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November 30, 2015 / Joanne Yeck

The Buckingham Outlaws: Part III

Post_3_Raise Money

The Back Story

On August 5, 1908, Roanoke’s The Evening News ran a substantial front-page article about the Buckingham outlaws. Their correspondent in Arvonia used this opportunity to introduce the situation to the readers in Roanoke. Based on other headlines in that evening’s edition, the newspaper leaned towards sensational stories. The excitement in Buckingham County fit their agenda.


Expected Alleged Notorious Band Will Be Given Penitentiary Sentences

Arvonia, Aug. 5 – A movement is on foot here to raise a considerable sum by private subscription to help the State in prosecuting Benjamin Zimmerman, Arthur Zimmerman, William Thomas and Charles Thomas, a bold gang of outlaws who were sent from here to the Buckingham jail Friday night.

These outlaws have done hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars’ worth of damage to this community. They have multitudes of charges hanging over them, any one of which will give them a penitentiary sentence.

Benjamin Zimmerman, the supposed leader of the gang, was charged last year with criminally assaulting a relative of his wife’s. He is said to have threatened her life and the life of her husband if either of them told on him. At length a warrant was issued, and a constable attempted to make his arrest two or three times without success. It is generally reported here that the officer was afraid to serve the warrant.

The gang has been conducting a blind tiger about three miles west of Arvonia for the last three years. At first they got their liquor from stations on the Buckingham Branch railroad, but later got their supplies from Shores (Fluvanna County), across James river. Their headquarters is reported to have been a most disgusting place. Here the four men sold liquor illicitly to hundreds of negroes and not a few whites, and made the place a center of crime and debauchery.

. . . Last summer they were reported to have stolen much live stock, a fine young cow from N. M. Gregory, pigs, chickens and turkeys.

Last summer they were charged with having destroyed the fine watermelon patch of Mrs. Ambler, pulling up the vines by the roots. They were also charged with burning up the hay stacks of “Jeff” Johnson and destroyed his plant bed this spring.

They figured in innumerable rows, cutting and shooting scrapes and disreputable riots. It is reported that they had planned to steal James Ayers’ flock of sheep the night after the robbery for which they were arrested and lodged in jail.

The four men are now safe in the Buckingham jail and the trial will probably come off in October. It is thought here that Aubrey E. Strode, H.D. Flood and others will be asked to assist Commonwealth’s Attorney Hubard in the prosecution. The general sentiment here is that all of the men will be landed in the penitentiary.

Despite the confidence expressed by The Evening News, the outlaws did not remain safely in jail for long.

Click here for more about Aubrey E. Strode.

Click here for more about Commonwealth’s Attorney Edmund W. Hubard.

Coming Next: Jail Break

Need to catch up? Click here: The Buckingham Outlaws: Part I


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