historical account compiled by Tommy Covington
Grave of Robert Holt Hindman
|The affair which led to the killing of Robert Hindman by W. C. Falkner has led to more legends than any other event in the life of the legendary Falkner, and it is impossible to ascertain the facts. Both Falkner and Hindman returned from the War with Mexico before hostilities ceased. Hindman having been discharged for disability a few days after Falkner's difficulty at Aguas Calientes. Falkner had been wounded in a questionable incident, which may not have been military related. Bad blood developed between them soon after they returned to Ripley, but as to the reason, one must fall back on rumor. One story has it that both men were in love with Miss Holland Pearce, whom Falkner married in 1848, and a few facts and many conjectures support this hypothesis. Another tale has it that Hindman believed that Falkner had blackballed him when he tried to join the Sons of Temperance, whereas Falkner had actually voted for him. It is not hard to believe, also, that Hindman may have had more to say about the Aguas Calientes affair than the proud sensitive Falkner liked. Whatever the cause of the bad feeling, it came to a head on May 8, 1849, on the streets of Ripley -- legend says at the northwest corner of the square - when Hindman was killed by Falkner. Again the facts are not known.|
The version of the Falkner adherents - there are no middle ground where Falkner was concerned; even after his death nearly every man was strongly for or against him is that Hindman met Falkner on the street, drew his pistol and pulled the trigger, but the weapon misfired; where upon Falkner killed him with a Bowie knife. The anti-Falkner version adds the tidbit that Falkner had a friend unload Hindman's pistol while the latter was in a barber shop, and taunted Hindman when he met him, knowing that Hindman would draw and that the pistol would not fire; this is hardly entitled to credence on several count. But whatever the details of the affair may have been, Robert Hindman was dead and his family erected a monument over his grave which reads:
Eldest son of Thomas G. and Sarah Hindman
Born at Knoxville, Tennessee
June 30, 1822
Killed at Ripley, Miss.
By Wm C. Falkner
May 8, 1849
Aged 26 years, 10 months, 10 days
There is a persistent legend that the stone originally read "murdered by Wm. C. Falkner," and that it was changed only after a long lawsuit; but as there is no record of such a suit in the extant court records, which are fairly complete, the tale is probably only another of the myriad legends that have grown up around Falkner.
Though the records of Falkner's trial for Hindman's killing have not been preserved, is is certain that he was brought to trial and acquitted. From all accounts practically every one in the county took sides one way or the other at the time, but after the first flurries of excitement had passed the eventual consensus seems to have been that the affair was a form of duel, if not exactly a formal one, and Falkner was not blamed to harshly.
© 2004, by Melissa McCoy-Bell. All rights reserved.