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Exploits of Rube Burrow & Gang

The Vernon Courier, Vernon, Lamar County, Alabama

Friday, February 3, 1888.


 Desperate Deeds. The Daredevil Exploits of the Burrow Brothers. Daring Train Robberies in the West - Given Away by a Confederate Their Flight From Texas. Birmingham Herald. The capture at Montgomery Sunday of James and Rueben Burrow, the two desperadoes wanted in Texas as for train robberies, and the subsequent escape of James, which has been heretofore narrated in the Herald, has caused intense excitement in this State. These men are both comparatively young in years, but old in devilment. They began their dare-devil career in the West less than two years ago, but since that time have done lots of bold work, and it has all been stacked up against them. So far as the public knows they first came to the front as train robbers in December 1886. It was on the night of December 1, 1886 that they got in their first work on the mail and express train on the Fort Worth & Denver City Railroad. They had been up into the Indian Territory to rob an old Indian woman, who was said to have piles of money. But that scheme went through and they were making their way back toward Dublin, Tex. The boys had been out several weeks and were dead broke. They wanted money and determined to have it. The train stopped at a tank near Sunset to take water and then and there the boys got in their dirty work. The Burrow brothers were assisted in that robbery by two men named Nip Thornton and Henderson Bromley. They held up the train, covering the engineer and conductor with their Winchester rifles and six-shooters, and then while two of them held the train crew at bay the other two went through the train and robbed the passengers. They made a light haul, however, as that train did not carry the mail and express. They only got what money they found in the pockets of the passengers, and a lot of jewelry, watches and other valuables. There were five Negro U. S. Soldiers on the train and the desperadoes took their pistols away from them. The Burrow brothers have said that since that time they have frequently met men whose pockets they went through on that train, but were not recognized. Their next work was in the celebrated Gordan train robbery. They hold up and robbed the mail and express train, near Gordan Station, Tex., on the Texas Pacific Railroad. They made a big haul and got $2,624 in cold cash. They had previously made an attempt to rob that train and failed, but succeeded the second time. That robbery was committed Jan. 23, 1887. In that robbery they were again assisted by Nip Thorton and Henderson Bromley. The boys next turned up as leaders in the Benbrook train robbery, which was committed on the 4th of June, 1887. This time they had Henderson Bromley with them, but Nip Thornton was not there, having gotten out on account of having a sick child. But the Burrow boys and Henderson Bromley did the job. They stopped and robbed the mail and express train near Benbrook, on the Pacific & Rio Grande division of the Texas Pacific Railroad, a few miles out of Fort Worth. The three desperadoes robbed the train and only got $286. It is said that the amount was so small that Rube Burrow kept the money, and they all resolved to rob the same train again. And they did.

On September 20, 1887, Rube and Jim Burrow and a man named W. L. Brock robbed the same train, and the same crew near Benbrook. They had been out several weeks rounding up cattle. They wanted money and were determined to execute their threats and rob that train again. They tied the horses out and planned to rob the train in a swamp near the station. Rube Burrow and Brock got on the engine as the train was pulling out from the station, and as it was dark they were not seen by the engineer until the train was nearing the bridge in the swamps where they had committed the first robbery on that train, and where they had left Jim Burrow waiting for them and the train. They covered the engineer and fireman with their six-shooters and told him where they wanted the train to stop. Of course, the engineer obeyed orders and when the train stopped Rube and Brock were joined by Jim and they went through the train. They compelled the express messenger to unlock the safe and they got $889.
The gang then retired and nothing more was heard of them in several months. The Burrow boys went to Rube’s stock farm, about three miles from Stevensonville, Tex. In October last after renting out the farm, the Burrow brothers returned to their home at Vernon, Lamar County, Alabama. After arriving in Alabama, they wrote back to their former comrade, W. L. Brock, at Jacksonville, Tex, in November telling him to meet them at Texarkana, Tex., on or about the 1st of December, and they would take him with them in a scheme to make some money. Rube wrote the letter and in it he also told Brock to write to Henderson Bromley to accompany him and both of them to meet Rube and Jim in Texarkana at the appointed time. Bromley was then in Louisiana and did not meet them.

On the 9th of December, 1887, the fast mail and express train on the St. Louis, Arkansas & Texas Railroad was robbed near Genoa Station, about seven miles from Texarkana. The robbery was committed by the three desperadoes, Rube and Jim Burrow, and their old partner, Brock. They first met in Texarkana according to appointment, and deliberately mapped out and agreed upon a plan of action. They had no Winchester rifles, nothing but their six-shooters, and Rube, thought they had better procure at least two. They could not find the rifles in Texarkana, and they boarded a train and went down to
Tyler in search for them. There they failed to find what they wanted, and went to Corsica, where they found and purchased a pair of Winchester rifles and twenty rounds of cartridges each. They then boarded the train and went back to Texarkana. They did not leave the train, but one of them got out and bought tickets for three to Cameron Station a few miles further, and there they got off the train, selected the spot and settled upon the plan of robbery. They camped off in the woods, about 300 yards from the railroad, and intended to rob the train that night, but as she only slowed up a little and did not come to a stop, the boys could not  get aboard. They returned to their hiding place in the woods, and waited until the next night, when they executed their devilish plans to the letter. They robbed the express car of about $3000, keeping the messenger well covered with their six shooters and Winchester rifles. They did not molest the passengers, and after getting the money left the train, and again disappeared into the woods. In the mean time the porter had jumped off the train and ran back to Genoa and reported that the train was being robbed. From there the news was sent to Texarkana, and a posse of officers and citizens was organized at once and started for the scene of the robbery.

In Texas, Rube Burrow traveled under the name of “R. H. Johnson” and his brother Jim as James Buchanan.

On the morning of the 31st of December, 1887, W. L. Brock was captured at his home a few miles from Jacksonville, Texas. The house was surrounded by a party of detectives, and he surrendered without resistance. He is now confined in jail at Texarkana. He is not looked upon as a very bad man by the detectives, and he surrendered without resistance. He says that the Burrow boys laid out their plans to come to Alabama, and wait until the excitement blew over, and then get in some work on the mail and express in this State. Rube, it seems has been the leader and captain of the gang.

Jim Burrow is about 29 years or 30 years old and weighs about 175 or 180 pounds and sallow complexion, a light brown mustache and gray eyes, with large bones, yet slender build. His home is also at Vernon, Alabama.

Detective Burns, of the Southern Express Co., thinks the man who was captured is Jim Burrow, and the one who is still at large is his brother Rube. who is shrewdest and worst man of the two. The above description of Jim fits the prisoner to a letter, and the description given of Rube does not.

Read more historical articles like this in the new Rube Burrow book.


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