The Hanging of Red Fox Taylor 1893 - In the Photo Red Fox Can Be Seen In The Upstairs Window Preaching A Sermon Before His Hanging - Photo From Facebook - Wise VA N The Good Ole Days - Submitter - JackRegina Orr Yates - 23 Sept 2013
Ira Mullins Family Massacre aka
"Killing Rock Massacre";
The Hanging of Marshall
A Short Biography of Benton
"Red Fox" Taylor
The Shoot-out With the Fleming Brothers
Mastermind of Massacre at
Pound Gap Hanged In 1893
Dr. Taylor, Better Known as
The Red Fox, Preached Own Funeral (
Source Is No Longer Available
as of 3 Nov 2013)
Editor's Note: The border of Kentucky and Virginia at Pound Gap was
the scene of one of the most tragic and cowardly acts ever to occur
anywhere. Dr. Marshall Taylor (dubbed the Red Fox by John Fox, Jr.
in some of his novels) led a band of outlaws in a massacre of several
members of the Mullins family and others who were on their way into
Letcher County, Ky.
NEWSPAPER ACCOUNTS - 1893
Hiding behind large rocks, known thereafter as
Killing Rocks, the men shot from ambush showing no mercy on the
unarmed travelers, even killing the horses which pulled the wagon.
After a long search members of the band were finally brought to
justice. What follows gives a good account of Dr. Taylor's demise.
Dr. Marshall B. Taylor was hanged at Wise Courthouse, Virginia,
at 2:20 this afternoon, October 27, 1893, for the murder of the
Last night he ate a hearty supper and slept soundly until daylight.
He ate a light breakfast and returned to his bed, where he remained
until 10 o'clock. Twenty-five heavily armed men guarded the jail
Taylor's request to be allowed to preach his own
funeral sermon was granted, and he spoke to a large crowd from the
second story window of the courthouse, his text being the 20th verse
of the 3rd chapter of Revelations.
He spoke about one hour and a half with apparent indifference
sustained by liberal potations of wine. He frequently choked
with tears and sobs. He said that he had made all the confession
that he had to make to Christ, and that his salvation was assured.
He advised all to shun evil, and asked the spectators to sing "How
Firm a Foundation". He bade all farewell and desired to meet his
auditors in heaven.
WISE COUNTY JAIL
Taylor was taken back to the jail, and he ascended the scaffold
at 2 o'clock. Here he read from the Bible and offered a final
prayer. The Sheriff adjusted the white cap at 2:10, but Taylor
was overcome with these preparations. He shook as if he had a
chill, reeled and fell heavily to the floor.
He was quickly
raised up, the rope adjusted and the trap sprung at 2:20. In
eighteen minutes the physicians pronounced him dad from
strangulation. His body was turned over to friends, who he had
requested to keep it until Sunday.
A sturdy, farm-bred lad, descended from an honorable
quiet and studious youth; a brave and generous comrade in arms;
a physician (herb doctor) with a practice covering almost the territory of an
entire county; a United States officer, zealous and faithful; and,
at last, a criminal of refined cruelty, is a summary of the life
of the man who ascended the scaffold today.
Dr. M. B. Taylor (Marshall
Benton "Red Fox" Taylor) was fifty-eight years old, and was the son of a
Scott County farmer, whose family was well known throughout the
west end of the Ninth Virginia Congressional District.
He, in early
life, evinced a taste for medicine study, and became the pupil of Dr.
Stallard, of Lee County, his uncle, in the times when medical colleges
were few and distant.
He had practiced medicine but a few months when
he obeyed the call of his native state for troops in 1861. He spent
four years in the service as a member of the 64th Virginia Calvary,
and came home to resume his professional duties.
His parents were
widely scattered in a sparsely settled section, and he became their
spiritual advisor as well, first as a preacher in the Methodist Church
and later in the Baptist Church. For some time he lived in Letcher
In 1876, after years of a quiet life, enjoying the
confidence of his acquaintances, he was accused of the assassination
of Robert Moore, an outlawed resident of Wise County, who was shot
and killed in his house and in the presence of his wife, late at
The evidence was not conclusive, but his neighbors were
convinced that Taylor was the murderer. He was arrested and
acquitted, after a trial in which no direct testimony was given.
He was once assumed a different manner of life, perhaps haunted by
the dark deed, and went about armed. Later on, the United States
Marshall for the western district of Virginia appointed Taylor his
deputy for Wise County, and the doctor inaugurated at once a campaign
against the many moon shiners then infesting that mountainous country.
It was while in this service and in the endeavors to capture a wagon
load of contraband whiskey that he met the man whose blood brought
the halter to his neck today.
Ira Mullins, an old offender, and his associates attempted to pass
through Wise Courthouse with a wagon load of unstamped liquor, and
Taylor and a posse, hurriedly summoned, captured the wagon.
250 shots were exchanged in the streets of Wise Courthouse before the
wagon was captured and the moon shiners routed. There was one dead
man, the driver, and many wounded.
Soon after Taylor lost his
government position, but Mullins never forgave him, and between the
two was a bitter feeling of hatred and resentment which called forth
mutual threats and challenges.
Taylor asserted a fear of Mullins
and his family and prepared for their extermination. He crept unaware
to Mullins' house and fired in the bed of his enemy, who had become a
paralytic from the effect of a wound received in one of his last
fights with revenue officers, but Mullins was not struck. Taylor
fled to Kentucky, and waited the movements of the moon shiners.
Soon Mullins started to Kentucky with several barrels of whiskey
accompanied by his family Taylor was notified, and scanning the
route of the party, selected a lonely spot on top of Cumberland
Mountain, known as Pound Gap, for a general slaughter.
the services of two brothers, young and reckless mountaineers,
Calvin and Henan Fleming, to assist him in the murders. Within less
than ten paces of the road over which the wagon must pass, they
prepared a pile of stones several feet high behind which they would
be hidden from view, and to avoid the suspicions of the wary
moon shiners, brush had been heaped over the stones.
It was on May 14, 1892, that Taylor and the two hired assassins,
hid behind the rocks and waited the approach of the wagon. At a
few minutes before one o'clock the party approached the ambuscade.
Jane Mullins, a daughter-in-law of the distiller, walled in front of
the wagon, while within the vehicle were Ira Mullins, his wife, his
son Wilson Mullins, and John Campbell, the driver.
Following it were
Greenberry Harris, a hired man, and John Mullins, a fifteen year old
son. They were assured that no officers were near, and apprehended
no danger otherwise, until a shot was fired, a horse fell dead and
three masked men, of familiar figure suddenly rose and commenced
firing with repeating rifles upon them.
The daughter-in-law and the
infant son fled, and escaped injury, though many bullets pierced
their outer clothing. All who remained and the horses were quickly
shot dead, and old Mullins' body was mutilated with many other shots
from Taylor's rifle. The savings of the murdered family, about
$1,000, was upon the person of the mother. This was taken and the
conspirators escaped to an inaccessible part of the mountains.
The alarm spread quickly, and many people were on the ground within
an hour or two. Mrs. Mullins was found shot through the knees and
breast; her husband had received nearly a score of bullets in the
head, shoulders and thighs; John Campbell was struck six times;
Greenberry Harris and Wilson Mullins were shot through the heart.
To follow the murderers was impossible. There was no trace of their
whereabouts for weeks, when, occasionally, Taylor would be heard
going along the highways, accompanied by several armed men. He was
finally hidden in a loft of his son's house in Norton, Virginia, from
whence, he was secretly put aboard a freight car and hidden among the
freight. The railroad company's detective was on the lookout, and
arrested him at Bluefield, West Virginia.
Taylor was at once taken back to Wise Courthouse, where his
indictment, trial and conviction were quickly accomplished. He
at once appealed to the Supreme Court, and pending hits decision
was removed to Lynchburg, owing to threats of lynching and declared
that he had become convinced of the truth of the Swedenborgian faith,
and frequently claimed spiritual visitations.
He claimed to be the
especial ward of heaven, and threatened dire vengeance upon all who
participated in his execution. The Supreme Court overruled his
exceptions for sentence.
On September 9, he was there brought into
court and sentenced to be hanged today. He read long extracts from
the Bible, and assured the judge that it was revealed to him that he
should rise from the dead, and that Christ would visit severe
punishment upon his persecutors. Taylor's counsel endeavored to
avert sentence by a plea of insanity, but the judge overruled the
motion for inquiry.
Taylor leaves a family all well known and respectable. His sons,
Sylvan Taylor of Norton, is a merchant and a man universally
It was claimed by his friends that he was insane and a
petition was circulated last week asking the governor to respite him
or commute his sentence to life imprisonment, but few signed it.
His eccentric and queer religious ideas may have caused some to
think his mind was unbalanced.
Taylor's accomplices, the Fleming brothers, have never been
apprehended, though they have made several narrow escapes form
the hands of the Wise County officers. Three battles have been
fought with them since the arrest of Taylor, but each time they
escaped injury and are today at large in the mountains of Virginia
or Kentucky, a menace to the peace of the community.
The Search for the Fleming Brothers
Calvin and Samuel "Henan"
Fleming confronted for the killings of Ira Mullins family and Doc Taylor.
After the hanging of Doc Taylor, a reward was still in effect by the
county of Wise for the capture of the Fleming brothers, also accused
in the slaying of Ira Mullins family.
Two years afterward Big Ed Hall, Gooseneck John H. Branham and A.J.
Doc Swindall had not given up their hunt for the men. In their
search for their whereabouts they began to intercept and check
letters. In this manner they at last obtained the information
that the fugitives were at a logging job at Boggs in Webster County,
In January of 1894, Ed Hall and his heavily armed posse, boarded a
train at Norton, Va and headed for Bluefield, West Virginia.
Granville Cox, Clifton and Tandy Branham were members of the famous
Big Ed Hall posse that attempted the arrest of the outlaws, Henan
and Calvin Fleming. Both Cox and the Branham brothers had been
called as witnesses for the Mullins defense in the Killing Rock
It was Friday, the 23rd of January, 1894 and it was cold. It was
still several hours before dark when they neared the town of Boggs.
One of the newly enlisted men went ahead to learn if Henan and
Calvin Fleming were still working at the logging camp.
to say he had learned the Flemings were still there and usually came
into town for their mail on Saturday. The three Wise Co. officers
thought it would be best to make a reconnaissance of the post office
before they met the two Flemings the next day.
Dock Swindall was the first of the men to see the fugitives as they
walked down the street toward the Post Office. He was watching at
the window when he saw the men riding into town. Dock turned to
John and Big Ed saying, "I see them coming."
They conformed that
the men riding down the street were indeed the men they had come to
arrest. As the men reached the post office, Calvin Fleming had some
trouble hitching his horse, creating quite a racket. Doc was to
comment, "I thought he would kill him."
The general store housed the post office. The posse watched as the
outlaws opened the door and went inside. Waiting only until the door
was again closed, the five men raced out of the house and across the
The building was a 14 x 18 structure with a post office
window at the front and at the end of a long counter. Their guns
were cocked and ready when they shoved open the door.
Fleming was standing at the post office window opening a letter
with Henan standing near him. But there were also thirteen other
people, various loggers and residents, sitting or standing around
in the room.
The officers demanded the outlaws drop their guns and
surrender, but neither of the surprised men complied with the demand.
Instead, the Fleming brothers quickly moved back toward the rear of
the store, drawing their guns as they went. The civilians caused
considerable confusion as they broke for the door, several getting
between the Flemings and the officers.
The two outlaws, the eight lawmen and the civilians filled the small
room. With the frantic rush and struggle of people to shield
themselves, firing from the both sides erupted almost
simultaneously. Calvin Fleming, standing against the counter,
swept his hand down for his gun. One of the first bullets struck
Big Ed in the head.
Big Ed Hall said he managed to pull himself up from the floor to
aim at Calvin Fleming and fire point blank. The outlaw, Calvin
Fleming, was dead when he slumped to the floor. In only a matter
of seconds, Ed Hall and Dock Swindall had been severely wounded.
Branham was fatally shot and Calvin Fleming's dead body, covered
in blood, lay in the floor.
Henan Fleming, suffering from his wounds and bleeding badly, turned
to find Big Ed Hall's gun square in his face. Big Ed swore, "Blast
you, Henan, you have killed my men. Give up or I'll finish you!
I'll kill you like I killed Calvin!"
One of the Boggs men stopped
Hall, telling him that he could tie Fleming up. Henan saw the
battle was at an end and with his gun had useless, dropped his
weapon. There was no other choice, the fugitive was forced to
Dock Swindall was bleeding profusely with blood spouting from each
bullet hole and from his mouth as he stepped outside for air.
Dock later commented, "I thought I was a gone sucker for a moment."
There was a little creek running to the corner of the building and
Swindall stooped down and threw some water on h is head. The cold
water stopped his bleeding and may have saved his life. Later the
men looked at the letter Calvin Fleming had received but had not
had the opportunity to read.
It was from Jarvey Caudill in Wise
County. It was a very brief note which said only, " look out, John
Branham, Dock Swindall and Ed Hall are after you."
Calvin Fleming was buried at Boggs by his logging mates, with whom
he had recently been employed. Gooseneck John H. Branham died nine
Newspapers in the area gave their thoughts that his
body would be brought back to his home for final interment. He was,
however, also buried in Boggs at the same cemetery where Calvin
Fleming was buried.
Big Ed Hall wounded, but recovering, remained in Boggs nine days
until Branham died of his wounds. A.J. (Albert John Wesley), and
Dock Swindall also remained until Branham's death.
Henan Fleming, who had confessed his part in the slaying of the
five people, went on trial, July 24, 1894. By this date, the main
witness to the "Killing Rock Massacre", Mrs. Jane Mullins, widow of
Wilson Mullins, was dead.
For six days the Commonwealth's attorney
made an effort to establish the guilt of the remaining killer.
However, without Mrs. Jane Mullins's positive identification, the
court was forced to find him not guilty. Freed him of all charges
and dismiss the case.
Henan Fleming went back to West Virginia to
live the life of a law abiding citizen, serving several years as an
Henry Adams, was born May 20, 1862 and died February 12, 1935 of
pneumonia. he was buried at the Pendleton Cemetery, Pine Mountain
Junction, at Whitesburg, Kentucky. He had been indicted as the 4th
member of the mountain killer band.
Though the rifle used in the
"Killing Rock Massacre" was believed to have belonged to Henry Adams,
he was never brought to trial for the murders. The case remained on
the docket until 1901, when the charge was dismissed by the court on
the grounds of insufficient evidence.
Big Ed Hall had married Mrs. Catherine "Cat" Franklin. they lived
at Pound, Virginia. Eds demise came about in the same style as he
had lived, under the hot burning fire of a bullet.
On the 31st of
January in 1895 he decided to haul some firewood. As he came by the
store the crack of a rifle filled the air, and the impact of a bullet
smacked into Ed's back. he instinctively turned, trying to grab his
Winchester from the sled.
Looking back he saw the smoke of a gun
coming from the upper story of the store. Ed's wife "Cat", ran to
him screaming that someone was shooting from the store. He knew he
was a target in the open and attempted to make his way to the Swindall
house seeking cover. He fell dead at the porch and was carried into
Some say Melvin Robinson and Arch Hopkins were upstairs at the time
of the shooting and either could have done the shooting. Isaac
Cantrell said, he would take an oath and swear that it wasn't
Robinson, because he saw Melvin and another man standing on the
porch when the shots were fired.
Not one of the men in the store
could or would take an oath as to who fired the shot killing Ed
Hall. The murder was never solved.
Big Ed Hall, "The Mountain Man Hunter" was buried on Pound River,
near the village of Pound, Virginia. His wife, "Cat", moved to
Kentucky, died in 1920 and was buried there.
Obtained from the Ky Explorer taken from the Newspaper of 1893