The past is the present for future generations who do not know their history

Jesse Ray Yocum and the Murrell gang…

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

Jesse Ray Yocum, 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.”
    “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.
The Texas Monthly; July, 2002
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.

2 responses


    I would like to remember my father Jack Huddleston. He was a long time Sheffield Attorney, former legislator and a friend to everyone he met. My Daddy was raised in Sheffield and loved and supported this town with all of his heart. So many people will remember seeing him walking on Montgomery Ave everyday. What a wonderful life full of unconditional love he gave his children ! I am so proud to have had him for a father…. He will always be a part of Sheffield’s history. Thanks Daddy…if love could have saved you, you would still be here.

    January 6, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    • Thank you, Jean. I remember Jack Huddleston through his reputation and the media.

      January 6, 2011 at 10:58 pm

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