Upton County, Texas


 Located on the Lamar County Alabama GT site:

Book by Harry Hawkeye (Paul Emilius Lowe) Copyright 1908
Rube Burrow Probate Records 
Rube Burrow Obituary - Death Notices

His full name was Reuben  Houston Burrows and he was born on  December 11, 1854, went to Texas in 1872, where he became a cowboy. It has been said that he could lift a 700 pound sack and walk off with it, easy. He was the outlaw king of Alabama and known as "Alabama Robin Hood", he never robbed a poor man.

The Burrow family, however, were amoug the earliest settlers of Fayette County, Alabama, from which Lamar was taken, and from their prolific stock descended a numerous progeny, who, by the natural ties of consanguinity, formed a clan amongst whom the bold outlaws found ready refuge when fleeing from the hot pursuit organized in the more populous localities which were the scenes of their daring crimes. Chief among Rube's partisans and protectors was James A, Cash, a brother-in-law.

Allen H. Burrow, the father of Rube, was born in Maury County, Tenn., May 21, 1825, ^is parents moving to Franklin County, Ala., in 1826, and who, in 1828, settled within the vicinity of his present home in Lamar County, Ala. In August, 1849, Allen Burrow married Martha Caroline Terry, a native of Lamar County, who was born in 1830. From this union were born ten children — five boys, and five girls. John T. Burrow, the oldest child, lives near Vernon, the county seat of Lamar. Apart from harboring his brother Rube, while an outlaw, he has always borne a fair reputation. He is of a rollicking disposition, possesses a keen sense of the ridiculous, is a fine mimic and recounts an anecdote inimitably, and, though crude of speech and manner, having little education, is a man of more than average intelligence. Jasper Burrow, the second son, is a quiet, taciturn man; he lives with his father, and is reputed to be of unsound mind. Four of the daughters married citizens of Lamar County. The youngest, who bears the prosaic name of Ann Eliza, is a tall blonde of twenty summers, and is yet unmarried. She is of a defiant nature, has a comely and attractive face, and is a favorite with many a rustic youth in the vicinage of the Burrow homestead. She was de- voted to Rube, afforded a constant medium of communication between the parental home and the hiding place of the outlaws, and was the courier through whom Rube Smith was added to the robber band while in rendezvous in Lamar County.

Reuben Houston Burrow, the outlaw, was born in Lamar County, December ii, 1854. His early life in Lamar was an uneventful one. He was known as an active, sprightly boy, apt in all athletic pursuits, a swift runner, an ardent huntsman and a natural woodsman. He possessed a fearless spirit, wu of a merry and humorous fun, a characteristics of the Burrow family, but he developed none of those traits which might have foreshadowed the unenviable fame acquired in after-life.

James Buchanan Burrow, the fifth and youngest son, was born in 1858, and was, therefore, four years the junior of his brother Rube, to whose fortunes his own were linked in the pursuit of train robbing, and which gave to the band the name of the " Burrow Brothers " in the earliest days of its organization.

The facilities for acquiring education in the rural districts of the South, half a century ago, were limited, and Allen Burrow grew to manhood's estate, having mastered little more than a knowledge of the "three R's," and yet talent for teaching the young idea how to shoot was so scant that Allen Burrow, during the decade immediately preceding the late war, v/as found diversifying the pursuits of tilling the soil with that of teaching a country school. Among his pupils was the unfortunate postmaster of Jewell, Ala., Moses Graves, who was wantonly killed by Rube Burrow in 1889. Alany anecdotes are current in Lamar County, illustrating the primitive methods of pedagogy as pursued by Allen Burrow. It is said that the elder Graves, who had several sons as pupils, withdrew the hopeful scions of the Graves household from the school for the reason that after six months' tuition, he having incidentally enrolled the whole contingent in a spelling bee, they all insisted on spelling every syllable ending with a consonant by adding an extra one, as d-o-g-g, dog; b-u-g-g, bug.

Allen Burrow served awhile in Roddy's cavalry during the civil war, but his career as a soldier was brief and not marked by any incident worthy of note. Soon after the close of the war he made some reputation as a "moonshiner," and was indicted about 1876 for illicit distilling. He fled the country in consequence, but after an absence of two years he returned and made some compromise with the Government, since which time he has quietly lived in Lamar County. While possessed of some shrewdness, he is a typical backwoodsman, with the characteristic drawling voice and quaint vernacular peculiar to his class. Martha Terry, the wife of Allen Burrow, claims to be possessed of the peculiar and hereditary gift of curing, by some strange and mysterious agency, many of the ills to which flesh is heir, and had she lived in the days of Cotton Mather she might have fallen a victim to fire and fagot, with which witchcraft in that day and time was punished. There are many sensible and wholly unsuperstitious persons in northern Alabama, where old Mrs. Burrow is well known, who believe in her occult powers of curing cancers, warts, tumors and kindred ailments, by the art of sorcery. Capt. J. E. Pennington, a prominent citizen, and the present tax collector of Lamar County, tells of two instances in his own family in which Dame Burrow removed tumors by simple incantation. The witch's caldron " boils and bubbles" on the hearthstone of the Burrow home, and whether the dark and fetid mixture contain

" 'Eye of newt and toe of frog, Wool of bat and tongue of dog ; Adder's fork and blind worm's sting, Lizard's leg and owlet's wing,"

or what not, many good but credulous people come from far and near to invoke the charm of her occult mummery, despite the fact that our latter-day civilization has long since closed its eyes and ears to the arts of sorcery and witchcraft. Here, amid the environments of ignorance and superstition, evils resulting more from the inherent infirmities of the rugged pioneer and his wife than the adversities of fortune, the family of ten children was reared. It is from such strong and rugged natures, uneducated and untrained in the school of right and honesty, that comes the material of which train robbers are made.

Rube worked awhile on his uncle's farm, but soon drifted into that nondescript character known as a Texas cowboy. Meantime, in 1876, he married Miss Virginia Alvison, in Wise County, Texas, and from this marriage two children were born, who are now with their grandparents in Alabama, the elder being a boy of twelve years. This wife died in 1880, and he again married in 1884 a Miss Adeline Hoover, of Erath County, Texas. These events served to restrain his natural inclinations for excitement and adventure, and it may be truthfully said that from 1873 to 1886 Rube Burrow transgressed the law only to the extent of herding unbranded cattle and marking them as his own. In this pursuit he traversed the plains of Texas, enjoying with an excess of keen delight a companionship of kindred spirits, whose homes were in the saddle, and who found their only shelter by day and by night under the same kindly skies. As he grew to manhood he had given full bent to his love for the athletic pursuits incident to life upon the then sparsely settled plains of the Lone Star State. Taming the unbridled bronco, shooting the antelope, and lassoing the wild steer, under whip and spur, he soon gained fame as an equestrian, and was reckoned as the most unerring marksman in all the adjacent country. With a reputation for all these accomplishments, strengthened by an innate capacity for leadership, Rube ere long gathered about him a band of trusty comrades, of which he was easily the leader. At this time, December 1, 1886, his party, consisting of Jim Burrow, Nep Thornton and Henderson Bromley, returning from a bootless excursion into the Indian Territory, rode in the direction of Bellevue, a station on the Fort Worth and Denver Railway. Here Rube proposed to rob the train, which they knew to be due at Bellevue at eleven o'clock A. M. Hitching their horses in the woods a few hundred yards away they stealthily approached a water-tank three hundred yards west of the station, and where the train usually stopped for water. Thornton held up the engineer and fireman, while Rube, Bromley and Jim Burrow went through the train and robbed the passengers, leaving the Pacific Express unmolested. They secured some three hundred dollars in currency and a dozen or more watches. On the train was Sergeant Connors (white), with a squad of U.S. colored soldiers, in charge of some prisoners. From these soldiers were taken their forty-five caliber Colt's revolvers, a brace of which pistols were used by Rube Burrow throughout his subsequent career. Rube insisted on the prisoners being liberated, but they disdained the offer of liberty at the hands of the highwaymen and remained in charge of the crest-fallen soldiers, who were afterwards dismissed from the service for cowardice. Regaining their horses the party rode forth from the scene of their initial train robbery, out into the plains, making a distance of some seventy-five miles from the scene of the robbery in twenty-four hours.

The ill-gotten gains thus obtained did not suffice to satisfy the greed of the newly fledged train robbers, and early in the following January another raid was planned. At Alexander, Texas, about seventy-five miles from Gordon, all the robbers met, and going thence by horseback to Gordon, Texas, a station on the Texas and Pacific Railway, they reached their destination about one o'clock a. m., on January 23, 1887. As the train pulled out of Gordon at two o'clock A. m.. Rube and Bromley mounted the engine, covered the engineer and fire- man, and ordered them to pull ahead and stop at a

distance of five hundred yards east of the station. The murderous looking Colt's revolvers brought the engineer to terms, and the commands of the highwaymen were obeyed to the letter. At the point where the train was stopped, Jim Burrow, Thornton, and Harrison Askew, a recruit who had but recently joined the robber band, were in waiting. As the train pulled up, Askew's nerve failed him, and he cried out, " For heaven's sake, boys, let me out of this ; I can't stand it." Askew's powers of locomotion, however, had not forsaken him, and he made precipitate flight from the scene of the robbery. Rube and Bromley marched the engineer and fireman to the express car and demanded admittance, while the rest of the robbers held the conductor and other trainmen at bay. The messenger of the Pacific Express Company refused at first to obey the command to open the door, but put out the lights in his car. A regular fuselade ensued, the robbers using a couple of Winchiester rifles, and after firing fifty or more shots the messenger surrendered. About $2,275 secured from the Pacific Express car. The U. S. Mail car was also robbed, and the highwaymen secured from the registered mail about two thousand dollars.

Mounting their horses, which they had left hidden in the forest hard by, they rode off in a northerly direction, in order to mislead their pursuers.

The better to allay suspicion the robber comrades now agreed to separate, and all made a show of work, some tilling the soil, while others engaged in the occupation of herding cattle for the neigh- boring ranch owners.

Rube and Jim Burrow, about this time, purchased a small tract of land, paying six hundred dollars for it. They also bought a few head of stock and made a fair showing for a few months at making an honest living. The restless and daring spirit of Rube Burrow, however, could not brook honest toil. As he followed the plowshare over his newly purchased land, and turned the wild flowers of the teeming prairie beneath the soil, he nurtured within his soul nothing of the pride of the peaceful husbandman, but, fretting over such tame pursuits, built robber castles anew.

While planting a crop in the spring of 1887 he had for a fellow workman one William Brock, and finding in him a dare-devil and restless spirit he recounted to him his successful ventures at Bellevuc and at Gordon. Thus another recruit was added to his forces, and one, too, who was destined

to play an important role, as subsequent events will show. Time grew apace, and Rube wrote, in his quaint, unscholarly way, affectionate epistles to his relatives in Lamar County, Ala., sending them some of his ill-gotten gains. Two of these letters, written on the same sheet of paper, the one to his brother, John T. Burrow, the other to his father and mother, at Vernon, Ala., are here given verbatim et literatim and show that a collegiate education is not a necessary adjunct to the pursuit of train robbing.

Erath County, Tex., March lo, 1887. Dear Brother and family :

All is well. No nuse too rite, the weather is good for work and wee ar puting in the time. Wee will plant com too morrow. Mee and james Will plant 35 acreys in corn. Wee wont plant Eny Cotton Wee hav a feW Ooats sode and millet, i am going too Stephens Vill too day and i Will male this Letr. J. T. when you rite Direct your letr too Stephens Vill Erath county and tell all of the Rest too direct there letrs too the same place, i want you and pah too keep that money John you keep $30.00 and pah $20.00. the Reason i want you to hav $30 is because you have the largest family. John i don't blame pah and mother for not coming out here for they ortoo no there Buisness. John i want you too rite too me. i did think i would Come Back in march, i cant come now. Rite.

R. H. Burrow too J. T. Burrow.

 Dear father & mother :

Eye will Rite you a few I,ines. all is well. Elizabeth* has a boy. it was bomd on the 28 of february. She has done well. Mother i want you too pick mee out one of the prityest widows in ala. i will come home this fawl. pah i want John thomas too hav 30 dollars of that money eye want you too Buy analyzer a gold Ring, it wont cost more than $4. i told her i would send her a present, pah that will take a rite smart of your part of the money but it will come all right some day for I am going to sell out some time and come and see all of you. Rite.

R H Burrow too A H Burrow.

"We have sowed a few oats," wrote Rube. Whether this was meant as a double-entendre and referred not only to a strictly domesticated brand of that useful cereal, but also to the "wild oats" which Rube and Jim had been sowing, and which bore ample fruitage in after years, it is useless to speculate.

In the midst of seed-time Rube tired of his bucolic pursuits, and concluded to try his fortunes at Gordon again, and on the tenth of May the chief gathered his little band at his farm in Erath County and, under cover of a moonless night, rode northward to the Brazos River, about fifty miles distant. They found to their disappointment that the river was very high and was overflowing its banks, rendering it impossible to cross it by ferry. The river remained high for several weeks.

Rube and his brother would continue to rob the trains until eventually his luck ran out, after the capture of his brother in Montgomery and his subsequent death in jail, Rube would eventually make the fatal mistake of trusting the wrong people which led to his arrest. After his escape from jail Rube went in search of Carter who had taken his rifle and money, the end result led to a shoot out in which Carter was wounded and Rube was fatally shot on October 1, 1890. His body was sent back to Lamar by train and was put on public display. He was buried in Lamar County Alabama, in Fellowship Cemetery.

A coroner's inquest was held, and the body of Rube Burrow being thoroughly identified a verdict of death in the manner described was rendered. After treating the body with preservatives it was taken to Demopolis, Ala. Here hundreds of people assembled to view the remains of the great bandit.

On arrival at Birmingham, at three o'clock on the morning of the 9th of October, fully one thou- sand people were in waiting to get a glimpse at the body of the great train robber. Special oflficers were employed to keep the morbid crowd at bay. Photographs of the body were taken, and at seven o'clock A. M. the train leaving Birmingham for Memphis conveyed the remains to Sulligent, Ala. A telegram had been sent to Allen Burrow, stating that Rube's dead body would be delivered to him at noon that day at Sulligent. The father was there to receive it. A representative of the Southern Express Company said to him:

"We are sorry to bring your boy back in this shape, but it was the best we could do."

"I have no doubt," answered Allen Burrow, "that he was mobbed."


Rube Burrow, the notorious outlaw and train robber who was captured in Marengo County yesterday afternoon, was killed by one of the men who were guarding him at Linden this morning. He was captured by John McDuffie, J.C. Carter, and two negroes. A special from Demopolis, Ala., gives the following details of the killing of a desperado in Marshall County presumed to be Reuben Burrows. The shooting was done by D A Scott, When the outlaw fell mortaly wounded he said, " You think I am Reuben Burrows but, you are mistaken. My name is Smith." The dead desperado wore a shirt of mail. New York Times.

The Train Robber and Outlaw Seen at Denison by an Old Acquaintance.
DENISON, Tex., Dec. 6.—W. H. Ford, a reliable citizen, states that the celebrated outlaw, Rube Burrows, was in the city Tuesday night and that he had a few minutes' conversation with him. Ford was born and brought up in the same section with Burrows, and has in his possession a tin type photograph of the bandit chief. Burrows told Ford that he was in no manner connected with the recent train robbery in the Indian Territory. His visit to Texas is to adjust some family matters and he expects to leave for Alabama some time next week. Burrows was traveling with a companion.


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