Train Robber


Ash Grove Man Blocked Line Until He Collected Damages

-Ozark News-

In these modern times of jazz music, Volstead act bootleggers and bandits, bobbed hair, lip-sticks and knee-high-skirts, it has grown to be quite the vogue to rob banks, hold up bon-ton eating joints and pay-roll offices in the cities.

But for one man to hold up a whole railway train unaided and alone and "get away with it," is a feat quite out of the ordinary.

A citizen of Everton, acquainted with the occurrence says that just following the building of the old Memphis line out of Ash Grove toward Fort Scott, in the early eighties, the morning north-bound passenger train out of Springfield was successfully held up two miles west of Ash Grove, by a man named Jim Small, a very erratic and strong --willed. Individual. Said hold-up was not for the purpose of robbery, but for restitution only.

Small, a farmer, then a tenant on the Bay Wilson farm, now owned by C. P. Hawkins of Ash Grove, had had some livestock killed by a train and had made a futile effort to collect damages. He became desperate and resorted to desperate means for redress of his wrongs and for restitution. So, about an hour before the passenger train was due to pass his farm, he built a barricade on the track made of rail ties and other heavy timbers and placed himself in position behind same with his old trusty rifle and awaited its coming. It was on an up-grade and the engineer stopped his train when he pulled up to the obstruction, but he did not get out of the cab to investigate instead, he was held spell-bound by Small's rifle now poised above the ties with the ultimatum from Small that the train could only proceed when he was paid for his livestock.

So the train was backed to Ash Grove and an S. O. S. call made to headquarters at Springfield for orders. The word came back to pay Small's demand. Thus Small got his money and although his methods were deemed rather crude, but quite effectual, by the new railroad and to many, the matter was dropped and Small was not prosecuted.