MAN WHO KILLED HILDEBRAND DIES
FARMINGTON TIMES, Farmington, St. Francois County, Missouri, Friday, February
MAN WHO KILLED SAM HILDEBRAND
John H. Ragland, who became famous in 1872 by killing Sam Hildebrand, the famous
outlaw, whose depredations in Southeast Missouri rival the James Boys in Northern
Missouri, died a few days ago in Los Angeles, Calif., where he went from Benton, Ill.,
several years ago.
F. A. Wiggs, editor of the Lutesville Banner, who was a close friend of Ragland, has just
learned of his death. Ragland became the hero of Southern Illinois and Southeast Missouri
by slaying the bandit.
Ragland was a constable at Pinckneyville, Ill., when he shot Hilderbrand [sic]. The noted
outlaw operated in the counties of Southeast Missouri and Southwest Illinois, and made
regular pilgrimages from one State to the other. His permanent headquarters, however, were
in a cave on Big River, near Bonne Terre, Mo.
According to reports of early settlers, Hilderbrand became an outlaw because a posse
lynched his brother, who was accused of horse stealing. Sam Hilderbrand swore vengeance on
the members of the posse and is said to have assassinated all but one of them.
Hilderbrand's band committed many outrages during the Civil War period. During the war
period Hilderbrand's band joined the Boland Brothers, who were also desperate outlaws.
Nath Boland, who planned the massacre of the members of the Cape Girardeau militia, at
Round Pond, was Hilderbrand's closest advisers. The destruction of the militia at Round
Pond, about half way between Cape Girardeau and Bloomfield, is historic. The military
authorities at Cape Girardeau were notified by a courier from Bloomfield that the Rebels
had surrounded that city and the Union forces were not strong enough to drive them back.
The troops from this city were en route to Bloomfield to re-inforce the Union army and had
camped for the night at Round Pond. While asleep, the Boland brothers entered camp and
massacred all but a Negro cook, who escaped after a thrilling experience, and told the
story of the tragedy.
Nath Boland was captured by a posse a few weeks later and hanged.
There are many stories related among the early residents of Cape Girardeau concerning the
activities of Sam Hilderbrand. Amon Frissell, a brother of N. C. Frissell, the well-known
civil engineer, joined in the campaign of citizens to exterminate Hilderbrand and his
gang. He knew Hilderbrand and was personally liked by Hilderbrand. N. C. Frissell relates
a story of his brother's experience with Hilderbrand. Amos Frissell led a posse in search
for Hilderbrand. The citizens met the outlaw in an open field and opened fire upon him. He
replied and put the posse to flight. Frissell, in his effort to escape, stumbled and
rolled down a hill. Hilderbrand, who had known Frissell in youth, did not want to injure
him, and instead of shooting Mr. Frissell he aimed his rifle so that the bullet would get
close enough to frighten Frissell but not touch him. It is said that Frissell was so badly
scared that he could hardly articulate after the encounter.
Dr. C. A. Peterson of Fredericktown organized a posse to capture Hilderbrand, and in a
pitched battle which followed, resulted in several being wounded. Peterson and Hilderbrand
fought a duel, and Peterson succeeded in wounding the bandit, but the outlaw escaped after
seriously wounding several of his pursuers. Dr. Peterson, who later became the head of a
St. Louis detective agency, died in that city two years ago.
John H. Ragland, who slew Hilderbrand, did not know that he had captured the famous bandit
until after he had killed him. Ragland was known as the "fighting constable"
because of his ability to attack and capture noted criminals. He was notified by farmers
that three bandits were camped in the hills a few miles from Pinckneyville, Ill., and were
committing many outrages. Ragland deputized two men to assist him, and drove out to the
bandits' camp. Before they were discovered they dismounted and crept upon the three
outlaws as they were cooking their evening meal over a camp fire. The outlaws were
arrested and the officers started back to Pinckneyville with them. A short distance from
the town, Hilderbrand attempted to escape. He attacked Ragland with a long knife, stabbing
the constable in the right hip. The officer shot the bandit through the head. The body was
taken to Pinckneyville were [sic] it was identified as that of Hilderbrand. The
identification was made by a man who at one time had been acquainted with the bandit. The
identification was acknowledged by the two men captured with Hilderbrand. Metropolitan
newspapers and magazines devoted much space to the killing of the notorious outlaw, who
rivaled Jesse and Frank James.
Ragland several years ago moved to California for his health. His recent death was the
result principally of old age. -- Cape Girardeau Tribune.