Visitor interested in Bill|Column

Published 7:17 pm Wednesday, July 8, 2009

By Staff
Lydia Grimes
Forgotten Trails
Several days ago I received a visitor in the office. W. “Dock” Bradberry came by and told me that he was working on material about Railroad Bill. He has already done the research and written about John Wesley Hardin.
If you are a resident of Brewton and the surrounding area, you probably know the stories behind the names, but for those of you are not aware, John Wesley Hardin and Railroad Bill were what makes legends.
I have heard more than one old-timer say that we should forget about both of them, that they were both crooks, but somehow the stories still interest many.
I have written about both of these scoundrels before and you may remember that they both had connections with this area. John Wesley even hid out in Pollard at one time, living with his wife’s relatives. He was captured and spent many years in a jail cell in Texas, but the time he spent in south Alabama makes for a good story.
Railroad Bill robbed and killed along the railroads in the area, and perhaps his most known murder in this area was the killing of Sheriff Edward Sylvester McMillan.
People in Brewton were planning for their biggest Fourth of July celebration ever. All their hard work went to waste because Sheriff McMillan was killed on July 3, 1895, sending the area into mourning and renewing the push to capture the murderer.
Anyway, my visitor had some interesting things that he shared with me. He had the gun taken off of John Wesley Hardin and I believe he had Railroad Bill’s gun. His main concern was to let people know that things like this are to be found at the local Thomas E. McMillan Museum at Jefferson Davis Community College. Thomas E. McMillan was actually a descendant of Sheriff McMillan who was murdered by Railroad Bill.
The museum has many things of interest. They have a collection of building tools that belonged to one of the most renowned builders in this area. They have doctor and dentist tools and even an old printing press from the forerunner of The Brewton Standard. Indian artifacts are on display and so is the bicycle once used by Yancey Jernigan to deliver groceries from the family store.
Visit sometime. You will find it most interesting.

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