Reflections

Burroughs Gang Operated In Mississippi
By Charles Cooper
Columnist

Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good week.

I’ve never before asked anyone to keep from sending me information, but now I’m going to do just that.  I am not a conspiracy buff, so don’t send me speculation about the long ago Wagner murder case.  

That was 76 years ago, and by now anyone even remotely connected with it is long dead.

 I’ve always tried to write about items of interest to people from Yalobusha County and in most cases have succeeded and held every one’s interest for nearly seven years.  

Now, having said that, I’ll tell about something my old fiend Jim Allen sent me.  It was a copy of a newspaper article in 1890 about a Joe Jackson who was a member of the Burroughs gang.  

It seems that he managed to escape from his cell but couldn’t make it outside.  When he was cornered, he leaped through a window and fortunately the pavement below broke his fall.  It was sixty feet and he was DOA.  

This brought back stories that I’ve heard Papa Badley talk about the Burroughs gang.  They consisted of Reuben and Jim Burroughs and various other individuals from time to time.  

They operated mainly in East Mississippi and Western Alabama.  They did venture to Texas and Jim Burroughs was captured and died of TB in the jail in Texarkana.  

Reuben Burroughs had the distinction of being the only man to ever hold up a train single handed.  

This happened somewhere around Winona and he made good his escape.

Later he was arrested in East Mississippi and in a struggle with the officer he was shot and killed.

Apparently he was so hated that when they reached the town nearest to his old home, they threw the coffin off the moving train with the outlaw inside.  End of story, unless some of you can further enlighten us.  

Kenny Wagner, no relation to the Yalobusha Wagners, was a more modern day killer who was serving a life term in Parchman when he managed to escape.  He was later recaptured and his car, a Model T Ford and a handgun was auctioned off.

My great-uncle, Sam Spears,was a guard at the prison at that time and he got the gun and the car which he drove for years.  

Wagner escaped again when I was a teenager and I remember when they caught him again.  The story was told that he would escape so he wouldn’t be considered for parole, as Parchman was his only home and he couldn’t be extradited to other states that had charges against him.  

I would like to hear form any of you who have information about this character.  

Now we’re getting back to human interest items.  Did you know that the Camp Ground School got its name from the old camp ground where camp meetings were held in the late 19th and early 20th century?  

Papa Badley showed me once where it was located and it is across the road from the Camp Ground Cemetery nowhere near the school site.  Jim Peacock corrected me about the old lady who gave him a dime tip.  

He wasn’t delivering wood but his mother had asked him to do a few chores for the old lady.  He said that it turned into almost a half day’s work.  

Needless to say he couldn’t find time in his busy schedule to go back again.  On my last tip to the Valley, Wade Doolin told me some interesting stories about his barbering career following his service in WWII and I’ll share them with you in a future column.  

Last Saturday I had the privilege of attending the Union county singing convention at the West Tallahatchie Baptist church.  

There were three past presidents of the Mississippi State Gospel convention, Jeff Hardy, Sonny Williams, and Bobby Barnett.  They are all old friends of mine and we enjoyed the fellowship together.  

My email address is still charlescooper3616@sbcglobal.net or write me at P.O. Box 61389 Memphis, Tn 38101 and have a great week.

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