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The Famous Harvey Battle. — [See page 103. 













BY 33 R, . jr . U, . S . n T T S . 




Entered according to act of Congress in the yeai- 1874, by 

DR. J. R. S. PITTS, 

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 

AH rights reserved. 


The author of the ensuing publication was b<>rn in Effing- 
ham county, Georgia. His grandfather, Dr. Soda, was a native 
of Cologne, an ancient city on the Rhine, in Prussia. Here 
educated to the science of physic, he afterwards became a 
practicing physician. Rather earl}^ in life, he came to the 
United States of America, and settled in the city of Savannah, 
Georgia, where the remainder of his life, some thirty years, 
was spent. Here, and during this time, he practiced in the 
medical profession with success and distinction. He married 
an American l&dy, the issue from which consisted in only one 
son and one daughter, Robert and Jane Rosettah. 

About the year 1830, the latter, with J. G. W. Pitts, were 
married in the city of Savannah, Georgia. The result from 
this nuptial union is the existence of the " author." With him, 
in 1834:, his parents removed from Georgia to Rankin county, 
near Brandon, Mississippi; but the wife and mother did not 
long survive afterward, as will be seen from the following 
record found in the family Bible: 

"Mrs. Jane Rosettah Pitts, wife of J. G. W. Pitts, departed 
this life the 7th day of January, AD., 1S35, in the 21st year 
of her age, after severely suffering under a complicated disease 
of two gears' standing, which baflled the skill of the best 

The author was left an orphan at a very early age — only two 
years old. He was consigned over to the guardian care of an 


affectionate grandmotlier, who performed the charge both 
creditably to herself and in perfect accord with the welfare of 
the infant entrusted to her charge. 

He was sent to school as early as convenience would permit, 
and, at intervals, continued until the age of twenty-one, when 
his friends brought him out for Sheriff of Perry county. At 
this period he left the school-room, and forthwith entered on 
the canvass, which resulted in his successful election by a 
handsome majority. 

For some four years he continued in this office, during 
which time the painful duty devolved on him of executing 
James CopeTand, the subject of the present work. Next came 
his memorable trial in the city of Mobile, Alabama, to answer 
an inveterate prosecution for libel — a trial which involved the 
best talent of the bar, and resulted in the conviction of the 
author by such means as truly gave only the shadows of vic- 
tory to the straining prosecution, and triumph in real substance 
to the defence. 

At a very early age, the author manifested a preference for 
the study of medicine, and in his capacity of Sheriff, his 
leisure hours, apart from the requirements of his office, were 
spent in making proficiency in his favorite science; and still 
more so after his trial — immediately following which he at- 
tended a medical college with ardor and assiduity-, and ever 
sipce has been engaged in the practice of his profession. 


There is, perhaps, nothing within the sphere of human ope- 
rations which more affect the present and future generations, 
either for good or evil, than a faithful narration of history and 
biograph3\ But the effects, either for better or worse, depend 
pretty much on the comments and conclusions of the historian 
and biographer themselves. He may have an unprejudiced 
mind, he may chronicle the events of a nation faithfully and 
correctly, and he may be capable of delineating the mighty 
strokes and nicer shades of individual character with all the 
force and brilliancy which extraordinary genius can command; 
but if his deductions or inferences be unsound or erroneous, 
the effects will extend to all parts of society, both the present 
and the future. 

For instance, and as an illustration, the poet said of Lord 
Bacon : 

"The greatest, the wisest, and the meanest of mankind." 

This is a forcible declaration, and one that belongs to the 
true philosophy which others must adopt before they can be 
the real benfactors of mankind. Had the poet gone further? 
and particularized the conduct of this great man, in what con- 
sisted his exalted virtues, and wherein he has contributed so 
much to the benefit of after ages — giving him credit for all 
this, and stamping it with true glor^^, admiration and immor- 
tality — holding up the same as worthy of imitation for 
aspiring j-outh; and then followed by a painful portrayal of 

6 ixraoDucnoBT. 

his enormous vices which have had their share iu producing s© 
much corruption and miserj^ on societ}' at large — making man- 
ifest, according to the declaration of another poet, that "an 
honest man is the noblest work of God;'' and that it is far 
better to be honest, though humble, than to have a combina- 
tion of character of all which is great and all which is mean • 
let it be repeated, had the poet drawn his lines in some such 
manner, far happier might have been the result. 

Again, war is the scourge of humanity. Of all woes, there 
are none which can be compared to the horrors of protracted 
■s^-arfare. Neither tong«e nor pen can adequately' depict the 
miseries which flow in the train of consequences. The rust, 
disease, exposure and pestilence of camp life; the crowded 
hospitals of accumulated wretchedness; the sweat and smoke 
— the blood and groans of tlie red battle-field; these form but 
a very small part of the dire afflictions which flow from hostile 
collisions of this nature — to say nothing of the burdens en- 
tailed on posterity by waste of treasure — leaving an intermin- 
able debt to oppress generations yet unborn ! 

Here the fashionable historian has a fine field to work in. 
In dazzling colors he gilds and paints in profusion. He largely 
expatiates on the strategems, the mananivering, and the master 
strokes of polic}' displayed by the commanding General. In 
matchless grandeur he draws his lines, made conspicuous by 
gleaming swords and bristling bayonets. He plants his thun- 
dering batteries on every eminence within the scope of vision. 
Now open the scenes of death and carnage. Red flashes, black 
smoke and leaden hail extend from every spot of falling con- 
flict. Hand to hand, foot to foot, breast to breast. First one 
and then another of distinguishsd officers dropping, " covered 
all over with immortal glory." Grounds taken and retaken. 
One wing giving away, another pressing victoriously onward 
over heaps of the slain. Here stubbornly contested, then 
riding on the fiery wings of battle overpowering all opposition 
—producing route, defeat and dreadful slaughter on every road 


of retreat. Such animating descriptions animate other armies 
and other Generals. Not only is the impetuous enthusiasm of 
the common soldier excited, but also the ardor and emulation 
of the General himself. The young, the old — all seem to desire 
more opportunities to occur for the exercise of prowess, as 
well as for further demonstrations of martial glory. But it is 
quite possible to conceive how the historian could have pro- 
duced quite a contrary efllect. By degrading all that apper- 
tains to warfare, and by holding up to public scorn and 
indignation the brutal and hellish scenes involved for purposes 
of rapine, plunder or false notions of honor; by descriptions 
of this sort war might be held in a verj' different estimation to 
what it now is. 

But is the present course of the historian's pen altogether 
erroneous? Perhaps not. The inordinate rapacity and selfish- 
ness of human nature must be taken into account. The over- 
powering propensity for conquest, might against right, must 
be considered. A nation extremely rich in agricultural pro- 
■ ductious, in manufacturing commodities, and in everj'thing 
else pertaining to wealth, yet effeminately weak in spirit and 
incompetent for ph^'sical protection, will stand a poor chance 
against the trained hordes who prefer plunder and conquest to 
any other pursuit. So far, then, the historian's pen is not 
misapplied in keeping alive and active the bravery and martial 
spirit of a nation to secure its own against the unscrupulous 
encroachments of other nations, or against the wild infatuations 
of parts of the same nation. 

In this department the true and correct province of the pen 
is to encourage, by all honorable means, bravery, magnanimity, 
and all other generous traits of a great nation, consistent with 
safety or security in the future, determined to maintain the 
right, and equally so not to yield anything to wrong through 
abject fear of consequences; at the same time favoring forbear- 
ance and exhausting all honorable means before the last resort 
of warfare be put in execution ; while not forgetting to impress 


that external warfare or internal rebellion generally leave 
behind worse evils than those intended to be removed. A 
little reflection, then, must convince all of the vast and mighty 
influences which the historian and biographer exercise on 
society and nations at large, either for good or evil, according 
to the range or sphere occupied. 

The life of the condemned criminal, James Copeland, who 
expiated his blood-stained career on the scaflbld, together with 
the history of the alarming and extensive clan, which, for 
many long years, produced a perfect reign of terror over such 
a broad expanse of territory in this nation, and of which said 
James Copeland formed one of the principal leaders in the clan 
— clearl}^ showing the causes which favored the progress, as 
well as the causes which produced dismemberment and final 
dissolution — such a life and history cannot fail, even at this 
late date, after so long an interval of unavoidable interruption, 
of materially interesting and benefitting the public at larg«. 

James Copeland was executed in 1S57. His life. and the 
history of the clan were published in 1858. The sale of the 
work was progressing wonderfully when a ruinous prosecution 
commenced against the author in Mobile, in another State, 
Alabama, for libel on several parties by the names of Messrs. 
Overall, Moulton and Cleaveland; the former being the princi- 
pal actor in this prosecution, at least overtly so. This circum- 
stance, in connection with the crippling of the author's pecuni 
ary resources, together witli the all-absorbing questions 
involved in the late internal war, through which we have just 
passed, prevented any but the first edition from appearing, 
which only circulated in a very limited extent of territorv. 

The obstacles here referred to are now pretty much out of 
the waj'. Opportunity is off'ercd for republication on a far 
broader basis than before. Time is the corrector of errors 
and excesses. Heated passijans give way to sober reason. In 
the enlarged edition which will shortl}- appear, impartial minds 
will at once discover that the principal object is to do justice 


to all — injury to no one; but this course will not exclude the 
guilt}" from exposure, yet it will endeavor to exouorate the 
innocent who may have been accused through misnomer or by 
inadvertant mistake. 

Great and influential men league together, sometimes for 
worthy purposes, but often for unworthy ones. It is very 
easy to entertain the idea that a young man just setting out in 
the public walks of life without the prestige of the distinguished, 
can easily be broken down, no matter how foully the means 
resorted to for accomplishment. It is strange that Governor 
McWillie, of the State of Mississippi, should have so tamely 
and willingly given up the author to the laws of another State,. 
and more especially to the particular locality where the design- 
ing influence of the prosecutors so widely extended, while well 
knowing that the author could have had no motive or interest 
in accusing or misrepresenting any — not previously knowing 
anything, either of name or person, in relation to the prose- 
cuting parties, either of good or bad — onl}' publishing in sub- 
stance the unaltered revelations as made by the convict himself, 
the truth of which he sealed with his last dying breath on the 
scaffold; and while Governor McWillie, with hundreds of 
others, have known from previous experience the truth of the 
principal particulars as related by Copeland himself. This 
notorious clan was not onl}' a terror to almost every part of 
this State, but also of many others. But all this belongs to 
the past, and is onh' now alluded to in order to give a right 
understanding of all the facts and circumstances connected 
with the whole afl^'air from beg-innino; to end. 

Truth and justice, by oppression and by forces foul, may be 
held down for awhile, but the increasing and progressive power 
of the springs will break and throw off" the impediments — 
again bursting forth in vigor and strength not to be crushed 
nor repressed b}^ sophistr}^ nor by the influences of money and 
distinguished officials. 

G. Y. Overall was the principal open prosecutor of the three. 


It was clear]3' evinced on trial that there were other Overalls, 
and, to the satisfaction of the jur}', it was to one of these 
whom Copeland referred to in his confessions; consequently, 
the public sentiment was in no way changed or weakened b}- 
the proceedings of the trial ; but, on the contrary, was largely 
strengthened in favor of the substantial truths of the confes- 

Hon. P. Walker, ihe counsel for defense, maintained the same; 
and, further, that G. Y. Overall had not a shadow of right on 
his side for instituting the prosecution. 

The author is frank to confess, from the testimony produced 
on trial, that G. Y. Overall established his innocence so far as 
he was concerned in point of time as specified in Copeland's 
confessions. But if this had been his only object, why not 
have rested satisfied with a verdict in his favor which could 
not have failed to have been rendered without any injury to 
either the author or the "confessions?" Why did he, in com- 
bination with others, resort to means so disreputable, as will 
afterwards be shown, to crush the author or publisher, who be- 
fore did not know him, and could not have had au}- enmity or 
sordid motive against him, as well as for the purpose of de- 
stroying the "confessions," the major parts of which were well 
known to be strictly true ? Why one pai't of the witnesses so 
infamous and in every way so suspicious ? Wh}' the strange 
and oscillating conduct of the Judge in varying his charges to 
the Jury at difterent stages of progress ? Why, contraiy to 
all modern usage, hold confined the jury for six long days and 
nights with an express and determined resolve not to release 
when there appeared to be no prospect of an agreement on a 
verdict ? Why so many cunning inlets to and tampering with 
parts of the jury ? Why, when it was worn out by fatigue 
and loss of rest, was the last strategem resorted to for delu- 
sion to the cflect that it was hardly worth wliile holding out 
when the penalt}^, if an}- at all, would be nothing more than 
a jblight fine ? Why the low, the despicable, and the under- 


ground agencies set at work to poison the mind of a tlien in- 
tended wile, and to sever the agreement of marriage whicli 
had been made in good faith on both sides ? If G. Y. Overall 
had meant nothing more than the establishing of his own in- 
nocence as regards the confessions made, and which he un- 
warrantedly applied to himself, why so many m3'sterious foices 
at work and so much of corruption put in play '? By endeav- 
oring to establish too much, reaction often follows which 
sometimes satisfies that too little has been effected to produce 
any benefit to the complainer. 

Public disapproval of the verdict, universal sympathy which 
followed tiie author ever^'where, even within the confines of 
his prison — a stranger in Mobile, yet on ever}- hand met with 
kind treatment both in this city antl elsewhere from afar, all 
giving testimon}' against this uncalled for and malignant 
prosecution. Mr. Overall and company's victory was dearly 
bought, and left them in a far worse condition than before they 

For proving too much, a miserable subterfuge was tried to 
make appear that Copeland was deranged, was a maniac, and 
his statements entirely unworthy of credit. A more signa-* 
failure could not have been attempted. If he was non compos 
mentis, the law grievously erred in causing his execution. 
Those who knew him well, those who visited him long and 
often in his prison, can testify to his extraordinary' strength of 
mind. Brave and undaunted, affable in deportment, a tenacious 
memory, with all other indications of mental vigor, the chances 
are ver\- small of making impressions touching his insanity. 
And all this in the face of those localities which suffered so 
much from the depredations of the clan, which localities can 
vouch for the truth of his confessions. But the jury of in- 
quest, on an artful plea raised at the time of his trial settles 
this question. A man with certain death before his eyes, 
with not even the remotest hope of any possibility of escape, 
is not governed as other men are under ordinar}- circumstances 


of business and duplicity. If, to the double-dealers aud the 
reserved, his conduct appears strange in the exposure of his 
associates, how much more so in the reflections on his own 
mother? The testimony of a dying man, given freely and 
without any deceptive or compulsory force, is generally con- 
sidered reliable. The circumstances under which he made his 
confessions, having in view his fast approaching end to all 
earthly scenes, the internal evidences of truth which they 
bear, the numerous localities which can confirm the facts as in 
them contained, all tend to produce convictions as to the sub- 
stantial accuracy of his narrations. In his last moments be- 
fore the fatal drop launched him into an endless eternity, in 
reference, read the following certificate, correctly transcribed, 
as given by an eye witness in reply to an application from the 
author : 

Mobile, Ala., July 31st. 1873. 
This is to certif}" that I was present at the execution of 
James Copeland, who was executed at Augusta, Periy county, 
Miss., the 30th day of October, 1857 ; and heard the Sheriff, J. 
R. S. Pitts, ask him, the said James Copeland, if the detailed 
histoiy and list of names given as members of the Wages and 
Copeland clan were correct, and he answered the Sheriff in the 
affirmative that the}' were. T. C. Carter. 

Office 58, North Commerce St., Mobile, Ala. 

Other equally reliable certificates could be given lo the same 
effect, but the one here transcribed will suffice. The pei'son 
whose signature is above given, is respectfully known pretty 
much throughout the City of Mobile, as well as over the 
greater part of Mississippi, and whose veracity none will 
attempt to dispute. 

Let it be borne in mind that the existence of this clan con- 
tinued for a great number of years, Its fields of operations 
extended from State to State — from shore to shore. Here 
murder and prodigious rapine; there burning wrecks, with 
hurried flights from place to place to avoid capture and the 


pursuits of retributive vengeance — frequentlj'' succeeding, but 
now and then failing for short periods of time until the reserves 
in men, in money, and in officials or leagued members of the 
bar could be brought to bear for rescue or for jail delivery by 
process of law. Amid all these chequered scenes of success 
and adversitj', it would not be impossible for some unintention- 
al errors of date to have intervened; yet, intrinsically, such 
errors may be of a character as not, to the smallest extent, to 
affect the validity or value of the "confessions" made; but 
still, errors of this sort, may furnish fine capital for indirect 
sore-headed associates to rave and foam. As a simple illustra- 
tion on this point, one man saw another commit a crime on 
the 15th, but, on investigation, it turned out to have been 
done on the 16th. Now, had he stated "on or about the 
15th," all would have been complete; but will any one con- 
tend because of the omission of this ^^ or ahout,^^ the whole 
value of the statement is destroyed ? 

Again, typographical errors will occur in almost all printed 
productions, to a greater or less extent. Such errors are 
sometimes insignificant and sometimes material. In the origi- 
nal work, as first published, some few typographical errors 
have been discovered. For instance, "Shonesmack" should 
have been Shoemake or Scheumake; but the idea of raising a 
fuming warfare because of such sort of errors as these, is 
sublimely ridiculous. 

After some hesitation about propriet}^ the author has de- 
cided to re-publish the same as appeared in the first edition, 
with such few appended explanations and corrections as are 
necessary for distinct comprehension by the reader. 

Fillial acknowledgements and a tribute of respect for the 
father, but mother, brothers, and associates, Copeland spared 
none. Without reserve— without restraint — simple and with- 
out any object of complication, truth fell fast and spontaneously 
during the short time he had to live. The philosopher, the 
statesman, and the moralist — all may deduce lessons of "^-alue 


to the future from liis confessions. Reflections on his mother 
show the mighty force and influence which the female parent 
exercises on youth and maturity. "The rule is bad that will 
not work Ijoth ways." If in this case the mother produced 
so much of evil fruit, a contrary or an opposite one must pro- 
duce contray results— hence, the vast importance of mothers 
both to the present and rising generations. 

The Murrell clan first, then the Wages and Copeland next. 
Both organizations came to a tragic end. Astounding as the 
fact may be, there are some who prefer a life of blood and 
plunder and terror, to peaceful industry and the blessings of 
orderly society. If the life and history now under considera- 
tion should fall into the hands of some of this class, let them 
not indulge in the flattering unction that but for this or the 
other error committe'd, the career of the clan might have con- 
tinued indefiuitel}'. Let no such fatal delusions be cherished 
for a moment. Under a s3-stem of semi-civilization, where 
laws are only a mock farce, where amount of money is the mea- 
sure of guilt or innocence; where judges on the bench, execu- 
tive oflicials, rings, cliques, lawyers, demagogues, and even a 
number of the clerical order — Mr. McGrath as an instance — all 
operate, not according to the principles of right in consonance 
with the benign influences which tend towards a rule of 
natural order and justice, but in conformity with corrupt and 
sordid motives for political considerations to secure wealth 
and power, no matter how foul the m.eans; under such an un- 
healthy condition of circumstances, organizations like the 
JMurrell, the Wages and Copeland, however assiduously and 
indirectly supported by men of wealth and distinction, how- 
ever bold and able the actors, cannot permanently continue. 
Such combinations of lawlessness for murder and plunder, in- 
cendiarism and all the other darker crimes which belong to 
depraved natures, must terminate in death and dissolution; 
but it so generall}- happens that the less guilty end their career 
ou the scaflTold or in some other way by the hands of an out- 


raged communit}'; while the higher grades of participant 
criminals, of larger calibre of brain, are left to revel on the 
spoils for Avhich the less fortunate have had to suffer the pains 
of an ignominious death. 

Organizations of such vast and gigantic magnitude, are in- 
cidents of a rude and transition state of society, where popu- 
lation is sparse, where means of protection are sadly at fault, 
and where so many hardened criminals make their escape 
through the mock forms of trials in courts, not of justice, but 
of ignorance and corruption under the name of liberty and a 
scrupulous tenderness in behalf of a spurious or false senti- 
rnental color of humanity; but in proportion as population in- 
creases, so also must detection and protection, with a better 
administration of law and justice increase in the same ratio, 
even if the forms of government have to be changed for the 
accomplishment of the same. Wealth cannot accumulate long 
without chaos and anarch}-, unless protection of life and 
property be commensurate. 

But often the closing era of such terrible organizations for ' 
bold and daring depredations on the better portions of society, 
then begin other organizations of less dimensions, but more 
dangerous, because more subtle and refined, and in every way 
harder of detection. 

There Is something terrible, or, at least, alarming in concep- 
tion awakened by the names of clans and hands ; but dilTerent 
as regards rings and cliques. These last control legislation 
the executives and cabinets, and nearl}' the whole of the judi- 
cial rings. They are the arbiters of aspirants of every de- 
scription — generally according to the price or consideration 
offered. But there is yet another lower grade of rings and 
cliques, composed of subordinate officers, picayune members 
of the bar, and low-down reckless strikers. When money or 
other sorts of gain is to be made, these strikers are set to work, 
and if they become involved in law difficulties, the cheap 
lawyers, with the assistance of the officials, are always at hand 


to liberate the offending culprits. Former methods of murder, 
conflagration and high-handed robbery have been exchanged 
for more intricate forms of conquest and gain. 

Whoever ventures an exposure of the fashionable vices of 
influential circles — whoever assails the citadels and strong- 
holds of crime and corruption, must not expect to elude 
numerous and deep-laid conspiracies for the sacrifice of life, 
which, if he escape falling a victim, he will be more than for- 
tunate. Even so far, the author has bitterly experienced all 
this. The marvel is that he is yet alive and determined to 
continue in stronger terms than before exhibited — relying on 
invincible truth and the better portions of society to bear him 
up through the ordeal which he has to encounter. Although 
he has suffered much, and has had many "hair-breadth 
escapes" from the plots and snares laid for his destruction. 

The subsequent part of the Appendix will inform the reader 
of several infernal concoctions for assassination when attempts 
at intimidation failed. The first of these will embrace par- 
ticulars in the period betwixt the publication and the author's 
arrest, and the other about three years after the trial had 
terminated. The period betwixt publication and arrest cannot 
be devoid of interest to the reader — it is a prelude to the im- 
portant trial Avhich followed. The incidents involved during 
the time here referred to have ponderous bearings, in a circum- 
stantial point of view, toward establishing the substantial cor- 
rectness of Copeland's confessions, although intended to invali- 
date them and make a nullity of the whole. 

During imprisonment Copeland seemed to fully comprehend 
the profound plans and commanding power of one by the name 
of Shoemake. This is the man who played so conspicuous a 
part before and on trial in combination with the three prose- 
cuting parties of Mobile. The arch-enemy of all mankind 
cannot surpass him in perfidious deception. 

"With smooth dissimulation well skilled to grace, 
A devil's purpose with an angel's face." 


He who it was who first addressed a letter of almost matchless 
duplicity to the author, while residing in Perry county, under 
a forged or fictitious signature. He who it was who next 
t visited the author in person, first to try the arts of persuasion 
and then the designing influences of intimidation, but in either 
case without the desired effect. After this, he it was who 
entered into compact with the prosecuting three, of Mobile, 
bore the requisition from the Governor ot Alabama to the 
Governor of Mississippi for the rendition of the author, and, 
in the circumstances connected with the arrest, acted in such a 
mysterious and suspicious manner as could leave no doubt that 
he contemplated the life of the author under a plausible pretext 
of resistance to lawful authority. But this object was signally 
defeated. A considerable number of good citizens quickly 
collected together, well armed for protection, and volunteered 
to accompany the author under arrest to Mobile, which they 
accordingly did, and efi'ectually secured his safety . 

The trial followed next. Bj^ careful attention to the circum- 
stances connected with it much information may be gathered, 
showing the force of political considerations, and how hard the 
task for truth and justice, in the first efforts, to gain a triumph 
over a combination of wealth and intellect leagued together for 
bad purposes. For instance, the presiding Judge, McKinstry, 
could have had no personal prejudice or enmity against the 
author, and in his heart might have rejoiced over the dissolu- 
tion of the clan, but his palpably reprehensible conduct on 
triai furnishes convincing evidence that he was influenced by 
other considerations than those of law and justice. To this 
fact Dr. Bevell, one of the impaneled jurymen on the case, 
had his eye turned in the references to the Judge's conduct 
and political considerations, which references will be found in 
his letter published in another part of the work. 

On the days of trial the notorious character of this said 
Shocraake was made public and manifest. He was the princi- 
pal witness relied on in the prosecution. Another, equally 
infamous, as demonstrated by the most satisfactory of testi- 
C— 2 


mony, by the name of Bentonville Taylor, was brought from 
afar in rags and poverty, and sent back ia costl}'' attire with 
money in profusion. Does the impartial judgment require 
anything more to produce conviction of the shameful features 
of the prosecution? If so, he will find much more before he 
gets through the particulars of the trial. Added to this, the 
almost universal outburst of sympathy in behalf of the author, 
with letters of condolence from distant parts, all of which will 
be found in the proper places of the work. 

Under circumstances so adverse it is not to be expected that 
Copeland, in his confession, could give more than a small frac- 
tional part of the transactions of the whole clan. Since then 
a number and variet}^ of interesting matters have been collected 
from the most authentic of sources, and will be found in the 
appropriate place of this pamphlet. 

The subject of crime opens an almost inexhaustible expanse 
for exi)atiation. An elaborate treatise on its causes and reme- 
dies is too prolix for a work of this nature — only a few passing 
observations on this theme will be found interspersed, which 
are relevant and have a direct bearing on the main topics 
discussed . 

And now, in closing this introductorj- part, the author wishes 
the public to understand that he has no personal animosity 
against those who so wrongfully deprived him of his liberty, 
ruined him with expenses, and encompassed his life in so many 
intricate waj'S. He has not indulged in any revengeful pas- 
sions, but has endeavored to strictly confine himself to the 
unprejudiced and impartial province of the historian and biog- 
rapher — according merit where due. and with propriety denoun- 
cing crimes, corruptions and unhealth}' conspiracies whenever 
they come in the way. And, if in so doing, he is to endure a 
repetition of persecutions and prosecutions, with fresh dangers 
added, he will try to bear them with all the fortitude he can 
command, with the hope that the peaceably and honestly dis- 
posed parts of the community will rally for the pulling down 
the edifices of vice, and for establishing a better, a purer and a 
healthier condition of society. 


The number of years during which the Copeland and Wages 
Gang of Land Pirates pursued a successful career of robbery, 
incendiarism and murder in the United States; their final dis- 
memberment, disgrace and violent end at the hand of retri- 
butive justice; and the stern moral lesson taught by their 
histor}^ and fate, have induced the undersigned to publish the 
confession of one of the leaders of the gang, as made by him- 
self, in anticipation of his death at the hands of the hangman. 
Its accuracy may be relied on; and indeed it is hardly possible 
to doubt the truth of its statements, so minutel}-, consecutively 
and clearl}^ are the}' related, and so consonant are they with 
the various localities and the characters of the men. 

This confession was given to me, principally by the aid of 
copious memoranda which Copeland had kept for 3'ears in his 
diary, and which material!}' refreshed his memory. 

James Copeland, the subject of this memoir, was born near 
Pascagoula river, in Jackson county. Miss., on the ISth day of 
January, 1823. He was the son of Isham Copeland and 
Rebecca Copeland, his wife — formerly Rebecca Wells. The 
parents had resided for many years near Pascagoula river. 

Isham Copeland was a farmer in easy circumstances, with a 
good farm, several negroes, plenty of horses and mules and 

20 PREFACE. • 

Other live stock ; and, in fact, he might be said to hare every- 
thing about him that a family in moderate circumstances could 
require to enable him to live comfortably. He was the father 
of several sons; but, alas! this, -which is by most men deemed 
a blessing, proved to him a curse; and after encountering many 
trials in youth and manhood, just when he thought to enjoy 
the peace and repose of old age, his son's misconduct drew on 
him many severe reverses of fortune, and finally drove him to 

the grave broken hearted. 

J, R. S. PITTS. 





When I was about ten or eleven years of age, my father sent 
me to school, and I went at intervals from time to time, to sev- 
eral good teachers. I might, with proper training and man- 
agement, have received a liberal education. My father often 
insisted, and urged it upon me to study and try to obtain a 
good education, and he told me that he would send me to 
school as long as I wished to go. But being misled by my as- 
sociations with bad compan}^ I was engaged, instead, in study- 
ing mischief, and other things no way profitable to myself or 
advantageous to youths. It was my misfortune, that my dis- 
position led me on to study how to cheat, defraud and swindle 
my comrades and school-mates, out of their pocket-knives, 
their money or anything they might have, which I wanted, and 
I was generally successful in my undertaking. If I could not 
effect my object in one way, I would resort to some other, and 
finally obtain it before I stopped. Indulging in this rude and 
mischievous disposition, I naturally became more hardened, 


and when at school, it was my delight to see the scholars 
whipped or otherwise punished, and I would often tell lies on 
any of them that would displease me, so as to cause them to 
get a flogging; and very often I would tell a lie on an innocent 
scholar, so as to clear a favorite and guiltj^ one, and have the 
innocent one punished. It most generally happened, that I 
managed my villiany so as to get clear; it sometimes hap- 
pened, however, that I got punished. This I did not care for 
any longer than the punishment lasted. So soon as I was re- 
leased, I would commit a worse misdeed than the one I was 
chastised for, and any of my school-mates that were the cause 
of my punishment, I was certain to wreak mj^ vengeance on, 
by having them punished in some waj'. From my bad conduct 
in school there was no teacher that would permit me to go to 
his school long at a time, and whenever I had any difficulty 
with my teachers, my mother would always protect and indulge 
me in what I would do; and being so indulged and protected, 
this excited me to commit crimes of greater magnitude. And 
I am frank, here to sa}^ that my mother has been the principal 
and great cause of all my crimes and misfortunes, by stimu- 
lating me to the commission of those deeds that have brought 
me to what I am. 

When I was about the age of twelve j'cars, my mother one 
day sent me with a sack to a neighbor's house (Mr. Helver- 
son's), to procure some vegetables or greens. I communicated 
my errand to Mrs. H., who told me to go to the garden and 
take what I wanted. I had no knife with me. I asked Mrs. H. 
to loan me a knife, which I knew she had, and she pulled out a 
very pretty little knife from her work-pocket, and told me not 
to lose or break it, for it was a present made to her by a friend. 
This I listened to and promised her that I would be careful. 
Now, while I was in the garden procuring vegetables or greens, 
my whole mind and wits were emploj'cd in devising some mode 
by which I could cheat the lady out of her knife. Finally, 
after I had procured my vegetables and placed them in the 


sack, I put the knife in the bottom of the sack; I then returned 
to the house, and told the lady that 1 laid the knife down in the 
garden, and had forgot the place and could not find it; I asked 
her to go with me and help me hunt for it, which she accord- 
ingljr did, and we both hunted diligently, but to no effect. The 
lady was very anxious about her knife and much regretted its 
loss, while I was all the time laughing in my sleeve, to know 
how completely I had swindled her. This trick of mine passed 
off very well for a time. It was, however, found out that I had 
the knife, and that created some noise and trouble. I was ac- 
cused of stealing the knife. But I denied all accusations and 
stated that I had bought the knife I had, in Mobile, and proved 
it by my mother, who always upheld me in my rascality. This 
may be said to have been my first successful feat in stealing, 
although 1 was in the habit of stealing little frivolous things 
from the school boys, before that time. 

My father living a very close neighbor to Mr. Helverson, 
whose family is related to ours, their stock run together in the 
same range. My. next onset in stealing was from Mr. H. 
again; he had a lot of very fine fat pigs, and these were at that 
time selling at a high price in Mobile. M}^ brother Isham 
(nicknamed Whinn) and myself geared up a horse in a cart 
and started, pretendingly for a camp hunt to kill deer and haul 
to Mobile. We went a short distance that night and camped. 
During the night we went to Hclverson's hog bed, and stole a 
cart load of his finest pigs, fifteen in number, hauled them to 
Mobile and sold them at two dollars each. Although Mr. H. 
was satisfied in his own mind that we had stolen his pigs, yet 
he could not prove it; and I escaped again. So I was stimu- 
lated with mj' success, and being still more encouraged and 
upheld by ni}^ mother, and not exceeding fourteen years of age, 
I believed that I could make an independent fortune by thiev- 
ing, and became insensible of the danger which awaited me. 
A short time after the incident just related had transpired, I 
m-ade a- second rake upon Mr. H.'s pigs. But in m}^ second 


adventure, I was not so fortunate as I was in the first, for Mr. 
H. rather got me that time. The proof was sufficiently 
strong, and I was prosecuted, for the first time, for pig steal- 
ing. Well knowing my guilt as I did, and the evidence against 
me, I thought my case extremely doubtful. I was arrested by 
the sheriff of Jackson count}', and had to give bond to appear 
at the Circuit Court of Jackson county, to answer an indict- 
ment preferred against me by the State of Mississippi, for the 
crime of larceny. The bond required me to attend the Court 
from term to terra, and from day to day, until discharged by 
due course of law. My poor old father employed the best 
counsel to defend me, that could be obtained in all the countr}'. 
This cost the poor old man a large sum of mone3\ M}- counsel, 
after learning the facts of the case, advised me that my only 
chance of acquittal, was to put off the trial as long as possible. 
This he did from term to term, in hopes that something might 
occur to get me acquitted. I well knew if my case should be 
brought to a hearing, I would be convicted, and I dreaded the 
consequences ; for I knew that there would then be no chance 
on earth to prevent m}- being sent to the penitentiar}*. 

Fully sensible of my situation, young as I was at that time, 
it became necessary for me to devise some plan to get out of 
the scrape, and I reflected tor weeks how to manage this mat- 
ter. One day, in a conversation with my mother and some 
other confidential friends, she and they advised me to consult 
Gale H. Wages; and my mother said she would send for 
Wages and see him herself, as he was a particular friend of 
hers. This she accordingly did, and he came to our house. 
There were several of the clan at our house then, though I did 
not know them at that time as such; but my mother did, as I 
afterward found out when I joined them. Among the many 
plans proposed b^^ the clan, none seemed to suit my mother or 
Wages. Some were for waylaying and killing the witnesses; 
some for one thing, and some for another. Finally Wages 
made his proposition, which was seconded by my mother. This 


was the proposition I liad been waiting to hear, for ray mother 
told me that whatever plan Wages would pursue, he would be 
certain to get me clear. His plan was, that we should, in 
some way or other, endeavor to have the Court house and all 
the records destroyed, and so destroy the indictment against 
me. By that means there would be nothing against me, and 
I should be acquitted, as no charge would rest against me. 

With this plan I was highly pleased, and much elated with 
the idea that I had a friend fully able and competent to bear 
me out, and who would stand up to me at an}' and ali. hazards, 
and bring me out clear. Wages pledged himself to me in pri- 
vate to do this, and he was as good as his word. We set a 
time for the accomplishment of our design, and we accord- 
ingly met. The precise date I cannot recollect, but it was a 
dry time, and a dark night, with a strong breeze from the 
North. After procuring suflicient dry combustibles, we en- 
tered the Court-house, went up stairs, and placed our combus- 
tibles in the roof, on the windward side of the house. Wages 
went down -stairs to patrol around. After reconnoitering 
around sufficientl}', he gave me the signal, by a rap or knock 
on the wall; I immediately sprung open the door of my dark- 
lantern, applied the match, and made ni}^ escape down stairs, 
and Wages and myself left the place in double quick time. 
We halted on an eminence some live or six hundred yards to 
the southeast of the Court house, to watch the conflagration. 
Such a sight I never had before beheld. The flames seemed 
to ascend as high, if not higher than the tops of the tallest 
pine trees; they made ever3'thing perfectly light for over two 
hundred yards around. After the Court-house, records and all 
were completely consumed, and the flames had abated and 
died awa}', we took pur departure for home, rejoicing at our 
success in the accomplishment of our design. There was a 
great deal of talk and conjecture about the burning of the 
Court-house, and we were accused — at least, I was strongly 
censured, but there never was an}' discovery made, nor any 


proof sufficient to get hold of either Wages or nn-self; so I 
again got clear of a crime of which I was guilty and for which 
I ought to have been punished. 

The assistance, advice and p."otection I had received from 
Wages, gave me the utmost confidence in him, and he had un- 
bounded influence over me; I looked on him as m}' warmest 
and most confidential friend, and I eventually pinned my whole 
faith on him and relied upon him for advice and directions in 
everything. Although a villain, as I must now acknowledge 
Wages was, yet he had some redeeming traits in his character. 
At his own home he was friendl}', kind and hospitable; in 
company, he was affable and polite; and no person at first ac- 
quaintance, would have believed for one moment, that he was 
the outlawed brigand that he finally proved himself to be; 
and I firmly believe he would have spilt the last drop of blood 
in his veins to protect me; yet I must say that he was the 
principal author of my misfortunes, and has brought me where 
I am. 

After the burning of the Court House, the intercourse be- 
tween Wages and myself became more frequent. We became 
strongly allied to each other, and confidence was fullj' establish- 
ed between us. Wages one da}' made a proposition to me; to 
join him, and go with him, alleging that we could make money 
without work, and live in ease and genteel style; that there 
were a great many persons concerned with him, in diflJ'crent 
parts of the country, some of them men of wealth and in good 
standing in the community in which they lived; that they had 
an organized Band that would stand up to each other at all 
hazard; that they had a Wigwam in the city of Mobile, where 
they held occasional meetings ; and that they had man}' con- 
federates there whom the public little suspected. To this prop- 
osition I readily acceded; it corresponded with my disposition 
and idea of things, and then, being the age I was, and stimu- 
lated b}' my past success, I feared nothing. 

I went to Mobile with Wages, and- there he introduced me to 


some of his comrades, who were members of his Clan, They 
accordingly held a meeting at their Wig ivam, and I was there 
introduced by Wages, (who was their president,) as a candi- 
date for membership, I should have been rejected, had Wages 
not interceded for me. I was finally passed and admitted to 
membership. Wages then administered tome the oath, which 
every member had to take. I was then instructed and given 
the signs and pass-words of the Clan; and above all was cau- 
tioned to keep a watchful eye, and not to let any person entrap 
me; nor let any person, under pretence of belonging to the 
Clan, or wishing to join, obtain in any way information from 
me in relation to the existence of the Clan, or their plan or 
mode of operation. The oath was administered on the Holy 
Bible. (Oh! what a profanation of that good book!) The 
form of the oath was: "You solemnly swear upon the Holy 
Evangelist of Almighty God, that you will never divulge, and 
always conceal and never reveal any of the signs or pass-words 
of our order; that you will not invent any sign, token or device 
by Avhich the secret mysteries of our order may be made 
known; that you will not in any way betray or cause to be be- 
trayed any member of this order — the whole under pain of 
having j'our head severed from 3'our body — so help you God." 

Wages was President and Chief of the Clan. All important 
business of the Clan was entrusted to his care. He called 
meetings, gave all notices to the Clan for their gatherings, and 
when assembled he presided in the chair. In all matters, he 
had the preferred right to introduce resolutions for the benefit 
of the Clan. 

There were present at this meeting, Charles McGrath, Vice- 
President; McClain, Secretary; John Eelva, Henry Sanford, 
Richard Cabel and Sampson Teapark, Vigilant Committee; 
William Brown, of Mobile, Tyler. 

After I was thus initiated, and invested with all the signs, 
words and tokens, and full}' instructed in the mysteries of the 
Clan, I was taught their mode of secret correspondence, by 


means of an alphabet or key, invented by the notorious Mur- 
rell, of Tennessee. I was furnished with the alphabet and 
ke}', and in that same m^^stic writing I was furnished with a 
list of all the names that belonged to our Clan, and a list of 
several other Clans, that ours was in correspondence with, 
their several places of residence, and the locations of their 
Wig- warns; so that when we stole a horse, a mule, or a negro, 
we knew precisely where to carry them, to have them conceal- 
ed and sold. 

After I had been thus fully initiated and had become identi- 
fied with the Clan, Wages and McGrath, knowing my abilit}', 
and that I was a keen shrewd and cunning lad, took me under 
their immediate special charge. We had a rendezvous at old 
Wages' about twelve miles from Mobile, and another at Dog 
River, about the same distance in a different direction. We 
ranged that season from one place to the other, and sometimes 
in town, stealing any and everything we could. Sometimes 
killing beef, hogs and sheep, hauling them to town and selling 
them; sometimes stealing a fine horse or mule and conveying 
it to some of our comrades to conceal; and occasionally a ne- 
gro would disappear. All this while, we pretended to be en- 
gaged in making shingles, burning charcoal, and getting laths 
and pickets, each for himself. We alwa3's managed to furnish 
the family with all the meat they could use. 

We worked on in this way until late in the summer or early 
in the fall of 1839, when most of the inhabitants had left the 
city; and we having six of our Clan then employed as City 
Guards, we rallied our forces and Wages ordered a meeting. 
It was there resolved that we should prepare ourselves with 
boats and teams — the boats to be stationed at a particular 
wharf in Mobile, on a certain night, and the teams at a land- 
ing named, on Dog River the next night. It was also ordered 
that we should assemble at our Wig-wam on the first night at 
seven o'clock. The meeting then adjourned. 

The promised evening came, and every member was punc- 


tual in liis attendance. It was a full meeting of the Clan. We 
all rigged ourselves out with false moustaches, some with false 
whiskers, some with a green patch ouer one eye, and many of 
them dressed like sailors, and thus fitted out and disguised, 
we were ready for action, with all kinds of false keys, skeleton 
keys, lock picks, crow bars, &c. At nine o'clock the City 
Guards turned out, and by a previous arrangement, those of 
our comrades who mounted guard, were on the first watch. 
They immediately sent two of their number to inform us where 
to make the first break. They had reconnoitered previously 
and knew what places had the richest and most valuable goods, 
and they had also procured false keys for several stores. Thus 
armed, each man with his revolver, bowie knife and dark lan- 
tern, about ten o'clock we started out. Our first break was 
a fancy dry-goods store which we opened with one of our kej-s. 
We took over $5,000 worth of goods from that store, fine silks, 
muslins, &c. We next entered a rich jewelry store, and made 
a clean sweep there. There were no fine watches; we got 
Bome silver watches and two or three gold watches, left, we 
supposed, to be repaired. Our raise there was about four to 
five thousand dollars. Our next break was on a large cloth- 
ing store. There we took $3000 worth of the finest and best 
clothing. While we were at this, some of the clan were pack- 
ing off and storing in their boats. We had procured two butch- 
er carts, which would stand a short distance off and our men 
packed and loaded the carts, which they hauled to our boats. 
About half-past eleven o'clock, knowing that there would be a 
new guard out at twelve o'clock, we dispersed and set fire to 
each of the stores we had robbed. Soon there was the cry of 
fire; the wind commenced blowing, and the fire spread rapidly, 
Our Clan now commenced operations anew; we seized and 
carried out goods from any and every store we came to, still 
retaining the carts. We kept them constantly employed; and 
before daylight we had loaded two large, swift boats, and had 
a large quantity of merchandise in a "wood fiat." A little be- 


fore daylight, we left with our boats for Dog River. We ar- 
rived there about eight o'clock, ten miles from the city, and 
went up the river to our landing place, where we secreted our 
goods until that night, when we had our teams at work, haul- 
ing off and concealing goods, which we finally accomplished 
the second night. Wages then ordered a meeting of the clan, 
and punctual attendance was required. The object of this 
meeting was for a report from each member of the amount of 
goods he had obtained, so that an equal distribution might be 
made. From the report then made, we had procured over 
twenty-five thousand dollars worth of goods of almost every 
description. We had an abundant supplj' of gix)ceries and 
liquors. Our friends in the cit}' had a bountiful supply of 
almost everything. We made a division of our plunder, and 
Wages, McGrath and myself got for our share about six thou- 
sand dollars worth. We were permitted to select the finest 
and most costly goods, such as the jewelry, fine silks, muslins 
etc., which we could carry in our trunks. 

Having properly stowed away our etfects, we took a trip 
from Mobile to Florida by wa}' of Pensacola, carrying with us 
some of the jewelry, watches and dry goods. We traveled 
from Pensacola through Florida, with our pack of goods, as 
pedlars, each taking a different route, and all to meet at Apa- 
lachicola on a certain daj'. Wages went the middle route, 
McGrath the southern route,' and I went the northern route. 
I traveled some distance, occasionally selling some of my 
plunder. I eventually arrived at a very rich neighborhood, 
near the Chatochooca river, not far from the Alabama line. 
There I soon disposed of most of my goods. 

I fell in with a house where a very rich old widow lady lived^ 
She bought a good deal of my jewchy and other goods for her 
two young daughters. I pretended to be sick, for an excuse 
to stay there. This lady had a ver^^ nice mulatto girl about 
seventeen years old. During the time I was there pretending 
to be sick, I made an arrangement with this girl to run away 


with me; I promised to take lier for a wife, and carr}' her to a 
free State. She was to meet me on a certain night at the 
landing on the river, about one mile from that pUiccs I left 
the house pretending to go to Columbus, Ga., and traveled up 
the river some thirty miles, where I stole a canoe. 1 procured 
some meat and bread and started down the i-ivcr. On the 
night appointed I was at the landing, and about ten o'clock 
the mulatto girl came. She had provided bed clothing and 
provisions in plenty. I then started down the river with my 
girl. We went about thirty miles that night, and Jay by in 
the river swamp all next day. The next night we made about 
fift}^ miles down the river. The third night we reached Apa- 
lachicola, two days previous to the time appointed to meet 
Wages and McGrath. I landed a short distance above town, 
and left my girl in a swamp just after daylight, and then went 
to the city. In looking around I fell in with John Harden, he 
being one of our clan . He soon gave me an introduction to a 
place where I could conceal my girl, and stay myself. The 
next day McGrath arrived; I met him in the street, and gave 
him a sign to follow me to our rendezvous. I showed him my 
girl and told him the way I had got her; he then told me that 
he had stolen a likely negro fellow, and had him concealed in 
a swamp about four miles from town. After dinner, and a 
little before night, McGrath and I went out to the swamp, 
brought in his fellow, and concealed him at the same place 
where my girl was. 

The next day about eight o'clock Wages came up; we were 
all on the lookout for him. We gave him a hint to come to 
our place. We showed Wages what a raise we had made; he 
then told us that he had stolen two negroes and two fine 
horses, and that they were concealed in the swamp about five 
miles from town. In fear of pursuit he said we must leave 
instauter. We made an arrangement with Harden and our 
landlord to take the horses. They gave Wages twenty-five 
dollars a piece for the horses, and our board bill. That night 


Wages and Harden went out to the swamp; Harden took the 
horses and left, and Wages brought in his negroes £ind placed 
them with ours. That night while Wages was gone after his 
negroes McGrath and I went to a coffee house, and while there 
we met some Spaniards that had a little schooner there, and 
which was then loaded for New Orleans. We made the arrange- 
ment with them to carry us and our negroes to New Orleans, 
returned to our place, and had everything prepared. About 
ten o'clock Wages came in with his negroes, and we all went 
on board the vessel, which weighed anchor and sailed down the 
bar. Next morning the captain cleared his vessel, and by ten 
o'clock we were over the bar and under way, with a good breeze. 
On the second night, a little before day, we landed at the 
Pontchartrain railroad, and left in the first cars for the cit}'. 
We went into one of our places in the city, got breakfast for 
ourselves and negroes, and at nine o'clock we left in a steam- 
boat for Bayou Sara. We landed there, crossed the river and 
went to one of our clan — a rich planter — where we sold our 
negroes. I got one thousand dollars for my mulatto girl; 
McGrath sold his fellow for eleven hundred dollars, and Wages 
sold each of his boys for nine hundred dollars. We took our 
money and left for Mobile. My girl made considerable fuss 
when I was about to leave, but I told her I would return in a 
month, and rather pacified her. I must here acknowledge that 
my conscience did that time feel mortified, after the girl had 
come with me, and I had lived with her as a wife, and she had 
such implicit confidence in me. My conscience still feels 
mortified when I reflect how much better it would have been 
for me to have kept her and lived with her than to come to 
what I have. 

On our way to Mobile wc stopped in New Orleans three or 
four days. During our stay there was one fire. We made a 
small raise on that of about one hundred dollars each. McGrath 
came very near being caught by attempting to make a second 
haul. We left next day for Mobile i landed at Pascagoula, and 


walked home by land, with our money and the small amount 
of goods we had stolen in New Orleans. 

We then deposited our money, and gathered all the balance 
of our fine goods that we had stolen in Mobile at the great 
fire, and what we had stolen in New Orleans, and prepared our- 
selves for a second tour. We had realized about four thousand 
five hundred dollars, which we hid in the ground, and we took 
each of us about one hundred and fifty dollars for our expenses, 
and an equal share of the goods. 

On the 25th day of March, 1843, Wages, McGrath and 
m3'self left Mobile bound to Texas; we went to New Orleans, 
where we landed the next day. We remained there about three 
days and sold a great quantity of our goods, such as were too 
heavy to carry. While we were in the city Wages won about 
seven hundred dollars from a Tennessee corn dealer by the 
name of Muiphy. McGrath and myself Lad lost about one 
hundred and fifty dollars each. We left New Orleans, went up 
the Mississippi, and landed at the house of an old friend that 
belonged to our clan. His name was Welter. We spent one 
day and night with him; we had seen him in the city a few 
days before, and were invited to call, but when we approached 
his residence we all pretended to be entire strangers. This 
was a strict injunction upon our clan — when traveling never to 
meet any of our comrades as acquaintances, but alwa3-s treat 
them as entire strangers, that we had never seen in our life. 

Wages pretended to have some business with the old gentle- 
man, and introduced himself, McGrath and raj^self under ficti- 
tious names. The old gentleman had two very nice genteel 
daughters. They were sociable and refined, well educated, and 
highly accomplished Qvery way; he was wealth}*, and had a 
good reputation in his neighborhood, and no one would for 
one moment have suspected him of belonging to our clan. But 
I afterward learned from Wages that this old gentleman had 
belonged to the Murrell Clan for many years; and that was 
what carried Wages there, to get some information relative to 


some negroes that had been stolen and carried to Louisiana 
near the Texas line. Wages also informed me that this same 
man made all his property by stealing and kidnapping negroes 
from Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. 
Having obtained the information we wanted, we made prepara- 
tion to leave. We offered to pay our fare, but this was 
promptly refused. We were well entertained; the old gentle- 
man furnished us each with a flask of good brandy, and, after 
thanking him and his family for their kind, hospitable treat- 
ment, we bid adieu, and took our departure for Texas. 

We got on a steamboat and went up the Mississippi to the 
mouth of Red rivei', and up that river to a landing called the 
New Springs. There we paid our passage and went on shore, 
each with his pack and his double-barrel gun. We stopped at 
a house about one mile from the river, where we called for our 
dinner, which we got. and we all remained there until next day, 
during which time we sold a considerable amount of our goods 
at that house and in the neighborhood, which made our packs 
much lighter. We left next day, stopping at all houses, and 
selling our goods, which we did at a rapid rate, as we had 
stolen them and were not sufficient judges of their value ta 
know what price to ask, and in consequence we often sold them 
at one-half their value, and so soon got rid of them. 

Having disposed of the principal part of our goods, about 
the fourth day after we left the New Spring lauding, we were 
approa(;hing the prairie county on the Texas border. We pro- 
vided ourselves with bread and salt; we had ammunition. Shortly 
before night, we came to a small piece of woodland, by a 
ravine. There was a large drove of cattle of all sizes there ; 
McGrath shot a very fat two-year old heifer ; we skinned the 
hind quarters and tenderloin ; we built up a fire, salted some of 
our meat and roasted it by the fire and feasted sumptuousl3\ 
The wolves came near our camp and made a dreadful noise, but 
at daybreak we shot and killed three and the balance ran off. 
They had devoured all the heifer's meat, but we had provided 


sufficient for our journey that day. We set out and traveled 
in a direction to find a settlement, then made about twentj'-five 
miles south of Shreveport. That was the place where "Welter 
had told Wages that the negroes were, that we were after. We 
traveled about thirty miles that day, and suffered very much 
for water. We reached a settlement a little before night, on 
some of the waters of the Sabine River. It was the residence 
of some stock keepers ; there were some three or four families, 
and some fifteen or twenty Mexican drovers, and horse thieves; 
they had just been to Natchitoches, and had a full supply" of 
rum ; a few of them could speak English. We quartered with 
them, and that night we opened the little remnant of our goods 
and jewelry, and had a general raffle. B}- the next day we had 
realized from our raffle, sufficient to purchase each of us a good 
Spanish saddle and bridle, and a good Texas horse. We learn- 
ed from one of these Mexicans the residence of the man who 
owned the negroes that we were after, and we also learned that 
he and his family were strict members of the Methodist Church. 
Now it was that one of us had to turn preacher, so as to recon- 
noiter around the place. Wages and I put that on McGrath. 
We all mounted our horses and started, having p'-ocured plenty 
of lassoes, vkc, McGrath being an Irishman and his tongue 
tippCvl with plent}' of blarne3\ 

We traveled for two days ver}^ moderatel}', and, our chief em- 
plo3-meut was drilling McGrath, how to pray and sing, and 
give that long Methodist groan, and "Amen." He having 
made considerable progress, we went to Natchitoches. McGrath 
entered that town b}' one road, and Wages and myself by an- 
other. McGrath went among a few of his brethren that 

To our astonishment it was posted at every corner, that the 
"Rev. Mr. McGrath, from Charleston, South Carolina, would 
preach at the Methodist Church that evening, at half-past 
seven." We attended church. McGrath took his stand in the 
pulpit. He made a \evy genteel apology to his audience, say- 


ing he was much fatigued from his travel; thot he had caught 
cold and was very hoarse and could not sing; but he read out 
the hymn. It was: "Hark trom the tombs a doleful sound,'^ 
One old brother pitched the tune to Old Hundred, and they all 
chimed in, Wages and mj^self among the rest; Wages sangbasa 
and I tenor, and we all made that old church sound like distant 
thunder. After singing, McGrath made a ver}- good but short 
prayer; he then took his text in the 16th chapter of St. Mark, 
at the verse where Mary t,he mother, and Mary Magdalene 
found the stone rolled from the door of the sepulchre. "And 
he said unto them, Be not affrighted; ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, 
who was crucified; he has risen; he is not here; behold the 
place where they laid him." He read several Verses in that 
chapter, and then made some very good esplanations relative 
to the parables, and prophesies on the coming of the Messiah; 
and the m^^sterious way in which he disappeared, and •«yound 
up his discourse by telling the audience that he had been a 
great sinner in his young days, that it had been but a few 
3'ears since the Lord had called him to preach, and he thanked 
his God that he was now able and willing to la}" down his life 
upon the altar of God; he then raved, and exhorted all to re- 
pent and turn to God; and after raving about half an hour 
called all his hearers that wished to be jjrayed for to come 
forward. The whole congregation kneeled down; he prayed 
for them all, and finally finished, sang another h^-mn and dis- 
missed his congregation, and we all retired. Wages and myseT 
to a' gaming table, and McGrath with some of his brethren, 
Kest day the members of the church there Waited on McGrath 
to know what Avas his pecuniary situation . He told them that 
he was very poor, was on his way to see a rich relation of hisj 
about two hundred miles from there; that he carried his gun 
to keep off wild beasts, etc. They made up mone}' to bu}' him 
a fine suit of black, a new saddle and saddle-bags and fifty 
dollars in cash. We remained there two days, when McGrath 
loft. Wages and I left by another road. We all met a sJiort 


distance from town and made the proper arrangement for our 
operations. McGrath was to go on to the house of this man 
that kad the negroes, and there make what discoveries were 
necessary. He was to join Wages and myself at San Antonio 
on the first day of September following. Wages and I left in 
the direction for the Red Land on the Irish bayou. 


A few days after we passed the residence of an old 'bachelor 
who had a large number of negroes; he was absent at Natchi- 
toches and had left his overseer in charge. We stopped there, 
and remained two days; we procured some whisky from a 
grocery store a short -(listance oil'; prepared some of it with 
poison, and induced the overseer to drink freely. We gave 
iiim a full dose of the poison, and before day on the third 
morning he was dead. 

Meanwhile Wages aiid I had mad« arrano;ements to steal a 
likely negro woman and two young negroes, a bo^^ and girl, 
.about ten years of age, besides two of the finest horses on the 
place. We sent out runners to let one or two of the neighbors 
know that the overseer was dead; we had our negroes and 
horses concealed about five miles distant, and about sunrise we 
•offered to pay our bills and left, pretending to go to New 
Orleans. After we had got out of sight of the plantation we 
made a cir-cuit and went to the place where the negroes and 
horses wer« concealed. Having provided ourselves with pro- 
visiocs, we remained secreted at that place all that day. That 
Slight we started with our negroes and horses. Wages took 
the lead; our horses and negroes were all refreshed. We 
traveled a brisk gait all that night and till next daj- at nine or 
ten o'clock. We suffered greatly for water, having met with 
iione after midnight, until we stopped at a small creek. We 
had passed no houses after daylight. After we stopped vre 
stripped our horses, gave them water and hampered them to 
graze; we got water for ourselves and negroes, and took a 


little spirits we had, ami eat the balance of oijr prorisiorja 
After we had rested a little while, Wages took his gim and 
went up the creek in search of game; I took mine aiid went to 
the road we had just left, and went on rather dov/n the creek. 
At the distance of about two miles I came to a plantation. 1% 
was an old stock place, inhabited b}' some of the old Creole 
settlers that had lived there in Spanish times. I inquired the 
distances and courses of the countrj-. The}' told me it was- 
about fort}- miles to the first river, and that there was but one 
settlement on the road where we could get water for ourselves 
and horses, at about twenty-five miles. After I had got this 
information I purchased some bread and potatoes and a small 
piece of dried beef, and returned to our camp. Wages had 
killed a fine deer, and he and the negro woman were roasting a 
fine piece. We fared well that day. That night about dark 
we left our camp, provided with provisions for two days. A 
little after midnight we reached the first water. A little before 
daylight we reached some settlements and woodland; we 
traveled a short distance and came to a small, deep river. "We 
there found a ferry fiat and some small boats. We took the 
flat and cairied our horses and negroes over; took the flat 
back, and took a small boat, and Wages and I crossed to our 
horses and negroes. B}' this time we could discern the appear- 
ance of day. We mounted and traveled on; vfe could per- 
ceive we were passing several large plantations; by sunrise we 
had traveled four or five miles. We could see at a distance 
several clusters of woodland in the prairies. We made for one 
of them some distance from the road, which we fouad afforded 
sufficient shelter for that day. We found some water, but not 
plenty, and very bad; onr horses would drink but little of it. 
We stripped and hampered our horses to graze, took oui* 
breakfast and told the negroes to go to sleep. I went to sleep^ 
and Wages kept watch. About twelve o''clock I was awakened 
by the report of a gun . I rose up and found that Wages had 
shot a fat yearling beef. We skinned and saved the hind 


quarters and loin, and salted it a little and barbecued it. "While 
Wages la_y down and took a nap the negro woman and I at- 
tended to the meat. About an hour before sunset Wages 
awoke, and we all eat heartily. We eat the last of our bread 
and potatoes; our horses had finished grazing and were resting 
and about sunset we began to pack up for traveling, with 
plenty of meat and no bread. About dark we left our sheltered 
woods and started on the road again. We were then about 
one hundred and twenty miles from the place where we had 
stolen the negroes. We traveled on that night about thirty 
miles, and reached a large creek between midnight and day. 
We passed one or two plantations, and very little wvoodland. 
When Wages came to the creek he examined the ford and 
found horse tracks; he rode in first, went over and came back, 
«,nd took the bridle of the horse that had the two little negroes 
and led him safely across, and the negro woman and m3^self 
followed. We went on some seven or eight miles, and came to 
woodland and plantations again. Some of the plantations were 
rer}^ large. We continued traveling till da^'light; after day we 
passed several fine, large plantations. The sun was about one 
hour high when we came to a ferry on a large river. We called, 
and the ferryman was a negro; we inquired the distance from 
the last river we had crossed; he said sixtj'-three miles. The 
negro was a very intelligent fellow; we inquired particularly 
for San Antonio, and told him there was where we w^ere going. 
We inquired for several other places, and left; at a short dis- 
tance we found a place where we could rest, not far from a 
plantation . There Wages and myself procured some corn for 
our horses, the first they had eaten for several days. We also 
procured some bread ; after we had fed and rested our horses 
and slept some ourselves, a little before night we started again. 
We traveled that night about thirt3"-five miles, and stopped at a 
small creek and camped till dajlight. We then started, crossed 
the creek, went out a short distance and turned our course 
more to the east. We took a trail that led us down the creek. 


We halted about noon to rest our horses, which by this time 
were much fatigued. Here we procured something for our- 
selves to eat. 

We were now over two hundred miles from the place where 
we had stolen the negroes; we here enquired for several places 
and where was the best place to locate. We wanted to find 
a rich neighborhood where there was good society, etc. We 
got directions for several places, among the rest the lower 
settlement on the Erases river. After we had rested, late in 
the afternoon, we set out, pretending to be bound for San 
Antonio, but we steered our course for the Brasos river, where 
we arrived the second day after. We quartered our negroes 
with a planter there and traveled around. We at length found 
a purchaser, some twent}' miles from the place where the negroes 
were. We delivered them to him and received the pay for 
them — sixteen hundred dollars. We took the horses about 
forty miles and sold one, and about thirty miles further we 
sold the other. We then went some distance and sold our own 

We had realized from all our sales a little short of two 
thousand dollars. This was about the tenth of iMa}^ The 
money was principall}' in New Orleans Bank bills, and we had 
some gold and silver to pay oui' little expenses. We now 
steered our course for San Antonio, on foot, and reached there 
in about five days. We traveled leisurely, and procured some 
two-headed Texas gourds to can-y our water tlirough the 
prairies. After resting a day or two, we looked around to see 
how the land lay. We went into a stoi'e and bought two light 
Spanish saddles, with bridles and all the apparatus for ridings 
We put them up in a genteel package, and provided ourselves 
with provisions for two da3's. Each shouldered his pack, and 
we left San Antonio in the night, and steered our course west. 
We had traveled some ten or fifteen miles, when we stopped 
at a small creek and camped. Next morning we traveled on 
some twenty-five miles farther, when we came to a ranch©. 


where there was a great stock of horses, mules, jacks, jennies 
and horned cattle. We hid our saddles before we approrched 
the place, and went up v.-ith our bundles of clothes and guns 
and asked for something to eat, which was given us — plenty 
milk and bread. Only one or two of the people could speak 
English, and that very indifferently. An old man, the head 
of the place, and his drover and herdsman, spoke the best 
English. We asked the old man to let us have a couple of 
horses and saddles, and we would go with him a hunting and 
take our guns; we told him we wished to see the country; he 
told us "3'es," and furnished us with horses. We spent a week 
or more with him. We killed plenty of venison to supply the 
whole ranche. 


One day Wages told him that we wanted to go and camp out 
that night about twenty-five miles off; we would be back next 
night, and wanted one of his gentle mules to pack; he told us 
to take the mule and any horses we pleased, and helped us to 
pack up, with water, provisions and whatever we wanted. We 
started and remained out that night and the next, and returned 
the third day. We had seven fine deer in all; he asked what 
kept us so long — had we been lost ? We told him we had, and 
that while we were out we had met with an acquaintance of 
ours, buying horses and mnles, and that he had furnished us 
money to buy thirty good horses and thirty mules, if we could 
get them delivered at a certain place named, about one hun- 
dred miles from there. We showed him the gold we had, and 
satisfied him as to the money, which was to be paid on delivery 
of the horses and mules at the place mentioned. The horses 
and mules were selected, and the price agreed upon. Gentle 
lead and pack mules were selected, and everj,^ preparation was 
made for our departure. We were to go with him and return 
with him, so as to see that the contract was complied with . 
The day arrived and we set out with five mules packed, and 


five gentle lead mules, with bells on, and a young half-breed 
Indian to assist in driving, and all of us mounted on the best 
of horses. We had managed to procure our new saddles and 
put them in their packs, on a mule that was set apart for us. 
Thus equipped, with plent}' of water and provisions, we set 
out a little after da3'light. Our travel that day was upwards of 
thirty miles, on account of having water. The next day was 
farther. We however made the two points . The next day 
our only stopping place was about twenty miles, and the next 
was thirt}' miles. 

This twenty-mile place appeared to be a dead lake or spring, 
with an underground discharge, with a few small groves of 
timber near b}', and several lakes or sinks 'in the ground, in the 
direction the water was supposed to run under ground. We 
left our second night's camp on the third morning, and arrived 
at the twent^'-mile place in the forenoon. We, as usual, 
stripped and hampered our horses to graze, eat dinner, and 
the old Mexican and his man lay down to sleep. Wages and 
I took our guns and went ofl', pi'etending to hunt. We killed 
a turkey and a prairie hen and a small deer. We cleaned our 
guns, wiped them out, loaded them with the largest buck-shot, 
took our game and went to the camp. While loading our guns, 
we made the arrangement in what way to dispatch our travel- 
ing companions, for that was the way we intended to pa_y for 
the horses and mules. So it was agreed that the next morn- 
ing, before day, we were to prepare some dry gass and have 
our guns read}-; Wages was to get up, wake me, and we were 
to set the straw on fire, to make a light to see the i^osition in 
which the two men lay. 

All that night I did not sleep one minute of sound sleep. 
The most awful and frightful dreams infested my mind all 
night, and Wages told me the next da^' that his sleep was dis- 
turbed in the same way, and he then regretted the act and 
wished he had not done it. 


Wages r.ose in the morning and easily waked me, for I was 
not in a sound sleep. We took our guns; I crawled close to 
"where the young man lay, and got ray gun read3^ Wages was 
to lire first. He put his light against a small brush, and the 
old man partl3' waked and turned his face toward Wages, Avho 
fired the contents of one barrel in the old man's forehead. 

The 3"0ung man Avas lying with his back to me ; I placed the 
muzzle of my gun to the back of his head, where the neck 
joined it. M}- finger was on the trigger. At the report of 
Wages' gun, I pulled the trigger, and there was but little dis- 
tinction in the report of the two guns. 

Both men gave a suppressed, struggling scream, and expired. 

Our next work was to dispose of them, which we did by 
slinging them with ropes, swinging them on a pole, carrying 
them to one of the sink holes close to the camp, and bur3-ing 
them there. We deposited with them all the clothes that had 
any blood on them ; and with the hatchet thej^ had, we sharpen- 
ed a short pole and partially covered them with dirt. We next 
went to the camp and raked out with sticks and brush all the 
signs of blood, and took brush and dry leaves and built fires on 
the ground where we had killed them. All of this we had ac- 
complished by a little before sunrise. 

Our next work was to prepare to leave the place. We took 
the old man's fine massive silver spurs, his silver stirrups and 
silver bridle bits, his gold rings, sleeve buttons, etc., We took 
our new sa;ldle and bridles, and concealed all the old ones in 
the prairie, about five miles from the camp. After we had ar- 
ranged everything to our liking, we gathered our pack mules 
and packed them; herded up the lead mule and the drove; 
Wages mounted the old man's horse, and I the young man's, 
we tied our other two horses together and turned them in the 
drove, and all things being now completed, we set out about 
eight o'clock in the morning. 

We now had the sixty horses and mules and the ten lead and 
pack mules, the two fine horses of the old man and his servant, 


and the two horses lie had loaned us to ride, which made 
seventy-four head in all, and a better selected drove of horses 
never left Texas. We pursued our journey that da}' very silent. 
Wages had but little to say and I had less. We had in our 
hurr}' and confusion forgotten to supply ourselves with water, 
and had but little victuals to eat that were cooked. About a 
quart of water in our gourds, was all we had for the day. We 
canae to the water late in the evening. We suffered very much 
for water that da}', as did our horses. We stripped and ham- 
pered them to graze, after they had got water, and then pre- 
pared some thing for ourselves. We had our turkey and part 
of the deer ; we built a fire and barbecued the game. After 
we had eat, Wages said he could not sleep, and told me to lie 
down and take a nap. 

I laid down, but could not sleep. Every time I would fall in- 
to a doze, the vision of the young man I had killed the liight 
before, would appear before my eyes, and I would s^art up in a 
fright. After several ineffectual attempts, I finally got up, and 
told Wages I could not sleep, and told him to try it. He laid 
down and was quite still for some time. All at once he scream- 
ed out "Oh! my God!" and jumped upon his feet. I called and 
asked what was the matter, and he declared that he saw the old 
man he had killed, standing over him, and that he plainly saw 
the shot holes in his head, and the blood running down his 
face. So we both set up the balance of the night. 

The next morning we started very early. About noon we 
came to a large creek where we procured plenty of water for 
ourselves and the drove ; we halted and rested awhile, and then 
pursued our journey with [^little delay, making the route as di- 
rect as possible for the mouth of Red River. We did not pass 
the settlement on Irish Bayou, nor Natchitoches. We arrived 
at the mouth of Red River and went down the river until we 
came opposite Bayou Sara, where we had our horses and mules 
ferried over. 

We went to a man living out from the river, and effected a 


gale of all the horses, except the four saddle horses. We went 
up into Wilkinson County, Mississippi, where we sold all the 
mules, getting fifty dollars for each of the horses and an aver- 
age of seventy-five dollars for each of the mules. We sold the 
two saddle horses that Wages and mj'self rode before we killed 
the two Mexicans, for one hundred dollars each. We then 
shaped our cotirse for Natchez, and when within about tv*-euty 
miles of it, we effected sale of the two horses we were riding, 
to one man ; he gave Wages one hundred and fifty dollars for 
the horse the old Mexican had, and he gave me one hundred 
and twent3'-five dollars for the one I rode, and sent us in a 
carriage to Natchez, where we arrived about the last of June. 
We had realized on our trip that time about six thousand six 
hundred and seventy-five dollars. 

We had not been in Natchez long before a steamboat passed 
down and we went on board. We had preserved our saddles, 
bridles and all our traveling equipage. We landed at New 
Orleans, went to the bank and deposited all our money, but a 
few hundred dollars, which we retained in gold coin — two and 
a half and dollar pieces. We remained in New Orleans to 
spend the fourth of July with our associates there. 

On the 6th of July, 1841, Wages and I left New Orleans 
and embarked on a small steamboat bound to Shreveport on 
Red River, taking with us our saddles, bridles and traveling 
equipage. In consequence of very dry weather Red River 
was Ver3* low. We had some delay in getting to Shreveport. 
We, however, reached there, and found some wagons traveling 
out to the interior of Texas. We made arrangements with 
them to haul our baggage, and we traveled vvith them part of 
the time, some times before them and some times behind. We 
kept with us our bridles and ropes or lassoes. About the 
fourth day after we left Shreveport, we started on before the 
wagons, and traveled some fifteen jto twenty miles. By noou 
we came to a settlement on the border of a small river, one 
branch of the Trinity, we supposed, and there rested and eat 


some bread and meat. lu the evening we recoujioitered and 
discovered in the vicinity a large, newly settled plantation, a 
good number of horses and mules grazing around, and a large 
number of negroes about the place. Wages sent me to watch 
on the main road for the wagons, while he watched the horses 
and mules. About sunset a negro came to drive the horses 
and mules to their lot. Wages asked what his master's name 
was and what State he moved from. He told Wages his mas- 
ter's name was Smith ; and he moved from South Carolina. 
Wages asked if he was a good master. The negro said no; 
that he did not feed well nor clothe well, and that he drove 
hard and whipped hard. Wages then told the .negro, if he 
would come down that night to the ferty, which was about 
two miles off, he would give him a shirt and pantaloons and a 
dram. Wages then came to where I was stationed on the 
road, but the wagons had passed about one hour before. We 
hurried on and got to the ferry a little after dark. The wagons 
had just got over and were camped on the other bank. We 
called, and the ferryman let us over, and went to his house 
some distance off. We took supper with the wagons. After 
supper. Wages and I feigned an excuse to cross the river to 
batlie. We took with us a flask of whiskc}' and the shirt and 
pantaloons Wages had promised the negro, and crossed in the 
ferry flat. We made fast the flat, went up the bank and there 
we found the negro, true to his promise. Wages gave him the 
dram and the shirt and pantaloons. Wages then asked the 
negro if he did not want to leave his master and go to a free 
State. The negro said he did; that he had runaway three 
times in South Carolina and started to Ohio, but was caught 
every time. Wages then gave him another dram and asked 
him if iie could steal three of the best horses on iiis master's 
plantation, and bring them to that ferr}^ the next night of the 
niglit after. The negro said he could. Wages then told him, 
if he would bring the three horses and one bridle and saddle 
and go with us, that he would take him to a free State. Tbe 


negro promised to do so, and said he could do it next night as 
well as any other time, and said he had two halters to lead 
with, and an old wagon saddle. We told him we had saddles 
and bridles. We gave him another dram and let him go, and 
we wet our heads and crossed over to the camp. 

Next morning we told the wagoners that we would stoj) a few 
days in the vicinit}', and rest awhile and hunt. We went on 
two or three miles, to the border of the prairie, and took out 
our baggage, among which we had two small three-gallon kegs 
of whiskey, one full, and the other with about one gallon in. 
We paid for hauling our things, bid the wagoners adieu, and 
they drove on. We shouldered our baggage, as much as wc 
could earr}'; went a short distance from the j'oad and concealed 
it; and went back and took the rest to the same place. We 
then took our flasks full of whiskey, our two gourds full of 
water, and some salt, and went about a mile on the edge of the 
prairie, where we buili a small fire. We next turned out to 
hunt meat. We could find plenty of cattle, but were afraid to 
shoot them so near the settlement, for fear of discovery before 
we had accomplished our purpose. We hunted some time and 
finally came in view of a small grove of trees, about a half 
mile distant. Wages and I separated ; I went on one side and 
he on the other of the grove, and we found a few deer there. 
We killed one small buck, which we took back to our camp 
and skinned and barbecued him, and eat, and prepared the 
rest to take with us We laid down for a nap and awoke about 
an hour by sun; and took our things to where we had the 
others concealed. About sunset we eat our supper, took our 
bridles, lassoes, guns, and flasks of whiskey, and started back 
to the ferr3', which we reachad about half an hour after dark. 
We concealed ourselves near the landing, until about nine 
o'clock. Wages then took the fevvy flat and went over the 
river; I remained on the same side to watch. If we discov- 
ered any person we were to make the noise of the swamp owl. 

Wages had been across about an hour when up came the 


negro, with the three horses; Wages immediatlj took the negro 
and horses in the flat and crossed over. We soon put bridles 
on the horses and Wages mounted one and I mounted the oth- 
er—bare backed. Wages took the lead, the negro nest; and I 
in behind ; we both had our guns well loaded and both cocked, 
for fear the negro had betrayed us, and we were determined to 
kill with every load in our guns, if attacked. We soon arrived 
at the place of our baggage. Wages and I very soon saddled 
our horses and divided our baggage and gave a part to the 
negro. We then divided the whiske}"- and had about one 
gallon and a half in each keg; I took one and the negro one, 
and we tied them to our saddles with the ropes. We filled our 
two flasks ; Wages took our meat, and about eleven o'clock 
that night we all set out. Wages ahead, the negro nest and I in 
the rear, and I assure you we pushed from the word go, all 
that night, mostl}' through prairies. 

Some time before day we came to a settlement, and a little 
farther on we came to a small river. Knowing it must be very 
low, we determined to ford or swim. We started in; it was 
very deep. About the middle, we came to a gravelly bar. 
Wages halted, and said to us that he could see a ferry flat; he 
believed the water was very deep near the shore, and we must 
swim and try and land above the ferry fiat. He told me to 
take care of mj- gun and ammunition and to wait until he and 
the negro gat through and out. They started, and got to the 
bank. Such splashing you never did hear. Wages got out; 
the negro's horse bogged; he jumped off and took the bridle, 
and the horse got out. Wages then told me to bear up, which 
I did, and got through. We then got water, filled our gourds 
and took each a dram, mounted our horses and pushed on 
again till daylight appeared. 

Wages and I then consulted, whether to keep on or lay by 
through the day. We concluded it was safer to stop, conceal 
the negro and horses, and watch the road. We began to look 
out for some woodland, and about half an hour after sunrise 


we descried woodland to the vfest, at some distance. We made 
for it) stripped our horses and hampered them to graze; 
took our dram, some water, and eat our breakfast on venison 
without bread, and Wages took his gun and went to watch the 
road, I took my gun and went west to hunt water. We left 
the negro to mind the horses; we took our flasks; each went 
his own way. I Walked about a mile and cama to some prairie 
land, and a short distance further I saw woodland and plenty 
of cattle and horses; I knew there must be water there. I 
hunted and found plenty, but it was very bad. In searching 
around, I found a flock of turkeys and killed two and cleaned 
and Washed them there and went back to the camp. The negro 
had been tasting the contents of his keg, as he said, to make 
it lighter, aud he was pretty tight; I told him he must stop 
that until we got further off; he said he would. We made a 
lire and roasted our turkeys. I told the negro to go to sleep, 
which he did. After he had slept his nap out, I laid down and 
told him to watch and wake me about two hours before sunset. 
We then put saddles on two horses and led one, and went with 
our gourds to the water. Our horses drank some; the negro 
drank powerfully — the whiskey he had taken down made his 
coppers a little hot. We filled the gourds and returned to 
camp, where we had dried all the traveling equipage, and we 
then packed and arranged everything, ready to travel when 
Wages should return. 

About sunset he came in and informed us that no person had . 
passed the road in pursuit of us; but that two men had passed 
the other way, and if we had kept on that daj^ we should in all 
probability have got ourselves in trouble, for these men said 
they were in pursuit of two thieves who had stolen two horses 
and three negroes on the Irish Bayou, in April last, and that 
the same thieves were suspected of having poisoned the over- 
seer Oh the same plantation. They told Wages they had trav- 
eled nearl}' all Texas; they had been to San Antonio, and all 

western Texas, and could ffet no news of the fellows. Wages 
C— 4 


tlien told them that he had a family and resided about twenty 
miles from that place, on the next river they would come to, 
about ten miles below the ferry; he was looking for his horses; 
that he had removed from South Carolina; that he crossed the 
Mississippi river about the first of May, and had met two men 
witli two very good horses and three negroes, and thej'^ were 
near the river. He described the horses and negroes, and they 
declared they were the same that had been stolen. Wages 
then inquired if they had seen his horses. They said they 
had not. He then said to them : " Gentlemen, I have a little 
whiskey in my flask; will you take some ?" , They replied they 
would, if it did not disfurnish him. He told them he should 
return to a camp he had, about five miles off, where he had 
some comrades helping him to hunt his horses, and they had a 
little more there in a small jug. They drank. Wages then 
inquired of them about the country south and west of there, 
and about the roads and the water, etc. They told him it was 
fifteen miles to the first water — a lai*ge creek, but fordable; and 
that it was twenty-five miles to the next, and that was to ferry. 
Wages having obtained the information he required, offered 
them his flask again. The sun then was about one hour and 
a half high. He saw three men come riding from the same 
way we had come; the}^ were riding very fast; they rode up 
and inquired which way we were traveling. Wages told them 
he lived east of that about twenty miles; was hunting his 
horse. The other two men stated they were on the hunt of 
some stolen horses and negroes, that were taken from the set- 
tlement on Irish Ba3'ou, in April; that they had been through 
western Texas, and were now direct from San Antonio. The 
three men enquired how far the}'^ had traveled that day. They 
said from the last ferry, about forty miles. They then inquired 
if the two men had met an}^ person on the road. They replied 
no. One of the three then said that some person had stolen a 
negro and three horses from them the night before, and they 
were in pursuit of them, and they had seen signs where they 


had swam the river, ten miles baclc . "Wages then told them 
that just after daylight that morning his dog hmi awakened 
him, and he looked some distance off and saw a white man and 
a negro on horseback, traveling a new road, in a southeast 
direction, and about twenty miles southeast from that place. 
The negro had a lead horse. Then Wages described to them 
the horses (which were the same we had). They said they 
were the same, and immediately turned their course. Wages 
gave them some directions and they all left. Wages then 
hurried to our camp as fast as he possibly could. 

On his arrival I could see that something was wrong; that 
he was irritated, and, I thought, alarmed. He was much ex- 
hausted for want of water; he took a little and a dram, eat a 
few mouthfuls of turkey and sat down. He told the negro to 
catch the horses, put the bridles on and hitch them, saddle his 
own horse, and have everything ready as quick as possible. 
The negro started. Wages then said to me: "James, I am 
more alarmed now than I ever have been since j-ou and I first 
started out in Alabama. Oar situation is truly a critical and 
dangerous one, and I am at a loss what to do." He then told 
me what information he had that da}^ received, and then asked 
me what I thought it best to do. I reflected for a few moments, 
and this idea immediately occurred to me, and I said to 
"Wages: "We must cross that forty-mile ferry before daylight 
to-morrow morning." Wages studied a few moments and said 
"agreed!" and we were not long in saddling up and packing 
all things, ready to ti'avel. We filled our flasks with whiskey, 
gave our negro a good horn, and drilled him as to the mode of 
travel. About dark we left our place of concealment. 

Wages took the lead, the negro about thirty-five yards be- 
hind, and I about thirty-five yards behind him, so as to evade 
an}^ sudden surprise. We soon reached the main road, and 
Wages pushed on at a fast gait. In about three hours we 
reached the fifteen-mile creek; here we stopped about three- 
quarters of an hour, let our horses drink and blow; we go 


water, eat some of our turkey, took a dram, and gave the negro 
one, filled our gourds with water, and about eleven o'clock we 
started again. Wages in the lead, and traveled until about three 
o'clock in the morning. We saw a light near the road; Wages 
stopped and came back to me to know if ho should ride up 
and inquire how far it was to the ferry. I told him no; that 
the best way would be to go round the fire and push on, which 
vrc did, and about two or three miles further we came to 
woodland and a plantation. We quickened our pace, and 
about one mile further, a little before four o'clock, we reached 
the ferr}'. Wages told me to strip off ray clothes and he 
would do the same. We stripped, and placed the negro in the 
bushes with the horses. We swam over and were not many 
minutes getting the flat over. We put on our clothes, took the 
horses and negro, and crossed over. Our horses drank, and 
the negro filled our gourds while we were crossing. We 
landed, made the flat fast, as we had found it, mounted the 
horses and left in a hurry. 

As we got out from the river we could see the appearance of 
day. Our horses we could discover were getting Ter\' much 
fagged. There was a farm at the ferry, and so we went out 
through a lane. We did not travel far before da}', and wc 
soon reached the outskirts of the woodland and came again to 
the open prairie. Wages then stopped and said we had better 
leave the road and laj'-by again. We left the road, and went 
in a westerly direction, up the river, on the border of the wood- 
land and prairie, about two miles, and then stopped. We 
stripped our horses and hampered them, as usual, to graze. 
Wages complained of being sick; was low spirited; I told him 
and the negro to lie down and take a nap. They eat some of 
my turkey, laid down, and soon went to sleep. I took a good 
dram and eat as much turkey as I wanted, and there was but 
little left. I then took my gun and hunted around a short dis- 
tance; I found We were not more than one mile from a plan* 
tation; I saw plenty of stock, hogs and cattle, but was afraid 


to shoot one so carl}' in the da}'; I liunted around for water, 
and above the plantation I came to the river, about one mile 
and a half from where our horses were. I went back to the 
camp; Wages and the negro were still asleep; the liorses had 
filled themselves and were lying down under the shade of a 
tree. I took another dram, a little Avater and laid down to rest. 
In about an hour Wages awoke and got up; said he felt better. 
I then related to him m}- discovery; he said we must be very- 
cautious, and told me to lie down aud take a nap. I showed 
him the direction where the ■water was, and he rode one of the 
horses at a time, until he gave them all water ; he then took the 
negro and they went and killed a small beef, and about sunset 
brought in the hind quarters. We soon had a fire of wood 
that did not make much smoke ; roasted as much beef as we 
could eat; cut up the balance and dried it; took with us what 
we could conveniently carry, and about dark set out again, not 
knowing where we would get the next water. Our salt, too, 
had given out. 

We traveled that night about twenty miles before we came 
to water, and that was a small creek that scarcely run, and had 
very little timber land about it. Wages said our safest course 
would be to conceal ourselves there until he could reconnoitre. 
We remained there until near daylight, gave our horses water 
and started. We soon struck the prairie, and again turned to 
the west and went some two miles along a trail to a piece of 
woodland, where we again stripped our horses and hampered 
them to graze. We built a fire and barbecued our meat. Wages 
then told me and the negro to lie down and sleep, aud he would 
take a look around. I went to sleep, and about twelve or one 
o'clock Wages awoke me, and when I opened my eyes there 
was another man with him — a large, dark-skinned, coarse-look- 
ing fellow. Wages introduced me to Mr. James; Wages had 
known Ben James for many j-ears. James then told me that 
he w^as settled there for the same business we were in, and that 
we would be safer with him than bj going on.; b^' remaining 


with him we could rest and refresh ourselves and horses, antl 
that he would go with us to another of our clan, about one 
hundred miles from San Antonio, where our negro and horses 
would be safe until we left again for the Mississippi river. 
This other man's name was Scott, from Mississii^pi. James 
advised us not to sell the negro or horses in Texas; that there 
were pleut}^ of men in Texas who followed hunting and trailing 
theives and robbers, and that they had dogs of the blood- 
hound breed that would be certain to overtake us if they got 
after us. 

We went to James' place; concealed our horses and negro, 
and remained with him five days, during Avhich time Wages 
and I watched the road closely to see if any person passed in 
pursuit of us, particularly at the ford of the creek. 

James provided his family with meat and bread for the two 
weeks trip he intended to make with us. He advised us to 
leave the main road and go with him to the house of the man 
Scott. He piloted us through . We traveled the most of the 
way by night, and arrived at Scott's t'lC fourth night. After 
making the proper arrangement with Scott, we sent our horses 
out in the mountains and the negro to take care of them, with 
a man that Scott had employed for that purpose, for we under- 
stood afterward from James that they alwa3's had from one to 
two hundred head of stolen horses there, which it was the 
business of this man James to steal and drive and sell. We 
paid him fifty dollars for piloting us through. 

After we had rested and all things were arranged, Wages and 
I took our bridles and lassoes, with a few clothes in a small 
bundle, and left in a direction for San Antonio. It was now 
about the first of August. We traveled about twenty miles the 
first day; the weather was very hot, water was scarce, and we 
suff'ered a great deal. We changed our course so as to pass 
through a section of country where water was more plentiful, 
and on the evening of the second day we reached a setilement 
where there was plenty of water and the inhabitants were 


thickly settled. At the house of a very respectable farmer we 
stopped and inquired if we could rest two or three days, and 
were told we could. A great many questions were asked us 
about our journey, where we were from, where we were going, 
and the object of our journey; to which we answered them we 
were South Carolina planters looking for good land; that we 
were large slave holders, etc., and that we came in summer 
and took it on foot leisurely to ascertain the health of the 
countr3\ We inquired if there were any churches in the vicin- 
ity, and were told there were none, but that traveling preachers 
sometimes preached at private houses. We were then in- 
formed that there was to be a large camp meeting about the 
middle of August about twenty miles from there. We at once 
agreed to attend, because we were almost certain we should 
meet McGrath there. 

We accordingly attended, and sure enough we met that 
reverend gentleman. Through some of the brethren we ob- 
tained an introduction to the Rev. Mr. McGrath, and after the 
preliminary conversation we became yevy strict members of the 
church. We obtained a short private interview with McGrath, 
and made an appointment for a private conference that night; 
and accordingly that night, after supper, preaching and prayer 
meeting were over and the patrol was out and stationed, and all 
things were still, McGrath, Wages and I went outside of the 
patrol lines to hold private prayer. No one suspected an^-thing. 
After we were alone IMcGratli inquired what success we had 
met with, and we related to him all we had done, in a con- 
densed form, which seemed to astonish him when we told him 
we had a negro and three line horses yet concealed and not dis- 
posed of. We then inquired his success. He had made a raise 
out of the religious brethren of about one thousand dollars, by 
begging, and they had paid for four fine horses for him, which 
was equivalent to about five hundred dollars more. He would 
sell his horse, saddle and bridle, and go to his congregation 
and tell them he had been robbed of his horse and all his money 


and clothes. The people would throw into the " hat," and buy 
another horse, and fit him out with new clothes and money. 
The horse he then had was given him about fil\v miles from 
there, and if we would steal his horse and hide him the breth- 
ren would soon give him another. \Yages did this the next 
night, and concealed the horse in the woods not far from a 
plantation, where he procured green corn to feed him, about 
five miles from the camp ground. • Next day there was fouud 
a piece of broken rope to the tree, and the preacher's horse was 
gone. There was a great noise aliout it. McGrath told the 
brethren he thought he knew the place the horse would go to, 
and that he could obtain him if he had another horse. They 
furnished him with one, which he was to return if he obtained 
his own. The one furnished was a splendid young horse. 
Wages, about an hour before sunset, would stroll off and go to 
where the horse was, and water and feed him about dark, and 
back to supper and then to prayer. 

The meeting lasted four days. The night before the meet- 
ing broke up, there was another preacher's horse that went the 
same way. He was a remarkable fine, horse, and belonged to 
an old preacher who lived about seventy miles from the camp 
ground. We now had ourselves again on horseback. It was 
then understcod between Wages, IMcGrath and myself that it 
would not be safe for us to go to San Antonio, and that we had 
])etter leave Texas as soon as possible. We arranged with 
McGrath to meet us at Scott's iu three days. Wages and I 
called on some of the preachers to pra}' for us, announcing to 
them our departure on our exploring expedition on foot- 
Many of the brothers and sisters joined in this pra^-er. After 
receiving the benedictions of the elders of the church, Wages 
audi left about three o'clock. We had left our guns at a 
house about two miles distant from.jH^ camp ground. We 
took them, procured some bread' and meat, and a bottle to 
carry some water, and then went to the place where Wages had 
concealed the horses, found them safe, and more green corn 
around them than they could have eaten in two days. We 


tlien took out our bridles from oar bundles and fitted them on. 
Wages had stolen blankets with the horses, and two bed 
quilts. We arranged these to ride on, and with our ropes or 
lassoes, we made substitutes for stirrups. By this time it was 
sundown. We took our guns and looked around to see if there 
were an}' spies out. We saw no one excej>t the people on the 
farm, driving in their stock. We returned to the horses, and 
about dark set out. Wages took the lead on McGrath's horse, 
a fine traveler, and I, on the other, just walked right up to 
him. We traveled about six miles an hour and did not push. 
Before day sometime, we had traveled some forty-five miles to 
a creek, and knew we were within twent}' or twenty- five miles 
of Scott's. We laid by all next day. About sundown, we 
again started, and reached Scott's before that night. 

Long before daylight next morning, our liorsos were sent off 
to the mountains with the others. The next day up rolled 
the Rev. Mr. McGrath. We introduced him as the Rev. Mr. 
McGrath, whom we had seen in South Carolina. Mr. Scott 
and famil}' invited him to spend two or three days, during 
which time Wages, INIcGrath and I had a full consultation. 

Haying been with Wages so long, I knew his judgment to 
be superior to mine, and I knew that McGrath was wanting in 
stability; that he was too wild and uncertain in his actions; I 
therefore proposed to let Wages plan out our future course, 
Avhieh McGrath agreed to. Wages then said: "Boys, it is 
time some of us were leaving Texas — particularly James and 
I; Mac, you can remain here as a striker for us, until we get 
those negroes you have described to us. You say there arc 
seven of them — two men and their wives, one of tlion with 
one and the other with two children, and the youngest child is 
about four years old. The}^ will have to 'be carried awa^' by 
water. We never can get them awa}^ by land, and the Christ- 
mas holidays Avill be the only time that we can effect that with 

"Now," said Wages, "my plan is this: You leave here before 


we do, one or two clays, and wait for us at some point and 
pilot us through to Red river, above Shreveport, where we can 
cross with our negro and horses and land in the Indian Na- 
tion . You can then remain and preach around until Christ- 
mas; 3'ou appoint a two oi- three days' meeting for the negroes 
near Red River; pretend to prevent frolic and drunkenness, 
and about that time James and I will be on hand, with a boat 
to effect our object; and it will be polic}^" said Wages to 
McGrath, "for 3'ou to remain some weeks after we are off with 
the negroes, and meet us at Natchez or Vicksburg." 

McGrath agreed to this; directed us what route to take; 
promised that he would meet us at a river, about sixty miles 
from Scott's, on the fifth night from that time, and that he 
would wait there for us. On the morning of the fourth day 
McGrath bid farewell to Mr. Scott and family, promising to 
call and see them again, God willing. We remained two da3-s 
longer; prepared ourselves with some packs and provisions, 
and went to the mountains where our horses were. We paid 
Scott fift}'' dollars for his trouble. We packed our horses and 
led them; Scott sent a pilot with us, to conduct us through 
the mountains, a bj^-wa}^, about fort}^ miles, which we traveled 
in two days; he then put us in the road to go to where we 
were to meet McGrath, and we met him on the night appointed. 
He had all things in readiness. We crossed the river and laid 
by in daytime and traveled by night, McGrath with us. 

He would go ahead to houses, la}' b}' and sleep, and pra}' for 
the people; and tell them that he traveled of a night from 
choice, on account of the heat. On the third morning after 
McGrath joined us, we arrived at a good place, where there 
was plenty of water, about thirt3^-five miles from Red river. 
There we told McGrath to ride on ahead, get his horse fed, 
and breakfast, and then go on to the ferr}'. This he did; he 
crossed over and stopped near the landing. The ferryman 
was a negro; McGrath procured a bittle of whiskey', to which 
he had added plenty of opium, and treated the ferryman lib- 


erally. He tied bis horse up, got corn from the ferr3-man, and 
by eleven o'clock he had the ferr^-man as limber as a cotton 
rag. He then took the ferry flat and crossed over to meet us. 
We got to the ferrj^ about two o'clock, crossed over and trav- 
eled until daylight, McGrath with us. After day we turned 
off from the road to a place where some Indian families lived, 
and there bought some corn, meat and bread, and fed our 
horses and ourselves, and rested that day, and started again 
that night, McGrath with us. That night we traveled about 
forty miles; next morning we traveled until we found a place 
off the main road where we could rest secure. Here we stopped 
again Avith Indians. We procured plenty for ourselves and 
horses, and rested that day. Here we made our arrangements 
permanent, and reduced them to black and white, in our usual 
miystic character. We were to meet above Shreveport a few 
miles, on the 20th of December coming, with a proper skiff, 
prepared with provisions, etc. 

All matters thus arranged, McGrath took off his traveling 
hunting shirt and straw hat; put on his long, straight-breasted 
bombazine coat and his broad-brimmed black beaver, and gave 
us a sound of his colloquial benediction of, "Hark from the 
tombs, gentlemen," and steered his course southeast, into 
Louisiana towards Alexandria; whilst we steered our course to 
the northeast in the direction for the Washita below Jlonroe, 
some fifty miles. 

We soon got into the settlements and began to feed and rub 
our horses and blanket them. It was now September; cotton 
was to pick out, plenty-; we pursuaded our negro he had better 
pick out cotton a while, until we could sell the horses and get 
money to carry us to Cincinnati; he agreed. We cautioned him 
about answering questions, Avhich he had" his instructions how 
to answer. We hired him to a man in an obscure place on 
Black River or Bayou ; we traveled out through the country 
and soon sold our fine horses and for a fine price. We got from 
one hundred and seventy-five to two hundred and thirty dollars 


apiece. We sold all the horses before the first of October; 
they averaged us a little short of a thousand dollars. While 
selling, we met with a man by the name of Harden; he said 
he was a distant relation of John Harden. He had been sell- 
ing negroes from Tennessee; he soon made us know, and wo 
soon made him know, that we were all of the same family; we 
then conversed freel}'. He told us that he was clear — that he 
had sold out, and was overrun with mono}'. We told him we 
had one darke}' on hand; he said he would go wdth us and look 
at our negro; and did go. He told the negro that he lived in 
Cincinnati; was agent for an Abolition societv, and that he 
would like to take him there. The negro agreed, and was very 
anxious. Harden tlieu told Wages and myself that if we 
would deliver him the negro at Napoleon, Arkansas, he would 
give us one thousand dollars for him. We agreed, and the 
day was set to deliver him. Harden then told the negro that 
he had to go to Natchez, and would meet us at the mouth of 
the Arkansas river. We now disposed of our saddles and 
bridles, and took our negro and packs, and made for the Mis- 
sissippi river at Vicksburg, where we got on a steamboat for 
Napoleon. We landed, and again set our darkey- to picking- 
out cotton. Harden came in a few days, paid tlie thousand 
dollars, and took the negro. He requested us to remain there 
a few da3's. We made him a bill of sale in the name of the 
negro's master — Smith, by which name I passed. Wages 
passed as Mr. Jones and Harden by the name of John New- 
ton. • He was the same man that afterward, in 18-i;i, murdered 
old Robert Lott. Harden then went with me to take his negro. 
I told the negro that his master had just landed in pursuit of 
him, and that he must go with Mr. Newton; it was his only 
chance to escape; that if he was found we should all be hanged, 
and he carried back to Texas. He agreed, and Harden went 
up the Arkansas river about twent3--five miles and sold the 
negro for twelve hundred and fifty dollars; got a draft on New 
Orleans for his money, payable in ninety da3's; was gone only 
four da^'s, and returned to Napoleon. 


Wages and I then informed him of our contemplated trip to 
Louisiana, about Christmas, and consulted with him as to the 
mode of operation. He and VYages both agreed in opinion, 
and Harden suggested to us that the best plan would be to go 
to Cincinnati and procure a good skiff, large enough to carr}' 
twenty persons, and fit her out with six rowdocks and six 
good oars; pretend her for a peddling boat on Red 
river; lay in some whiskey, bacon, flour and other articles to 
trade upon; and have the boat towed down to the mouth of 
Red river or Bayou Sara; land the freight; take the first Red 
river boat up to Shreveport: there fit out the skiff and go up 
the river trading, until the opportunity to steal the negroes ia 

This arrangement understood, Harden proposed to join us; 
go to Cincinnati vt'ith us, and take chances. We all took the 
first boat that passed, the "Tribune," bound to Pittsburg, and 
passed Louisville and landed in Cincinnati the ninth day. We 
immediately made a contract to have the skiff built; it was to 
be ready in two weeks, and was to be large enongh to carry 
twenty-five barrels of freight, aud to be long and narrow, so 
as to row swift. During the time the boat was building, we 
made some purchases of whiskey, flour, bacon and other pro- 
duce, and during our stay in Cincinnati we all pretended to be 
strong Abolitionists, attended several private meetings, and 
formed acquaintance with several free negroes, to Vf hom we 
communicated our intention to steal the seven negroes near 
Shreveport, and bring them to Cincinnati. Thc}^ very much 
approved the idea. We then proposed for two of them to go 
wdth us and assist in bringing the negroes away. There were 
tvvo o-f them, that had been employed as stewards on board of 
steamboats, that agreed to go, and they took situations on a 
steamboat for that purpose. 

Our skiff being finished and all accounts settled, we con- 
tracted with the captain of a steamboat on which our two free 
darkies were cmplo3-ed, to take our freight and tow our skiff 


to Ba}'ou Sara. The passage was long, on account of low 
water. We arrived at Ba}-©!! Sara about the tenth of Novem- 
ber, and landed our freight and skifl'. Wages and I stopped; 
Harden and the two free negroes went on. Harden to get his 
draft accepted, and the free darkies to get on a Red river boat; 
and the}- were all to make an arrangement for a boat bound to 
Shreveport, to call and take us and our freight. 

After the}^ left. Wages went to see our old friend, Mr. Wel- 
ter, relative to the arrangement and disposal of our two free 
darkies. An arrangement was soon made, for our old friend 
W., knew the ropes too well to hesitate long. 

About the twentieth of November a small steamboat landed 
(on board were Harden and our two darkies,) which had been 
specially employed to take our freight. We shipped our freight 
and took the skiff in tow and put off. On the way up, Wages, 
Harden and I made the necessary arrangement for our future 
plan of action. Harden was to go with us to Shreveport, and 
there feign himself sick ; and let Wages and I take our two 
darkies in the skiff and our freight, and start up the river. 
Accordingly, we reached Shreveport about the fifth of Decem- 
ber, and Harden was taken sick ; Wages and I hurried our 
darkies, loaded our skiff and left for up the river. We went up 
the river to the ferry we had crossed with McGrath, and there 
we stopped. I went to selling, sometimes to Indians, some- 
lime to whites, and very often to negroes. Wages procured 
a horse and saddle and put out in pursuit of McGrath, and 
found him at the house of the old Methodist that owned the 
seven negroes we were after. McGrath was sick; had been 
ver}' sick; but was then able to walk about and take occasional 
rides. Wages and McGrath got an opportunit}' to have a 
private interview for a few minutes. They were to meet the 
next day on the road, five miles from that place. Wages 
staid all night, paid his bill next morning and left after break- 
fast, enquiring for some stray mules. McGrath started for 
the residence of a brother Methodist, some ten miles distant — 


and they both met at the place appointed and held their con- 

The negro camp meeting had been already appointed, about 
ten or twelve miles above Shreveport and about two miles from 
the river. Wages and McGrath having fully understood how 
to act, Wages told him where the boat could be found, ten 
days before Christmas, and they parted, and Wages returned. 

Accordingly^, at the time appointed, McGrath was at the 
boat. We had him and his horse provided for; he was made 
acquainted with our two f"ee darkies, and all things were ar- 
ranged and understood well that night. McGrath left next 
morning to prepare for the camp meeting, which was to com- 
mence in eight days. We loitered away our time; and two 
days before the commencement of the camp meeting, we drop- 
ped our skiff to a landing opposite the camp ground, where we 
lay trading. We had sold almost everything we had. 

On the morning of the commencement of the meeting, we 
set our two free darkies over the river, and they went to the 
place early in the da}'. Wages and I cleared out our skiff of 
all barrels, boxes and dunnage of every description, and had 
everything in complete trim, row locks, oars and all read}'. The 
meeting commenced. We had instructed our free darkies to 
what landing place to conduct these seven negroes we were 
stealing; and on the first night of the meeting, sure enough 
they all came to us. Their master had furnished them with 
two mules and a wagon, to haul their bedding, etc., to the camp 
ground, and they had brought all their clothing, bedding, and 
everything they had. The}'' informed us that they had sold 
all their poultry and crop, and had got money to support them 
for the year. They had procured another negro to drive the 
mules and wagon back to the camp ground; and by nine 
o'clock that night we were under way down stream. 



We rigged all six of the oars; one of the women pulled one 
oar and I pulled one; Wages sometimes spelled me, and I would 
steer the boat, and the women would sometimes spell each 
other, and we run at the rate of about ten miles an hour. 
About eleven o'clock that night we passed Shreveport, and 
before da^' sometime, we pas;sed Natchitoches, the point we 
were striving to make, for we knew there was a bayou about 
five miles below, where we could hide ourselves and skiff 
through the day. We put into the bayou a little before day, 
and at daylight we landed our skiff in some bushes and high 
grass, and we all went on shore in a thick palmetto swamp, 
built a good fire, cooked and cat, and drank good whiskey 
and every one slept what they wanted; and about sunset we 
left and rowed into the river again. By this time theg all had 
got them.selves more accustomed to rowing, and made better 
headway and with more ease. We run on in the night and 
lay'-l)y in the day; and the third night we reached the mouth 
of Red River and lay in the swamp tliat da}^; and the tourth 
night, about midnight, we reached Tunica, and run our skiff 
in a creek just above; made a fire in the swamp and remained 
till daylight. After daylight sometime, we eat breakfast and 
Wages and I m-ade an excuse to go to the village of Tunica to 
buy som.e cigars, and to get some eggs, etc. The negroes set 
us over with the skiff; we went down to the village and went 
to the tavern. Tiiere we found our old f:ieud, Welter, and 
Harden, and three other men whom Welter iatroduced us to as 
his friends and acquaintances, but they Were in fact his "stri» 
kers.'" Harden immediately after We left him at Shreveport. 
bad gone down tl)e river to Welter^s and informed him where 
to meet us. 

We held a consultation as to the best plan to pursue, and 
we all finally agreed that the safest and best plan was to let 


Welter take all the negroes and pay us for them. He was to 
pay Harden for the two free fellows one thousand dollars in 
cash and his note for one thousand payable in six months. He 
was to pay Wages and I for our seven negroes and the skiff 
with all the apparatus, eight hundred dollars in cash and his 
note for four thousand dollars, payable in six months. After 
this arrangement was conclnded Wages and I went to the skiff, 
took our guns to go a hunting, and then returned to the village. 
About two hours before sunset Welter took Harden and his 
three men, got a small boat and went up to the creek where all 
the negroes were, But before thej* got to the place they tied 
Harden's hands behind him to make the negroes believe that 
he was a prisoner for negro stealing. Welter and his men sur- 
rounded the camp and took all the negroes prisoners, and then 
brought up Harden tied. Welter then informed the two free 
negroes that he was the United States Marshal, and that it 
was his duty to take them and Harden back to Shreveport, 
where they would be tried for the crime of negro stealing, and 
that the punishment would be death or the penitentiary for 
life; but that he did not know that he could prove Harden 
guilty, and then asked them if Harden had been with them . 
Thc}^ declared he had not. Welter then told the negroes that 
he knew them ; that they had been stolen once before and sold 
in Louisiana, and that he knew all about them, and made them 
confess the truth. He then told the free negroes that their 
case was a desperate one; that it would be impossible for them 
to escape; and then asked them which they would prefer, to 
stand their trial or be sold as slaves for life. They said they 
had rather be sold as slaves; so he tied their feet, after putting 
them in the boat, and took in all their dunnage, and the other 
seven negroes. Upon their positive declaration that Harden 
was not concerned he was released, and a little after dark they 
rowed down to the village. Welter placed his three "strikers" 
to guard the boat and negroes, while he and Harden went on 
shore, and we all went into a private room in the tavern, where 


we executed bills of sale for the negroes, dated them in Bun- 
combe county, N. C, and signed fictitious names and witnesses. 
Welter paid us our money according to contract and executed 
the notes, after which we took a gooil supper together and 
drank three or four bottles of wine, and Welter lett us. We 
went with him nearly to his boat and bid him goed-by and 
good luck, and he rowed off" down the river for home. AVages, 
Harden and I returnedto the tavern, went to our room and to 
bed and slept very sound. Next morning we arose much re- 
freshed, and greatly relieved in mind . We went ver}' early to 
a coffee house, took a cup of coffee and our bitters, and re- 
turned to our room to consult as to the best course to pursue. 
We concluded to leave in the first boat for Natchez, We ac- 
cordingly got breakfast, paid our bills and placed our guns anel 
baggage at the nearest depot to the landing. We had to wait 
till late in theda}^ before we could get a boat. We at last saw 
one coming, and procured a skiff to put us on board. At a 
signal the boat rounded to, and we went on board, registere-^l 
our names (all fictitious) and paid our passage to Natchez. 



When we landed at Natchez we all stopped at different hotels, 
but while there, some ten days, we had interviews and consuJ- 
tations ever}- da}-. It was then that Wages and Harden made 
the plot to kill old Thomas Sumrall and old Robert Lott, and 
for that purpose Wages furnished Harden a map of all the 
roads in Perr}- county. Miss. Harden then informed us thafe 
he had a partner in Tennessee by the name of Goodwin, and 
that he expected Goodwin had, in a cave in the Cumberland 
mountains, several negroes then waiting for hin:> to run off and 
sell, and that he must go up with the first rise of water so as 
to come down with the s[)ring freshet. We all then made an 
arrangement to meet in New Orleans at a certain place on the 
Fourth of Jul}' coming, so as to collect our money from Welter,, 


and for Harden to get the money on his draft for the negro 
sold on the Arkansas river, Avhich he had deposited in bank for 

Our ten daj's in Natchez having expired, Harden and I tooli 
passage on a steamboat, Harden for Tennessee, and I for Vicks- 
burg to await the arrival of McGrath. Wages was to be at 
Vicksburg in three or four days. I landed at Vicksburg; Har- 
den went on. I went to one of tlie hotels, put up and waited 
for McGrath. On the sixth day Wages came, and went to 
another hotel, and we both waited there another week and still 
no McGrath. We began to get uneas}'. However, three or 
four days after, I was standing on the bank of the river, when I 
saw a man dressed in coarse negro clothing, black and ragged, 
an old flapped hat, a pair of old saddle-bags on his arm and a 
big stick in his hand. He came up to me to inquire the road 
to Jackson. I did not know him at first, but he soon made me 
know him. It was McGrath. He inquired for Wages; I told 
him Wages was there; I told him to go to the cheapest board- 
ing house, wliieh he did, and his appearance caused him to have 
to pay his dollar in advance. That night we all got together, 
Wages, McGrath and myself; we went below the cit}^ and had a 
long consultation. We told IMcGrath what we had done, and 
gave him a full history* of Harden and his two free negroes, and 
where Harden had gone, etc. He next gave us a detail of Ins 
voyage through the camp meeting and since, up to that time. 

He said the next day after the seven negroes had left the 
camp ground he saw their mules and wagon, and no person ap- 
peared to be about them. A xevy likely 3'oung negro watered 
and sometimes fed the mules, and on the second day he went to 
the negro and asked what had become of the negroes that came 
with that wagon and mules. The boy answered first he did not 
know, and looked confused. He then said to the negro to tell 
him the truth and he would keep the secret and not expose him; 
the negro then told him the whole ti-uth about the matter, and 
then asked McGrath's advice. He told him to take care of 


tlie mules and wagon until the meeting broke up, and then 
take them to their owner, and inquire of him whj- his negroes 
went off and left their mules and wagon so long, and not re- 
turn at all, and gire him the trouble to bring them home; and 
if any person attempted to whip him to make him tell anything 
about the matter he was to run away, and on the next Sunday 
night to meet him, MeGrath, at a certain place and he would 
tell him what to do, and to be sure and keep everything a pio- 
lound secret. 


With this understanding the meeting went on until the sixth 
day; the meeting broke up-, the negro geared up his mules to 
the wagon and rolled off; drove them to the house of the owner 
and reported himself. It was late in the night. The old gen- 
tleman told him to feed the mules, get his supper and come to 
him in the morning and tell him more about it. The next 
morning the boy told the old man that he did not know but one 
of his negroes, and that was the fellow that asked him to feed 
and water the mules a day or two, and on the third day the 
negro did not return, and he asked the advice of one of the 
preachers, w.ho told him to take them home. The old man 
asked the boy where that preacher was, nud the negro said he 
was sick at a house about six miles from there. He then asked 
the boy who he belonged to, and the negro showed him his 
"pass," which told the truth. He then dismissed the boy and 
sent him home, and about ten o'clock, McGrath said, " here 
comes the old man." He rode up to the gate and hailed, and 
inquired if Brother McGrath was there. They told him he was. 
He alighted from his horse, came into the house and said good 
morning, very short. "Well, Brother McGrath, how do you 

«' Oh, I am very sick, Brother Moore." 

"What seems to be the matter ?" 

" Oh, I have caught a cold, and have a very severe pain in 
my side; I think it is side pleurisy," 


'^' Well," said be, "did you see anything of ray^ negroes at 
your meeting ?" 

MeGrath told him: "I saw them there the first day with 
3'ou when we went. After you left, Bro*:her Moore, I don't 
recollect seeing them, and I thought you had ordered them 
home until I Avas asked bj' a strange negro what he should do 
with the mules and wagon. When I examined them I saw they 
were yours, and I told the negro to drive them to y^ou and re- 
port himself. I would have gone with him, but was too unwell 
and had to stop here." 

"Well," says ihe oid man, "y^our great meeting has caused 
me to loose seven negroes, I fear." 

McGrath said: "Oh, I hope not. Brother Moore." 

"Yes it kasl" said he ver}^ short, "and I wish there never 
had been a camp meeting in the world; and I know," said he, 
■"they are stolen, and they went by water. Some of them 
^jicayune steamboat captains have stolen them, and they are 
now in Florida or Georgia. I will go and make some inquiry 
in Shreveport, and along the river, to find out what boats left 
about that time, and," said he, "I will go to the owner of that 
negro that brought the wagon home and have him tied up and 
whipped till he tells the truth al)0ut it, for I believe he knows 
all about the matter." McGrath said he tried to pacify the old 
gentleman, but it was all no go, so the old gentleman left. 

McGrath said the times then were beginning to be rather 
■squally. He pretended to improve very- fast; was able to ride 
in tvfo days, and set out to help Brother Moore hunt and track 
Jiis negroes. On the next Sundaj^ night he was at the plaie 
where lie was to meet the negro, and the negro was there also. 
McGmth told of the threats against him, and asked him if he 
wished to run away and go with him, if he did he would find 
him a good master, or take him to a free State. The negro 
«aid he would go. McGrath asked him if he could steal a good 
horse, saddle and bridle. The negro said he could. McGrath 
then asked him if he could get over Eed river and meet him at 


a certain place on a certain day. He said he could, tliree or 
four da^'S after. 

McGratli tlien Avent to the house of Brotlier Moore to inquire 
if he had got any tidings of, or from his negroes . The old man 
was very mad and talked rery short, and said "-no," adding; 
" Mr. McGrath, I want yau to leave mj house, and never again 
set your foot in it." McGrath tried to reason with the old man,, 
but all would not do^ so he left. He had collected among the 
brethi^en some five hundred dollars or upward and a consider- 
able sum from the negroes at the camp meetinig. He then 
went to Shreveport and procured some articles he wanted (and 
among them two half gallon jugs, one full of brandy anc^ the 
other of whiskey), some bread and cheese, and crossed the 

After he got across he saw three meji come down to the ferry 
and wait for the ferr^-man-,. he watched them;, they conversed 
with the ferryman awhile and rode back. McGrath rode on, 
three or four miles, came loan inn and stopped. It was not 
night, but he had come to the conclusion novr, that it was 
ntK'cssar}' for him to watch as well as pray. A little after dark 
up ro<le three men, and inquired if a travelar had passed that 
evening, and what time — how long before dark? They were 
informed none had passed; one had put up, a little before dark.. 
The}" alighted and came in; enquired from McGrath his name,, 
where he was traveling, bis occupation, etc. He told kis 
name, and said he was going to a quarterly meeting, some 
seventy-five miles from that piace. They listened to him Vifith 
keen, shrewd looks and very doubting air, and McGrath saw 
from their manoeuvres that they were after him in particular^ 
and he well knew it would require his best skiU and ingenuity 
to evade their vigilance. They bid him good night and started on. 
IMcGrath pretended to walk out carelessly and watch them;, 
the}' turned back. 

He started next morning and traveled about thirty-five miles. 
and stopped for the night. Just before night, the same tlu-ee- 


men passed the house. Next morning, after breakfast, he 
started again, and in a few miles came to their camp. " Well," 
said one, "we have met again." McGrath said "yes," and 
asked therh which way they were going. They said to pur- 
chase beef cattle, and asked him how much further he was 
going that route? He told them he was going to a missionary 
station to see the preacher there; that it was about forty miles 
there, and he wanted to get there that night. He bid them 
good morning, road off, and traveled slow until he got out of 
their sight, and then pushed and rode about twelve miles. He 
came to a cross road that passed near where the negro was; 
here he left the road in a direction opposite to where the negro 
lay; tied his horse in a thicket some distance from the road, 
and concealed himself to watch. The men soon came to the 
place and examined for the track of his horse; they finally 
took the road which the horse's tra^ck had followed and 
pushed on. He went to where his horse was, stripped him, 
held him to graze some cane, and took a little of his good 
Ijrandy; stripped his Methodist coat off and rolled up his 
broad-brimmed beaver iu it and tied them on his saddle; and 
put on & common oiled cap, and another coat. Night came on; 
he saddled his horse and rode through the woods, near the 
I'oad, to the distance of about two miles from where the negro 
was to meet him, and ti d his horse about two hundred yards- 
from the road. After it was fully dark, he started on the road 
on foot and left his horse, for the place appointed to meet the 
negro; and his only fear then was that the negro might have 
been bribed to betraj' hiai. He had two good single-barrelled 
pistols, and would be certain to save two of his assailants and 
take chances with the balance. He went on, get within a very 
short distapce of the place appointed, crept up very close and 
stopped to listen. All was still. He discovered, a short dis- 
tance from .him, a large tree and a thick bunch of bushes 
around it. He crept easily to that, and squatted down at the 
root of the tree to listen. He thought he heard a stick crack 


or break close to him. He then gave a low whistle like that of 
a bird; it was answered immediately, within twent}- feet of 
him. He then gave another, which was as promptly answered. 
He then gave a slap of his hands, which was answered, and the 
negro advanced to him. He asked the negro if there was any 
person about, and where was his horse? The negro told him 
about two hundred yards from there. 

They started and went about half way, and McGrath stopped 
and told the negro to go and bring his horse there. The negro 
went and brought his horse. McGrath said he then became 
better satisfied that the negro was no traitor, and told him to 
go with him to the road and ride about thirt}' 3'ards behind, 
until they got opposite whore his horse was, which he did. 
They were not long in getting there. When we got to the 
place, he made a signal, and the negro rode up, and McGrath 
turned square off from the road and told the negro to follow 
him. He went about one hundred yards and told the negro 
to tie his horse and go back and watch the road, untl' he 
saddled and brought his horse. When McGrath had saddled 
his horse and returned, he found the negro at his horse, with 
everything ready to mount and be off. He asked what was 
the matter? "My God, master! we have had good luck; just 
as I v/ent up close to the road I heard horses' feet, and hid in 
'the bushes; I saw by starlight three persons the road; 
two of them I could see had guns, and if we had been ten 
minutes later we should have met thorn." McGrath pulled out 
his little jug of whiskey and gave the negro two drams and 
took one himself; they mounted their iiorses and staited. Ho 
instructed the negro to travel about thirt}' yaixls behind in 
case of surprise, so as to make his escape and save thea:i both. 

They traveled hard that niglit, and by daylight they had 
made near sixty miles. At daylight the}' left the road and 
lay-b}' that day. It happened that the negro had near a half 
bushel of corn, and some meat and bread, and ]Mc(irath some 
bread and cheese, so they made out pretty well that day. Kight 


Cime on and tlio}^ set out again, and traveled until near day. 
Thej^ arrived close to a ferr3' on the Washita. Before getting 
there, they lett the road a short distance, and McGrath left the 
negro with the horses and went towards the ferry. As he got 
near the ferry house, which he intended to go round, some 
person hailed — "who is that?'' He turned his course and 
made back for the negro and horses. He had not time to get 
awa^y before they passed in pursuit, and he heard them say, 
"that damned preacher is here somewliere, and we will have 
him 3'ct." They halted a moment, and he heard their horses' 
feet, some going back and some the other way. jSIcGrath 
mounted his horse and told the negro to follow him, and he 
took to the woods and steered a west course, whicli he knew 
was up the river, and traveled till he reached high land, and 
continued after da}- until near twelve o'clock, sometimes in 
sight of plantations, which he would go round. 

By and by he came to a road that had the appoai-anec of be- 
ing much traveled, and leading north. Here, some distance 
from the road, he halted, stripped thcir horses and let them 
graze in a cane-brake, and remained there till dark without 
anj'thing to eat. At dark tlie3' started and traveled ten or 
twelve miles, passed several houses, and came to a house and 
passed down a hill into a lane, and at a short distance came to 
high timber land, which he knew was near the river. He 
stopped and left the negro with the two horses, giving him 
instructions if an^- alarm was heard, to turn and run{liack to a 
little branch and stop till he came. He went on to t!ie river, 
and luckily there was no spy tliere, and the ferry-flat was on 
his side. He hurried back, took his horse and the negro and 
his horse, and got into the ferry-tlat and went over. They 
mounted their horses and traveled until daylight; passed sev- 
eral houses and plantations. At dnylight he found himself 
bordering on the Mississippi swamp. He turned off the road 
and stripped their horses to graze in a cane-brake. 

Nothing to eat now for two nights and one day, with plenty 


of nione_y, but was afraid to go to a house, for fear of dis- 

He went to waylay the road, saw no person pass except em- 
igrants, from whom we obtained a little bread, some salt and a 
small piece of meat. He inquired of them the load and dis- 
tance to Vicksburg. They told him from seventy-five to one 
hundred miles. He inquired if they had met an}' person on 
horseback. They said no. He then left them and returned to 
his negro and horses; found the negro had killed a large, fat 
possum, and had it cleaned and was roasting it; the salt he 
liad got then came in play. The}' cooked and eat, drank their 
licjuor, and rested that day. A little before night McGrath 
went to the road to examine if any horses' tracks passing 
toward Vicksburg could be seen. There were none. He re- 
turned and saddled his horses, and a little before sunset they 
started and traveled all night, and until next day at ten o'clock. 
They came to the Tensas Bayou, crossed at a ferry, and in- 
quired of the ferryman, who was a negro, how far it was to 
Vicksburg? The negro said about thirty miles. McGrath 
then inquired if there were many settlers on the bayou. The 
negro said there were plenty up and down the bayou on both 
sides. They left the ferry and went on a few miles, and 
turned to the west from the main road, up the bayou, along a 
new road that carriages had traveled, and went about ten 
miles— passed several large plantations. About twelve o'clock 
he came to the house of a small farmer; his horses were very 
tired, and he asked if he could get his horses fed and some 
dinner lor himself and boy. The man told him to alight; the 
horses were soon attended to, and dinner was soon prepared 
and they eat. 

IMcGrath then told the man he was from Mississippi ; the 
negro he had with him was all he had; that they were about to 
sell him for a security debt; that he had to run him to save 
him ; and that he had to travel a long distance and was much 
fatigued, both himself and horses, and that he would like to 


rest himself and horses a few da3's. This vcas agreed to. He 
then tohl the landlord that he was fearful they might follow 
him and that he did hot wish to let many people know that he 
was there. He also told him that he would like to sell his 
negro, if he could get a good master for him, and that he would 
like to sell liis two horses and go home by water, by way of 
New Orleans, Mobile and up the Tombigbee river. He also 
promised his landlord, if he would help him, and ctTect a good 
sale of his negro and horse, that lie would make him a present 
of one hundred dollars, and that the negro might work in his 
farm while they were looking around. This was also agreed to, 
and it was concluded to rest the horses a week. 

McGrath and the landlord (^Ir. Chance was his name) rode 
up the bayou to see a blacksmith that wanted to purchase a 
negro. They traveled about thirty miles ; saw the man and 
made a conditional trade witli him, to sell him the negro for 
thirteen hundred and fifty doHars, if the negro could "blow and 
strike" 'in the shop, which the negro said he could. They then 
returned to Chance's, took the negro and the two horses and 
returned to the blacksmith. He tried the negro one day and 
said he was satisfied, and paid McGrath his money. The 
negro then told his new master to buy the horse that he had 
ridden; there was no better horse in the world. The master 
inquired the price; McGrath told him two hundred dollars; but 
as he had bought the negro he might have the horse for one 
hundred and seventy-five dollars. The blacksmith told him 
he would have to borrow one hundred and twent}' five dollars, 
but he knew where he could get it if they would vrait until 
the next day; and he thought he knew a man that would give 
two hundred dollars for McGrath's horse. They consented 
to wait, and sure enough the nest morning quite early the 
blacksmith returned with the money and a man with him, who 
soon closed the trade with MrGrath for his horse, and they 
paid him the money for the two horses, saddles and bridles, 
three hundred and seventy-five dollars, making the whole sum 


seventeen hundred and twent3--five dollars. McGrath gave the 
negro one hundred dollars as a presect, and asked him if he 
was satisfied. He said he was well satisfied. McGrath ^nd 
Mr. Chance they left for Chance's residence, which they reached 
that night. 

jj'grath in disguise. 

On their wa^' down McGrath made a bargain with Chance to 
carr}- him in his little wagon to the ferry opposite Vicksburg, 
for fifteen dollars. The next da}^ he paid Chance one hundred 
and fifteen dollars; made the landlady, Mrs. Chance, a present 
of ten dollars for her trouble; and after dinner they started 
for Vicksburg landing. He told Chance he wished to travel 
in disguise for fear he might be followed, and for that purpose 
Chance procured for him a negro's old jacket and truvvsers, 
and an old flapped hat and Chance's old saddle bags ; "and in 
this garb," said McGrath, "I landed on the other side of the 
river last night and camped there M-ith my friend Mr. Chance. 
We parted early this morning, he for home, and I for this 
place; and here I am this 25th day of January, 1841, and" 
said he, "I have kept a regular diary of my travels ever since 
we parted on Red River, before the camp meeting," and he 
showed us his memorandum book. 

Now, Wages, McGrath and I had all got together again. 
We had realized over twenty five thousand dollai's b3- our hy- 
pocris}', stealing, burning and murdering. We advised 
McGrath to change his clothes and [)ut on a genteel suit, and 
procure a pair of green goggles, sp as to disguise himself, and 
we repaired each to our hotels. Ti)e next day McGrath came 
out in a new suit, with his green goggles, and we should not 
have known him ourselves, had we not been on the look out 
for him. He came to the same hotel where I boarded. We 
advised McGrath to leave in the first boat for St. Louis, where 
we were to meet him on a certain day; but each of us was now 
to travel in separate boats. McGrath set out the next day; 


two dajs after Wages left; and one day after that I took a 
boat, and we all met at the time appointed. We remained in 
St. Louis a few da^-s, and changed our clothing to that of com- 
mon laborers. 


We all took passage on a steamboat bound from St. Louis to 
Pittsburg; landed at the mouth of the Wabash, and traveled 

up that river to the town of , where we fell in 

with an old Irishman by the name of O'Connor. He was rs, 
western trader, and had two large flat boats loaded with flour, 
bulk pork, onions, potatoes, butter, some whiskey, and a vari- 
ety of other articles, to the amount of over five thousand 

With bim McGrath soon formed acquaintance, and came 
tlie '"country" over him. His brother Irishman, McGrath, 
represented to him that our occupation was that of working 
fiatboats; and that we had made many trips from Missouri, 
Indiana, Illinois and Ohio. We were not long in making a 
contract with him, to help him down with his boats. He had 
contracted for one hundred barrels of whiskey, which he could 
have if he could pa^- five hundred dollars. We advanced him 
some money and he made the purchase and gave his note for 
the balance. We put the whiskey on board the boats, and all 
things being ready we set off down the river. 

He employed two extra hands to help us down to the mouth 
of the river, where he discharged them,. We went on down, 
two hands on each boat, until we passed the shoal at Smith- 
land, the mouth of the Cumberland river, when we lashed the 
two boats together and took our watches by turns, two at a 
time. We floated all one day and part of a night, and canie to 
the mouth of the Ohio, between midnight and daylight. 

It was the turn for Wages and I to take the watch that morn- 
ing. Now, on the ^Mississippi River, all we had to do was to 
keep the boats in the middle of the stream, with a light on 


deck to guard against steamboats. The old Irishman, the 
owner of the boats, went down into a small cabin in one of the 
boats, which he had prepared for Iiimself, and laid down in his 
berth to sleep. He was much fatigued, but before he went to 
sleep. Wages proposed to him to take a dram of stewed whis- 
key punch, hot, which he knew to be a favorite beverage with 
the Irish. The old man consented, and Wages went to work 
to prepare it. We being on the alert for any and ever}?-- 
thing, had the opium read3^, and gave his bowl a full charge. 
He drank it down and praised it as very nice, and retired. We 
then prepared some punch for ourselves and drank it. We 
then went to an opposite end of the boats and held a consul- 
tation, as to who was to make wa}' with the old man, and it 
fell to my lot to strike the fatal blow! 

Oh, God ! when I look back, it makes me shudder. Even 
now it chills the blood in my veins. 

It was understood that the deed was to be committed at 
sunrise, precisel}', provided there were no boats of an}' kind 
near. Bj^ the time we had accomplished our consultation, 
daylight was making its appearance in the east, und I cannot 
here describe my feelings. Wages and McGrath discovered 
ni3^ embarrassment, and resorted to another potion of hot 
whiskey punch, whicli I drank freely. After I had drank, I 
went into the old man's cabin, armed with a small hatchet or 
lathing axe. The old man was fast asleep, lying on his back; 
I went up on deck and looked to the east, and saw that the 
sun was just making ills appearance; I returned to the little 
cabin, raised the hatchet and struck the fatal blow in the cen- 
tre of the forehead, a little above the eyes. It made a full 
dent in the skull the size of the hammer of the axe, He utter. 
a kind uf sujipressed and strangled shriek and in a xcvy few 
minutes O'Connor was numbered among the dead. 

Now the next business was to dispose of him. This, how- 
ever did not take us long, for we had some old cast iron grates, 
that had belon2;ed to a steamboat and wliich we used to set our 


cooking pots on. We took two of them and lashed thera well 
together, stripped off' his clothing and left his body naked, and 
tied a strong rope around his neck, and attached that to the 
cast iron grates. 

And oh! the awful scence that ensued! To see a fellow being 
who had been one of us so recentl3-; to see his body cast to ob- 
livion, and his soul, then departed, to that " bourne from whence 
no traveler returns." Well, or not well it was, I may say. 
Poor old O'Connor went down with about three hundred pounds 
of iron attached to him — a little below Wolf Island, not far from 
Mills' Point. 

We ver^' soon passed KeAv Madrid. On our way down the 
Mississippi we had several calls of "What boat is that":"' 
'•Where are you from?" to which we replied the "Nun Such," 
and "Red Eover," from "Independence, Mo." 

Our next business was to dispose of his clothing, his papers, 
and to so disfigure the boats that they could not be identified. 
So we took the same " hatchet," and rubbed ofl'^Non Such" 
and " Red Rover," and wrote in their place " Tip," and "Tyler," 
which in those days took well. Thus rigged put, we glided on 
gently and steadily; we had nothing to fear; we had two flat- 
boats, and they well loaded with produce, worth over five thou- 
sand dollars. 

To dispose of the boats and cargo was our next business, we 
well knowing that other boats would be down from the same 
river inc^uiring for O'Connor's boats. We therefore lost no 
time. We never stopped till we came to the mouth of Red 
river, where we halted and warped into the mouth and tied up. 
McGrath mounted his green gozzles, blacked his hair and face, 
so that I could not have known him, onh' that I was with him. 
Wages took one of our skitfs and went to Tunica, where he took 
a steamboat down to Welter's. In a few days he and Welter 
returned, and we were not long in closing a trade with him. 
He gave us four thousand five hundred dollars in his note pay- 
able the Fourth of July ensuing for our boats and cargo. One 


boat was sent down the Atchafalja bayou, and the other down 
the Mississippi to liis residence. 

Wages and Welter returned to Welter's, and McGrr-th and I 
remained to take care of the boats. A day or two after Welter 
sent four of his " strikers '" to take charge of the boats; and 
after dividing the cargoes, one of them left doAVn the river for 
Welter's with two of his men on board. We remained on the 
other until we got an opportunity to have it towed into the 
Atchafalya ba30u, and we then made the best of our way down 
the river to Welter's, where we again joined Wages. 

We there held a full consultation, and concluded to return to 
the vicinity of Mobile, lie still for a while, collect and gather 
up our money and secure it all at one place, where it could be 
easily got if we should stand in need of it at any time. This 
brought about the last of May, 1843. We went up to Natchez, 
landed there, and steered our course through the country by 
Liberty, Holmesville, Columbia, and on to Allen Brown's, on 
Red creek, in the southwest corner of Perry count}*, Miss., 
where Wages and I rested until about the last of June, when 
we started on foot and walked to Pass Christian. 

There we took a steamboat to Nev/ Orleans; from there up 
the Mississippi to our old friend Welter's to fulfill our 
engagement with Harden on the Fourth of Juh*. We arrived 
there on the 2d of July, at night. Harden had been there some 
day or two before us, dodging about rather concealed. 

McGrath was either sick, or so feigned himself. We left 
him at Brown's, and in the neighborhood. Wages and 1 often 
talked about the matter, and we came to the conclusion that he 
was fearful of meeting some of his brother Methodists on some 
of the steamboats, and had concluded to keep out of the vray. 
So Wages, Harden and I Imd a full conference relative to our 
future course of operations, and came to a final conclusion, and 
each made a short memorandum in his "diary " la our mystic 
characters on the evening of the 3d of July. 

On the morning of the fourth, Welter informed us that he 


and liis fatnily had au invitation to partake of a "public din- 
ner and ball, and that he would like to invite us, but was 
afraid of the enquiries that would be made, of "who we were," 
"where we were from," and "what was our occupation," &c. He 
said, "there have been some enquiries about boat loads of 
produce^ and where I purchased so many negroes, and I think 
we had better be more cautious for some time to come." He 
told us that he would furnish us a good dinner at his house 
and plenty of wine and liquors of the best, and we might en- 
joy ourselves until he returned nest day. We accordingly 
lived well that day and night. The old gentleman returned 
with his family next day, about ten in the forenoon, and as he 
said, much fatigued. 

"Now, gentlemen," said he, "the fourth of July is over; we 
will to business, if you are ready;" to which we replied, "we 
were like old souse, always ready!" "Now, your money is 
ready for j-ou in New Orleans," says Welter, "and I will go 
down on the first boat that passes. You must all take separate 
boats; for," said he, "the- times are squally in this region; the 
papers are full of rewards for those seven negroes, and there 
is also a reward for three men, who are supposed to have kill- 
ed a flatboat man by the name of O'Connor; and if you three 
travel together you will be sure to be arrested; I will go first 
and have your money read3^ Disguise yourselves as much 
as possible, and meet me in our rendezvous in four nights 
after to-night; and tell me what kind of money you want." 

Harden told htm "Tennessee bank note's would suit him;" 
Wages and I told him either Mobile Bank or Bank of Louisi- 
ana would do us. 

Just at this moment his waiter came to tell him there was a 
boat in sight. He left immediately for the city. I. tied up my 
head, rubbed some ink around one eye, and put ft gi'een silk 
patch over it, and took a boat the same evening; Harden the 
uext morning; and Wages the evening after, We had our ap- 


pointed boarding house, where we eat and slept in a private 
room, where no person but our kmdlord ever saw us. 

At the appointed time Welter met us, and paid us our monej'. 
Harden his one thousand dollars and Wages and mA'self eight 
hundred dollars in Mobile and New Orleans money. After pay- 
ing us all, he said: "Now, young men, let me advise 3'ou a 
little. You have done a storming business in 3'our line. You 
have met with extreme success in everything you have under- 
taken, and I do assure you that the glass pitcher, in going to 
the fountain too often, will come back broken eventually ; now 
let me advise 3^ou each to return to your homes and friends, 
collect and realise all ^-our money and exchange it into gold 
or silver coin, and have it ready for any emergency; keep your- 
selves secluded as much as possible from the criticisms of the 
community in which you reside, and the time will wear around 
when you may turn loose again; but rest assured that T shall 
have to withdraw all connection with you for the present; my 
property is ample for the support of myself and famil}' now, 
and a liberal division among them after I am dead; I wish you 
well, and hope you will act prudently for the future and not 
run too great risks " So saying he gave us each a hearty 
shake of the hand, and bid us a final adieu. This was our last 
interview with Welter. Since then we have not seen or heard 
from him. 

Our understanding with Harden was that he was to return to 
the vicinity of Mubile in the fall or ea"ly in the winter. The 
next morning early Harden, Wages and I paid our landlord and 
left; Harden up the river to Tennessee, and Wages and I went 
to the New Basin, took passage on a wood freighting schooner 
to the Ba}" of St. Louis, and up Wolf river to a landing in the 
piney woods, AVe had provided ourselves with some biscuit, 
cheese and meat. We landed and walked to Allen Brown's 
again, where we landed the second night, very tired. McGrath, 
when we returned, was over on Black creek at Daniel Smith's, 
hard up courting his daughter, IMary Smith, whom he marrieil 


the next June following. He soon got the word that Wages and 
I had returned, and came over to Brown's. 

■Now we were all eas}-, with plentj' of time to feast and frolic. 
We soon sent off to Pass Christian for flour, sugar, coffee, and 
whiske}', too, tobacco, cigars, and other little nicknacks. We 
first tried our hand at hunting deer and fishing in Red creek, 
and did kill a few deer and caught some fish, but we found 
that too fatiguing in that hot season, and we resorted to other 
means to procure our fresh meat. And the way we slung old 
Bill Griffin's fine fat heifers and 3'earlings was a caution. Their 
meat was very fat and remarkablj- fine flavored. 

We remained at Brown's and in the vicinity until after the 
middle of August, and I don't believe that old Brown and his 
family had ever lived so well in his or their lives before It 
was then that Wages commenced courting old Brown's daughter, 
whom he afterward married; and it was then that Brown made 
the proposition to Wages to go into the "counterfeiting busi- 
ness;'' and I am here compelled to say that the association of 
Allen Brown with us was the main cause of our exposure, the 
death of Vfagos and McGrath, and the annihilation of our clan, 
and the prime cause of my fate. 

Well, we rusticated at Brown's our time out, and all of us 
"were fully satiated to our heart's content, and now the time had 
arrived lor us to leave for our places near Mobile. A small 
consultation as to the way of our departure was necessary", and 
a? McGrath was a member of the church, and had made fre- 
quent visits to Brother Smith's and Brother Bounds, he could 
go publiclj- an}' way, and was to go b)' way of the back Bay of 
Biloxi to visit the brethren about Evans', while Wages and I 
prepared ourselves with three days provisions, and started one 
moonlight night — Brown with us, and two of his horses. He 
went with usab^ut thirty milesthat night, and left us in the 
morning and returned home. We lay-by that day near the 
road, and started a little before sunset and crossed Pascagoula 
at Fairley's ferry before da^dight next morning. We were 


then on our own native hills. We again laid by. The neSu 
night we crossed Dog river at Ward's bridge, and reached home 
early in the morning. McGrath arrived about ten days after 
us. Our first business was, after resting awhile, to gather all 
our money and have a correct settlement and distribution of 
our funds. 

Now it was honor among thieves! I disgorged all into the 
hands of Wages; he said to McGrath that he knew 1 had given 
up all. •' Now, McGrath," said Wages, " shell out." So Mc- 
Grath did turn out the seventeen hundred and twenty-five dol- 
lars. Wages said to him "where is that gospel money?' to 
which McGrath replied that the amount was small, and that he 
thought he ought to retain that for pocket and spending money. 
Wages then came out upon him in plain terms, and said ; "Mc' 
Grath, you came in with us upon equal terms, and if you wish 
to bulk or fly back, take your peventeen hundred dollars and 
leave, but look out for the consequences!" McGrath soon 
forked over about thirteen hundred dollars more. We had, 
when properly estimated, thirty-one thousand eight hundred 
and seventy-five dollars. This money was in joint stock be- 
tween'us three, and a proper appropriation and distribution of 
that sum was what we had next to look to. 

"Now," said Wages, "boys, we have this amount of money, 
part in possession, and the balance at command. Let us devise 
some plan to save it; this, however, you may reflect upon. Our 
next business is to get the whole in possession; when we have 
done that, our next business is to make the proper disposition 
of it. So now we have buried at one place four thousand five 
hundred dollars, and our deposits in bank in New Orleans sis 
thousand six hundred and seventy-five dollars, and what we 
now have makes our account tally; our next business is to get 
it altogether. When we have done that we must reflect well; 
and," said Wages to me, " James, I would rather that you and 
McGrath would lie down and sleep until 1 have all that matter 
accomplished, for I am fearful of your youthful iu3prudence, 


and McGrath's imprudent Irish brogue to go in blind right or 
wrong, and always come out at the little end of the horn, as 
they did at Vinegar Hill, or as Mitchell, Meagher and others 
did in their recent effort in Ireland to obtain their liberty." I 
then proposed to McGrath to give Wages the whole and sole 
control, to which he finally consented, though, I discovered, 
with some reluctance. 

"Now, boj^s," said Wages, "I wish you to consider your- 
selves upon the world until I return; and I enjoin on you not 
to commit any unlawful act during the time it may take to re- 
alize and gather together our mone3^ For the certainty and 
uncertainty of life we cannot account; we will therefore de- 
posit what money we have." So we did — in the ground — and 
each took fifty dollars for pocket monej'. 

As the whole matter was now understood, McGrath returned 
to the back Bay of Biloxi, to preaching and stealing, and I re- 
mained in the vicinity of Mobile, pretending to burn and sell 
charcoal; but in fact stealing and feeding a parcel of our loaf- 
ing and starving clan in Mobile, such as G. Cleveland, and 
some others of less importance that I could name, but whose 
names are not worth the pen, ink and paper it would take to 
write them. 

But I will now tell you all about this man G. Cleveland, so 
far as I know him. When Wages, McGrath and I were in S« 
Louis, we fell in with this fellow Cleveland. We had seen 
him before in Cincinnati, but not to form an acquaintance. In 
St. Louis he was all the time around us — he may have smelt 
us out. He was thcu selling spurious money of "New York 
North River Bank, Schommerhorn, president," and several other 
banks of this same stripe. He traveled then in considerable 
st^de, with two large leather trunks, and the}' mostly packed 
with this spurious money. His portmanteau contained a great 
varietj- of " dickeys " and "collars," and his natural appear- 
ance and address always imposed upon a person unacquainted 
with him. Wages then advised me not to have anything to do 


with him, as he was a dangerous tool; and he so advised mo 
until the da}' of his death, but not taking Wages' advice, Cleve- 
land and his concern got out ofnie some three hundred dol- 
lars, with a faithful promise that I should be defended and 
protected; that jail doors, grates or bars should not hold me; 
but that they and their friemls would burst asunder ever3-thing 
for me. Now see where his pledge falls. He and his whole 
concern will not flourish long. I have to suffer death solely 
for the want of a proper effort being made by them. I now 
leave Cleveland and the others to the mercy of their own con- 
science and the censure of the world. 

Now to our affairs. Wages had returned to New Orleans, 
with all our money, and had purchased live barrels of whiskey, 
in one of which he had placed all the money. He had pro- 
cured the whole of it in gold, and made a long, slim canvass 
bag, which he could pass through the bung-hole of the barrel^ 
and in this bag he had placed his gold, mostly sovereigns, and 
five and ten dollar pieces of American coin. After placing the 
money in the barrel he put in the bung tight, and nailed on 
the tin; shipped it as an ordinar}?- barrel of whiske}', and 
hauled it out to one of our camps, where we opened it, and 
took out the gold. We had on hand a considerable amount of 
bank notes of New Orleans and Mobile Banks. We then 
agreed that Wages should take it all, and exchange it for gold^ 
under pretense of entering land for some company in Missis- 
sippi. Wages took liis little two-horse wagon, loaded with 
pickets, and went to Mobile. The first trip he brought home 
near eight thousand <lollars in gold, which was deposited with 
the rest. I then proposed to Wages and McGrath to make the 
amount in gold, thirt}^ thousand dollars even, and bury it in 
some safe place, secure, so that we might have it for any 
emergency; and in case of the death of one of us, the other 
two were to share it; and if two died, one had all. So the 
next trip Wages made to Mobile, he brought the balance to 
make up the amount. We had three strong kegs made in 


Mobile, well irou-hooped, and we placed in each ten thousand 
doHars; filled ail the crevices with clean, white sand, headed 
the kegs up, gave them three coats of paint, and after they 
were thoroughly dry, we buried them in a thick swamp on 
Hamilton's Creek. The balance of our money we then divided 
between us equall}', which gave each share about six hundred 
and twenty-five dollars. 

To accomplish our settlement of afl!"airs, brought about the 
middle of November, 1S4;1 McGrath left for the back Ba}- of 
Biloxi, and I saw nothing more of him until after his mar- 

About two weeks after. Harden arrived at Wages' riding a 
very fine horse, and had with him a likeh' mulatto fellow, riding 
on a Tevy fine horse also, both of which he told me he sold 
to a man by the name of Jenkins. The first object to be 
effected was to kill and rob old man Sumrall. Mr. Newton 
wa^ to turn preacher and go to Mr. Sumrall's house, and by 
some means effect the object; but b}- some misstep his inten- 
tion was discovered through one of the house servants, the 
alarm was given, and brother Newton was ordered to leave 
brother Sumrall's premises. Wages and I lay in ambush, and 
had our appointed places to meet. We soon learned the re- 
sult of Harden's adventure at Sumrall's. I returned to Mobile, 
Harden went to Louisiana, and Wages, by Jasper county, to 
Mobile. We were all to meet again about the-last of Februaiy, 
on Black Creek, at the Pearliugton road. We did meet, and a 
very few da^'s after old Robert Lott was killed and all his 
money taken. This was sometime early in March, 1844. 
Wages was with Harden that night, and helped; I did not 
happen there. I met Wages next morning, at our camp, and 
he told me what was done, and turned me back. Harden and 
Wages had divided a little .over two thousand dollars. Har- 
den left a few nights after for the Mississippi swamp in Loui- 
siana, and Wages and I for Mobile, and traveled altogether in 
the night, to avoid discoverv. 



• After we got to Mobile and had rested ourselves, there were 
several complaints made to Wages and I, about the derange- 
ment of the affairs of the clan. They had, during our absence, 
elected a president pro tern. Wages went round and called a 
meeting at the Wigwam. There 'was a crowded meeting, but 
they were mostly new members, who were veiy uois}'. Wages 
then told them the object of the meeting; that it was to inquire 
into the situation of the clan; that his long absence had pre- 
vented him from attending an}' meeting for over two years; it 
was necessary to inquire into the affaiTs, and a system of ac- 
tion must be preserved in all institutions. Some of the new 
members were very clamorous and wanted to make a break 
and a raise at something; the}' had no money and must have 
some, and all such stuff." Wages then reminded them that we 
had a Vigilant Committee, who at all times had the control and 
power to report, and upon their report tlie clan would act. He 
also reminded them of their obligation and the terms upon 
which they came into the clan, and for any breach or exposure 
their life would paj' the forfeit. He then announced to the 
meeting that he would hold an adjourned meeting that night 
two weeks, for the purpose of having the minutes made up, 
and a full report from the Vigilant Committee; but, before the 
time arrived. Wages was informed that four of these members 
had come in as spies, and that Ave had traitors in the ranks. 
He then advised me of the fact, and we agreed to withdraw. 
We never visited Mie Wigwam again; but we formed a new and 
select one among a few of us, and among the new clan were 
four of my brothers — Isham, nicknamed Whin, Henry, John 
and Thomas Copeland, Jefferson Baker and Joshua Walters, all 
men of braA'ery. 

Our next business was to dispose of all spies and traitors, 
and it was not long before four of them butted their heads 
against a slung-shot hung to a man's arm, and they went float- 


ing from Mobile wharf down the channel of the river. Old 
Palmer, one of our clan, near Springhill, met up v.'ith ni}- 
brother Whin and I: he had made some exposures of our 
affairs. Our two rifles made clear lire, and we left him in a 
situation where he told no more tales. Sometime after, Tom 
Powell, another of tlie clan, made some threats that he in- 
tended to drive the Copelands out of the countr}-. McGrath 
and I waylaid him and fed him with the contents of two double- 
barrel shot-guns, about fortj'-eight buck-shot, aud put him in 
a swamp near Eslaya's old mill. Another of the clan, Jim 
Harper, attempted to betray us by deco^nng us into the hands 
of some of our enemies; Wages, McGrath and I managed to 
catch" him. We took him into an old house near the old Stage 
Stand. We then put a rope around his neck, and we A'ery soon 
squeezed the breath out of him. We stripped off his clothes, 
and left him in the old house, a prey to the buzzards; took all 
the clothes some distance off and piled lightwood knots on 
them, and burnt them. 

Sometime after McGrath was married, Wages went over into 
ISIississippi, about old Brown's, and sometimes down about 
Hone}^ Island, near Gainesville, and remained there from the 
summer of 1843 until the fall of 1844, during which lime I 
had seen him but twice, when he came over to his father's on a 
visit, in the fall of 1844. Wages and McGrath came over to 
the vicinit}' of Mobile and sent for me, and then informed me 
of the plan they were about to pui'sue. Tliat they were going 
to commence making counterfeit money; that the3- had pro- 
cured a man who could engrave their dies, and another who 
was a professed chemist and could prepare the metal so well 
that it would take a very acute judge to detect it. 1 told 
Wages that whatever he went at I was in; ''but,'' said I, "I 
feel somewhat fearful." '"Oh," said they, "we have made a 
large acquisition to our clan, we now have Jim McArthur, 
Jack McArthur, Allen Brown, Daniel Brown, Jim Bilbo and 
Wash Bilbo. We are to settle McGrath at Honey Island; 


Wages at Catahoula; Allen Brown at Red Breek, and the Bilbos 
and McArthurs are to range from Pearl Eiver to Pascagoula; 
and, said the^', "3'our party can range from Mobile to Pasca- 
goula, and you can pass horses or negroes from Georgia to 
Florida on this route through to Louisiana, without discovery, 
and so from Louisiana in the same way." I then told Wages 
and McGrath both, that I was still afraid of their new acqui- 
sition . I then proposed to them to remove our mone}' from 
Hamilton's Creek, and place it somewhere near where Wages 
was going to settle. I made this proposition because I be- 
lieved tliat this counterfeiting business would be the means of 
getting us into trouble, and that we could procure our money 
more easily from that vicinity tlian we could where it was'. 

I had I hen arrived at the age of majority' and began to have 
a more reflecting mind, and I never did have anj^ reliance or 
confidence in that money arrangement. Wages then informed 
me that he was engaged to )narry Allen Brown's daughter, but 
did not know what time; it might be a year before he did so. 
'•McGrath," said he, "is now married, and will move to Honey 
Island shortly; I shall be engaged in preparing our shop and 
arranging the materials, and making preparations for the set- 
tlement of my home." 

They then told me that Niel Mcintosh, would also be one of 
our clan, and that he would travel to and from Mobile to our 
other places, as a sp}', and look out for us. Thej' left the next 
day for Mississippi, and I saw nothing more of either of them 
for over twelve months. Niel Mcintosh made several trips 
over and back, and always had plent}- of their money, but I was 
alwa3's afraid of it. He passed a considerable amount in the 
vicinity of ^lolnle, and made something by it. 

John Harden brought three or four fine horses, one, he said^ 
from Florida and the otliers from Georgia; I advanced him the 
money and passed them on to Wages, who sold them for me- 
S. Harden made two trips to the vicinity of Mobile that year, 
one from North Alabama, and one from western North Caro" 


liua: The first trip he brought two good horses and n likel}- 
negro boy. I assisted him to sell the horses near Fort Stod- 
dart, for a fine price, to some men going to Texas. I then 
furnished him two ponies and sent- Mcintosh to pilot him 
through to Wages, who paid him for his negro and sent him to 
Pearlington, where he again embarked for Tennessee, by M'ay 
of New Orleans. 

About four months afterwards Harden returned again. He 
had two splendid horses, fine traveling equipage,"and a likoh^ 
mulatto girl about sixteen ^ears old, dressed in boys clothes, 
traveling with him as his waiter. He said he had traveled 
through Georgia and Eastern Alabama to Blakely, and crossed 
the Bay over to Mobile, and came out to oui." place. He told 
us he feared no pursuit; that he had traveled too far, that 
there was no danger. I assisted him in selling the two horses, 
in Mobile, and saw them often afterwards. They were fine 
buggy horses. The girl he sold to a man in Mobile, who kept 
her as a wife, and she now passes for free. He had stolen her 
from a rich old widow \iu\y in North Carolina, who had sent 
the girl on an errand, on a Saturday morning, some tweut}"- 
five miles on the same fine horse, to return on Sunday evening, 
and she never did return. 

In these two trips of Harden's he gave me five hundred dol- 
lars for my assistance. I then assisted him to steal a very fine 
horse on the Tombigbee River, for which he gave me fifty dol- 
lars more, and left for Tennessee. This had pretty well con- 
sumed the fall of 1S45. 

In December, Wages came home to his father's; sent forme; 
told me that he vvas going to get married shortl}', and invited 
me to his wedding; I promised him I would go if my business 
did not prevent me; but it so turned out that he did marr\- a 
short time after, and I was not present. After his marriage, 
he brought his wife to see his father and mother, and spent 
some weeks with them. He had with him plent}' of counter- 
feit coin, and wanted me to take some and pass for him. That 



I refused to do, and I then advised him that it would be hotter 
for us all to let that alone; and then reminded him that when 
there was none but him, McGrath and I together, that we 
could get along to better advantage, do a more profitable busi- 
ness and had a wider field to operate in. But he seemed to 
think that the}' could manage to get along; and I found from 
his conversation that old Allen Brown had got control of him, 
and I said no more on the subject. I told him frankl}- that 
their money I would have nothing to do with; but in other 
matters of stealing and selling horses, negroes and cattle, I 
would take a hand as heretofore, to which he assented, and 
here we dropped the subject for the present. I again urged 
upon him the removal of our raone}'. I dreaded an outbreak, 
for I then believed that old Brown would blow the whole mat- 
ter; and sure enough he afterwards did. 

So Wages and his wife left, and went back to Mississippi, to 
old Brown, and he went to work building his house on Cata- 
houla, in Hancock County. He got it completed; moved 
into it; took his hoi'se; ctmie again to Mobile; procured his 
father's two horse wagon to haul some articles for house-keep- 
ing fiom Mobile, and on his wa^- back I went v.ith him, the 
first night, and we camped near where our mone^' was buried. 
We went and got the three kegs; placed them in the bottom of 
his wagon, covered them with hay and placed the balance of 
his load on them. He hauled them out to Hancock county, 
and deposited them in Catahoula Swamp, about a mile and a 
half or two miles fi'om his house, and designated the place bv a 
large pine tree that grew at the margin of the swamp, to the 
north-east, and about thirtj'-flve yards from where the kegs 
were deposited, and a magnolia tree that grew about ten jards 
to the south-west. He gave me a diagram of the place, the 
courses, and distances which he had measured accuratel}', 
marked in lines and explained in our m3'stic kc}'. That paper 
I somehow lost in the famous Harvey battle. . 

So it was Wages left and went to his place. Now he and 


his ci'owcl Were for themselves, and me and my crowd for our- 
selves. My crowd consisted of myself, and four brothers, Josh 
Walters, Jef. Baker and old Mcintosh, our outside striker, to 
run stolen horses or a negro, when required. Our range was 
from Mobile to Pascagoula, and from the Sea Coast to St. 
Stephen's. We fed ourselves and families upon poi'k, beef 
and mutton, in abundance, and we sokl enough in the market 
to pay us from fifty to one hundred dollars per month — Home- 
times ready butchered and sometimes on foot, during the sum.' 
mer and fall season . Those we sold the meat of, v/e generally 
stole in the vicinity of Mobile. Old man Wages had a farm 
on Big Creek Swamp, about twent3^-five miles from Mobile, in 
rather all obscure place. That was our place of resort and de^ 
posit, and many a stolen beef and horse has been concealed 
there until we could dispose of them. 

We continued that business during 1845, 1846, and until the 
5?ammei' of 1847. We liad stolen a small drove of cattle out 
near Chickasahay, and in driving them we gathered a few 
head near Mobile, belonging to old Moses Copeland. We sold 
the cattle. to Bedo Baptiste, who paid m}^ brother Hcniy and I 
for tliem. We claimed them; Whinn, or Isham and John 
helped to drive, but received none of the money. M^^ brothers 
Henry and John, and Isham or Whinn, were arrested and tried, 
Heniy was convicted of the larcen}' and served two years in 
the penitentiary of Alabama. Whin and John were acquitted; 
I took to the bushes. They did not catch me that hunt, and I 
lay In tlie woods and was concealed among my clan the balance 
of that summer, most of the time at old Wages', on Big 
Creek, \valtlng for Gale Wages to come so as to make a settle- 
ment with him, and to close my business and leave the country. 

The time passed on slowl}-. I stopped all further operations 
until I could hear from Wages and McGrath, and, lo! some 
time late In the fall up rolled Wages and old Brown, and sure 
enough old Brown, as 1 had anticipated and expected, had 
blown the whole concern. He had gone into the little town of 


Gaiuesville and passed a few dollars of their money for some 
small articles of trade, where the old fool might have known he 
would be detected; and sure enough he was. Now the next 
step was for him to get out of the difficulty, and when asked 
where he got the mone}', he said " from Bilbos." The}- were 
arrested and brought up, and he swore it on to them, and they 
had to give bail to answer the charge of passing counterfeit 

Bilbos then swore vengeance against Brown and Wages, who 
had pulled up stakes and were leaving Hancock county, and 
Mississippi, too. The Bilbos pursued them, and passed them 
some way; turned back, and the parties met suddenly on a small 
hill. While one party ascended on one side the other party 
ascended on the other side, and botli parties were witliin a few 
paces of each other at first view. Wages had the advantage of 
them; he had his double barrel gun well loaded and fresh caps 
on; Bilbos had their rifles well loaded and fresh primed, but 
they had a rag over the powder in the pan to keep itdr}-. These 
rags they had to remove before they could fire. Wages im- 
mediately fired and killed one of them dead, and then fired at 
the other before he conld get ready to shoot and broke his 
thigh. From some cause Bilbo's horse got scared and threw 
him to the ground, and he immediately begged for his life. At 
first sight of the Bilbos old Brown ran, so Wages said. 

Now it was that Wages and Brown both had to make their 
escape the best way they could. The}- came to Mobile, and 
there they were on the scout, as well as myself. McGrath was 
so well identified with them that he was watched ver\' closely 
about Gainesville. He got into some corn stealing scrape, and 
broke into Hancock jail, and nothing but the gold or silver 
key ever turned him ovit. He and Wages happened to have 
a little of that, and he and his wife then left Hone} Island, and 
were at Daniel Smith's, on Black creek, in Perr\- county. So 
it was Brown and Wages managed to get their families, and 
McGrath and his wife back into the vicinity of Mobile some 
time in November, 1847. 


Wages and McGrath bad veiy near got through with all 
their money. McC4rath, in particular, had none, only as he 
borrowed. Wages had some, but had spent a large amount in 
• feeding and clothing old Brown and his gang. Wages and his 
wife remained on Big creek at tlie old man's place, and T the 
greflter part of the time with him. Brown and McGrath moved 
down oa Dog river, near Stage Stand, i)retending to burn coal 
and cut wood to sell, but they were in fact stealing, for the}'' 
had nothing to eat and but little monc}'. Brown had sold his 
possessions in Perrj' count}' to Harvey, and liad received all his 
pa}' but forty dollars. He had represented his land to be saved 
or entered land, when it was public land, and Harvey refused 
to pay the forty dollar note, and that same pitiful note, and 
Brown's rascality and falsehood cost Wages and McGrath their 
lives, and Harvey and Pool their lives, and have placed me 
where I am. 

Wages and I while on Big creek held a consultation as to our 
future course. Wages then sorel}' repented any connection that 
he ever had with old Brown, " and," said he, "I intend to get 
away from him, for I am fearful the old fool will get drunk and 
tell everything he does know." We then concluded our best 
wa}^ was for Wages to take his horse and cart, take old Niel 
Mcintosh with him, and his wife and child, and start west and 
travel in the vicinit}' of Pearl river; there leave his wife; take 
the cart and horse and he and Mcintosh to travel down Pearl 
river till they came opposite Catahoula; then turn in and get 
our money, and cross the Mississippi river; send Mcintosh 
back to let McGrath and I know where to find him, and for us 
to slip off and go slyl}', and not let Brown know where we were 
going, "and." said Wages, " if I can manage to rob old Tom 
Sumrall on my route and make a raise, so much the better. 
And you and your crowd may manage to make a raise here be- 
fore you leave." 

96 LIFE AND cAnEER "o:^ 



The same day Wages and I were cousnlting thus, irty brother 
John Copeland came to bring me some clothes, and he informed 
me that it was reported that old Ell Maffitt held a large amgn.nt 
of money, and that there Was a project on foot to rob him and • 
burn his house the first good opportunity; that Maffltt had 
taken a contract to build a'bridgein Perrj'^ county, and would 
shortly leave home, and that Ell Myrick was to let the party 
know what time Maffitt commenced the bridge and would be 
absent from home. I then told Wages what was on foot. He 
then said "let me leave home about three days before, and I 
will try on the same night to rob old Sumrall and burn hia 
house." In a few days Myrick came down and told us that 
Maffitt was up in Perry county, and would not be home in two 
weeks. Wages immediately geared up, and started with hi3 
cart, his wife and Mcintosh. Three nights after that Allen 
Brown, McGrath, John Copeland and I went to Maffitt's just 
after dark, about seven o'clock, on the night of the 15th of De- 
cember, 184? . Eli M3'rick did not go with us, because he said 
Mrs. Maffitt would know him too well, but he was in the secred 
and shared his part of the money. 

On getting near, we stopped to consult as to the safest way 
to get the moae3\ Some were for robbing the house and not 
injuring any of the famil\'. That I opposed, for I never believed 
in leaving any living witness behind to tell what I had done, if 
there was any way to prevent it. I always thought that two 
persons were enough to keep a secret, and it was safest If one 
of them were dead, for dead witnesses give no evidence. 1% 
was agreed that we should go into the house and demand the 
monc}', and if given up, to leave the inmates peaceably and un^ 

John and I went in with a very stern look, thinking we could 
fljghten the old lady, and make her give up every dollar that 


Was in the house. But we were as sternly and peremptoril}'' 
refused. The old lady sa'd that she knew nothing about the 
mone}', and if she did, that we would not get it ; we then told 
her that we had come after money and that money Vi-e would 
have before we left that house, or her life ; and she still brave- 
ly defied u^ John Copeland had in his hand a large hickory 
stick and I had another. Perceiving that she was determined, 
and our only chance to get the money was to kill her, while 
the old lady and I were quarreling about the money, I gave my 
brother John the wink, and -he struck her a blow on the head 
which felled her to the floor. He repeated the blows, and I 
hit her several blows. We were then certain that we had killed 
her. We then commenced plundering the house, in search of 
the money* and we ransacked the whole house from top to 
bottom, but the amount we did find was small. I do not re- 
member the precise amount we got, but it did not exceed two 
hundred dollars, and to our great displeasure we afterwards 
found out, that there was a large amount of gold and silver in 
the house at the time, that we did not find. 

After we had plundered the house to our satisfaction, of all 
the money we could find, and each one of us had his load of 
the most valuable articles about, we set the house on fire and 
burnt everything up, together as we thought with Mrs. Maffitt 
who we thought was dead, and we left with a full conviction 
in our own minds that she would be burnt in the house. When 
I afterwards learned that she was not dead, I often wondered 
at her providential escape. 

The gold and silver we had overlooked, was all melted, and 
I understood that MafFitt afterwards took it to Mobile and 
disposed of it. 

Wages, in his adventure, was not so successful as we vrere. 
On the same night, he and Mcintosh camped near Tallahala, 
not far from old Sumrall's and in the vicinity of Bryant Bar- 
low's. Barlow happened to pass their camp early in the night 

and discovered Wages, He raised a company and gqt after 


Wages, themselves and dogs, and Wages had to leave and take 
the woods for home again. Mcintosh and Wages' wife turned 
back "for Mobile on the Big Creek place, where they all landed 
about five da3's after. Thei'e we were all in the vicinity of Mo- 
bile again ; Wages had made a water haul and we had done 
worse. Wtiges was laying out. Brown and myself were in the 
same situation. It became necessary for Wages, McGrath 
and I to hold a private consultation, relative to our future 
operations, and to devise some plan to get rid of old Brown. 
We could see no way to do that, unless it would be to lie to him 
and frigliten him to leave, which we did. Ouriicxtplan was to 
manage to get our money from Catahoula, and deposit it about the 
Ba}- of St. Louis, near the sea coast, where we could get it on a 
boat. Wages and McGrath were to attend to that matter, and 
I was to assist Brown over the Mississippi. So wages went to 
Brown and told him that there was a reward for both of them, 
and said ho, "I am going to leave, and you had better do the 
same, for Maflitt has a crowd now on the look out for us." 
Brown had but little money. He then enjoined it upon Wages 
to take Harvey's note and give him the monej' for it. Said he, 

"if he won't pa}^ the note you and McGrath kill the d d 

rascal." So saying, Wages gaA'e him the money for the note, 
and loaned him sixty dollars more, and then told Brown that 
James Copeland would go with him and assist his famil}- to 
travel, while he, Brown, could dodge before and behind. So 
the matter was understood, and in a few nights Brown rolled 
off and crossed Dog River at Ward's bridge, where Wages, jNIc- 
Grath and I joined him; I took charge of the teams and family, 
and Brown took his rifle and to the woods, mostly in the day- 
time. We did not want for fresh meat; Wages and McGrath 
left for Catahoula by way of Harvey's, and crossed at Fair- 
lej-'s ; we crossed at Robert's and old Green court house, and 
up Black Creek, on by Columbia, Holmesville and so on to the 
mouth of Red River. After crossing the Mississippi, I loaned 
old Brown twentj'-five dollars more, bid him good-by and re- 
turned 'to the vicinitv of Mobile. I was gone over four weeks. 



On my way back I learned at Black Creek, ot the death of 
Wages and McGrath. The}- had got into some difficulty with 
Harvey about the forty dollar note, and he shot and killed them 
both. This news sounded in m^- ears like thunder; and so as- 
tounded was I that I lost for the time all my senses. How- 
ever, after a little reflection, I began to think over my situa- 
tion, and a thousand thoughts hurled through my brain. Al- 
most instantly, it seemed that ever}' crime I had ever commit- 
ted in my life was then pictured before my eyes and the awful 
consequences attending them. The object, for which I com- 
mitted them, was mone}-; and it was now doubtful whether I 
should ever obtain that, or not. Upon further reflection, I 
recollected that Wages had given me a diagram or map of the 
place where our, now my money was hidden, and a direction 
of the course so that I certainly could find it. Stimulated with 
the idea o( being worth thirty thousand dollars, 1 began to 
cheer up and returned home. 



The first thing was to procure my map or diagram, which I 
did. I found all my friends grieving. The first word asked 
me by old man Wages and the old lady was; "What are you 
going to do, James ? Are you not going to seek vengeance on 
that Harvey '?" Both then said to me, "James we will give you 
one thousand dollars for Harvey's scalp, if you will kill the 
rascal or have it done." I then told them I would see some 
of my friends, and let them know in a short time. 

A short time after that I received a notice to attend a meet- 
ing of the clan, at our Wigwam in the city, on a certain night. 
So I disguised myself and went into the city and attended, and 
in that meeting I met several officers of the city, such as con- 
stables, deputy sherift*, etc., who all told me not to be afraid ; 


that there would be no exertion to arrest me. There were a 
number of resolutions passed commemorative of the demise of 
our departed friends and brothers Gale H. Wages and Charles 
McGrath. After the adoption of these resolutions, I then rais- 
ed the question before the meeting as to the propriety' of tak- 
ing up with old Wages' offer; and after explaining that offer to 
the meeting, it was unanimously approved; and I was nomina- 
ted to head and lead the band on that expedition, with power 
to select as many, and just such men of our clan as I thought 
necessary. So I selected Jackson Pool, Sam. Stoughton, John 
Copeland and Thomas Copeland. I selected them because 
they were good woodsmen, and I knew that Pool and Stough- 
ton were brave. 

After I had made the selection, I called them all together 
and we held a consultation. It was agreed that we would go 
and make the trial on Harvey ; but that we must have five hun- 
dred dollars from old Wages in advance. I went to old Wages, 
and told him what was our conclusion. He hesitated at first, 
and offered to give us security- that the money should be paid 
when we had done the job ; I told him, "no ! it was a danger- 
ous undertaking, and we must be paid something to start with." 
Finally, after consulting with his wife, he agreed to give us the 
five hundred dollars. Our only business then was to prepare 
ourselves with the best of double-barrell guns and pistols and 
bowie knives, with plenty of ammunition and percussion caps 
of the best quality, and thus armed and equipped we were 
ready for our journe3\ 

Now I had a two fold object in view ; that was, to go on to 
Catahoula, and search for my money, and for that purpose I 
took with me my diagram or map. The old man forked over 
the five hundred dollars, and we made ready for the start. 

On Sunday morning the 8th day of July, 1858, we all set out 
from Wages' place on Big Creek, where we had assembled for 
that purpose. We had not traveled far' before Thomas Cope- 
laud was taken sick and turned back, at Dog River. We then 


traveled on by Fairley's feny, the O'Neal settlement and hy 
James Batsou's to Harvey's place. We traveled leisurel}' and 
camped out ever}- night. We did not stop at any house after 
we left Pascagoula, and we reached Harve3^'s place earl}^ in the 
da}' on the Saturday following. I was well acquainted with 
the place for I had been there with Wages and McGrath when 
Allen Brown lived there. 

We found the house empt}', but from appearances we judged 
tliat the farm was cultivated. We saw signs of foot steps 
about the house and yard, from which we inferred that Harvey 
was in the habit of coming about there daily. Our next 
business was to prepare for action. We went into the house 
and made many port holes on every side, so that we could 
shoot Harvey, let him approach which ever side he would. 
Our next business was to examine around the premises for his 
path, and place a sentinel there in ambush for his arrival. 
This sentinel was cautiously relieved ever}' two or three hours, 
whilst the balance of us remained close inside or about the 
house, eating figs, peaches and water melons and destro^'iug 
more than we eat. 

In the afternoon we began to get hungry' ; I proposed to the 
balance to go over to Daniel Brown's, about a mile and get 
some bread and meat for us all. Pool and Stoughton objected, 
and said, "there is plenty of green corn in the field; let us 
make a fire and roast some of the ears and eat here." I then 
objected, and told them that if Harvey discovered a smoke in 
the house he would take the hint, and give the alarm, and that 
we should have the whole of Black and Red Creek down upon 
us. They still persisted, and Stoughton went into the field, 
gathered about twcnt}' ears of the best and greenest corn and 
brought them into the house. Pool went out and brought in 
a load of wood and made a large fire and they roasted their 

That was precisely what betrayed us — the smoke issuing 
from the chimnev of the house. 


After the com was roasted, we all eat heartily ; John Copelanci 
was on guard ; Pool took his place, and John came in and eat. 
A little before sunset it was Stoughton's time to relieve Pool. 
My brother John proposed to Stoughton to let him relieve 
Pool, and for Stoughton to take the next watch around the 
house. So it was agreed, and Pool came to the house. 


Awhile after sunset, Stoughton, Pool and I were sitting on 
the gallery, talking very low, about the way we should have to 
manage. We were fearful Harvey was not at home, or had left 
the country. Some of us were eating figs and some eating 
l)eaches. All of a sudden our attention was arrested by a large 
white fowl, which passed through the yard some fifteen or 
twenty yards from us. It was a kind of fowl that I had never 
seen before, nor had either of m}' comrades, as they asserted. 
It walked some ten or fifteen yards; we rose to get a more 
minute view, and it took fl^ight and ascended, until we lost 
sight of it in the distance. This seemed to strike Pool with 
terror and amazement, and he reflected a few minutes and said, 
"Boys, I shall be a dead man before to-morrow night! That 
is an omen of my death !" 

Stoughton laughed and said to Pool, that if be was a dead 
man he would make a very noisy corpse ; but Pool still in- 
sisted that it was a signal of his death, and urged hard that we 
should leave that place, and retire to one more secluded. "I 
did wrong," said he, "in making fire in the house." We tried 
to laugh him out of his predictions, but all to no purpose ; and 
sure enough, as he had conjectured, before the next night he 
was a corpse. 

Just before dark, Stoughton went to where brother John was 
stationed, and they both remained until after dark ; they then 
came up to the house, and Stoughton mounted guard. All 
this time Pool appeared to be in a deep study and had nothing 
to sa}^, appeared dejected and low spirited. We all hud down, 

Tnic Famous Hauviv Uattli;.— [Si'c puge Ido. 


except Stoughtoa, to tiy to sleep ; I could see Pool and John ; 
they could not sleep. The moon rose two or three hours before 
da}', and I got into a doze several times and each time the most 
huge serpents would be after me, that I ever beheld. This 
would waken me, and finallj^ I got up and walked about ; I 
found Pool was up. Stoughton said he could not sleep, and 
brother John got up and said he could not sleep. "We then con- 
sulted together and Pool was for leaving the place before 
day. Stoughton ol)jected, and said, "Let's wait until eight or 
nine o'clock in the morning; after Harvey gets his breakfast he 
may come to the orchard for fruit. If he docs not come by 
this time, we may leave." 

Daylight made its appearance not long after that, and short- 
1}' after the sun "rose, and poor Pool said after the sun had 
risen aljove the horizon : "How beautiful the sun looks this 
morning; the sky looks so pure, clear and serene!" Poor 
fellow ! it was the last sun that he ever beheld encircling this 


The time passed on until between eight or nine o'clock. 
We were all out in the yard, eating figs and peaches ; John 
Copeland all at once cried out : "Boys, there comes a young 
army of Black Creek men !" "We all dodged into the house. 
Pool seized his gun, and says, "boys take your guns!" I said to 
him, "they will not trouble us ; they are a company out hunting, 
and are coming in here for figs and water melons and other 
fruit; they are not in pursuit of us!" "Yes the}' are," said 
Pool, "and I will sell my life as dear as I can !" So saying he 
cocked both barrels of his gun and pistol and eased his bowie 
^ knife in the sheath. 

We had given no instructions, only to be silent and remain 
still. They seemed to separate and go in different directions. 
On coming near the house, some one of their company hailed 
to the balance, "come on, boys, here they are!" "There!" 


said Pool, " I told ^-ou so." So soon as we heard this, we knew 
that we had been discovered, and that it was to kill or be 

I made m}' escape out of the house the first opportunity I 
saw, dodged around a big fig tree, and looked back a moment 
at the house. Pool was standing in the door with his gun at 
a poise. Harvej' came round the corner of the house, on 
PooFs right, and jumped into the gallery; Pool immediately 
fired, and struck Harve}' in the left side. Harvey immediately 
squared himself and shot the contents of his whole load in 
Pool's side, and fell on the gallery. Pool stepped into the 
yard, and another man shot him in the breast, and he immedi- 
ately fell dead. 

At this moment Stroughton and John Copoland jumped out 
of the door and ran; I wheeled immediately as the crowd 
rushed, around the house, and ran. - At the report of the next 
gun, the shot whistled all around m}' head, I then heard sev- 
eral guns. It appeared to me there must have been five hun- 
dred at that moment; and I have no doubt that I made the 
best running there that I ever made in my life before. In fact, 
it seemed to me that it was no trouble, that I never touched 
the ground, but flew over it. 

After I had got a sufficient distance from the place, and found 
I was not pursued by any of their partj^, I stopped to reflect to 
mj-self, and wondered what had become of Stcughton and my 
bother John. Pool, I knew, must be dead, for I saw him fall, 
and the blood gush from the wound. I felt almost certain that 
Stoughton and my brother John were both killed also, from the 
number of guns I heard fired, as I thought. 

It was then that I more seriously meditated on my situation 
than I ever had done before, and wondered to myself what I 
should do for the best. 1 felt very sad, and thanked mj' God 
for my providential escape, believing that all the rest of mj- 
comrades were in eternity. But after I had thus meditated 
and reflected upon the past, I felt that I deserved death, when 


all my crimes again stared me full in the face. I then formed 
a stern resolution within mj' own breast, that if God would 
permit me ever again to reach my home, that I would refrain 
from all my evil ways, and become a Christian, believing that 
God had been mercil'ul to me, in preserving me, and hurling 
ni}^ comrades and associates into another world. 

After a while I became more collected and concluded I would 
go over to Daniel Brown's, who, I knew, did not live far from 
that place. I had been there but a short time when my brother 
John came up, bare-headed, and mud above his knees, where he 
had run through a muddy reed-brake. He called me to one 
side, and in a few words he told me that Stoughton was not 
killed, but Pool was, and that our enemies had left there. He 
saw them carrying Harvey away, and he thought Harvey was 
dead; that we had better go over and do something with Pool' 
and get Stoughton, and leave. 

This was on Sunday-, the 15th of July, 18-48. Several per- 
sons had accidently happened in at Brown's that day. I went 
into the house and told the company what had happened over 
to the other house, since I left; that there had been some 
shooting done, and that Pool was killed, and I expected Har- 
vey was; that wc were on our way to Honey Island, and 
stopped there for the night; and that I had come over to 
Brown's to get some bread baked, and that it had all occurred 
since I left; and that I would like to go over and do something 
with Pool, and see if Stoughton was killed. A number of per- 
sons went with us to the place, some ladies among the rest. 
^yhen we got there we found Fool lying dead. We laid him 
straight on his back. I recollected that he had some money, 
and I soon sounded his pockets, and obtained one hundred 
and tweut}- dollars of the money I had given him. There was 
a five dollar gold piece missing. I took all he had. As he 
had other means, I knew that the mone}' would do him no 
good then. I went into the house and got John Copeland's 
hat, and went down to the side of the swamp and called 


Stoughton, and he came out. We were then alltogether again, 
except Pool. 

We gathered our guns, returned to Brown's, eat dinner, and 
left for home. But in the aflraj' I had lost my memorandum 
book, and in that book was the diagram or map and directions 
where to find the money which belonged to Wages, McGrath 
and myself; I hunted for it diligently, but could not find it. 
It certainly went in a very mysterious way, and I have often 
since thought that the decree of Justice forbid me enjoying 
that money. 

After wc left Brown's that day, we traveled on the same 
route we had come. We slept in the woods that night, and 
next day we got something to eat at Peter Fairley's, and so 
continued our journe}^ on home, where we arrived on Sunday, 
the 22d of Jul}^ having been gone just fourteen da3's. When 
we arrived, old Wages was highly pleased that Harvey was 
killed, and he and the old lady very promptly settled with us. 
He paid us otf with his place on Big Creek, in part, and the 
balance in hogs, cattle, pony horses, carts and farming tools 
and utensils. My father and mother, with the familj', removed 
to the place. 

In a very little while after that, the times began to be very 
squally . Old Wages and his wife had to pull up stakes, take 
their negroes and leave the country, at a great sacrifice of their 
property. I was already an outlaw; my brother John now be- 
came one with me. Stoughton, like a fool, as he was, took a 
yoke of oxen, or some cattle, which he had received from Wages 
in part pay for his services, to Mobile for sale. While there, 
he was arrested and put in jail, under the requisition of the 
Governor of Mississippi, and conveyed from Mobile to Perry 
county, where he was tried and convicted twice. The first 
conviction was reversed by the Appellate Court, and while in 
prison, waiting a second hearing, he died. So went another 
of our clan to eternity. 

I still continued laying out and hiding myself from place to 


place, fully intending to leave the country just as soon as I 
could settle my business; and I even made several appoint- 
ments of times that I would go, but some way, or somehow, 
there appeared to be a supernatural power which controlled my 
every action, and I could not leave the vicinity of Mobile. 

During that fall and winter my brother John and I made 
two trips from Big Creek to Catahoula to hunt for that mone}', 
and the last trip we made I was prepared to leave. Brother 
John had left the principal part of his money at home, and had 
to go back after it, and he prevailed on me to go with him. We 
returned to tlie vicinity of Mobile, where I loitered away my 
tim.e for some month or two, and it seemed that my mind in 
some way became confused and impaired, and I took to drink- 
ing too much spiritous liquors. One day, some time in the 
spring of 1849, my brothers John, Thomas, Isham or Whinn, 
and I were at a little grocery store near Dog river, about twelve 
miles from Mobile. I drank too much spirits and became in- 
toxicated, and in that situation I imagined every man I saw 
was trying to arrest me. I fell in with a man by the name of 
Smith, an Irishman, and a difficulty occurred between us; I 
concluded that he intended to arrest me. I drew my double- 
barrel shot gun upon him and intended to kill him. He was 
too quick for me; he threw up my gun, drew his dirk and 
stabbed me just above the collar bone. The wound did not 
quite penetrate the cavity of the chest, or it would have killed 
me; I threw down my gun and ran about two hundred yards and 
fainted. My brothers then carried me about two miles, and one 
of them went home and got a carriage and took me home. Smith 
went to Mobile and told the news. A party came out and 
tracked me up by the blood, and arrested and carried me to 
Mobile jail. 

I was now in the worst situation I ever was in in my life. 
One indictment against me in Alabama for larceny, and another 
against me in Mississippi for murder, and the requisition of 
the Governor of Mississippi then in the hands of the officer to 


cany me there to be tried. The question was which trial to 
avoid; if found guilt}', as I felt certain I would be, in both 
cases, one would be the penitentiary for not less than four 
years, and the other would be hanging. I employed the best 
counsel that could be procured in Mobile, and on consulting 
with him and making him fully acquainted with all the facts, he 
advised me to plead guilty of the larcen}* and go to the peni- 
tentiar}' of Alabama; "for," said he, "3-ou may stand some 
chance after ^-our four years are out to make 3'our escape from 
the clutches of the law in Mississippi. They ma}' not think to 
file their requisition with the Governor of Alabama in time, 
and in that event, when your time expires, you will be let 

My trial came on before my wound was near well, and I was 
brought into court and arraigned, and the indictment read to 
me in open court. When asked "are you guilty or not guilty?" 
I plead guilty, after which my counsel addressed the court and 
prayed its indulgence in passing sentence, and that tlie term 
of punishment be made as short as the law would permit, which 
was accordingly done, and sentence of four years at hard labor 
in the penitentiary of Alabama was passed upon me. 

I accordingly served out my four years at Wetumpka, Ala., 
and all to avoid going to Mississippi to be tried for the murder 
of Harvey. 

However, I did not evade the rigor of the laws of ^Mississippi. 
The vigilance of the Sheriff of Perrj- county threw a guard 
around me, that secured to him the })Ossession of m}' person at 
the expiration of my time in the penitentiary of Alabama, and he 
immediately transferred me to the count}- jail of Perry count}'. 

I remained in the jail of Perry and Covington counties up- 
ward of two years before I had a trial. I was found guilty of 
murder; and the sentence of death was passed upon me, and 
the day appointed" for my execution. Within eight days of 
the time the Sheriff informed me that my time was only eight 


days, and that mj' rope, sliroud and burial clothes were all ready. 
He then read to me the death warrant I My tongue nor pen 
cannot express my feellings on that occasion during that dn}* 
and night. However, to m\' great joy, the next morning he 
brought me the glorious news that the clerk of the court had 
received a supersedeas and order to respite m}^ execution, and 
carry m^' case to the High Court of Errors and Appeals. 

1 cannot express my joyful feelings on receiving this intelli- 
gence. It removed that cloud of horror and despair, which was 
lowering upon and around me, and renovated anew mj^ whole 
soul. It was to me as a refulgent light from the sun of heaven 
cast upon the dark and gloomy vale; but, alas, how ephemeral 
that sunshine of jo}" and bliss ! That fickle dame. Fortune, 
upon whose wheel I had so successfuU}' floated in former days, 
finally brought me to the same point where I started. 

I was, therefore, conve^'ed from the Perry county jail to the 
State penitentiary at Jackson, to await there a hearing of my 
case in the High Court of Errors and Appeals, and remained 
there about two years. In the meanwhile my case was argued 
before this Court, and the judgment reversed, and the cause 
remanded for further proceedings in the Circuit Court of Perry 



At the September term of said Court, in the 3'ear A. D. 1857, 
on Wednesday of the term, it being the 16th day of the month, 
James Copeland was taken to the Bar of the Court and arraigned 
upon an indictment, found by the following Grand Jury at the 
March term, 1857, to-wit: John McCallum, Lemuel Strahan, 
John W. Carter, Allen Travis, Lewis H. Watts, James Chappell, 
G. W. Rawls, Wm. Jenkins, Peter McDonald, Malachi Odoni, 
Joseph G. Young, James M. Bradler, Sr., Stephen Smith, Wm . 
Hinton, Edmund Merritt, Sidney- Hinton, Joseph T. Breeland, 
Heniy Dearman, Lorenzo Batson and John Fairley, Foreman — 
which indictment was as follows: 

Perry County. \ 

In the Circuit Court of Ferry County — At March Term, 1857. 

The Grand Jurors for the State of Mississippi, summoned, 
empanneled, sworn, and charged to inquire in and for the State 
of ^Mississippi, and in and for the body of the county of Perry, 
upon their oath, present, that James Coi)elaiul, late of said 
county, on the 15th daj' of Juh', Anno Domini, one thousand 
eight hundred and fifty-eight, with force and arms in the 
county of Perry aforesaid, in upon one James A. Ilarve^-, then 
and there being in the peace of Gcd and the said State of oMis- 
sissippi, feloniously, wilfully and of his mrlice aforethought. 


did make an assault; and that the said James Copeland, a cer- 
tain shot gun, then and there loaded and charged with gun 
powder and divers leaden shot, which shot gun, so loaded and 
charged he, the said James Copeland, in both his hands, then 
and there, had and held, to, at, against and upon the said 
James A. Harvey, then and there feloniousl}^ wilt'ull}- and of 
the malice aforethought of him, the said James Copeland, did 
shoot off, and discharge; and that the said James Copeland, 
with the leaden aforesaid, out of the shot gun aforesaid, then 
and there by force of the gun powder, shot and sent forth as 
aforesaid, the said James A. Harvey, in and upon the left side 
of him the said James A. Harvey, then and there feloniously, 
wilfully and of the malice aforethought of him, the said James 
Copeland, did strike, penetrate and wound, giving to the said 
James A. Harvey,' then and there, with the leaden shot so as 
aforesaid, discharged and sent forth, out of the shot gun afore- 
said, by the said James Copeland, in and upon the left side of 
him, the said James A. Harvey, a little below the left shoulder 
of him the said James A. Harvey, divers mortal wounds of the 
depth of three inches, and of the breadth of one quarter of an 
inch, of which the said mortal wounds, the said James A. 
Harvey, from the fifteenth day of July in the year aforesaid, 
until the twenty fifth day of July in the year aforesaid, lan- 
guished, and languishing did live; on which said twenty-fifth 
day of July in the year aforesaid, the said James A. Harve}- in 
the county of Perry aforesaid, of the mortal wounds aforesaid, 
died; and the jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do 
further present, that John Copeland, late of the county afore- 
said, on the day and year first aforesaid, in the county of Perry 
aforesaid, feloniously, wilfully and of his malice aforethought, 
was present, aiding, abetting and assisting the said James 
Copeland the felony and murder aforesaid to do and commit; 
and the jurors aforesaid upon their oath aforesaid do say, that. 
the said James Copeland and John Copeland him the said 
James A. Harvey, in manner and form aforesaid, felonious)}^, 


wilfully and of their malice aforethought did kill and murder, 
against the peace and dignit}^ of the State of Mississippi. 

George Wood, District Attorney. 

Upon this indictment was indorsed "A true bill signed, John 
Fairley, foreman." 

At the September Term the following proceedings were had 
in the case : "Be it remembered that there was begun and held 
a regular Term of the Circuit Court in and for the county of 
Perr}' and State of Mississippi, at the Court House of said 
count}', in the town of Augusta, the place designated by law 
for holding said court, on the second Monday of September, in 
the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty- 
seven, it being the 14th day of said month, present the Hon. 
W. M. Hancock, presiding Judge of the 8th Judicial District 
of Mississippi, George Wood, Esq., District Attorney for the 
said 8th Judicial District, James R. S. Pitts, Sheriff of Perry 
county and James Carpenter, Clerk of said Court. 

State op Mississippi, ) 

vs. y Mdrder. 

James Cofeland. ) 

This day comes George Wood, District Attorne3% who prose- 
cutes for the State of Mississippi, and the prisoner is brought 
to the bar in custody of the Sheriff, and upon notice of the 
District Attornex^, a special venue for thirty-six free-holders, or 
house holders, of Perry county, and liable to jury service 
therein, ordered returnable to-morrovr morning, at 8 o'clock; 
the prisoner, in his own proper person, waiving two days' 
service of a list thereof and a copy of the indictment, consent- 
ing that it be returned at said time; and upon suggestion that 
the prisoner is insane, it is ordered that the Sheriff of Perry 
county summons twelve good and lawful men of said county, 
to be and appear before said Court on Tuesday morning at 8 
o'clock A.M., to take inquisition as to the case of lunacy, and 
try whether the prisoner be of sound mind and understanding. 

james copeland. 113 

Tuesday Morning, 8 o'clock. 
Court met pursuant to adjournment. Present as on yes- 

State of Mississippi ) 

vs. > Murder. 

James Copeland. ) 

This day comes George Wood, the District Attorney, who 
prosecutes for the State of Mississippi, and the prisoner is 
brought to the bar, in custody of the Sheriff, whereupon comes 
a jury of good and lawful men, to wit: Porter J. Myers, 
Malachi Odom, Sr., J. M. Bradley, Jr., Darling Lott, Malcolm, 
McCallum, Angus McSwain, Q. A. Bradley, J. M. Bradley, Sr., 
Wm. H. Nicols, W. C. Griffin, D. S. Sapp and James Edwards, 
who are regularly summoned, elected and sworn, and well and 
truly to tiy an issue joined, ore tenus^ whether or not the pris- 
oner be of sound mind, and whether he possesses sufficient in- 
tellect to comprehend the cause of the proceedings on the 
trial, so as to be able to make a proper defense; or whether the 
appearance of insanity, if any such be proven, is feigned or 
not; and the evidence having been submitted to them in the 
presence of the prisoner, they retired to consider of their ver- 
dict, and in his presence returned the following, to-wit: "We, 
the jury, on our oaths, find the prisoner sane; that he possesses 
sufficient intellect to comprehend the cause of the prosecution 
on the trial, so as to be able to make a proper defense, and 
that the appearance of insanity which he has exhibited, is 

And thereupon the prisoner is arraigned on the charge of 
murder, as preferred by the bill of indictment; and upon said 
arraignment, says that he is not guilty in manner and form as 
therein and thereby charged, and for the truth of said plea he 
puts himself upon the country; and the District Attorney in 
behalf of the State of Mississippi doeth the like. 

And thereon come the following good and lawful men of 
Perry county, to-wit: Zebulon Hollingsworth, J. J. Bradley, 
John A. Games, Francis A. Allen, Wm. W. Dunn, Adam Laird, 


who were regularly summoned on the special venue returned 
in this case, and who in the presence of the prisoner are regu- 
larly tried and chosen between the prisoner and the State; and 
the special venue being exhausted the Sheriff proceeded to call 
the regular jurors in attendance at this term, and Daniel S. 
Sapp, Seaborne Hollingsworth and Francis Martin were in the 
presence of the prisoner tried, and chosen between the State 
and the prisoner; and the regular jury being exhausted, the 
Sheriff is directed to summon thirteen bystanders as jurors, 
and from the number so summoned as last aforesaid, Milton J . 
Albritton was in presence of the prisoner duly tried and chosen 
between the State and the prisoner; and the said thirteen per- 
sons so last summoned being exhausted, it is ordered that a 
venue issue, commanding the Sheriff to summon twenty good 
and lawful men of Perry county, to be and appear before the 
court to-morrow morning at 8 o'clock, A. M., to serve as jurors 
in the trial of the issue aforesaid, and the prisoner is remanded 
to jail, and John W. Carter is sworn as baliff to take charge of 
the jury. 

Wednesday Morning, 8 oclock, September 16, 1857, 

State of Mississippi ) 

vs. > Murder. 

James Copeland. ) 

This da}" comes George Wood, District Attorne}', and the 
prisoner is again brought to the bar, in custody of the Sheriff, 
and also comes the jury whom yesterday were dul}' tried, chosen 
and taken between the parties; a^id thereupon comes James M. 
Pitts and John H. Holder, who were this da}' returned as 
jurors in the case, in obedience to the command of the venue, 
last issued on 3'esterday; who in presence of the prisoner are 
regular!}' tried, chosen and taken between the parties; and the 
jury so chosen, as aforesaid, are empaneled and sworn, in the 
presence of the prisoner, well and truly to try the traverse upon 
the issue joined between the State and the prisoner aforesaid, 


and a true deliverance make according to the evidence; and the 
evidence is submitted to them in the presence of the prisoner, 
and the opening argument is heard, on the part of the District 
Attornej^, and the further consideration of the cause is con- 
tinued until tomorrow morning, and the prisoner is remanded 
to jail. 

Thursday Moknixg, 8 o'clock, September 17, 1857. 

State of Mississippi ) 

vs. > Murder. 

James Copeland. ) 

This day comes the District Attorney, and the prisoner is 
again brought to the bar in the custod}^ of the Sheriff, and the 
argument is resumed and concluded; and the jury are instructed 
by the Court at the request of the counsel, in writing, and the 
jury retire to consider their verdict. And in the presence of 
the prisoner return the following, to-wit: "We, the juiy, on 
our oaths, find the prisoner guilty in manner and form as 
charged in the bill of indictment; " and the prisoner is re- 
manded to jail to await his sentence. 


Friday Morning, 8 o'clock, September 18, 1857. 

State or Mississippi ) 

vs. j- Murder. 

James Copeland. ) 
This daj^ comes the District Attorney, and the prisoner, who 
was on yesterday convicted of the crime of murder, is again 
brought to the bar. And thereupon the prisoner by his coun- 
sel moves the Court for a new trial, which motion was fully 
heard and understood by the Court; and is by the Court here 


overruled . And to the opinion of the Court in overruling said 
motion, the prisoner by his counsel here excepts: 

State vs. James Copeland. ) MnRnFR 

Motion for New Trial of the Collateral, j 

Issue joined as to the sanity of the defendant, and his ca- 
pacity to make defense in the charge of murder. 

1st. Because the Court erred in refusing instructions asked 
by defendant and in granting those asked by the State. 

2d. Because said verdict is contrary to law and evidence. 

Taylor & Wilborn, for Motion. 

And the prisoner being asked what further he had to say 
why the sentence of death should not be passed upon him, says 
nothing in bar or preclusion. " It is therefore considered by 
the Court, here, and is so ordered and decreed, that the prisoner 
be taken hence to the jail from whence he came, and there 
safely kept until the thirtieth day of October, in the year of 
our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty-seven; and that 
the Sheriff take him thence on the said day, between the hours 
of ten o'clock in the forenoon and four o'clock in the afternoon 
of said day, to the place appointed by law, for execution; and 
that he, the said James Copeland, on the said day, between the 
hours aforesaid, be hung by the neck until he be dead." 



To THE Sheriff of Pekey County — Greeting : 
Whereas, at the September term, A. D. 1857, of the Circuit 
Court of said county, on the fourth day of said -term, James 
Copeland was duly convicted of the murder of James A. 
Harvey, by a verdict of a Jury chosen and sworn between the 
parties; and whereas, on Friday, the fifth day of said term, by 
the order and decree of said Court, the said Copeland Avas 
sentenced to be hung by the neck until he be dead, on the 
thirtieth day o'f October, in the year of our Lord one thousand 
eight hundred and fifty seven, between the hours of ten o'clock, 
A. M., and four o'clock, p. m., at the place appointed by law. 

These are therefore to command you, in the name, and by 
the authority of the State of Mississippi, to take the bodj' of 
the said James Copeland, and him commit to the jail of said 
county, and him there safely keep, until the said thirtieth day 
of October, and that on the said thirtieth day of October, be- 
tween the hours of ten o'clock, a. m., and four o'clock, p. m., of 
said day, at the place appointed by law, you hang him by the 
neck until he be dead, dead, dead. 

Given under my hand and seal, this, the 18th day of Sep- 
tember, A. D. 1857. 

[Seal.] W, M. Hancock, Judge. 


The day arose clear and beautiful on which the sentence of 
the law and of outraged humanity was to be executed on the 
man who had so often violated their most sacred behests. The 
sky was blue and serene; the atmosphere genial; all nature 
was calm and peaceful; man alone was agitated b}' the various 
strong emotions which the execution of the fatal sentence of 
retributive justice on a fellow-man could not but create. 

The place of execution was distant from the city of Augusta 
one- quarter of a mile. The gallows was erected.on a beautiful 
elevation that was surrounded by the verdure of shrubby oak 
and the tall, long-leaf pine. The ground was everywhere 
occupied by thousands of spectators, gathered from Perry and 
the surrounding counties, to witness the solemn scene. It was 
indeed one that they will long remember. 

About the hour of noon, the prisoner, after being neatly 
clad, was led from the jail b}' the officers of the law, placed in 
the ranks of the guard formed for the occasion, and the pro- 
cession moved slowly toward the fatal spot. 

Soon the doomed man appeared on the gallows. The death 
warrant was then read to him, and he was informed that he 
had but a short time to live. 

He proceeded to address the awe-struck and silent multitude. 
He especially urged the young men present to take warning 
from his career and fate, and to avoid bad compan}'. His mis- 
fortune he attributed principally to having been misled while 

When he had concluded, a number of questions were asked 
by the immediate spectators, in relation to crimes which had 

ExiccuriCN OF jA.Mt:s Coi-tiLAKD.— [Sec Page 118. 



transpired within tlieir knowledge; but he would give no direct 
answer — shrewdly eluding the inquiries. 

The Sheriff then asked him, in hearing of many lookers-on, 
if the details ot his confession, previously made to that officer, 
were true. He replied that they were. 

His hands were then tied and the cap pulled over his face, 
and he was told that he had but a few moments to live. He 
exclaimed, " Lord, have mercy on me!" and he was praying 
when the drop fell, and a brief struggle ended his blood-stained 


John McCullum, 
Lemuel Strahan, 
John W. Carter, 
Allen Travis, 
Lewis H. Watts, 
James Chappell, 
G. W. Rawls, • 


Wm. Jenkins, 
Peter McDonald, 
Malachi Odom, 
Joseph G. Young, 
Jas. M. Bradley, Sr., 
Stephen Smith, 
Wm. Hinton, 

Edmund Merritt, 
Sidney Hinton, 
Jos. T. Breeland, 
Henry Dearmau, 
Lorenzo Batson, 
John Fairley, 



Wm. Johnson, Laoma Batson, 

Chance}' B. Stevens, Jas. Batson, 

Wm. Landman, 
Gibson Waley, 
John Anderson, 
Wm.'C Gri'ffin, 
Moses Fullingam, 

David Dubusk, Sr., 
Jefferson Williams, 
David Dubusk, Jr., 
Wm. Grffln, 
Peter Fairley, Sr., 

Peter Fairley, Jr., 
Alexander Fairley, 
Sampson Spikes, 
Westley Spikes, 
W. H. Nicols, 
John Fairle}', 



J . Baker, 

C. W. Moore, 
W. W. Ratlief, 
G. Buskings, 
J. Hiirper, 

J. Bowings, 
J . W. Westlj', 
J. Whitfield, 
J. Whitlom, 
J. Porter, 
J. Butler, 
J. Hopkins, 
J. Harper, 
W. P. Hobs, 
W. C. Whelps, 
Jasper Whitlow, 
E. Sharper, 
T. Powell, 
J. Doty, 

D. Doty, 

S. S. Shoemake, 
J. Gillet, 
W. Brown, 
J. l'a3'lor, 
S. Teapark, 
J. Pool, 

John Copeland, 
T. Copeland, 
Henry Copeland, 
Wm. Copeland, 
J. Elva, 
H. San ford, 
R. Cable, 
J. Hevard, 
G. Daniels, 
G. H. Wages, 
C. H. McGraffin, 
Chas. McGrath, 
J. Welter, 
G. Welter, 

A. Brown, 

D. Brown, 

N. Mcintosh, 

E. Myrick, 

J. F. Wright, 
J. Dewit, 
W. Ross, 
W. Sanferd, 
J. McClain, 
S. Harden, 
J. Harden, 
J. Waters, Jr., 
G. Clealand, 

— Moulton, 

— Overall, 
G. Young, 
Thos. Hix, 
J. Alfred, 
J. Kelly, 
A. Watson. 

Note.— If the guilty should not, by any means be screened, 
3-et if positive doubts exist, the suspected should have the 
benefit of such doubts. Accordingly the initials to the names 
of Moulton and Overall have been omitted; as the jury on 
" trial" expressed doubts as to what particular parties Cope- 
land referred to in the names given. There are many b}- the 
same name, and even part of the same initials, yet have no 
affinity in an3'thing else. It is said that "public sentiment is 
seldom wrong, and never wrong long; " therefore with aU the 
circumstances before it, it is requested that the public will ap- 
proach the subject with an unprejudiced mind, and decide 
faithfully and justly to all parties concerned. 

copeland's letter to his mother. 121 


(Written the night before his Execution.) 

Augusta, Mississippi, October 29th, 1857. 
Mrs. Rebecca Copeland : * 

My clear Mother — It is with painful feelings indeed, that I 
attempt writing to you on the present occasion. 1 take this 
opportunity, knowing at the same time, that it is the last one 
of the kind which I shall ever be permitted to enjoy while here 
on earth. It is long and much that I have suffered while in 
prison since m}' first confinement in Mobile county, and yet it 
seems as though nothing will pay the debt but my life. I have 
had my trial and was convicted upon a charge of murder, and 
I have received the awful sentence of death. The sheriff told 
me to da}^ that to morrow at 2 o'clock I will be hanged, ac- 
cording to the order of court. Oh, my dear mother, what an 
awful sound is this to reach your ear. Oh, would it could be 
otherwise ; but you are aware that I justly merit the sentence. 
You are knowing to my being a bad man ; and dear mother, had 
j-ou given me the proper advice when young, I would now per- 
haps be doing well. It is often I have meditated on this sub- 
ject since my cofinement in prison, and often have I recollected 
my good old father's advice when I was ^-oung, and repented a 
thousand times over, with sorrow and regret, that I have failed 
to receive it as good, benevolent advice. If such a course I had 
taken, I have no doubt, but what I would be doing well at this 
time. But it is too late now to talk of things past and gone. 
The time has come when I shall have to take my departure 
from this world, and it pains my heart, to know that I have to 
leave you and my brothers and sisters ; and much am I morti- 
fied to think how distantly j'ou ha\e treated me while here in 
prison. Not the first time have ^-ou been to see me ; but I can 
freelj' excuse ^-ou for all this, and I do hope you will prepare to 
meet Jesus in Heaven. 

Dear Mother, long has the time been that life was not any 


satisfaction to me. I am now in the dungeon with tlie cold 
and icy bands clasped around me, and cold as clay. Much 
have I suffered, but after two o'clock to-morrow, ray troubles 
will all be over, or worse than they are at pres6nt. This I am 
not able to tell. I have been preparing to meet my God, pray- 
ing diligenth^ for merc^' and for the pardon of my sins, but I 
do not know whether my prayers have been heard or not. — 
The Scriptures say "that the spirit of the Lord shall not always 
strive with man," and again say : "he that calls upon the Lord 
in the last hours shall be saved." If so, I feel some spark of 
hope, but I tell you this hope is hanging upon a slender thread. 

Dear Mother, it makes the tears trickle down my cold checks 
to have to pen this statement to you. Dear Mother, I have to 
close this letter. My heart is overflowed already, so when you 
receive this, you can keep it as a memorial, and remember that 
poor Jim is no more on earth; that he has bid you a long 

Dear Mother, it appears as though my heart will break at the 
ver}' thought of this. Oh, could I but see you once more be- 
fore my death, it would give my aching heart some relief ; but 
we have to part without this pleasure. 

Now my good old Mother, T bid you a long farewell, forever 
and forever. 



Used by the Copeland and Wages Clan, in their secret corres- 
pondence and documents. 


P q R S T U V W X Y Z & 







The organization of tlie Wages and Copeland Clan embraced 
a diversified talent of an extraordinary grade in different de- 
partments of operations. It commanded some of the ablest 
ability belonging to the bar and the medical profession, with 
other agents who could be hired or engaged for temporary 
assistance. It requires more than a cursory contemplation to 
anj'thing like a full comprehension of the lengths, and breadths' 
and depths of its vast theaters of operations. Many, perhaps, 
not admitted to the council and secret conclaves of the 
organization, could be engaged for a stipulated sum to perform 
important services in defense and protection of its active mem- 
bers, who might inwardly condemn its pernicious fields of ope- 
rations against the best interests of society. Whether such 
conduct can stand the test of reason and argument it is for 
others, with the reader, to determine. The worse the case the 
richer the fees for the lawyer, and so of the medical profession. 
As frequentl}^ happens, the lawyer scruples at nothing to win 
a victory for his client. In some places this course is fash- 


ionable and not at all odious. As long as the attorney keeps 
his defense within legitimate bounds, and avails himself of 
every lawful opportunity for the advantage of his client, no well- 
balanced mind can be disposed to censure, because on the othei* 
side, the prosecution will do the snme. But when foul and 
corrupt means are resorted to; when the most vicious and de- 
praved of actions are brought in play to screen the guilty and 
make crime respectable, then it is that public sentiment should 
1)6 loud against such abominations, no matter whether against 
the medical or legal profession, or against any other class who 
can be brought to perform the services of infamy. 

The period betwixt the imprisonmentand execution of James 
Copeland, three parties from Alabama came and settled in Perry 
county, Miss., one in, and the other two about Augusta. These 
three performed their part so well — so concealed and reserved 
as to pass for gentlemen in the highest degree respectacle. But 
few, if any, had suspicion until afterward of their object to 
assist the captured in escaping the last penalties of outraged 

One of the three, who settled in Augusta ; a skilled doctor and 
surgeon, behaved himself so well in every respect — on all occa- 
sions exhibiting a winning and an aflable deportment — ever}'- 
body's friend with the most lavish of generosity — spaiiug no 
exertions to gain the confidence and admiration of those in 
power and of influence; this is the man who proposed to the 
sheriff the plan to save the life of James Copeland . This 
proposition was made betwixt the time of his conviction and 
execution. The particulars are as follows : — The doctor to the 
sheriff: "There is now a fine opporunity of making one thousand 
dollars in gold, providing that you will act in concert with me 
in permitting certain things to be done before the execution of 
Copeland." There was something so bland, so expert, and -so 
graceful in the conduct of the strange doctor as to make him 
friends wherever he went. He insinuated himself into the 
confidence of the sheriff; and when the proposition was made 


for certain things to be done before execution, for and in con- 
sideration of a thousand dollars, the curiosity of the sheriff 
could not be otherwise than powerfully excited to learn all 
particulars of the plan in contemplation, and, accordingly, so 
far indulged or humored the beginning so as to obtain the 
whole of what was then behind. The doctor continued, and 
gave the name of him who had a thousand dollars to pay for 
the preservation of the life of Copeland; and to be done in the 
following manner, secure from exciting an.y suspicion whatever. 
The doctor to the sheriff': "Allow me about half an hour before 
the time arrives for your taking him out of jail to the place of 
execution, to go in under the pretence of shaving and dressing 
him suitably to the solemnity of the occasion, during which 
time I will perform an operation in tracheotomy by inserting 
into the trachea, or wind-pipe, a sm.all silver tube suffcient for 
the admission of air into the lungs to keep up some degree of 
respiration, so that when he shall have hung the allotted time, 
he can be cut down and by an extension of the. tube, he can 
be so buried as to prevent the extinction of life; which, as soon 
as convenient, he can be disinterred and so cared for by artful 
means until the recovery so far progress as will enable him to 
successfully escape." 

The sheriff listened to all this with a smile, and treated the 
whole as rather a plausible romance than a possible reality; 
but firm to the duties of his office, he yielded not to the tempt- 
ation; yet to maintain good faith as to what transpired before 
the proposition was fully made, and for prudent considerations 
in regard to his own safety, he has refrained from publishing 
this narrative at an earlier date, because conscious that the 
public interests, though delayed, would best be served by so 
doing in the long run . 

Shortly after the execution of James, John Copeland, the 
brother of the former, was arrested, brought to the same jail, 
and tried in the same case, and for the same crime of murder. 

The State was represented by George Wood, Esq., and the 


defence by Wirt Adams as principal. Both sides labored hard 
and wonderfully skillful. The argument of the latter occu- 
pied about three or four hours in delivery. The evidence 
against John Copeland was quite as strong as against his con- 
victed brother, but the juries were of different material. The 
three strange immigrants from Alabama, who then had recently 
settled in and about Augusta, managed to get on the jury. 
This was not hard to do, as the count}' had pretty much been 
exhausted before to get an acceptable jury not disqualified by 
some objections brought forth. When the jury retired, the 
three here referred to, having the most ingenuit}', lead the other 
remaining part, the consequence of which was a verdict of 
acquittal. This verdict aroused the indignation of the public 
both far and near — murmurs ever^-where, and satisfaction no- 
where. So irritated were the populace that, in all probability, 
the life of Copeland would have' been taken by violence the 
night afler his liberation, but for the timelj' notice given him 
for immediate escape. 

The following morning he was heard from as being seen on 
the opposite side of Leaf river, about thirt}' miles lielow 
Augusta, in the direction for Pascagoula river. It is supposed 
he went almost direct to Angelina county, Texas, where his 
mother and family settled after leaving Mississippi. 

But little time had elapsed after this before the Sheriff" of 
Perrj' received a letter from Col. Pickering, of this (Angelina) 
county, warning him of the necessity of being on his guard — 
that Thomas, another brother of the Copeland family, had left 
that vicinity for Mississippi; and, according to the general be- 
lief there, with a design on the life of the Sheriff; but although 
be passed through the county of Perr}-, by the way of Black 
Creek, to Mobile, Alabama, yet if he made any secret move- 
ment for the assassination, he never knew it. 

The Copeland family, in Angelina county, instiiuted a for- 
midable prosecution agaius Col. Pickering, but his reception 
of the pamphlet containing the confession, caused the Distri(.t 


Attorney of that place to dismiss the prosecution, and for this 
the Copeland family' was heard to swear vengeance against the 
Sheriff who had published them; therefore, well taken were 
the grounds of fear entertained bj- Col. Pickering. Immedi- 
ately after the acquittal of John Copeland, the three strange 
immigrants left for parts unknown. 


An organization may soon come to naught, even though 
founded on principles in everj* respect sound, healthy and legiti- 
mate, if the individuals composing it are defective in brains 
and energv, the exercise of which are essentially necessarj^ for 
continued existence. But an organization, based on the con- 
trary- of such principles, may continue for years to perpetrate 
the darkest of human atrocities — spreading terror or devasta- 
tion both far and wide, if its members, or the leaders, possess 
the mental force requisite to plan, to command and to execute 
according to the proper definitions of skill, disguised troach- 
eiy, and firm intrepidit}- brought to bear against the less sus- 
pecting, but the more honest members of society. 

The unfolding of the character of S. 8. Shoemake will reveal 
all the traits of vice, of meanness, of guilt, and of all which 
contributes to the perfection of human treason and perfidy. 

Some of the most masterly' strokes of guile and consummate 
deception are to be found in his John R. Garland letter and 
the subsequent circumstances with it connected. The ancient 
Judas fell A'ery far short in comparison with this modern speci- 
men of cruelty, of plunder, and of hypocritical imposture. 
A marauder, a being destitute of honor, pride or principle, 
and the veiy incarnation of all that is vile and abhorent. This 
is the man whose character, to some extent, will next be un- 
veiled in detail. 

But a short time elapsed after the publication of Copeland's 
confessions until a letter, signed John R. Garland, was re- 


ceived by the Sheriff of Perry county, making inquir}^ about 
S. S. Shoemake and two others by the names of J. and D. 
Doty — all implicated in Copeland's confessions. This letter, 
as will afterward be shown, was written by Shoemake himself, 
and was mailed at DeKalb, Kemper count}', Mississippi, the 
substance of which will next be given : 

DeKalb, Miss., October — , 1S58. 
./. R. S. Pitts, Sheriff Perry Conntij, Hiss.: 

Dear Sir — As I feel very much interested in the future wel- 
fare of this immediate section of our country', and am desirous 
of ascertaining the names of all men of degraded character, 
so far as practicable, who might chance to live among us, and 
more especially- those characters as represented to 3-ou b}' 
Copeland, in his recent confessions as a united band of laud 
pirates, which fact has been apparent with me for some years 
past of the existence of such a clan throughout our entire 
country. And believing that we have some of the same char- 
acters residing within our midst, I thus communicate in con- 
fidence to you, trusting that you will be kind enough, on the 
reception of this, to answer the same, and inform me whether 
or not the names of S. S . Shoemake, and two other men here 
J. Doty and D. Doty, are the same persons as implicated by 
Copeland in his confessions to you. 

So far as the former character is concerned, there is no doubt 
existing in the minds of the people here but that he belongs to 
some secret clan. His conduct, and every action through life, 
go to establish this conclusion . He spends the greater portion 
of his time away from home, and at times is absent 
from home for months, none knowing here anything 
of his whereabouts. And in this waj-, to the mystery 
of every one, he makes his peregrinations throughout the 
country, but whether near or distant is unknown to us. Fre- 
quently after having been absent until the community would 
begin to wonder and ask the question as to the cause of such 
continued detention, as well as the actuating motives for so 


mucli of absence, but none can give any solution— none any 
intelligence in reference to him. To say the least, there is 
great suspicion mingled with much curiosity. 

Generally when he returns home from making those pi'Oti'act- 
ed journey's, he manages so as to arrive some time during the 
night, bringing with him droves of horses, mules, and sometimes 
more or less negro'es. After his return, the first thing tliat is 
known of iiim, he Is seen in the grog-shoi> bright and early in 
the morning, waiting the arrival of the bar-keeper for his morn- 
ing bitters. In this way he seems to be continually whiling 
away his time — claiming to be acting in behalf of a State com . 
mittee. On meeting this person, S. S. Shoemake, one that is 
not personall}- acquainted with him w^ould not for a moment 
suspect an3'thing wrong, for he is calculated by his affable de- 
portment, on first acquaintance to make a Very favorable im- 
pression on the mind. 

As we feel much interested in this vicinity relative to this 
matter, I trust that you will, on receipt of this, give us the de- 
sired iufcrmation above asked for, as there is no favor within 
your power that 3'ou could at this time extend to us that would 
be received with so much gratitude. 

When addressing your communication, you will please re- 
member not to direct to me, but simply address your letter to 
box, No. 27, DeKalb, Kemper County, Mississippi. 

I make the above request in order that my designs may not^ 
be frustrated-— also, yon will please suffer no person to v^ee thie 

Hoping to hear from you soon^ I remain, 

Very respectfully, 

John R. Garlakjd. 

This extraordinary letter elicited the following reply: 

Auat;sTA, MississtPM, —-— -, 1858. 
'/ohn i?. Garland^ DeICalb^ Mt-^s..' 

Dear Sm— I am in receipt of yours bearing a recent date, 
C— 9 


asking me for information relative to certain characters within 
your vicinit3^ Giving three names, you wish to know if they 
are the same persons who were implicated by Copeland in his 
confession to me. 

In answer, at the time of writing the con<fession, I could have 
located all the parties given me as members belonging to the 
Wages and Copeland clan, but did not at the time deem it ex- 
pedient to do so, because believing that the people in the differ- 
ent sections of the country wherever they might live would be 
very apt to know them from their general character, But 
from the description you give of S. S. Shoemake, and from 
one memorable remark that Copeland made at the time he gave 
me this name, I am consti'ained to favor the opinion that he is 
the same person as both he and yourself have pointed out. 

Very respectfully. 

J. R. S. Pitts. 


But a short time intervened after the correspondence until 
Shoemake himself suddenly made his appearance in person at 
the door of the parlor in which the sheriff at the time was en- 
gaged in reading. In reaching so far, Shoemake had 
passed the outer gate, fronting the street, unnoticed 
by the watch-dog, or by any of Hon. Drewry B3'num's family 
with whom the sheriff was boarding. Shoemake boldlj- opened 
the parlor door, and, after a graceful and dignified salutation, 
next inquired if the sheriff was present. Being answered in 
the affirmative, he was then invited to walk in and take a seat, 
f<jr which he returned the usual compliments of civility. His 
next expressed wish was to retire to the sheriff's office, which 
was situated within a few paces of the dwelling-house — all en- 
closed within the same yard, as he had communications to make 
on official business. Both retired accordingl}', when, as soon 


as properly seated, Shoemake drew from his breast-pocket a 
large document, written in a beautiful stj-le and evidently pre- 
pared with great care and taste. This instrument of writing- 
was produced to show his authority from the Probate Judge 
of Kemper county to pursue and apprehend a certain person 
named and described, for stealing eleven negroes belonging to 
minor heirs of said count}'. This instrument of authority' was 
soon detected as counterfeit — nothavingthe legal impress — the 
court seal of the county Irom which it pretended to have ema- 
nated. This fact, in connection with the introduction of his 
own name, very properl}" put the Sheriff on his guard as to 
subsequent movements which were to follow. Shoemake con- 
tinued to the effect that the thief, from the direction in which 
he had been traveling, would be more than likely' to cross at 
the junction of Bowie creek with Leaf river, which is situated 
about tweut}' miles above Augusta. Shoemake further added 
his belief that the thief was making for some point on the sea- 
shore at or near Mississippi Citj^ and that he had called on the 
Sheriff to accompan\' and assist him in the capture. To this 
application the Sheriff peremptorily refused, remarking at the 
same time that the Probate Court was then in session, and that 
he could not be absent for the period of time necessarily' re- 
quired in a task of this sort without material injur3'to business 
transactions and the duties of his office. To this unqualified 
refusal Shoemake sat for a moment in a silent pause. If the 
Sheriff himself could not accompany him, he had no desire to 
have any of the deputies with him . , 

Appearing very much disappointed in this object to deco}' off 
the Sheriff, and feeling satisfied that all further attempts m this 
direction would prove abortive, he all at once exhibited a differ- 
ent phase of countenance, and in a jocular manner slapped the 
Sheriff on the knee, remarking at the same time, "How or 
where did you get my name associated with the Copeland 
Clan?" The Sheriff answered, "Why, my dear sir, do 3^ou 
acknowledge the name as recorded in Copeland's confessions as 

132 ApPEjrmx. 

belonging to 3'ou?" Shoemake made no direct repl}^ but ob- 
served that the people about where he lived were endeavoring 
to saddle the reflections on him, and that the same was having 
a ver}^ deleterious effect against him. This being so, he re- 
quested of the Sheriff, as an act of favor or kindness, to have 
his name erased, or disposed of in some other way, such as 
would remove the odium attached, and that he believed the 
Sheriff to have the power to do all this with propriety. The 
Sheriff was a little startled as well as escited at such an absurd 
proposition, and quickly replied to the following effect: "Youi" 
requested favor cannot be performed. The matter has alto- 
gether passed out of my hands, and it is utterly beyond my 
control to make an}' changes. I have only given publicity to 
the confessions of Copeland, and if he has wrongfully implicated 
any one the remedy is by an action of law, or better still, by a 
counter statement supported by the testimony' of those v/hose 
veracity cannot be doubted." 

Shoemake, discomfitted in his own case on this point, then 
referred to a correspondence betwixt himself, George A. Cleave^ 
land and others, all of whom were implicated in the pamphlet 
complained of, and said, from all the information he could 
gather, unless something was done to relieve the complainants 
the Sherifi' would be sure to have more or less trouble from 
that quarter. The reply made was pretty much to the same 
effect as in his own individual case— no hope of success as far 
as t'iC Sheriff was concerned. 

The next question brought forward was an inquiry about a 
communication from some one at DcKalb, Miss., concerning 
himself. He was answered in the affirmative to the effect that 
such a communication had been received. "Very well," said 
he, "will 3'ou be so kind as to let me sec it?" 

" I cannot," replied the Sheriff, "and for this reason, that 
the author of it made a special request Hot to let any person 
see it; consequently 1 cannot without a breach of good faith, do 
violence to the request made and involve myself in difficulties, 


when all can be so easil}^ avoided." This repl}' did not satisfy 
him. He again solicitous!}- pressed for inspection, urging that 
some d — d rascal had been writing about him, and that he be- 
lieved it was one by the name of White. He was informed 
immediately that no person b}^ that name had ever sent any 
communication whatever, and that he was certainly laboring 
under wrong impressions in this particular. 

He utterly failed to get to see the communication in every 
effort made for this purpose. The effects were visibly marked 
on his countenance. Kage and anger, despair and disappoint- 
ment, with all other of defeated passions, seemed to flit over 
him in rapid succession; but without an}' representation in 
words — only rising v;ith a farewell, such as appeared to the 
Sheriff ominous of something else, and an}- thing but pleasant 
in his judgment. After leaving the office he remained in Au- 
gusta but a very short time, and when about leaving the place 
altogether he was heard to say that he would some day meet 
the Sheriff " at the hatter's shop." 


For some five or six weeks after his elepartnre the Sheriff' 
heard nothing more of him; at the expiration of which time he 
returned in company with a man by the name of Gilbert, though 
in reality supposed^to be one of the Copeland famil}'. This 
time he bore a requisition from the Governor of Alabama to 
the Governor of Mississippi for the body of the Sheriff; and 
strange, and to this da}' mysterious as it may appear, the requi- 
gition was granted. 

Some few days previous to the arrival of Shoemake and his 
assistant, the Sheriff had left .\ugustafor the Mississippi Sound 
on a journey to make arrangements for hymenial considera- 
tions. Learning the facts of his absence, they set about gather- 
ing all the information they could from negroes and the less 
suspecting class of others relative to his whereabouts and the 
anticipated time for his return. Having got the information 


wanted, fortlnvith they started in pursuit — traveling the same 
waj- by which he was compelled to return to Augusta. It is 
called the Mississippi Cut Road — better known by the name of 
the Allsberr}^ and McRae railroad . It runs on range line eight, 
from Augusta to Mississippi City — all the^timber on this line 
being cut and cleared away some thirly-five 3'ears ago. It 
failed of completion, it is said, through the dishonesty of one 
or more on whom the responsibility devolved; and the only 
relic now remaining is a good dirt road, for the benefit of the 
present traveling community. 

On this road, not a great distance from Red Creek, there is 
an extensive morass, which has been cross-wayed for public 
accommodation, which otherwise would be impassable on horse- 
back. When Shoemake and his assistant arrived at this place 
they remained, according to the statements of persons in the 
neighborhood, one or ttvo days in ambush, stationing them- 
selves one on each side of the cross-way, evidently with a de- 
sign to prevent the Sheriff from seeing either until he bad ad- 
vanced some distance on it, then to close in upon him from both 
directions, which would have prevented an}' earthh- chance of 
escape by an}- other way — the morass is of such a nature as to 
swallow up in any other part. 

At last becoming impatient, they decided to move on toward 
the Gulf; and, accordingly, stopped at Red Creek for the night 
following. But, let it be borne in mind, that they so arranged 
as to remain at different houses, one on the north, and the 
other on the south side of the creek, so as to be certain not to 
miss the Sheriff on his return by that way. The houses where 
they stopped at for the night were near the ferry — kept for the 
accommodation of travelers. If the Sheriff had left the coast 
that morning, as anticipated by the two, he, according to the 
day's ride, would have been almost certain to have reached one 
of the houses here referred to, as no other suitable place near 
could have been found, which would have brought him in di- 
rect contact with the pursuers. But by being detained that 

Author making n:s kscape vkom two ok the Copklaxd 
CiAN.— [^ee Page 135. 


morning at Mississippi Cit}', lie did not leave iu time to reach 
either place where they were staj-ing, and he of necessity 
stopped the night in question with an old gentleman by the 
name of Byrd — about fifteen or twenty miles from the ferr^^ 
This old gentleman had been a resident of that section of 
country for a great number of years, and was well acquainted 
with Wages and McGrath; also with the truth of many of the 
incidents as related in Copeland's confessions. 

After the usual breakfast hour next morning, the Sheriff 
availed himself of the earliest opportunity to resume his travel 
toward Augusta. On his way, some ten or fifteen miles distant 
from where he that morning started, to his great surprise, he 
suddenly came in contact with Shoemake and his colleague. 
They were seated within a one-horse buggy, with another very 
fine animal fastened to it, and with saddle and other neces- 
saries ready for the rider iu case any emergency might occur . 
The}' all met together on the top of a little hill, quite steep, 
with such other circumstances attending as obstructed sight 
until iu quite close contact. The place of meeting was not 
more than fifty paces from an occupied dwelling house. This 
fact was, no doubt, the main cause of preventing them from 
making, perhaps, a fatal attack. The meeting was as of per- 
fect strangers, though, in reality, each side knew the other 
again. The Sheriff well knew Shoemake, and, from his un- 
easy countenance, as well as the countenance of the other with 
him, the Sheriff was satisfied that they knew him. 

He having passed, as he thought, a sufficient distance beyond 
their view, he increased the speed of his horse to a rate of 
about eight or nine miles an hour for the remainder of the day, 
which carried him some fift}' miles or more from the spot of 
meeting. He was fully impressed with the idea, at the time of 
meeting, that they were in pursuit of him for evil and danger- 
ous purposes, which idea was fully confirmed by information 
gathered that da^- on travel as to their very suspicious conduct 
at different points of progress; however, iu his heart, he was 


thankful that he had so far made his escape. His rapid travel 
onwards for that day was lonely indeed- — passing through a 
wild, desolate region of couutr}-, but very sparsely populated — 
for miles not a human being to be seen; s'tock in abundance on 
either side of the road, with here and there frightened deer at 
seeing him, as it were, flying through space for safety and re- 
pose. Night fast coming on, with exhausted fatigue from 
excessive exercise, and beginning to despair of reaching home 
that night, he resolved on going to the house of a welldcnown 
friend, J. T. Breeland, situated a distance from the highwa}-, 
and had to be approached with the convenience o( a b}' path. 
He succeeded in reaching this house in time for late supper. 
Here ho met with all the accommodations that heart could 
desire. Luxuries plent}', conversation agreeable, with a wel- 
comencss which must ever be appreciated, and more than this, 
consolation afforded when most needed. The next was retire- 
ment for sleep, but little of sound repose was enjoyed; the 
ghastly scones of the clan were before his eyes, with struggles 
for existence betwixt him and liis pursuers. 

Early next morning, an ample breakfast having been sup- 
plied, he, after having received many kindly admonitions from 
his friend by w^a}^ of strict caution, left, and reached home, 
Augusta, about ten o'clock next morning; and about twelve 
o'clock, onh' two hours later, Shoeraake, with his colleague, 
also reached the same place. 

Immediately on their arrival, lie made every preparation for 
battle, determined to repel force b}^ force if that was their ob- 
ject. But collision was prevented by a timely notice from Hon. 
Wm. Simmons, to the effect that they had authority from the 
Governor of Mississippi for his arrest, and that he was at 
liberty to see the same. 

In obedient response to this exhibited authority, Shoemako 
and his colleague were informed that if the}- would wait a 
sufBcient length of time to make ready with a number of 
friends for protection to accompany, he would have no objec- 



tion -whatever to going with them. Their polite answer came 
to the following effect: "That if desired, the}' would wait an}' 
reasonable length of time to enable him to have all the conve- 
niences wanted." 

The news and circumstances connected witli his arrest spread 
throughout the country with almost the speed of electricity. 
In many instances the reports were ver}' much exaggerated — 
causing many persons, on the spur of the moment, to become 
furiously incensed, to such an extent as to threaten the most 
formidable results of desperation ; and but for his appeals for 
order and due process of law, the most fatal acts of Vio- 
lence might have been committed. 

Within a period of three or four days, he had so arranged 
his business as to be in entire readiness for departure, and so 
gave notice according!}'. Punctual to the time, he, with about 
twenty volunteers, mounted and well equipped lor protection, 
when arrangements were made for immediate departure for 
Mobile, Alabama, all leaving merrily, and soon reached the 
place of destination. Arriving at the Lafayette House, kept 
by a Mr. Fulton, in the city of Mobile, all lared while there 
very sumptuously. 

Ae early as practicable the next morning, the Sheriff went to 
tlie ofiice of Hon. Percy Walker, to procure his professional 
services. This object being accomplished by a compensating 
fee of Ove hundred dollars. The next thing to be done was 
for his counsel to ascertain the amount of the several bonds to 
be given as required by law. This task was quickly over, the 
bonds satisfactorily given, and he was immediately released. 
These last incidents transpired about or near the middle of 
January, 1859; and the City Court was to open on the 23d of 
February, following, allowing thirty or forty days to prepare 
for defence. But before continuing in the connected order, 
some comments are necessary on what has preceded already. 

138 appendix. 

shoemake's object was assassination. 

A charactei' so infamously conspicuous as Shoemake's is, 
should not ordinarily be passed over. It should be thoroughly 
understood so far as his diabolical conduct is known; and this, 
in all probabilit3% is only a small part of his treacherous and 
bloody career. Well might James Copeland remark to the 
Sheriff in prison: " This said Shoemake is a big dog among 
us." The foregoing reports of Shoemake's operations are not 
all; he will again be introduced as playing a distinguished 
part on the subsequent trial of the Sheriff, and when he will 
there be pointed out as the main witness for the prosecution, 
with his oath invalidated, and the worst features of perjury 
attaching; these, in conjunction with the facts established on 
trial, sufficiently proved him to be the author of the "John R. 
Garland letter." 

The human machine, as a whole, because of common appear- 
ance, does not strike the attention with that force which is 
essential to a full comprehension of the grand and mighty work 
produced by an invisible and inscrutable agenc}^ of an unseen 
power. It is dissection, analj-zation, and physiological re- 
searches which only can reveal the wonderful structure and 
astounding recovery of the human S3'stem. Shoemake's vast 
fields of diversified operations — mixed, complicated, and clothed 
in every external form of delusion, when viewed as a whole, 
but a very imperfect idea can be reached of this covert and 
monster man. Dissection and analyzaticn are necessar}'. The 
main-springs of his movements must be brought to light. The 
veils and curtains must be torn away so that the internal work- 
ings of his soul can be seen. 

Let the reader go back to the time of his writing the John 
R. Garland letter. There will be found a master-poice of dis- 
simulation . Under a lictitious signature, he describes himself, 
in some particulars of crime and lawlessness, with astonishing 
accuracy. He gives instructions for the reply to be sent without 


name to a numbered box in the post office, at DeKalb, under tlie 
pretensions of favoring tlie spread of the printed "confessions" 
and of dealing heav}' blows against Shoemake — the most desper- 
ate of human characters. 

Some two or three weeks after, this followed by his visit in 
person to the sheriff of Perry county. Here, suddenl}' and 
unexpectedly-, he reaches the door of the apartment where 
the sheriff was seated, unnoticed by the watch dog or by any 
member of the family. Opens the door and puts on the airs 
of gentlemanly civility. Pretends to have important official 
business, so much so as to require secrecy in the sherifl"s 
office. There exhibHing high authority, but feigned and spuri 
ous, for capturing a renowned thief, who had succeeded in get- 
ting away with eleven negroes; and wants the sheriff to accom- 
pany him on such an important expedition over roads wile and 
desolate. Failing in this object, he next introduces the subject 
of his own, the John R. Garland letter, and said it had been 

written by a d d rascal by the name of White — urging with 

all his powers of solicitation to see the letter, but without suc- 
cess. He furthermore attempts, b}' all the arts of sophistrj-, 
to induce the sheriff" to make changes in the "confessions," 
and, failing in this, then tries the weapons of intimidation b}- 
declaring that trouble more or less must fall on the sheriff if 
something were not done to relieve George A. Cleaveland and 
others in Mobile. 

The reader perfectly' understanding the above, must certainU* 
come to the following conclusion, that Shoemake had a three- 
fold object in view by this visit to the sheriff. First, and the 
most preferable, was assassination, and, if no opportunity of- 
fered for this in his office, to get him off, under false preten- 
sions, on solitary' and dreary roads for the better accomplish- 
ment of the same. Secondly, to get hold of the John R. Gar- 
land letter, which he knew must be \evy dangerous in an}- 
other hands but his own. Thirdly, to publicly kill the sheriff 
and the "confessions" by inducing him to make changes. 


Shoemake when next he appeared in Augusta, it was on a dif- 
ferent mission. This time, lie was armed with real authority 
from the Governor of Mississippi for the arrest of the sheriff. 
But finding him absent, he assiduously and very iugeuiousl}'- 
sets to work to gather all possible information as to his where- 
abouts and the time for his return. This done, in hot pursuit 
he makes his departure for the seizure of his object. He 
travels forward with alacrity until he reaches an extensive 
morass ; then, with his colleaguf^, ambushes both sides of it, 
for a day or two, so as to close in from both ways, if opportu- 
nity afforded, on his object, and make escape impossible — ready 
with a convenient horse for any emergency which might occur. 
Despairing of meeting with the sought after prize, onward he 
goes until he reaches the ferr}' — the distance of a day's ride 
from Mississippi City, where he expected another opportunity 
for getting hold of the man he wanted — so arranges as for 
one to remain on each side of the ferried river — again render- 
ing passage impossible without discover^-. Again disappointed, 
onwards he proceeds, and in a short time comes in contact 
with the person in pursuit of, but in such a situation as to mar 
his purposes at that point. They pass, both sides knowing 
each other. He travels a short distance forward — then turns 
back after his object, who has fled at the rate of about eight or 
nine miles the hour — succeeds in reaching Augusta only two 
hours behind his object. Then makes known his mission of 
arrest — seeing the tremenduous public excitement prevailing 
which threatened his existence, politely agrees to wait a reason- 
able length of time for his nominal prisoner — four days waiting 
for in making preparatory arrangements to have a sufficient 
protective force to accompany, when all set out for Mobil© — 
here reached, then, the sheriff in the buggy with him, then 
drives rapidly down one street, up another, and round the cor- 
ners with a velocity that kept some three or four of the protec- 
tive force in a gallop to keep up with the speed. 

The reader will once more draw his own inferences. He will 

At'EENDIX. lil 

plainl}' see that the principal aim again was assassination a« 
the better method among ontlaws of disposing of troublesome 
persons. The lying in ambush for one or two whole da3's on 
both sides of the morass, on both sides of the next river, the 
hurried rapidity of the return to oVertalie the sheriff' before 
feachtng Augusta, and the last effort to get clear of the "protec- 
tive force" in tiie city of Mobile by forced speed through com" 
plicated streets; all these facts in connection are plain to the 
unprejudiced mind as to the ultimate object in view. Indirectly' 
corroborative, there is another fact, which will be further no' 
ticed in the sequel, to the effect of one by the name of Corne- 
lious McLamore from Kemper count}', an import-int witness on 
trial, who crushingly and effectitely broke down the testimony 
of the said Shoemake, but in all probability his life paid the 
forfeit; for McLamore from that time to the present has never 
more been heard of— his remains likely burnt orburied in some 
dismal swamp-^-another victim to the vengeance of the "clan." 

Shoemnke, the big dog among the band, this is the man 
this the agent from the Governor of Alabama, from the Gov- 
ernor of Mississippi, employed to execute the highest of dele- 
gated State authority! If the then Governor of Mississippi 
can reconcile the rectitude of such action to his mind, the pub- 
lic is very far from approving the same. At the time the press 
from almost eVerj^ quarter was loud in its denunciations against. 
the conduct of the Governor. He must have known that the 
extensive ramifications of the Wages and Copelnnd Clnn had 
produced a reign of terror almost everywhere, and he must 
also have known that the "confessions" had done more for its 
dismemberment and final dissolution than anything else; then 
why did he attempt to pla}- into its expiring hands, against 
public sentiment and justice, when the imputed but misnamed 
crime of publication was done in New Orleans, La., and the 
author, who had onl}' committed the "confessions" to paper 
residing in Mississippi, and more especially while hundreds? 
Were satisfied of the truth of the narrations? However, from 


these revelations, the fact is made patent that wealth and a few 
distinguished persons can wield mighty influences against rea- 
son and justice; against common sense and the best interests 
of society. 


The order of events will now be continued consecutively from 
the time of the Sheriff giving bond and being released. Before 
the opening of the cit3' court he was left with thirt}' or forty 
days to prepare for defense, during which time he visited Ocean 
Springs and a few other watering places on the Mississippi 
Sound, remaining a few days at Siiieldsboro, now Bay St. Louis, 
and there made acquaintance with old Mr. Toulme and two 
other prominent gentlemen, who informed him that just after 
the publication of Copeland's confessions they took a copy of 
said work, and made a visit out to Catahoula swamp, in that 
county, in quest of the buried treasure referred to in the said 
confessions as having been deposited there by the clan for safe 
keeping. The map of this depository was lost during the 
famous Harvey battle, near Red Creek, in Perrj' county. These 
gentlemen Informed him that they found the place as described 
by Copeland, and that every tree and line of demarcation as 
delineated in his description of the place could not have been 
more accurately given . Thc}^ stated that there were three 
places of deposit, showing that in time there had been three 
kegs buried, which, from every appearance, indicated as though 
they might have been removed some eight or ten 3'ears prior to 
that time. The old keg staves and iron hoops were still re- 
maining, and the perfect impress made by the burial of these 
kegs still existed, with a grown lining of moss which time had 
brought forth; on the whole exhibiting quite an antique ap- 

There has been much speculation and curiosity manifested 
among many as to who was the fortunate person who found 
this buried treasure. Let it be remembered that the Harvey 


battle occurred in some part of the j'ear 1848. The description 
and mystic map of the place in connection with this treasure 
was lost in the time of this battle. Until the "confessions" 
were published in 1858 the public knew nothing about the 
buried mone}^ but when they come out curiosity' and opinion 
ran to an extensive height. Now this infoi'mation was given to 
the Sheriff by one living in that section of countrj' when the 
collision happened. He told him that a few days a^ter the 
"battle" he found an instrument of writing which he could 
neither read nor in any wa}'- understand, and the same with all 
others around who saw it. To them it appeared more of a 
wonder and "puzzle fool" than anything else. He kept it by 
him for the sake of holding something partaking of mystery 
and curiosity. But having business some short time after in 
the city of Mobile, Ala., he carried this mystic paper along 
with him to this place. AVhile there one evening on the streets 
he met with some of his former acquaintances. Thinking that 
this curiosity would amuse, he exhibited it for common in- 
spection, and while examining and discussing the same, one by 
the name of George A. Cleaveland came up to peep, and re- 
quested to examine more minutely, when, after looking for a 
while, he folded it up in a \ery careless manner wiiich then 
found a place in his pocket, remarking at the same time that 
it did not amount to much anyway, and walked off. 

The person who brought this pa[)er, not being aware of its 
value, did not care enough about it to make an^^ objections to 
his carrying it away with him. 

But the new possessor, in all probability, fully understood 
the mystic lines contained in it, and soon turned them to signal 
account. From rather a pecuniar}- condition of embarrassment 
at the time, as the Sheritf has been informed, he very soon 
afterward made an advertisement through the public journals 
of the city, expressing a desire to purchase twent}^ able bodied 
negroes and the like number of mules and drays, all of which 
he bought accordingly in a short time afterward, and more; and 
from that time to the day of his dealh remained independent, 


0,11 tlic while increasing rapidly in v»-calth and external pro3- 



VicTioN ONLY A Victory in name for the prosecltidn, 


All error-— ft fault ia the working of a machine^ or in physi- 
cal operations genernlly, is soon digcoVered and admits of very 
little discussion, as to whether all is right or something wrong. 
Too much friction, a cog broken, or some other mechanical de- 
fect in mechanical construction, and the machine ^aIII soon 
stop; (and so of physical movements; a disease or some radi- 
cal defect in the constitution is soon discovered by bad pains 
and bad health; and if no recuperative remedy can be applied^ 
the consequence will soon be a death stoppage. But iu the 
laaoral world, the difficulties are far greater and more exten^ 
sive. Immaculate truth and unmixed error are soon acknowl- 
edged, but when deeply blended together, ages may elapse 
before an}' considerable or healthy progress can be made. In 
physical (science, and in mechanical discoveries, the progress 
has been prodigious; but it is a question very much open to 
dispute, wliether the world is now purer, better, and happier 
than it was three thousand 3'ears ago, notwithstanding the 
centuries of statesmanship and legislation. In physical real- 
itieS) all appear to hail improvement with a welcome satisfac- 
tion, and gladly receive truthful discoveries, no matter ft-om 
where the^* come, as if immediately experiencing a direct and 
general interest in all such demonstrations; but it is far more 
complicated in moral phenomena. Effects, either for good of 
evil, require a longer time for development, and are subject to 
iaHuences from far more numerous and Intricate causes, le«« 

AurnoKS Thivt in Muhiii, Ai a. — See 1 .ige I4i. 


capable of demonstration, and less capable of determining the 
share each exercises in the production of compound effect?. 
Two persons may be equally honest, equally able, and equally 
desirous for the common good of the nation; but they will 
hotly dispute as to the proper means to be applied for this end; 
but if the opinions or theories of each could be immediately 
put to the test, and the results at once seen as in mechanical 
operations, a very different state of society would soon exist. 
If we could have a process of anal^'zation in moral transac- 
tions, so as to make the deformities of separated error at once 
manifest, and so with respect to the beauties of immortal 
truth, we might indulge a well grounded hope for rapid con- 
quests toward the perfection of mankind. 

Differences in organizations and in education, with vast ex- 
tensions of clashing interest ; these, when properly directed, 
may be rather a blessing than otherwise ; but when allowed to 
run into the wildest excesses "without an}- restraint whatever, 
the evils must be frightful in the train of consequences. The 
excessive philanthrophist is on for freedom, and will sacrifice 
every other consideration for the success of his ardent object, 
regardless of the reacting forces of despotism. The creature 
of inordinate ambition does not stop to consider who is right 
and who wrong — down with every obstacle in his way, that has 
a tendency to impede his ultimate design. The theological 
devotee prefers his own denomination to all others — his own 
all right — the rest all mixed up with much objectionable error. 
The individual who lias made so much wealth, and attained to 
so great a height of pecuniar}' prosperity- by means, no matter 
whether fair or foul, desires no change, even though it may be 
for the benefit of tens of thousands — his own individual or 
conventional interest will have more value in his estimation 
than the interests of united millions in conflict. Generally, 
those who have risen to honors, distinctions, and emoluments 
by the vicious elements in society, will spare no exertions 

which talent and wealth can command for the pei'petuation of 
C— 10 


the same circumstances of public wrongs. But, it is true, 
where there are freedom of thought and action, public vicea 
cannot accumulate beyond a limited extent before con Acting 
interests and passions will bring on the appropriate or tempo^ 
rary remedy; yet the victors not unfrequently, ere long, run 
into as wild excesses as their erring but fallen predecessors ! 
BO then it would appear that revolutions only amount to a 
change from one sort of excesses to another equally as preg- 
nant with evils. Yet in spite of all these apparently vain and 
oscillating circumstances, there are underlying movements at 
work in the nature of occult causes driving on nations to either 
dissolution or a better and more enduring form of govern- 

If a government is so defective that it cannot sufficiently 
protect life and property ; if its conduct is so fickle and un^ 
certain as to destroy confidence and stability in the future, 
convulsion, decaj^, and death must inevitably come if the or- 
ganic abuses are too great to admit of any other remedy, 

Untempered liberty is worse than despotism ; it is barbar 
ism — might reigns and not right. All the passions of licen- 
tiousness are let loose, and the many weak are lawful prey for 
the few strong. 

The idea which commonly prevails as regards frequency of 
elections being the eflTective remedy for all abuses of govern-' 
ment, though plausible, is sophistry and the height of fallacy 
according to the lessons which experience have taught. It i^ 
all ver}^ easy and fine to contend for short terms of elections- 
all very captivating to contend that if one officer well performs 
his dutj% he can either retire into private life with all the grate- 
ful honors of his country, or, for meritorious services, he can 
be re-elected for another term, all of which is the most power- 
ful incentive to do right, and, at the same time, the most 
formidable barrier against intentional wrong. But what does 
experience loudl}"- proclaim ? " For the short term you will be 
in ofiSce, make all you can, scruple at nothing, laugh justice in 


the face, trample on the principles of rectitude, and you will be 
admired in the present and immediate future onlj^ as a consum- 
mate political trickster which may, without shame, be imitated 
by other succeeding actors. But if you mean to be honest, 
and tender of just rights and claims, with a desire for the com- 
mon good of your country in rewarding meritorious services 
and encouraging the sources of true national prosperity, you 
will only be laughed at for your folly." These constant elec- 
tions, as it were, open the store-houses for a general scramble, 
for a Avordy warfare of froth}^ declamation, for abuse and mis- 
representation of all the nobler traits of human nature — mak- 
ing virtue a crime and fashionable vices respectable. The most 
expert in business of this sort, are generally the successful 
ones in the contest. Before the excitement of one election is 
over, another more intense begins. Under present circum- 
stances, no one can calculate with any reasonable probability 
of continuance of the present form of government beyond a 
period of four years while there is no security for keeping wild 
and inflamed passions within proper bounds. 

Correct public sentiment, when free to choose, is apt to have 
a government of the same nature. Is it public sentiment that 
forms the character of government, or government which forms 
the character of public sentiment? Both of these considera- 
tions may be true. It is quite possible to conceive how a few 
intelligent and well meaning persons, commanding a sufficiency 
of power, can improve the character of a nation ; and under 
other circumstances, t>tce versa. 

We v/ant a government sufficient to restrain the strong and 
prctect the weak. We want a government competent to make 
good laws, and strong enough to execute them. We want a 
government determined to protect life and property, so that in- 
dustry can be encouraged, and a conSdence in the permanent 
etability of it maintained. We want a govornmcjit that will 
purifv' the bar, and give a judiciary of competency and integrity 
such as will grace and adorn the bench for "its disposition to 


do justice to all." We want a government resolved to inflict 
punishment and stamp with enduring disapprobation any league 
or infamous association for the triumph of crime, no matter how 
distinguished or wealthy its members may be. 

The particulars of the trial now to be given, is a striking il- 
lustration of the league for the triumph of wrong, in which not 
only the executive heads of several States were concerned, but 
also other high officials in power, with more of distinguished 
persons in diflerent capacities. 

As the caption states, their triumph was onl}- in name. The 
retribution of truth and justice is sometimes tardy in execution ; 
but, longer or shorter, it is sure to come. Nearly fifteen years 
have elapsed, since this trial terminated, and the public has 
remained uninformed to this day of the more important features 
connected with it. This long silence has favored the continu- 
ance of wealth, power, and the honors of office for the prose- 
cutors; while the defendant was unjustly brought to the verge 
of ruin by the enormous expenses attending the trial. The 
phases are now being changed — one side going out and the 
other coming in — one recovering strength and the other experi- 
encing decline and fall with reference to the future — conse- 
quences which should immediately have followed the trial, for 
if justice could be forthwith done without so much expense 
and delay, the evil perpetrators would soon come to an end; 
or, at least, would soon become diminished in numbers. 

As stated in another place, the interval betwixt the times of 
giving bond and trial amounted to near forty da^-s. One 
part of this interval was devoted to making preparations for 
trial; the other part was consumed in visiting on the coast with 
a view to gather such information as might be of interest af- 
terwards. The information as to the discovery of the place of 
deposited money in Catahoula swamp is one link in the chain 
of circumstances which attest the truth of the "confessions;" 
another is the finding of the m3'sterious map in a few days 
after the famous Harvc}' battle, which is in perfect agreement 


with another part of the said confessions, together with the 
singular circunastauces in connection, which were the means of 
George A. Cleaveland getting possessing of the map, with 
other subsequent circumstances showing the strongest of prob- 
ability that he not only understood it, but also succeeded in 
getting the buried gold from Catahoula swamp. 

But the opening of the city court and the time for trial 
were near at hand, and the sheriff" or defendant, had to 
leave the coast hurriedly to repair forthwith to Mobile. 
He arrived there some two or three da^'s prior to the open- 
ing of court. He there found considerable anxiety and 
excitement prevailing on the subject. A number of collected 
friends from distant parts of Mississippi were there to be pre- 
sent and hear the trial, which was the general theme of con- 
versation and speculation everywhere. Fortunate for the 
defendant, he arrived in time to summon quite a number of im- 
portant witnesses, who were accidently in the city from various 
points on the line of the Mobile & Ohio railroad attending a 
railroad meeting. DeKalb, Kemper county, was well represent- 
ed in this meeting. The delegates from this town all being- 
men of moral worth and of superior intelligence; J. H. Gull}', 
P. H. Gully, H. C. Eush, A. B. Campbell, Cornelius McLamore, 
and the illustrious J. S. Hamm, then presiding judge of his 
district, all from the above named place. In DeKalb, S. S. 
Shoemake had resided for a number of years, and these gentle- 
men from the same place were ver}' valuable as witnesses in 
the estimation of the defendant ; and, of course, he had them 
summoned without delay right on the ground. 


The Clerk of the City Court of Mobile has twice been ap- 
plied to for particulars, or for a copy of the records of the trial. 
In his first reply the present Clerk freely confesses the records 
of the case to be misty, suspicious, deranged, and altogether 
unsatisfactory, without venturing any further opinion on the 


matter. In bis second reply he confesses in still stronger terms, 
if possible, of the confusion of the records; important papers 
not on file; much missing; more deranged, and very hard, with 
any amount of application of labor to make anything of value 
intelligible for rigid comprehension — one case, Shoemake's> 
entirely disappearing from the docket, and no circumstances or 
account left to show the cause for the same. 

In substance, here follows an extract from the Clerk's replies: 
"I find by the Clerk's indorsement, that in the November term, 
1858, the Grand Jury found bills for lour cases of libel against 
J. R. S. Pitts, and four indictments were framed accordingly in 
the same term. They are found docketed, numbers 61, 62, 63 
and 64, to be prosecuted severall}^ by G. Y. Overall, C. F. 
Moulton, G. A. Cleavelandand S. S. Shoemake. There are four 
appearance bonds for six hundred dollars each, dated January 
25,1859. The writ of arrest is dated January' 15, 1S59. But 
the indictments are all missing. There is nothing here on file 
or on record showing any action of either the Governor of 
Alabama or the Governor of Mississippi with respect to the 
processes for arrest. The case number 64 has entirely disap' 
peared, and no trace left to account for the same. In the Feb- 
ruar}' term, 1859, the trial of J. R. 8, Pitts commenced on the 
23d, continued through the 24th, and on the 25th was given to 
the jury, who on the 2d da^- of March rendered a verdict im- 
posing a penalty of fifty dollars, to which finding the Court 
further 'ordered that the defendant be imprisoned in the com- 
mon jail of the county for the space of three months, and on 
the non-payment of the fine and costs that he be further im 
prisoned until discharged according to law.' The case tried 
must have been that of Overall, 61, the papers of which have 
entirely disappeared, as I cannot find them on file. The two 
remaining cases, numbers 62 and 63, were continued from term 
to term until Februar}- 28, 1863, when a forfeiture ot bond was 
taken against the defendant and his sureties, Colin McRae and 
James II. Daughdrill, and then continued through several terms 


to 21st of Marcli, 1864, when judgment final was entered, and 
execution issued, which execution was ordered to be returned 
by the Commissioners of Revenue on the payment of all costs, 
the costs being paid Iw said Daughdrill said execution was re- 
turned. The matter remained in this condition until January, 
1867, when tlie defendant and his sureties were finall3' released 
b}^ the Commissioners of Revenue. 

"The names of the Petit Jury who tried the case are Wm. B. 
Hayden, James B. Post, George Mason, George M. Brower, 
Edward Guesnard, John R. McBurney, W. H. Marchan, Henry 
T. Eatmau, Walter L. Young, Benjamin F. Hunt, John A. 
Bevell and Wm. H. Vincent. The only witnesses I can find 
any record of are the prosecutors for themselves. The attor- 
neys for the prosecution were R. B. Armstead, solicitor, and 
Anderson & Bo3'le, while Manning and Walker appeared to 
have conducted the defense. 

" Imperfect as this history of the case is, it has cost me much 
search and labor to collect from the disconnected, confused 
and garbled materials left me for reference. The whole atiair 
is a mj'th." 


This communication from the Citj' Clerk of Mobile is valua- 
ble in more points than one. In another place he states that 
there is in his office on file an affidavit from Shoemake relative 
to the prosecution. The nature and subject of this affidavit 
was not inserted in the Clerk's communication. Why this affi- 
davit of Shoemakers as one of the prosecutors, and none to be 
found from any of the other three prosecutors, is a profound 
mj'stery. Again, alfidavits before Grand Juries, in connection 
with prosecution for libel, surpasses ordinarj^ comprehension. 
The missing of so many papers, and the derangement of all 
others, might be charged to the neglect or carelessness of the 
custodian, the then Clerk, but how can the legerdemain disap- 
pearance of Shoemake's name trom the trial docket be ac- 
counted for? No reasons — uo cause for the same can be found] 


The present Clerk is bewildered, aud can give no explanation 
on the matter. Such being the case, is it not reasonable to 
presume that the leaders of the prosecution then controled the 
files and records of the office to suit convenience? Prosecution 
foul in the commencement needs props, subterfuges and mj'stery 
in ever}' stage of progress. 

But the most impenetrable darkness of all is, Shoemake'^s 
name being found on the trial docket as one of the prosecuting 
parties. The order in which they stand on the docket is cases 
number 61, 62, 63 and 61, corresponding with which the prose- 
cutors are G. Y. Overall, C. F. Moulton, G. A, Cleaveland and 
S. S. Shoemake; and in agreement with the same, four appear- 
ance bonds are found. The question now for solution is, did 
Shoemake really get a bill from the Grand Jury of Mobile at 
the November term, 1858, along with the other three? The 
files and records show that he did. Now let it be borne in 
mind that this man was the agent to bear the requisition from 
the Governor of Alabama to the Governor of Mississippi foi' 
the arrest of J. R. S. Pitts. Let it also be borne in mind that 
J. R. S. Pitts is positively certain that he never gave any bond 
to cover the case of Shoemake — only three. Overall, Moulton 
and Cleaveland's; and that before receiving the Clerk's com- 
munication, he never knew that Shoemake was one of the 
docketed prosecutors; but he did learn during the time of his 
trial, that Shoemake tried to get a bill in the February term? 
1859, and signally failed. Choose either end of the dilemma 
and the difficulty is not at all obviated. If he did get a bill, the 
rascalit}' is equally manifest. To go to Mobile, Ala., to prose- 
cute while he was a resident of Mississippi, and J. R. S, Pitts 
also a resident of this State, is utterly incomprehensible in any 
other light than a flagrant outrage on ever}- principle of law 
and justice. If he did not get a bill, the files and records show 
forgery of the darkest hues. So, then, from whatever stand- 
point the whole affair is viewed, atrocity and corruption of the 
most aggravated character stare the impartial inquirer in the 
face from every direction. 



As before seen, the trial opened on the 23d of February, 
1859. The indictments were for libel in three cases as the de- 
fendant understood the same. The prosecutors, first, G. Y. 
Overall; second, C. F. Moulton, and the third, G. A. Cleveland. 
As it had been previouslj' arranged by them on the State 
docket, the defendant had first to answer the charge of G. Y. 
Overall. Had he been placed the last on the docket, the pros- 
ecution would have, in all probability, signally failed in every 
case; and even this first case, with all the deep-laid designs in 
connection, would have been a failure but for the extraordi- 
nar}' resources for the forcing of a verdict by foul means. 

The design here contemplated is only to give a brief abstract 
of the more momentous features of the trial, because the whole 
given, would be inopportune in a condensed work of this 


As before noticed in another part of this work, S. S. Shoe- 
make will again be introduced as pla3-ing a very conspicuous 
part, not onl3' on trial, but also before the Grand Jur^-, which 
was organized for the then present term of the City Court. 

Notwithstanding the "records" to the contrary, the follow- 
ing information was given to the defendant, at the time of his 
trial, by one of the jurors himself. Shoemake, although an 
old resident of Mississippi, the defendant also a resident of 
the same State, and the work complained of published in New 
Orleans, Louisiana, yet he, with audacity enough, went before 
the said Grand Jury to get another bill for libel in favor of 
himself and against the defendant, but was sadlj- disappointed. 
This Grand Jurj- had had more time for thought and reflection 
than the preceding one, and peremptorily refused his applica- 
tion. Had he been unjustly injured, his redress would have 
been from the juries of Mississippi; but he had penetration 
enough not to make any efforts of this nature in Mississippi, 
well knowing that his character was too well-known here to sue- 


ceed in making juries subservient to his dark purposes of 
crime and tlissimulation. 

On the da}' of trial, the counsel for the defence availed liim- 
self of the earliest opportunity to make application for further 
time, on the grounds of absence of material testimony, but 
■without the desired effect; the Court over-r,uled the application, 
and both sides were ordered to proceed to trial instanter. 

While the Sheriff of this court was calling in witnesses 
for the prosecution, the name of Bentonville Taylor was par- 
ticularly- noticed b}^ the defendant. This man, as was after- 
ward learnt, had been conveyed b^- the clan from Williamsburg, 
Mississippi, and appeared quite unexpected on the part of the 
defence. His knowledge about the case then pending, could 
have been but ver}- little or nothing at all, and was evident to 
oil who were more conversant with the facts, that his presence 
there was not in behalf of justice, but for sordid objects of 
pecuniary gain. 

The first witness brought to the stand by the prosecution 
was S. S. Shoemake. He came up with an air of boldness and 
majest}' not easily described. Calm, deliberate, and with an 
external appearance of the perfect gentleman, he gave his tes- 
timony with elegance and beauty of language, almost sufficient 
"to deceive the very elect." His testimon}-, such as it was, 
was pretty much confined to a pretended conversation betwixt 
the defendant and himself during the journey together while 
under circumstances of arrest; to the effect that the defendant 
had confessed to him that the names given in the life of Cope- 
land, were not at all reliable, and that the authenticity of the 
work was entirely valueless. This pretended conversation was 
wholly a concocted fabrication of his own to serve the ends of 
the prosecution. But the character of this man in a few more 
minutes elicited, will satisfy the reader as to what amoiint of 
credit his testimony was worth. 

His then uninterrupted evidence being given, the next ordeal 
wr.s his cross-examination by the counsel for the defence. The 


envelope alone, which at first contained the John R. Garland 
letter, was handed to him with this question asked: "Did you 
address this envelope?" After looking at it for a while he 
answered: "I believe this to be my hand-writing." He was 
next asked if he hadat anj- previous time addressed a letter or 
communication of any sort to the Sheriff of Perry county, 
Mississippi . He answered that he had no recollection what- 
ever of addressing a letter to the Sheriff' of Perry county, 
Mississippi, who was then seated at the bar before the Court. 
The John R. Garland letter itself was next handed to him, 
with the request to state to the Court and Jur}' if he was the 
writer of said letter, which had been written and mailed at 
DeKalb, Mississippi. Here Shoemake hesitated and faltered 
considerably; and, in a moment, seemed to be fully conscious 
of the complete wreck before him. A transition so sudden 
from the heights of promising success to the most forlorn and 
abject condition of reverse, was too much for him to surmount. 
In this instance, he manifested a great reluctance to, or desire 
to evade giving a direct answer, but being forced by the Court 
to give a definite reply, he answered at last with emphatic 
words that he was not the writer or author of the John R. 
Garland letter. Now, for the succeeding and successful con- 
flicting testimony. 

The witnesses who had been previously summoned, Avere 
now called forth to testify' to the handwriting of the John R. 
Garland letter, as well as to the general character of S. S. Shoe- 
make, as to whether or not his being a man of truth and verac- 
ity. After examining the letter, several of tliem expressed, 
according to the best of their knowledge, tliat the hand-writing 
was S. S, Shoemake's; and also, from his general character? 
they could not believe him on oath. But another witness 
called ibr and introduced, Cornelius McLamore, gave still 
stronger and more decisive testimony. No man could have 
had greater facilities for thoroughly understanding all about 
Shoenuke than Cornelius McLamore. He, without any doubt 


whatever declared tlie hand- writing to' be, undoubted!}', S. S. 
Shoemake's, and that he for another could not believe him on 

m'lamore fell a victim to the vengeance of the clan. 

This is the same gentleman treated of in another place, who 
so mysteriously disappeared the evening after the trial, and, 
from that time to the present, has never more been heard of. 
Whatever fate he met with, no one has ever been able to tell; 
but from all the circumstances connected, it must be almost 
certain to the thinking mind of all that he was cruelly mur- 
dered by the conspiring clan, who had so long maintained a 
sad career of blood and revenge, with all the practiced modes 
of concealment. 

The following is an extract from a letter dated DcKalb, May 
21st, 1871, written b}' a prominent gentleman and ex-Sheriff 
of the county in whicli the town of DeKalb is situated: 

"There has never been any person living in the county by 
the name of John R. Garland. Mr. McLamore has never been 
heard of since the time he was a witness in 3'our case, during 
the month of February or March, 1859." 

Two powerful motives predominated for the termination of 
his existence. The first, the unrelenting revenge for the crush- 
ing defeat he gave to others, and particularly to Shoemake while 
on the witness-stand. And secondly, to prevent an indictment 
for perjury against Shoemake; for it will be remembered that 
he swore positively to the hand writing of Shoemake, wlio had 
immediately before denied the same on oath in open court. 
The&e two considerations, together with having just sold his 
cotton, the money for which he had then in his possession, will 
account for his presumptive murder. No one could better 
understand the hand writing of Shoemake than Cornelius Mc- 
Lamore, for, as the defendant has been authoritativcl}' in- 
formed, the former was during some time book-keeping for the 



Sboemake, the first witness for the prosecution, had made 
such a wretcdied failure that no efforts were made to l)ring in 
the other witness from Missiisippi of the same character, Ben- 
touville Taylor. The prosecution next introduced" two wit- 
nesses from Columbus, Miss., and one bj' the name of G. W. 
Overall, all to prove an alibi, and that G. Y. Overall was posi- 
tively residing in another place at the time referred to in Cope, 
land's confessions. This testimony was satisfactory and un- 
objectionable; but, as will be shown in further progress of the 
trial, did not in reality invalidate the confessions in any ma- 
terial point whatever. 

The examination and cross examination of the different wit- 
nesses, with the arguments of the opposing counsel, accupied 
the Court for about two days; and had G. Y. Overall's object 
been nothing further than the establishing of his own inno- 
cence, he might have succeeded commensurate with his own 
unbounded desire; but what was he doing associated with such 
men as S. S. Shoemake and Bentonville Taylor? The com- 
plete unmasking of the infamous conduct of the former was 
anything but auspicious for the prosecution, and left a very 
unfavorable impression on all who lieard the proceedings as- to 
the character of the prosecution. 


The closing of the testimony was immediately^ followed by 
the opening arguments of the solicitor for the prosecution, 
which continued for a considerable length of time. Next the 
argument of Hon . Percy Walker, for the defense, which occu- 
pied a period of two hours and a half in delivery. Dis- 
tinguished as he had heretofore been on all occasions, this, as 
was said by his friends, was one of the greatest and happiest 
efforts he ever made. At the time the court-room was crowded 
almost to suffocation, and outside of it thousands were congre- 


gated to catch the utterances from his flowing lips. His wither^ 
Ing torrents against Shoemake electrified the court; but his 
main argument went to show that G. Y. Overall had no right 
to prosecute in the name of G. Overall, and that it was another 
person referred to in Copeland's confessions. 

The prosecution replied; and now the arguments from both 
sides being finished, the written notes from each, together with 
instructions from the Court w^ere furnished to the jury, and it 
forthwith retired to its room for the purpose of trying to agree 
on a verdict. But it was soon ascertained that there was a 
very strong probability of if not coming to any agreement at 
all. After retirement for about twentj^-four hours without 
any harmonious result, it reported to the Court the almost 
certainty of not being able to render any verdict on the case 
pending before it. 


Upon the reception of said report, the Judge made some 
changes In his former charges to the effect that if doubt es 
Isted, the Jury must give the defendant the benefit of such 
doubt ; farther adding, tiiat he should not discharge until the 
rendering of its vei\lict; and at once ordered it to retire again, 
with additional information that if it required any explana- 
tion on an}' points of law involved in the case before it, to re- 
port accordingly, to the Court, and it would give the proper 
instructions sought for. After the Jury had remained some 
day or two longer in retirement, the Court ordered it to report, 
on the arrival of which, the Court desired to know the points 
of disagreement. In answer, one of the jurors, W. L. Young, 
rose and respectfully addressed tlie Court, stating tliat a ma- 
jority of the Jur}' entertained doubts; and as for himself, he 
had conscientious scruples as to the propriety of confounding 
G. Overall and Q. Y. Overall together; while, at the same time, 
the principal part of the Jury did not believe that when Cope- 
land gave the name that he intended It for G. Y. Overall, and 


that the latter had no proper authority for accepting the name 
of G. Overall, as published in the confessions. The presiding 
Judge appeared to be well pleased with the manly and intelli' 
gent conduct of the young gentleman, but informed him at the 
same time that the Jury must bo governed according to the 
law and evidence before it. To this declaration, Mr. Young 
made the following repl}*: "Please your Honor, and suppose 
We do not believe the evidence in the case before us." This 
ready, but profound reply excited, to all appearance, a pleasant 
Biiiile on the Judge's countenance, and created no little sensa^ 
tion throughout the court-room among the legal fraternit}-, 
some of which Were heard to exclaim— ""a pretty good lawyer 
himself." The Judge, feeling the Weight of such an expres« 
sion, did not attempt any further remarks in reply for thi.? 

tamperino v;ii'h the jury. 

The jury once more retired. The court kept furnishing fresh 
pharges in opposition to the first given ; the last of which was 
so pointedly as to declare in positive terms that according to 
the law and evidence it, the jurj-, was compelled to find a verdict 
for the prosecution ! Six long days and nights had this jury 
remained in confinement. Worn out by it and with e^fcessive 
loss of rest, together with no hope of immediate relief, as tlie 
judge had declared liis intention to keep it in strict confinement 
for an indefinite period, unless a verdict could sooner be re- 
turned ; all these miseries endured, and in prospect to be en- 
dured, forced the jury at last to a verdict against its better 
judgment by the understanding or impression artfully- made that 
it would be better to get liberty by agreeing to a verdict with 
a small amount of fine in the way of damages for G. Y. Over- 
all, but had not the most distant idea of any imprisonment re* 
suiting. But the judge better knew the law which Invested him 
With power to imprison for six months, but in this instance he 
(sentenced only for three months. 


In addition to the torturing process resorted to for the pur- 
pose of forcing a verdict from the jury in its last liours of 
confinement, other shameful means were made use of by out- 
siders of a tampering nature — such as the conveyance of notes 
and packages in bottles to that part of the jury in favor of the 
prosecution — one end of the string tied to the bottle, and the 
other end, in the form of a ball, thrown through the window to 
be received by the parties intended. The nature of those notes 
and pacliages could only be conjectured — the recipients them- 
selves holding the contents a perfect secret within their own 
little circles. This information was conveyed to the defendant 
by eye-witnesses and part of the jury. 


After the sentence was announced. Dr. Bevell and others, 
who formed a part of the jur}', openly declared that if they had 
been aware of the fact that the judge h9,d the power to im- 
prison, suffering as they were, never would they have consent- 
ed to a verdict in favor of the prosecution. Another dis- 
tinguished juror, W. L. Young, on the case, on seeing the 
defendant coming from the court-room, met him with all the 
warmth of genuine friendship and the most sincere of emotion, 
sj-mpath}^ and contrition, which will be best understood in his 
own words : " My dear sir, my feelings are deeply wounded, and 
I feel as thouiih I have committed aver}- great wrong in giving 
consent against m}' better judgment — a wrong even to fine you 
so much as one single cent, and were the case to be done over 
again, with the light now before me, I would most assuredly 
act quite differently^ for I now see my great en-or, though my 
greatest grief is that this lesson was taught too late to be of any 
service to you in your present humiliated situation." The 
reply was suitable, and in these words: " Permit roe, sir, to ac- 
knowledge 3'our trulj' sympathetic manifestations with all the 
welcomeness and gratitude which are possible to be expressed; 
and also to further express to you that notwithstanding this 


heav}- stroke of adversity, I will endeavor to bear the same with 
philosophical fortitude, under the strengthening conviction that 
this is the most memorable epoch of lite, and in spite of malig- 
nant persecution, justice will afterwards be done, and time will 
bring forth its appropriate reward." 



Immediately after the sentence, the citizens of Mobile pre- 
pared and sent a petition to His Excellency, Governor Moore, 
of the State of Alabama, containing the signatures of over six 
hundred of the best citizens of Mobile, praying for the release 
of the defendant, but the Governor declined to grant the re- 
quest because the petition was not signed by the presiding 

But the sheriff of the city, Hon. James T. Shelton, must not 
be overlooked. His conduct in behalf of the defendant was 
noble and magnanimous in the extreme. All that one man 
could do to alleviate the rust and monotony of confinement, 
was gracefully and cheerfully donebj- him. His friendship — 
his whole-souled treatment reached to an extent not to be sur- 
passed b}" any. Hospitalities at his own mansion in profusion, 
a separate parlor well furnished with books of eveiy descrip- 
tion, and in everything else well fitted up in the utmost order 
of elegance and taste; no restraint whatever, beyond what the 
law required — having the whole limits, for exercise and recrea- 
tion, of the prison boundaries ; all such conveniences and com- 
forts were freely and lavishlj- bestowed; and for which a last- 
ing gratitude is due to the memory of the departed James T. 

Numerous other visitors, of both sexes, came to render all 
the comfort which humanity could aftbrd. These visits were 
sincere, friendly, and consoling, indeed; in short, everything 

which could be done to remove dullness and make the time 
glide away agreeablj-, was done with cheerfulness and with 
C— 11 


truly natural fervor of heart. Time did not hang heavily; hut 
passed away briefly — a time which can now be referred to with 
pride and satisfaction. 


The defendant, at the time of his arrest, was engaged to be 
married on the 22d of March following, to Miss Julia Pauline 
Bowen, daughter of Rev. P. P. Bowen, of Ocean Springs, Miss., 
but having become entangled in severe law difficulties, the ap- 
pointed time for the consummation of this engagement was, 
from necessity, indefinitely prolonged. During this time, and 
more especially while confined in prison, the fact of such en- 
gagement became generally known . Malicious propensities 
could not be gratified enough by what had already been done, 
and by the little persecution then enduring, but the baneful 
malignity even extended to private and domestic arrangements. 
Some one in Mobile, over the signature of Amogene Colfax, 
addressed quite a lengthy communication to Miss Bowen. 
This communication pretended to have emanated from a female 
friend, the real object of which was evidently to poison and 
prejudice the mind to an extent sufiicicnt to mar the existing 
engagement, and finall}- to break up all further considerations 
of the matter with a view to bring on a reaction of public prej- 
udice to take the place of public sympathy, which was then 
running in favor of the defendant. But few have an}^ adequate 
conception of the heights and depths of infamy which the clan 
could reach for the accomplishment of its infernal designs. 
But in this instance all such designs proved signally abortive, 
as will be satisfactorily understood by reading Miss Bowen's 
reply to a communication from the defendant while in prison. 

It is very much to be regretted that the letter with the fic- 
titious signature of Amogene Colfax has been misplaced or lost. 
Its appearance in this work would be valuable by the wa}' of 
giving some idea of the clan's complicated machinations; how- 
ever, Miss Bowen's reply will afford information enough to 


satisfy that she was far be3^ond the reach of influences which 
contemplated the ruin of both. Piety, firmness and devoted 
sincerity are conspicuous in every line of the reply. Let the 
reader novv judge for himself: 

MISS bowen's letter. 

Ocean Springs, Miss., March 16, 1859. 
J. R. a. Pitts, Esq., Jlobile, Ala. .' 

Esteemed Friend — Happy indeed am I to have the pleasure 
of acknowledging the reception of your kind favor bearing date 
12th instant, the contents of which are so consoling and 
interesting that I feel entirely inadequate to the task of makino- 
the properly deserving repl3^ 

This is the first intelligence I have had from you by letter 
since I heard of the last unfortunate results of your trial. Ever 
since the reception of this sad news my mind has been a com- 
plete wreck. Both mental and physical strength have visibly 
declined under the pressure of contemplated burdens which you 
had to bear; but the relief which this, 3'our Last letter, hns 
afforded is beyond the powers of description. 

In the first stages every efll'ort was made to conceal a wounded 
heart, but in vain; the countenance of sorrow was too plainly 
depicted to be mistaken by those around who are acquainted 
with former cheerfulness. Laboring under pungent niiliction 
from the silent meditation of your melancholy situation, none 
but myself can have any correct idea of the internal striigglea 
with which I was contending. Under such a compression of 
the vital powers, earthly scenes had no charms for me; but the 
wings of last night's mail bore the glad tidings from 3-0U that 
all is well, leaving you comfortably situated and cared for in 
every respect, which affords me the moat exquisite relief. 
From gloom and despair to joy and hope, the transition was 
rapid and sudden. The following from your pen affords a sat- 
isfactiou which words are incapable of representing: 

"You will please give yourself no uneasiness of mind so far 


as regards my comfort and well-being. My friends here have 
situated me as agreeably in every respect as I could possibly 
have desired. Perfectly composed and resigned myself, I want 
you to share the same, if possible, in a still higher degree." 

All of us, well knowing 3^our entire innocence, de^pl}' S3niipa- 
thize with you; and, as for m}- own part, this ordeal has only 
been a trial of m}' devotion — not knowing before the real depth 
of affection, which is now more strengthened and indelibly 
fixed on thee. Fictitious signatures cannot avail, nor indeed 
any other cunningly devised schemes for the interruption of 
the peaceful concord which has so long been maintained be- 
tween us. 

Even a brief narration of little ordinar}' simplicities may 
sometimes be enjoj'ed by minds accustomed to higher ranges 
of thought, and which frequently soar to loftier spheres of the 
grander contemplations of nature's wonderful works. Ac- 
cordingly you will be disposed to pardon anything which ^-ou 
may here find apparentlj' of a light and frivolous character. 

There is nothing new in our village that could, I presume, 
be of interest to you, unless accounts of frequent marriages 
would have this effect. In affairs of this sort there has been 
almost an epidemic. We have had quite an inclement change 
in the weather for this season of the ^'ear. It is just now revy 
cold, lowering, and quite unpleasant indeed; but the joyous 
cheerfulness manifested by the little birds indicate the early 
dawn of spring. 

There is a charming lovely little mocking bird that makes 
frequent visits near my window — sings so sweetly, and seems 
to enjoy life with the utmost fulness of felicity, so much so 
that I am, in a doleful hour, sometimes inclined to envy the 
happiness which I cannot at all times share myself. Its warb- 
ling melodies echoing as ihoy are wafted along on the zephyrs 
of the morning and renevifed again toward the evening shades, 
sometimes excite peculiar reflections, which are very wrong to 
indulge in. I ought to be content with my lot, though it may 


seem rather hard, yet, perhaps, all for the best. The dispensa- 
tions of Providence cannot be otherwise; and it is vain to re- 
pine against what we do not understand sufficient!}'. It is true 
m^- pathway- has been interspersed^ with man}' ditficulties and 
heart-rending trials from ni}- earliest childhood; and they seem 
to still follow me up to the present da}'. But of what use to 
murmur? He who has blessed me with innumerable favors will 
do all things well. "He who has been with and comforted in 
the sixth trouble, will not forsake in the seventh." 

I fear you will think me enthusiastic on the subject of relig- 
ion, but hope not. All written has been sincerely felt; and were 
it not for the comfort of religion hardly one happy moment would 
I enjoy. Oppressed and fatigued, I can go to Him who hath 
said, "Gome unto me and find rest for your wearied soul." 

The family desire a united remembrance to you. Pardon 
error, and believe as ever, 

Yours, etc., Pauline. 


This is, perhaps, the proper place for the insertion of Dr. 
Bevell's letter to Miss Bowen. It contains important matter of 
a public nature, which will again have to be referred to in the 
subsequent comments which are to follow. Let it be carefully 
read : 

April 12, 1859. 
Jfiss J. p. Bowen, Ocean Springs, 3fiss. : 

Excuse me, an entire stranger to you, for the liberty and 
freedom I take in addressing you. Although, personally, we 
are unacquainted yet my sympathies are with you and your 
unfortunate intended. I formed his acquaintance in Augusta, 
Miss., while he was engaged in wi'iting the confessions of Cope- 
land — the cause of his present unjust imprisonment. Although 
he is in prison, and redeeming an unjust sentence, his friends 
have not deserted him, as is too often the case, but visit him 
regularly and inquire after his welfare with the greatest anx- 


iety, and endeavor to administer to his ever^^ want and com- 
fort. His friends, though numerous previous to his trial, have 
greatly increased in number since. We have made an effort 
to limit his imprisonment through the pardoning power of 
Governor Moore, by an article addressed to him in the shape 
of a petition, with about six hundred signatures of the most 
responsible citizens of iNIobile; but in this we have failed, and, 
to my deepest regret, he will have to serve his time out. 

We first drew up a petition to Judge McKinstr}', signed by 
a respectable number of the jury, but hearing of his negative 
declarations on the street, we declined honoring him with the 

Although we have failed in these efforts, the conduct of all 
the opposing clique strongly indicate to my mind that the 
principal stringent ruling is to gratify, and sustain, and retain 
political influence. The opposing jaarty have by no means 
sustained itself to the world, notwithstanding the obtaining of 
a forced verdict and fine in the pitiful sum of fifty dollars, 
which the jurors are determined shall not come out of Colonel 
Pitts' pocket. The Colonel has the sympathy of the principal 
citizens of Mobile; and, among that number, almost, if not 
quite, the entire portion of the gentler sex; and as long as he 
has those amiable creatures advocating his cause he is free 
from all censure and harm. He was extremely unfortunate in 
not being able to prove certain facts on his trial that have 
since /llmost revealed themselves. I think myself they have 
seriously regretted the past and present dail}' expositions. 
Colonel Pitts is as comfortably situated as possible under the 
circumstances. He has the entire libert}' of the prison bounds, 
with no restraint whatever on his person or actions — sharing 
freely the hospitality of our inestimable Sheriff and family. He 
has an excellent little parlor, well fitted up for convenience and 

I was one of the unfortunate jurors who tried the case, and 
f]-om m}'' observations prior to, and during the progress of the 


trial, in m3' humble opinion he met with strenuous ruling and 
injustice. Yet he bore all with that fortitude and patience that 
ever characterizes a truly good man; and, since his confinement, 
appears to be composed and resigned to his fate. This has had 
a tendency to influence a favorable impression in his behalf 
among the citizens of Mobile. His friends in ^Mississippi, who 
are very numerous, are very much incensed against the Court, 
and manifested their indignation by public declarations in their 
public newspapers. His greatest grief and mortification are in 
3'our behalf. He suffers more on your account than he does 
on his own. He has dail}^ the fullest assurance and confirma- 
tion of the kindest feelings of our best people. And what more 
could he want? It is looked on as one of those misfortunes 
incident in life that sometimes cannot be avoided honorabl}'', 
and the only chance is to brave the storm fearlessl}^ until a 
more congenial sun will burst forth to his advantage, which 
will be better appreciated and enjoyed had he never been in 
prison. I do hope you haN e firmness and decision enough to 
fast adhere in adversitj^ — spurning the advice of those who 
would attempt to prejudice you against him. Sympathizing 
with him under the clouds of misfortune, rejoicing with -him in 
prosperity, and 3-et be happy together; and may 3-ou both live, 
not to exult, but witness tlie repentance of 3'Our enemies, is 
the desire of your well wisher, 

Ver3' respectfull3-, 3'ours, 

John a. Bevell. 
Miss Bowen availed herself of the ver3^ earliest opportunity 
to ackuowletlge and to reply to this valuable communication, 
in which will be found some statements well worth}' of record. 

MISS boaven's reply to de. bevell's lettee. 

Ocean Speings. Miss., Apeil 16, 1859. 
Dr. John A. Bevell, Mobile, Ala. : 

SiE : — I am iu receipt of 3-ours, bearing date 12th inst., and 
sensibly feel the loss of suitable language for a correct ex- 



pression of what is due for 3'our inestimable favor. It has 
been read with intense interest. It came at the opportune 
moment when most needed, and contains matter which to me 
is of the highest earthly treasure, and for which the ordinary 
returns of gratitude are but a faint expression of the true es- 
timation entertained in my own mind. 

To learn from one so competent to furnish correct informa- 
tion of the eas3' and comfortable situation of my much esteem- 
ed friend, Mr. P., is gratifying in the extreme. At first, 
imagination had drawn pictures too darkly of him being im- 
mured in solitary confinement where the cheering raj's of solid 
friendship could not penetrate. How agreeably I have been 
disappointed. Your communication has completely dispelled 
for the future all such illusor}^ apprehensions. Friends numer- 
ous, and sympathy not confined to narrow limits, with an 
abundant plenty of everything else calculated to alleviate the 
misfortunes of a temporary exile. 

But allow me to cjnfess to you that the recent trial, with its 
apparently sad results, has with me in no wise made the slight- 
est change deleterious to the future interest and happiness of 
m}- friend. Previous to this memorable event in his life, with 
him I had pledged for an early approach to the hymeneal 
altar, and was fully satisfied then that he was, in ever^- respect, 
■worthy of such a pledge of confidence; and if his merit were, 
deserving the same in that day, they are certainly, in m}' opin- 
ion, more so to da}-. 

As3''et I have not heard a single word uttered that does not 
fully justify Mr. P's action in giving publicitj' to the historj^ of 
Copeland. The public good of his country demanded such ac- 
tion from him. Bearing in mind such circumstances, I could not, 
with any degree of consistency, suflTer myself for a moment to 
be biased or influenced by out-siders, and, ijoore especially, by 
those who are violently antagonist against the author for doing 
that which ought to be received by the public generally as a 
great blessing to societv. 



You will please do me the kindness at youv earliest conveni- 
ence to infoi'in Mr. P. uot to siitTer himself to be in the least 
troubled on my account, nor to entertain any doubt of my un- 
swering constancy. In this respect, perhaps I am endowed 
with as much stability as any, and as much as he can desire. 

Although heretofore strangers, nevertheless, I hold to be 
much indebted for the warm interest you have taken in behalf 
of my friend, and indeed mutually so of both. 

Very respectfully, etc. , 


From every creditable source, profuse attentions had entered 
through all avenues of the prison wall ; and now the defend- 
ant's time for which he had been sentenced was about to expire, 
preparations were immediately made to honor him with a "re- 
ception committee " to greet him from the narrow limits to the 
realms of libert}-, where dwells the broad expanse of earth and 
sky. Confinement had not coi'roded the soul's finer parts; and 
to show how devoid his mind was of ever}- semblance of preju- 
dice or malignit}', a brief extract fi'om his address delivered on 
that occasion when emerging from his sentence bounds, will be 
read with some degree of interest. 



"Gentlemen, at this proud moment, the breath of liberty is 
refreshing. From an incarceration so unjust, you welcome me 
back to freedom with as much joy as I can possible experience 
myself at this instant of time. Rather as a very much perse- 
cuted individual than a criminal do ^'ou this da}' consider me. 
For this demonstration of your kindly sentiments, as well as on 
all other occasions, my gratitude is tendered in profusion. 
"What is it that can not be endured while being surrounded with 
friends so devoted and sincere? The reception you have seen 
proper to give me, removes all doubts as to the manner I will be 


metb}' other circles of my fellow beings. "Well do I know how 
hastily iudgment is often pronounced without sufficiently 
discriminating betwixt guilt and innocence. This morn- 
ing I leave the precincts of prison unconscious of any 
wrong by me committed, but, on the contrary, am strongly 
impressed with the convictions that I have materially served 
my country b}^ giving publicity to the career of a band of men 
who, for 3'ears, held whole States in absolute terror. For this 
I have suffered, but do not repine, because time^ the great 
friend of truth, must eventually triumph. From prison 
I come not forth burning with vindictive or revengeful 
feelings against any. Notwithstanding the wrongs endured, 
I have passed in my own heart an act of amnesty so far as. 
private considerations are concerned, and whatever course may 
be maiked out for the future, onlj^ the public good will, in this 
respect, afford me any interest for subsequent pursuit. To you, 
and to other large bodies of respectable citizens of jNIobile, for 
petitioning the Governor for pardon, although a failure, yet 
equally do I return thanks for the best of intentions as though 
they had been perfectly successful." 

Immediately' after his release, letters of condolence and con- 
gratulations, h-om distant parts, and almost from every direction 
poured in . One in particular from a friend in Gonzales, Texas, 
will also be read with more than ordinary- interest. Its spirit 
and intention were to impel him forward to higher achiuvenients 
of fame and utility. 

a letter from a frien1> in texas after defendant's release. 

Gonzales, Texas, Dec. 30, 1850. 
Dr. J. li. S. ruts, Medical College, Ala. : 

"Dear Sir: — In the sunshine of prosperit}', friends will 
crowd around like bees on the honey-comb, but when the low- 
ering clouds of adversity appear, there are but few who will 
not be found among the ranks of deserters, your case, however, 
forms an exception to the general rule. You have been favor- 


ed b}' the benign and exhileruting influences of fortune; and 3'ou 
liave also experienced the dark and bitter reverses with which 
humanit}' is so often saturated. At one time, she has thrown 
around you a joj^ous halo of felicity — at another time she has 
forsaken you with a treacherous inconstanc}-; buc amid all her 
various phases of change which you have endured, tiie sympa- 
thy and good-will of every honest heart has beat high in your 
behalf. Your vile prosecntors succeeded by miserable subter- 
fuges of law, which involved you in serious pecuniar}- embar- 
rassments, and consigned you within the dreary walls ot con- 
finement, but time is now doing justice both to you and to 
them. You are mounting up into a brighter — a purer atmos- 
phere of public estimation, while they are descending as rapid- 
ly into the dark abodes of eternal execration. 

No one can feel more elated, or more disposed to congratu- 
late you on anything pertaining to your interest, happiness, 
and success than myself; and certainly none more willing to 
contribute at every opportunity' all within the power of one 
individual to your permanent gratification : how could it be 
otherwise? I have known you long ; a chain of unbroken 
friendship has ever continued betwixt us; and more than all, 
I am proud in the contemplation that I have had some share 
in your early education. 

Your attention is now directed towards the medical profes- 
sion ; and here I can express a few words of encouragement 
without acting derogator}' to the principles of rectituile or 
sincerety; for if thinking otherwise, most certainly would I 
prefer the task ot assisting at the risk of displeasing you. 

The medical profession aftbrds a line scope fur the develope- 
nient of eveiy faculty belonging to llie human soul. Man, 
"the image of God," is the most wonderful and con^,i)licated 
machine in the universe. Here is the noblest of all subjects — 
vast, boundless, and inexhaustible. Here is a theme on which 
the finest geniuses of the world have been engaged: a theme 
in connection with which the accumulation of intellectual 


wealth and constant progression have l3een marching onward 
with giant strides from the commencement of man's mundane 
existence; yet but little hope — but little prospect of ever reach- 
ing peifection ; hence tbe encouragement for onward acquisi- 
tion for further triumphs of science. 

Knowledge is valuable only in proportion to its applicability 
for preventing or alleviating the sufferings of humanity; then 
where is the avocation more adapted to better accord with this 
sentiment than the medical profession? Of course, I exclude 
all consideration in reference to the man^' quacks, empirics 
and murderers, who assume the medical garb without the least 
sign of internal qualification. 

There is nothing in all the wide diversified forms of creation 
that can give 3'ou such lofty conceptions of the attributes of 
the Deity as the stud}- of man! Life's warm stream which 
ramifies and circulates in processes so wonderful; the numer- 
ous heterogeneous fluids which are secreted from it to answer 
all the astounding purposes of systematical economy with the 
nicest of all exactness; and all this by a "vital principle" 
which none can define, but which serves very well to represent 
our ignorance; the almost countless numbers of self-acting — 
self-propelling powers, with multitudes of valves, hinges, joints, 
all working in the grandest of earthly harmony; these are me- 
chanical operations which belong to the Deit}-, and mock the 
proudest of all efforts in vain imitation. But what arc these 
in comparison to the human mind — this noble prerogative of 
man? It is this which makes him the "lord of creation," and 
draws the broad line of distinction betwixt himself and the 
lower order of creation. It is to this we are indebted for the 
manifold wheels, springs and levers which carry society along; 
in sliort the moral transactions of this revolving globe owe 
their origin and continuance to its agency. The science of 
medicine comprises a considerable knowledge of the whole. 
To understand any one business well, we must have much in- 
formation on the relation of man}'. The study of causes and 


effects of physical phenomena, as well as the faculties, senti- 
ments, and propensities of the human soul, are all within 3'our 
province. But without enlarging, enough has been written to 
urge and animate 3'ou on in the work you have so well begun." 
The most remarkable action of any executive was that of 
the Governor of Mississippi in giving assistance to the "clan" 
in its expiring throes, whether intentionally or uninten- 
tionally, is not material now to enquire. From this action 
alone, but few are incapable of understanding, to some extent, 
the influence which wealth and distinction can exercise in 
cases, no matter how depraved they may be. This is only one 
instance from incalculable numbers which might be adduced 
where even the highest departments of State can be made 
subservient to vitiated purposes. 


The following was published in the True Democrat, from the 
pen of -one of the ablest Judges in the eastern part of Missis- 
sippi, shortly after the liberation of the defendant: 

Mr. Editor — We heartily sympathize with J. R. S. Pitts, 
Sheriff of Perry county, and are deeply mortified at the yield- 
ing course of our Governor in rendering him up a prisoner in 
obedience to a requisition from the State of Alabama. We 
look on this whole affair as being preposterous in the extreme. 
To have the Sheriff of one of our counties forced to vacate his 
Office, temporarily, and to be taken like a common felon, and 
carried to another State, and there be tried as a malefactor, 
and for what? Wh3-, for simply writing and publishing the 
confessions of a notorious "land pirate," one of a gang of 
banditti that has till recently been a terror to ihe whole country 
for a great many years. Such a course betraj-s a feebleness 
of nerve on the part of his Excellency perfectlj' unpardonable 
in the Executive. 

The "Wages and Copeland Clan" have become as notorious 
in portions of Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas, as 


Was the pirate and robber, John A. Murrell, and his clan. It 
is well for Mr. Pitts that his friends volunteered to guard him 
and protect him until he reached the city of Mobile in safety. 

Talk about rendering him up on a requisition that claimed 
him as a "fugitive from justice," when the offence, if an}', was 
committed in this State, when he v;as a citizen of Perry 
county, and Sheriff of the county at the time, and quietly at 
home discharging the duties of his office. "Oh! shame, where 
is thy blush?" 

But we rejoice to learn that his prosecutors have failed to 
hurt him. They may have forced him to draw heavilj^ on his 
purse to fee lawyers, pay tavern e:spenses, etc., but the}'^ have 
not hurt his character. He stands to-day proudl}- vindicated 
as a bold and efficient officer before an impartial and un- 
prejudiced public, Mr. Pitts is too well known in Mississippi 
for the tongue of slander or the hand of the bitter persecutor 
to injure him seriously. He is a native of Georgia — "to 
the manner born." He was reared and principally educa*^ed in 
Mississippi. And right in the county where he v,'as princi- 
pall\' raised, he was selected by a large majority of the citizens 
of the county to serve them and the State in the high and re- 
sponsible office of Sheriff of the county; and that too when he 
had barel}" reached his m_ajority of 3^ears. The intelligent 
citizens of Perry county elected him by their spontaneous suf- 
frage sold}' on account of his great moral worth and his supe- 
rior business qualifications. 

The most amusing circumstance in the whole affair is, the 
report industriously circulated that Mr. Pitts did not write 
the book— that he is not scholar enough to write such a book. 
The report refutes itself by its own palpaple absurdity. Every- 
body who is acquainted with Mr. Pitts knows that he is a fair 
English scholar, and a very good writer. The book is a valu- 
able book; and it has dune, and will do more to rid the country 
of the clan it exposes than even the killing and hanging has 


Mr. Pitts may congratulate himself as having done more 
with his pen as an author than he did with the rope and gallows 
as Sheriff. Much more might be said in vindication of thig 
l>ersecuted gentleman, but this is deemed sufficient. Mr. Pitts 
is a 3'oung man, and will, if he lives many years, work out a 
character in high social po ition, and official position, too, if lie 
seeks it. From his beginning, I predict for him a brilliant 
career in the future . 

Very respectfully, Vikdex. 


The vile character of the prosecution is not yet sufficiently 
understood. There is j'et more to be developed. Enough has 
already been brought to light to give some idea of Shoemake, 
one of the main witnesses in the struggle to crush truth. Earth 
was never trod by a more dangerous and despicable wretch 
than this. He was the embodiment of all that was mean, cruel, 
bloody and horrible. How much superior the other agent and 
intended witness, Bentonville Taylor is, the reader -will judge 
for himself from the following authentic testimony. 

The statement will be remembered in the commencing part 
of the proceedings of the trial that no ordinar}' amount of as» 
tonishmcnt was experienced b}^ the defendant when Benton- 
ville Taylor was called into court as one of the principal wit- 
nesses for the prosecution. The defendant well knowing the 
character of this man, he lost no time for getting the most sub- 
stantial of testimony touching his notorious reputation . This 
testimony lias been held in reserve up to the present period for 
reasons which will be given presently'. 

In Shoemake's evidence, the prosecution sustained such an 
overwhelming defeat that it refrained from calling up another 
of the same type for that time. As before stated, Bentonville 
Taylor was brought from "Williamsburg, Covington count}". 
Miss. The nature of his testimony, intended to be given ia 
court) was immediately learned .iifterward by his card published 


in one of the Mobile newspapers. The substance of this card 
was to the effect that the names given in the confessions were 
forged bj' the defendant, and that Copeland himself was insane 
at the time he made the confessions, and the same entirely im- 
■worth}- of an}' credit whatever either in public or private. It 
was thought at the time that Bentonville Taylor was to be 
used in the other two cases of Moulton and Cleaveland against 
the defendant to be afterward tried. This is one reason why 
the documents pertaining to Bentonville Taylor have so long 
been w'thheld. Another is, it is always painful, in the absence 
of imperative nccessit}', to make public such considerations as, 
under other circumstances, might be better enveloped in silence; 
but when charges of forger}^ have been made, and that the 
"whole confessions are entirely unworthy of credit, then it be- 
comes an absolute necessity' to know something of the man 
who has had the audacity to make such charges. 

First v^'ill be given some extracts from a letter which was 
intended for publication at the time, but on more mature 
thought was decided to be suppressed for the same reasons as 
just given. This letter is now in the hands of the defendant, 
the severer parts of which will still be suppressed for humanity's 

"Who is this Bentonville Taylor, where did he come from, 
and what his character as established by himself? It seems 
he came to Ellisville, Jones count}-. Miss., about the time or 
shortl}' after Copeland was brought from the Alabama peni- 
tentiary to Mississippi to be tried for the murder of Harvey — 
pretending then to be a Yankee school master seeking employ- 
ment — having with him a woman whom he introduced to that 
community as his sister and assistant teacher. They obtained 
a school; he and his sister took board in a respectable family 
located in Ellisville, Mr. Parker's. Thc}^ had not been there 
long before reports got out in this family of such a nature that 
is perhaps imjjroper to publish. However, Mr. Parker ordered 
them to leave his house. The trustees of the school forthwith 


called a meeting, which resulted in the discharge of both. They 
were promptly paid off; the woman left for parts unknown, 
while he has been loitering around in the adjoining counties 
in a way anything but satisfactory-, ever since, He got out a 
license to plead law, defended Copeland in his last trial, and 
then was brought from Williamsburg, Covington count}^ by 
the Mobile prosecutors, to there serve their purposes, in the 
most reduced of external condition and centless, but returned 
in the finest suit of attire, with plenty of money in his pocket 
— the rewards of his services in Mobile for falsehood and at- 
tempted deception. And this is the respectable lawyer from 
Mississippi, as represented by one of the prosecutors. A 
cheaper and more degraded instrument could not have been 
found in all Eastern Mississippi. A poor subterfuge to resort 
to such a man to lie men out of deserving censure. How readily 
it seems the prosecution knew where to place its fingers to sub- 
serve the purpose. A few more such licks will nail the truth 
of Copeland's confessions to the cross forever." 

But read the documcLts now in possession, from the best 
and most respectable citizens of Jones county, about this 
man : 

The State of Mississippi,) 
Perky County. j' 

This da}' personally appeared before me, A. L. Fairl}-, a 
Justice of the Peace, in and for the said county and State 
aforesaid, Franklin J. Mixon, who makes oath in due form of 
law, and on oath saj's that Bentonville Taylor stole from this 
affiant a bridle and girth, while this affiant resided in Jones 
count}-, Mississpipi, at, or near, Hoskin's ferry in said Jones 
county, in the month of March or April, 1858. 

Sworn to, and subscribed before me this twelfth day of 
April, 1859. 

A. L. Fairly, J . P., P. C. 
Signed, F. J. Mixon. 
C— 12 


State of Mississippi,) 
Perky County. f 

I, James Carpenter, Clerk of the Probate Court of said 
county, certify that A. L. Fairly, whose name is signed to the 
above affldayit, was at the time of signing the same,^a Justice 
of the Peace, in and for said county, and that full faith and 
credit are due all his oflicial acts as such. 

Given under my hand and seal of said court, this sixteenth 
day of April, 1859. 

James Carpenter, 
Clerk Prubate Court, Perry Co., Ilis-s. 

ElLisville, Jones ColtnTy, \_ 
Mississippi. ) 

Wc, the undersigned citizens of said county and State afore- 
said, do hereby certify that we are well acquainted with Ben- 
tonville Ta^dor, and know him to be a man of no moral worth 
as a citizen, no character as a lawyer, nor school teacher, and 
a man to whose word wc could not give any credence for troth 
and Veracity. 

J. L. Owen, Att*y at Law, Ellisville, INtiss. 

J. A. Easterling. 

Norval Cooper. 

S. E. Nettles, Treas. of Jones county. 

F. K. Willoughby, Justice of the Peace. 

Hiram Mathas. 

Isaac Anderson . 

M. H. Owen. 

Amos J . Spears. 

Richmond Anderson. 

Thos. D. Dyess. 

John H. Walters. 

H. D. Dossett, Kx-Sherlff of sa5d county. 

appendix, 179 

State op Mississippi.) 
Jones County. \ 

I, D. M. Shows, Clerk of the Circuit and Probate Courts of 
said county, do hereby' certify- that I believe the men vrhose 
names appear to the foregoing annexed certificate, are men of 
truth and veracity. 

Given under my hand and seal of office this second da}- of 
April, 1859. 

D. M. Show?, Clerk of C & P. G. 

Ellisville, Mississippi, f 
Jones County. f 

I, E. M. Devall, Sheriff of said county and State aforesaid, 
do certify that I believe that the men whose names appear to 
the foregoing annexed certificate are men of truth and veracitr. 

Given under my hand and seal this 2d day of April, 1859, 
E. M. Devall, Sheriff Jones count}-. 

After Bentonville Ta^'lor returned from Mobile, I saw him 
and told him of the rumor that was in circulation relative to 
his going to Mobile as a witness against Col. J. R. S. Pitts^ 
and he denied emphatically to me of having any share in the 
transaction, and also stated that the aforesaid rumor was false. 
[Signed.] Edward W. Goff. 

The next question to be dealt with is the miserable plea of 
insanity, and forged names in the confessions. 

First, let the report from the inquisition jury be read, which 
will be found on page 113 of this work. Again, it is 
well known by those who visited Copeland In person, 
that there was a keenness and shrewdness about him which 
distinguished hira from ordinary men; and all the promptings 
given to feign insanity did not amount to anything but deserv- 
ing failure , And as to the gratuitous charge of forging names, 
the defendant did not know anything about them previous to 


being given by Copeland. He did not know that such names 
were in existence before, and of course could not forge in the 
absence of all knowledge appertaining; but the conduct of the 
prosecution, with hundreds of living witnesses, go, as quoted 
from the letter just referred to, " to nail to the cross forever 
the truth of Copeland's confessions." 

So much for the trial in Mobile in the first case, and now for 
the necessary comments to further enable the reader to compre- 
hend the whole. 

There were two other cases on the same docket of precisely 
a similar nature to the first against the defendant. For two or 
three years afterward he was in regular attendance, and always 
read^^ for trial; but the prosecution would not allow either case 
to come on until known that his presence was required in the 
army during the war; and then it had the cases called up, and 
the bonds declared forfeited. The two cases were ordered dis- 
missed, and, some several 3'ears afterward, the bondsmen were 
finally released b}^ the " Commissioners of Revenue" without 

Nothing is plainer than of the prosecution being glad of 
any plausible pretext for dismissing the cases — anything in the 
shape of a convenient opportunity for relief in the awkward 
situation in which it stood. Why so determined and success- 
ful to bring on instanter the first case in spite of the most 
powerful reasons for a temporar}' continuance? And wh}', 
when this was over, was it equally deternjined and successful 
to ward off the two remaining cases? Is it not evident, not- 
withstanding all the prostituted forces at command, that it was 
unwilling to make a second experiment? But how stands the 
presiding Judge afl^ected in this slim}' atfair? In the first case, 
in defiance of the most powerful cause assigned in favor, he 
would not allow one hour of continuance of the case; but from 
term to term, from year to 3'ear, he allowed the prosec\ition all 
it wanted, regardless of all the urgent eflbrts of the defendant 
for the remaining trials to be proceeded with to save entire 

ArPEXDIX. 181 

ruin from excessive and repeated expenses. But when the de- 
fendant's absence was compelled b}^ demands made from the 
War Department, then did this Judge allow the case to be 
pressed forward by the prosecution, and the bonds declared 
forfeited! If this junta, or combination of Judge with the 
prosecution did not exist, the plainest of all circumstantial 
demonstrations are not worthy of an}' notice whatever. But 
this is only one instance out of a number, which will be given 
of this Judge's partiality' — of his palpable efforts to do violence 
to justice. 

Again, mark his conduct in endeavoring to obtain a forced 
and unnatural verdict. After twentj'-four hours of close con- 
finement, the jury returned with the report that there was no 
earthly chance of coming to an agreement. The Judge bid 
them, contrary to all custom, to again retire, with a declara- 
tion that he would hold it in confinement until the verdict 
could be made up, even though an indefinite period were re- 
quired to accomplish the object. 

Had he before been in consultation with the prosecution? 
Did he know the whole arrangement? Did he know that some 
one or more, perhaps influenced by gold, were resolved to hold 
out to the bitter end? And that one by one of the opposition, 
under the tortures of long confinement, must keep falling in to 
avoid further suffering, and more especially when the cunning 
device was resorted to for the purpose of deceiving the oppo- 
sition b}' inducements to the eftect that it was han^ly worth 
while holding out when all could be so easil}^ avoided b}^ a few 
dollars of fine in the waj' of damages, which would not at all 
hurt the defendant? What was the meaning of the sham in 
his appearing, in the first part of his instructions, to lean to 
the defendant b^' telling the jury that if there was a doubt ex- 
isting with it, the defendant was entitled to the benefit of said 
doubt; and then, in the last hours of worn out confinement, 
came squarely out in conflict, and positively told the jury that 
it <vas bound to find a verdict of guilty frOm the law and evi- 


(lenco before it? "What was tl.e meaning of paekiiges and 
writing being conveyed to the jurj' by outsiders during the 
latter part of its retirement, or, at least, to that part of it in 
favor of the prosecution? 

Notwithstanding the most justifiable and potent of all rea- 
sons in favor of the petition got uj) and signed by six hundred 
of the best and most respectable citizens of Mobile to be for- 
warded to the Governor for the release of the defendant, the 
Judge hearing of the same, emphatically declared, before being 
asked, that he would not sign it; and the Governor, because of 
this omission, refused to grant the prayer. Did the prosecu- 
tion influence both Governor and Judge, so that the whole 
formed one compact ring to defeat justice? What sa^'s the 
learned Dr. Beveil on this subject — the very man who sat on 
this jur^' and witnessed all: 

"We have made an effort to limit his imprisonment through 
the pardoning power of Governor Moore, by an article ad- 
dressed him in the shape of a petition, with about six hundred 
signatures of the most resjjectable citizens of Mobile; but in 
this we Iiave failed, and, to my deepest regret, he will have to 
serve his time out. We first drew up a petition to Judge Mc- 
Kinstry, signed by a respectable number of the Jur}', but hear- 
ing of his negative declarations on the street, we declined hon- 
oring him with the request. 

'•'• Althovgh we have/ailed in these efforts, the conduct of al^ 
the opposing clique stronyltj indicate to my mind that the prin- 
cipal stringent ruling and opposition are to grati/g, and i'Ust((in, 
and retain political injluence.'''' 

But tlie abuses committed b}' Judge McKinstry do not close 
here. A verbal copy of Shoemake's affidavit lias just been re- 
ceived, the insertion of which cannot be omitted, as it will add 
new light on what has already been advanced on this subject 
in the commencing part of the trial, and will go still further to 
demonstrate the deeply sullied conduct of the prosecution and 
Judge. Let this copy be read with attention-. 

appendix. 183 


State of Alabama, 
Mobile County. 

Before , personally came S. S, Slieumack, who on 

oath saith that one J. R. S. Pitts did, within the last six months, 
in the county a^'oresaid, unlawfull}^ wickedly and malicioush', 
with intent to injure, defame, villif}', and prejudice this deponent, 
and to bring him into contempt, scandal, and disgrace, publish 
and circulate in said countj^ a printed pamphlet entitled, 
" The Life and Career of James Copeland, the Great Southern 
Land Pirate, who was executed at Augusta, Mississippi, Oc- 
tober 30th, 1857 ; together with the exploits of the Wages' clan 
in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida." 

Lt said pamphlet, said Copeland is described as one of the 
leaders of a gang of robbers, murderers, highwaymen, and the 
deponent is represented therein by the name of "S. S. Shones- 
mak," as a member of said clan, or gang of robbers, murder- 
ers, and thieves ; which pamphlet containing the aforesaid 
statement, referring to this deponent, is a defamatorj' libel, and 
is utterly and wholly false. 

S. S. Sheumaciv. 

Subscribed and sworn to, this 17th day of January-, 1859, 

before nic, 

Alex. McKinstey, Judge, 

To ANY Sheriff of the State of Alabama : 

You are hereby commanded to arrest the bodj' of J. R. S. 
Pitts, charged bj^ aflidavit made with the offense of '•Libel,"' by- 
one S. S. Sheuraack, and hold him in custody- until discharged 
b}' due course of law, which may be done bj^ any examining 

Witness m^- hand and seal. 

Mobile, January 17, 1859. Alex. McKixstby, Judge. 

18-1 Arpr.NDix. 

Eecoived Jaiuuirj- 17, 1859, find on the same da}- I executed 
the -n'ithin writ on J. E. S. Pitts, and have now in jail. 

James T. Shelton, Sheriff. 31. C. 

The State of Alabama. 
Mobile County. 

I, P. LaVerg3% Clerk of the City Court of Mobile, hereb}- cer- 
tify', that the foregoing is a true copy of the affidavit signed by 
S. S. Sheumack, as also of the writ of arrest, and Sherift"s 
return, in a case of the State vs. J. R. S. Pitts, as the same on 
file in mj' office. 

Witness my hand, this 19th day of July, A. D., 1874. 

P. LaVergy, Clerk. 

the character of the prosecution. 

Scheumack or Shoemake, all the while a citizen of Missis- 
sippi, the defendant a citizen of Mississippi, yet, he goes to 
the City of Mobile, in another State, among his friends and 
brethern, for process of law. This was changing of venue with 
a vengeance. With equal propriety, as far as law is concerned, 
might he not have gone to New York — not one whit more un- 

Sheumack, the "big dog" among the clan ; the man, above 
all others, steeped the deepest in blood, and crime, and dissim- 
ulation ; the man who broug|it counterfeit documents pretend- 
ing to come from the Probate Judge of Kemper couut}^ ; the 
man who denied writing the John R. Garland letter on the wit- 
ness stand, and whose oath was there invalidated to the satis- 
faction of all ; the man who bore the requisition from the 
Governor of Alabama to the Governor of Mississippi for the 
arrest of the defendant; this is the man to whom Judge Mc- 
Kinstr\- granted his writ to serve the purposes as specifietl 
in the affidavit. 


This affidavit charges with "unlawfully, wicked!}', and lua- 
liciousl}'^, with intent to injury, defaoie, villify, and prejudice the 
deponent:" and again "this deponent is -represented by the 
uame of Shonestnak, as a member of a clan or gang of robbers, 
murderers, and thieves, which statement, referring to the depo- 
nent, is a defamatory libel, and utterl}- and wholly untrue." 

In answer, will any one deny that such a "clan" existed? 
Will any one deny that its whole object was robbery, murder, 
and theft? It is presumed that none will have the effrontor}- to 
make such a denial in the face of such overwhelming testimony 
almost everywhere to be found. 

The next thing to be considered is, did the defendant pub- 
lish and circulate, with an intent to defame, villify, and pre- 
judice, etc., one represented by the name of Shouesmack, as 
belonging to the said clan? 

Is there one disinterested and unprejudiced being in ex- 
istence who can believe that the defendant could have any 
motive for "wickedly, maliciously." etc., assailing somebody 
he before knew nothing about, either good or bad — not even 
before knowing that such a creature was in existence? Up to 
that time, unacquainted with a single act of his life, can any one 
believe that the defendant published and circulated with a wicked 
and malicious intent to defame and prejudice somebody he 
neither knew by person or reputation before ? Maliciousness 
can not exist while unconscious of any cause for the same. So 
much then for the unlawful, wicked and malicious attempt to 
injure ih.Q fair fame of Scheumack. 

The same arguments will apply with equal force to the other 
names as published being the same as given by Copeland to the ; for to suppose otherwise would be the height of 
absurdity. The next subject for inquir}' is, did Copeland, in 
his list of names, include Scheumack rightfully or wrongfully? 

Shonesmaclc, and not Scheumack, was given in the published 
list in consequence of a typographical error. But Scheumack 
declared that the published name must mean him, and the same 


publication was " having a very deleterious eflect against him in 
his own count\', Kemper." Why was Scheumaclv so very sen- 
sitive? Why did he take on himself the published name of 
Shonesmack ? Why was the publication having a very de- 
leterious effect against him in his count}', Kemper? An inno- 
cent man by the name of Scheumack would hardly have trou- 
bled himself much about Shonesmak. A man living honestlj', 
honorabl}', and respectfull}' in his own county would not have 
taken any umbrage at all from the publication. Around here, there 
are quite a number by the same, or very similar, name, j-et none 
of these complained against the publication having a very de- 
leterious effect against them. Those who foam, and rave, and 
curse the hardest, are generall}' the object on whom suspicion 
falls the heaviest. 

But this is not all, immediatel}- after the publication of the 
•pamphlet complained of, he wrote his John R. Garland letter, 
in which he described himself with the most perfect of accuracy 
as being occasionally absent for some time, and then returning 
with horses and mules, and other sorts of property which no- 
body besides himself could account for, etc.. Let it be borne 
in mind that he denied writiiig this letter on oath on the vit- 
ness stand, when the conclusive i)roof came next that he un- 
doubtedl}' was the author of it. The counterfeit papers, with 
feigned authority from the Probate Judge of Kemper county, 
his several designs on the life of the defendant, with many 
other of his actions which are more than suspicious, all go to 
establisji the fact that Copeland made no mistake when he gave 
his name and designated him as a "big dog" among the clan. 

Ye, Governors, Judges and prosecutors, learn from the old 
adage: " Tell me the company you keep, and I will tell you who 
you are." 

But there is something left behind of a still darker and more 
enigmatical character as to the mockery- in processes of law 
belonging to the case. 

Scheumack, a resident of another State, goes to Mobile to 



prosecute foi- libel, and Judge McKiiistry grants him the writ 
accordingl}'. The Sheriff is represented as returning the same 
to the effect that the writ had been executed, and the defendant 
in jail on the 17th of January, 1859. Again, the trial docket 
and the records show that four bills were got against the de- 
f ndant from the Grand Jury the November term, 1858, marked 
cases numbers 61, 62, 63, '64, corresponding to which are given 
the names of G. Y. Overall, C. F. INlonlton, G. A. Cleavelaad, 
and S. S. Scheumack ; and that the name of Scheumack disap- 
peared subseqentl}' without any order being made or without 
any cause being assigned for the same; and furthermore four 
appearance bonds given b^' the defendant arc found on file in 
the office. In these cases, there is no record of anj- action be- 
ing taken by either Governor of Alabama or Mississippi, the 
reason for which, perhaps, may be accounted for by the inno- 
vation and wrong being too great for Governors' names to be 
associated with on record. 

Now, it is evident, from the allidavit of Scheumack. that he 
did not get a bill at the time the other three did from the 
Grand Jury of 1858, and it is cquall}- evident that he never 
afterward got one; then why was his case associated on the 
trial ilocket with the other three? 

The writ executed and returned asserts the defendant to be 
in jail on the 17th of January, 1859. What a farce! If the 
defendant was in jail at that time, it so mysteriously hajjpcned 
that he never knew it. A bond is found on lile in the office 
given by the defendant to answer the chai'ge preferred by 
JScheumak. What a farce! If the defendant gave such a bond, 
he never knew it — was never called on to sign it — never went 
before any examining magistrate, nor never knew, until a lew 
days ago, that Scheumack had ever succeeded in any action of 
law against him. 

Ye i)roseeutors. answer, if you can, how the records are 
made to show that Scheumack got a bill from the Grand Jury 
of the November term, 1858, when his affidavit of January 17, 


1859, shows conclusively that he never got any such bill at all. 
Answer, if you can, how his name so mysteriously disappeared 
from the trial docket without an}^ order being made, or without 
an}- cause being assigned for the same. Answer, if you can, 
how the appearance bond relative to him and the defendant is 
found on file in the office, when no such bond could possibly 
have been given. Answer, if you can, how the defendant came 
to be in jail on the 17th of January-, 1859, when thousands pos- 
itively know that such was not the case. If " something rotten 
in Denmark" is not found here, it is vain to seek from any 
other quarter. 


Not in populous cities — not in the centres of accumulated 
wealth and misdirected intelligence that integrity and the ad- 
ministrntion of justice can be found. The highest function- 
aries of States have to bend to these rings and cliques. Honor 
scorned, justice mocked, and shame departed, what is there left 
to purify the national streams'? Clans who live by plunder 
and murder can, vvith their ill-gotten gains, find plenty of law 
protection. Above all things, the Bench should be kept pure 
and independent, so that the criminal, though rich, cannot 
escape; and the poor and humble, if honest, can receive 
protection. Not as now, when judicial decisions are measured 
according to political numbers and the varied influences of 
wealth. If mercy is shown at all, let it be on the side of the 
unfortunate and those who have had few opportunities for im- 
provement; and never on the side of those Avho have had all 
the advantages of wealth and education, and who should set 
an example to the subordinate classes of the communit}'. Let 
the lessons cease to be taught and children cease to learn that 
because a man is rich no crime can hurt him; and if poor, 
tliough lionest, he can be victimized by a snap of the finger 
from some influential person at any time. Is it an}' wonder at 
the increasing centralization of power? It is a necessary con- 


sequence under present circumstances. The corruptions find 
abominations have nearly reached the maximum height, and 
are at present of such a frightful magnitude that some remedy, 
ere long, must be adopted. Liberty abused must bring on re- 
action, sometimes for the better, but oftener for evils as great 
as those desired to be remedied. 

And now, in concluding this sketch of the trial, which was 
carried on with so much absorbing interest and excitement, a 
brief recapitulation of its paramount features may be of some 
utility in bringing within our immediate view those incidents 
of it which are the most pregnant of meaning as to the future 

In reviewing tlie conduct of the then Governor of Missis- 
sippi, McWillie, it is not charit}^, nor warranted by correct 
inductive reasoning, to suppose that he intended to assist the 
Wages and Copeland Clan by giving his approval for the ren- 
dition of the defendant as a "fugitive from justice," at the time 
he was an acting Sheriff for one of the counties of the State. 
It is, perhaps, better to suspect the Governor's ignorance or 
want of the proper information, than to charge him with evi[ 
designs. Had he known at the time the desperate character of 
Shoemake, one of the clan, and the authorized agent to make 
the arrest; had he known that the defendant knew nothing of 
the names [niuv to the confessions, and, of course, could have 
had no interest nor malicious motive to misrepresent, with the 
fact of locating the Three Distinguished at the risk o( pro- 
tracted trouble and a ruinous expense, furnishing a strong in- 
ference of the truth of all as to the names inserted; had he 
known that Copeland himself, on the scafleld in the last 
moments of eartlih' existence, acknowledged publicly and be- 
fore living witnesses the truth of the whole of his confessions; 
had he known and reflected that the full publication of them 
must have, not only a direct and powerful tendency to disor- 
ganize the remnant of the clan, but also to prevent future asso- 
ciations of a similar character; had he known the full extent of 


the horrors, for Aears, perpetrated by this clan, and that num- 
bers still living, from experience, can vouch for many of the 
facts as narrated in the confessions; had he known that an 
offense committed in one State or county, and the injury sus- 
tained inflicted in another State or county, the case may be 
tried in either, which gave him the right to use his discretion; 
had he known and reflected that the conflict must be between 
prosecutorvS— revengeful and experienced, wealth3' and power- 
ful, from another State, against youth — against an humble but 
honest citizen of his own State; had he known all these cir- 
cumstances and maturely considered them, censure could not 
be too severely applied for his approving the rendition of the 
defendant as "a fugitive from justice." Who ever before heard 
of any person being dragged from one State to another as a 
malefactor on a charge of libel? 

However, if he, without design, gave assistance to the clan 
in the shape of an unmerited expense and injury to the defend- 
ant, it is nevertheless true that he also, without design, was 
instrumental in laying the foundation for a more distant 
triumph in behalf of justice. 

Many of the last observations arc strictly applicable to the 
presiding Judge, Mclvinstry. Wc cannot believe that he had 
any aililiation with the clan, nor any sympathy for its continu- 
ance; but his reprehensible conduct on the trial can be better 
accounted for in the language of the competent gentleman who 
sat on the jury, and who had an opportunity of seeing and 
hearing and witnessing all, thus; "His strenuous ruling, 
strongly indicated to my mind, was to retain and maintain 
political influence with powerful cliques." 

The changing of this Judge^s charges, the veering about first 
from one side to the other, his expressed determination to 
force a verdict against the better informed and more respectable 
of those who formed a great majority of the jur}', if it re- 
quired an indefinite period of confinement to do it; and then, in 
the last hours of torture, came squarely out and told the jury 


it was bouiid, from the law and evidence before it, to find a 
verdict of guilt}"; and all this while knowing the awful char- 
acter of Shoemake, one of the main witnesses, as proven on 
the trial; and while knowing that G. T. Overall had no right 
to prosecute in the name of G. Overall, when there were more 
of the same name in the place, and to which the jur}- believed 
the confessions applied as intended by Copeland; and more, 
after conviction, anticipating something righteously in favor 
of the defendant, this partial Judge declared his intention be- 
fore hand not to sign any petition for tlie release of the defend- 
ant from the prison; all these incidents taken together are too 
strongly stamped to be explained away. The refusal of the 
defendant's application against the strongest of reasons in 
contrast with his unreasonable granting the prosecution all it 
Wanted for several years afterwards, is also something which 
will not soon be forgotten . 

But it may be said that Judge McKinstry did no more than 
is fashionable in the present day — that of consulting political 
interest in preference to the eternal laws of justice^ This is 
but too true. It is a deplorable fact that, from the most in- 
ferior to the highest of courts and officers, measures are gauged 
according to political considerations aiid wealthy favorites. 
Truth is sometimes very disagreeable, but it is nevertheless 
indisputable that when the progress israpidly onward to idolize 
vast possessions under a s3^stem which rather favors than 
checks the spread of those evils which sap the very foundations 
of strength and national vitality, and at tlie same time, and in 
the same ratio, to dishonor the real sources of wealth — lionest 
labor— the nation's decline and fall will follow" in the wake of 
consequences under excessive government, no matter whether 
of IRepublicnn or Democratic. The baneful effects from either 
will be pretty much the same, as long as there are lacking the 
will and th-e vower to restrain or repress excesses as they 
spring up. When general means of subsistence are easy, with 
plentj' everywhere abounding, there is not much danger of 


convulsive cliange; but a prodigious increase of population with 
propoi'tionally narrower resources to command, together with 
extensive disaffection and oppressive burdens from previous 
wars, then is the time for the exercise of prudence and a strict 
administration of justice in every department to maintain the 
life of the nation. 

Granted that G. Y. Overall proved satisfactorily enough an 
alibi, that is, that he was not present at the time referred to; 
but it is again asked what was he doing associated with such 
men as Shoemake and Bentonville Taylor? Was he the tool of 
more designing men? What right — what necessity had he to 
turn prosecutor, when, as plainl\' elicited on trial, it was another 
Overall that Copeland referred to in his confessions? 

The trial succeeded in nothing against the defendant only in 
crippling his pecuniar}' resources, and harrassing him in other 
ways. It rather strengthened than weakened the authenticity 
of the work. These circumstacces, with the war, interi'upted 
the sale for some3'ears; but as might have been reasonably ex- 
pected, truth can onl}' be temporarily crushed to burst forth 
again with renewed vigor. Persecution only adds fuel to the 

Sick of the career of life whieh he had led, it was lint natural 
for Copeland to repine against those who had sliared his 
plunder and goaded him on to crime with ample promises of 
protection, and then deserted him in the last hours of his 

The defendant could have had no conceivable motive to forge 
names — not knowing before Copeland gave them, that such 
persons were in existence; therefore, where there is no possible 
motive, there can be no crime or intentional wrong. So much 
then for the " wicked and malicious intentions," as charged in 
the affidavit of Shoemake. 

The foregoing observations close the narrations of the trial 
with the circumstances of connection belonging; and now for 


particulars, as reasonably presumed, of another attempt on the 
life of the defendant in 1S02. 

Throughout the proceedings of tlie trial Dr. Pitts has been 
properl}- referred to as the "defendant." Hereafter his own 
proper name will be given. 


In the spring of 1862, when returning from a professional 
visit, he was waylaid by two persons to him entire strangers. 
Just before the Doctor readied a by-path he was accustomed 
to travel, because somewhat nearer, he first suddenly dis- 
covered one of them near the main road, in a bunch of bushes 
b}' a stump, some fifty or seventj'-five ^-ards distant. The Doc- 
tor made a quick change of position; the rays of the sun fell 
on the bright gun in possession, which reflected a dazzling 
brilliancy for the moment. This extraordinaiy circumstance 
of i:;self was sufficient to cause well-grounded apprehensions of 
danger; and, accordingl3', the Doctor kept a close watch for an 
excited moment. No sooner had he taken the bj'-path above 
alluded to, than he saw one of the two rush out — fast running 
through the thick woods in order to intercept him. The Doc- 
tor instantly turning his course, he at once beheld another 
person running in the same direction. There was but one 
available outlet for the Doctor to make his escape, and this 
through a long narrow valle}^ with obstructing hills on each 
side. Both made a strenuous effort to get ahead of him in the 
valley, but fortunately he was mounted on a fine animal very 
fast on speed, which successfully enabled him to escape 

As before stated, these two parties were entire strangers, and 
never spoke a word during the whole transaction . On peacea- 
ble terms with every one in the settlement around, so far as 
known, there could not be a doubt on his mind as to this move- 
ment being another attempt on his life from the clan for the 

sake of vengeance for the past, and to prevent republication in 
C— 13 


the future. The same conclusions must be arrived at b}' every 
impartial judge of the afl'air. 

The following tragic accounts hare recenth' been carefully 
collected from authentic and reliable sources, which, here intro- 
duced, will form something like an episode of after transactions 
of the parties whose names are also found in Copeland's con- 
fessions — transactions exactly of a character to correspond 
v/ith the dark and bloody operations as given by Copeland 


From whatever stand-point viewed, there is something ex- 
traordinary about this man. He was particularly- distinguished 
in the art of sculpture. He built the jail in DeKalb, Kemper 
county. Miss., which, when completed, was pronounced a 
master- piece of workmanship for substantial securit}^ But in 
some length of time afterward, tlie report got out, probably 
from his own boasting, or some unguarded expression which 
he had made use of, that it was not safe. Inspection of the 
minutest sort followed, but not a sign of insecurity was dis- 
covered, However, when he got ready, he volunteered to show, 
and did show the defect which all previous search had utterly 
failed to find. He pointed to a place in the wall so perfectly 
concealed, yet with a very little exertion a Tent could be made 
quite large enough for one person to pass out. 

He was expert and dexterous in everything he engaged, but, 
as time developed, with an ultimate object of fraudulent gain in 
one way or the other. He was a scholar, yet this capacity only 
enabled him to attain greater heights of rascality with less lia- 
bility of detection. Politeness, civility, and the most consum- 
mate of gentlemanly airs he could assume when his nefarious 
purposes could be best served by so doing. He was cruel, but 
not brave. It is said that the sister of his now brother-in-law 
received cruel treatment from him in youth ; and for years this 
brother-in law determinedly bore it in mind, and at maturity 
beat Shoemake unmercifully for the same. This is a case witli 
one man that Shoemake childislijy dreaded ever afterward. 


But his wife, formally called Muggy Worbington, was made 
of different material. She was brave sure enough, which was 
suflicientiy evidenced on a number of occasions; one of which 
was in making two men, v.ho had before vehementl}* offended 
lier, jump precipitatel}' into the river from a flat to avoid the 
contents of a revolver which was too resolutely presented to be 

And again, in the malignant feud between the Shoemakc and 
Fisher family, which culminated in a pitched battle with shot- 
guns and pistols, near a brickyard, half a mile north of old 
Marion, Lauderdale count}', Miss., in the fall of 184.4, or earlv 
in 1845. Siioemake and his wife against Fisher and two sons, 
William and Theophilous. The fire from the Fisher family 
was too hot and severe for Shoemake; he left in haste and de- 
serted his wife, who fought inch by inch with unfaltering forti- 
tude until shot down by the greater opposing force with which 
• she was in conflict. 

Shoemake, before leaving Kemper count}-, made intimations 
as if disposed to divulge the interesting historical part of his 
life; and, at the same time, in reference to the tremendous dis- 
aster he sustained on the trial of Dr. Pitts; made siguificmC 
remarks of a double meaning, but really of a nature to warrant, 
the impression that the publisher of the Life and Career of 
Gopeland would pass ofi' this stage of existence, which would 
be certain to leave mystery beiiind for future contemplation. 

Shoemake resided in and around Kemper county for a num- 
ber of years. His conduct was always suspicious, but his ad- 
dress, his ingenuity, and his whole movements were so pro- 
foundly managed as to evade penal detection. Years had to 
elapse to fully develop the man for anything like a common 
consent as to his real character. It but required lime to 
satisfy the judgment of all that he tainted everything he 
touched. And this is the man who was so sensitive because 
Copeland confe-^sed him to be *'• a big dog among the clan.'" 



The names of the two Hardens were giA'cn b}' Copeland as 
forming a part of the clan. More about them has since been 
collected, which will now be read with interest. 

About the year 1853 John Harden, from the State of Ala- 
bama, stole a fine animal, buggy and negro man, and succeeded 
in getting them safely to Marion county. Miss., where his 
mother resided. The Sheriff, Mr. Smith, from the county in 
Alabama where said propert}' was stolen from, pursued Harden, 
and on reaching this State, Mississippi, he emploj-ed the serv- 
ices af Philip James, of Greene count}', to accompany him . 
Finding Harden in the night at his mother's, he was by them 
taken on surprise, but made a desperate resistence, though 
being overpowered, was compelled to surrender. The horse, 
buggy and negro )nan were all found. Sheriff Smith had Har- 
den confined within the bugg}^ and the negro man ordered to 
ride the horse. On returning, and when they reached the resi- 
dence of Philip James, Sheriff Smith made no further request 
on Mr. James, and thouglit he could then manage wittiout any 
further assistance. Accordingly the}' started, but shortly after 
they had crossed Chickasahay river the Sheriff' was killed — 
appearances indicating that he had been beaten to death b}' a 
club. Bwt whether b}' Harden or the negro man, none ever 
were able to ascertain. The buggy was rolled off under a hill_ 
The horses and the two persons made their escape for the time 
being. Nothing positively definite, but the report followed 
that in some six or eight months afterward Harden was apjjre- 
hended by Smitli's friends, and b}' lynch operations finished his 
career by being bung to the limb of a tree. 

His brother, also mentioned b}' Copeland, who married a 
daughter of Gideon Rustin, was hung in Columbia, Mississippi, 
about the 3'ear 1843, for the murder of his wife. Immediately 
after the murder, he made is escape, and got into the State of 
Georgia, where he remained for some months; but subsequently 
returned and gave himself up to the sheriff, but had not been 


long in prison till he broke out, and would probabi}' made his 
escape, but was captured by some parties in a boat near by 
while he was in the act of swimming Pearl river. 

John Harden was a powerful man, not only in ph^'sical 
strength, but also in determined energies and resolution. Years 
ago, it is said that he and Hampton H. Nichols, of Perry county 
Mississippi, disagreed — followed by a fight betwixt the two in 
the usual manner, and that Harden came out the best; although, 
for nerve and surpassing strength, it was before thought that 
Nichols had not a superior. Thus, one by one do the members 
of the " clan" drop into eternity by violent and unnatural ter- 
minations . 


There are others of the "clan "still active and surviving. 
James McArthur — better known in some places by the appel- 
lation of "Calico Dick" still lives. By reference to the 
original history of the Wages and Copeland clan, page 89, it 
will be seen that this man became connected with the organi- 
zation in 1844; and, at the time, was acknowledged b}' the 
former members as being directly concerned with others en- 
gaged in the business of counterfeiting money. Dr. Pitts has 
taken considerable trouble in tracing out the character of this 
man, and has received information from the best citizens of 
Mississippi and Alabama. Let this information be read with 
care and attention ; and then, who can have the et!Vontery to 
contend that the names given in the " confessions " "are forged 
and the entire work unworthy ot credit." 

In former 3'ears, when the Wages and Copeland organization 
•was in full blast, he was then looked on as a suspicious charac- 
ter and believed to belong to the clan, as well as having more 
or less to do with the counterfeiting business which had been 
the means of flooding the country with a spurious circulation. 

This organized band of robbers, murderers and counterfeiters 
had become such a terror to the seashore counties of Missis- 


sippi that the good people of these sections were driven to tlie 
necessity of forming a "Vigilance Committee," for the better 
protection and preservation of societ}-. Hy this committee, 
many suspicious persons were arrested, among whom was Jim 
McArthur. He, with a rope around his neck, piloted the com- 
mittee to the swamp, where he pointed out and dug up the 
coining apparatus which was used by the band in c^^niug 
counterfeit money. Here he acknowledged his identity- with 
the counterfeiters, and was only released on his solemn vow to 
leave the country' — never more to show his face in that region 
of societ}'. Accordingly, he did leave, and was not seen there 
again until during the late war between the States, when he 
returned and was a great source of trouble again to all the 
neighboring counties around — committing more crimes of a 
more shocking and atrocious character. 

After the close of the war, he again left that vicinity, and 
made his headquarters in Mobile, Alabama, where occasionally 
he was seen very flush of money. Also, after the war, he made 
a visit to Perry county, Mississippi. While there, he made 
inquiry after a woman, who had left her husband while the 
national contest was going on. The supposition is that he, 
made her acquaintance on Honey Island during the war. 

He is now well known to all this countrj- as a renowned 
traveling gambler; and, among the fraternit}' of that class, is 
probably better known by the name of "Calico Dick," which 
appellation he received many years ago, according to his own 
statement, when but a youth, in the State of Georgia, for steal- 
ing a bolt of calico, and for the same received thirt^'-nine 
lashes. But particulars on this subject will be best understood 
by giving an extract of a letter from one of Mississip[>i's 
gifted sons: 

"Calico Dick is the same brigand — the infamous Jim Mc 
Arthur. He himself states that when he was a ^"outh in Georgia, 
he stole a bolt of calico — was detected and received thirtj'- 
nine lashes, and ever since has been called Calico Dick. He 


was suspected of murdering ii peddlar ia Hancock county 3'ears 
ago, and acknowledged, with the rope arcund his neck, to the 
vigilant committee that he was a counterfeiter, and pointed out 
the apparatus for coining — confessed to horse-stealing and 
negro-stealing, and had left his wife and children in Hancock 
county to starve or do worse. His nephew, young Frost, who 
kept a cigar stand in or near the Battle House, Mobile, was 
arrested at Bay St. Louis last year on the charge of murder, and 
carried to Alabama. I have not heard the result. McArthur 
was unquestionably one o( the Copelaud clan. He committed 
many crimes during the war. At any time during the second 
3'ear of the war, when we had no law, if I had met him, I would 
have shot him from m}' knowledge of his crimes." 

Jackson Countv, 1873. 

From another friend, in Jackson count}-, he stil' further 
exhibits the man in his true colors; 

"James McArthur, long known as Calico Dick, has resided 
man\' 3'ears in Hancock count}^ Mississippi. Though absent 
frequently for months, sometimes for a 3'ear or two. His own 
statement when he first appeared in the count}^ was, that he stole 
apiece of calico, from a countr}^ store in Georgia, and being 
detected received thirt3-niue lashes. ISo far from being 
ashamed of this exploit, he boasts of it, and when drinking 
often repeats the stor}- of his lilth}' life. He soon luade him- 
self known in Hancock as a gambler; and from his frequent 
mysterious journeys, and generall}' returning with a fine horse 
and plenty of money, he became an object of general suspicion 
The Murrell clan, and, subsequentl}^ the Wages and Cope- 
land clan were then operating thoughout the countr3'. Negro- 
stealing, horse-stealing, counterfeiting, highwa}' robbery and 
murder had been reduced to a S3-stem, and it was rare that anj-- 
bod3' was brought to justice. If any part}* was arrested, some 
of the clan was always on hand to prove an alibi. Suspicion 
ver3^ often pointed to an individual, but people were afraid to 
Lint their suspicions lest the3^ might draw down upon them 


some secret reng-eance — the burning of their dwellings or as- 
sassination. Thus, crime was committed with impunity. A 
peddler, known to have considerable money, was found miirderedi 
in Haneockj and though there was buts one opinion as to who 
committed the deed, no one wj^s arrested. The county was 
flooded with spurious cohi. McArthur was known to make 
frequent journeys towards Mobile and to the Sabine on the 
Texas line, and when he returned, there was ahvays an inllux of 
bad mone}' in circulation. He generally brought one or more 
strangers. Men of doubtful character, and with no apparent 
means of living, and never known to work, began to multipl}'? 
and this cIjvss was constantly around McArthur, and looked up 
to him as their chief. Though known to be personally an 
abject coward, he became, through these desperate men, an 
object of terror to the timid ; and even respectable men were 
weak enough to court his favor. The late CoL D. C. Glenn would 
often say, after bis attendance on the Hancock Circuit Courts, 
that he was shocked to see decent men jesting and drinking 
with such a wretch ! The secret was that these men dreaded 
him and his gang. 

Finally, somewhere about 1S45, counterfeiting, horse-steal- 
ing, stock- stealing, and other crimes became so common; and 
the county so swarmed with idle, worthless, and suspicious 
characteis, the citizens of Hancock formed a vigilance com- 
mittee for mutual protection. It embraced the best, most re- 
sponsible, and determined men in the county. They arrested a 
number of persons, most of whom confessed to being, or hav- 
ing been, members of the Murrell and Wages clans. The 
names of these men, and what became of them, can be given to 
you by some old citizen — such as Col. Claiborne, S. T. Randall, 
Luther Euss, J. W. Eoberts, and others. Those who confessed 
to belonging to the above named clans, were to a man the boon 
companions and associates of the notorious Jim McArthur, alias 
Calico Dick, The committee finally arrested him. I have 
been told that nearly the entire committee was for hungimg hisT! 


instanter. Indeed tlie rope was around his neck; but some 
one suggested that if they hung him, man}' important secrets 
woukl die with liim; and that it was better to spare his lil'e on 
the conditions oC full confession and his immediate and per- 
petual departure IVom the county and State. The cowardly 
and treacherous scoundrel clutched at this expedient to save 
his life. He acknowledged his crimes, gave the names of his 
associates, and piloted the committee to his camp in the Devil's 
swani}), where he fabricated spurious monej'. The moulds, 
forge, and a quantity of base metal were found there. The 
forger should have been handed over to the U. S. authorities, 
but he was peimitted to leave the county on his oath (what 
was the oath of such a creature worth,) never to return. He 
left immediately for Alabama, where it would be worth while 
to track him. When the war broke out, and the vigilance 
committee of Hancock no longer existed — its most prominent 
members having died or removed— this self-confessed felon re- 
turned to the county. He appeared there, I am told, in the 
character of a bounty jumper or substitute broker, in which 
he swindled a number of confiding people. A band of his old 
associates returned about the same time, and during the war 
became the terror and scourge of the countrv. Some were de- 
serters from the Confederate ranks — some joined the United 
State army, and deserted their coloi's came back to their old 
haunts and their old leader. Some were pi'ofessional 
thieves, robbers, and murderers, who never belonged to 
either army, but took to bushwacking, and jayhawing for a 
living; robbed tlie old, the widow, and the orphan without 
scruple, and often added arson and murder to their robberies, 
McAi'thur was constantly on the wing on the old pattern fol- 
lowed by Wages and Copeland. Since the war, he has passed 
much of his time in Alabama; but I am informed b}' citizens 
of Hancock that he has for some months past been dwelling in 
that count}'. His doings in Alabama ought to be traced out. 
What he is after in his obscure den in Hancock count}', will, no 
doubt, in due time, crop out." 


Calico Dick is described bj' tliose who have seen him as 
having the appearance of being deformed from the effect of 
disease. The external appearance indicate considerable curva- 
ture of the spine. Others more intimate and better acquainted 
with liim, sa}' that this seeming curvature is caused by the con- 
stant wearing of a steel plate, which is used for the purpose of 
carrying cards; and that the plate is so constructed that he 
can vt-ithout detection take from or add to his hand while play- 
ing, and with the assistance of his spring plate renders it im- 
possible for any one to compete with him in this department 
of gambling. 

The report of his death I)}' being shot near St. Stevens is 
proven to be false. There is now a letter in the possession of 
John Champenoies, a resident of Shubuta, Clarke county, ]\Iis- 
sissippi, from Calico Dick, dated at Pensacola Junction, the 
28th of May, 1873. and mailed at Whiting, Alabama. 

There is another incident in his life which is i-ather amusing, 
and should not be entirely- overlooked. In the year of 1868, 
he purchased a ticket to Enterprise, on M. tt O. R. R., to Quit- 
man, and got on board of a freight train, which carried him to 
the next station below, DeSoto, some four or live miles lurther 
than he wanted to go, and he had to walk back again. For this 
he sued the company, and got judgment against it to the tune 
of several thousand dollars; but the case was carried to High 
Court, and ju'lgraent reversed for a new trial. Ilowevei', a 
compromise was made, and the C(>inpan_y only paid him Wyq 
hundi'cd tloUars, and gave him a free ticket on the road to ride 

Since writing the above. Dr. Pitts entertained some doubts 
of the truths of the whole of this story; and, to be better satis- 
fied on the matter, wrote to one member of the compan}^ in 
high position, and i-eceived from him by wa}' of reply the 

''I know James ^NIcArthur, often called 'Calico Dick,' but 
know little of his antecedents. 


" He did bring a suit against the railioad for taking him past 
Qtiitman to DeSoto, I think in 1SC7 or 18GS, and Judge Leaeh- 
man gave judgment on denuirier, not a jury, for, I tliink, 
$10,000. Exceptions were taken, and tlie case sent to the 
High Court, where tlie error was cause to send it back for a 
new trial. Before the new trial was had he proposed to com- 
promise, and I did so for |500, he paying costs, but I do not 
know that he did pay, as he said he had given securitj' for 
costs, and the Ckrk might make tliem. 

"I have not seen ' Calico' in the last two years, but presume 
he lives, and has his 'Tiger' yet. The last time I saw him 
Vv'as at State Line, where he told me he was 'flat broke,' and 
his 'Tiger' in 'soak,' and he wanted with his whole soul a 
ticket to Mobile on credit. He got it, and I have not seen him 

"June 25, 1874." 

There must be sometliing remarkable about this man, other- 
wise he could not so long have escaped the last penalties of tlie 
law and the vengeance of an outraged po]:)ulation. The last 
heard of him, of import, was his visit to Escatawpa, Ahx., a 
short time before the f ml murder of W. C. Stanley, of this 
place, particulars of which the reader will now examine, as re- 
lated to Dr. Pitts by one of the main witnesses involved in the 
case ; but it should be first remembered that "Calico Dick'' 
made a visit to Escatavvpa, then left for JMobile, Ala., and in a 
few days after his nephew, Frost, came to Escataw[ia. The 
current Ijelicf is that he was induced to do so under the in- 
fluence of his uncle. 


The masterly description of the terrible clans as the}- have 
heretofore existed, and as given by the natural as well as artis- 
tical pen of the Jackson county correspondent, cannot be over- 


estimated. It will well pay for perusal and re- perusal again 
and again. Let the following quotations never be forgotten : 

" The M'orst of human crimes had been reduced to a S3"stem, 
and it was rare that anybody- was brought to justice. If any 
party was arrested some of the clan was always on hand to 
prove an alibi. Suspicions often pointed to an individual, but 
people were afraid to hint their suspicicns lest the}' might draw 
down upon them some secret vengeance — the burning of their 
dwellini?s or assassination. Thus crime was committed with 
impunit}'. A peddler, known to have considerable money, was 
found murdered in Hancock, and though there was but one 
opinion as to who committed the deed, no one was arrested. 
iMcArthur, thougli personally known to be an abject coward, 
became, through desperate men which he commanded, an object 
of terror to the timid; and even respectable men were weak 
enough to court his lavor. The late Colonel Glenn vrould 
often say, after his attendance on the Hancock Circuit Courts, 
that he was shocked to see decent men jesting and drinking 
with sucli a wretch! The secret was that these men dreaded 
him and his ijano;." 

The above is a whole volume for contemplation. Decent, 
respectable, and distinguished persons jesting and drinking 
with renowned and scientific criminals through fear of confla- 
gration and assassination. No efforts made to bring to justice 
— crime passing with respectable impunity. 

Honor crime, and numbers will soon increase prodigiously. 
Make escape easy and almost certain, and the law will carry 
no terrors with it. Grievances, real or imaginary, and oppor- 
tunities will be sought to bring in play the bowie-knife and 
revolver. Let life's warm stream flow freel}', the sight com- 
mon, and human life will soon be worth no more than the dog's. 
Let a callous indifference pervade the community when the 
tidings of outrage, robbery and murder are brought, and soon 
will tlie great arteries of a State's wealth and prosperity l)egin 
to langnisli and dccaj'. Under such a system, can civilization 


progress? Will capital invest to set the springs of industry at 
work? Can wealth and intelligence thrive under such blight- 
ing influences of desolation? Is not government strong enough 
to protect its subjects? If not it should be, and the sooner it 
can be accomplished, the better it will be for alj classes of so- 
ciety. Even atfluent railroad companies have to bend .to such 
men as Jim McArthur. To produce wide-spread fear and 
social insecurity', it is not necessar}' for crime and murder to 
be of an every-day occurrence; it is the hopelessness of getting 
redress from the courts as they are at present constituted that 
is so pernicious in consequences. 


W. C. Stanle^^ came to Escatawpa with a small capital, and 
invested to the amount of two or tliree hundred dollars worth 
of goods. On or about the night of the 6th of June, 1872, he 
was brutally murdered, and was not found until one or two days 
afterward, when the woods hogs were discovered eating up his 
lifeless body. An inquest was immediately held, and one on 
the jury by the name of Oye, tried to implicate a colored man, 
William Powe, on a plea of his having made some thieats pre- 
viously, but this insignificant plea was quickl^^ ruled out of 
consideration as unworthy' of any credit whatever, and properly 
so, for the colored man satisfactorily proved himself clear im- 
mediatel}' afterward. A verdict of murder b}' some unknown 
hands was returned. However, one by the name of Frost began 
to get very uneasy, and left the place the second or third da}' 
succeeding. The passions of the citizens around became greatly 
inflamed by having such a horrid murder committed within 
their midst. And this was not the only one; no less than ten 
other brutal murders had occurred in and about the place 
within a very limited period of time. Elood and terror reigned 
to an extent never before experienced. To such a pitch of 
atrocit}' had this neighborhood got that no man could leasc n- 
ably feel safe twenty-four hours. 


Almost under any plea life was taken with but little hesita- 
tion by lawless violence. However, these good citizens held 
meetings to protect themselves against such diabolical out- 
rages which thcii, of late, had been perpetrated in large 
numbers. Tlic}', well knowing Mr. B. F. Woulard to be a close 
observe/, and active and energetic in every other respect, ap- 
pointed' Inm as the most suitable and reliable person in the 
capacitj' of detective to ferret out and apprehend the guilty 
parties. He obeyed the call, and, after Frost, took the first 
train to Mobile, Alabama, where, after much trouble, he learned 
that Frost hfld departed for Ba}^ St. Louis, Mississippi. Still 
forward, and without delay, he very soon reached that place, 
where he found him stopping wi'^h one of his aunts, and 
arrested him almost without disturbing the family. There 
taken before the Cit}' Marshal, who was acquainted with Frost, 
and knew him to be of ver3' bad character^knew that he had 
soujctime before endeavored to indnce young men of that city 
to engage in the counterfeiting business. Mr. Woulard well 
knew that Frost, prior to the murder of Stanley, was without 
money, and did not reall}' have respectable clothing to wear, 
though, when arrested, he had two valises well packed with 
good, substantial clothing, which he had purchased when pass- 
ing through Mobi'e, as learned by detective Woulard on his 
return to this city, with Frost still under arrest Then and 
there, the firm of Jacobins & Bi'isk gave information to the 
effect that Frost had purchased from seventy to eighty dollars 
worth from this firm. It was now plain lo detective Woulard 
that Frost had received money some where, and was required 
to give an account of the same. He answered by declaring to 
have obtained it by registered letter. On further investiga- 
tion, it was satisfactorily shown that he had received no regis- 
tered letter; and r>ow finding it was vain to attempt to conceal 
any further, he was about to make a confession of the whole 
affair; but a person by the name of Cotton, in Mobile, stepped 
up and learned the cause of arrest, when, to detective Woulard, 


he proposed for Frost to be turned over to him for a while, 
during whicli lime he would be fipt to get from him a full con- 
fession of all the facts connected with the case. Accordingl}', 
Frost was placed in Cotton's custody for something like an 
hour, when he returned v/ith this rei)ort: "You have certainly 
got the right man; go now and arrest Oye and his wife, at 
Escatawpa.*' In compliance with such advice, detectiA'e Woul- 
ard lost no time, but hurried back with Frost, and there did 
arrest Oye, 

But here Frost's confession should be given, v.'hieh in sub- 
stance, was as follows: 

"At the time Stanley was absent from home on business, 
Oyc availed himself of the opportunity by going to Mrs. 
Stanley, and by an attempt at strong reasoning, he persuaded 
her to leave him — all the while believing that Stanley, in such 
aa event, would become so dissatisfied to an extent sufficient 
to cause him to sell his goods, which could be so managed as 
to give Oye the preference of purchase, when the money paid 
for same could be got back by a devised scheme of robberj-, 
But in the interval between the commencement of the plan and 
Stanley's return, two Irish shoe-peddlers came into the neigh- 
borhood. Oj-e purchased the remnant of goods they had on 
hand. Forthwith one left — the other remained and boarded 
with O^^e. Now, Stanley returned home, and found that his 
wife had left him, and his store, with all other of his effects, 
in the hands of Oye. This unexpected conduct of his wife 
had, according to Oye's calculations, the desired effect. Frus- 
trated and discontented to an extent better imagined than 
described, he at once desired to dispose of his whole interest 
in the place. This was what Oye wanted, and quickly pro- 
posed to buy hinj out, v/hich proposition, under the circum- 
stances, was readily accepted, Oye paid the full value of the 
goods without any scruples whatever, and put Frost in charge 
of the same. Stanley, during the time he intended to remain 
in the neighborhood, and Frost now became room mates, and 


boarded at the house of Oye. Up to this time, the progress 
had been attended with very little trouble, and everything 
seemed to promise continued success. The next movement 
was a secret consultation among the three — O^'e, Frost and the 
Irish shoe-peddler, the latter of which, from inference, seemed 
to have before afiiliated with such company, and likely his ap- 
pearance as an Irish shoe-peddler at the time had all been pre- 
viously arranged to produce the desired eifect. This consulta- 
tion was for the purpose of decoying Stanley out on a fishing 
excursion, so that he could be ambushed, robbed and murdered. 
Frost was the person agreed on to perform the part of betray- 
ing Stanley out, but, on more mature consideration, 0\'e could 
not repose sufficient confidence in the Irishman — entirely' ruling 
him out, and broke up the first agreement. The next one 
adopted was for Frost to inform Stanley that 3Irs. Oye had 
been receiving letters from his wife, Mrs. Stanley. Frost 
further intimated that he could so manage as to get hold of 
one or more of these letters, and wouhl, the first opportunity, 
do so for Stanley's satisfaction. Stanle\% very much wanting 
to know the whereabouts of his wife and children, urged Frost 
to get possession, if possible, of the letters the first convenient 
opportunity. So far, there was a mutual understanding 
between the two. But little time elapsed before Frost made 
known that sure enough he had succeeded in getting the letters 
from Mrs. Oye, and was then in possession of tlie same. Night 
being present, it was agreed for Stanley to retire with him, for 
the pui'pose of reading the letters, to a place some two liundred 
yards in the rear of Oye's drinking saloon, which place is a 
pine thicket or grove. Matches were procured, and forward 
they went to this designated place. Here Frost handed Stanley 
some sort of a paper package; and while Stanley was in the 
act of making a light from a match to a candle, Oye suddenly 
rushed up with a loaded revolver, and shot Stanley through 
the head — followed by five more discharges at him. After he 
had fallen, Oye was about to put his hand in Stanley's pocket 


ibr roone}', when a hollow groan was heard, indicating that the 
last sign of life had not de[)arted. to full_y eflect which, 03'e, 
with his pocket knife stabbed the victim several times in the 
, breast, and then cut the throat from ear to ear. Oye now 
leaves Frost to get the money and drag off the corpse to some 
old well near l\y, while 03'e<Kvould return and see that all was 
right outside. In this operation of dragging to the well, 
Frost became alarmed and left the spot. 

The following day., Oye made a proposition to Frost to take 
an axe and cut the lifeless body to pieces, so that the same 
could be sacked and thrown into Dog River. Frost declined to 
do this from suspicion of a great probability of detection in so 
doing. As yet, no disposition having been made of the re- 
mains, a young man hy the name of William Cooper, the 
next evening, found the decomposing body with active and con- 
suming hogs around it. On the bloody grounds of the murder 
a pistol rammer was found, which was inspected l)y detective 
Woulard, Oye hearing of this circumstance, ordered Frost to 
immediately take the pistol to which it belonged, and throw the 
same into Dog River without delay, which was done accordingly. 
In the confession of Frost, he further told where the pocket- 
book of Stanley could be found that had bten taken away from 
him after death. Agreeable and true to his statement, the pocket- 
book was found, and contained a tooth, which on seeing by Mr. 
A. O'Donnell, vvas declared to belong to Mrs. Stanley — she 
having before shown the same to him. Witli it a piece of poet ry, 
in the hand- writing of Stanley, was also found."' 

The fact of Frost and Stanley boarding togethiT at Oyc's 
house; the fact of the jnurdered body having been found; the 
fact of tlie sudden departure of Frost — before well-known to 
have been in want of l)oth money and respectalde cluthing, and 
all at once, found witii plenty, and then his falsehoods and 
failure to account for the same; and then the fact of his confes 
sion about the pocket-Sook having been jn'oven to li;- ))erfectly 
correct; these circumstances, with others eonnected. all tiikoii 
C— 14 


together, fasten guilt on Frost, and go far to establish the 
truth of the other part of his confessions in which Oye is re- 
presented as the principal actor of the whole. 

Aware of all this when detective Woulard arrested Oye. He 
placed both under a vigilant guard for a short time to be con- 
trolled by Mr. A. F. Hooks. Imm^liately after the arrest v/as 
made, Mrs. Oye got an opportunitj'to speak to her husband, and 
was overheard to say something about a fuss, which in a few min- 
utes followed by her using such language of obscenity and pro- 
fanity against the guard wliich, perhaps, was never equalled 
from the lips of woman. During the disturbance, the intention 
was for Oye to get away, but the guard kept too sharp a look- 
out for the attempt to succeed. 

The prisoners were convej^ed as soon as practicable b}' de- 
tective Woulard, to vSt. Stevens, Alabama, where they had a 
preliminary trial, and evidence sufficiently adduced for com- 
mittal. But all the while Mrs. Oye had been active. A writ of 
Habeas Corpus had been obtained from the Circuit Judge of 
the district, Mr, Elliott, requiring the prisoners forthwith to be 
brought before him for a further hearing. In conformity with the 
writ, the Sheriff of Washington county, E. L Collins conveyed 
them to Mobile, and the evidence there produced was sufficiently 
strong for Judge Elliott to order them back to Washington 
eounty to there await the action of the circuit court. 

When the case came up for trial, by motion of counpel, a 
change of venue was made : Oj'c's case being removed to Bald- 
win count}', and Frost's to the county of IMobilo. Owing to the 
great distance, with proportionate expenses, this change made 
it very inconvenient for witnesses to attend, by reason of which 
the}' were unable to be present in court, and the consequence 
was a discharge of Oye for want of evidence ; but last reports 
say Frost still remains in Mobile jail — perhaps to be liberated 
also when convenience of time will justify: thus defeating the 
ends of justice and demonstrating the almost impossib>it3' of 
convicting any belonging to the worst class of criminals. 


Since the forgoing was prepared for the press, the following 
additional information lias been received through a highly re- 
sponsible source from Now Orleans, La. : 


"Frost shortly after the murder of W. C. Stanlej-, in Alabama, 
made his appearance at Baj^ St. Louis, with two carj>et bags 
filled with fine clothing and his pockets full of money. He "dis- 
played this ostentatiously, and spent it lavishly in the coffee 
houses. While splurging in this style, he was arrested and 
taken to Alabama, on the charge of murder. When he was 
discharged (to the amazement of everybody) he returned to 
the Ba}', and by some means was made au assistant light-house 
keeper on Chandlier Island: How he got in this position would 
be well worth finding out. Recenth' the keeper sent him to 
New Orleans to draw his (the keeper's) money. Frost drew it. 
and wrote to the keeper that he had deposited it with a certain 
firm in the city. On inquiry, such deposit had not been 
by him made, and he with the money disappeared some six 
weeks ago . He and his uncle are capable of any crime, but are 

August 13, 1874. 

necessarl' comments on unpunished crime. 

Talk of reform and State improvements, impossible while 
this system of things continue; "as well expect grapes from 
thorais or figs from thistles." Not occasional robberies, not 
occasional murders alone that poison the vitals of society. 
These will sometimes occur under the best government — under 
good laws and well administered; it is the ninet3'-nine chances 
for escape to one for conviction which produces so much evil. 
When punishment is sure to immediately follow the commission 
of crime, then society can repose in security; but otherwise, 
the honest and peaceable live in fear — the dishonest and dis- 
orderly in defiant lawlessness. Overt crime, regardless of law. 


with a determination to remain and risk all consequences from 
the farcical courts; in such cases, arrest sometimes follow, but 
the bail is ready, and with a few dollars acquittal will be almost 
certain. If the case is too dark and unpopular, time after time 
the trial will be put otf, until, according to common parlance, 
the case is worn out, or some material witness got out of the 
way, and then the answer is "read^- for trial" — well knowing 
the result which must follow. But. oftener, if the criminal 
leave the county or State, no more notice is taken — no effort 
made to reach and bring him back. 

It is seldom that redress is ever endeavored to be obtained 
by process of law. This reluctance cannot be wondered at in 
the face of so many unblushing recommendations and encour- 
agements from unprincipled attorneys in open court to willful 
violations of law; not to be wondered at when the injured 
prosecutor experiences nothing but abuse and malicious, or 
rather mercenary, invective, while the vile criminal is allowed 
to walk out of court unhurt and plumed with the laurels of 
victory, even in the worst cases which can possibU' be con- 
ceived. If one person becomes irritated against another, no 
matter lor what cause, either real or imaginary, he thinks not 
of investigation in the courts, but either sets in to break up 
his antagonist by private and mrilicious mischief, or he way- 
lays, ambushes or seeks an opportunity to create a quarrel, so 
that life can lie taken under the plea of justifiable homicide! 
But sordid, corrujit and sinister motives do not always stop at 
acquitting the guilt}'; they occasionally labor as hard to har 
rass and punish the innocent! The autlu)r"s case, in his trial 
at Mobile, is one instance <uit of many where everything was 
strained to convict innocence. Sometimes one object in view, 
and sometimes another. Grand juries are not unfrequently 
acted on in a very disgraceful manner. One person, through 
spite, or lur getting the property of another in some covert 
way, will seek an opportunity to get a bill from the grand jur^'. 
Another, to avoid paying a just debt, or tu screen himself in 


some other case, tor the purpose of producing intimidation, or, 
as it is more commonl}' called, •'running him off," will seek to 
get ;i bill from the grand jur3-. Others, if the truth is too 
plainly spoken, will seek to command the grand jury for lihel. 
Under such a S3'stera, the worst of men are generally the 
most expert in law, and always the readiest to fly to it to sub- 
serve their purposes. Alarming abuses in one direction seldom 
fail to be carried en in the contrary direction pretty ranch 
with equal proportion. 

L3'nch law is an unavoidable consequence of a mockery of 
civil law. No nation can long prosper under a reign of court 
corruptions. If the guilty, as a rule, escape, and justice not 
strictly administered, the sources of wealth will soon languish 
and decay. If the fashions of the courts are to favor the 
worst at the expense of the best members of society, the neces- 
sary results cannot fail to come shortl}' afterward. Under such 
a deplorable state of things, confidence and security cannot 
dwell. Susi)icion and distrust everywhere; industry, the de- 
sire to accumulate, and also productive capital, will all be 
defective . 

There are but few crimes which a determined and prudent 
government cannot suppress. Those aggravated offenses under 
the name of " Ku Klux" depredations, how soon they were put 
down under a vigorous execution of law. If the government 
of this State continues as it has begun, there will be no more of 
dueling, or at least so rare as not to be productive of much 
injury. The certainty of punishment, even in rare cases, will 
relieve society from serious harm on this account. 

States, Empires and Republics search for the first causes of 
their decline and fall, and tliey will be found to consist in the 
vitiated customs of the rulers in the various depai'tments of 
governments, in a reckless trampling on the pi-inciples of jus- 
tice without shame, without remorse, and, above all, in over- 
grown corruptions practiced with the honors of emoluments 
and distinctions. 



And now it is only necessary' to add, in reference to the 
Wages and Copeland Clan, as an organization, it is broken u\), 
though isolated individuals who belonged to it still continue to 
perpetrate crime whenever anything like a favorable oppor- 
tunity offers. For a lengthy duration of time this clan spread 
terror and desolation both far and wide. Happily for present 
societ}^, as an organized body, it is numbered on the dark and 
bloody pages of the past. 

Tlie publication of the confe sions by the author was pro- 
ductive of much good. The high and mighty outside aiders 
severeh' felt the blows. But for the support given by such 
auxilar}' aiders the organization would have come to dissolu- 
tion much earlier. It is such influential aiders and abettors, 
in warding off' the chains of law, whieh give vitality to move- 
ments of this chai'acter. The decline began from the deat'". of 
the President and leader, Wages, and also at the same time the 
death of the preaching hypocrite, McGrath. This change was 
further accelerated by the execution of Copeland, and tlie nar- 
row escape of another brother, together with the publication 
of the confessions, laying open to public gaze the implicated 
parties and the principal movement of t!ie whole. 

But the expiration of one sort of lawlessness does not pre- 
clude the existence of others more dangerous, because more 
subtle and more in accordance with the corruptions in the high 
departments of States, and more in harmonj- with the operations 
of those who boldl}'' trample on rectitude and the laws of the 
nation. Rings and cliques are not confined to political con- 
siderations alone, but descend to many other important affairs 
of life. A union of an inferior and unprincipled lawyer with a 
subordinate officer, and these again with a league of reckless 
and desperate "strikers," who can make money almost at any 
time from the honest earnings of the less expert, and all by 
forms and processes of law. This is one class of rings com- 


pla'ned of, the evils from which are of a frightful nuiguitude. 
They weave the net, goad the honest but uiiwarv into its 
meshes, and revel on the spoils which hav3 been extorted from 
litigation. The former modes of robber_y, plunder and murder 
have, to a great extent, been superceded by, if possible, worse 
evils in the form of a science as taught and practiced b}- these 
rings and cliques. Crimes which formerly had to encounter 
hardships and danger, can now be accomplished b}^ other means 
with honors, [jrolits, and a plausible sanction of law. Govern- 
ment should have power sufficient to be able and willing to 
crush such proceedings, which, unchecked, must, ere long, pro- 
duce another national convulsion. 

Copeland's crimes were huge and many. Before he had 
reached the meridian of life he paid the last and highest penalty 
of the law. He was cut down anterior to the attainment of the 
flower of his days — a melancholy example to all who j)refer 
robbery and murder to the honest and peaceful pursuits of in- 
dustry. With all the weiglit of crime belonging, he made some 
atonement by his valuable confessions in the last hours of his 
existence. It is not clear what were the actuating motives; 
whether smarting under disappointment, and goaded on by a 
spirit of revenge against those who had promised him safety 
a,nd protection, but did not prevent him enduring years of im- 
prisonment with the immediate jn'ospect of a violent and igno- 
minious death, or sick of life, with no hope of earthly relief, 
and oppressed with painful reflections on the past — conscious 
that the affairs of this world could not concern him but a few 
days longer — it is more than probable that the task of dis- 
closing the dreadful oi)erations of his past life in associations 
with others, afforded him some repose or satisfaction in the 
unhappy situation he was then placed. With some, in the 
condition of distress and despair, there is perhaps nothing 
which can give a greater temporary relief than for the mind to 
be intensely fixed and engaged on something which is to live 
after the body has finished its earthly career. 

216 APPENDIX. ' 

No matter in what way the confessions ma}' be put to the 
test, they come out of the ordeal firmer and stronger than be- 
fore. They cannot be broken down in the severest conflicts in 
organized courts for the purpose. A partisan Judge, supported 
b}^ a phalanx of talent and wealtli, with all other influences 
brought to bear, cannot, as has been tried, destroy nor impair 
the invulnerable facts which they contain. Search for internal 
evidences of truth, and they will be found in ample profusion. 
Appeal to the last testimony of a dying man on the scaffold, 
and it fully confirms the correctness of his confessions as made 
some short time before. Ask numbers of still living witnesses' 
and they will vouch for the substantial accuracy of the facts as 
related in these confessions. Call in time, the great arbiter of 
disputes, and the re\elations since made all go to corroborate 
the validity of the work so obnoxious to the guilty implicated 
in it. 

If there are such occurrences as special acts of Providence, 
the author of this work has certainly been favored. The nume- 
rous snares set, the manifold plots laid for his life — these con- 
sidered and understood, and it is more than marvelous how he 
has so far escaped destruction. IMany devoted friends liave 
endeavored to dissuade him from the present object of publica- 
tion, because of the dangerous elements in high life which 
affect society, but, for life or death, "the die is cast." The 
confidence in Providence, in prudence, and in the better por- 
tions of society give him hope — conscious thnt wiiatevoi- fate 
the body may meet, truth will survive. 

Long associations, official position, and many otlier eaus(>s 
may prevent abler minds from grasi)ing the evils which have 
been only faintly touched on in this humble and unostentatious 
work which is now submitted to the public The thunders 
and turbulent billows of criticism ma}- ])lay in wild warfai-e 
against it, but simplicity and truth will finalh^ prove more than 
the match to sustain it. 

The author has studiously avoided tintinir any of his obser- 


A'atioiis witli prerLTdues in. favor of eitluM' of the rontlietiug 
political parties of the (lav lie has indiiliicd in no personal 
considerations for the sake of i'evcni>e. Ho has constantly 
kept in view ])ul)lic evils as they at ])rcsent exist, and can see 
no eft'ective remedy from the triumph of cither of the political 
parties. The evils are fundamental, and require new combi- 
nations to meet the exegencies ftf the times, and to i)revent 
further of intestine convulsion . 

Tn concentrating', or giving additional [loirer, the seci'et and 
difficult}' consist in preventing the (ibufie of this jjower. Not 
in excessively frequent elections; not in the glowing descrip- 
tions as given b}- Republican and Democratic orators and 
writers, which have had their origin in the wild domains of 
fancy ; nor not in the harsh acerbitnde which come from the 
archieves of despotism can the remedy be found to prevent the 
abuse of power . All these have sufiiciently been tried with a 
melancho!}' failure. A form of government perhaps well 
adapted to one stage in the progress of a nati<:)n, may, if con- 
tinued, i)rove fatal in a more advanced period of progression. 

Let us hope that passions will, subside within due bounds for 
temperate I'easons to mount the throne, so that this necessary 
change can be accomulished with<jut further effusions of blood 
— resulting in permanent order, peace and prosperity for the 
enjoyment of every class in this great and powerful nation. 
C— ITj 



Memoii' of the Author ;j 

Intfoduction 5 

Hon. T. C. Carter's Certificiite 12 

Preface 19 

Life and Career of James Copehmd 21 

Poisoning the Overseer in Texas 37 

Murder of two Mexicans in Texas 41 

Welter and Harden — Welter acting as U. S. Marshal 64 

Plot to kill Robert Lott and Thos. Sumrall 66 

Mr. Moore'in pursuit of the Hypocrite Prcachei- McGJi-ath 68 

McGratli in Disguise , 76 

Murder of O'Conner on the Mississippi River 77 

Meeting of the Clan in Mobile, Ala SS 

Burning of Eli Moffitt's House and attempted Murder of 

his Wife IJC, 

Wages and McGrath killed ii_v Hnrvey 90 

The Famous Harvey Battle lOo 

Trial of James Copeland .... 110 

Execution . US 

Members of the Copeland Clan 120 

Copeland's Letter to his Mother 121 

Mystic Alphabet 122 


S. S. Slutemake and his John R. Garland Letter.- 127 

Sheriff's reply 129 

220 INDKX. 


S. S. Shoeuuiko \isits the Slieritl 130 

Shoemake rciurns with a writ for the arrest of the Sheritf . loo 

Important inf(.u'inaiiun about the Ijiiried money 142 

The Trial in Mobile, Ahi 144 

The Records of the Tiial iVum the Cifey Court of :\[obile. . 149 

Comments on the Records 151 

Shoemake and B. Ta_vh)r in Court 15o 

McLamore fell a victim ti> tlie vengeance of tlie Chm luG 

G. Y. Overall, proves an alil)i 157 

The Court and the Jur)- 158 

Tampering with the Jury 159 

Sympath}' of the Jury 160 

Failure of Petition ■ 161 

Miss Bowen's Letter. 163 

Dr. BevelTs Letter to Miss Bowen 165 

Miss Bowen's Reply. 167 

An Extract from tlie speech of the Defendant before the 

Committee 169 

A Letter from Gonzales, Texas, to Defendant 170 

A Letter taken from the '-True Democrat" 173 

Character of the Prosecution 175 

Concluding Sketch of the Trial 188 

Another design oi" assassination 193 

Shoemake again 194 

The murder of Sheriff Smith, of Alabama 19(*) 

James McArthur, or "Calico Dick " 197 

Reflections on the history of "Calico Dick " 203 

The horricd murder of W. C Stanle}-, at Escatawpn, Ala., 205 

"Neeessary commcHts on unpunished crime.. 211