Monday, August 24, 2009

The Train Wreckers Part III

Part III of the articles concerning the 1877 case of The Train Wreckers in Pulaski County, Missouri. Most of the records of this case were lost in the fire that destroyed the courthouse in Waynesville in 1903. Thankfully newspaper coverage of the events have survived, and I am posting them here so that others can read this colorful tale. The beginning of the story can be found in "The Train Wreckers Part I." and continues in “The Train Wreckers Part II”. This story is mentioned in Goodspeeds 1899 History of Laclede, Camden, Dallas, Webster, Wright, Texas, Pulaski, Phelps, and Dent counties.

An ode to The Frisco, Rolla Missouri  Picture by Snoop
An Ode to The Frisco, Rolla Missouri Picture by Snoop

Phelps County New Era September 8, 1877 THE TRAIN WRECKERS,

CROCKER, Mo,; Sept 5- The little village of Waynesville, nestling in the close embrace of the Ozarks hills, has been thronged for two days in anticipation of the trial of the train wreckers, whose fiendish attempt to glut their greed by the sacrifice, if necessary, of the lives of a trainload of passengers is still fresh in the minds of the public. This morning the attorneys for the defence filed a motion to continue the case of Geo. Gibson, who may be regarded as the chief conspirator in the horrible plot against human life.

The motion was based on the alleged absence of nine material witnesses for the defense, and set forth that the latter would testify that Gibson was at Richland prior and subsequent to the train-wrecking; and could not have participated in that affair. Judge Hill granted the motion.

A similar request was made at once in the case of Allen M. Greenstreet and granted.

An Ode to The Frisco, Rolla Missouri  Picture by Snoop
An Ode to The Frisco, Rolla Missouri Picture by Snoop


In the case of James Long and James Woodward, two lesser lights in the gang, the prosecution asked a continuance, preferring that the case of Gibson and Greenstreet should first be tried. In consequence the cases will not come up in court until the first Monday in March.

The tactics of the defense as plainly revealed to-day are delay. In case the state had insisted on a trial objections would have been made, in accordance with the law passed last winter, to Judge Hill presiding in the case, and another attorney would have been chosen from the bar; whereupon the defense would have probably filed a motion for a change of venue to another county. The policy of the defense is to weary out the State and by a series of delays to avoid coming to trial on absence of material witnesses.

An Ode to The Frisco, Rolla Missouri  Picture by Snoop
An Ode to The Frisco, Rolla Missouri Picture by Snoop

It is a notable fact that all the witnesses whose presence is now deemed imperatively necessary were in Richland but four weeks ago and it is more than hinted that the absence was secured as a necessary manoeuvre in the game of cheating the gallows of their due.

Again, it is made apparent to the people of this Judicial district that it has the misfortune to have a judge who has permitted himself to stand in the way of the swift execution of justice.

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