Forgotten Trails – by Lydia Grimes

Published 11:19 pm Monday, January 5, 2009

By Staff
Old story tells of famous murderer
I have been browsing through another old volume of The Brewton Standard. I ran across a good little story that appeared on March 18, 1976. It is too long to run in one week so I will get the last part in next week. The article was written by Doris Bruner
Escambia County's Cannon – And the Tale of a Famous Murder
They happened to come to Brewton when the county was shocked and outraged by the notorious murder. A small boy, John David Finlay, watching the heavy cannons being laboriously pulled from the depot up to the courthouse square by ox teams heard someone ask what was going to be done with the big guns.
By that rejoinder the small boy of 1906 is able to pinpoint the date at which the cannons were brought to Brewton.
Hancock had become a household word in 1905-06. Mrs. Annie Waters and Mrs. Carolyn McLendon furnish the researched material for the Hancock-Troutman story.
Troutman – The ill-fated Jesse Troutman had moved with his parents, Dr. and Mrs. Jesse Troutman to Pollard when he was an infant. At the age of 19 he had suffered an illness which left him badly crippled. A lesser man would have given up, but the determined Jesse continued his education, acquiring a first grade certificate and becoming an instructor in the Escambia County school system.
Jesse Troutman was universally esteemed and respected. This is demonstrated by the fact that in 1904 he indulged his yen for politics by running for country treasurer, campaigning over the county by traveling in his buggy. When the votes were counted he lost to the incumbent, W.J. Jackson, by only 20 votes.
That autumn of 1904, Jesse accepted a position in the Appleton school, but resigned a short time later to become the principal of the Canoe High School, which position he held at the time he met his fate.
Hancock - F. L. Hancock was a respected Brewton businessman. His picture, carried in the 1905 Pine Belt News shows a handsome and distinguished man with a mustache characteristic of the day.
But Hancock had something against Jesse Troutman. Trouble was brewting between the two over the serious amorous attention of the crippled Troutman to a young lady, a sister of Boland Weaver and a sister-in-law to Hancock.
Jesse's crippled condition, and his age, 39, made him, in Hancock's eyes, no proper suitor for the attentions of his sister-in-law.
New Year's Day, 1905, saw the brooding trouble come to a tragic head. On that day Hancock and Boland Weaver went to the residence of W.J. Troutman in Canoe where several of the Troutman brothers had gathered for the day. The story was that the two men went there on business not of an unpleasant nature and on their departure told Jesse they would like to talk to him privately. Jesse, in his buggy, followed them a short distance down the road where a conversation ensued.
Troutman returned to his brother's house and said that Hancock had hit him in the face and threatened his life. He asked his brothers to get a gun and go back with him, but he returned alone to where Hancock and Weaver were waiting beside the road.
Then the incredibly cold blooded murder that shocked the county took place.
Jesse's fate - walking along beside the buggy Hancock shot Jesse, then went behind the buggy and fired a second time, then from the other side of the buggy he fired a third shot. All three pistol bullets entered Jesse's body and death came quickly according to Mr. Horn, an eye witness. The buggy was soon surrounded by a friendly crowd, some of which had witnessed the tragedy.
Hancock ran into the nearby woods but Weaver went to the railroad station to return to Brewton where he was arrested by Charlie Troutman and held until Sheriff Raley arrived from Brewton.
Raley's bloodhounds were unable to trace Hancock, but he turned himself in to the sheriff the next morning. The only statement he would make was that he felt justified in the killing.
Jesse's funeral was held at Pollard on the evening of January 2, 1905, and interment was in the Pollard Cemetery. The attendance was very large and many came from a distance because of the popularity of the deceased.
Several tributes had been written to Jesse during his lifetime and at his death C.W. Robbins wrote:
I'll try to finish this story next week. It's very interesting and is well worth reading even today.
I hope that you all have a wonderful, safe, happy and historical new year for all of 2009.
Until next week, happy new year and happy hunting.
At the time of his death Jesse Troutman was 38 years old. He was the brother of Mrs. W.H. Leatherwood, W.J., S.B., F.L., and C.J. Troutman, all of Canoe and Mrs. H. Burnett of Belleville, Mrs. J.D. Clard of Scranton, Miss., also Mrs. Neil McMillan, deceased.

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