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December 14, 2015 / Joanne Yeck

The Buckingham Outlaws: PART VII


Coast-to-Coast News

By September 30, 1908, the story of the Buckingham outlaws was coast-to-coast news. Newspapers in Pennsylvania, Boston, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Ohio, Illinois, California, and across Virginia carried the story. Dramatic headlines, like the one below, filled front pages:


Citizens Literally Sleep on Arms Because of Acts of Desperate Characters —

Governor Appealed to.

The reports varied in detail, mostly in terms of emphasis. What follows is a composite of the story.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Edmund W. Hubard and Sheriff Lewis W. Williams spent two days conferring in Arvonia. The sheriff was expected to resume his search for the men on October 1st. “Spies” for the outlaws were hiding everywhere, “ready to warn the desperadoes.” As many as 100 relatives and connections were prepared to defend the gang, including wives and “other women folk.” The core gang was said to now have seven members. According to The Denver Post, Samuel and William Zimmerman of Albemarle County had joined the outlaws. William went to Buckingham County by way of Payne’s Station, dispatching provisions sufficient for a long siege. Allegedly, “Sam” and “Will” also brought “pockets full of guns.”

Mrs. Arthur Zimmerman and a Miss Burton were arrested as accessories to the shooting of N. M.  Gregory. They were tried before Justice D. L. Peirce who dismissed the women for lack of evidence against them.

The citizens of Arvonia appealed to Governor Swanson stating:

Conditions here intolerable. Gang of assassins strongly entrenched three miles away. One citizen shot in the back; others threatened; county authorities appear powerless. We need detectives and bloodhounds. Can you come up?

The Governor wired back:

Will correspond with authorities if within my power to correct conditions in Buckingham, and will answer all demands within power.

The language used in Richmond’s The News Leader was a bit more melodramatic than The Times-Dispatch:

This veritable reign of terror which was brought to a startling climax Saturday with the sensational shooting of Gregory increased in its agonies each day and unless some decided step is taken it seems more than probable that the people will leave their homes and seek safety in other sections.

Coming Next: Threats of Lynching

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



Leave a Comment
  1. ahuntca / Dec 26 2015 4:08 am

    Joanna, I’ve been following your slate river ramblings for some time. I love what you are doing with it. 

    I have come to think that a similar format might be useful for me in sharing my research project… I have been using the very basic free plan from Word Press for a blog but your site looks like it my be using one of their other options.  Do you mind telling me which one and are you happy with it.

    I have been researching a 19th century man who spent significant parts of his life in 4 very different parts of the country, including Buckingham County, which is how I became familiar with your work. I think your format of dealing with small items of research to be helpful in sharing my research because the big questions people have about his life, especially the people here in this county where I live now, and where he spent the last 30+ years of his life; I still can’t answer with confidence.

    And, yet I have gathered more information from varied sources and places in his life than anyone else has. That alone will have value to many. And, I’d like not to die with it in my computer.  I also believe that there is more primary material out there that I have not found, primarily in someone’s attic or basement. (And I confess, that in the back of my mind, is the hope that some relative I’ve not located might connect with the site and share what they have.) But until it surfaces, I’m not sure I can do anything more than point to what we do know…  So anything you can share about the construction of your site and what plan you are using would be useful.  I’m not marketing anything but I may want to use pictures and I’d certainly want to quote things which I find hard to do on the basic plan that I use.  Thanks for your time and thanks for your work on Buckingham County.  I’ve learned a great deal from your books and this site.   I am a great believer in context.  And your site has been a help with understanding more of the county.  Blessings!  “Despite all the darkness, human hope is based on the instinct that at the deepest level of reality some intimate kindness holds sway. This is the heart of blessing.” John O’Donohue

    From: slate river ramblings . . . . To: Sent: Monday, December 14, 2015 7:20 AM Subject: [New post] The Buckingham Outlaws: PART VII

    • Joanne Yeck / Dec 26 2015 8:58 am

      Thanks, for your comments. I’ll answer you by email. Joanne

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