from opposite directions could see each other for miles. It was therefore feared that Rube, ever on the alert, might take the alarm at sight of the posse. On the contrary, at the ferry all seemed propitious. There was moored the boat which contained the camp supplies to be loaded into Rube's cart with his own hands. It seemed a very trap, baited and set in the certain pathway of some beast whose lair had just been discovered, and here it was agreed to quietly await the hour of his coming. The exit from the landing where the boat was moored was a narrow corduroy road that debouched from the water's edge, through overhanging boughs and vines, for some three hundred yards, to the foot of a hill, and, curving to the south, shut out all further view from the river. On either side of the road, approaching the landing, were the fallen trunks of huge cypress trees, which afforded a splendid cover for the posse.
At the hour of noon, with the ferryman sitting not thirty paces distant, so as to watch the road and give the signal when the cart should appear in sight, the posse went into ambush and anxiously awaited Rube's arrival. He had never been later than two o'clock in reaching the ferry. It had been arranged that upon his arrival, and immediately upon his halting his team, all six of the posse would cover him with their breech-loading shotguns, and Detective Jackson should order the bandit to surrender; and if he failed to do so, the discharge of Jackson's gun would be a signal for the rest of the posse to fire.
Every alternate day for five weeks Rube had arrived at this spot between two and three o'clock p. m. The presence of the posse at the ferry was known to no one save the ferryman, and he was kept under careful surveillance. The capture of the outlaw seemed absolutely certain.
As the silent hours rolled by the detectives watched with bated breath for the signal from the ferryman. In the awful stillness that prevailed the ticking of the watches that marked the passing hours could be heard. Two o'clock, three o'clock, four o'clock came, and yet the crack of the oxdriver's whip, the longed-for music of the"geewhoa," which, on Rube's coming, were was to disturb the solitude of this wild retreat, were heard not. Finally, at five o clock, after another hour of anxious waiting had passed, a colored laborer in the log camp from which Rube was expected, appeared. He was questioned as to the whereabouts of Ward, the name assumed by Burrow, and answered that one of his oxen was sick ; that he had not started at eleven o'clock, and would probably not come until next day. This was a sore disappointment. The camp could not be reached until long after dark. The outlaw might start at any hour, and the posse might miss him in some of the many by-roads that intervened the long distance. It was concluded, therefore, to remain on watch at the ferry, hoping that he might still arrive before night.
With the slowly sinking sun sank the hopes of the anxious officers, who felt that the cover of night would bring some untoward event to mar the plans which had been arranged for the capture. Darkness came, but the silent watch was continued. Broxton, the ferry man, lived about one mile from the ferry, and immediately on the road along which Rube had to travel. It was now quite certain if Rube should arrive he would spend the night at Broxton' s and reach the ferry next morning. Ascertaining that there was a vacant house a few hundred yards beyond the house of the ferryman, and only a few feet from the road, it was determined best to remove the posse to this building and watch there during the night.
About seven o'clock the posse started from the river, giving orders to the driver of the hack not to follow until time had been allowed the advance guard to reach the ferryman's house. This order was, however, disobeyed, and just as the detectives approached the house, and when only about three hundred yards distant. Rube drove up to the gate and inquired of Mrs. Broxton the whereabouts of her husband.
The woman answered: " He has been at the river all day with a party of hunters."
Rube, ever on the qui vive gathered his Marlin rifle from his cart, saying: " I'll go down and see Mr. Broxton."
Walking towards the ferry about fifty yards he heard strange voices, saw the hack, and intuitively knew that he himself was the game the hunters were after. Like a deer he bounded into the forest and was lost to his pursuers.
A guard was placed over the team which Rube had left as a trophy to his would-be captors, in the hope that the owner would return to confirm his doubts, if he had any, but Rube took the safe side, ran no risk, and did not return.
Rube set out at once for the log camp, arriving there about midnight. Arousing the cook, he bade him prepare supper, which he ate with great relish, while he recounted a story of thrilling adventure with highwaymen, in which he had luckily escaped with his life. Supplying himself with a goodly store of provisions from the camp's larder, the outlaw about three o'clock a. m. said good-bye to his comrades, and went forth into the solitude of the forest, consoling himself with the reflection that he had again outwitted the detectives.
There are those who would doubtless have managed the affair at Broxton's Ferry, on the eventful evening of February 6th, differently, perhaps successfully, but fortunately for Rube they were not present.
The ox team was taken to Milton and sold for the sum of $80.
Detective Jackson, undaunted by the luckless result of the chase, equipped himself for a tour through the swamps of Santa Rosa, and, leaving him in pursuit, the rest of the party turned their faces homeward.
As an example of the unparalleled audacity of the noted train robber it may be recorded that a few weeks afterward he endeavored to recover the value of the oxen and cart by executing a bill of sale therefore to one Charles Wells. The latter demanded the property, but it is needless to say he did not succeed in obtaining it. The express off cials notified the would-be purchaser that the outfit had been sold, and that the title of the party to whom sold would be defended against any and all claimants.
CAPTURE OF JOE JACKSON.
TOURING the summer of 1890, after having been routed from his haunts on Yellow River on February 6th, it was known that Rube Burrow was in the swamps of Florida, near East Bay, and that Joe Jackson was not with him. It was definitely ascertained that they had separated at Flomaton, Ala., on the 14th of December, 1889, when Rube drove his ox-cart into Santa Rosa County, Florida. It was known that the two men had made an agreement to meet in Baldwin County, Ala., on the 20th of February, 1890. The information as to this proposed meeting was reliable. It was evidently their intention to rob a train at Dyer's Creek, a point about thirty miles north of Mobile. The routing of Rube, however, from his hiding place in Florida interfered with this project.
Joe Jackson was promptly on hand at the rendezvous, the exact locality of which was not then definitely known to the detectives. He had seen in the Courier-Journal a notice of the pursuit of Rube Burrow in Florida, and was very cautious in going to the place agreed upon. He however made his appearance at Dyer's. He waited about there only one day, and not finding Rube, he left, especially as he casually heard that the detectives were looking for Rube Burrow in that country.
Traveling from place to place until May, 1890, and restless over the long separation from Rube, Jackson went back into Lamar County, as it was expected he would. His presence in that locality was soon known to Detective Jackson, but there were so many hiding places among the Burrow kinsfolk that it was difficult to locate him. It was expected daily that Rube would join him, but not so. Rube still confined himself to Florida.
Detective Jackson knowing that Joe was in Lamar County, determined to capture him. Taking a trusty man with him he went into Lamar County, traveling by night and afoot, and camped in the woods a few hundred yards from the home of Allen Burrow. His night vigils were soon rewarded by observing suspicious movements, and an interchange of visits between old man Allen Burrow and Jim Cash. They were evidently preparing for a trip.
About dark on the night of the 15th of July Jim Cash and Joe Jackson rode out from the home of Allen Burrow in the direction of Fernbank, on the Georgia Pacific Road. The detectives were close upon their trail, and as it was evident that Jackson was en route to take a train on the Georgia Pacific Road it was not deemed safe to attempt the capture at night on the open roadway.
Detective Jackson covered all trains east and west of Fernbank with careful men, and he himself boarded the train at Kennedy, a few miles east of Fernbank, with ex-Sheriff Pennington and Sheriff Metcalf, of Lamar County. At Fernbank Joe Jackson boarded the train. He deliberately walked into the ladies' car and took a seat. The detectives were in the smoking car ahead, but kept him under close surveillance.
On arriving at the first station Detective Jackson got out and went to the rear of the ladies' car. Entering, he took a seat, unobserved, immediately behind Joe Jackson, and sat there until the train reached Columbus, Miss. When the train stopped, and Joe stepped out of the coach, he was covered by the pistols of the detectives and was arrested without a shot being fired. He had left his pistols at Allen Burrow's, and, as afterwards learned, was enroute to Pleasant Hill, La., the home of his uncle, J. T. Harrell, having become tired of waiting for Rube Burrow's arrival.
The prisoner was taken to Memphis, Tenn., where, upon being confronted with the overwhelming evidence against him, he made the confession recorded in the next chapter.