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
|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.]