The Legend of Rube Burrow

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 Betty Craft Bank
Eutaw, Alabama

A train similar to the ones robbed by Rube and his gang.

According to the Lamar County Heritage the Burrow family was originally from France. They migrated to England, Ireland and Scotland as many southerners had done.  There is a castle and a museum in Scotland named for the Burrow family. The name Burrow can be found in Virginia as early as 1625 where John Burrow had a hill across from Jamestown called Burrow's Hill, known today as Burrowsville.  There was an Anthony Burrow also living there about that time.

William and Tabitha York Burrow were the ancestors of the Burrow family that relocated to Lamar County. Henry Burrow, the son of William and Tabitha Burrow, was born about 1740 in Virginia. He married Amy Lee and the couple had a large family.  One of their children was Allen Henry Burrow who was born about 1824. Allen and his father owned a tanning yard. Allen also taught school although, like most people in that day, apparently had little education himself. He also farmed and later served in the Civil War where he received a leg wound.  He married Martha Caroline Terry, a neighbor in the Shiloh Community.  Allen and Martha were the parents of John Thomas (1849), William Jasper (1853), Sarah Francis (1854) Ruben Houston (1855), James Buchaanan (1858) Mary Suson (1860) Levenea Lucina (1862), Martha Keziah (1866) and Nancy Ann Eliza (1868). 

Following the Civil War there was an upsurge of outlaws and robbers in America: Jessie James and Sam Bass were two of them. Later, after their death, Ruben Houston (Rube) Burrow became a train robber.  Burrow made history as one of America's leading, if not the leading, train robber.

Just who was Rube Houston Burrow?  Burrow was an Alabama outlaw (to many a hero) born in Lamar County, Alabama on December 11, 1955.  He has been called the "Jessie James of the South," the "Outlaw King of Alabama," the Alabama Robin Hood," the "King of the Outlaws, " and the Alabama Wolf."

Jesse James was his hero. He and his brother, Jim, (or Buck) would hide in the family's dirt cellar and read literature about James when they were growing up. They had to hide from their parents to read it, as they would not have approved. Rube Burrow was said to be smart, shrewd, clever and a deadly marksman.  When a young lad, he was known to go bird hunting, firing 20 shots, killing 19 quail and breaking the wing on the last one.

Rube did not like farming. It was hard work and little money.

"I ain't picking that cotton again this year," he told his mother one day as he glanced across the cotton field. "Mama, I'm going to see Uncle Joel in Texas.  Mama, I ain't picking cotton anymore.  Pa can raise hell if he wants to. I've had enough of this farming."

It doesn't appear that Rube was a killer, but he was alleged to have killed a rural postmaster, although members of Rube's family and many others claim the postmaster was killed by another man, possibly his brother-in-law.

Few bandits in the south or southwest were so widely known from 1886 to 1890 as Rube.  He robbed his first train with the help of his brother, Jim, and two cowboys on Dec. 1, 1886 in broad open daylight.  It was a passenger train on the Ft. Worth-Denver Railroad at Bellevue, Texas. He took $300.00. Two weeks later, at Ben Brooks, Texas, he relieved the baggage car attendant of $4,000.00.  For four years, he ranged the south always daring and always successful.

Once he was supposed to have stopped at a farmhouse and asked for food.  While he was eating, the widow told him of a $700 mortgage on her property that was past due and the banker was coming any day to foreclose. Rube gave the widow enough money to pay the banker and insisted she get a receipt.  The banker came, the widow paid him the $700 and she got her receipt.

But Rube was waiting in the nearby woods when the banker left. He took the $700 and threw the rest of the money the banker had on him in the back of the wagon and left.

Money was shipped on passenger trains in safes in the coal car just behind the train's engine. Rube was aware of this and made plans to get some of it for himself.

Joe G. Agee who wrote a book on Burrow, said he had a unique way of robbing trains.  He would climb aboard the rear of the engine as it pulled away from the station; force the engineer at gunpoint to stop the engine and express car on solid ground but leaving the passenger coaches stranded on a trestle above  the ground.  Then he would proceed to rob the express messenger.  Unlike most outlaws, Rube Burrow was not a killer. some say he did kill a rural postmaster in a fit of rage in his native Lamar County.  However, through the years, all members of the Burrow family have strenuously denied the charge.

He was the son of Allen H. and Martha Caroline Terry Burrow.  His father was born in Tennessee in 1825 and moved to Franklin County Alabama in 1826 and settled in his final home in Lamar County in 1828.  Lamar County was the hill country of North Alabama.

Allen Burrow, a tall, slim man with a stern weatherworn face, farmed and was a self-acclaimed schoolteacher of rural schools. He served as a member of Reddy's Cavalry during the War Between the States.  He also had the reputation for making moonshine whiskey and was indicted in 1876.

A good bit of money was kept at the courthouse. Banks were not safe at that time and neither was the courthouse. So, after much deliberation, it is said, they gave the money to Rube's father, Allen, to keep for they knew Rube would not rob his own father.  Although he had two outlaw sons, Allen was known to be an honest man.  He raised cotton and his wife spun the cotton into cloth.  She made her own dye boiling black walnuts for brown dye and using red clay for red dye.  For green dye, she collected hickory bark.  Allen tanned his own leather and made the family's shoes.

"You chillun all need schoolin," he was supposed to have said.  "And I will see that you get it. John, the oldest, will go first and will teach the others." Although his education was little more than the "Three-R's," he read at night by a pine knot.

Allen was known to visit the saloons in Columbus, Miss. when he sold his cotton, leaving Rube and his brother Jim in the wagon.  This one-a-year trip was one of the highlights of Rube' childhood.  they would look through the window and watch the saloon girls perform and the men smoke cob pipes.

Rube's mother was born in Lamar County in 1820. Allen and Martha had 10 children - five boys and five girls.

Martha Burrow claimed to have healing powers and often was asked to visit the sick. She attempted to heal them with her witchcraft.  he was known as a healer of cancer, warts, tumors, etc.  People came from far and wide to the pioneer's wife for her healing power.  Her medicine was usually herbs and roots from the woods. The first thing Mrs. Burrow would say to her patients was, "Stick out your tongue." Then the patient got a terrible tasting concoction she had mixed. Babies got catnip when they had colic.  She used polk root baths for itch, placed fat meat on boils that would cause them to burst, turpentine and kerosene for rusty nail puncture wounds, sassafras tea in the spring for everybody and pulled teeth either with a string or pliers, sometimes with the help of her husband.

Bad colds were treated with rabbit tobacco. If severe, she treated the patients with ginger roots and a swig of corn whisky.

It was also thought she could cast spells by looking her victim in the eye.  he was also a popular midwife in the Fellowship Community.

She once had a stone called a madstone that had been handed down to her.  It was supposed to draw poison from the victims of a mad-dog bite.  When she placed the stone, which was supposed to have come from the stomach of a deer, on the wound, it was thought the poison was pulled out.

Times were hard and she raised her children in a strong and rugged environment. She had no education.

Rube Houston was born on Dec. 11, 1854.  He was an active and sprightly boy and apt in all athletic sports. He was know to be a swift runner, a woodsman and a good hunter. He had a fearless spirit and was always merry and humorous.

The oldest brother of Rube's was John T. Burrow.  He married and moved to Vernon, AL. where he was known to harbor Rube at times.  The uneducated man was crude of speech and manner but had the reputation of a good man.

The second child was Jasper Burrow. He lived with his parents and was thought to be of "unsound mind".

James Buchanan (Jim) Burrow, another brother, was born in 1858. He was the youngest son and four years younger than Rube.  He wanted to follow in Rube's footsteps and joined his band later in life.

Ann Eliza Burrow was the youngest child.  She was tall, blond and unmarried at 20 years of age. She was considered one of the most beautiful girls in Lamar County and was popular among the boys of the community. She was devoted to Rube and was a medium of communication between Rube and his family through Rube Smith. 

It was autumn in Lamar County when a wagon driven by a middle-aged man was hurrying home.  A voice from the thicket cried out, "Put up yore hands - give me yore money - or I'll shoot you."

The bandit was 18 year old Rube Burrow with a red bandana handkerchief over his face.  He pointed a .22 rifle at the farmer.  The farmer handed over his money and said, "I know you Reuben and I'll tell your Pa about this."

"You had better be quiet," Rube told the man.

The next day, the farmer told his father and Mr. Burrow made Rube give the money back and gave him a good tongue-lashing.  But this was just the beginning.

The rural and sparsely settled hill country of Lamar County located in northwest Alabama, was covered with dense forest with hardly any roads.  Most of the people were hard working, peaceful and law-abiding.  They were kind and neighborly. 

The rural country produced many well-known and outstanding people; one being John Hollis Bankhead, Sr. who became a United States Senator and was known as the father of good roads.

Rube often heard while growing up how the rich Yankees took the southerner's land and subjugated them with cruel and unjust laws.  Someday, he thought, he would get some of the things back they had taken from the southern people.

In 1872, at the age of 18, Rube moved to Texas to his Uncle Joel Burrow, a "worthy and upright man." Joel owned and tilled a small farm in Erath County, Texas.  Jim Burrow joined Rube in 1876.  He lived there until 1880 when he returned to Lamar County, married and stayed there until 1884.  He returned to Texas and took his wife with him. 

Jim was burly, roaring and roistering. He was six feet tall and "straight as an Indian." He had high cheekbones, coal black hair with no beard and favored the Indian race.  His goal was to make a fortune.  He was captured, imprisoned and died in prison at an early age.

Rube continued to stay on his uncle's farm.  He later was thought of as a "Texas Cowboy".  His first girl friend was a pretty, auburn-haired girl named Kitty from Kennedy.  Although he was concerned about her mood swings, he thought he was in love with her.

But Rube married Virginia Alvison from Wise County, Texas in 1876.  They had two children.  She died in 1880.  In 1890, the two children were living with their grandparents in Lamar County. He remarried in 1884 to Adeline Hoover of Erath, Texas.

Rube loved excitement and adventure.  The only unlawful thing he is known to have done from 1872 to 1884 was herding unbranded cattle and marking them as his own.

He traveled over the plains of Texas and enjoyed his adventures.  He spent much time in the saddle and often slept under the stars.  He broke horses, shot antelope and roped wild steers.  He was known to be the best shot with a gun around. 

During this time, he gathered a band of train robbers.  He admired the Sam Bass gang and wanted to achieve the same fame and fortune.  He was thought by some to be a member of the gang at one time.

In 1886, after an excursion in Indian Territory, Rube and his band went to Bellvue, Texas.  This was a rail station on the Fort Worth and Denver Railway.  His band consisted of his brother, Jim, Nap Turner and Henderson Bromley.

The four planned to rob the first train that was due at 11:00 a.m.  They tied their horses in the woods a few hundred yards away and walked to the water tank that sat beside the track. 300 yards west of the station.  The train usually stopped at the bank for water.

Thornton held up the engineer and fireman while Rube and Jim Burrow went through the train and robbed the passengers.  They got $300 in cash and a dozen or more watches.

On the train was a squad of U.S. black soldiers in charge of guarding some prisoners.  Sergeant Conners, who was white, was in charge.  Rube took their 45 caliber Colt revolvers and used these weapons throughout his career.

Rube wanted the soldiers to release the prisoners, but the prisoners did not want the highwaymen.  The soldiers were later released from the military for their cowardice.  They left on their horses and traveled 75 miles in 24 hours.

This robbery did not satisfy the newly fledged train robbers.  So, in January 1887, they planned another.

The band met at Alexander, Texas, about 75 miles from Gordon.  They rode their horse to Gordon to a station on the Texas and Pacific Railway.  They arrived on Jan. 23, 1887 at 1:00 a.m.

As the train pulled out of Gordon at 2:00 a.m. Rube and Bromley mounted the engine, covered the engineer and fireman and ordered them to stop the train about 500 yards from the station. Jim and Harrison Askew, a new recruit, was waiting. As the train stopped, the new recruit "chickened out" of the robbery.  He fled yelling, "For heaven sakes boys, let me out of this."

Rube and Bromley marched the engineer and fireman to the express car.  The rest of the robbers held the conductor and other train's men at bay.

The messenger of the Pacific Express Company refused at first but later opened the door. they got $2,275.00.  The US mail car was also robbed. They got $2,000.00 there in registered mail.  the gang left on horses going north, but made a big loop and then headed south.  They got back to the farm two days later without being caught.

The gang separated and went to work farming, Rube and Jim had bought a small farm for $600 and a few herds of cattle.  The neighbors watched the brothers making a slow and honest living.

They hired a new hand, William Brock, who soon becamea partner in crime. The family Lamar County received two letters from Rube. One was sent to his father and one to his brother John. They were both written on the same page.

The following letters were send:

    Erath County, Texas
March 10, 187?

Dear brother and family:

All is well.  No nuse to rite, the weather is good for work we are putting in the time. Wee will plan corn too morrow. Mee and James will plant 35 acreys in corn. James will plant 35 acreys in corn.  Wee wont plant Eny cotton Wee hav a few Oats sode and millet. I am going to Stephens Vill too day and I will male this letr. J.T. when you rite direct your letr too Stephens Vill Earth county and tell all of the rest too direct their letrs to the same place.  I want you and pah to keep that money john will keep $30.00 and pay $20.00.  the reason I want you to have $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 business. John I want you to write to me.  I did think I would come back in march. I can't come now. Rite.

Too J.T. Burrow
Eatyh County Texas
March 10, 1887

Dear father & mother.

Eye will rite you a few lines, all is well.  Elizabeth has a boy. It was bornd on the 28 of February.  She has done well. Mother I want you to pick me out on of the prityes widows in ala. I will come home this fawl. Pah I want john thomas to have 30 dollars of that money eye want you to 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.
Too A.H. Burrow

House in Texas where Rube Burrow lived.

In the spring, Rube decided to try his fortunes at Gordon again.  On May 10th he met his little band at his farm.  the band rode at night to the Brazos River about 50 miles away.  The river was high and overflowing.  They turned and went back to Alexander. 

On June 3, Henderson Bromly and Bill Brock met Rube near Stephenville, at their home.  They selected the Texas and Pacific Railway Station at Benbrook, Texas that was 75 miles away and south of Fort Worth for their next job.  This would make their third train robbery.  They arrived on June 4th at Benbrook.  The train left the station at 7 p.m. They waited in the woods until dark.

Rube Burrow and Henderson Bromley blackened their faced with burnt cork while Jim Burrow and Brock used pocket handkerchiefs for mask.  Rube and Bromley boarded the engine as it pulled out of the station with drawn revolvers, covered the engineer and fireman and ordered them to stop at a trestle a few hundred yards from the station.

Here Jim Burrow and Brock were waiting and the two held the conductor and passengers at bay while Rube and Henderson Brock ordered the engineer to break into the express car with the coal pick taken from the engine.  Again the Pacific Express Company was robbed of $2,450.  The passengers and mail were not robbed.

They rode hard until the next day in a drenching rain.  The rain began at midnight and not a trace of their trail was left.

The band went back to farming until Sept. 29, 1897 when they made another raid on the Texas Pacific Railway; robbing the Benbrook station again.

When Rube and Bromley mounted the engine, they faced the same engineer as in June.  The engineer recognized the two as he looked down the barrels of their Colt revolvers.  "Well, Captain, where do you want me to stop this time?" he said.

"Same place," Rube said.  The engineer did as he was told.  They got $2,725 or about $680 each.  This was their fourth train robbery.

Rube and Jim made a visit to their parents in Lamar County in the following November.  Jim took his wife and Rube took his two children.  They stayed for several weeks visiting relatives and walking the streets of Vernon, the county seat.  Neither at the time had been suspected of robbing trains.

Express train number 2 on the St. Louis Arkansas and Texas Railway left Texarkana, Ark. on the evening of December 9, 1887, at 5:50 p.m.; 50 minutes late.  Nothing unusual happened until the train began to pull out of Genoa, Ark.  Engineer Rue discovered two men standing behind them with drawn revolvers, covering himself and the fireman. 

"What are you doing here?" asked Rube.

"Go on, don't stop," he was told.  "if you stop I will kill you.  I want 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."

When the train got to the spot, the leader said, "Stop!" The engineer and the fireman were ordered down from the engine and the leader said, "Boys, how are you all!"

A voice from the brush where the third man was in waiting, said, "All right, boys!"

"What are you doing here?"  asked Rube.  "Go on, don't stop," he was told.  "If you stop I will kill you.  I want you to stop 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."

When the train got to the sport, the leader said, "Stop!"

The engineer and the fireman were ordered down from the engine and the leader said, "Boys, how are you all?"  A voice from the brush where the third man was in waiting, said, "All right, boys!"

The man in waiting walked toward the passenger coaches and with a 16-shooting rifle opened fire in the direction of the coaches.  The two men in charge of the engineer and fireman were masked and armed with a brace of 45-caliber Colt pistols, with Winchester rifles strapped to their backs.

Messenger Cavin of the Southern Express Company put out his lights and like Br'er Fox "laid low" for some time.  The robbers demanded admittance showing rolleys of oaths and shots in one common fusillade.  The heavy Winchesters sped shot after shot through the car, the ball piercing it from side to side and yet young Cavin held his ground until Rube Burrow ordered his engineer to bring his oil can and saturate the car with it's contents.  The engineer was ordered to set fire to the car, but before doing it, he made an earnest appeal to take the messenger, who agreed to surrender under the condition that he should not be hurt.  It took 30 seconds to gain access to the car.  They got $2,000.  This was their fifth train robbery.

This was the first train robbery in the territory of the Southern Express Company for 17 years.  Not since the robbery of the Southern Express car on the Mobile and Ohio Railway at Union City, Tenn.  in 1870 by the celebrated Farrington brothers.

The Pinkerton Detective Agency, having been given charge of this 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 Chicago Agency reached Texarkana in about 48 hours after the robbery and immediately went to the scene of the robbery.  Genoa is a small railroad station only a short distance from the Red River.  The river had overflowed its bank and water covered the lowlands.  Here in the wild woodlands came Superintendent McGinn on the morning of the third day.  He started his investigation.

On the night of the robbery, a telegram was sent to the officials of the Express Company and a posse at once started to the scene.

A few miles north of Texarkana the posse, being in charge of Sheriff Dixon of Miller County, came upon three men on the railroad track, walking toward Texarkana.  This was about 3:00 a.m.  The three men were allowed to pass, then the sheriff's posse, turning about, commanded them to halt.  The men ran taking refuge in a railway cut some 30-yard distance.  The posse opened fire that was quickly returned and a score or more of shots were exchanged.  It was dark and fire was random with no casualties.

After daylight, two rubber coats and a slouch hat were found in the vicinity of the fight and the items were identified as having been worn by the men who robbed the train in Genoa.  The hat bore the name of a firm in Dublin, Texas and the coats, which were new, bore the simple mark "K.P.W."

Here was an important clue, proving the robbers had purchased the hat in Dublin.  The detectives went with the coat and hat asking questions.  Calling upon the Dublin firm, failed to find the purchaser of the hat.  They had sold several hundred of the same hat during the season. 

No traces of the purchases of the coat were found at Dublin, but the detectives felt they were on a hot trail and kept up their  investigation.  They visited several places and finally went to Alexander, Texas and asked questions there.

Falling in with the salesman of the firm of Sherman & Thalwell, the answer of a young salesman named Hearn was. "That is the coat mark of Sherman & Thalwell. I put those letters "K.P.W." on myself.

He then seemed lost a minute in thought and said. "We had a lot of that brand and I sold a coat like that to Bill Brock who lives, when at home, at his father-in-law's five miles from Alexander on the road to Dublin."

He then stated that Brock had been away, he thought, up about Texarkana. He added, "At the time Brock made the purchase, there was a man with him whom I also sold a similar coat and who afterward went to Alabama and I think he is there now."

Here is a ray of light on the mystery of December 9th at Genoa.  The name William Brock had been copied from the hotel register at Texarkana where it was found under the date December 3rd, six days before the robbery and was in possession of the detectives who were on 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 to the description of one of the train robbers.  Following him to Dublin, Texas, the man was ascertained to be Brock.  The detective had solid evidence upon which to arrest Brock.

Before this was done, it was learned that Brock had two companions, Rube and Jim Burrow.  They answered to the description of the men  who committed the robbery at Genoa.  It was learned that the Burrow brothers had recently went to Alabama.  At 3:00 a.m. on December 31, 1887, 22 days after the robbery, William Brock was arrested at his home in Dublin.  No shots were fired.

Jim Burrow

Rube Burrow

At three o'clock on the morning of Dec. 31, 1887, twenty-two days after the Genoa 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 the Rube and Jim Burrow had, about Nov. 15, 1887, gone to Lamar County, Ala.  By agreement, Brock had joined the Burrow brothers at Texarkana on Dec. 3rd, 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 Dec. 9th, and while walking toward Texarkana in the early morning of the 10th 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, 1887

Mr. W. 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 5'ou 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.L.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 small 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.


Ascertaining definitely that at the time of Brock's arrest Rube and Jim Burrow were not in Texas, but supposed to be in Lamar County, Ala., Superintendent McGinn, of the Pinkerton Agency, left Texarkana Jan. 5, 1888, accompanied by two of his detectives, for the purpose of capturing them.

On arriving at Fayette Courthouse, Ala. McGinn summoned to his aid the then sheriff of Lamar County, Fillmore Pennington, a very courageous and efficient officer,  the party left for Vernon, the county seat of Lamar County, about three o'clock p.m. Jan. 8th. The night was dark, and continuous rainfalls had rendered the roads well nigh impassable.  It was not until ten o'clock that the distance of twenty miles was made, and the detectives, under the guise of land buyers, reached Vernon.  On the succeeding day a heavy rain set in about daylight and continued throughout the day.  The weather was, therefore, sinted neither to the outing of land buyers nor to a visit from Rube and Jim to the town, as the sheriff had so confidently expected.  The detectives kept their rooms in the hotel during the day, inspecting a large assortment of mineral specimens which were  brought in by anxious owners of valuable mining properties in that section.

That night it was determined to arrange a raid upon the house of Jim Burrow, who had his family in a small dwelling about four miles from Vernon, with the hope of finding both Rube and Jim.  Accordingly on the morning of the 10th of January, Supt. McGinn, at 2:30 o'clock, left Vernon for the house of Jim Burrow.  Detectives Carney and Wing were on horseback, with Deputy Sheriff Jerry as a guide.  Sheriff Pennington and Detectives Williams and Wilbosky were in a wagon with McGinn.  The party drove to a point designated by the guide as being half a mile from Jim Burrow's house.   Leaving a guard in charge of the horses, the posse quietly surrounded the house, and while closing in upon the place, just as the day was dawning, the guide informed the detectives that he was mistaken in the house, but that it was another house, pointing to one about a half mile distant, in which a light was seen.  On arrival at the second house the guide found himself again in error.  It was then daylight.  The detectives were about to withdraw and get their hoses and wagon out of the way before they should be discovered, when they found they were already observed by the inmates of the house.  It was then too late to retreat and await the cover of the succeeding night to surround the house of Jim Burrow, then ascertained to be still about two miles further on.  Their only hope was to go at once and risk the danger of being discovered while approaching the place after daylight. 

Pushing forward, with great anxiety as to the result, the house they were seeking was soon visible on the slope of a  hill near the edge of the timber.  Deploying their forces they advanced quickly, and when within about one hundred yards a crushing, tearing sound was heard in the rear of the building.  Jim Burrow had discovered their approach and ran so swiftly from the house as to tear the door from its hinges.  Shot after shot from the Winchesters of the detectives was fired at the young robber as he fled.  Several of the bullets perforated his clothing, but he succeeded in reaching the cover of the woods and escaped, to the grievous disappointment of the detectives, whose vigilance and energy had been defeated through the stupidity of the guide.

After this escapade there was hurrying to and fro among the kinspeople of the Burrow family, and preparations were set afoot to apprise Rube, who was  then at Kennedy, Ala., eighteen miles distant, of the attempt to capture Jim, and of the fact that the detectives had visited his father's house in search of him.  Henry Cash met Rube about one mile out of Kennedy and recited the events of the morning.  Cash was en route to Kennedy to make some preparation for his marriage, which was to occur the following day.  Rube awaited his return and the two then rode back towards Vernon by bridle paths, and met Allen Burrow, who had appointed a meeting place for the two brothers, that night, near the house of one Green Harris.  From this point they started afoot at midnight, January 10th, traveling in a southeasterly direction, and before daylight were beyond the confines of Lamar County.


On the twenty-second day of January succeeding their escape from Lamar, Rube and Jim boarded a Louisville and Nashville passenger train, south bound, at Brock's Gap, a few miles south of Birmingham.  Meantime an accurate description of the brothers had been obtained, and descriptive circulars had been scattered broadcast by the officials of the Southern Express Company, one of which was in possession of Conductor Callahan, on those train the robbers had taken passage.  He was not certain of their identity, and simply sent a telegram to Chief Gerald, of the police force of Montgomery, to which point they had paid fare, which read as follows: "Have special officer meet number five."

Captain John W. Martin, one of the most efficient officers of the force, met the train.  The night was rainy, and Captain Martin wore a rubber coat and slouch hat, which completely concealed his identity.  The train pulled into the depot just as Captain Martin arrived, and he inquired of the conducted what was wanted.  The conductor replied, "I think those two fellows walking down the track there, and who boarded my train at Brock's Gap are the Burrow brothers."

Captain Martin at once called to Officer McGee, who was on duty at the depot, and, like himself, attired in rain coat and slouch hat, and imparted to him the information received.  The officers then walked toward the men, who were some distance away, and hailed them, saying: "You can not go through that railroad cut at night."

Rube replied: "We are going to the country to get timber, but would like to get a boarding house for the night."

Captain Martin said, "We are going up town and will show you one."  Rube, thinking the officers were railroad men, replied, "All right" and, joining them, the four men walked a distance of about a half mile, when, on reaching the police station, Captain Martin inserted the key in the door, and while in the act of unlocking it Rube asked, "What place is this?"

Captain Martin, shoving the door, which was adjusted with a heavy spring, half open, with one hand, laid the other on Rube's shoulder and said, "This is the office of the Chief of Police, and you boys may consider yourselves under arrest."

"I reckon not," replied Rube, and straightway made a break for liberty.

Captain Martin grappled with him, and the heavy door of the station-house closing, caught his rubber coat in a vise-like grip, and held him fast.  Soon freeing himself, however, by pulling out of his coat, he dashed after Rube, who had broken away, and after running some thirty paces, turned and saw his brother Jim down, with a police officer on top of him.  Jim, in attempting to break away, had fallen, in the scuffle with Officer McGee, over a street hydrant.

At this moment Rube, seeing the officer had started in pursuit, turned and fled like a deer up the street, Neil Bray; a printer, being on the opposite side of the street, joined the officer in the pursuit and was shot by Rube, who twice fired upon him, one of the shots taking effect in the left lung and nearly causing his death.

Out into the darkness Rube fled, leaving Jim in the hands of the officers, and scaling a fence some hundred yards ahead he was soon lost to his pursuers.

Jim was taken to police headquarters and gave his name as Jim Hankins, and said the other man's name was Williams, and he had only known him three weeks. However, while en route to Texarkana, he confessed his identity, and said to Capt Martin:  I am Jim Burrow, and the other man is my brother Rube, and if you give us two pistols apiece "we are not afraid of any two men living."

He further stated that while walking up the street from the depot he became satisfied they were in the hands of the police, but as Rube had the only pistol, he having failed to secure his in his sudden flight from his home in Lamar County, he was looking for Rube to make the first break.

Rube, however, suspected nothing until he reached the police station.  When afterwards chided by friends for his failure to assist Jim, in view of the fact that the latter was unarmed, Rube replied that he  thought the whole of Montgomery was after him.  

They searched a black family's cabin about five miles south of Montgomery and found nothing.  When they were leaving, a black boy came running after them and informed the officers that the man has just went into the cabin.  Rube had seen the officers leave the cabin and went in asking for food.

Young, Hill and the boy went back to the cabin and instructed the boy to go in and tell the man to come out.  Rube sat down in a chair in the doorway.  Hill covered dismounted and Hill covered the rear of the cabin.

Taking his boots in his hand, Rube held his trusty revolver in his right hand.  His chief forte was a running fight with the agility of an Indian, he sprang from the cabin and bounded away to the swamps which was only about 100 yards away.  Young fired both barrels from his breech-loading shotgun that was laying across his saddle.  Rube was  only about 30 yards away.  Young had placed birdshot in his shotgun earlier in the day and had not replaced it.  Rube carried the birdshot in his back and face until he died.

Another countryman sprang up and with his shotgun, got ready to shoot when Rube pointed his revolver at him.  the man dropped to the ground.  Rube's gun was empty.  Hatless and barefoot, Rube found himself at night in a swamp covered with brushes and vines.

It was midnight when he came out into a field about three miles away from where he entered.  He saw a cabin occupied by a black family.  He approached it cautiously.  Pulling the latchstring and opened the door, he saw a wood fire.  He pulled up a chair and warmed himself while a black man and his family slept on.  After warning himself for an hour, he stole the black man's shoes and a blanket and left the cabin.  A few miles further on, he stole a horse from a stable and rode bareback until daylight.  Then he turned the animal loose and went into the Alabama River swamp.  His trail was lost.

Rube made his way back to Lamar County.  There he learned William Brock had told everything.  Rube was heard to say, "Never mind, when I get my partner Joe Jackson from Texas, I will wreck my vengeance upon the Southern Express Company."

Rube knew the name Joe Jackson, wherever the Sam Bass gang had been, was terror wherever the fame of the Bass gang went.  Joe Jackson was the only member of the Bass gang still at bay.  Sam Bass had been shot on the streets of Round Rock, Texas.  He planned that Joe Jackson could fill his brother's place.  Joe Jackson had been with the notorious Quantrill gang and he drifted into Texas to join the Bass gang.

While in Texas in 1888, Rube met a young Alabamian who went under the name of Lewis Waldrip.  He helped Rube herd cattle.  He told Rube why he fled Alabama.  Soon after his return to Lamar County in February 1888, he wrote Waldrip and told him he wanted to meet him there.  The correspondence was conducted by Jim Cash.

About March of 1888, at the house of Cash, the two men, who had been separated since 1886, met again.  They left for south Alabama.  Rube had knowledge the law was watching him in Lamar County. 

Leaving Lamar County, the two traveled by foot until they reached Columbus, Miss.  They went partly by rail and partly by boat to Baldwin County, Ala.  They located at Dunnaway's log cabin on Lovette's Creek, 40 miles from any railway line.  It was in one of the most sparsely settled sections of South Alabama.  Their trail from Lamar had been completely covered.  Rube's fame had spread to that area.

On May 1, they both left the camp.  The camp moved to Perdido, near a railroad and Rube thought it was in Lamar County.  He thought he might could help his brother in Arkansas.  The two men began to walk until they reached Forest, Miss.  Rube purchased horses for the two at Dixon, Miss.  Joe found his horse a poor traveler and traded him for a "snorting stead" which he rode in the Duck Hill robbery.

From Dixon they rode to Oxford and then on to Berry Hill where a brother-in-law of Rube's lived.  He had married Rube's favorite sister and moved to that section of Mississippi.  They stayed there two days leaving about May 15th and rode to Lamar County.

When they arrived in Lamar County, Rube inquired about Jim's fate.  His brother-in-law Jim Cash had visited Little Rock where Jim was confined in the penitentiary.  He learned he would be transferred to Texarkana for trial. 

The Alabama Wolf
He was one hell of a man.  He stood five feet ten, weighing less than a hundred and seventy pounds.  Some people said he could lift a seven hundred pound bale of cotton without breaking a sweat. But it wasn't the size or the strength that made this man.  It was the deadly six-shooter that hung on his side. Yes, Rube Burrow was one hell of a man.

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