|Posted by Jay Longley on November 29, 2015 at 6:55 PM||comments (0)|
Pay special attention to where Mr. Hance refers to Bill Anderson as having been a college chum of Sim Oliver in the passage below.
One specific quote about "Bloody Bill" Anderson, in my earlier post below, keeps popping into my head every time I look at the inscription underneath the photo/postcard of William C. Anderson (in Photos section) at Salt Creek. The photo's inscription reads that Anderson was "originally from Lexington, Missouri. I'd sure like to know which college Bill Anderson had attended "prior to the war" as I have a feeling that it was located in Lexington. Today, I looked into that possibility and I found one college (The Masonic College for children of Masons) that could have been the right one. It ceased operation in 1857 when Bill Anderson would have been about 17 years old but students often attended college at a younger age than they do now. And we know that "Bloody Bill" Anderson's father of the same name (William C. Anderson) was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) so Bill would have qualified to be a student there. You'll also notice that the famous Oliver Anderson House was only 400 yards from The Masonic College.
From: "Reminiscences of one who suffered in the lost cause" by
Charles Hewitt Hance, published 1915, page 17. I urge our members to
read this passage very carefully as it gives some names that
definitely need to be thoroughly researched.
"...Then mounting their steeds they galloped off to a telegraph wire
and pulled it down and cut it. I soon learned that instead of these
being Jennison's Jayhawkers, they were the notorious Bill Anderson's
Guerillas, with Bill in command. After cutting the wire, they
scattered; some came into the store and began taking things, in most
cases not offering to pay for them. I remember distictly one
instance that a man paid me for an article that he got, and another
fellow rolled over the counter and took the money that I had just
received and deliberately put it into his pocket. Just about this
stage of the game, I was ordered to open the safe. Fortunately there
was only a small amount of currency and about twenty-five or thirty
dollars in gold there, as I had taken out fifteen hundred dollars the
day before and had hidden it under the counter in some rubbish, and
left this small amount in the safe as a blind. (My partner and I had
agreed that the safe was the least safe of all places.)
Sim Oliver and Bill Anderson had been college chums prior to the war,
and when I told Sim of being robbed, he went to see Anderson at once,
and told him that they had robbed a one-armed Confederate. About
this time there was a trumpet call and the men were immediately in
their saddles. Anderson was mounted on a beautiful black horse..."
You won't find any of this in the accounts about Bloody Bill Anderson
in the traditionalist historians' writings.
|Posted by Jay Longley on May 8, 2015 at 7:25 PM||comments (0)|
Several years ago, I did a comparison of the many traditionalist accounts of the locations of and number of gunshot wounds they erroneously claim killed "Bloody Bill" Anderson during the ambush near Orrick, Missouri in late October, 1864. I'm re-posting the message where I detailed several of the accounts. I'm also adding a photo I just found that says it was taken of Bill Anderson's grave (at Richmond?) soon after 1900. Our group has long-called for an exhumation of this grave because we believe it would prove that "Bloody Bill" Anderson's body is not in it. I'm also attaching a photo of the gravestone that traditionalist Donald Hale and his father placed on the Richmond grave in 1969. [Members can view these photos in this website's Photos section]
Gunshots they claim killed Bloody Bill
One of the most disturbing aspects about the way the Bloody Bill Anderson story has been presented by historians and writers for over 140 years, has been the many contradictory accounts of both the number of gunshots and the location of gunshot wounds these writers claim killed Bloody Bill Anderson in the ambush near Orrick, Missouri on October 26th or 27th depending on which story you believe. Going back through my notes on this event, I came across over a dozen different and contradictory stories of both the number of gunshots this guerrilla was said to have taken and their location on the body. The contradictions are quite obvious and the differences are as numerous as the writers who told about these very important gunshots. If one accepts that Bloody Bill Anderson was killed in this ambush, which I don't, then it must be amply certain that only one of these reports can possibly be the true account. I will give you all just a sampling of these accounts and will leave it up to those who have written and published these opposing versions to explain their positions and give their sources.
The following article was written, on October 8, 1989, by Lorene
Bishop who was a writer for the Brownwood Bulletin and President of
the Brown County Historical Society. Lorene Bishop, as almost every reputable Brown County historian believed firmly that Bloody Bill Anderson lived out his life in Brown County, Texas until his death in 1927. I am posting only the portion of Bishop's book that deals with the ambush below as told by James S. Hackley:
"... The existence of the Bill Anderson of Texas that became known to
Missourians in 1924 when a short article about him appeared in The
Houston Post and was copied in Missouri papers. At once Colonel
James S. Hackley, an early settler of Mobeby Missouri present his
knowledge of the facts preceeding the slaying. His story indicates
that the guerrilla's body was identified by his, Hackley's mother, a
cousin of the slain Confederate irregular...
Four weeks later we drove to Richmond to my mother's brother. When
my uncle came out to greet my mother, a boy ran up and said that Bill
Anderson had been killed and his body was at Tice's gallery.
We went to Tice's gallery. When my mother saw the blood on
Anderson's face, and his clotted hair, she pleaded that the picture
not be taken until she had washed his face and combed his hair. Her
plea was refused by Captain Cox, who was present and claimed to have
Anderson was buried in Richmond. The bullet that ended his life
struck him in the back of his head and came out through his
(This account says ONE bullet "struck him in the back of the head and came out through his forehead.")
This next account is from the War of the Rebellion Records and comes from no other that Lt. Colonel S.P. Cox himself.
"Report of Lieut. Col. Samuel P. Cox, Thirty-third Infanty Enrolled
Richmond, Mo., October 27, 1864.
DEAR SIR: We have the honor to report the result of our expedition on
yesterday against the notorious bushwhacker, William T. Anderson and
his forces, near Albany, in the soutwest corner of this county (Ray).
Learning his whereabouts we struck camp on yesterday morning
and made a forced march and came in contact with their pickets about
a mile this side of Albany; drove them in and through Albany and into
the woods beyond. We dismounted our men in the town, threw our
infantry force into the woods beyond, sending a cavalry advance who
engaged the enemy and fell back, when Anderson and his fiendish gang,
about 300 strong, raised the Indian yell and came in full speed upon
our lines, shooting and yelling as they came. Our lines held their
position without a break.The notorious bushwhacker, Anderson, and one
of his men, supposed to be Captain Rains, son of General Rains,
charged through our lines. Anderson was killed and fell some fifty
steps in our rear, receiving two balls in the side of the head. Rains
made his escape and their forces retreated in full speed, being
completely routed; our cavalry pursued them some ten miles, finding
the road strewn with blood for miles. We hear of them scattered in
various directions, some considerable force of them making thier way
toward Richfield, in Clay County. We capured on Anderson private
papers and orders from General Price that identify him beyond a doubt.
I have the honor to report that my officers and me conducted
themselves well and fought bravely on the field. We had 4 men
wounded; lost none. The forces of my command consisted of a portion
of Major Grimes, of Ray County, Fifty first Regiment Enrolled
Missouri Militia, and a portion of the Thirty-Third Enrolled Missouri
Militia, from Daviess and Caldwell Counties.
Lieut. Col., Comdg. Thirty-third Regt. Enrolled Missouri
(This one claims Anderson was hit with "two balls in the side of the head." Quite a feat of markmanship I would say.)
The next is from a message by one of the members of our Bloody Bill Anderson Mystery group, Laura Anderson Way, in which she quotes Paul Petersen.
"The following is from the book "Quantrill of Missouri" by Paul Petersen, page 392 and 393."
"In late October, in Ray County, Anderson saw the report that Price had been defeated and that George Todd had been killed. On October 24 he determined to punish the Federals for the Southern defeat at Westport."
"Harrison Trow recalled that William Smith, a veteran guerrilla with four years' experience, rode next to Anderson. Trow claimed that five bullets struck Smith and three struck Anderson, and at the end of the fight, both men were dead."
(Here Trow is quoted as saying "three (bullets) struck Anderson. Another strange fact is that, while this report claims William Smith was killed in this ambush, Smith's name appears nowhere on the monument erected to the guerrillas killed that day.)
"...Anderson went to Texas that winter, got married, and returned to
Missouri in 1864 with a band of about 50 fighters. Anderson embarked
on a summer of violence, leading his group on a campaign that killed
hundreds and caused extensive damage. The climax came on September 27
when Anderson's gang joined with several others to pillage the town
of Centralia, Missouri. When more than 100 Union soldiers pursued
them, the guerillas ambushed and massacred the entire detachment.
Just a month later, Anderson's band was caught in a Union ambush
outside of Albany, Missouri, and Anderson was killed by two bullets
to his head. The body of the "blood-drenched savage," as he became
known in the area, was placed on public display. Anderson kept a rope
to record his killings, and there were 54 knots in it at the time of
name=Reviews& file=viewarticle &id=291
Adult language is used on that site.
"...After completely decimating the town, he moved his men to the
south of town and set up an ambush for 150 Union Calvary men moving
in after him. They killed 116 of them. They shot them through the
head, then scalped them and thrust them with bayonets. They even
chopped of ears and noses.
On October 27th 1864, Anderson was ambushed by Captain S.P.Cox and
his Union troops. He and one other man charged the line guns blazing.
His horse was shot and he bit the dust, he was then shot in the back
of the head 2 times. His body was taken to Richmond, Missouri where
they decapitated his corpse and stuck his head on a telegraph pole.
His body was then dragged through the streets and dumped in an
Bloody Bill was passionate, angry and ruthless ~ described by Jim
Cummins as "The most desperate man I ever met." "
(This one seems to be saying Anderson's horse "bit the dust" and then Anderson was executed with two shots in the back of the head.)
"While leading his guerilla band near Orrick, Missouri on October
27th 1864, Anderson was ambushed by Captain S.P.Cox and his Union
troops. Anderson was caught completely unaware and was riddled with
bullets then left for dead in his saddle. His loyal followers put up
a fight to try and recover Anderson's corpse, but they were driven
back by superior firepower.
Anderson's body was taken to Richmond, Missouri where it was propped
up in a chair and a pistol was placed in the dead man's hand then
photographs were taken. A short while later, the Union troopers, full
of loathing for the dead man, decapitated Anderson and impaled his
head on a telegraph pole at the entrance to the town as a signature
to all that the infamous killer was indeed dead. Anderson's torso was
roped and tied to a horse then dragged along the streets of Richmond
before being dumped in an unmarked grave outside of town."
(This is just one of many accounts that claim that Bill Anderson's body was "riddled with bullets".)
Carl W. Breihan tells the story a little different in his account from page 78 of his "Killer Legions of Quantrill", 1971, by saying the following:
"...Anderson was the first to fall, his body caught in a crossfire and riddled as he toppled from the saddle..."
If it weren't for the seriousness of this historical event, all of these different and contradictory accounts would be laughable. To say the least, EVERY writer who has made money selling books containing a version of this ambush story owes the American public an explanation for writing whatever tale he/she chose to tell in the book(s), regarding the way they claim Bloody Bill Anderson was killed that day. They should step forward and give their sources for this misinformation.
|Posted by Jay Longley on January 29, 2015 at 6:05 PM||comments (0)|
The Travel Channel will broadcast Expedition Unknown: The Legend of Jesse James this Thursday night, January 29, 2015, at 8:00 p.m. Central Time. Our Bloody Bill Anderson Mystery group's member Bud Hardcastle will appear in this episode so I remind you to set your recorder and mark your calendar because you won't want to miss it.
|Posted by Jay Longley on January 3, 2015 at 6:50 PM||comments (0)|
From: Unknown News Service, Brownwood, Texas, Tuesday March 8, 1910.
Members will get some very important leads to follow from this
important article. One you will notice is that Judge Charles H.
Jenkins is listed as a "life long friend" of Henry Ford just as he
was referred to in Colonel William C. Anderson's obituary.
REMAINS OF HENRY FORD LAID TENDERLY TO REST
Town is Closed for Two Hours and Thousands Follow Remains to
Cemetery Was Man Loved by the Masses.
"Brownwood has never witnessed such a funeral procession in all its
history as that which followed the remains of Henry Ford to the
Greenleaf cemetery this afternoon about 4 o'clock. Funeral services
were conducted on the lawn in front of the Ford residence, beginning
at 3 o'clock, and at the close of the services a procession was
formed that reached from the residence to the cemetery a mile away.
The services were conducted by Rev. A. H. P. McCurdy of the First
Presbyterian church, and brief tributes were paid the deceased by
Judge C. H. Jenkins, T. C. Wilkinson, Will H. Mayes, I. J. Rice,
Brooke Smith and C. I. McCartney. These men were life long friends
of the deceased and their talks were but fitting eulogies to the
manner of life he lived.
Henry Ford was a man whom the masses loved and for that reason he was
laid to rest by the people, independent of fraternal orders or
societies to which he belonged. The pall bearers were selected from
his life-long and intimate friends and were Messrs C. I. McCartney,
C. H. Jenkins, C. H. Bencini, N. A. Perry, J. A. Austin, Brooke
Smith, I. J. Rice, T. C. Wilkinson, Will H. Mayes, M. M. Scott, I. P.
Allison, I. E. Walker, F. S. J. Whitehead and G. N. Harrison.
As a mark of the esteem in which the deceased was held the whole town
responded to the proclamation of the mayor and the doors of every
business house in the city are closed promptly at 2:30 o'clock. The
public schools with which he was connected as a member of the board,
were likewise closed during the day, and the school children were
assembled in front of the High school building, which was draped in
crepe, to watch the procession pass. With bowed down heads the
Brownwood school children stood while the great procession was
passing, conscious of the fact that they had lost a true and loyal
friend. In the procession that followed the remains to the cemetery
were people from all parts of the state, who once lived here and who
upon hearing of the death, hurried back to the old home to pay their
respects to the memory of a man they loved.
AT THE HOME
The floral offerings were beautiful in the extreme and consisted of
the rarest flowers that could be had. The cotton men of the town,
the Commercial Club, the Floral Club, the school board and numerous
individuals sent in lovely designs. The bier was banked with floral
offerings that in a measure testified to the love Brownwood people
bore the deceased. A choir composed of trained voices from the
different churches rendered sweetest music and the pastor of the
deceased spoke at length upon the life of the man all Brownwood
loved. Comforting words were spoken to the bereaved ones as the
people in their own good way laid the remains tenderly to rest.
County Feels Death
The death of this good man is felt elsewhere than in Brownwood. He
stood close to the people of the whole county and of the Brownwood
country. Friends came from all points to attend the funeral. At
Zephyr, the town is closed to a store and a majority of the
inhabitants are here in attendance at the funeral. People are here
also from Williams Ranch where he formerly lived, from Mullin, from
Goldthwaite, from Winchell and from Comanche. A great many of the
farmers of the county, who have known Henry Ford as a friend to the
farmer, are here to pay their respects."
|Posted by Jay Longley on November 23, 2014 at 4:25 PM||comments (0)|
Mike Jackson contacted me last night and told me the following story about William C. "Bloody Bill" Anderson. Col. George Day is a former District Attorney from Brownwood and is also a local historian and an author.
"The story I got told from George Day was that his Grandfather knew Anderson and there was a small hole in the wall movie house and they were showing a movie about the North and the South fighting and of course the North won and Anderson stuck a gun to the projectionist's head and told him if he showed that movie one more time he'd kill him. Needless to say that movie had a short run in Brownwood."
|Posted by Jay Longley on July 3, 2014 at 5:15 PM||comments (0)|
I've transcribed the short but very important article about Walter Daniels' visit with Bill Anderson in January, 1924, just a few months before Bulletin staff writer Henry C. Fuller conducted a series of interviews with William C. "Bloody Bill" Anderson which resulted in numerous widely-published articles in newspapers and magazines.
Discovered by Moderator Gayla McDowell of the Bloody Bill Anderson Mystery group.
Walter Daniels Interview with Bill Anderson
From: Brownwood Bulletin, Brownwood, Tex., Vol. 24, No. 71, Ed. 1, Monday, January 7, 1924.
"The Bulletin news man, Walter Daniels and the father of Walter Daniels spent Sunday afternoon at the residence of Uncle Bill Anderson on the May road north of Brownwood. Several hours were spent pleasantly around an old time log fire while Uncle Bill went into some interesting and unpublished history of stirring events of other years in which he occupied a leading part. Uncle Bill owns one of the prettiest and most valuable places in Brown county and the sun of his long life is setting in peace and quietude."
|Posted by Jay Longley on June 29, 2014 at 7:20 PM||comments (0)|
From: "A Texas Cow Boy" by Chas. A. Siringo, reprinted in 1980 from
original 1885 edition, published by Time-Life Books, originally
published in 1885 by M. Umbdenstock & Co., Chicago, Illinois, pages
146 & 147.
This was Charles Siringo's first book. It was published when he was
about 29 years old, before he even began his 22 year service to the
Pinkerton Detective Agency. After reading Ganis's "Uncommon Men" and
comparing it to this one, I believe that the Bill Anderson that
Siringo wrote about here is our William C. "Bloody Bill" Anderson of
Salt Creek, Texas. One of Siringo's shortcomings is that he was
obviously new to writing when he wrote his first book and he did not
remind the reader what specific year he was writing about. I can
tell for sure, from reading the preceding and subsequent chapters,
that this event at Erin Springs occurred sometime in the early
1870s. Oh yes, I bought my copy of this beautiful book on eBay.
[early 1870s, Erin Springs, Oklahoma Indian Territory]
"After breakfast next morning the whole crowd, ladies and all, went
down the river five miles to witness a `big' horse race at `Kickapoo'
After the `big' race, which was for several thousand dollars, was
over the day was spent in running pony races and drinking whiskey.
By night the whole mob were gloriously drunk, your humble servant
included. There were several fights and fusses took place during the
day, but no one seriously injured.
It being against the laws of the United States to sell, or have
whisky in the Indian territory, you might wonder where it came from:
A man by the name of Bill Anderson, said to have been one of
Quantrell's men during the war, did the selling.
He defied the United States marshals and it was said that he had over
a hundred indictments against him. He sold it at ten dollars a
gallon, therefore you see he could afford to run quite a risk."
|Posted by Jay Longley on April 6, 2014 at 6:30 PM||comments (2)|
I first posted this passage on this board in 2006. It further documents important visits to Brownwood and Brown County by two "outlaws" who are important to our work. The Brown County Historical Society doesn't currently carry "From the Memories of Men" but I found my First Edition copy in excellent condition on eBay a few years ago. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bloodybillandersonmystery
|Posted by Jay Longley on March 14, 2014 at 5:05 PM||comments (0)|
I'm reposting a message I originally posted on this board in 2007 because it has to do with the "mob" violence in the area during that time.
Bill Anderson Had True Grit
From: "In The Life And Lives of Brown County People", Scrapbook II
Book #19, Brown County Historical Society, Brownwood Public Library's
"Your only contact with barbed wire may have been a sharp one - a
scratched leg, or torn clothing while climbing over a barbed wire
fence. You may not realize that the barbed wire, which was developed
in 1873 to protect farm lands from intruders, changed the course of
Life for the early settlers and homesteaders was not easy. In
addition to hardships such as separation from loved ones, marauding
Indians and the lack of materials, they found it practically
impossible to build efficient fences that would establish their
boundary lines and keep cattle out of their crops.
Rocks and timber were used but it took months to build a fence.
Smooth wire had been invented, which was expensive and wasn't
practical because cattle had no fear of it. When barbed wire came to
Central Texas in the early 1880s farmers and ranchers were able to
protect their property. Without the wire, homesteaders could not
have successfully farmed the land.
In 1882, George Iverson Goodwin brought the first barbed wire into
Brown County. He had read about the wire and seen some land fenced
and knew that the cattle feared the sharp wire. Little did he know
that this wonderful invention would bring strife among the people of
When the wire cutting wars began Goodwin's fence was completely
destroyed. Conflicts among the cattle people and homesteaders became
so violent that Mr. Goodwin and other landowners went to Austin and
asked for laws to control the wire cutting. Mr. Goodwin framed a
bill making it a felony to cut fences. The bill passed by the Texas
Legislature in January of 1884.
Scrapbook Column, Brownwood Bulletin July 28, 1991
The following is part of the Scrapbook Column of July 6, 1997
Most people had depended on the running streams for their water
supply. The law provided the fences to be opened for the settlers to
have water. Many of the people begin hand digging wells for their
The 'Farmer Alliance' a state organization that helped farmers,
organized a chapter in Brown County to help the farmers during the
wire cutting days. Wire cutting had gotten out of control. The
ranchers also called the Texas Rangers to Brown County to help stop
the wire cutting.
According to the book, 'Early Communities of Lake Brownwood' by
Pattie Lee Cross Weedon the Alliance would meet and decide when and
where to cut the fences. There were about thirty members, Joe
Copeland, a hired informer and a Texas Ranger, was hired by the
ranchers to catch the wire cutters. He told the group that Morg
Baugh had fenced his cattle off from the water and asked for help.
Four young men volunteered.
Joe reported to the Rangers and the ranchers when and where the wire
was to be cut. On the morning of Nov. 9, 1886, the men ambushed the
wire cutters, killing Jim Lovell and badly wounding Amos Roberts who
died three days later in the county jail. Both men were well known
in their community.
Joe Copeland came to Brownwood the next day and no one was his friend
and his life was threatened several times. On his way home he was
waylaid in the Salt Creek community and would have been killed had he
not had his little boy with him.
He was slightly wounded and went to Bill Anderson's home for help,
but was refused and was told to leave or he would finish the job. He
left Brown County.
There had been a number of arrests and charges against the wire
cutters in Brown County. After the two men were killed the charges
against the wire cutters were dropped. No one wanted to be involved
with the fence conflicts any longer. Brown County residents were
ready to settle down and accepted the barbed wire as a part of their
|Posted by Jay Longley on February 19, 2014 at 6:05 PM||comments (0)|
The most memorable part for me though was Surratt's recording of his relationship with John Wilkes Booth. Throughout the journal, he's telling us of Booth's involvement with the KGC as well as his own. I was most interested in learning all I could about Booth as I was aware of an old newspaper article about John Ravenswood who spent a year in Brownwood in 1871 and I've always been fascinated by the Lincoln Assassination. Here's our Bloody Bill Anderson Mystery group's post where I transcribed the article from an old local history book.
Hi members. I found this story many years ago when I first
read "Frontier's Generation" by Tevis Clyde Smith (Sr.), 1931, pages
46, 47, 48, & 49.
"And now we approach the Booth legend. Perhaps you have forgotten
the details of the story; let us go into it briefly:
Booth was not killed at the Garrett place by Boston Corbett; he made
his escape, drifted down to Mississippi, hid at the home of an uncle
until the broken bones in his leg knitted together: then he journeyed
to the Pacific slope, went from there to the South Seas, to India, to
Ceylon, back to North America, and to Mexico, where he became
embroiled in political intrigue; he would have lost his life there,
but someone saved him because he was a Catholic. Booth, disguised as
a priest, escaped from the country; he came to Texas, settled at
Granbury under the name of John St. Helen, and went into the saloon
business. But Booth took little interest in his saloon; he received
much money from some mysterious source, and spent most of his time
reciting Shakespeare. Becoming seriously ill, and thinking he was
about to die, he confessed to Judge Finis L. Bates of Granbury that
he was not John St. Helen, but in reality John Wilkes Booth. Bates
thought him delirious; Booth recovered, and moved to the Indian
Territory, where he took the name of David E. George. He committed
suicide at the Grand Avenue Hotel, in Enid, during the month of
January, 1903. Before his death, he told several people that he was
John Wilkes Booth. The Enid Wave printed the following story January
'David E. George, a wealthy resident of the Territory, who committed
suicide here, on his death bed announced himself to be John Wilkes
Booth, the assassin of President Lincoln. He stated that he had
successfully eluded the officers after shooting Lincoln and since had
remained incognito. His statement caused an investigation. Surgeons
examined the body and stated the man to be of the age Booth would be
at this time, and that his leg was broken in the same place and in
the same manner as that of Booth after jumping from the president's
box at Ford's Theatre following the assassination. All the time
George has received money regularly from unknown sources. He had
previously attempted suicide at El Reno. It was at El Reno that Mrs.
Harper, who was mentioned in George's dying statement, had befriended
him and had listened to a similar supposed death bed confession. No
reason for the suicide is known. George maintained to the last to
his attendants that he was John Wilkes Booth, and his general
appearance closely resembles that of Booth.'
Bates, reading of George's death, took the train for Enid, and
identified David E. George as John St. Helen; he then had George
mummified, and placed on exhibition throughout the nation as the
assassin of President Lincoln. At the same time, he set to work on a
book, "The Escape and Suicide of John Wilkes Booth", which he
published in 1907. The book was read with avid interest throughout
the United States; Bates sold 75,000 copies.
The story died down, to leap into print from time to time. In 1920,
according to the Dearborn Independent, Bates tried to sell them the
body of George for one thousand dollars. The Independent took little
stock in Bates' story; deciding to investigate the facts, they sent a
reporter over the ground traversed by Bates; the reporter wrote his
observations, and the Independent editor filed them away. In 1924,
the story broke into print again, and in 1925, the Independent
published its 'exposure' of the legend. The series of articles, six
in number, were written by F.L. Black. Black claims that Booth was
killed at the Garrett place in Virginia; he says that it is all hokum
about no one knowing where Booth is buried - that he is interred in
the family burial plot; and he claims that the government, contrary
to Bates' statements, paid something like $75,000 in rewards to the
men who had a hand in the killing of the president's assassin.
There are two sides of the story. Many people believe Bates, others
discredit his version as a myth.
Boothng to stories appearing in the local newspapers in December,
1922, is supposed to have spent the year 1871 in Brownwood; while
here, he went under the name of John Ravenswood. One day, he told
several friends that he was hiding under a pseudonym. 'My name is
not John Ravenswood,' he said; 'it is, in reality, John Wilkes
Booth.' Later, when he expressed a desire to go to the Indian
Nations, these friends, to show their sympathy for him, gave him a
horse, and money with which to buy supplies along his route. So John
Ravenswood left Brownwood; he never appeared here again. Instead, he
went to the Indian Nations, and committed suicide at Enid in 1903.
The author of this newspaper article concludes by asking if anyone in
this section remembers a man by the name of Ravenswood, who visited
this country between the years of '68 and '72.
Five days later, he gets startling results. A Brownwood woman, who
says she is a cousin of Booth's, tells him that Booth was not killed
by Corbett; Booth escaped, fled to Mexico, then came to Texas, where
he lived under the name of Ravenswood. While in the Lone Star state,
Booth ran a grocery store; then, he went to Oklahoma, and adopting
the name of Joseph Johnson, entered the dry goods business. On March
4, 1913, he died from pneumonia; a short time before his death, he
revealed his identity to his wife.
This woman tells the reporter that she knows beyond a shadow of a
doubt that Booth died in Enid in 1913; she has read letters from
Booth to another one of his cousins, Olivia Booth. These letters
must have been widely circulated, and Booth must have had a host of
cousins, because I have read of about fifty of these close relations
who have been favored by a glimpse at John's correspondence. But
regardless of this, according to the newspaper man, his informant has
vouched for the truth of the story, so there you are.
Unfortunately, I have been unable to find this lady, so I have not
traced this particular phase of the legend to my complete
satisfaction. But I have asked a number of oldtimers who were living
here in the sixties and the seventies if they remember a man named
Ravenswood. They reply that they do not - and all of them have
uncommonly sharp memories."
On pages 12 and 13 of Surratt's Journal, he tells of the horrible consequences he will face if it is discovered that he has written any information down about the Knights of the Golden Circle, their members, their organization, or their members. This part impressed me because it emphasized how important extreme secrecy was to the KGC. It also helped me better understand the one of the reasons some of the most mysterious men in Brown County, Texas including William C. "Bloody Bill" Anderson and Henry Ford refused to tell anyone (even their families) about their lives before coming to Brown County. Henry Ford went to his death(?) in 1910 without ever revealing anything about his past to anyone with the probable exception of other KGC members including Bill Anderson. Bill Anderson was just a secretive about his past until 1924 when he allowed Brownwood Banner-Bulletin writer Henry C. Fuller to do a series of interviews with him at his Salt Creek, Texas farm. This was several years after his second wife had died (1916) and the KGC had ceased all operations (1916 also). Still, Anderson never divulged any secrets about the Knights, their organization or activities. That these ex-guerrillas, KGC members, and a large number of ex-Confederates who sought refuge in Brownwood and Brown County still feared prosecution or even death at the hands of the Federal Government these many years later also helps explain the necessity of having an underground tunnel network so that they could freely travel without detection all around this KGC stronghold.
Beginning on page 11 of Surratt's Journal, he begins describing the people who were present at the Baltimore Castle of the KGC. This chapter impressed me greatly because revealed that some of the highest and most-respected leaders in the country were in attendance including cabinet members, judges, congressmen, actors, and editors. This gave me a clearer understanding about the KGC's influence and membership and erased whatever doubt I had that they not only had members in the Southern States but they had members in the highest levels of the Federal Government and military. Reading pages 16 and 17 helped me to understand that the KGC had the utmost respect for our Revolutionary heroes and even patterned themselves after them. During the Civil War, the KGC even changed its name to the Sons of Liberty after the Revolutionary Sons.
Chapter III of the Journal beginning on page 25 gives a lot of historical details about the KGC's plans and works before and after Lincoln's first inauguration and tells a lot about Booth and his relationship with "that woman" who Surratt felt was a severe threat to their plans. The rest of the journal deals with the intricate plans and activities of Booth, Surratt, and the Knights and the many frustrating obstacles and defeats they faced throughout the War. The entire journal makes it clear that it was the KGC's official plans that Lincoln be kidnapped, not killed.
On about page 60 through 62, Surratt explains the plans to infiltrate the Federal military or to encourage recruits to reconsider and back out of enlisting.
Chapter XIII, beginning on page 80 tells about Booth's desire to kill, not kidnap Lincoln. This of course is very important to anyone who seriously studies the ensuing assassination.
One of the most important phrases to me in the entire journal is when Surratt says, on page 94, "If he (Booth) takes the road planned out, he will certainly escape. This suggests what I believe really did happen, that is, that Booth did escape and was not killed in the barn.