The Monroe Journal newspaper in Monroeville published four editions 135 years ago during the month of August 1879. Those papers came out on Aug. 4, Aug. 11, Aug. 18 and Aug. 25. Horace R. Hood was the newspaper’s publisher and editor. What follows are a few new highlights from each of those papers. Enjoy.
AUG. 4, 1879
The many friends of J.J. Autry announce him as a candidate for Circuit Clerk at the next election, subject to the action of the Democratic and Conservative voters of Monroe County.
The many friends of F. Metts announce him as a candidate for the office of sheriff at the next election…
The case of the state vs. Roberts will be carried before Judge Henry on a writ of habeas corpus.
Perdue Hill – Mr. Jno. L. Marshal, an excellent officer and a clever and intelligent gentleman, has tendered his resignation as justice of the peace in the beat No. 2.
“Where shall we get a coffin if a friend or relative dies?” is a question now easily answered. Go to J.A. Savage’s at Perdue Hill and you can be served on short notice.
Col. T.C. McCorvey of Tuscaloosa is recreating in Monroeville. His many friends here are always glad to see the colonel.
CIRCUIT JUDGESHIP – The name of Col. B.L. Hibbard of Monroe is mentioned in connection with the circuit judgeship of this circuit. – Clarke County Democrat.
Mt. Pleasant – A negro man under the employ of Mr. Jo. Boyles Jr. was shot and probably fatally wounded at the Mount a few nights ago. He was going from his house to his corn crib when someone emptied a load of buckshot in his thigh, crushing the bone and making a horrible wound. The negro is said to have been quiet and inoffensive and no cause is assigned for the cowardly act. The party who did the shooting is not known. Comment is unnecessary.
Buena Vista – Mr. J.B. Finklea died at Buena Vista several days ago.
Attempted Murder! – Jordon Collins, a colored man living near Mr. A.C. Hixon’s plantation in this county, shot Fannie Deese, a colored girl, in the face with small shot, several days ago. The girl is not expected to recover. The negro is still at large, but a warrant has been issued for his arrest.
A Slight Error – We are informed by D.L. Neville, esq., that in the following statement, which appeared in The Journal last week, relating to the re-arrest of Charles Roberts for shooting D.W. Rankin, we have done an injustice to Judge Sowell:
Charles Roberts has been re-arrested on a warrant issued from the county court for the same offense. Saturday, a day set for hearing the case, Col. Hibbard, representing the defendant, moved to discharge the prisoner on the ground that he had been previously been tried and bound over for the same offense. The motion was ably argued pro and con by Col. Hibbard and D.L. Neville, esq.
Judge Sowell overruled the motion for the prisoner’s discharge, whereupon the counsel for the defense, waived a re-examination.
We certainly stated what we believed to be the facts in the case at the time and had no desire to place anyone before the public in a false light. Mr. Neville says that Mr. Roberts was arrested for murder, and not for the charge he had been bound over to answer.
AUG. 11, 1879
I respectfully announce myself a candidate for Circuit Clerk of Monroe County subject to the action of the democratic party of the county – W.R. AGEE.
The Monroeville Institute opens on the 22nd of September, with W.Y. Titcomb, principal, and Mrs. B.C. McCorvey, assistant.
CLAIBORNE – A GANG OF THIEVES SURPRISED – ONE KILLED AND ONE WOUNDED!
Claiborne has another real sensation. For years past merchants and others who have had goods, wares and merchandise to come through warehouses at Claiborne have met with short weights and short measures, and a plan of systematic stealing has been going on, until growing bold from past success, thieves took too many into their confidence and they have at last been caught up with.
Merchants would complain to their merchants in Mobile of short weights, and, in many cases, rather than have suspicions resting upon their houses for any intentional wrong, they would make good the losses. In some cases much ill feeling has been aroused between the country merchants and the Mobile merchants, and the latter have, in many instances, been forced to get clerks and other employees to make affidavits to the weights and measures as left their houses.
But “murder will out” and “truth is mighty and will prevail,” after a time. Sunday night, 31st inst., after the Emma had passed up the river, the freight was left on the wharf as usual at the Lower Warehouse in Claiborne, and with usually trusted guard to attend it. Having reason to suspect wrong doing on the part of the colored man left in charge of the freight, Mr. J.B. Crow, with a couple of young men were on the lookout.
About 10 o’clock at night, the following Negroes, eight in all, were caught in the act of bursting heads of barrels of flour and taking flour out and replacing head with surprising nicety, and extracting coffee from sacks: Allen Howard, Ran Taswell, Dick James, Adam Taswell, Lang Agee, Singleton James and Jesse McGrew. Rushing on them, the Negroes were ordered to give up, and refusing to do so, and starting to run, they were fired on, when Ran Taswell was shot in the leg, and died from the effects of the wound in about four hours, and Lang Agee was shot in the foot, but made his escape.
Jesse McGrew and Allen Howard were arrested and placed in jail, but Dick James, Adam Taswell and Singleton James also made good their escape, but the officers of the law are now after them, and may yet get the scoundrels.
Thus has one of the boldest and most shameless band of thieves been bursted up that has been organized in this section in many years.
The Roberts-Rankin Affair Again – We have received the following which we are requested to publish in justice to Mr. Roberts:
H.R. Hood, Esq.:
Editor Journal – As you evidently intend to desire to get the Roberts arrest properly before the public, you may publish as matters of fact, the following:
On the 21st day of July, Mr. Jno. L. Marshall, a Justice of the Peace for Monroe County, issued his warrant for the arrest of Chas. Roberts charging him with the offense of murder; Roberts was arrested and brought before Mr. Marshall on that charge, and after a full and thorough investigation of all the fact pertaining to the killing of D.W. Rankin by Roberts, in which investigation the state as well as the defendant was represented by counsel, Mr. Marshall decided that in his opinion Charles Roberts was not guilty of murder as charged, but guilty of manslaughter in the second degree; and accordingly the Justice of the Peace, Mr. Marshall, fixed bail in the sum of $400, which was given by Roberts without difficulty; thereupon Roberts was released from custody.
Judge Sowell, acting as a Justice of the Peace, then issued his warrant for the arrest of Roberts, charging him as did the first warrant with the offense of murder; after being arrested and brought before Judge Sowell, Roberts moved for his discharge, on the ground that the identical offense with which he stood charged before Sowell, had been judicially investigated by a competent magistrate viz: Mr. J.L. Marshall. Judge Sowell overruled this motion, and on Mr. Roberts declining to go into, and waiving a reexamination, Judge Sowell committed him to jail. – These are the simple facts.
A young man from the upper portion of the county, visiting friends at Claiborne a few days since, wanted to swim his horse across the Alabama to go over in Clarke to see his sweetheart, but was prevailed on not to risk so much for the fair one.
Mr. Lawrence Rikard, after a long and lingering illness, died at his residence, a few miles from Monroeville last week. He was about 70 years old and was buried at the Methodist Church burying ground Tuesday last.”
AUG. 18, 1879
The Selma & Gulf Railroad is again advertised for sale, and the 22nd of September next is the day appointed for such sale.
W.H. Nettles, who recently escaped from the Dallas County jail, passed through Kempville, in this county Monday, the 4th. He was seen by several parties, stopped and swapped horses and took dinner with an old countryman, and didn’t seem to be the least uneasy. He had three pistols – two derringers and a navy six – and was as happy as a big sunflower.
He got a bottle of whiskey from Mr. P. McGlinn and got drunk, and, meeting Charlie McClure, an old college mate, he told all about killing Powell in Selma some time ago; but said he intended to kill Powell’s brother and not the one he did kill. Nettles told other parties that his name was Ledger, and by this name he was traced to a point near the Florida line.
He said he was bound for Jacksonville, Fla., whither he was going for his health. From what we can learn, if Nettles is not caught, it will not be his (Nettles’) fault.
The record of crime in Monroe County for the past 30 or 35 days is very sad and shows a wanton and reckless regard of human life hardly to be equaled by any of the counties in the border states. We give below a summary account of the several murders and attempts at taking human life that have occurred in Monroe – one of the first settled counties in the state – which will afford food for thought for the law-abiding men, who have the welfare of our county at heart.
July 5th, Jesse D. Andrews and Daniel Powell got into a difficulty at Cokerville, when the latter was shot and killed. Andrews is still at large and defies arrest.
A few days later, a colored man, living near Mt. Pleasant, while passing from his house to his corn crib, after supper, was shot and mortally wounded by some party unknown. The assassin is still at large.
At about the same time, a colored girl, named Fannie Deese, living near Mr. Alfred Hixon’s place, was shot by one Jordon Collins, a colored man. The girl, it was thought, was mortally wounded, and may be dead. We are not informed, however, as to this. The murderer, or would be murderer, is still at large and defies arrest.
On the 21st ult., still a few days later, Chas. Roberts shot and killed D.W. Ranking at Perdue Hill. At this writing, Roberts is in custody, but was rearrested. The readers of The Journal are well informed as to this case.
And a few days ago, a man by the name of Davis was shot and wounded at Kempville while some parties from Wilcox were attempting to arrest him for some alleged offense.
This is a very good showing for one county.
Pineville – Jno. McCreary, Wm. Mac Stallworth and J.M. Herrington were appointed by the commissioners court, Monday last, a committee to let out the contract for building a bridge across Flat Creek on the state road leading from Pine Orchard to Smiths bridge on or near the Lindsey plantation.
Glendale – Died at his residence in this county on the 11th inst., after a protracted illness, Mr. Neil McCorvey in the 76th year of his age. He was a native of Robeson County, N.C. But for 60 years had been a respected and useful citizen of Monroe County.
Mr. R.A. Lambert has purchased his brother’s interest in the well-boring machine, and is now sole owner and proprietor of the same. Mr. Lambert can be addressed at Claiborne.
A new post office has been established at Simpkinsville with Mr. J.J. Simpkins as postmaster.
Sustained – In the habeas corpus proceeding before Judge Henry last Saturday in the case, state vs. Chas. Roberts, the opinion rendered by Judge Sowell the he had legal right to rearrest and try Roberts for murder was sustained.
Mt. Pleasant – Chas. L. Scott, J.W. Shomo and D.R. King were appointed by the court of county commissioners, last Monday, a committee to let out contract for building a new bridge across the bayou on the road leading from Mt. Pleasant to Gainstown.
AUG. 25, 1879
W.W. Wilkinson – The prince of Greenville merchants, and one of the wealthiest and most enterprising businessmen in South Alabama, recently went on a business trip to Boston, to lay in his large fall stock of goods, which he will be enabled to sell cheaper than anybody else to our country friends.
Strayed - Last December from his place near Monroeville, 22 head of sheep, marked: hole and crop in right ear and split in left ear. Any information concerning them will be thankfully received by Jno. H. Ryland.
Jail Delivery – Five persons – three whites and two Negroes – broke jail at this place last Tuesday evening about dusk.
It seems that Chas. Roberts (white) charged with murder, secured through some unaccountable means, a bar of iron, with which he prized the large iron bolt in his lock back, and thus opened his way into the alleyway in the jail where he found the keys to the other cells, and released the prisoners mentioned above. What could have been his object in this can only be conjectured. The following are the parties who escaped: Chas. Roberts, J.W. Collins and Jeff Powell, all white; and Tom Riley and Geo. King, both colored.
Roberts was rearrested about three o’clock a.m., the following day about two miles this side of Perdue Hill, by a posse of men composed of Jno. I. Watson, W.C. Tucker and Dr. Henry Rankin. Roberts it seems, was making his way back to Claiborne, where he formerly resided. When caught, he was completely exhausted, having walked all night, and made no resistance. Mr. Watson alone arrested Roberts.
INTERVIEW WITH ROBERTS: The crime of which Roberts is accused – murder – gives an additional interest to anything connected with him. When Roberts was returned under arrest to Monroeville Wednesday, he had this to say with reference to breaking jail:
“I was kindly treated by the jailor, Mr. Parker. I wanted for nothing and so far as these things were concerned, I was satisfied.”
“But,” he added. “If I had have had nectar and ambrosia and a Brussels carpet, I could not have lost sight of the fact that I was in jail.”
In reply to the question in regard to the particulars of his escape, and peregrination and nocturnal ramblings, Mr. Roberts said:
“I got out of my cell about three o’clock in the afternoon, and while waiting till dark, expecting every moment to be detected, I thought it was the longest evening I ever experienced.
“When sunset did come, I was the first to get under the pickets. In running down the hill, back of the jail, I attempted to jump the ditch, and in doing so, fell into it and somewhat disabled myself. Here we parted, every man going his own direction; but Collins told me if I would follow him, he would carry me through safely.
“I then got lost and traveled through the woods for about 25 miles, going now one direction, then another. I finally got into a road and not knowing where I was, struck matches at every tree at a crossroads, looking for a sign board, but could find none.
“That is, by the way,” turning to a Journal representative, “an item for you – the want of sign boards at crossroads, which you might call attention to; not,” (added he smilingly) “to benefit fugitives, but for the public good.
“When arrested, I had just found out where I was, and was feeling good over my escape from imprisonment; but was completely worn out and exhausted, and had become somewhat careless and indifferent as to my fate. I knew parties would be on the lookout for me, and was not surprised.”
Mr. Roberts is an intelligent man, a fine conversationalist and talks freely about his attempted escape. He has been placed in an iron cage, and securely pinioned with shackles and irons. He will probably pay dearly for his attempted escape.
G.W. Collins (white) was found dead near Easts’ Store on the following day. His death was probably brought about by over-exertion. No others have been captured but are being pursued by the Sheriff’s deputies.
How It Was Done – The jailor is not to blame for the jail delivery last week. It has been the usual custom of Mr. Parker to leave the keys of the cells in the passage, in the day time, as he has to visit the jail three or four times a day to feed the prisoners. There was no danger in this, as the keys were clearly out of the prisoners’ reach, and besides, if they should get the keys, the large iron front door would still be to open, and it was never thought possible for this to have been opened without making sufficient noise to attract the attention of the outsiders.
The Negroes who refused to leave say that Mr. Roberts, with a piece of iron (which was afterwards found in the jail) which he broke from the wall in his cell, prized his own door open and with the keys in the passage, opened other cells then with a piece of wire found in one of the cells, they all succeeded in turning the bolt in the outside door, and thus effected their escape.
Mr. Roberts corroborates this statement with the exception that he was the first to get out of his cell. He says that, with a long string and a hook attached to it, Sandy, a colored man, succeeded in getting hold of keys and drawing them within his reach who opened the cells. He says he gave the negro $5 to free him, and $5 was found in Sandy’s possession.
We give this version in the matter in justice to Roberts. At any rate, no blame can attach to Mr. Parker, who is one of the most prudent, careful and painstaking jailors in the state.