The Notorious Outlaw and Murderer, “Bart” Thrasher

The Notorious Outlaw and Murderer, “Bart” Thrasher

Blood At A Dance – Father Of Desperado Shot

Transcribed from: The Daily Mercury
Huntsville, Alabama
July 23, 1890

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., July 22.

Friday night Detective W. B. Morgan and Policeman Patton, of Birmingham, went to Bibb County to capture Bart Thrasher, a noted escaped convict and murderer. They had learned that Thrasher would be at a negro dance in the mountains, four miles from Woodstock, selling whisky. At midnight the officers reached the place and concealed themselves behind a fence. The dance was in progress.
Soon two men came out in the dark. They came toward the officers, who supposed one was Bart Thrasher. The officers drew guns and ordered them to halt. Rube Morrison, one of the men obeyed, but the other, who proved to be John Thrasher, Bart’s father, had a shotgun, and resisted. He and Patton grappled, and the latter was over-powered. Just as Thrasher was about to shoot Patton, Morgan shot and killed Thrasher. The inmates of the house, among them Bart Thrasher, then fled for fear of being killed by the dead man’s friends. The officers retreated to Woodstock. Morgan was not arrested.

Murder the Pastime of an Outlaw in Alabama

Transcribed from: Utica [NY] Daily Press August 14, 1896
Murder the Pastime of an Outlaw in Alabama

Birmingham, Ala., Aug. 14.-Bart Thrasher, the notorious Bibb county outlaw, who 
escaped from Pratt Mines Penitentiary several months ago, killed his fifth man 

Four months ago while a Sheriff and a posse were searching for the outlaw in the 
mountains of Bibb county, they came upon his brother, Elisha Thrasher, who was 
aiding Bart to elude arrest, and attempted arrest, Elisha resisted and tried to 
shoot, when the officers killed him.

Bart swore that he would avenge his brother's death by killing every member of 
the posse of ten men that slew his brother. He began the execution of that 
threat to-day. Boldly entering the town of Blocton, in company with his unknown 
pal, he met Chief Deputy Sheriff Griffin, Bass? and shot him dead. Thrasher and 
his pal were armed with Winchester rifles. They defied arrest and escaped, the 
citizens fearing to molest them.

The Sheriff and a posse with bloodhounds are in pursuit, and if the outlaws be 
overtaken a battle is expected. Thrasher is the worst criminal in Alabama, 
having slain three men since his escape from prison.

Transposed from The Atlanta Constitution
August 27, 1896


Alabama’s Desperado Convict Makes His Escape Again

Birmingham, Ala, August 27, –(special)– Bart Thrasher, the noted Bibb County desperado and outlaw, was seen and shot at by a posse of men at Coalburg last night about 11 o’clock.

Before midnight Sheriff Morrow was notified of the encounter, and accompanied by Chief Deputy B. A. Thompson and other deputies, with bloodhounds, went to the scene of the shooting. The party followed the tracks of the wanted man to a switch on the railroad, where they were lost.

Thrasher was accompanied by a pal, a desperate man known as “Panther,” and the two managed to catch a freight train passing Coalburg shortly after the shooting and made good their escape.

Members of the posse who came upon Thrasher and his companion say they succeeded in wounding him or his partner.

Upon information received yesterday afternoon that Thrasher and his pal were in the neighborhood of Coalburg, Sheriff Morrow sent out a posse of deputies. They went to the point where they thought Thrasher was and laid in wait. After the deputies arrived at the place it developed that Thrasher and his pal were in the neighborhood of Coalburg, but were at a different point from the one named. Another posse was hastily formed and sent in the direction in which the desperado was reported to be.

The second posse had not been long in the neighborhood when Thrasher and his pals were seen moving through the woods, making for the railroad tracks, evidently bent on catching a train which was heard coming along. Armed with double-barreled shotguns, the officers called to them to halt. Thrasher and his pal did not obey the command and four shots were fired on them. Neither Thrasher nor his pal answered the fire, but moved on swiftly toward the railroad and were finally lost to sight.

The telephone bell at Sheriff Morrow’s residence was kept busy all last night giving information as to the moving of the two desperados and the posses. When the announcement came that the outlaws had been run out of their hole, the bloodhounds were quickly sent for and in a short while the sheriff and another posse were on their way to the scene.

As soon as the new posse arrived the dogs were placed on the trail of the two men at the place where the shooting occurred. The dogs took up the scent and follow it toward the railroad. At the switch just below Coalburg the dogs stopped and the men had disappeared. Here it was that they no doubt boarded the train.

The first posse which went out from the city was within two hundred yards of where the shooting took place. The shots were heard by the first posse and they hastened over to where the second body was, and were surprised to hear that the two men got away.

The men who shot at Thrasher are certain that he or his pal were wounded. One or the other was seen to halt, and it was thought he would drop, but he managed to get away.

“Panther,” who was with Thrasher last night, is the same who was with him in Blocton a couple of weeks back when Griffin Bass was killed. He is a determined sort of a fellow, afraid of nothing. He is desperate and will not submit to be taken alive.”

Transposed From: Oswego [NY] Palladium September 15, 1896
How Detective Cole Got the Best of the Murderer Thrasher

Birmingham, Alabama

September 15, 1896

Birmingham, Ala., Sept. 15-The notorious outlaw and murderer, “Bart” Thrasher
and his pal “Doc” Panther, last of the successors of the “Rube” Burrows were
killed near Horse Creek, Walker county, yesterday afternoon by Deputy Sheriffs
Cole and Ball, of Birmingham. The outlaws were running a _______ still. The
deputies waylaid them on their way to the still and before the outlaws could get
their weapons into play Cole had killed Thrasher with buckshot and Ball had
killed Panther with his Winchester.

Thrasher was five times a murderer and thrice broke out of prison. Three weeks
ago he walked into the town of Blocton and killed Deputy Sheriff Griffin Bass,
who had been a member of a posse that killed his brother Elisha. He then sent
word to Cole to prepare to die next. Cole took the hint and went after Thrasher,
preferring it that way. Cole has killed six outlaws. He has purged North Alabama
of a terrible gang and earned $2,000 in rewards.

Blocton is a town in the northeast corner of Bibb County, about 20 miles northeast of Centreville.  The town was first known as Gresham and its population in 1888 was 1,000. The town was founded by Truman Aldrich around 1883.  “Blocton is a sister town of West Blocton, although there is no defining boundary between where the two once existed. The settlement of Blocton got its name from a huge block of coal, weighing at least one ton, that was taken from a slope in the mines.”


Transcribed from: Birmingham Age-Herald 4th
Transcribed from: The Times and News (Eufaula, Alabama) 07 Aug 1890

Bart Thrasher, the notorious escaped convict, has been recaptured and is again within the prison walls at Pratt Mines.

He was brought to the city yesterday morning by two country men, who captured him Saturday night near Blocton, Bibb county.

He was places in prison at slope No. 2 about 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon. It will be remembered that Thrasher is one of three desperadoes who escaped from Pratt Mines prison several months ago, the other two being Jim Morrison and Bob Crawford.

Crawford was captured in a short while. But to be true to an oath he had taken never to work another day in the mines, he committed suicide the next day after he was captured.

Morrison is still roaming the wide, wide world.

It will also be remembered that Detective Morgan and Officer Patton of this city had an encounter with Thrasher and his pals down in the fastnesses of Bibb county Friday night, July 18, when Morgan, in defense of Patton, shot and killed Bart Thrasher’s father, Bart himself escaping.

The history of Thrasher’s capture is two-sided. Either is filled with daring and displays the well-laid plans of detective genius.

It is said that the countrymen who arrested him got a friend of theirs to personate a revenue officer and chase them through the woods in the neighborhood of Thrasher’s supposed place of rendezvous, firing blank cartridges and making the people believe he was in pursuit of desperate moonshiners.

It was thought Thrasher would hear of this and seek their company to keep watch with him in the ravines and through the dense forests of Bibb. It is said Thrasher and these two men did meet, and to all appearances became fast friends, taking an oath of realty among themselves, and that at their first opportunity they covered Thrasher with Winchesters and brought him to this city.

Thrasher gave this account of his capture to the reporter:

“Well, I’ll tell you just how it was. A few weeks ago a detective sent some whisky down there close to Bocton to Monroe Kellum and John ashworth to be sold. And pretty soon he come down to arrest them. But he did not take them, and in the fight he got shot in the arm and left. John Ashworth had been taking care of me a good while. He had been feeding and helping me along.

“About six weeks ago Ashworth was telling me about Monroe Kellum’s nephew, in jail at Centreville. Ashworth said he was on his bond and that he and Monroe would like to get the fellow out. Ashworth said Kellum would like might well for me to help get the fellow out of jail. Ashworth said the plan was to pay off his bond or go down and force the jail and take him out that way. I told Ashworth I was already in enough trouble and I didn’t want to get into any more, but I would do everything else for him that I could and help him pay off hi bond. “I then left Ashworth and went up on Shade’s creek about twelve miles. While I was up there Ashworth and Kellum kept sending for me to come back down there where they lived. They said they were selling logs of whisky and making a heap of money. I went back down into the neighborhood last Friday and staid that night with my uncle. I was to go out in the woods Saturday morning and fire off my gun and Ashworth was to come to me. Ashworth did not come but Kellum, who lived close by, did. We talked about things generally and he spoke to me again and going down to Centreville and help him and Ashworth take Kellum’s nephew out of jail. I told him I couldn’t do that because I did not want any more trouble.

“When Kellum found out, I would not go with him to Centreville, he said he wanted me go go with mim and him kill a negro man who had betrayed him about selling whisky. We talked about it a while and I told him I could not go there.

“We were together all ay Saturday and in the evening Kellum said he wanted to go down to old man Weeks’s that night and he was afraid to go by himself. He wanted me to go with him, as he had had a fuss a few days before with the old man about his daughter.”

The reporter interposing, asked how far it was to Weeks’ house.

Thrasher replied that it was about four miles, and continued. “We were to start after supper and go a near way down through the field to Weeks’.” The reporter inquired where he took supper.

He said: “Kellum and myself ate supper at Ashworth’s and walked out into the lot to start. We were standing talking, and Kellum walked up behind me and put his arms around me. He squeezed me tight and held me, and Ashworth put the handcuffs on me.”

“What time was it Saturday night when they arrested you?” asked the reporter.

“Between 8 and 9 o’clock, ” Thrasher answered.

“Were did did they take you then?”

“We went up to Blockton and staid all night, and they brought me here this morning,” Bart replied.

“It that the whole story of the way they caught you?”

“Yes, that is all,” answered the prisoner.

Thrasher is only 22 years old.