A year or so ago, I started compiling a “recommended reading” list about Wilcox County, Alabama. I write a weekly column for the newspaper in Camden, the county seat of Wilcox County, and this list was part of my research for future columns. I talked with a lot of folks regarding books about Wilcox County, and one title that came up time and time again was “Lummie Jenkins: The Unarmed Sheriff of Wilcox County” by Delynn Jenkins Holloran.
I put this book on my official “bucket list” a while back and for Christmas my radio colleague Luther Upton gave me a copy that he’d gotten when it was originally published in 2008. I began reading “Lummie Jenkins” on Wednesday of last week and finished reading it on Sunday. I can now see why it comes so highly recommended by Wilcox County history buffs.
For those of you unfamiliar with this book, it’s about Percy Columbus “Lummie” Jenkins, who was a long-time sheriff of Wilcox County and was at one time said to be the longest serving sheriff in the United States. Jenkins, who was also a Mason, was born on March 31, 1901 and passed away at the age of 77 on Dec. 6, 1978. He is buried in Camden Cemetery.
During those years, Jenkins was a long-time law enforcement officer in Wilcox County, following in the footsteps of his father who also served as the county’s sheriff. As a young man, he got his start as a town marshal in Camden before becoming a sheriff’s deputy. He eventually ran for sheriff and went on to serve as the county’s sheriff for decades.
It’s said that during all of his time as sheriff, Jenkins never wore a gun and made use of firearms only during the rare manhunt. Jenkins was also said to have been so revered and respected by law-abiding citizens and criminals alike that those he held warrants on usually just turned themselves in. In other cases, he’d simply pick up their phone and tell them to come turn themselves in.
The book details many of Jenkins’ most famous cases, including the infamous Judge Dannelly murder and the apprehension of the “Blackstock” gang from Mississippi. The book also touches on the changes brought about by the Civil Rights Movement and Jenkins’ dealings with such figures as Martin Luther King Jr. Many of these tales are in Jenkins’ own words and are taken from notes about his career that he made before his death.
This book was also very funny in parts. Jenkins had a reputation for being a master of human psychology and was able to crack even the toughest of criminals with his sly methods of interrogation. Many of these stories are humorous, and shed a lot of light on why his track record for solving tough cases quickly is almost legendary.
In the end, how many of you have read “Lummie Jenkins: The Unarmed Sheriff of Wilcox County”? What did you think about it? What other books about Wilcox County would you recommend? Let us know in the comments section below.