Mountain Tom Clark, the outlaw who was lynched and then buried under a highway in Florence, Alabama, first surfaced in Lauderdale County, Alabama, in 1862 or 1863. His story is best told from an 1893 account in the Florence Times Daily. I like the descriptive language.
His advent was caused by the rigid enforcement of the conscript law. He was run from his mountain home by the officers and sought a retreat in Lauderdale county, but there they fell onto him again. On a cold and disagreeable day, while building a stick chimney to his uncompleted house, in which his wife and babe of a few days of age were ill, the power of the conscript act fell upon him. He was taken on the way to the Confederate army, but he made his escape, and in his unlettered mind the passions of a thousand devils were aroused. He became a demon. Being a mountaineer, he was an unerring shot with a rifle, and the suspicion that a man was a conscript officer sealed his doom. The Confederate officers getting “too anxious for his services” he concluded to enlist in the United States service.
Whereupon, Mountain Tom rode a few miles north across the state line to Clifton, Tennessee, and enlisted in the Union Army. Told to guard the fort, he accepted a gold watch as a bribe to let someone pass. Knowing he’d be shot if caught, he deserted the federal army.
A human fiend, he, in company with one of the worst gangs of cutthroats that ever cursed the face of the earth commenced a reign of terror…to engage in a series of the most bloody and brutal murders and robberies that ever blackened the pages of American history.
HIS CROWNING ACTS
were committed in April, 1865, when old man John S. Wilson was cruelly tortued (sic) with fire to make him reveal the hiding place of his money. They piled books on his breast and burned them, poured burning coals on his feet, and failing to procure the desired information, they cruelly shot to death this feeble, sick old man, also Matthew Willon, Jr., the plantation overseer, Mr. Twitty, and wounded a young man named Foster, who saved his life by feigning death. This occurred at the Wilson homestead, where now is located the thriving German settlement Saint Florian. After these deeds of blood that caused the fiends to dance with glee they went thundering into Florence, where they held high carnival until near the hour when ghosts cease to walk.
they tortured several citizens…together with many outrages that would make the imps of perdition stand in amazement at their brutality.
A truly nasty guy. He stole, tortured, and murdered, and finally was captured and hung by a midnight mob.
But did he do all these dastardly deeds? More to come.