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December 10, 2015 / Joanne Yeck

The Buckingham Outlaws: Part VI


Terror Reigns

On September 28, 1908, Buckingham County citizens were shocked when a Mr. Gregory was shot in the back. Interest in the problems of Arvonia quickly expanded beyond Virginia. The Augusta Chronicle of Augusta, Georgia, printed the news the next day:


People Scouring Country in Quest of Assailant.

Richmond, Va., Sept 28 – Waylaid and mysteriously shot on the highway near Arvonia in Buckingham county, Virginia, late Saturday, N. M. Gregory, a prominent resident of the county, lies at his home probably fatally wounded, while a posse of indignant citizens is scouring the country in search of his assailant.

News of the shooting reached here late today, communication being difficult, owing to the inaccessible character of the country.

It is believed that Mr. Gregory was shot by some member of a band of outlaws who recently escaped from the Buckingham jail. The community is reported to be greatly excited over the outrage.

Surely, he was the same N. M. Gregory the outlaws had raided the previous summer, stealing his fine young cow. Baltimore’s The Sun described him as a well-known business man and capitalist. In later reports, Gregory will be described as a merchant and farmer. The Sun went on to say:

The shooting of Gregory is believed to have been in a spirit of revenge because of testimony which he recently gave against Arthur and Benjamin Zimmerman and Charles and William Thomas, which testimony led to the conviction of the men for housebreaking. Shortly thereafter the four men made their escape, assembled the dispersed gang about them and began to terrorize the neighborhood. Men and women in Arvonia, including Gregory, received letters signed by the Zimmermans and Thomases threatening to burn the town and lynch the inhabitants. The countryside is said to be in sympathy with the outlaws.

Gregory alleges that two women whom he met on the road Saturday night gave the signal that resulted in the shooting. The identity of these women cannot be ascertained.

The town of Arvonia is being patrolled tonight by armed citizens, who fear that the outlaws may attempt to execute their threat to burn the place. The women of the town are panic-stricken, many of them fleeing to larger communities in anticipation of bloodshed.

The next day, a report in The Daily Press stated that N. M. Gregory had left the Penlan neighborhood and was on his way home on “the noted Seven Islands, in James River,” when he was shot. His condition remained critical. The Times-Dispatch printed that Gregory was “a substantial and reliable citizen, the head of a family, and a member of the Masonic fraternity.” He was being treated by Dr. Glover.

Was N.M. Gregory (also identified as N. W. Gregory) the man who infiltrated the gang in July and was identified in The Times-Dispatch as “Bob” Gregory? It seems odd that such a prominent citizen could fool the gang into thinking he would join them. Yet, many reports stated that N. M. Gregory “caused” the gang’s arrest.

Undoubtedly, the people sympathetic to the outlaws wanted easy access to liquor, even though it was illegal, and supported the outlaws’ blind tiger.  Some may have been angered by their disenfranchisement following the establishment of Virginia’s new constitution. If they could have voted, they would have voted to continue the legal licensing of liquor in Marshall District.  In 1903-1904, it was the affluent and literate citizens of Arvonia who succeeded in making Marshall District “dry.” Their desire for temperance and determination to eradicate saloons clearly did not represent the majority sentiment in the district.

Click here for more about the contest in Marshall District: The Whiskey Wars

Coming next: Coast-to-Coast News

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



Leave a Comment
  1. mrsandreapotts / Dec 10 2015 10:40 am

    N.M. Gregory survived. Nathaniel Marshall Gregory, b. Apr. 1863 – d. Mar 1952

    • Joanne Yeck / Dec 10 2015 10:46 am

      No spoilers! He’ll be a death’s door for several installments!

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