(Transcribed and unedited story from an unknown (possibly Susan Russell) WPA (Works Projects Administration) writer.
JOHN MURRELL, TERROR OF THE NATCHEZ TRACE
Written ca. 1938
The wilderness had its own gangsters, noteably (sic) the old Natchez Trace. The last and most dangerous of these land pirates was JOHN MURRELL, taught by his mother to steal before he was 12 years of age. Over the Trace, with a price on his head, he successfully travelled, incognito as an itinerant preacher, according to old records.
Portrait of John A. Murrell in the Tennessee State Penitentiary, Nashville, Tennessee (Wikipedia)
In the last days of his operations, the Murrell Gang led a conspiracy to arouse the negroes to open rebellion, for the purpose of plunder. Murrell was apprehended and imprisoned. Asked about his operations, he replied: “On that Natchez Trace I robbed only 11 men, but I preached some d___ fine sermons and I had converts too. That should count for something – the good as well as the bad in me.”
While in prison he became an imbecile, dying in a short while. With his passing ended the day of robber gangs and the terror they inflicted upon the old trail.
Prior to statehood, Alabama was a vast wilderness with a large Native American population. It is only natural that when new immigrants from other states arrived, conflicts over the land would arise. Soon, these small conflicts exploded into war.
Alabama Footprints Confrontation is a collection of lost and forgotten stories that reveals why and how the confrontation between the Native American population and settlers developed into the Creek-Indian War as well as stories of the bravery and heroism of participants from both sides.
Some stores include:
- Tecumseh Causes Earthquake
- Terrified Settlers Abandon Farms
- Survivor Stories From Fort Mims Massacre
- Hillabee Massacre
- Threat of Starvation Men Turn To Mutiny
- Red Eagle After The War