Civil War Transcendence, Part 63


According to the hotel clerk, Jones Gill was the meanest S.O.B. in the region.

Apparently, he and his brother Seborne were hatched by some demon from hell, southwest of Harpers’ Ferry, back in the Allegheny Mountains. The Gills first imposed their presence on the area from Harpers’ Ferry up to Hagerstown, Maryland back in 1848.

The brothers ran rampant over a ten year period, during which they were arrested and charged with train robbery, assault, murder and attempted murder – not necessarily in that order.

The Gill boys were finally convicted in 1957 of train robbery, which got them both a five-year term in the penitentiary. The region’s five years of peace and quiet had, evidently, come to an end. The brothers must have been released from prison.

Jones Gill’s distinguishing trademark was a white streak in his beard, which he refused to shave. During the train robbery that netted him five years in prison, he had pulled up his bandana to force a kiss on a lady passenger. Gill’s tell-tale white streak was identified by the lady and her companion.

Reward Poster

As per the hotel clerk, this detail led to his conviction.

When I had mentioned the man with the white streak in his beard, it created a public alarm. The town marshal was apprised of the arrival of the Gills by the man in the lobby. The marshal summoned his deputy, and together, they converged on me at the hotel.

I was asked many questions about the incident, and I felt they were really buying time to allow the perpetrators to possibly leave town so they wouldn’t have to confront them. Eventually I was asked to show where the assault occurred and how I had gotten out of their clutches. I had to reiterate the move I had put on the person that bear hugged me, but I don’t think either of the lawmen understood what leverage can do to an assailant.

Finally, the lawmen went on a search of the town, armed to the teeth with shotguns, pistols and knives. This was no mean feat, because it was a very steep walk from Shenandoah Street up to the top of Bolivar Heights.

I left them to their duty, registered in the hotel, and (due to my notoriety in escaping the Gill brothers) was only charged 50 cents for the night. I also was given a private room.

I was soon sound asleep.

About Civil War Reflections

Vernon has been a Civil War buff since childhood, but had been inactive in Civil War history for over two decades. However, in the early 1990s his interest was rekindled after watching Ken Burns’ “Civil War Documentary” on PBS. He particularly became interested in the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) and decided to learn more about this epic struggle.
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