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Posts tagged “Murrell Gang

The Nashville Daily American wrote about Murrell in 1876…

and provides some interesting facts.

NASHVILLE DAILY AMERICAN, 1876, A GENEALOGICAL SCRAPBOOK
Researched and Compiled by Jonathan Kennon Thompson Smith

January 12, 1876

Page 3:

INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT JOHN A. MURRELLSparta Index
        On our first page will be found an old document concerning John A. Murrell, who figured some years ago in this mountain country as a highwayman and horse thief. It is a fact not generally known, that Murrell reformed before his death, and lived for several years a member of the Methodist Church in good standing. He was a carpenter by trade and worked mostly in Bledsoe county, boarding usually at the house of John M. Billingsly, Esq., five miles above Pikeville, who now resides on Cane Creek, in Van Buren county. Murrell was a man of uncommonly good education and intelligence, and had one of the best libraries in the neighborhood. Several of his books are now in the library of President Carnes, of Barritt College. Murrell acknowledged his former crimes and with his intimates he talked freely but regretfully of them, but he denied to the last that he had ever committed murder. This declaration was repeated on his deathbed. Those who knew him best believed he was sincere. He died at Squire Billingsley’s and was buried in the graveyard near old Smyrna Church. A few nights after, the grave was violated and the head taken away, by whom was never known. The body was re-interred and has since remained undisturbed. To distinguish it, the grave was dug at an angle of forty-five degrees to the usual east and west line. It is still pointed out to curious strangers who visit the spot.

 

[For persons interested in the life of the notorious outlaw, John A. Murrell, they may read the biographical sketch about him in GENEALOGICAL ASIDES FROM SEVERAL WEST TENNESSEE SUPREME COURT CASES: 1830s, by Jonathan K. T. Smith, Jackson, 1997, pages 60-79.]


Outlaw Murrell…

did not have a happy ending awaiting him.

From the Florence Times, Saturday, February 28, 1895, p. 1.

OUTLAW MURREL

An account of His Capture Near Florence.
His Imprisonment, Death and Mutilation.

          Mr. T. F. Simpson of Tuscumbia gives the following interesting account of the noted outlaw John A. Murrell in the Memphis Commercial Appeal of Sunday last:
          I take the liberty of correcting an inaccuracy which appeared in The Commercial Appeal of Monday last, in reference to that of an interesting review of the incidents in the life of the famous bandit and outlaw, John A. Murrell, furnished by John P. Clay, which says the outlaw was never once captured in the whole course of his career. Mr. Clay is evidently not well posted, in view of the above statement. Many of the citizens of this section have heard from their parents’ knees numerous thrilling incidents in the career of Murrell, as he was often through this section away back fifty years or more, and of his capture and service in the Nashville (Tenn,) penitentiary, where he remained an inmate until he was declared to be dying of consumption and was pardoned by the governor. Soon after he was given his liberty he died at Pikeville, Tenn. Several years ago a citizen of Tuscumbia, Col. A. H. Kellar [sic], while visiting at Pikeville, met Mrs. S. C. Norwood, whose father gave Murrell employment as a blacksmith on his farm where he worked as long as his health would permit. Murrell had learned the trade in the penitentiary. Mrs. Norwood also informed Col. Kellar [sic] that Murrell was a constant Bible reader before his death, but always maintained that he had never killed a human being.
          The arrest and capture of the notorious outlaw was made on the outskirts of Florence through a negro named Tom Brandon [sic], a bricklayer, who died in Tuscumbia a few years ago, having reached a ripe old age. Tom’s master was a contractor and assisted in building many business houses in Florence. Colored brick masons were worth several thousand dollars, and Murrell planned a scheme by which he hoped to secure Tom and sell him for what he would bring. He made known his plans to Tom, with whom he proposed to share the proceeds of the sale. Tom heard his plans but would give him no definite answer until a second interview was had with the bandit. In the meantime he notified his master of Murrell’s proposition, and the time and place of the interview. Tom’s master enlisted the services of an officer and when Murrell went to fulfill his engagement with Tom he was captured and tried and sent to the penitentiary. These are facts which can be substantially corroborated by numerous citizens of Tuscumbia.
          Murrell was buried at Pikev[i]lle, and a short time after the internment his headless body was found near the grave, partially devoured by hogs. It was never known by whom this terrible deed was committed. It was rumored that his sku[ll] was sold to a Philadelphia museum.
          Thus it will be seen that John A. Murrell, whose name will live through centuries as one of the most noted criminals of ante-bellum days, was arrested, tried and convicted and served in the Tennessee penitentiary until the governor pardoned him on account of ill health.


Jesse Ray Yocum and the Murrell Gang…

provides a little bit of history, both good and bad.

Jesse Ray Yocum,1760-1840, is said to have served in the Revolutionary War. He was a member of the infamous John A. Murrell gang who robbed travelers along the Natchez Trace in western Mississippi and the leader of his sons in what was known as the “Yocum gang” who were known from Texas to Mississippi as killers, slave-stealers, and robbers.  Mark Twain wrote this about John Murrell. “When he traveled, his usual disguise was that of an itinerant preacher; and it is said that his discourses were very ‘soul-moving’–interesting the hearers so much that they forgot to look after their horses, which were carried away by his confederates while he was preaching.”
    See: http://www.rootsweb.com/~tnweakle/johnAmurrell_outlaw.htm
    “In the Land Office Register of 1824, Jesse, his son T. D. Yocum, and two other sons were listed as claiming land grants in the Neutral Strip; and during the 1820s, according to the Colorado “Gazette and Advertiser” of Oct. 31, 1841, he was tried several times for murder at Natchitoches, La., and bought acquittal on every occasion with hired witnesses and perjured testimony.”

The Texas Handbook Online:
    “YOKUM GANG. The Yokum Gang was a group of reputed thieves and murderers who operated in the Neutral Ground between Louisiana and Spanish Texas in the early 1820s. Susan Callier (Collier), daughter of Robert Callier, who settled east of San Augustine in 1822, favored as a suitor, Matthew Yokum, a member of the gang; but her father ordered Yokum never to return to the Callier home and persuaded his daughter to marry Charles Chandler. Susan’s uncle, James Callier, married a Yokum sister and became a member of the gang. James Callier and Matthew Yokum then killed Robert Callier and started to San Augustine to murder Charles Chandler, but Chandler, aided by a slave who was killed in the encounter, killed both his assailants. Other members of the gang then murdered a Louisiana citizen and seized his African-American wife and mulatto children to sell as slaves in Texas, but David Renfro and his neighbors drove the gang out of the country and returned the woman and her children to Louisiana. The gang fled to Pine Island Bayou in the area of present Jefferson County and resumed their practices of robbery and murder until neighboring citizens hung Thomas Yokum and dispersed the remainder of the group.
Robert Bruce Blake

“YOKUM GANG.” The Handbook of Texas Online. http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/YY/jey1.html
The Texas Monthly; July, 2002
http://www.texasmonthly.com/mag/issues/2002-07-01/webextra6.php

The Bad Old Days
The 1800’s had its share of criminal activity.
by Anne Dingus
    … Texas has seen its share of historical horrors … no surprise in a state that was the wildest and woolliest of the American West. … outlaw Wild Bill Longley, for example, claimed to have once shot a man for insulting the virtue of Texas women. … Below are … criminal vignettes of the 1800’s that have largely been forgotten by modern Texans, but when it comes to terror, they’re still pretty high-caliber.
     ….
    1810’s-1820’s: The Yokum Gang, a group of thieves and murderers, terrify the Neutral Ground, an area between Louisiana and Spanish Texas. The first to die at the hands of ringleaders Matthew Yokum and James Callier is Callier’s father, who had refused to let Yokum marry his daughter. The group commits additional murders and attempts to kidnap freed blacks to sell as slaves, but eventually is thwarted by outraged neighbors who drive them west across the Sabine River and into Pine Island Bayou, in what is now Jefferson County.

Jesse Ray, some of his sons, and some of his grandsons were suspected of being outlaws in Kentucky, along the Natchez Trace and in the Neutral Strip in southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas. Though several were hanged or shot by vigilante groups, none were arrested, tried, and convicted by legal authorities. The family criminal activities occurred over three generations from about 1800 to about 1878.Several descendants of Jesse Ray Yocum and Diana How Denton made their way to the lawless area in southwest Louisiana in the mid 1800s. Some were involved in the lawless activities of the time. Two sons were hanged. One, Zach Yocum, was hanged by “Regulators” in Louisiana (date unknown, perhaps around 1876) and the other was hanged by parties unknown in Texas in 1841. A grandson, Doc Addison fought off the Regulators, killing four of them, in Louisiana after fleeing from murder charges in Texas. Another son, Matthew (or Matthis) Yocum, along with his brother-in-law, James Collier, was suspected in the killing of Robert Collier (James’s brother). They then attempted to kill Charles Chandler, Robert Collier’s son-in-law.
These lawless few constituted a minority of the Yoakum family members in the area at the time.
The Yocums mentioned in the Handbook of Texas article “Yokum Gang” are all children of Jesse Yocum, son of Matthias Yoakum and Diana Denton, both of Kentucky. Matthias Yocum, b 1790, KY; Thomas D. Yocum, b 1796, Ky married Pamelia Peace, 9 Jan 1814, St. Landry Parish, LA; and Martha “Patsy” Yocum,b 20 Mar 1804, KY. m James Callier. Jesse and Diane had 11 children in all.


Outlaw John Murrell…

did not have a happy ending awaiting him.

From the Florence Times, Saturday, February 28, 1895, p. 1.

OUTLAW MURREL

An account of His Capture Near Florence.
His Imprisonment, Death and Mutilation.

          Mr. T. F. Simpson of Tuscumbia gives the following interesting account of the noted outlaw John A. Murrell in the Memphis Commercial Appeal of Sunday last:
          I take the liberty of correcting an inaccuracy which appeared in The Commercial Appeal of Monday last, in reference to that of an interesting review of the incidents in the life of the famous bandit and outlaw, John A. Murrell, furnished by John P. Clay, which says the outlaw was never once captured in the whole course of his career. Mr. Clay is evidently not well posted, in view of the above statement. Many of the citizens of this section have heard from their parents’ knees numerous thrilling incidents in the career of Murrell, as he was often through this section away back fifty years or more, and of his capture and service in the Nashville (Tenn,) penitentiary, where he remained an inmate until he was declared to be dying of consumption and was pardoned by the governor. Soon after he was given his liberty he died at Pikeville, Tenn. Several years ago a citizen of Tuscumbia, Col. A. H. Kellar [sic], while visiting at Pikeville, met Mrs. S. C. Norwood, whose father gave Murrell employment as a blacksmith on his farm where he worked as long as his health would permit. Murrell had learned the trade in the penitentiary. Mrs. Norwood also informed Col. Kellar [sic] that Murrell was a constant Bible reader before his death, but always maintained that he had never killed a human being.
          The arrest and capture of the notorious outlaw was made on the outskirts of Florence through a negro named Tom Brandon [sic],1 a bricklayer, who died in Tuscumbia a few years ago, having reached a ripe old age. Tom’s master was a contractor and assisted in building many business houses in Florence. Colored brick masons were worth several thousand dollars, and Murrell planned a scheme by which he hoped to secure Tom and sell him for what he would bring. He made known his plans to Tom, with whom he proposed to share the proceeds of the sale. Tom heard his plans but would give him no definite answer until a second interview was had with the bandit. In the meantime he notified his master of Murrell’s proposition, and the time and place of the interview. Tom’s master enlisted the services of an officer and when Murrell went to fulfill his engagement with Tom he was captured and tried and sent to the penitentiary. These are facts which can be substantially corroborated by numerous citizens of Tuscumbia.
          Murrell was buried at Pikev[i]lle, and a short time after the internment his headless body was found near the grave, partially devoured by hogs. It was never known by whom this terrible deed was committed. It was rumored that his sku[ll] was sold to a Philadelphia museum.
          Thus it will be seen that John A. Murrell, whose name will live through centuries as one of the most noted criminals of ante-bellum days, was arrested, tried and convicted and served in the Tennessee penitentiary until the governor pardoned him on account of ill health.


Jesse Ray Yocum and the Murrell gang…

provides a little bit of history, both good and bad.

Jesse Ray Yocum,1760-1840.is said to have served in the Revolutionary War.
   He was a member of the infamous John A. Murrell gang who robbed travelers along the Natchez Trace in western Mississippi and the leader of his sons in what was known as the “Yocum gang” who were known from Texas to Mississippi as killers, slave-stealers, and robbers.  Mark Twain wrote this about John Murrell. “When he traveled, his usual disguise was that of an itinerant preacher; and it is said that his discourses were very ‘soul-moving’–interesting the hearers so much that they forgot to look after their horses, which were carried away by his confederates while he was preaching.”
    See: http://www.rootsweb.com/~tnweakle/johnAmurrell_outlaw.htm
    “In the Land Office Register of 1824, Jesse, his son T. D. Yocum, and two other sons were listed as claiming land grants in the Neutral Strip; and during the 1820s, according to the Colorado “Gazette and Advertiser” of Oct. 31, 1841, he was tried several times for murder at Natchitoches, La., and bought acquittal on every occasion with hired witnesses and perjured testimony.”
The Texas Handbook Online:
    “YOKUM GANG. The Yokum Gang was a group of reputed thieves and murderers who operated in the Neutral Ground between Louisiana and Spanish Texas in the early 1820s. Susan Callier (Collier), daughter of Robert Callier, who settled east of San Augustine in 1822, favored as a suitor, Matthew Yokum, a member of the gang; but her father ordered Yokum never to return to the Callier home and persuaded his daughter to marry Charles Chandler. Susan’s uncle, James Callier, married a Yokum sister and became a member of the gang. James Callier and Matthew Yokum then killed Robert Callier and started to San Augustine to murder Charles Chandler, but Chandler, aided by a slave who was killed in the encounter, killed both his assailants. Other members of the gang then murdered a Louisiana citizen and seized his African-American wife and mulatto children to sell as slaves in Texas, but David Renfro and his neighbors drove the gang out of the country and returned the woman and her children to Louisiana. The gang fled to Pine Island Bayou in the area of present Jefferson County and resumed their practices of robbery and murder until neighboring citizens hung Thomas Yokum and dispersed the remainder of the group.
Robert Bruce Blake
“YOKUM GANG.” The Handbook of Texas Online. http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/YY/jey1.html
The Texas Monthly; July, 2002
http://www.texasmonthly.com/mag/issues/2002-07-01/webextra6.php
The Bad Old Days
The 1800’s had its share of criminal activity.
by Anne Dingus
    … Texas has seen its share of historical horrors … no surprise in a state that was the wildest and woolliest of the American West. … outlaw Wild Bill Longley, for example, claimed to have once shot a man for insulting the virtue of Texas women. … Below are … criminal vignettes of the 1800’s that have largely been forgotten by modern Texans, but when it comes to terror, they’re still pretty high-caliber.
     ….
    1810’s-1820’s: The Yokum Gang, a group of thieves and murderers, terrify the Neutral Ground, an area between Louisiana and Spanish Texas. The first to die at the hands of ringleaders Matthew Yokum and James Callier is Callier’s father, who had refused to let Yokum marry his daughter. The group commits additional murders and attempts to kidnap freed blacks to sell as slaves, but eventually is thwarted by outraged neighbors who drive them west across the Sabine River and into Pine Island Bayou, in what is now Jefferson County.


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