April 2016 A to Z Challenge – I’m writing about history.
L is for Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge
True? Not true? Half true but blown way out of proportion?
In the 1890s, Old Man Stuckey, a former member of the Dalton Gang, ran an inn on a stagecoach route along the Chunky River in Lauderdale County, Mississippi. He could often be seen at night on the bridge, waving his lantern to passing flatboats carrying produce and cotton up and down the river, and flagging down coaches who had been traveling all day. He offered weary travelers a soft bed and a hot meal.
According to legend, he murdered them in their sleep for their riches and buried their bodies along the banks of the river.
In 1901, the Virginia Bridge & Iron Company began rebuilding the dilapidated bridge by his inn and found the remains of Stuckey’s victims. The sheriff and his posse hung Stuckey from the very bridge he used to attract his victims. They left his body hanging for five days before the noose was cut and his body splashed into the cold water below.
Old Man Stuckey must have been a serious psychopath or sociopath (psychopaths are genetic, sociopaths are created, but both have the same personality traits). Since there was no record of his existence at that time, I wonder where he came from and what kind of background he had that made him so nuts. In writing the book “The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge,” and investigating Old Man Stuckey’s exploits, I started by researching the Dalton Brothers – Bill, Bob, Grat, and Emmet. What I found interesting about them is they did not set out to be outlaws. They were all initially U.S. marshals. Bill lived in California on his successful farm with his beautiful wife and is not in the Wanted Poster below. I assume his wife wouldn’t let him go that day.
Bill was involved in California politics, and the local farmers were trying to keep the railroads from running through their farms. When his three brothers (the hotties pictured above) showed up, their manly testosterone levels escalated, and they came up with a plan to teach the railroads a thing or two. They attempted to rob a train, but being inexperienced, bumbling train robbers, the result was a total fiasco. They fled empty handed under gunfire.
Somewhere between that humiliating failure in 1890 and their terrible deaths in 1892 while trying to rob TWO banks – across the street from each other – at the same time – in broad daylight – which resulted in a shootout – and most of the gang getting killed, their fine morals and upbringing obviously went astray. Boys will be boys.
The photo here is from Wikipedia from the 1892 shootout. The middle two are Bob and Grat. Their boots were removed. They are all in handcuffs. Who took their boots?? And why are they handcuffed?? And what’s up with the gun in the photo?? So, they had a town photographer, but no town doctor to know if they were dead or not, hence the handcuffs??
Anyway, Old Man Stuckey’s story starts with the Dalton Gang on the very day of this bank shootout. Old Man Stuckey didn’t pick very good friends.