CONFESSION OF LEONARD CALVERT BROCK, ALIAS JOE JACKSON, MADE AT MEMPHIS, TENN., JULY 19, 189O, AND CORRECTED AND AMENDED AT JACKSON, MISS., OCTOBER 16, 1890.
LEONARD CALVERT BROCK is my full name. I was born in Coffee County, Ala., July 13, i860. My father's name is Joseph E. Brock, and he was born near Raleigh, N. C. He is a physician by profession. He moved from there to Georgia, and then to Alabama. My mother's name was Sallie F Harrell, and she was born in Georgia. My parents were married in Georgia before coming to Alabama. I have one brother, whose name is John Brock. He was born in 1863, and now lives on a farm in Coffee County, Ala. I have a married sister, who was born in 1852, Rebecca Katherine Brock. She married William Russell, and lives in Coffee County. The postoffice address of all the above named parties is Elba, Ala.
I was never married. Was raised on a farm, and my schooling was limited. I went to school to a good teacher about eight months. Remained on a farm in Coffee County, Ala., until 1886, when I went to Texas, on account of a cutting scrape, the particulars of which are as follows: I had a negro working for me whose name was Louis Chapman. We had some hot words about a business matter, and I stabbed him very severely. I was also accused of killing a negro in Coffee County about the same time, and on account of these troubles I left home. I am innocent of the murder of the negro.
I went to Texas via the Southern Pacific route, and stopped at San Antonio, where I went to work for one Robert Daniels. Daniels was engaged in buying horses and driving them to northern Texas. I went to Dallas from San Antonio, and worked awhile in a lumber yard. I also worked a month for a man named Brown. Then I went to Sherman and stayed a few days, but was unable to get work. I went from there to Gainesville, and from there to the Indian Territory, where I worked for a man named John Pair.
I then went back to Cook County, Texas, in the southwest part of the county. There I first saw Rube Burrow, in company with a man whom he called "Bill." This was in the spring of 1886. Burrow employed me to help get up cattle. We went down into Young County, and from there to Wise County. I did not visit Burrow's house at any time. We drove some cattle to Fort Worth and sold them. He sold about thirty or forty head. Then he quit the cattle business and discharged me.
I then went to Texarkana and worked at a saw mill for a few days. I then went to Shreveport and got work at a sawmill about one hundred miles below Shreveport. I went from there to New Orleans, and from there to Mobile, and worked a few days in a livery stable for a man named Metzger. I went from there, in the fall of 1887, to Pensacola, and got work driving a team. From there I went to Milton, and drove a team for a man named Collins for some time, and went from there to Florida and remained there, working part of the time. I was at several stations on the Pensacola and Atlantic Road.
In the latter part of 1887 I went from there to Texas. First I stopped at Sherman, and worked there for a few days. I stayed there until February, 1888. There I got a letter from Burrow. He addressed me as Lewis Waldrip. I was then going by that name. He said he was in trouble, but did not say what it was, and asked me to come to him. The letter was written from Vernon. I replied to the letter, addressing it to James Cash, and told him I was undecided whether to come or not. I received another letter from him, also from Vernon, Ala.
About the first of March, 1888, I went to Alabama. I went via Memphis, and got off the train at Sulligent, and went to old man Burrow's by way of Vernon. I found Burrow at Cash's house. He then told me that detectives were searching for him, and told me about his arrest and escape at Montgomery. He stated they had gotten off the train at Montgomery and started up the street, when policemen attempted to arrest them. He escaped, after shooting one of them, but his brother was captured. He was pursued by a party and surrounded in a negro cabin, where he had gone to get some coffee. He ran out of the house to the timber and escaped unhurt, although fired upon. He sat down in the bushes, and although he had no cartridges he pretended to be loading his pistol, and they were afraid to attack him. He went from there back to Lamar County, Ala.
After I arrived in Lamar County, in March, 1888, we stayed there about a week, and then went south to Monroe County, crossing the Georgia Pacific Road at Columbus, Miss. We went into Columbus, Miss. ; from there to Artesia, Miss., and thence to Meridian. We took a boat on the Tombigbee River and went to Coffeeville, Ala., and then walked to Baldwin County, Ala. We worked in Dunnaway's log camp there, and it was here we met John Barnes. I drove a log team for Dunnaway, and Burrow sawed logs with Barnes. We remained there three weeks. Dunnaway then moved his teams to a point on the L. & N. Road, near Perdido Station. I carried a team there for him, and he then discharged me and Burrow, and we sawed logs at another camp for a few days. We then left, and crossed the Alabama River near Fort Claiborne. We crossed the Tombigbee River at the station where the railroad crosses the river. Workmen were engaged in painting the bridge, and asked us not to cross on the bridge, and we went down and crossed at the ferry. We then went north until we got into Mississippi, and went via Buckatunna to Ellisville. Then we went to Forrest, Miss. We bought our horses in Smith County, Miss. I traded my horse at Dixon, Miss., giving $15 to boot. The horse cost $90. Burrow paid $85 for his horse. From Dixon we went to Oxford, via Houston, Miss. We went through Oxford on horseback. We went on to Berryhill's, Rube Burrow's brother-in-law, arriving there about eleven o'clock a. m. Berryhill was absent, but returned that evening. We remained there two days. Left there in the afternoon, and went east to Okolona. Went thence to Cotton Gin, Miss., and from there to Vernon, Ala., stopping at Cash's house. We got to Lamar County in the middle of May. Cash kept my horse and Burrow took his to his father's. We remained there, being most of the time near Cash's house, until the early part of August, when Reuben Burrow, having learned that his brother Jim, who was in the penitentiary at Little Rock, Ark., for safe keeping, would be taken to Texarkana about the fifth of September for trial, determined to go to his rescue. We talked the matter over, and resolved to rescue him from the guards, even if we had to kill them to do so. I do not recollect what date it was, but we saddled our horses, one at John Burrow's and one at Jim Cash's, on a dark night in the early part of August, and started on the Arkansas trip. We crossed the Tombigbee River at Cotton Gin, Miss., and came through Okolona, Miss., through Oxford, Miss., through Sardis, Miss., and took a westerly course to Helena, Ark., where we crossed the Mississippi River. Went from Helena to Pine Bluff, crossing the White River at St. Charles. Crossed the Arkansas River nine miles south of Pine Bluff; then went to Malvern ; then to Donaldson, fifteen miles south of Malvern, where we expected to get Jim Burrow from the train. Then we passed Arkadelphia, remaining there one night, and went down to Curtis, fifteen miles south of Arkadelphia. There we searched two trains for Jim Burrow, but failed to find him. We then came back through Arkadelphia to Donaldson. There we searched two or three trains. Then we went up to Malvern, and boarded two or three trains there. While at Curtis, Ark., we learned that there was a train which would not stop at that place, but would stop at Arkadelphia, and Rube said he would go back to Arkadelphia. We made the trip, riding hard, but not in time to get on the train. Just as we rode into the town the train pulled out.
Then we lost all hope of getting Jim Burrow, and came on to Pine Bluff, crossing the Arkansas River nine miles south of Pine Bluff, and came out back through the country to DeWitt, and crossed the White River at a point twelve or fifteen miles north of St. Charles, Ark., and went on back to Helena, crossing the Mississippi River at Helena. Stayed all night at a little town on the Mississippi River, fifteen miles above Helena, on the east side of the river. Next day we came out through the bottom, wading our horses through mud knee deep for fifteen miles. Stayed all night two miles from the ferry, and there met Fletcher Stephens, who wanted to hire hands to pick cotton. Burrow proposed that we go to work picking cotton for Stephens. Stephens agreed, and gave us fifty cents per hundred and our board. This was about the first of October, 1888. Burrow was a good cotton picker, but I was not. We picked cotton until about December first, and Stephens paid us $50.
We then went from there to Sardis. Remained all night at Sardis, and crossed the Tallahatchie and went south to Berryhill's, where we stayed one day. Went from there to Water Valley, Miss., and stayed there all night. Put our horses up at a stable there. Had decided at this time to rob a train, but no place or time had been set. We decided on robbing a train before we left Berryhill's.
While looking at some horses at the livery stable at Water Valley, Burrow and I noticed a policeman eyeing us closely. This made us rather uneasy, and when the policeman went from the stable to the hotel where we were stopping, Burrow followed him and went to the hotel and got his sad- dle-bags, which he had left there. We then saddled our horses and left.
We stayed at a widow's house that night, and as it was raining next day we stopped at ten o'clock at a house and remained there until next morning. We then went south, and took dinner next day ten or twelve miles from Duck Hill, Miss. Arrived at Duck Hill soon after dark on the night of December 15, 1889. I went into a store and bought two boxes of sardines; went back, and we waited a short while for the train. The horses were hitched out about half a mile or so from town, and east of the track.
When the train pulled into the station we were in plain sight. There was nobody out, as it was a bad night. We were there close by the station. We got on the engine just as it was ready to pull out, both on the same side, and each one of us had a pistol. I did not point my pistol directly at either engineer or fireman, but we covered them and ordered them to run out a certain distance, about eight hundred yards from the station, and stop. The engineer was in the act of stopping the train when we got on the engine, but we made him pull out. When he stopped the train I stepped on the ground first. Just as I stepped on the ground I fired off my pistol in the air, and about that time Burrow, the engineer and the fireman got out, and we all walked back to the express car. About the time I fired my pistol I noticed the door of the express car was open. Burrow went in the express car. I remained on the ground.
Pretty soon I saw a man walking towards me from the passenger coaches, and told him to go back. I thought he was going to shoot me, and I asked the engineer to tell him to go back, and the engineer did so. The engineer asked me at the same time not to shoot him — that the man had nothing to shoot me with — and I did not shoot him. The man did not turn back, and the negro fireman told him to turn back, and he then did so. In a few minutes some one down by the passenger coach spoke, and at the same time commenced shooting at us. The engineer ran, I don't know where to, and as they commenced shooting (I think they had fired about two shots) I commenced firing. I kept advancing from the train, in order to dodge their shots. There was somebody else down in one of the coaches who shot out several times — probably four or five times.
After the shooting was over I walked back to the side of the express car and stood there until Burrow came out. I did not know there was anybody shot. I fired one shot when I stepped off the engine, and fired four shots while standing at the express car. I could see the man I was shooting at, but very indistinctly. Did not hear him cry out when shot. I remained by the car, after the shooting, until Burrow got out. The negro fireman said to me, "Don't shoot' me." I said I was not going to shoot him.
I think I saw Burrow in the car door while the shooting was going on outside. We were all shooting rapidly, and I could not tell much about Burrow's shooting. When we left the car we loaded our pistols. I put in five cartridges, and he put three, he said, in his.
We then made our way back to our horses, got on them and rode the balance of the night. It was raining all the time, and we waded the creek three times, crossing bends, to get to our horses. It began to rain very hard after we mounted our horses.
We rode at least forty miles by daylight. That day we camped in the woods, about forty miles from the scene of the robbery. Burrow got some corn for the horses. We were very wet. We built a fire to dry our clothes, and then ate something about the middle of the day. We dried the money and counted it. There was $1500 in greenbacks and $365 in silver. We divided it half and half. This was on Sunday. That evening we started out about sundown, and crossed the Illinois Central Road at Weirs Station. Went through the town, and took the Philadelphia road and rode all night, making about fifty miles ; rode on next day until about eleven o'clock. Stopped at a house and got dinner, and stayed there about three hours. On Monday night we did not ride very far. Built a fire that night. Tuesday morning there was a heavy frost.
We left the Philadelphia road next morning, coming to Pearl River before we got to Philadelphia. We thought we might be waylaid at the bridge by detectives and shot, and when we got within two hundred yards of the bridge over Pearl River, we turned through the swamps and swam the river about eight o'clock Tuesday morning, five miles from Philadelphia. We rode through the timber until we struck a road leading north from Philadelphia to Lewisville. Did not travel the road. Laid up that day in the woods.
Started about sundown, and just after dark stopped at a negro's house to buy corn for our horses, but found no one at the house. There was a rail pen full of corn, and we could have taken what we wanted, but we did not do it. Stealing corn was out of our line of business. Riding on, we saw a light, and going up to it, we found an old colored woman in the house. From her we bought twenty-five ears of corn and some provisions, paying her one dollar therefore. Fed our horses there, and went through Lewisville on Tuesday night after the robbery, and took the road towards Macon, on the M. & O. Road. Rode fifty miles that night.
Next day we lay up until ten o'clock, stopping at daylight. Then went on towards Macon, and turned to the left and crossed the M. & O. Road at Brooksville, Miss. We inquired here for the road to Columbus. Went via Deerbrook to Columbus, riding slowly, and crossed the Tombigbee River just before day at Columbus. Went out from Columbus about six miles and stayed there that day.
A lightning rod man who lived at Aberdeen, Miss., came out to the house where we were stopping. We remained there until after dark. Took the road at dark and traveled toward Vernon, Ala. Arrived at Vernon about midnight on Thursday night after the robbery, and went to Jim Cash's house about twelve o'clock. Got something to eat and fed our horses, and left word for him to come up next morning and get our horses. We went five miles above there to a point in the woods.
Don't remember that we asked Cash anything about the robbery. First saw an account of it in the Memphis Appeal which came in a day or two after we got there. John Burrow came to us next morning. We did not say anything to him about the robbery. He brought us something to eat. Told us where we could take our horses and sell them. We turned over the horses to John Burrow that morning, and he took them off to sell them, but did not succeed in selling the horses then. Mr. Cash afterwards sold the bay horse. A man there kept the sorrel horse.
We remained around there, staying first in one house and then in another — most of the time at Cash's house and John Burrow's, but not much at old man Burrow's. I stayed in the woods in daytime and in the house at night.
Stayed there until some time in July, 1889, having arrived there from the Duck Hill robbery just before Christmas. Sometime in the spring Burrow decided to send for a wig, and sent for it, to be addressed to W. W. Cain. I don't recollect at what post-office. After a long time he heard that some mail had come for W. W. Cain, at Jewell postoffice. Mr. Cash said that one day he asked the postmaster, Mr. Graves, if there was any mail there. Graves said there was a circular or paper of some kind there for Cain, and he would bring it or send it down, which he did a few days after.
They got word in some manner that a wig had come, and Burrow also got word that Graves said he was going to arrest the man that came after it, and see what business he had with it. Heard that Graves had taken it out of the wrapper and was showing it to people, and remarked to several that he was going to take in the man that came for it, and find what business he had with it. Burrow asked me to go for it, but I did not want to go. I told him that to go after it, if Graves was going to do a thing of that kind, would stir up a big fuss. Burrow at last said he was going to have it, and that Graves would not arrest him, and he went after it.
He started one morning before day, and, on arriving, went in the house from a door on the east side; saw Mr. Graves standing behind a counter near the post-offce department, and a lady standing behind the same counter near the other end of the house. As he stepped in he spoke to them politely, and asked Graves if there was any mail there for W. W. Cain, Graves made no reply, but walked slowly from the post-office department towards a double-barreled shotgun, which Burrow said he saw sitting behind the counter, and which was the gun that Graves intended to arrest the man with. 'He asked him a second time if there was any mail there for W. W. Cain, and Graves said " Yes," but still advanced towards the gun. Burrow told him to get the mail, and he made no effort to go to get it, and Burrow then pulled his pistol and shot him, saying, "Get it for me, or I will shoot you again." About that time Graves began to fall, and the lady said, "Don't shoot him any more; I will get the mail for you." She then went and found part of the mail, and Burrow asked her if there was any more. She told him she thought there was, and found it and gave it to him, and he then left, going out the same door he came in.
There was a negro in the house who ran out just as Burrow pulled his pistol, and while he was standing there he saw the negro's head around the door, but he ran off again.
Burrow got back at ten o'clock that night to where I was staying, at Jim Cash's house. He waked me and told me that he had to shoot that man to get his mail. Before Burrow went to the post-office I advised him not to go for the mail, as he had heard that Graves intended to arrest the man. I said, " You might shoot him, and it would cause a great deal of trouble." But he said he was going to have it, and that it was his and he had paid for it.
After he came to me that night and told me that he had shot him, we then went out and laid in the woods. We left without seeing Cash, and went over about a mile north of Cash's in the hills, and remained there until that evening about three or four o'clock, when Mr. Cash and John Burrow came from Sulligent. We heard their wagon coming, and got near the road, where we saw them. Cash told us where to go, and he would bring us something to eat next morning. Cash only remained a few minutes; said he had heard Graves was killed. Burrow said nothing about it.
That night we went to a place which was over in another direction, about half a mile from Cash's. He brought us something to eat, and we remained there one or two days. We then went nearer to Cash's house, and remained in the bushes for a few days. Then we went to John Burrow's and stayed in the bushes, probably two or three days, when the men came from Aberdeen. The night they came was a wet and rainy night, and we went to John Burrow's house to sleep. Next morning, just before day, I went out of the house and discovered three men lying on the ground. I got within four or five feet of them. I did not go back in the house, but went back in the bushes where we had been staying. Burrow waited until daylight, and then came out where I was.
The men who had been scattered around the house were gone. I told Burrow I walked on somebody out there. He said he reckoned not, but I insisted that I did, and when Mrs. Burrow brought us our breakfast we told her about it. She went out and found signs. She walked on the other side of the house, in the lane where there was sand, and she said the sand was all packed with tracks.
We remained there until we heard the men coming back to Burrow's, and they were right at his house before we got up to walk off. We then walked around there through the bushes, about three hundred yards from John Burrow's house, and remained through the day. When night came we walked over in another direction about a mile from John Burrow's and half a mile from Cash's.
The detectives had Jim Cash, John Burrow and old man Allen Burrow in jail. Rube did not say much about it, only that they were holding them, thinking it would enable them to get us, and that they would turn them out in a few days.
We then depended on the women to bring us food. John Burrow, Jim Cash and old man Burrow were turned out of jail in two or three days, and we then continued around in the bushes until about the latter part of August, Jim Cash bringing us food.
About this time old Mrs. Burrow, Allen Burrow's wife, went up a few miles north to Crews to see her sister. She got word that Rube Smith wanted to see Rube Burrow. She came back and told Rube Burrow about it, and he decided that he would about as soon see him as not; at the same time he thought there might be some trick in it, but in a day or two he got his sister to go and tell Rube Smith where to meet him. The place agreed on was at the lower corner of the graveyard at Fellowship Church. We went there early on the night we were to meet him. We did not go to the lower corner of the graveyard, but went down in the bushes a piece further. I went to sleep after being there awhile, and Burrow crawled up near the corner to see who would come. He got tired waiting, and came back to where I was and woke me, and I had been awake a few minutes when we heard some one walking. He crawled back as quickly as he could near the lower corner of the graveyard, where we heard the man walking, and got over inside. He saw there was only one man, and he spoke to him. They stayed there a few minutes; I did not hear the conversation; then he brought him up and introduced him to me as his friend, without giving any name, and did not call my name. Burrow told me he had not seen Smith since he was a little boy. I knew Smith was the man we were going to meet, because Rube Burrow had sent his sister after him. We stayed there a few minutes, and then we all three went back to where Burrow and I had been, in the woods half a mile from Cash's.
We remained there next day, and next night we went nearer Smith's house. We did not go in sight of the house. It was about ten or twelve miles from Cash's. We remained there two days. Smith went after food for us, but I do not know where he got it. We then went back near Cash's again. Remained there one or two days, when we started south, traveling down the Tombigbee River. We did not start for any certain point when we started. Burrow told Smith, just as he told me, how a train could be robbed. Smith agreed to go; said he had no money, and needed some.
We then traveled south to Ellisville, Miss., on the Northeastern Road. It was concluded before we got to Ellisville that we would rob a train on the Northeastern Road, but Rube decided that there was not a great deal of money on that road, and we would go back over to Buckatunna and rob a train there. I should have said that our route to Ellisville was via Buckatunna, Miss. After geting to Ellisville we decided not to rob the Northeastern train, and decided to go back to Buckatunna. We traveled on the road until we got within two or three miles of Buckatunna. Waited over one day in a little out-house. We went out half a mile from the house and got some bread cooked at a white man's house. I went to get the bread cooked, and made the bargain for it, and Smith went after the bread when it was cooked.
On the evening previous to the robbery I went to Buckatunna and got a piece of meat and went back to the camp. Saw a negro in the out-house where we were staying, but did not talk to him. When dark came on we left the house and went through Buckatunna; don't remember how far we went below Buckatunna, but we went to where the trestle was. We remained there that night until the north-bound train passed. Then Burrow and Smith went to Buckatunna. Burrow asked which one was going with him. I do not remember just what was said, but he told Smith to go with him, and I remained there until they came down with the train. The train stopped right where I was sitting, at the end of the cross-tie. I then said to Burrow, "You had better bring out the pick with you." Burrow had told me how they had picked the door open when the express messenger refused to open it, and they did that rather than fire the express car. They brought the pick out, when Smith, the fireman and engineer got off the engine. Burrow remained on the engine two or three minutes, or got off on the other side, I don't know which. They then came back to the express car. Burrow took a position in front of the door of the express car and told the express messenger to open the door; that if he attempted to move away without opening it he would shoot him. It was a barred door that Burrow wanted opened. The messenger opened the door and Burrow went in. What words were passed as he was going in, or after he was in, I do not know. I remained there with the fireman and engineer. Smith walked back towards the passenger coach a few steps. The conductor, or some one, came to the door of the passenger coach and asked what we were doing — I suppose two or three times. I fired off my pistol in the air. Some one — I suppose it was Smith — fired his pistol off also. Burrow got through in the express car and came out. He told the engineer to pull the train up until the mail car was off the trestle. The engineer said he did not know whether he could move it until he got up more steam, but he believed the mail car was already off the trestle. Burrow stepped back and asked the mail agent to open the door, which he did. He then got up in the mail car. What was said or done in there I do not know. He came out and said he had the mail.
The engineer said he would have to get up more steam before he could move the train, as he had on extra coaches that night. It took him a few minutes to get up steam, and we remained there with him until he pulled out. We were all close to the engine, and there was some talking carried on, but I don't remember what was said.
After the train pulled out we went off in an easterly direction; got out a short distance and took the covers off the money, in order to get rid of the weight, piled them up and set fire to them. Did not divide the money then. The greenbacks were put in a sack; don't remember who had it; believe Burrow took the sack, and we divided the silver to make it lighter for each one. Some time that day we divided the money. We then traveled in an easterly direction until we crossed the Tombigbee River. I think each of us got $1,150, making in all about $3,450. After crossing the Tombigbee River we turned north, traveling up the river until we got to Demopolis, Ala. There, after resting in the bottom a couple of days, on Monday morning Smith took the train, either for Montgomery or Birmingham (I can not say which), stating he was going back to Lamar County. Burrow told him particularly to be cautious and not to show his money. I have not seen Smith from that day to this.
Burrow and myself then kept on north until we got to Lamar County, traveling on foot through the woods part of the time, and in the road part of the time. Traveled mostly by day from Demopolis. Arrived at old man Burrow's some time in the night, and remained there a few days until we rested up. The night we got there we did not sleep at all, but stayed on the ground until nearly day, when we went into old man Burrow's barn, up in the loft. Some of them came out to the barn in the morning, and we made our presence known. We remained in the barn a couple of weeks; then we went up near Cash's and remained there for a week, he bringing our food to us.
We then went back to old man Allen Burrow's; remained there a few days, and decided to go down the country on a wagon. We were tired of having to lie out in the bushes, and made up our minds to go south, after discussing the matter. I proposed buying a horse; Burrow said he did not want to go that way; he would rather take an oxwagon and go. We concluded at one time to walk, and got as far as Columbus, Miss., or within a mile or two of that place, and there Burrow said if we went back he would buy a team, and that if I would go with him with the team he would pay my expenses. He offered to pay my expenses because I did not want to go on the ox-cart. I decided to go back with him, but it was against my will.
We went back to Lamar County, to old man Burrow's house, and Rube Burrow bought a team of oxen and a wagon. Jim Cash carried the team to Columbus, Miss. Burrow and myself went to Columbus with Allen Burrow in a covered wagon. We got out of the wagon within a few miles of Columbus and old man Burrow went on to town. We waited awhile and then went into the city, it being about dark when we got there. We then took the team and drove over about three or four miles east of Columbus and camped for the night. Next day we hitched up and drove on; camped when night came on, and drove in the day-time until we got to Flomaton, Ala., arriving there on the 14th of December, 1889.
I concluded I would not go into Florida with Burrow, but would go to Louisiana. I boarded the train at Flomaton for New Orleans, where I took the Texas Pacific Railway next day for the home of my uncle, J. T. Harrell, at Pleasant Hill, Sabine Parish, La. He is a well-to-do merchant there, and is the brother of my mother. I had not seen him since my boyhood, and he knew nothing of my connection with Rube Burrow. I represented to him that I had been in the cattle business in Texas. I remained there till about the 15th of February. I passed the time pleasantly, visiting in the town the friends and neighbors of my uncle.
When Rube Burrow and I separated at Flomaton, Ala., we were to meet on the 20th of February at what we supposed was a station called Dyers, a few miles east of Mobile, on the L. & N. Road. When I went there on February 20th I found there was nothing there but a switch. I failed to meet Burrow, and went back to Mobile and to New Orleans; did not stay at New Orleans; got there in the morning and left that night, going back to Mobile. Remained there a few days and then went to Scranton and remained there one day. I then went back to Mobile. I walked to Scranton; took me several days, and did not stay there, but came back to Mobile. Was sick at Mobile with measles two or three days. Remained at Mobile until the middle of March, when I left and went to Meridian. Stayed there until the first of April. Then went to Demopolis, and came back to Meridian shortly. Made a trip to Vicksburg; stayed there two weeks. Went back to Meridian and stayed there until the latter part of April, and then decided I would go back into Lamar County, Ala. I got a ticket from Meridian to Columbus; at Columbus I got off the train and walked to Allen Burrow's; got there in the night and went up in the barn and went to sleep. That was the latter part of April or first of May, 1890. The first person I met was Mrs. Burrow, who came out to the barn; she asked where Rube Burrow was; told her I did not know where he was; had not seen him since before Christmas. First heard them talking about getting after Burrow in Florida, when I went to Dyer to meet him. Mrs. Burrow did not know anything about this; asked me if I knew when he would come; I told her I did not know. Remained in the barn that day; that night I went in the house. Went up in the loft at Allen Burrow's house; they put bedclothes there and handed me food up in the loft. Stayed there during the day all the time, from about the first of May until last Tuesday, July 15th. Came down at night; did not go anywhere at all; talked with old man Burrow very little.
When Rube Burrow and I agreed to meet at Dyer Station, on the H & N. Road, it was for the purpose of robbing a train on the Louisville and Nashville Railway. He said if we did not meet on the 20th of February at Dyer Station, that we would meet early in the fall in Lamar County; think he said about September 1st. Waited for him at Dyer one day, February 20th, as agreed, but he did not come. I heard, while at Bay Minette, that the detectives had routed Rube in Florida, and therefore did not much expect to meet him as agreed.
I left old man Burrow's last Tuesday night on his mule, having made arrangements with Cash to meet me, and Cash was to take me to Fernbank, Ala. I borrowed $25 from Cash. He carried me within five or six miles of Fernbank and turned back. I gave him my pistol, because I did not intend to ever use another pistol. I felt bad, and said very little to Cash. When we separated he asked me when I was coming back. I said I reckoned I might be back in the fall. He did not seem to be anxious about Rube, and said nothing about him.
Rube Burrow never talked with me about anyparticular robbery he was engaged in, except at Genoa, Ark. He did tell me he was in that robbery, and indirectly mentioned the Gordon and Ben Brook, Texas, robberies, giving me to understand he was in those robberies also.
I have heard Rube Burrow say that if he was out of trouble, or if he was where he could quit robbing trains, that he would stop it. He thinks a great deal of his children, and is anxious to have them educated, and spoke of coming back to Lamar County in the spring to see if they were at school.
When I started from Allen Burrow's on the 15th of July I intended to go to Columbus, Miss., and from there to some point in Kentucky, and intended to quit train robbing. That is why I gave away my pistols.
We got in the Duck Hill robbery about $1,500 in greenbacks, and about $250 in silver. This we divided, each taking half. We did not rob the mail at Duck Hill. Burrow wanted to do it, but I would not agree to it. Burrow insisted on robbing the mail at Buckatunna, but Smith and I protested against it. Burrow said, " If we can get away with one, we can get away with the other; and if we are taken for one offense, we will be taken for the other," and insisted on robbing the mail, and carried out his view.
My opinion about Rube Burrow is about as follows : I have often heard him say that if the detectives crowded him that lie would kill them, or he would shoot his way out if they did not kill him. He said it would be a life and death fight. I have heard him say more than once that if he could get a large lot of money he would leave enough at home to take care of his children, and then, if he could, would go off where he would not be bothered, and lead a quiet life.
Am pretty well satisfied he will come back to Lamar County about September 1st, because he said he would do so.
At one time, while in the cattle business at Fort Worth, Texas, I had an encounter with a man who was a bully, and who was cutting up one day, and in an insulting manner ordered me out of his way. I stepped out of his way, but he kept annoying me, and I at last decided I did not want any more of his talk, and told him so. He then cursed me, and I cursed him also, and he drew a knife. I had a pistol, and walked up to him and struck him on the arm, knocking the knife out of his hand, and then knocked him down. Burrow witnessed the affair, and this was probably the reason he chose me to help him in his train rob- beries.
I was never in a train robbery with Burrow in Texas, and he never mentioned that he had engaged in train robbing in that State, except indirectly, as I have stated.
When we started on the Arkansas trip I had one Colt's forty-five caliber pistol. Burrow had two forty-five caliber pistols. Had no rifle. These were the arms we used in the Duck Hill robbery, and, as far as I know. Rube Burrow now has these same pistols. They are not double, but single action pistols. Burrow got from Connecticut a Marlin rifle, thirty-eight caliber, in April, 1889. It holds fourteen or fifteen cartridges.
At Duck Hill we tied our pocket hankerchiefs, such as we used daily, around our faces, just before we boarded the engine. I do not remember the color of the handkerchiefs. At Buckatunna I tied my handkerchief on just before the train stopped. Burrow and Smith had theirs on when the train stopped, and I suppose put them on before they boarded the train at Buckatunna.
(Signed) L. C. Brock, alias Joe Jackson.
The foregoing statement being read in the presence of L. C. Brock, and he having stated that the same is correct, we, the undersigned, do hereby certify to the same, and agree that while Reuben Burrow is alive the statement will not be made public. G. W. Agee,
T. V. Jackson,
The statement made by a so-called detective. Stout, in a publication issued by him, that Rube Burrow was on the train at the time of Jackson's capture, dressed in female apparel, and escaped, like many other accounts in that volume, is a silly fabrication.
Joe Jackson was brought to Memphis and quartered in the building of the Southern Express Company, on North Court Street, for several days. He was confronted with the evidence of his crimes by the express officials. The chain of testimony which had been riveted about him, from the day he joined Burrow, was unfolded to him link by link, and he was told to choose between a trial for the Duck Hill affair, in which the penalty was hanging, for the murder of Chester Hughes, and that of Buckatunna, where the penalty was imprisonment for life. For two days Joe held out, still denying the crimes charged, but, finally, on the morning of the third day, when he found he was to be taken to Duck Hill, he agreed to give a full statement of his participation in the Duck Hill and Buckatunna robberies, and to narrate the story of the movements of Rube Burrow and himself from the day they first met until they separated in December, 1889. stipulation was that his confession should not be made public while Rube Burrow lived, a promise which was faithfully kept by the express officials, satisfied, as they were, that the knowledge they possessed would soon enable them to capture Rube Burrow, then the last member of his band at liberty.
RUBE SMITH'S PLOT TO ESCAPE FROM PRISON — HIS PLANS DISCOVERED — THE TELL-TALE LETTERS.
RUBE SMITH, having been sentenced to ten years' imprisonment, was, therefore, a convict in the state-prison when Brock, alias Jackson, was carried there on July 21st for safe keeping. Smith was at work in the prison shop when Brock was taken within the gates and given a seat in the prison-yard, about thirty feet from the shop window. An official of the Southern Express Company, with Detective Jackson, approached Rube and said :
"Well, Rube, we have Joe Jackson."
Smith had not heard of the capture, and was evidently somewhat embarrassed at the announcement. Quickly rallying, however, he answered :
" I don't know Joe Jackson — never saw him in my life."
"Come with me to the window," said the official.
Rube walked over to the window, and Joe being pointed out. Rube said:
"No, sir, I never saw that man before."
On being told he was Rube Burrow's partner, Smith repeated what he was often heard to say:
"I have not seen Rube Burrow since I was a small boy," and again he denied his guilt.
"Ah," said the official, "We have new evidence against you, Rube. We know that Mrs. Allen Burrow visited your father's, and through her you sent a message to Rube Burrow that you wanted to see him; and we know that Ann Eliza brought the answer from Rube that he would meet you in Fellowship church-yard. We know just where you met before the robbery, and we know you parted at Demopolis, Ala., after the work was done."
This information, which was literally true, was adroitly given Rube for a purpose, and convinced him that the coils were tightening, and that addi- tional evidence had, indeed, been secured.
Rube Smith, though not as old in crime as his copartners, was not a bit less bold and desperate. While in jail at Meridian, pending his trial at Waynesboro, he had been discovered in a plot to kill the jailer and liberate himself and others. He had not been at Jackson thirty days before it was developed that he was scheming to make his escape, and for this offense he then wore a heavy ball and chain. Bold and unscrupulous, he was ready to take the life of any man who stood between him and liberty. He was, however, very secretive and self-possessed, and up to this time he had not, from the day of his arrest, spoken a word which could be used as evidence against him.
Jeff. Moody, a convict from Itawamba County, was on the eve of being liberated, Having served his time. Smith, in his desperation, sought Moody as a medium through which to communicate with friends on the outside, through whose aid he hoped to make his escape. After cautiously canvassing the matter, Smith unfolded to Moody his plan of escape, commissioning him to take letters to his father, who was requested to buy pistols, which Moody was to bring to the prison; and as all the guards were withdrawn from the walls of the prison at night, under Moody's guidance Jim Barker was to scale the walls and hide the pistols in a drawer of Smith's work-bench, and at the tap of the six o'clock bell the succeeding night, after the guards had been called in, and while the prisoners were being conducted to their cells. Smith expected to furnish Brock, and a fellow convict who had been taken into the scheme, a pistol each. The inside guards were to be "held up" and disarmed, after the fashion of train robbers, and thereby they would effect their escape. As the letters show clearly the bold, bad character of the man, they are herewith given literally :
Moody had disclosed to the prison officials the proposition of Smith to send these letters out by him, and had been instructed to humor the plot. Meantime the express officials had been notified of Moody's disclosures, and of the date he would be released, and the letters were thus secured and made important links in the chain of evidence against Smith.
RUBE BURROW HARBORED IN SANTA ROSA — THE PLOMATON ROBBERY.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY, in which Rube sought refuge from the unflagging pursuit of the detectives, is one of the northwestern counties of Florida, its northern boundary being the Alabama line. Escambia River, whose blue waters are dotted with numerous islets, marks its western limits, and flowing onward into Pensacola Bay, interlocks the many inlets and lakes that indent its shores.
Santa Rosa Island, stretching itself along its whole southern border, in the white-crested waters of the Gulf of Mexico, seems to stand as a sentry to guard its serf-beaten coast. The county is more than half the size of the State of Delaware. It embraces 1,260 square miles of territory, and has a population of only 7,500, or about six persons to every square mile, and the major portion of this population is confined to Milton, the county seat, and other towns lying along the Pensacola and Atlantic Railway.
Yellow, East Bay, Juniper and Blackwater Rivers all find their channels to the estuaries of the Gulf through Santa Rosa. In this isolated and uninhabited district, amid the hooting of owls, the hissing of reptiles, and the snarling of wild beasts, as ever and anon they were startled from their dark coverts, Detective Jackson quietly but persistently followed the outlaw.
On February 15th, about twenty miles north of Broxton's ferry, Jackson found Rube's trail, and reaching a landing on Yellow River, ascertained that a boy had taken him across about one hour before his arrival. Learning that the boy had been instructed to pull the boat half a mile down stream before landing on the opposite shore, Jackson, being afoot and finding no other boat could be secured, swam the stream, and making his way, with great difficulty, through the canebrake, down the river's bank, found, on meeting the boy, that Rube was only half an hour ahead of him.
Pushing forward, he pursued the trail, though without result, until darkness compelled him to abandon it and shelter himself, as best he could, in the marshy bottoms of Yellow River.
Some weeks after this the outlaw was located in the vicinity of East Bay, about four miles from the Gulf coast, in one of the wildest of Florida's jungles. Here lived Charles Wells, with his two sons and two daughters, in a dilapidated cabin, whose roof was thatched with cane from the brake not twenty paces distant. Wells bore a very unsavory reputation throughout all that section, and was known to harbor criminals of every class and type. His fealty to the criminal classes who sought refuge in the wilds of Santa Rosa had been tested full many a time, and Rube was not long in ascertaining that in the person of Wells he would find a friend, whose dark record of crime gave ample surety of his zeal in the cause of lawlessness. In this secluded spot Rube found shelter during the spring and summer of 1890, never venturing, at any time, however, to trust himself in the cabin of Wells. He lived in the canebrakes like a beast, and defied the most vigilant efforts of the detectives to dislodge him.
Meantime Detective Jackson was withdrawn from Florida early in July to look after Brock, alias Jackson, and his capture having been effected the detective returned about August 1st to Florida, to renew his pursuit of Rube.
While searching the swamps of Santa Rosa, Detective Jackson learned that Rube claimed to know one John Barnes, of Baldwin County, Ala., and the information that Barnes had taught him how to saw logs was confirmed by the confession of Brock that Barnes was a laborer in the camp on Lovette's creek, where all three of the men had worked in March, 1888. With some difficulty the detective found Barnes, who lived on a small farm about twelve miles from Castleberry, Ala. Barnes soon convinced Jackson that the man known to him as Ward was Rube Burrow. Barnes was selected to go into Santa Rosa County and endeavor to toll the outlaw from his hiding place, or else definitely locate him, and thus enable the detectives to capture him. Barnes was peculiarly fitted for the task. The Indian blood that coursed through his veins gave him both nerve and cunning. He was a native of Santa Rosa, and, as boy and man, had traversed fen and swamp till he knew every bear trail and deer stand in that entire section.
About August 20th Barnes went into Santa Rosa County to make a reconnaissance and in a few days visited Wells, to whom he was well known. Barnes intimated to Wells that he expected to leave Alabama and settle in Santa Rosa County, and fortunately for his plans Wells suggested a co-partnership between Burrow and Barnes, to which the latter, feigning reluctance, finally consented. Barnes remained long enough at Wells' cabin to receive a message from Rube that he would meet him on Sunday, August 31st, in that vicinity. Barnes returned to his father's home, about eighteen miles distant, and reported the result to Jackson, who was enjoying the quiet of camp life, within easy reach of the home of the elder Barnes. Why Rube should postpone the meeting for a week and enjoin Barnes, as he did through Wells, to return, was a mystery. Upon Barnes' return to Wells, as appointed, he was advised that Rube had declined the proffered partnership and would not see him. Rube knew the detectives were in Santa Rosa, and shrewdly suspecting that Barnes was being used to entrap him lie refused all alliance with him.
While Barnes was vainly endeavoring to negotiate a co-partnership between Rube and himself, the wily outlaw was planning another train robbery.
It was suggested to Brock, alias Jackson, a few days after his arrest, that all of Rube's partners being captured he would doubtless recruit his forces before robbing another train. Brock replied, "If Rube takes a notion to rob a train by himself, he will do it."
When it was reported, therefore, that the northbound express on the Louisville and Nashville Railway had been boarded on the night of September I, 1890, at Flomaton, Ala., only about seventy-five miles from the hiding place of Rube Burrow, it was quite evident that the bold adventure was the work of the famous bandit.
It was a chef(?) in the execution of which he doubtless congratulated himself that a man should, under any circumstances, successfully hold an entire train crew at bay, and, single-handed, rob the express car, is a deed of such daring as to almost challenge admiration, at least for his dauntless courage, whatever may be thought of his lawless purpose; but that a man hunted down by detectives, living like a wild beast in the swamps, afraid to show his face in daylight because of their dreaded presence, should emerge from his place of concealment and rob the very corporation whose sleuth hounds had tracked him to his lair, because a degree of audacity unparalleled in the history of crime or the realms of fiction. Rube is credited with possessing a sense of the ridiculous, inherent in the Burrow family, and doubtless this turning of the tables on his would-be captors appealed strongly to his sense of humor, if, indeed, the dare-devil deed was not inspired thereby.
The train pulled into the station of Flomaton about ten p.m., where it was delayed some twenty minutes in awaiting the Pensacola connection. Meantime a tall man, coarsely dressed, was seen to mount the steps of the express car, next the engine, and look in upon the messenger through the glass door in the end of the car. When he came down from the car he was seen to have a coal pick, which he had taken from the tender of the engine. A few minutes afterward, just as the train was pulling out, he ran toward the engine and mounted it. The yard-master observed these movements, but simply thought the man was some employee of the railway.
Before the train was fairly under headway the engineer, facing about, saw himself and fireman covered by two revolvers in the hands of a man whose face was masked and who held under his arm a coal pick.
"Pull ahead and stop the train with the express car on the north side of Escambia River bridge, or I will blow the top of your head off," was the stern command.
"All right, Captain," said the engineer.
The bridge was about three quarters of a mile north of the station. While en route Rube said:
"If you obey my orders, I will not harm you, but the penalty is instant death if you disobey."
On arriving at the bridge the sharp command "Stop!" was given, and the engineer instantly complied.
"Get down," said Rube to the engineer and fireman, and he followed the two men to the ground.
The colored fireman, as soon as he reached terra firm made instant flight from the scene. Rube fired two shots at him as he fled, which had no other effect, however, than to increase his speed.
When called upon afterwards to explain the cause of his retreat, the darkey replied :
"I thought I heerd him say run, and as we was all 'beyin' orders, I run."
Rube now ordered the engineer to take the coal pick which he gave him and break in the front door of the express car. While the engineer was engaged in doing so. Rube, standing on the platform of the car behind him, fired five shots into the air on the one side, and four shots on the other side, and by this ruse made it appear that the woods were full of robbers.
Johnson, the messenger of the Southern Express Company, stood on the floor of his car, pistol in hand, as the engineer entered, the door being broken through, and manifested a disposition to resist the attack upon his car. Rube, however, standing in the doorway, covered him with his two Colt's revolvers, and threatening to shoot both engineer and messenger, the latter, being entreated also by the engineer, like Ben Battle, of old, "laid down his arms."
Rube threw a sack to the engineer, not trusting himself to cross the portals of the doorway in which he stood, and bade him hold it, while the messenger was ordered to place within it the contents of his safe. The messenger complied, but the bulk of the matter placed in the sack was so small that Rube insisted he had not received all. The messenger, taking from his safe a book, said :
"This is all — do you want this? "
" No," said Rube, " don't put that in."
"Give me your pistol," then said Rube," butt end foremost."
The messenger complied, and Rube backed out of the car, saying to the messenger and engineer:
"If you poke your heads out of the car before I get out of sight, I will shoot them off."
The work was done so quickly that the passengers were hardly aware of what had occurred until all was over. The conductor, who came forward and entered the rear compartment of the express car, which was used for baggage, while the messenger was delivering the contents of his safe, was observed by Rube and ordered to retreat. Taking in the situation, the conductor deemed prudence the better part of valor, and complied.
This proved to be Rube's last exploit at train robbing, and he secured only the pitiful sum of $256.19.
Officers of the Express Company, with several detectives, arrived on the scene the next day, and it was soon ascertained that Rube had gone back into Santa Rosa County, from which he was quickly driven by the detectives, on the long, last chase of his career.
RUBE ROUTED FROM FLORIDA — THE CHASE INTO MARENGO COUNTY, ALA, — HIS CAPTURE.
THE detectives of the Southern Express ComCompany were only a few hours behind the outlaw when he reached his lair in Santa Rosa County on the third day after the Flomaton robbery. Anticipating his return an effort was made to cut off his retreat. Rube, however, had twenty-four hours to start, and being at home in the swamps, succeeded in eluding his pursuers.
It was now determined by the officers of the Southern Express Company to organize a posse under the leadership of Detective Thomas Jackson and drive the bandit from the swamps of Santa Rosa and capture him at whatever cost and hazard.
Detectives Stewart and Kinsler, of the Louisville and Nashville Railway service, were detailed to aid Jackson, and several other trusted men were added to the posse.
" Go into Santa Rosa and capture Rube, or drive him out," was the order given.
The faithful detectives, willing to brook any toil and brave any danger, however hazardous, pledged their best efforts to carry out the order.
The expedition, having been provided with ten days' rations, quietly set out for Santa Rosa County on the 12th of September.
John Barnes, who had returned, having failed in his attempted treaty with Rube, was the trusted guide. Leaving the Pensacola and Atlantic Railway at a flag station south of Milton, the party set out afoot across the swamps for Wells' cabin, distant about thirty-five miles. The difficulties which beset the journey, however, were so numerous that three days were consumed in arriving at their destination.
Reaching the vicinity of Wells' home soon after dark on the 15th of September, the cabin was surrounded, and sentries, under cover of the adjacent cane and brush, began watch. Morning came, and with it the detectives hoped Rube would appear, either to enter the cabin for food, or, if sheltered there the previous night, he could be seen going out. Not so. For three days and nights a close watch was kept under circumstances of hardship and suffering which sorely taxed the capacity of the detectives. Driven by hunger and thirst, they finally resolved upon a strategy which in time brought good results.
About sunrise on the morning of the i8th of September the detectives closed in upon the cabin. Rube was not found. It was evident, however, that he was in the immediate vicinity. A trunk, containing a suit of clothing, an overcoat and some small articles, was found in the cabin, and the property was confessed to be that of Ward. Searching the trunk, Jackson found $35 in currency, which bore the marks of having been stitched while in the custody of the express company. The money being claimed by Wells, other money was exchanged for it, but the clothes were taken in charge. The detectives now resolved to starve Rube out — to hold his commissary and prevent the issue of any supplies.
While the detectives were in ambush about the cabin, visits were being made by members of the Wells household to Rube, but it was impossible to follow these scouts without disclosing the presence of the detectives. The wild solitude of the place quickened the ears of these lawless people to the least sound, and the snapping of a cane in the brake or the sound of a footstep was regarded as a signal of danger. The very profession of these people was to harbor thieves.
Once in possession of the Wells domicile the detectives put the whole family under close surveillance. They virtually made prisoners of them. Deploying part of their forces in the adjacent canebrakes, they swept every trail for miles around, and made it impossible for the outlaw to find food in any part of that section.
While scouring the swamps Detective Jackson learned from a thoroughly reliable source that Rube had crossed Yellow River just above the Florida line on the 25th of September.
The order had been carried out — Rube had been routed from the swamps of Santa Rosa. The detectives were at once withdrawn from Florida. Barnes, the guide, hurried home, his presence not having been disclosed while in the Wells neighborhood.
Jackson was now making ready to strike the trail of Rube who, he felt sure, had crossed the Alabama line, when, on September 29th, the following telegram from John Barnes was received:
"Ward, the man you call Rube Burrow, took breakfast at my house this morning and left at noon, going by way of Repton, Ala. Send Jackson with sufficient force to capture him."
The express official who received the message had talked with Barnes and knew that Ward and Burrow were identical. There could be no mistake. Instant pursuit was organized.
Rube had called at the home of Barnes early in the morning and asked for something to eat. Barnes recognized him instantly as Rube Burrow, alias Ward. He felt sure that while piloting the detectives in and about Rube's den in the canebrakes of Santa Rosa his identity had been disclosed and the outlaw had come to seek revenge. Barnes invited his unexpected and unwelcome guest in, with fear and trembling.
Rube being seated, Barnes went into the kitchen to assist his wife in preparing breakfast. Barnes said to his wife, who knew the history of his trip into Florida:
That man is Rube Burrow, and I believe be has come here to kill me, and if be does so, you will know who murdered me."
Barnes was without fire-arms of any kind, and although not wanting in courage, felt the struggle with the armed outlaw would be an unequal one if be should either attempt to arrest him, or if Rube should attack him.
Making an excuse to leave the house for a few minutes, Barnes sent a message to Mr. Johnson, a neighbor who lived only a half-mile distant, to come to his aid, but Johnson was not at home. Rube's breakfast was soon prepared, and as he seemed very peaceably inclined, Barnes incidentally mentioned that he had worked, in March, 1888, at a log camp in Baldwin County. Finally Barnes suggested that his guest's face seemed familiar. Rube replied, "I guess not," and refused to renew his acquaintance with Barnes, and, as subsequent events proved, was firm in the belief that Barnes had forgotten him.
Rube provided himself with about two days' rations, which he paid Barnes liberally for, and resumed his journey, after making inquiries, according to his custom, for points in various directions.
Barnes went immediately to Castleberry and sent the telegram referred to, and waited there until joined by the express officials and detectives, at midnight, September 30th.
Detectives Jackson and Kinsler started on the trail at once. Detective Barnes, of the L. &. N. Railway, accompanied them, having in charge a brace of well-trained blood-hounds, should their use become necessary. Jackson correctly surmised that Rube was making for Lamar County, and he therefore set out for Bell's Landing, about fifty miles distant, and on the line of route to Lamar County.
About noon the next day, and when within ten miles of the Alabama River, the detectives found they were but three hours behind the outlaw, who was traveling in the direction of Bell's Landing. Reaching the farm of John McDuffie, seven miles from Bell's Landing, Jackson requested his assistance, disclosing to him the information that he was in hot pursuit of Rube Burrow. McDuffie had been recommended to Jackson by the sheriff of that (Monroe) county as a brave and fearless man, and Jackson felt that his assistance would be, as subsequent events confirmed, a valuable acquisition to the posse.
Guarding all the adjacent landings on the river that night, the detectives were quite sure that Rube had not crossed the Alabama River at daylight on the morning of October 3d. While reconnoitering in the vicinity of Bell's Landing, about ten o'clock that morning a negro came with a message from Mrs. McDuffie that Rube was then eating breakfast at a negro cabin on McDuffie's farm, then six miles distant.
JOHN MC DUFFIE.
Under whip and spur John McDuffie led the party back to his farm. The cabin was quickly surrounded. It was soon ascertained that Rube had breakfasted, and taking the only boat at the landing had put himself across the river about thirty minutes before the arrival of the posse. Again had luck favored the outlaw, and a chance half hour's time had intervened to save him from certain capture.
It was discovered that Rube had made a bed of some brush under the cliff near the brink of the river and had slept there the previous night. His appearance at the cabin for breakfast was reported by the colored people to Mrs. McDuffie, who immediately sent a courier to her husband. A few minutes after the posse reached the cabin, Mrs. McDuffie, having walked from her home, two miles away, arrived.
"What are you doing here," said her husband.
Mrs. McDuffie answered: "Oh, I thought the boy might not find you, and I would come down and get a good description of Rube, 'so as to help you to find him if he should leave."
Mrs. McDuffie was escorted by Master McDuffie, only six years of age. Bravo to this courageous woman. While all who know her do homage to her many womanly graces, let the brave Mrs. John McDuffie be laurelled among the bravest of the matrons of the South.
An accurate description of Rube was obtained from the colored people, who reported that he had three pistols and a rifle.
The detectives were obliged to go down the river six miles before they could cross. Pushing forward, they crossed the Alabama River with all possible dispatch. Hoping that Rube would leave the swamps after crossing the river and take the one public highway leading towards Demopolis, a covered wagon was hired. Into this wagon the detectives and McDuffie crowded themselves and ordered the driver onward. The pursuit was now hot and success seemed certain. Every moment the posse expected to receive from the driver the preconcerted signal that the fugitive had been overtaken, when they would cover him with their guns and demand his surrender.
In eager expectancy the detectives journeyed for ten miles by wagon, and until darkness ended all hope of overtaking the outlaw that day. Sending back for their horses, the chase was resumed next morning on horseback.
When within two miles of Thomasville, Ala., Saturday, October 4th, the pursuing party found Rube only two hours ahead. From this point telegrams were sent to the express officials, who returned to Demopolis, Ala., feeling confident that Rube was en route to Lamar County, and would cross the Tombigbee River in that vicinity.
Jackson pursued the trail in every possible direction from Thomasville, and confirmed his theory that Rube, traveling under cover of the woods, was avoiding the public highways. He therefore deemed it best to ride into Demopolis, thirty-five miles distant, that night, and organize other possees and guard all the adjacent river landings.
Early Sunday morning, October 5th, found the officers of the Express Company and the detectives in conference at Demopolis. It was decided to organize in a quiet way additional possees to guard the river landings and to search the northern district of Marengo County, in which it was certain the outlaw had gone. Scores of the good people of that section joined in the chase.
Marengo County, by Sunday night, had been organized into one vast army of detectives. At daylight on Monday morning it was known that Rube had not crossed the river. The search was therefore renewed with unceasing vigilance. Knowing that the outlaw was apt to visit a negro cabin for food, the white planters were apprised of the situation and were especially enjoined to put their colored employees on watch.
About midnight on Monday, Jackson and McDuffie returned to Demopolis, and no sightings of the outlaw, up to that hour, had been received. However, about three o'clock a. m., Tuesday, a courier, sent by Mr. D. J. Meadow, brought the news that Rube had been seen about dark three miles from Beckley's Landing, about eighteen miles south of Demopolis. It was surmised that the outlaw, being so close to the river, would possibly cross that night.
Jackson went down on the west side of the river, while McDuffie took the east bank. While en route, McDuffie was joined by J. D. Carter, who, infused by the spirit that prevailed among the good people of that section, expressed a desire to assist in the chase. McDuffie and Carter joined each other at noon, and deploying the men under him through the bottoms, McDuffie was soon alone with Carter.
Meantime Jesse Hildreth, a very worthy and reliable colored man, had discovered Rube in an abandoned cabin Tuesday morning. Hildreth had noticed smoke arising from the cabin chimney the night previous, and repairing thither early next morning found the outlaw asleep. He woke him and at once recognized the fugitive described to him the previous day. Rube said he was hunting work, and asked Jesse to get him some coffee. Jesse, pretending to be in search of his horse, told Rube he would go by home and order coffee sent him. Jesse kept watch on the cabin, and finding Rube about to depart, rejoined him at the cabin and endeavored to detain him by selling Rube his horse. Rube, however, did not want to buy a horse, and asked the way to Blue Lick. Jesse, determined to keep Rube in sight, offered to go and show him the way. Rube mounted Jesse's horse, while the latter walked.
About noon, while passing the house of a colored man, George Ford, Jesse suggested to Rube, as it had begun to rain very hard, to stop and get dinner, and wait till the rain should be over. To this Rube consented. While dinner was being prepared, Jesse, on the alert for "some of the bosses," as he expressed it, went out of the house. Frank Marshall, a colored man, who was also looking for the stranger, at this moment rode up to the cabin. Jesse quickly explained that the man was in Ford's house, and while the colored men were in conference they discovered, to their great joy, two white men about a quarter of a mile distant, riding in their direction. Joining them at the foot of the hill the two men proved to be McDuffie and Carter.
Ford's cabin was in an open field, and McDuffie and Carter found they could not approach it within less than two hundred yards without being seen. It was agreed that Jesse and Frank should go ahead, enter the cabin, seize the outlaw, and give the signal to McDuffie and Carter, who would approach cautiously under cover.
Entering the cabin, the negroes found Rube making ready for his departure, having eaten dinner. He was wholly unsuspicious, of anything wrong in the movements of the colored men, however. Rube was in the act of wrapping his trusty Marlin rifle in an oil cloth, when Jesse said :
"Boss, let me wrap it for you."
Rube handed the rifle to Jesse, who carefully wrapped it, and feigning to hand it back, dropped it. Quick as thought Jesse gathered his great brawny arms about the outlaw, and with a grip like that of an octopus he struggled for the mastery. Frank Marshal threw himself upon the outlaw at the same time, but not being very robust, was not able to greatly assist Jesse. The latter was as strong as an ox. His weight was one hundred and eighty lbs., his height about five feet ten inches, and there was not an ounce of surplus flesh upon him. He wore no shoes, and his great, broad feet looked as big as a pair of Virginia hams.
"Where was Frank while you were struggling with Rube?" said some one afterwards to Jesse.
"Fore de Lord, boss, he had his mouf full of Frank."
Rube had caught Frank's shoulder in his teeth, while Jesse grappled with him. Biting Frank and stamping Jesse's bare feet, the outlaw struggled with herculean strength for liberty. He dragged his captors across the floor of the little cabin, shaking it from bottom to top. The noise of the scuffle within was heard by McDuffie and Carter, who meanwhile had been quietly approaching. Just at the moment when Rube was falling to the floor, the colored men on top, they rushed in, and seizing Rube, disarmed him. He was searched and tied before being allowed to rise. A Colts revolver, forty-five caliber, and $175 were found on his person.
The capture was made about one o'clock p. m., eighteen miles from Demopolis. His captors concluded to avoid the risk of escape consequent upon a journey after dark to Demopolis, and, therefore, took him to Linden, the county seat, only nine miles distant.
Rube was made to mount McDuffie's horse, with his hands tied in front, his arms pinned by tight cords to his body, and his feet tied underneath the animal. McDuffie mounted behind the prisoner, and, escorted by Carter and the two colored heroes, Hildreth and Marshall, the party set out for Linden, reaching there just at dark. The great desperado was in the toils of his pursuers at last. He was destined, however, in a short time, to outwit his captors, and to perform the last and most daring exploit of his career.