Rube Burrow

Rube Burrow
Lamar County, Al
~ Train Robber ~

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 NY Times record of Rube Burrow Death 1890
 Rube Burrow by Betty Banks

Reuben Houston (Rube) Burrow was born Dec. 11, 1856 and was murdered in Linden, AL on  Oct. 1, 1890.  He was the son of Allen H. Burrow, born Maury Co. TN on May 21, 1825.  In Aug. 1849 Allen Burrow married Mary Caroline Terry, a native of Lamar County, born 1830.  They were the parents of ten children, 5 boys and 5 girls. The family lived in the Fellowship Community near Vernon, AL.

1. John Thomas Burrow, born 1849, was the oldest child and lived near Vernon, AL.
2. William Jasper Burrow, born 1853, is reputed to be of unsound mind.
3. Sarah Francis Burrow, born 1854.
4. Reuben Houston (Rube) Burrow, born 1855.  Train robber.   Rube was the outlaw king of Alabama and known as "Alabama Robin Hood", he never robbed a poor man.
5. James Buchaanan Burrow, born 1858. Jim was part of the train robbing and gave them the name "The Burrow Brothers".
6.  Mary Susan Burrow, born 1860.
7.  Levenea Lucinda Burrow, born 1862.
8.  Martha Keziah Burrow, born 1866.
9.  Nancy Ann Eliza Burrow, born 1868
10.  Unknown son.

Mrs. Burrow, known as Dame Burrow, was well known and was possessed of the gift of curing many ills.  She believed in the curing of cancers, warts, tumors and other ailment by the art of sorcery. 

Capt. J. E. Pennington, a prominent citizen, and  tax collector at the time living in Lamar County, tells of two instances in his own family in which Dame Burrow removed tumors by simple incantation. The witch's caldron " boils and bubbles" on the hearthstone of the Burrow home, and  the dark and fetid mixture contains" 'Eye of newt and toe of frog, Wool of bat and tongue of dog; Adder's fork and blind worm's sting, Lizard's leg and owlet's wing,"or what not, many good but credulous people come from far and near to invoke the charm of her occult mummery, despite the fact that our latter-day civilization has long since closed its eyes and ears to the arts of sorcery and witchcraft. Here, amid the environments of ignorance and superstition, evils resulting more from the inherent infirmities of the rugged pioneer and his wife than the adversities of fortune, the family of ten children was reared. It is from such strong and rugged natures, uneducated and untrained in the school of right and honesty, that comes the material of which train robbers are made.

Rube worked awhile on his uncle's farm, but soon drifted into that nondescript character known as a Texas cowboy. Meantime, in 1876, he married Miss Virginia Alvison, in Wise County, Texas, and from this marriage two children were born, who were reared by  their grandparents in Alabama, the elder being a boy of twelve years. This wife died in 1880, and he again married in 1884 a Miss Adeline Hoover, of Erath County, Texas.


Home of Allen Burrow, father of Rube

Rube Burrow with his guns
in his casket

Cabin where Rube was captured

Wanted poster for Rube Burrow

Jesse Hildreth and Frank Marshall with the help of 2 white planters captured Rube Burrow Grave of Rube Burrow at Fellowship Church Cemetery near Vernon AL.  Chips of this stone have been taken for souvenirs.


Rube Burrow
King of Outlaws,

by George W. Agee

Superintendent Western Division Southern Express 

Written 1893
(Three years after death of Rube Burrows)


" Some hapless souls are led astray,
While some, themselves, seek out the way.
Some fall, unthinking, in the pit.
While others seek about for it.
'Tis probable, if Satan should
Strive for the universal good,
And close his gates and. bar them well,
Some souls would still break into Hell."


ONCE the days of the James and Younger brothers, bold types of Western outlawry, which 'were the 'immediate products of the late civil war, no banditti have challenged such universal attention as those led by the famous out law, Rube Burrow. The press of the country has woven, from the wildest woof of fancy, full many a fiction touching his daring deeds, and manufacturers of sensational literature have made of the bandit as mystical a genius as the "Head less Hessian of Sleepy Hollow."

With the view of correcting the erroneous ac counts heretofore given the public, I have yielded to the solicitations of many friends in the Express service and consented to give a faithful and accurate history, compiled from the official reports of the detectives, detailing the daring deeds, the thrilling scenes and hairbreadth escapes of the outlaw and his band of highwaymen. Important Confessions of some of the principal participants in the eight train robberies committed, covering a period of nearly four years, are also given, with out color of fiction or the caprice of fancy.

It is the province of this volume, therefore, not to laud evil endeavor, but rather to chronicle the hapless fate of those who, turning aside from the paths of peace and honor, elect to tread the devious and thorny road which leads on to the open gateway, over which is emblazoned, in setters of living fire, the accursed malediction, " All hope abandon, ye who enter here."

G. W. Agee.

Memphis Tenn. December 1893.


Chapter I.

Lamar County, Alabama — The Home of the Burrow Family — Biographical Sketch of Rube Burrow's Ancestors.

Chapter II.

Rube Leaves Lamar County, Alabama — His Early Life in the Lone Star State — His Brother Jim joins Him — The Bellevue, Gordon and Ben Brook, Texas, Train Robberies

Chapter III.

The Genoa, Ark., Robbery, December 9, 1887 — Arrest of William Brock — His Confession.

Chapter IV.

The Pinkertons After Rube and Jim Burrow in Lamar County — Their Narrow Escape.

Chapter V.

Rube and Jim board an L. & N. Railway Train at Brock's Gap — Their Arrest and the Subsequent Escape of Rube.

Chapter VI.

Rube Burrow Returns to Lamar County — Joe Jackson Joins him in March, 1888 — Their Trip into Bald win County, Alabama

Chapter VII.

The Ride into Arkansas to Liberate Jim Burrow — Failure and Return to Mississippi

Chapter VIII.

Rube Burrow and Joe Jackson Leave Arkansas — They turn up as Cotton Pickers in Tate County, Mississippi

Chapter IX.

Jim Burrow Arraigned. — Trial Postponed — His Return to Little Rock Prison — Letters Home — His Death in Prison

Chapter X.

The Duck Hill, Miss., Robbery — The Killing of Passenger Chester Hughes

Chapter XI.

The Cold-blooded Murder of Moses Graves, the Postmaster of Jewell, Alabama

Chapter XII.

Smith Joins Rube Burrow and Joe Jackson — The Buckatunna Robbery

Chapter XIII.

The Capture or Rube Smith and James McClung at Amory, Miss. — McClung's Confession — A Plan to Rob the Train Falls Through— A Safe Robbery Nipped in the Bud.

Chapter XIV.

A False Alarm — The Ox-cart Trip to Florida — The Separation — Rube Located at Broxton Ferry — His Escape

Chapter XV.

Capture of Joe Jackson

Chapter XVI.

Confession of Leonard Calvert Brock, alias Joe Jackson, made at Memphis, Tenn., July 19, 1890, and Corrected and Amended at Jackson, Miss., October 16, 1890.

Chapter XVII.

Rube Smith's Plot to Escape from Prison — His Plans Discovered — The Tell-tale letters

Chapter XVIII.

Rube Burrow Harbored in Santa Rosa — The Flomaton Robbery

Chapter XIX.

Rube Routed from Florida — The Chase into Marengo County, Ala. — His Capture

Chapter XX.

Rube's Last Desperate Act — Escape from Jail — The Deadly Duel on the Streets of Linden — The Outlaw Killed

Chapter XXI.

Tragic Suicide of L. C. Brock, alias Joe Jackson — He Leaps from the Fourth Story of the Prison into the Open Court, Sixty Feet Below, Causing Instant Death — His Last Statement

Chapter XXII.

Rube Smith's Trial for the Buckatunna Mail Robbery — An Unsuccessful Alibi — Perjured Witnesses — Mastferly Speeches — Conviction and Sentence.

Chapter XXIII.





LAMAR County, Alabama, the home of the Burrow family, has become historic as the lair of a robber band whose deeds of daring have had no parallel in modem times, and the halo of romance with which that locality has been invested has converted its rugged hills into mountain fastnesses, its quiet vales into dark caverns, and the humble abode of its inhabitants into turreted fortresses and robber castles. The county of Lamar, divested of the drapery of sensationalism, is one of the "hill counties" of northern Alabama, and takes high rank in the list of rich agricultural counties of the State. It possesses a charming landscape of undulating hill and dale, watered by limpid streams, and amid fertile valleys and on the crests of its picturesque uplands are found the peaceful and prosperous homes of many good and law-abiding people, thus proving that good people are indigenous to every clime and land where the hand of civilization has left its kindly touch. " It does not abound in grand and sublime prospects, but rather in little home scenes of rural repose and sheltered quiet."

Lamar County was formed in 1868 from the most fertile portions of Fayette and Marion Counties, and has changed its name three times; first it was called Jones, then Sanford, and, finally, it was named Lamar, in honor of the distinguished statesman and jurist who now adorns the bench of the Supreme Court of the United States. This section of the State, though not until the last decade possessed of the advantages of development which more fortunate sections have long enjoyed, has always had an excellent citizenship. Here, in the olden time, were found ardent followers of the political faith of the founders of the Republic, and' while the bonfires of the zealous pioneers of that day and time lighted the hill tops, the valleys of that section of northern Alabama reverberated with the campaign songs of their enthusiastic compatriots. From this section, no less renowned in war than in peace, a large company of soldiers was sent to the Creek war, and a full quota of gallant men went forth to the Confederate army, three companies of which were in the Twenty-sixth Alabama Infantry, one of the most superb regiments in the Army of Northern Virginia.

This much, in truth and justice, should be said in behalf of Lamar County, which has gained an unenviable notoriety as the birthplace of Rube Burrow, and later as the rendezvous of his confreres in crime. When metropolitan places, with well equipped police powers, give birth to such social organizations as the anarchists in Chicago and the Italian Mafia in New Orleans, and become asylums for organized assassins, the good people of these cities are no more responsible for the resultant evils than are the law abiding people of Lamar County, Alabama, for the deeds of outlawry of which one of her citizens, by the accident of birthplace, was the chief exponent. The Burrow family, however, were among the earliest settlers of Fayette County, Alabama, from which Lamar was taken, and from their prolific stock descended a numerous progeny, who, by the natural ties of consanguinity, formed a clan amongst whom the bold outlaws found ready refuge when fleeing from the hot pursuit organized in the more populous localities which were the scenes of their daring crimes. Chief among Rube's partisans and protectors was James A, Cash, a brother-in-law.

Allen H. Burrow, the father of Rube, was born in Maury County, Tenn., May 21, 1825, is parents moving to Franklin County, Ala., in 1826, and who, in 1828, settled within the vicinity of his present home in Lamar County, Ala. In August, 1849, Allen Burrow married Martha Caroline Terry, a native of Lamar County, who was born in 1830. From this union were born ten children — five boys and five girls. John T. Burrow, the oldest child, lives near Vernon, the county seat of Lamar. Apart from harboring his brother, Rube, while an outlaw, he has always borne a fair reputation. He is of a rollicking disposition, possesses a keen sense of the ridiculous, is a fine mimic and recounts an anec dote inimitably, and, though crude of speech and manner, having little education, is a man of more than average intelligence. Jasper Burrow, the sec ond son, is a quiet, taciturn man; he lives with his father, and is reputed to be of unsound mind. Four of the daughters married citizens of Lamar County. The youngest, who bears the prosaic name of Ann Eliza, is a tall blonde of twenty summers, and is yet unmarried. She is of a defiant nature, has a comely and attractive face, and is a favorite with many a rustic youth in the vicinage of the Burrow homestead. She was devoted to Rube, afforded a constant medium of communication between the parental home and the hiding place of the outlaws, and was the courier through whom Rube Smith was added to the robber band while in rendezvous in Lamar County.

Reuben Houston (Rube) Burrow, the outlaw, was born in Lamar County, December 11, 1854. His early life in Lamar was an uneventful one. He was known as an active, sprightly boy, apt in all athletic pursuits, a swift runner, an ardent huntsman and a natural woodsman. He possessed a fearless spirit, was of a merry and humorous tun, a characteristic of the Burrow family, but he developed none of those traits which might have foreshadowed the unenviable fame acquired in after-life.

James Buchanan Burrow, the fifth and youngest son, was born in 1858, and was, therefore, four years the junior of his brother Rube, to whose fortunes his own were linked in the pursuit of train robbing, and which gave to the band the name of the " Burrow Brothers " in the earliest days of its organization.

The facilities for acquiring education in the rural districts of the South, half a century ago, were limited, and Allen Burrow grew to manhood's estate, having mastered little more than a knowledge of the "three R's," and yet talent for teaching the young idea how to shoot was so scant that Allen Burrow, during the decade immediately preceding the late war, was found diversifying the pursuits of tilling the soil with that of teaching a country school. Among his pupils was the unfortunate postmaster of Jewell, Ala., Moses Graves, who was wantonly killed by Rube Burrow in 1889. Alany anecdotes are current in Lamar County, illustrating the primitive methods of pedagogy as pursued by Allen Burrow. It is said that the elder Graves, who had several sons as pupils, withdrew the hopeful scions of the Graves household from the school for the reason that after six months' tuition, he having incidentally enrolled the whole contingent in a spelling bee, they all insisted on spelling every monosyllable ending with a consonant by adding an extra one, as d-o-g-g, dog; b-u-g-g, bug.

Allen Burrow served awhile in Roddy's cavalry during the civil war, but his career as a soldier was brief and not marked by any incident worthy of note. Soon after the close of the war he made some reputation as a "moonshiner," and was indicted about 1876 for illicit distilling. He fled the country in consequence, but after an absence of two years he returned and made some compromise with the Government, since which time he has quietly lived in Lamar County. While possessed of some shrewdness, he is a typical backwoodsman, with the characteristic drawling voice and quaint vernacular peculiar to his class. Martha Terry, the wife of Allen Burrow, claims to be possessed of the peculiar and hereditary gift of curing, by some strange and mysterious agency, many of the ills to which flesh is heir, and had she lived in the days of Cotton Mather she might have fallen a victim to fire and fagot, with which witchcraft in that day and time was punished. There are many sensible and wholly unsuperstitious persons in northern Alabama, where old Mrs. Burrow is well known, who believe in her occult powers of curing cancers, warts, tumors and kindred ailments, by the art of sorcery. Capt. J. E. Pennington, a prominent citizen, and the present tax collector of Lamar County, tells of two instances in his own family of which Dame Burrow removed tumors by simple incantation. The witch's caldron " boils and bubbles" on the hearthstone of the Burrow home, and whether the dark and fetid mixture contain

" Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and owlet's wing,"

or what not, many good but credulous people come from far and near to invoke the charm of her occult mummery, despite the fact that our latter-day civilization has long since closed its eyes and ears to the arts of sorcery and witchcraft. Here, amid the environments of ignorance and superstition, evils resulting more from the inherent infirmities of the rugged pioneer and his wife than the adversities of fortune, the family of ten children was reared. It is from such strong and rugged natures, uneducated and untrained in the school of right and honesty, that comes the material of which train robbers are made.

Chapter II.


RUBE BURROW'S old companions in Alabama recall distinctly the day he left Lamar County for Texas in the autumn of 1872. He left the old and familiar scenes of his boyhood, full of hope and eager to test the possibilities that Texas, then the Eldorado of the southern emigrant, opened up to him. He was but eighteen years of age when he took up his abode with his uncle, Joel Burrow, a very worthy and upright man, who owned and tilled a small farm in Erath County, that State. In 1876 Rube was joined by Jim Burrow, his younger brother, who remained in Texas until 1880, when, returning to Lamar County, Alabama, he married and resided there until 1884, when he rejoined his brother Rube in Texas, taking his wife thither. Jim Burrow was a " burly, roaring, roistering blade," six feet tall, as straight as an Indian, which race of people he very closely resembled, ?with his beardless face, his high cheek bones and coal-black hair. He was in every way fitted for following the fortunes of Rube, and had he not succumbed to the unhappy fate of imprisonment and early death he would have been a formidable rival of his brother Rube in the events that marked his subsequent career.

Rube worked awhile on his uncle's farm, but soon drifted into that nondescript character known as a Texas cowboy. Meantime, in 1876, he married Miss Virginia Alvison, in Wise County, Texas, and from this marriage two children were born, who are now with their grandparents in Alabama, the elder being a boy of twelve years. This wife died in 1880, and he again married in 1884 a Miss Adeline Hoover, of Erath County, Texas. These events served to restrain his natural inclinations for excitement and adventure, and it may be truthfully said that from 1873 to 1886 Rube Burrow transgressed the law only to the extent of herding unbranded cattle and marking them as his own. In this pursuit he traversed the plains of Texas, enjoying with an excess of keen delight a companionship of kindred spirits, whose homes were in the saddle, and who found their only shelter by day and by night under the same kindly skies. As he grew to manhood he had given full bent to his love for the athletic pursuits incident to life upon the then sparsely settled plains of the Lone Star State. Taming the unbridled broncho, shooting the antelope, and lassoing the wild steer, under whip and spur, he soon gained fame as an equestrian, and was reckoned as the most unerring marksman in all the adjacent country. With a reputation for all these accomplishments, strengthened by an innate capacity for leadership, Rube ere long gathered about him a band of trusty comrades, of which he was easily the leader.

A short time prior to this period, at varying intervals, all Texas had been startled by the bold and desperate adventures of Sam Bass and his band of train robbers, with which Rube was erroneously supposed to have been associated. Possibly inspired, however, by the fame which Sam Bass had achieved, and the exaggerated reports of the profits of his adventures, contrasted with the sparse returns from his more plodding occupation, Rube was seized with a desire to emulate his deeds of daring, and achieve at once fame and fortune.

At this time, December 1, 1886, his party, consisting of Jim Burrow, Nep Thornton and Henderson Bromley, returning from a bootless excursion into the Indian Territory, rode in the direction of Bellevue, a station on the Fort Worth and Denver Railway. Here Rube proposed to rob the train, which they knew to be due at Bellevue at eleven o'clock A. M. Hitching their horses in the woods a few hundred yards away they stealthily approached a water-tank three hundred yards west of the station, and where the train usually stopped for water. Thornton held up the engineer and fireman, while Rube, Bromley and Jim Burrow went through the train and robbed the passengers, leaving the Pacific Express unmolested. They secured some three hundred dollars in currency and a dozen or more watches. On the train was Sergeant Connors (white), with a squad of U.S. colored soldiers, in charge of some prisoners. From these soldiers were taken their forty-five caliber Colt's revolvers, a brace of which pistols were used by Rube Burrow throughout his subsequent career. Rube insisted on the prisoners being liberated, but they disdained the offer of liberty at the hands of the highwaymen and remained in charge of the crest-fallen soldiers, who were afterwards dismissed from the service for cowardice. Regaining their horses the party rode forth from the scene of their initial train robbery, out into the plains, making a distance of some seventy-five miles from the scene of the robbery in twenty-four hours.

The ill-gotten gains thus obtained did not suffice to satisfy the greed of the newly fledged train robbers, and early in the following January another raid was planned. At Alexander, Texas, about seventy-five miles from Gordon, all the robbers met, and going thence by horseback to Gordon, Texas, a station on the Texas and Pacific Railway, they reached their destination about one o'clock a. m., on January 23, 1887. As the train pulled out of Gordon at two o'clock a. m. Rube and Bromley mounted the engine, covered the engineer and fireman, and ordered them to pull ahead and stop at a distance of five hundred yards east of the station. The murderous looking Colt's revolvers brought the engineer to terms, and the commands of the highwaymen were obeyed to the letter. At the point where the train was stopped, Jim Burrow, Thornton, and Harrison Askew, a recruit who had but recently joined the robber band, were in waiting. As the train pulled up, Askew's nerve failed him, and he cried out, " For heaven's sake, boys, let me out of this ; I can't stand it." Askew's powers of locomotion, however, had not forsaken him, and he made precipitate flight from the scene of the robbery. Rube and Bromley marched the engineer and fireman to the express car and demanded admittance, while the rest of the robbers held the conductor and other trainmen at bay. The messenger of the Pacific Express Company refused at first to obey the command to open the door, but put out the lights in his car. A regular fusilage ensued, the robbers using a couple of Winchester rifles, and after firing fifty or more shots the messenger surrendered. About $2,275 was secured from the Pacific Express car. The U. S. Mail car was also robbed, and the highwaymen secured from the registered mail about two thousand dollars.

Mounting their horses, which they had left hidden in the forest hard by, they rode off in a northerly direction, in order to mislead their pursuers. Making a circuit to the south they came upon the open plains, which stretched far away towards the home of the robber band. The trackless plain gave no vestige of the flight of the swift-footed horses as they carried their riders faster and still faster on to their haven of safety, which they reached soon after daylight on the second morning after the robbery.

The better to allay suspicion the robber comrades now agreed to separate, and all made a show of work, some tilling the soil, while others engaged in the occupation of herding cattle for the neighboring ranch owners.

Rube and Jim Burrow, about this time, purchased a small tract of land, paying six hundred dollars for it. They also bought a few head of stock and made a fair showing for a few months at making an honest living. The restless and daring spirit of Rube Burrow, however, could not brook honest toil. As he followed the plowshare over his newly purchased land, and turned the wild flowers of the teeming prairie beneath the soil, he nurtured within his soul nothing of the pride of the peaceful husbandman, but, fretting over such tame pursuits, built robber castles anew.

While planting a crop in the spring of 1887 he had for a fellow workman one William Brock, and finding in him a dare-devil and restless spirit he recounted to him his successful ventures at Bellevue and at Gordon. Thus another recruit was added to his forces, and one, too, who was destined to play an important role, as subsequent events will show. Time grew apace, and Rube wrote, in his quaint, unscholarly way, affectionate epistles to his relatives in Lamar County, Ala., sending them some of his ill-gotten gains. Two of these letters, written on the same sheet of paper, the one to his brother, John T. Burrow, the other to his father and mother, at Vernon, Ala., are here given verbatim et literatim and show that a collegiate education is not a necessary adjunct to the pursuit of train robbing.

Erath County, Tex., March l0, 1887.
Dear Brother and family :

All is well. No nuse too rite, the weather is good for work and wee ar puting in the time. Wee will plant corn too morrow. Mee and james Will plant 35 acreys in corn. Wee wont plant Eny Cotton Wee hav a feW Ooats sode and millet, i am going too Stephens Vill too day and i Will male this Letr. J. T. when you rite Direct your letr too Stephens Vill Erath county and tell all of the Rest too direct there letrs too the same place, i want you and pah too keep that money John you keep $30.00 and pah $20.00. the Reason i want you to hav $30 is because you have the largest family. John i don't blame pah and mother for not coming out here for they ortoo no there Buisness. John i want you too rite too me. i did think i would Come Back in march, i cant come now. Rite.

R. H. Burrow

too J. T. Burrow.

Krats County, Texas, March. 10, 1887.
Dear father & mother :

Eye will Rite you a few Iines. all is well. Elizabeth* has a boy. it was born on the 28 of february. She has done well. Mother i want you too pick mee out one of the prityest widows in ala. i will come home this fawl. pah i want John thomas too hav 30 dollars of that money eye want you too Buy analyzer a gold Ring, it wont cost more than $4. i told her i would send her a present, pah that will take a rite smart of your part of the money but it will come all right some day for I am going to sell out some time and come and see all of you. Rite.

R H Burrow

too A H Burrow.

"We have sowed a few oats," wrote Rube. Whether this was meant as a double-entendre and referred not only to a strictly domesticated brand of that nseful cereal, but also to the "wild oats" which Rube and Jim had been sowing, and which bore ample fruitage in after years, it is useless to speculate.

In the midst of seed-time Rube tired of his bucolic pursuits, and concluded to try his fortunes at Gordon again, and on the tenth of May the chief gathered his little band at his farm in Erath County and, under cover of a moonless night, rode northward to the Brazos River, about fifty miles distant. They found to their disappointment that the river was very high and was overflowing its bank , rendering it impossible to cross it by ferry (Elizabeth was the wife of bis brother Jim.) or otherwise, and spending the day in the adjacent woodland, they rode back to Alexander the following night, to await the subsidence of the floods, which, however, kept the Brazos River high for some weeks.

Again, on the night of June 3d, by appointment, Henderson Bromley and Bill Brock met Rube and Jim Burrow at their home near Stephensville, in Erath County, and, after consultation, Ben Brook, Texas, a station on the Texas and Pacific Railway, seventy-five miles south of Fort Worth, was selected as the scene of their third train robbery.

After a hard night's ride they were at daylight, on June 4th, within a few miles of Ben Brook. Having ascertained that the north-bound train would pass the station about 7 p. m. they secreted themselves in the woods near by until dark, at which time they rode quietly to within a few hundred yards of the station. Rube Burrow and Henderson Bromley had blackened their faces with burnt cork, while Jim Burrow and Brock used their pocket handkerchiefs for masks. Rube and Bromley boarded the engine as it pulled out of the station and, with drawn revolvers, covered the engineer and fireman, and ordered the former to stop at a trestle a few hundred yards beyond the sta tion. Here Jim Burrow and Brock were in waiting, and the two latter held the conductor and passengers at bay, while the two former ordered the engineer to break into the express car with the coal pick taken from the engine, and again the Pacific Express Company was robbed, the highwaymen securing $2,450. The passengers and mail were unmolested.

Regaining their horses within thirty minutes after the train first stopped at the station, the robbers rode hard and fast until noon of the following day. Through woodland and over plain, ere dawn of day they had fled far from the scene of the robbery of the previous night, and a drenching rain, which commenced to fall at midnight, left not a trace of the course of their flight. Here the robbers remained in quiet seclusion, disguising their identity as train robbers by a seeming diligence in agricultural pursuits, until September 20, 1887, when they made a second raid on the Texas Pacific Road, robbing the train at Ben Brook station again.

When Rube and Bromley mounted the engine, wonderful to relate, it was in charge of the same engineer whom the robbers had "held up" in the robbery of June 4th, and the engineer, recognizing Rube and Bromley, said, as he looked down the barrels of their Colt's revolvers, " Well, Captain, where do you want me to stop this time? " Rube laconically replied "Same place," and so it was that the train was stopped and robbed, the same crew being in charge, on the identical spot where it had been robbed before. The messenger of the Pacific Express Company made some resistance, but finally the robbers succeeded in entering his car and secured $2,725, or about $680 each.

The highwaymen reached their rendezvous in Erath County, having successfully committed four train robberies.

About the middle of November following, Rube and Jim paid a visit to their parents in Lamar County, Ala., Jim taking his wife there and Rube his two children. They remained in Lamar County some weeks, visiting their relatives and walking the streets of Vernon, the county seat, unmolested, as neither of the two men had at that time ever been suspected of train robbing.

Chapter III.


EXPRESS Train No. 2, on the St. Louis, Arkansas and Texas Railway, left Texarkana, Ark., on the evening of December 9, 1887, at 5:50 P. m., fifty minutes late. Nothing unusual occurred until just as the train began to pull out of Genoa, Ark., a small station thirty miles north of Texarkana. Engineer Rue, on looking about, discovered two men standing just behind him, with drawn revolvers, covering himself and fireman.

" What are you doing here ? " asked Rue. The answer was, "Go on! Don't stop! If you stop I will kill you! " And further: " I want you to stop about one and a half miles from here, at the north end of the second big cut. I don't want to hurt you or your fireman, but we are going to rob this train or kill every man on it."

Arriving at the spot designated, the leader abruptly said, "Stop!" The engineer and fireman were then ordered down from the engine, and the leader said, "Boys, how are you all?"

A voice from the brush, where a third man was in waiting, said, "All right, boys ! " The latter then walked towards the passenger coaches and with a sixteen-shooting rifle opened fire in the direction of the coaches. The two men in charge of the engineer and fireman were closely masked, and were armed with a brace of forty-five caliber Colt's pistols, with Winchester rifles strapped across their backs. Messenger Cavin, of the Southern Express Company, put out his lights and, like Br'er Fox, "lay low" for some time. The robbers demanded admittance, showering volleys of oaths and shots in one common fusilage. The heavy Winchesters sped shot after shot through the car, the balls piercing it from side to side, and yet young Cavin held his ground until Rube Burrow ordered the engineer to bring his oil can and saturate the car with the contents. The engineer was ordered to set fire to the car, but before doing so he made an earnest appeal to the messenger, who agreed to surrender, under the condition that he should not be hurt. The robbers were some thirty minutes gaining access to the car. Having done so, they secured about two thousand dollars.

This was the first train robbery in the territory of the Southern Express Company for a period of seventeen years. Not since the robbery of the Southern Express car on the Mobile and Ohio Railway at Union City, Tenn., in October, 1870, by the celebrated Farrington brothers, had highwaymen made a raid on a Southern Express train.

The Pinkerton Detective Agency having been given charge of the Union City, Tenn., case, and all the participants in that crime having been punished to the full extent of the law, the management of the Southern Express Company called to their aid at once the Pinkerton force.

Assistant Superintendent McGinn, of the Chicago agency, reached Texarkana in about fortyeight hours after the robbery, and immediately repaired to the scene of the occurrence. Genoa is a small railroad station only a short distance from Red River. The winter rains had filled the bottom lands with water, and the dense and impenetrable growth of matted brush and vines, denuded of their foliage, made the landscape a picture desolate and uninviting. Here in this wild woodland came Superintendent McGinn, on the morning of the third day after the robbery, to take up the tangled skein from which to weave the net Tor the capture of the train robbers.

On the night of the robbery a report of the occurrence had been telegraphed to the officials of the Express Company at Texarkana, and a posse at once started to the scene of the robbery. A few miles north of Texarkana the posse, being in charge of Sheriff Dixon, of Miller County, came upon three men on the railway track, walking towards Texarkana, This was about three o'clock A. M. The three men were allowed to pass, when the sheriflf's posse, turning about, commanded them to halt. The latter ran, taking refuge in a railway cut some thirty yards distant, and the sheriff's posse at once opened fire, which was promptly returned, and a score or more of shots were exchanged.

The night being very dark the firing on each side was done at random, and no casualties ensued. After daylight that morning two rubber coats and a slouch hat were found in the vicinity of the fight, and these articles were subsequently identified as having been worn by the men who robbed the train at Genoa. The hat bore the name of a firm in Dublin, Texas, and the coats, which were new, bore the simple cost mark "K. W. P." Here was an important clew, proving that the robbers had at least purchased the hat at Dublin. Thither the detectives went, with the hat and coats, hoping to have the purchasers identified. Calling upon the Dublin firm, diligent inquiry failed to disclose the purchaser of the hat, the firm having sold hundreds of a similar style during the season.

No trace of the purchasers of the coats could be found at Dublin, but the detectives felt that they were on a hot trail and renewed their exertions. To Corsicana, Waco, Stephensville and other points adjacent they journeyed, exhibiting the coats, with the cabalistic letters, until finally McGinn arrived at Alexander, Texas, as if carried there by that intuition common to shrewd men of his profession, and plied his inquires anew. Falling in with a salesman of the firm of Sherman & Thaiwell, to whom the coats were exhibited, the answer of the young salesman, Hearn, was :

''That is the cost mark of Sherman & Thaiwell. I put those letters, ' K. W. P.,' on myself." He then seemed lost a moment in thought, and resumed :

"We had a lot of that brand, and I sold a coat like that to one Bill Brock, who lives, when at home, at his father-in-law's, five miles from Alexander, on the road to Dublin." He further stated that Brock had been away, he thought, up about Texarkana, and added:

"At the time Brock made the purchase there was a man with him to whom I also sold a similar coat, and who afterwards went to Alabama, and who I think is there now."

Here was a ray of light upon the dark mystery of December 9th at Genoa. The name, William Brock, had been copied from the hotel register at Texarkana, where it was found under date of December 3rd, six days before the robbery, and was in the possession of the detectives who were on the alert for the owner.

A few days prior to this occurrence another detective was shadowing a man in Waco, Texas, who was spending money freely, and who answered the description of one of the train robbers. Following him to Dublin, Texas, the man was ascer- tained to be Brock, and here the detectives, comparing notes, found themselves in possession of abundant evidence upon which, to arrest Brock. Before this was done, however, the important disclosure was made that Brock had two companions, Rube and Jim Burrow, and as these men answered the descriptions of the men who committed the robbery at Genoa the detectives felt quite sure that the names of all three of the robbers were at least known. Further investigation, however, developed the fact that Rube and Jim Burrow had recently gone to Alabama, and the immediate arrest of Brock was determined upon.

At three o'clock on the morning of December 31, 1887, twenty-two days after the robbery, Wm. Brock was arrested at his home near Dublin, Texas. The detectives demanded admittance and Brock surrendered without firing a shot, although he had a forty-five caliber Colt's revolver and fifty cartridges in a belt under his pillow, and also one of the Winchester rifles used at Genoa. The prisoner was taken to Texarkana and confronted with engineer Rue, who thoroughly identified him. He was also identified by parties who saw him in the immediate vicinity of Genoa. Brock could not stand the pressure brought to bear on him by the wily detectives, and in the course of a few days made a clean breast of his participation in the Genoa, Ark., robbery, confirming the information already in possession of the detectives as to the complicity of Rube and Jim Burrow in the daring adventure.

From Brock it was learned that Rube and Jim Burrow had, about November 15, 1887, gone to Lamar County, Ala. By agreement. Brock had joined the Burrow brothers at Texarkana on December 3d, where all three registered at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, Brock in his own name, and Rube and Jim as R. Houston and James Buchanan, respectively, each using his middle name as a surname. They had robbed the train at Genoa on the night of December 9th, and while walking toward Texarkana in the early morning of the l0th had been fired upon by the sheriff's posse. Taken by surprise, he and Jim Burrow had dropped their coats, while Rube had lost his hat. After going a few miles south of Texarkana they separated. Brock going into Texas and Rube and Jim making their way into Lamar County, Ala.

On the 29th of December Rube wrote the following letter to Brock, which was received by Mrs. Brock, and turned over to the detectives after her husband's arrest:

Dec 20-29-87.

Mr. IV. L. Brock:

All is well and hope you the same Bill notis everything and let me know Bill eye will sell you my place ef you want it at 7 hundred let me here from you want it eye will have all fixt right and send you the tittle in full let me here from you soon.

R. H. too W. I.. B.

The figure, 20-29-87 meant that Rube and Jim reached Lamar County on the 20th and the letter was written on the 29th of December. William Brock detailed to the detectives the history of the Bellevue and Gordon robberies, as gathered from Rube, and of the Ben Brook robberies, in which he himself participated. He seemed thoroughly penitent over his crimes, and, after reaching Texarkana, disclosed the fact that he had about four hundred dollars of the proceeds of the Genoa robbery, which he proposed to and did restore.

Brock was a rough, uncouth-looking fellow, about five feet eleven inches high ; weighed about 180 pounds, and was a strong-chested, broad-shouldered fellow, whose forbidding features made him a typical train robber. He was about thirty-one years old, and although born in Georgia, his parents moved to Texas when he was quite a child. He was wholly illiterate, not being able to either read or write, and the environments of corrupt companionship tended to fill his untutored mind with evil only. Brock made an important witness in the trials of the participants in the various train robberies in Texas, and was afterwards given a comparatively light sentence as a punishment for his offenses.