Monday, May 11, 2009

Who mourned their deaths?

Who mourned their deaths? Who knows of this tragedy? Save for this bit of research the entire affair would still be lost to the incredibly and increasing expanding base of historical knowledge. Just because it took place in a remote location in Tennessee over a century ago, it is important if for no other reason that a professional historian found the tale. [Do not try this at home.]

At Jacksboro, Campbell County, Tennessee, a duel took place, prompted by a political matter – each of the two had differing opinions about the candidates running for sheriff of Campbell County. [ca. July 27, 1880.] Both protagonists, John W. Bibee and B. F. Roach, were killed instantly. According to the report from the Chattanooga Times:

They first met on the streets of Jacksboro, and a heated discussion ensued, followed by blows, when the combatants were separated by bystanders. They agreed to meet Tuesday (July 20 or 27) night a few miles from town, when they would end their difficulty with pistols. The particulars of the duel are as yet unknown, it being believed that no one witnessed the tragedy. Bibee was shot through the neck and Roach through the breast. Their instant death followed. Bibee was about 19 years of age, the son of a very prominent citizen of Jacksboro. He was for a number of years a student at the University of Tennessee, and intimately associated with a classmate of the local editor of the [Chattanooga] Times. We can testify to his many good merits, his honest, straightforward character, and his dauntless bravery. When not unduly excited, he was as mild and gentle as a child, but his nature was fiery, his spirit hasty and impetuous. Roach was a married man, and leaves a large family.[1]

[1] New York Times, July 28, 1880.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


A pseudo duel is defined as one in which neither party is injured by way of not actually meeting on the "dueling ground." This is an excellent, and funny, account of a pseudo duel originating in Memphis, Tennessee, and intended to take place in Holly Springs, Mississippi, between two newspaper men. One insulted the other, although the record of the offending remark is lost to history, but the account of their pseudo-duel is hilarious. Both parties escaped unharmed and with their "honor" intact.


Mr. Collier’s Friends Unwilling to Meet After Fixed Hour.

Mr. Carmack Delayed, Reaches the Scene on a Special.

Mr. Crawford Denounces the Refusal to Meet as Cowardly.

Mr. Cummins, However, Refused o proceed Further After Mr. Carmack and Mr. Crawford Arrive and Place the Special at the Party’s Service.

The affair between E. W. Carmack,[i] editor-in-chief of the Commercial, and W.A. Collier, proprietor of the Appeal-Avalanche, was not satisfactorily settled yesterday, the gentlemen representing Capt. Collier taking advantage of a mere technicality to withdraw their principal at the scene chosen for the settlement of any matters that might come up. The afternoon papers of yesterday contained details of the unwarranted interference with the parties, who contemplated no violation of the Tennessee laws.

The insulting utterance in an Appeal-Avalanche editorial of recent date, making [a] personal attack on Mr. Carmack, called for a proper response. Capt. Collier understood that the matter was not one to be considered in Tennessee or in Shelby county, where there might be interference, when he was called upon to render Mr. Carmack a satisfactory explanation. A message was sent Capt. Collier, but his wording has not been made public, and Capt. Collier desired that the matter in dispute be decided at or near Holly Springs, Miss., and that an hour of yesterday afternoon be set. The time of the meeting was to be 2:30 o'clock.

Chief of Police Davis claims that a lady wearing a thick veil informed him yesterday morning that there was to a meeting between Messrs. Carmack and Collier, and the chief construed this information to mean that the two gentlemen contemplated an infraction of State law. Chief Davis conveyed the information he had to Judge Scruggs, who issued bench warrants, charging Messrs. Carmack and Collier with an attempt to fight a duel.. The Evening Scimitar's account of the movements of the parties is as follows:

“A few minutes after 8 o’clock Mr., Carmack came down stairs and appeared in the front of the Peabody; He walked to the counter, got his mail, waited and paused a few moments as if deep in thought. Then he went into the saloon and took a good stiff drink. After this he walked from the hotel to the corner of Main and Madison, thence to The Commercial office, Mr. Carmack went into the editorial rooms of the Commercial picked up some things wrapped in a piece of paper, put the package under his arm, took up his umbrella and came down stairs,. He then walked into the businesses office of the commercial, stood to the outside of the counter, and after shaking hands with several men in the office, wrote a short note. Mr. Carmack then returned to his hotel and met his brother, He held a short conversation and Mr. Carmack went by the elevator and returned in a few moments.

“Coming down he jumped into a hack, pulled down the blinds and the driver drove rapidly to the Kansas City depot, Mr. W. J. Crawford found a seat in the smoking car where he was found by Deputy Sheriff Perkins who placed him under arrest and conveyed him to the courthouse

“Several gentlemen passed in and out of the Appeal-Avalanche office this morning and it was evidenced something was in the wind

“At 9:45 o'clock Mr. Collier, John McCallum and another gentleman came down from the editorial rooms and jumped into a closed carriage and jumped into a closed carriage. Deputy Sherriff App appeared at this stage of the game and notified Mr. Collier that he was under arrest. Quick as lightning Mr. App was jerked within the carriage and the door was slammed. Joe Williams, the driver, was told to urge his horsed and to pay no attention the any one. App called on him to stop, the others told him to proceed. It was three against one and the negro went with the majority. Down Main street the carriage tore at a breakneck speed. App called loudly at every lunge of the horses forward, but the negro’s ear was deaf to his cries. App made a desperate fight, but they grabbed his wrist, held him fast, and the swollen wrists show that the force exerted was tremendous. At the depot Mr., App jumped from the carriage and pulled his gun. He started to shoot the negro, but Officer Kiley grabbed the pistol and probably saved the negro’s bacon. In the meantime Mr. Collier and Mr. McCollum got into the sleeper and bolted the doors behind them. App and Perkins attempted to break down the door, but they failed. The train pulled out with Mr. Collier and Mr. McCallum on board. Mr. Holmes Cummins sat in the forward car reading a newspaper. The rendezvous, it is understood, was Holly Springs.

“And thus the train pulled out with one man on board and the other on a streetcar. Mr. Perkins took charged of Mr. Carmack and together they rode up town to a street car. Mr. Carmack was pale, but had a determined look. En route to the courthouse he had nothing to say; W. J. Crawford followed on another car. At the courthouse his presence attracted considerable attention, and as he walked into the Criminal Courtroom he was followed by a large crowd, which grew larger until the bar was densely filled Mr. Carmack took a seat behind the judge’s stand, where e sat for several moments while Judge Scruggs devoted his time to a vagrancy case. When this was over Mr. Carmack approached the judge’s desk and held a conversation with Judge Scruggs for some moments. The then turned away and walked out of the room with Mr. McLendon.

“It was understood that Judge Scruggs had permitted Mr. Carmack to go until I o'clock on his own recognizance.

“Deputy Sheriff Will App had a bench warrant for Mr. Collier, charging the later had accepted or was about to accept a challenge from E. W. Carmack to fight a duel, and was about to leave Memphis for that purpose.

“App saw Mr. Collier get in a hack with Mr. McCallum and Mr. Dabney Collier near the Appeal building. The officer read his warrant to Mr. Collier and the latter, ‘That’s all right, get in the hack.” The blinds of the carriage were drawn, as the officer was inside and the door shut, Messrs. Dahoney, Collier and McCallum seized App and held him.

“He made a vigorous a vigorous resistance, but was over powered, and when the carriage reached a point on Rayburn avenue was released on his promise not to make any further attempt to interfere with Mr. Collier. As soon as App got out of the carriage he climbed on the box and tried to take the lines from the driver. The passengers got out and App made an effort to secure Mr. Collier. Mr. McCallum interrupted him and both he and the officer drew pistols.

“I don’t want to kill you, Mr. Mack,” said App, “but you must let me do my duty.

“Mr. App was good grit, but while he was trying to get rid of McCallum the two Colliers returned to the hack and drove rapidly to the train. App caught the carriage behind but could not hold on long. The Colliers got in the drawing room of the sleeper with Messes. Connolly and Beck. They bolted the door and held the fort. App and a policeman located them but could not get in the apartments.

“The Pullman conductor gave his keys to the officers and told them to get in if they could, but warned them not to break the door. App made every effort possible to affect the entrance without a breakage, buy without avail, and he and the policemen left the train at Magnolia Station. In the meantime Mr. McCallum boarded the train, quietly and took a seat in the chair car, near Mr. Cummins, Mr., W. J. Crawford, Mr. Carmack’s friend, was also on board. When Mr. Carmack was arrested by Deputy Sherriff Perkins, Mr. Crawford asked Mr. Cummins, who was the former friend of Mr. Collier, if he intended to leave town. Mr. Cummins said he had an engagement to meet Mr., W. A. Collier in Holly Springs at 2:30 o'clock and the engagement would be kept.”

“The special train bearing Messrs. Carmack and Crawford left Memphis at about 2 o'clock. Capt. Collier and party were informed by telegram that Mr. Car4mack and party were coming on a special train, and that the hour of meeting would necessarily be delayed. The special train was also delayed a short time by side tracking to let a work train pass, but it reached Holly Springs shortly after 3:30 o'clock. Capt. Collier and party were on the train at the depot preparing to return to Memphis.

“Mr. Crawford stepped from the special to the train on which the Collier party had taken seats and Mr. Crawford addressed Mr. Holmes Cummins, who was acting for Capt. Collier. Mr. Crawford informed Mr. Cummins that Mr. Carmack was ready to meet Capt. Collier and that the Collier party could board the special and proceed to any point that Capt. Colliers’ friend might select. Mr. Cummins declined to allow his principal, who was sitting nearby, to further proceed, claiming that the hour for meeting had passed. Mr. Crawford explained that the delay had been occasioned by Mr. Carmack’s arrest, of which Mr. Cummins had been duly advised in person and by telegrams. And that Mr. Carmack and party were not ther4e and ready for business, that Mr. Crawford desired to communicate with Mr. Cummins, which Mr., Cummins declined to do.

Then Mr. Crawford said he did not presume that Mr. Cummins would take advantage of an accident of delay in matters of this sort, and tendered his party the use of their special to Memphis at any point selected between Holly Springs and the Tennessee State line. This Mr. Cummins also declined, saying that he had called time on the Carmack party, whereupon Mr. Crawford denounced the whole thing as a trick and a cowardly act.

The two trains then came back to Memphis.

Mr. Crawford’s Statement.

Mr. W. J. Crawford made the following statement of the affair last night:

“On Friday evening about 3 p. m. at the request of Mr. E. W. Carmack I was the bearer of a not to Mr. W. A. Collier, date May 5, 1893, requesting Mr. Collier to name time and place beyond the line beyond the limits of this State where Mr. Carmack might address him another communication. This note was delivered to Mr. Collier about 8:45 p. m. by me, and about 5:15 p. m. Mr. Holmes Cummins delivered to Mr. Carmack the reply of Mr., Collier, designating Railroad Hotel, Holly Springs, Miss, 2:30 p. m., May 8, as they place and time where he would be pleased to receive any communication Mr. Carmack might desire to make to him. In accordance with this understanding, Mr. Carmack and myself boarded the smoker on the 10:30 a. m. Birmingham train for Holly Springs. Shortly before the time for the train to pull out two deputy sheriffs appeared on the scene with bench warrants from Judge Scruggs of the Criminal Court of Shelby county for Mr. Carmack. He was placed under arrest and taken from the train and upon inquiry I learned from one of the deputy sheriffs arresting Mr. Carmack that Mr. Collier had been arrested and rescued by Collier’s friends.

“The officers having taken possession of Mr. Carmack, I immediately sought Mr. Cummins on the train and formally notified him of the arrest of Mr. Carmack, saying he had been arrested under a bench warrant and that it would be useless for me to go to Holly Springs. Mr. Cummins said he thought Mr. Collier would be there at the time designated, to which I replied, “All right” and left the train. While Mr. Carmack was carried to the Criminal Court for the purpose of making a bond to keep the peace, I boarded a street car, came up town and made arrangements to secure a special to carry Mr. Carmack and friends to Holly Springs, the special to leave at 12:30 o'clock but owing to unavoidable delay on the part of railroad officials, the train did not leave until 1:55 p. m. Upon leaving the following telegram was handed to a friend to be sent:

Hon Holmes Cummins, care Hotel, Holly Springs, Miss.:

We will be there this evening. Await us.

W. J. Crawford

This telegram, as is shown by the company’s file mark, was sent at 2:10 p. m. and delivered to Mr. Cummins at Holly Springs at 2:40 p. m. as shown by the company’s books there. Mr. Carmack, Mr. John Armstead and myself boarded the train at Magnolia Station, about three miles out. At the first telegraph station in Mississippi, having been informed by the conductor that we would probably reach Holly Springs at 3 o'clock, I sent the following telegram to Mr. Holmes Cummins:

“Holmes Cummins care Railroad Hotel, Holly springs:

We are on special, and will be there by 3 o'clock .

When we reached Olive Branch, Miss., we were delayed by a work train ahead of us. At 2:30 p. m. I sent the following dispatch:

Holmes Cummins, care Railroad Hotel, Holly Springs:

We are on special and will be there as soon as possible. Wait for us.

W. J. Crawford.

“We arrived at Holly Springs about 3:45 p. m., when Mr. Carmack, Mr. Armstead and myself alighted from the train. We supposed that we would find Mr. Collier and his friends at the Hotel, but being informed they were on the sleeper of the train, bound for Memphis I immediately boarded the same, and, observing Mr. Connelly, Mr. McCallum and Mr. Beck seated in the car, I inquired of them where Mr. Cummins could be found, and was told he was “in front.” Passing to the front, I opened the door to the drawing, or smoking room of the sleeper and recognized, among others, Mr. Collier and Mr. Cummins sitting therein. On addressing Mr. Cummins, he stepped to the front, whereupon I told him that owing to Mr. Carmack’s arrest and the delay of getting a special train, we had been delayed, but we were there now on the ground ready for business and desired to communicate with him. Mr., Cummins said the time had passed and nothing could be done at Holly Springs, whereupon I reminded him of the fact that we had advised him of our coming by several telegrams, and if nothing could be done there, we had a special train which was entirely at his command and the service of his friends, and that her whole matter could be steeled, at any point that might be selected between Holly Springs and the State line.

“Thereupon Mr. Cummins informed me that he had left at the hotel a note for me, ‘explaining the situation.’ I said to Mr. Cummins that under the circumstances he should not take advantage of technicalities and unavoidable delays, to which he replied, ‘I called time on you.’ Then, said I, ‘The whole thing is a trick and a cowardly act.’ To which he said, ‘You must not say that.’ I said ‘I have said it and it is so, and if your party desire to remain on the train and leave, you can do so.’

“Whereupon I alighted from the train, went to the hotel and received the following note:

Holly Springs, Miss., May 5

Mr. W. J. Crawford:

Dear Sir – It is 4:30 p. m., and as Mr. Carmack is not here I have advised Mr. W. A. Collier to return Memphis on train now leaving. Very respectful,

Holmes Cummins

“The regular Memphis train pulled out, and we followed them back home like we followed down there.”

What Deputy Sheriff App Says.

Sheriff McClendon was considerably agitated yesterday on account of the failure of Deputy Sheriff App to arrest W. A. Collier and John F. McCallum upon warrants in his possession, charging Mr. Collier with carrying weapons, resisting and assaulting an officer, and Mr. McCallum with the same offense, together with the offense of aiding a prisoner to escape.

Deputy App’s statement in regard to the affair to Sheriff McClendon was about as follows:

“I read the warrant to Messrs. Collier and McCallum at the Appeal building and told them to accompany me to the courthouse, where they could give bond. After some talk and hesitation they agreed to go, and invited me in the carriage to go with them. I supposed the driver had instructions to go to the courthouse, but instead he drove to the Birmingham depot. When we arrived there we all got out of the hack. Mr. Collier then covered me with his pistol and said he intended to leave on that train, pointing to the train which was about to leave for Holly Springs. I remonstrated with him, and told him that I had authority to arrest him, and that he must return to the courthouse. He declared he would not do this, and said he did not want to be interfered with. He then handed the pistol to McCallum, who had it on me until he and Collier boarded the train. I followed them and went as far as Kansas City Junction, about a mile and a half from the city. Mr. Collier locked himself up in the boudoir of the sleeping car, and refused me admittance. He looked at the door and latched it on the inside. I got the key from the conductor but could not open it.

Hackman Joe Williams was arrested for assisting a prisoner to escape. Deputy App asked him while sitting on hack in front of the Appeal building for which he was waiting, and who he intended to drive. He replied he was none of his business. Williams gave bond for his appearance.”

The Memphis Commercial, May 7, 1893.

[i] Duncan Cooper, journalist, publisher, and leading figure in Tennessee's Democratic Party in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, was born in Maury County. Cooper served in the Confederate army during the Civil War and was captured at Fort Donelson. After the war, he entered politics and served in both houses of the state legislature. He was also an accomplished journalist and publisher of the Nashville American, a conservative Democratic daily.

Cooper is best remembered, however, for his role in the shooting death of prohibitionist leader, Edward W. Carmack, a former friend of Cooper, who had served as editor of the American from 1888 until 1892. In the years after Carmack's departure, the friendship soured, and by 1908, when Carmack ran for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination against the incumbent Malcolm Patterson, the relationship between the two men had become openly hostile. Cooper acted as an advisor to the Patterson campaign and helped him secure a narrow victory over Carmack in a bitter and divisive contest.

Angered by his defeat, Carmack, now editor of the Nashville Tennessean, levied a barrage of libelous attacks against Cooper in the pages of his paper. Their fight soon escalated, and on November 9, 1908, Cooper and his son Robin encountered Carmack on a Nashville street. Fearing attack, Carmack fired on the pair, wounding Robin Cooper. The younger Cooper returned fire and killed Carmack.

Vilified by the temperance press, Duncan Cooper was unable to receive an impartial trial, and both he and his son were convicted of second-degree murder. Governor Patterson granted a controversial pardon to the elder Cooper and saved him from jail. A short time later, Robin Cooper was granted a new trial and released. Though a free man, Duncan Brown Cooper continued to be shunned by many Tennesseans. He died in 1922 in Nashville.

Timothy P. Ezzell, Knoxville