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December 7, 2015 / Joanne Yeck

The Buckingham Outlaws: Part V


James River, Photo by Joanne Yeck

Reward Offered

Two weeks following the jail break, a reward for $450 was offered for information leading to the capture of The Buckingham Outlaws. The Times-Dispatch stated that the men were believed to be hiding out at their old headquarters three miles outside of Arvonia and that Willie Thomas had “jumped his bond.” The newspaper also provided a vague description: “In appearance the men are typical backwoodsmen.”

On September 25, 1908, The Farmville Herald offered a more detailed description saying that they were “lanky, tall, spare, with unshaven faces and bushy hair. All of them wear mustaches, more or less sandy in color, and their ages range from thirty-five to forty-five years.”

The Herald described their hiding place as the brush and ivy-bushes between the Slate and James rivers. The paper also noted that Benjamin Zimmerman had previous charges against him for bigamy and rape.

Was the rape charge the assault of his wife’s relative mentioned in The Evening News? If so, which wife? If indeed Ben Zimmerman married twice without benefit of divorce, was one of them living with him at the hideout?

In 1900, Ben Zimmerman (b. September 1870) was living with his mother, Rhody; his brother, Joe; and his wife, Mildred, in Marshall District. According to the census, Ben and Mildred had been married for five years. His occupation was described as day laborer.

Given the fact that the men were supposed to be hiding out in the very place they were last captured, the officials of Buckingham County didn’t seem to be in a hurry to apprehend them again.

Coming Next: Terror Reigns

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


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