DESPERATE CHANCES

EIGHT DETERMINED PRISONERS IN AN ARKANSAS JAIL OVERPOWER THEIR JAILER

APRIL 14 , 1884

TRANSCRIBED BY : TINA EASLEY

5/6/05


THEY ARM THEMSELVES AT THE LATTER'S RESIDENCE , AND MAKE A DASH FOR LIBERTY THROUGH THE TOWN

 

 

A RUNNING FIGHT IN THE STREETS IN WHICH THREE MEN ARE KILLED AND ONE WOUNDED

 

KNOBEL , ARK - APRIL 14 - SATURDAY EVENING , WM ONBY , THE JAILER OF GREENE COUNTY , ENTERED THE CELLS OF THE JAIL AT GAINESVILLE TO DISTRIBUTE SUPPER TO THE PRISONERS THERE CONFINED . WHEN HE ENTERED THE ENCLOSURE IN WHICH THE CELLS WERE LOCATED HE NOTICED NOTHING UNUSUAL BUT WHILE HE WAS ENGAGED IN DISTRIBUTION FOOD HE WAS SUDDENLY SURROUNDED BY A DESPERATE GANG OF CRIMINALS ARMED WITH CHAIR BACKS , CHAIR LEGS AND SUCH WEAPONS AS THEY COULD IMPROVISE BY BREAKING UP THE SCANTY FURNITURE OF THEIR CELLS. THEY POUNCED UPON HIM AND , ALTHOUGH TAKEN AT A TERRIBLE DISADVANTAGE , HE RESISTED AS FAR AS HE COULD . SOMEHOW HE MANAGED TO GET OUT HIS REVOLVER AND FIRE SEVERAL SHOTS , ONE OF WHICH TOOK EFFECT IN THE RIGHT LEG OF HIS ASSAILANTS . ONBY DISARMED BY HIS ASSAILANTS , AND ONE OF THEM STRIKING HIM OVER THE HEAD WITH A BROKEN CHAIR HAD HIM UNCONSCIOUS.

OUT OF TIME

THE DESPERADOES , EIGHT IN NUMBER , THEN MADE A DASH OUT THE DOOR , HAVING SECURED POSSESSION OF THE KEYS, AND WITHOUT WASTING ANY TIME MADE FOR THE JAILER'S HOUSE WHERE THEY KNEW WAS STORED QUITE A QUANTITY OF ARMS AND AMMUNITION . SECURING THE ARMS THEY DARTED OUT INTO THE STREETS.

A BATTLE

THE PEOPLE OF THE TOWN HAVING BEEN BY THIS TIME ALARMED WERE OUT IN FORCE AND MANY OF THEM HAD COME ARMED , UNDER THE IMPRESSION THAT THE CRIMINALS WERE GOING TO RANSACK THE TOWN. IMMEDIATELY A FIGHT BEGAN AND THE STREETS BECAME A BATTLE GROUND . THOSE WHO HAD NO ARMS AMONG THE CITIZENS THREW STONES AND THE TOWNS POPULATION WAS IN A STATE OF THE WILDEST EXCITEMENT . THE WOMEN FOLKS BOLTED THE DOORS AND CLOSED THE BLINDS . THE MOB STARTED ON A RUN DOWN THE MAIN THOROUGHFARE LEADING FROM THE COURTHOUSE AND JAIL WITH CITIZENS ON FOOT , ON HORSEBACK AND IN VEHICLES FOLLOWING IN HOT HASTE . THE CHASE WAS AN EXCITING ONE , SHOTS BEING EXCHANGED AT BRIEF INTERVALS .

ONE MAN KILLED

THE JAIL BIRDS DID NOT SHOOT VERY WELL AND THE SAME MAY BE SAID OF THE CITIZENS AND OFFICERS . ONE MAN NAMED BROCKMAN , WHO HAD BEEN IMPRISIONED FOR BURGLARY OF A STORE AT BETHEL , USED HIS GUN TO SHOOT ALONZO STEDMAN A CITIZEN BUT STEDMAN GOT IN HIS WORK FIRST AND SHOT BROCKMAN THROUGH THE HEAD KILLING HIM INSTANTLY . THREE OF THE OTHER PRISONERS WERE WOUNDED IN THE SKIRMISH AND FALLING DOWN WERE DISARMED AND TAKEN BACK TO JAIL UNDER A STRONG GUARD.

TOOK TO THE SWAMPS

THE REMAINING PRISONERS TOOK TO THEIR HEELS , AND KEPT ON RUNNING UNTIL FAR OUT SIDE THE CORPORATION LIMITS , THE CITIZENS FOLLOWING ALL THE TIME , AND THE CHASE WAS ONLY GIVEN UP WHEN THE FUGATIVE PRISIONERS REACHED THE CYPRESS SWAMPS , AND DARKNESS MADE PURSUIT INTO THE REGION VERY DANGEROUS . NOT ONE OF THE BRAVE HUNDRED CITIZENS WHO PURSUED THE FUGITIVES WAS WOUNDED , ALTHOUGH ONBY'S INJURIES , IT IS EXPECTED , WILL PROVE FATAL.

LATER

KNOBEL , ARK. - PURSUIT OF THE ESCAPED JAIL BIRDS , WHICH DARKNESS INTERRUPTED SATURDAY NIGHT WAS RENEWED YESTERDAY MORNING BY SHERIFF WILCOXSON AND POSSE. ONLY TWO MEN GOT AWAY . THEIR NAMES SAGELY AND CAMPBELL . THE FIRST NAMED IS ACCUSED OF HORSE-STEALING . A TRAIL WAS STRUCK THREE MILES NORTH IN THE SWAMP TIMBER AND HIS CAPTURE IS ALMOST CERTAIN . CAMPBELL AND SAGELY ARE BOTH ARMED AND MAY MAKE A DESPERATE FLIGHT . JAILER ONBY IS IMPROVING AND IT IS THOUGHT HE IS OUT OF DANGER.

THE DARING ATTEMPT AT ESCAPE AND THE FIGHT THAT FOLLOWED HAVE CAUSE INTENSE EXCITEMENT AT GAINESVILLE . THIS FEELING IS INTENSIFIED BY THREATS OF THE PRISIONERS IN THE JAIL AND THEIR FRIENDS ON THE OUTSIDE , WHO SWEAT VENGEANCE FOR SATURDAY'S BLOODSHED , THOSE RE-CAPTURED ARE DESPERATE CHARACTERS , ONE BEING A BROTHER OF THE FAMOUS OUTLAW HIDDEBRANT , WHO MADE GAINESVILLE HIS HOME. THEY CLAIM THAT THE JAIL WHICH IS A LOG STRUCTURE IS A VERITABLE BLACK HOLE , AND SAY THEY PREFER TO DIE RATHER THAN SUFFER IMPRISONMENT IN SUCH A PLACE.

IT IS THOUGHT THE ESCAPE WAS PLANNED LARGELY BY OUTSIDE PARTIES . IT IS ALSO BELIEVED THAT A SCHEME HAD BEEN ARRANGED TO BURN THE JAIL , BUT THE OPPORTUNITY FOR OVERPOWERING THE JAILER BEING PRESENTED , THEY TOOK ADVANTAGE OF IT .

AT THE CORONER'S INQUEST YESTERDAY THE VERDICT ON C.V. BROCKMAN , THE PRISIONER KILLED IN THE FIGHT , WAS THAT DEATH WAS CAUSED BY CITIZEN ALONZO STEADMAN INSELF DEFENSE . BROCKMAN HAD ALREADY FIRED TWICE AT STEDMAN , AND REFUSING TO SURRENDER WAS SHOT DEAD HAVING BEFORE RECEIVED ONE WOUND IN THE THIGH AND ONE THROUGH THE BODY . THE LATTER WOULD PROBALY HAVE BEEN FATAL , BUT HE WAS GAME AND NO OTHER COURSE WAS LEFT THE CITIZEN .