Cleburne County, Alabama

Crime News


Edwardsville Clarion:  MR. TRAYLOR, who lives near Camp Creek Church, about twelve miles northeast of this place, was shot at five times last Sunday night by an unknown party or parties.  In going to a neighbor's house he was shot at once, and twice after reaching the inside of the house, thirty-seven buckshot taking effect in the door shutter and water bucket.  On his way home he was waylaid and again shot at twice.  It is supposed the parties thought they were shooting at HUDGINS, who is now here in jail.  It is almost a miracle that he escaped without injury.  Source: Vernon Clipper, Lamar County AL, January 23, 1880 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


Chas. A. Smith, a brother of Ex-Governor Smith was fatally stabbed at Heflin recently by a man named Brown.  Brown is in jail.  Source: Marion County Herald, Marion County AL, November 21, 1889 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

The safe at the depot at Edwardsville was robbed recently of $1,040.  Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, November 28, 1889 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


A number of illicit distilleries have been destroyed in Cleburne and Randolph counties during the past two weeks.  Source: Hamilton Times, Marion County AL, May 7, 1891 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


Birmingham, Ala., Feb 10 - Deputy United States Marshals Jackson and Barker returned today from Cleburne County with two prisoners and tell of a brutal attempt made by a gang of conspirators to murder J. W. Sweatman's wife and nine-year old son, Jim. The family lives near Zidonia, that county. Shortly after supper Monday night Jim went to the front door, opened it and looked out. While standing there reports from two shotguns were heard. The boy fell unconscious to the floor and his mother reeled and fell. Bullets had taken effect tithe boys' abdomen and the mother's breast. She gained consciousness first and picked her son up in a dying condition. She will recover; the boy will die.  It seemed the brutes had mistaken the boy for old man Sweatman, who was absent.  The government officials think there is an organized band to intimidate United States witnesses in Cleburne county.  Sweatman was caught and whipped by J. E. Brown, Will Chandler, and Robert Junior ten days ago for testifying against moonshiners. These were arrested and bound over at the time.  Monday's tragedy is thought to be a continuation.  No arrests have been made.  Lafayette Anderson was killed in the same county a short while back and his slayers are thought to be in cahoots with this gang. The murders were not caught.  Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, February 18, 1892- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


OFF FOR THE PEN - The Age-Herald of Saturday says: John Parker, Lorenzo Phillips, Squire Fant, Turner and Ed Bannister and Bud Gillam, the men who were convicted a the recent term of the United States Court for White Capping the Cotton family in Cleburne county, and were given six years in the penitentiary and an additional fine of $500 each, will leave today for Stillwater Mich. at which place one of the of the US Prisons is located. Deputy Marshal A. L. White will accompany the prisoners to their destination.  Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, August 10, 1893- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

A DEPUTY MARSHAL KILLED - Friday’s Age-Herald says: Deputy United States Marshal Perry Griggs was killed in Cleburne county yesterday morning at 6 o’clock in a fight with a band of White Cappers, for whose arrest Untied States Commissioner Charlson of Attalla had issued warrants.  Three warrants Griggs and several others were trying to execute.  It seems that they ran on the White Cappers, who were expecting them at an early hour yesterday morning and a pitched battle ensued, in which Griggs was killed and Will Arrington, one of the White Cappers, was left on the field with a bullet hole through his body.
     Particulars of the killing are meager, all the news from there being contained in a  telegram to Marshal Musgrove, received yesterday.  Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, August 17, 1893- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


REVENUE MEN - They Have Been at Work in Randolph and Cleburne
    Birmingham, Jan. 18 - The revenue officers have recently made a most successful raid against illicit distilleries in Randolph and Cleburne counties, and as a result four stills with complete apparatus was seized and destroyed, the officers finding it impracticable to remove them.
    Near Cedron in Randolph county, Deputy Collector J. R. CALDWELL and Deputy United States Marshal TOM PELHAM, on the 6th inst., seized and destroyed a sixty-gallon copper still with complete outfit and 1,500 gallons of beer.  No arrests were made.  No the same date near Stone Hill Deputy Collectors J. F. GREEN and J. R. CALDWELL and Deputy U. S. Marshal BARKER seized a fifty-gallon copper still, woolen cap, copper worm and fomenters, 1,500 gallons of beer , five gallons of low wines and other article, all of which were destroyed.  No arrests were made.
    Deputy Collectors GREEEN and CALDWELL and Deputy Marshal BARKER destroyed a fifty-gallon still, 1,000 gallons of beer, five ferments, copper worm and a small steam boiler dismantled.
    The same officers went out near Stone Hill and destroyed a sixty-gallon copper still with complete apparatus and 2,000 gallons of beer.  JAMES M. COOK to whom the still is supposed to have belonged was arrested by the officers and detained until they had gotten out of the vicinity when he was discharged, there being no deputy marshal from the Middle District to take charge of him. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, January 24, 1895 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

A YOUTH'S CRIME - Kills Another Lad and Confesses without Giving Cause
Montgomery , Jan 26 - News has just reached here this place of the killing of Jethere Evans, son of Sheriff Evans, by Joe Burton , all of Cleburne County, at Edwardsville.
    Evans had a pistol which Burton wanted very badly.  Thursday he gave Evans a dollar to go out in the woods to try the pistol.  Several shots were heard by the neighbors, but no attention was paid to them. The parents of young Evans became alarmed and began search for him. His body was found protected by his faithful dog, but life was extinct.  Burton was arrested and confessed the murder, but gave no reason. Burton was 14 years of age and Evans 20. (Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, January 31, 1895 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)

Deputy Revenue Collector J. T. Green arrived in the city today from Anniston, and he gives an account of a large and successful raid made in Randolph and Cleburne counties during the first five days. Deputy Green was accompanied by Deputy Marshals Jackson, Barker and Cheatwood, and five large illicit distillers were captured and destroyed. Twenty thousand gallons of beer, 200 gallons of singlings and fifty gallons of corn whiskey were also captured and destroyed, besides a lot of mash, meal, malt, corn and other stuffs.
    None of the moonshiners were captured in Cleburne county, the men managing to run away from the officers.
    Near Lofty in Randolph county two men were discovered tearing up an illicit distillery.  The two men completed their work and then sat down on a keg of whiskey to await the arrival of the officers up the hillside.
    "Come on," cried the men, and the officers approached.
    Hardly had the revenue men got within shooting distance when the two men raised their guns to their shoulders. The deputy marshals began firing almost at the same time the moonshiners did. The fusillade lasted for a few minutes and it was a very heated one.  No one was hurt on either side, the two revenue violators managing to escape in the woods. This was Wednesday evening.
     Deputy Green told a News reporter that the raid was one of the largest made in Alabama in a long while. The moonshiners have easy sway in Cleburne county on account of but few deputy marshals operating around there, that county being in the middle district of Alabama, the headquarters of which was Montgomery. Deputy Collectors have passed all over the state but can get but little assistance from the deputy marshals in that section. - News - (Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, March 14, 1895 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney)

JOE BURTON’S TRIAL - The 14th inst is that day of young JOE BURTON’S trial who has been in jail several months at Jacksonville accused of the killing of Jethe Evans, his school mate.  Just 150 persons from Edwardsville, the scene of the murder, took the train Monday for Jacksonville, the place of trial  Burton’s trial was moved on the pea that he could not have a fair trial in Cleburne county.Source: Hamilton News Press, Marion County AL, May 23, 1895 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

A report comes from Edwardsville that J. C. Brown, better known as Calvin Brown, was shot from ambush at 3:30 o’clock p.m. Tuesday, and will probably die.  There has been an old feud existing between Brown and W. H. Rhodes for some time.  Rhodes and his boys fired on Brown in the road near Edwardsville last Friday but did not hit him.  Rhodes and all of his boys and Brown were in Edwardsville Tuesday.  Rhodes left about two hours before Brown did.  Brown was on his way home when some one fired on him from the bushes.  No one saw the shot fired. Brown himself did not know who did it. The shooting was done about two miles and a half from town. Source: Hamilton News Press, Marion County AL, August 29, 1895 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


CRIME OF WILDCATTERS - Deputy Sheriff Assassinated and Officers After The Assassins
Birmingham, Ala., Aug .8 - Dink Wharton, a Cleburne county deputy sheriff, left Edwardsville yesterday, armed with warrants for the arrest of several notorious wildcatters who infest the mountainous section of that county, twenty miles northeast of Edwardsville.  Today his dead body, riddled with bullets, was found in the public road near the scene of the wildcatter's operations. There were a dozen or more bullets in the corpse.
     It is believed that the outlaws had been apprised of Wharton's coming and waylaid and assassinated him. The sheriff has organized a posse and left of the scene of the murder, which is one of the wildest sections of Alabama, where no less than a dozen deputies have been slain by the wildcatters in the past few years.  The outlaws are well armed and defiant, and it is believed if the posse encounters them a bloody battle will follow. Source: Vernon Courier, Lamar County AL, August 12, 1897 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

Friday night Captain W. C. Hanlin and Deputy Collectors Nabers, Cole, Barker and Burgess discovered two stills right together, two miles northwest of Buchana, in Cleburne County.  Both were in operation and the alleged owners were on the spot. The stills were of 20 and 30 gallon capacity, and were turning out fresh “mountain dew’ at a rapid rate. Twelve hundred gallons of beer was emptied upon the ground and both stills destroyed. Green Serrett and his son, Bass Serett were arrested.  Source: Marion County News, Marion County AL, November 18, 1897- Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

STILLS RAIDED IN CLEBURNE – Three Stills destroyed, But the Operators Escaped Officers
Internal Revenue Collector J. F. Green has just finished a tour of Cleburne county and succeed in destroying three flourishing illicit stills.  They were situated as follows:
     Five miles southeast of Jenkins; One forty-gallon still, copper worm, flake stands and 400 gallons of beer were destroyed.
    Three miles southeast of Grantly; One forty-gallon wood still, four fermenters, 500 gallons of beer and a lot of tools were destroyed.
    Three miles northeast of Granley; One forty-five gallon copper still, wood cap, flake stand, eight fermenters, and 700 galloons of beer were destroyed.
    The combined capacity of the three plants was about forty gallons of whisky per day.  No arrests were made.  The operators apparently got wind of the fact that the officers were in the vicinity and kept out of sight.  Source: Marion County News, Marion County AL, December 16, 1897 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


Deputy Collector Battle and Deputy Marshal Thompson of Anniston went to Cleburne county last week where they raided an illicit distillery. The still was located near Lipham.  It was a copper one and of a large capacity and the operators had been making ten gallons of whisky per day. M. C. Hightower and his son, Asa N. Hightower, were arrested on the charge of operating an illicit distillery.  Source: Marion County Democrat, Marion County AL, December 31, 1903 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


As a result of a fight in Edwardsville between a policeman, three deputies and eight or ten citizens, growing out of the arrest of a man for public drunkenness the calaboose was partly destroyed and Deputy Mancel Smith was badly injured by being hit in the head with a brick. The first fight took place on the street, several of the drunken man’s friends helping him to resist arrest. He was finally locked up and while most of the citizens were at a show later in the night an assault was made on the jail.  Source: Marion County Republican, Marion County AL, November 11, 1908 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

In a fight at Edwardsville James Vaughan, a college student, shot and instantly killed Jackson Barker and wounded Elbert Jones and Bart McCormick.  Jones’ wound may make the amputation of his right arm necessary.  McCormick suffered only a slight flesh wound. Barker was shot through the heart three times.  Immediately after the shooting Vaughan was placed on a  train and carried to Anniston, where he was placed in jail.  It was deemed advisable to carry him there, as feeling was high in Edwardsville, and it was thought that an effort might be made to lynch him should he be placed in the Heflin jail.  Source: Marion County Republican, Marion County AL, November 18, 1908 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

According to a telephone message received at Anniston United states government officers Tuesday night had a battle with illicit distillers in the vicinity of Pinetucky Cleburne county, which resulted in the release of two prisoners and a runaway. The telephone line was apparently not in the best working order, and it was impossible to get a satisfactory account of the affair.  Source: Marion County Republican, Marion County AL, December 2, 1908 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

Following a desperate pitched battle, nine of the sot desperate characters of Cleburne and Randolph counties were incarcerated in the federal department of Calhoun county jail (Anniston) when click keys sound in the locks.  It probably meant the end of the illegal operations of this notorious band who have made the moonshine in Alabama for several decades. Those captures are Jim Floyd, Will Floyd, Mack Perkins, Ty Perkins, Bob Allen, Will Allen, Joe Allen, Lee Allen, and ad John Smith. Their arrest came as the result of the an attack on Deputy Marshals Powell and Fowler in Randolph county last Tuesday resulting in the escape of Bob Allen and Will Floyd, who were held as prisoners, and the shooting of two horses which the officers were driving. The shooting on this occasion was done by Jim Floyd and in the battle he fought like a tiger, surrendering only after five buckshot had taken him from his feet.  Source: Marion County Republican, Marion County AL, December 2, 1908 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney

At Anniston Richard McKinney, of Clay county, stopped in the Calhoun county court house to rest.  It was a costly step for half an hour later he was in the county jail on the charge of murder, for which he was indicted in 1905 by the Cleburne county grand jury.  He will be returned there.  Source: Marion County Republican, Marion County AL, December 23, 1908 - Transcribed by Veneta McKinney


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