"The Jacksonville Republican":
Jacksonville, Calhoun Co., Alabama

NEWSPAPER Issue of Saturday, JULY 2, 1887

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GEORGIA State News

FROM A PRIVATE CHAPTER OF THE LATE WAR; Georgia Boy Kills Half a Dozen Men; Revenges his Father's Murder in the Late War.

Truth is stranger than fiction. The force of that trite quotation is borne upon a news reporter as he chatted with a man who in as many months, killed with his own hands six of his fellow men during the late war. The slayer was John T. Pryor of Pryor's Station in Georgia, a hamlet some miles below Rome, Georgia. He is of medium size, with brown hair and eyes which look as if they might glare, but not a man to be made out as a desperado or as one who had ever done anything especially out of the common routine of a farmer's life.

Pryor had enlisted early in the war with the First Georgia Cavalry, served three months, provided a substitute and had gone home. Shortly after the evacuation of Rome, Pryor's Station in which he lived was left between the lines with no large force of either Army near him. As a consequence, small bands of camp followers, Independents as they called themselves, roamed over the countryside on predatory errands, bent on robbery and not stopping at murder if revenge or booty depended upon it. They were mostly stragglers or camp followers from the Confederate Army and, if anything, worse than Sherman's bummers as they were preying upon their friends.

It was in this delectable condition of affairs, young Pryor, a boy of twenty-two years, found himself. All the men left at home were organized by Gov. Joe Brown into the then somewhat noted Georgia Militia. The subject of this very brief autobiography was made a First Lieutenant and his father made a Captain.

A party headed by one Lucky Baldwin had been committing depredations of various sorts. With a small squad, Pryor started to arrest the first party. Four of these surrendered. Lucky threw himself on a horse with the hope of escape but Pryor drew a bead on him with a shot gun. The aim was deadly, the horse was wounded, the rider stuck to the animal until he was out of sight, then fell dead. His comrades were jailed at Cedartown.

Soon, after, Colquitt, a Texas man, whose brother had been killed in an "Independent" party, came to Cedartown, declaring his purpose to kill somebody. Pryor was riding through the village and was called to help arrest the desperado, who had a pistol and was threatening Capt. Tracy Pryor, and his brother shot and killed him. "That is the prologue", Mr. Pryor said to the scribe, who began to get interested in this tale of slaughter, thinking as Hamlet said "thus bad begins, but worse remains behind."

On April 2, 1864, the senior Pryor and a colored man were brutually murdered by a gang under one Phillips, who himself committed the murder in the high road, wantonly slaying a good old man, out of pure villany, and took the horses the twain were riding. Young Pryor followed the squad. He tracked them by their outrages and to him one man said "If the Lord will just hear my prayers, you'll catch them fellers by night."

Near Colma, at the foot of the Wisener Mountain, the pursuer came upon his victims. They had dismounted, arranged for dinner and were sitting under the trees. As they saw Pryor, who at the head of four men, had advanced toward the ruffians; they rose, the movement bringing two of them in range. He fired one barrel of his shot gun, loaded with a bullet and buck shot at them. One dropped dead, the other ran around the corner of the house and fell lifeless. The third meanwhile was shooting with a pistol at Pryor, who turned and chased him through the woods and killed him with a pistol. The avenger had supposed that these were the men who had killed his father. They were not, but belonged to the same gang. Their names were Tucker, Slack and Poe.

The last and crowning tragedy involved blood for blood and a son's revenge for his father's cowardly murder, shall be told in the language of the slayer: "I was offering a reward for Phillips and was shown the house he was in. I led four men to the house and laid around a day or two. A dog betrayed us. I killed the cur at 100 yards with a pistol and left. The second time we went, we laid around the house in the night until we knew he was there. I didn't want to kill him in the house where the women and children would see it. He pased me before day. I saw him but was afraid of killing the wrong man so let him go. We stayed around until 8 or 9 o'clock when we saw that he was gone. I took his horse's track and followed it until it went into a field. Phillips was in there plowing. He did not discover me until he came to the end of the rows. I raised up and called to him. He said "Is that you John?" I told him it was and that I had come after him. I allowed him to hitch his horse and made him wade a branch to come to me. I asked, "Phillips, do you know who killed my father?" Of course the evidence I had against him was positive or I never would have hunted him. He exacted a promise and then told me of two parties whom I knew were not in the country at the time. The scared darkies who had been in the field had run to the house and I saw people coming out of it. I said "Philips you are the fellow that killed him. If you have any prayers, conscientious scruples or think the devil is waiting for you, you have time to say a few words." I spoke as kindly as I am talking to you, but said I, " I'm going to kill you." He started to run. I shot him with a pistol, then with a gun. He dropped dead and I left him there."

Acccording to Pryor, that wound up the lawless incursions, raids and murders, and in course of time, civil law reasserted itself.

Years after, Mr. Pryor married an estimable lady upon whom fell the pall of lunacy. While he was taking her to an asylum, he met a man who rendered him assistance and said "You killed Tucker. If you hadn't, he would have killed me."

The man who told this story of the killing, slaughter and revenge seemed absolutely passionless. His tone was even and moderate and he spoke in the most matter-of-fact way, the farthest possible removed from sanguinary gush or boasting. His tale is undoubtedly a true one, unexaggerated and lifts for a moment the veil that hangs over the past in the debatable ground between the two armies in North Georgia during the Civil War.

Mr. Pryor has lived near the old home since the war, gathering what he could from the wreck of the family fortunes and accumulating more. Pryor's Station is named after him; he is a solid man, a prominent citizen, and very evidently feels no remorse or compunction for the deadly work he did during the dark days of the late very unpleasantness.

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