N&W in 1912--Prisoners

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Thu Apr 5 22:03:12 EDT 2012

Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Thu., April 25, 1912

[The following railroad-related excerpts from the titled article deal with a regionally famous shootout in the Carroll County courthouse in Hillsville, VA, on March 13, 1912, that killed the judge, sheriff, commonwealth attorney, jury foreman, a witness, and a young girl. Briefly, the man on trial was Floyd Allen, the patriarch of the large and politically influential Allen clan. When convicted of the charge of assaulting a deputy sheriff, Floyd reported yelled out that he was not going to jail, and the shooting began. The Allens escaped. By the time of the referenced article, six of those accused in the shootout had been captured and needed to be transported out of Carroll County. Because Carroll County had no railroads, the prisoners were taken some 13 miles to Galax at the end of the N&W's North Carolina Extension. From there a passenger train would take them to Pulaski on the N&W's Bristol line, where another train would take them to Wytheville.]

Six Outlaws Heavily Manacled and Under Guard of Four Detectives
Now Definitely Decided That Wesley Edwards and Sidna are Still in Mountains and Communication is Feared
Heavily manacled, under guard of four detectives, and accompanied as far as Pulaski by W. G. Baldwin; Floyd Allen, Claude Allen, Friel Allen, Victor Allen, Sidna Edwards and Byrd Marian were taken to Wytheville yesterday afternoon in a special car attached to regular trains on the Norfolk and Western. Last night the men were lodged in jail under guard of two men, one of whom will be kept continually with the prisoners until their trial on April 30. An exceptionally careful watch will be kept over Floyd Allen and no one will be permitted to see him or talk with him unless in the presence of the guard, who is connected with the Baldwin-Felts agency. This latter precaution was made necessary by the attempts made at Hillsville to communicate with him, and by reason of the fact that it has now been definitely decided that Sidna Allen and Wesley Edwards are still in the mountains in the neighborhood of Hillsville.
When the Allens were removed from Roanoke to Hillsville every precaution was taken to prevent people from seeing them and talking to them, but on the return trip from Hillsville people were permitted to pass through the car and look at the men. At every little station where the train stopped a crowd of people were at the station anxious to get a glimpse of the outlaws. Although the train stopped but a few minutes crowds surged to the platforms in the hope of catching at least a glimpse of the Allen sextet. Floyd and Victor Allen came in for the most of the sight seeing, the former because of his reputation and the latter because of his pleasing appearance. When the train arrived at Pulaski the car in which the men were was shifted to the train en route to Wytheville, and as the news spread that the Allens were on board, people rushed from every direction to the depot to get a look at the train if the men could not be seen. Telegraph gossip carried the news along the line that the Allens were coming and at every station crowded platforms testified to the interest of the people in the case. In spite of the fact that the train did not stop at some stations and cross roads, people were there to try and catch a glimpse of the men through the car windows.
[Incidentally, the Baldwin-Felts detective agency mentioned in the article is the same agency involved in the May 19, 1920, massacre at Matewan, WV, when a group of 13 Baldwin-Felts agents arrived on an N&W train on a mission to evict newly unionized miners from coal company homes only to be involved in a shootout with the local sheriff (Sid Hatfield), the mayor and townspeople. Seven detectives, the mayor and two miners were killed in the shootout. On August 1, 1921, on the steps of the courthouse at Welch, WV, Sid Hatfield was shot and killed by Baldwin-Felts agents, obviously in revenge for the killing of their fellow agents at Matewan, but the agents at Welch claimed self-defense and escaped prosecution.]

Gordon Hamilton
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