The Legend of Railroad Bill

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This image of Constable J. L. McGowan standing, rifle in hand, over the corpse of ?Railroad Bill? strapped to a wooden plank, sold for 50 cents in the days following the notorious outlaw's death in March 1896.

This image of Constable J. L. McGowan standing, rifle in hand, over the corpse of ?Railroad Bill? strapped to a wooden plank, sold for 50 cents in the days following the notorious outlaw's death in March 1896.

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

More treasure legends can be found at Alabama Treasure Legends Main Page.

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