Saturday, June 6, 2015

Conecuh Sheriff arrests man 31 years after 1871 murder in Evergreen, Ala.

Col. P.D. Bowles
From the June 11, 1902 edition of The Evergreen Courant:


Albert Brown Killed a Man Here in 1871


Arrested in Baldwin County – Admits Committing the Crime, But Says Was Done in Self-Defense

On last Saturday afternoon Sheriff W.W. Pridgen returned from Stockton, Baldwin County, having in custody a negro, Albert Brown, who committed a murder here nearly 31 years ago.

On the night of Aug. 10, 1871, there was a negro frolic in town in a house near where the Delmonico hotel now stands. Brown, it seems, had had some sharp words with a young negro named Levin Brown, who left the place and went across the street. When he was returning in company with a negro woman, and when crossing the railroad track, Albert Brown, it is said jumped from behind a box car and stabbed Levi in the chest, inflicting a mortal wound, from the effects of which he died three days later.

Albert left under cover of darkness and so far as known was never heard of any more until some time last year when Sheriff Pridgen received an inquiry from Pensacola asking if a negro was wanted here for a murder committed 30 years ago. Mr. Pridgen went to work to investigate the matter and soon learned the facts of the case. The indictment and all the papers in the case were destroyed when the courthouse was burned in 1882, but at the fall term of circuit court last year a new indictment was found and a requisition at once secured.

Albert in some way got wind of the fact that officers were after him and soon changed his place of residence, going to Stockton. Sheriff Pridgen was diligent and finally located him there about two weeks ago and on Saturday, as stated above, succeeded in effecting his arrest at a saw mill at Stockton.

The circumstances that led to the capture of Brown are quite unique. Some time last year he had a difficulty with another negro at Pensacola, and during the altercation he told the negro that he killed a “nigger” at Evergreen 30 years ago, but that the papers were burned up and that if he fooled with him he would “fix him.” This conversation was heard by a white citizen who notified Sheriff Pridgen and an investigation was at once begun with the results as above stated.

Many of the older citizens of Evergreen recall the circumstances of the killing, and strange to say, most, if not all the important witnesses in the case are now living. Dr. A.A. McKittrick, who was called in to attend the wounded man, has his day book showing where he charged up several visits to Guy Brown, father of the boy who was killed. It also shows where he charged Conecuh County with holding a post mortem examination on the 12th of August, the date on which Levi died. This is considered rather remarkable that a physician should preserve such records for so long a time.

Col. P.D. Bowles, who was solicitor at that time, recalls taking the dying testimony of the negro Levi. But this document, along with other papers, was destroyed by fire when the courthouse was burned.

Brown talks very freely about the matter and admits that he cut the negro, but says he did it in self-defense. He says that he has lived in constant dread of being some time arrested ever since he left here. He says he passed through Evergreen a number of times on excursions.

Brown is now an old and gray-headed man, being 64 years old, and says if he is convicted he will not be cheated out of much, as he is nearing the end of life’s journey. He also states that he married after leaving here and has a number of grown children now living in Pensacola.

Brown’s trial will come up before the circuit court this fall and will prove one of the most interesting cases ever tried before this court.

Sheriff Pridgen has been the recipient of many compliments on his vigilance and success in capturing a fugitive from justice more than 30 years, a record never before made by any sheriff in this state.

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