The Legend of Railroad Bill

The Legend of Railroad Bill


Headstone of Morris Slater, AKA Railroad Bill, in St. John's Cemetery, Pensacola, Florida photo by: Larry Massey
Headstone of Morris Slater, AKA Railroad Bill, in St. John’s Cemetery, Pensacola, Florida photo by: Larry Massey

Morris Slater (known as Railroad Bill) was a train robber in the 1890’s.  None of his loot was ever recovered in the 6 years of his operation.  Many believe that the cash was buried in a cave.  The only clue left behind is that he never strayed far from the railroad trackes between Atmore and Bay Minette.  He was gunned down in 1896.

(A little bit more: Railroad Bill was an African American said to have lived between Pensacola, FL and Alabama and that he may have worked with a circus at some point during his life.  Stories began to surface around 1895 about an armed individual riding the Louisville and Nashville (L&N) Railroad line between Flomaton and Mobile. Caught sleeping on a water tank along the railroad on March 6, 1895, railroad employees attempted to restrain the man who fired on them and escaped after hijacking a train car.  This incident began a manhunt by railroad detectives that led a posse to Bay Minette, Alabama on April 6, 1895.  It was here that Baldwin County deputy sheriff James H. Stewart was killed in a gunfight.  After the lawman’s killing, the full attention of law enforcement and a $500 reward posted in Mobile identified him as Morris Slater, a convict-lease worker who fled from a turpentine camp in Bluff Springs in 1893 after killing a lawman. 

On July 4, 1895, E.S. McMillan, Brewton Sheriff, was fatally wounded. Railroad Bill became a “Robin Hood” like individual, robbing trains and reportedly selling good to impoverished people for prices lower than the local merchant stores as well as engaging in shoot-outs with lawmen and L&N personnel.  On March 7, 1896, Railroad Bill was gunned down by a host of law enforcement officials at Tidmore and Ward’s General Store in Atmore, Alabama.)

“Looking for Railroad Bill”: On the Trail of an Alabama Badman

Railroad Bill

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