The Murder of Sheriff W.C. (“Lum”) McDougal
While attempting to effect an arrest on October 26, 1907, Carroll County MS. Sheriff W.C. (“Lum”) McDougal (11/19/1867 – 10/26/1907) was killed by Bob Myers. The following images from newspaper clippings tell the story of the event. Note that the spellings, and differences of the name of the accused are prominent throughout the articles. Bob Myers escaped capture until July 1909. He was tried in the October Term of court in 1914, and was hung in December 1914 for the killing. His hanging is said to be the last hanging in Carroll County, Mississippi.* In The Conservative, P. 1., November 14, 1914, as listed under the caption “Proceedings from the Board of Supervisors,” one order of business states: “Direction given that the hanging of Bob Myers be at what is known as “Hang Hill,” about one mile south of town.” The Carroll County, MS Cemetery Records, Page 192, as compiled by Ethel Bibus and Louise Marshall, allude to the fact Bob Myers was also buried on the “far SE rim” of the Evergreen Cemetery in Carrollton, but his grave, along with several others, “caved off into Tanyard Branch” some years ago. Myers wasn’t buried in the Evergreen Cemetery. Instead, it was the old Carrollton Cemetery, Oakwood, which is close to the corner of Pelham and Jackson Streets. However, Sheriff McDougal is buried beside his wife in Evergreen Cemetery in Carrollton, Mississippi, in Lot # 106.
Click on the articles below for the story.
There was one other person sentenced to die by hanging. This was the case of State of Mississippi v. Nathan McFarland, No. 1194, in 1915. McFarland was sentenced to be hung for the brutal murder of Becky and Jasper Williams. The case was temporarily stayed several times by the Governor, but the final order was decreed on November 23, 1916, to be carried out on December 15, 1916. When served in his cell with the Writ of Execution by Sheriff T.J. Fox, McFarland committed suicide by cutting his own throat. Therefore, the Bob Myers hanging was the last legal hanging in Carroll County. There is no listing for Bob or Robert Myers’ death in the [MS] State Death Certificate Index, 1912 – 1924.
The Work Product Administration’s 1936-1936 Mississippi Historical Research Project describes “Hang Hill” as follows: Hang Hill was the name given to the hill which is one and one-half miles south of Carrollton, on the road toward Black Hawk, because the old hanging scaffold of Carroll County was located on top of this hill, a few hundred yards west of the road.
In an October 1999 Article for the Greenwood Commonwealth, writer Susie James presents a slightly different account to the McDougal murder. She points out that the 1909 “capture” of Myers is incorrect. The article appears below:
Lum McDougal/Bob Myers story
By SUSIE JAMES
For the Commonwealth
CARROLLTON – The sheriff died in Little Texas. His killer died on the gallows of Hang Hill here seven years later.
It’s a classic tale, laced with ironies and twists – a tale about the last time a legal execution was carried out in Carroll County. The last time a sheriff here died in the line of duty.
W.C. “Lum” McDougal, the morning of Oct. 26, 1907, drove his buggy out to a tenant house on the old Misskelley place southeast of Jefferson to take a man named Bob Myers into custody. Myers’ alleged crime: stealing a suit of clothes.
Sheriff McDougal said, “Bob, I’ve come to get you now.” Myers asked if he could enter the house and get his shoes.
Evelyn Ross of Vaiden, McDougal’s niece, along with published accounts at the time of the murder, helped retell the old tale several years ago. “Uncle Lum expected no trouble. He’d known him all his life.” McDougal was accompanied by a deputy. Mrs. Ross’ mother, Irene Jones, was the sheriff’s sister.
McDougal, who’d already served his county as tax assessor when he was elected sheriff in 1903, was less than a month shy of his 40th birthday when Myers emerged from the back room of that house on Vance Creek with a shotgun. McDougal was in the front doorway. Myers’ load of squirrel shot struck the sheriff in the head and neck, but it was a single pellet in the temple that killed McDougal.
Descendants of people who lived in the area recall isolated images of the ensuing manhunt: hounds yapping through the woods and bottoms, the loss of Myers’ tracks down the creek, reports the sheriff’s killer stopped at the artesian well in the center of North Carrollton’s business district the next morning.
The day after he was killed, McDougal was buried from the Presbyterian Church at Carrollton and interred in Evergreen Cemetery. His funeral procession was a mile long.
“The Conservative” exhorted people not to hide Myers, alias Henry Taylor. Myers was described as a black man, having bad teeth with a snag, “upon which he sometimes places a removable gold cap.” His weight, about 160. Height, about five feet, nine inches. Shoe size, about eight. When last seen, the report continued, Myers “had on a striped coat and black pants, pants made by M. Born & Co.”
Was this the allegedly stolen suit which had brought McDougal to Little Texas? This isn’t specified.
McDougal’s niece, Mrs. Ross, recalled that in the early days of Myers’ seven-year evasion of courtroom and hangman’s noose, “he hid out in a cottonseed house near the railroad tracks in Grenada. He also got into a fight and lost an eye.” Others report he also grew a beard.
Myers lost himself in the Delta, eventually.
Ironically, he wound up working on a plantation owned by Earl LeRoy Brewer, an in-law of the fallen sheriff. The plantation was managed by Emmett Coleman, who was married to Brewer’s sister, who has his own historical niche.
Earl Brewer, who grew up in the Midway community near Vaiden, was governor of the Magnolia State from 1912-1916. In January 1895 McDougal married Brewer’s sister, Helen. McDougal was great-nephew of an outstanding Carroll County pioneer named Mary McDougal McEachern, who grew up in the Old Salem community, which is also in the Vaiden area. The sheriff’s wife was her granddaughter. Mrs. McEachern’s husband, Daniel, was a member of the county’s first board of police – the governing body eventually replaced by the board of supervisors.
Mary K. Alston, a Vaiden native and respected historian who died in late 1998, recalled in an earlier interview Myers’ freedom was curtailed because “he got into it with a woman and said if she didn’t watch out, he’d ‘do her like he did the sheriff of Carroll County’.” The late Mrs. Alston’s cousin, Monroe McClurg, who would serve as Mississippi’s attorney general, eulogized his late friend, McDougal, in 1907.
Eloise “Tugger” Williamson of Winona, whose mother, Henry Lee, was a niece of Lum McDougal’s by marriage, continued. “My Aunt Mel’s husband, Emmett Coleman,” ran Brewer’s plantation out from Clarksdale. “The woman who broke the case came to Uncle Emmett with her information.”
Coleman, brother-in-law of the sheriff’s widow, knew the hired hand who’d threatened the other farm worker must be Myers, who’d so long evaded justice.
There was a mood for lynching, but McDougal’s family insisted the case be tried. Caught in June 1914, Myers was appointed an attorney, J.W. Conger. Oct. 31 at the Carrollton courthouse, a jury convicted Myers. Fifth Circuit Judge James A. Teat sentenced Myers to be hanged Dec. 11 by Sheriff W. Bluford Vance.
Conger didn’t file an appeal.
The day of the hanging was apparently a celebrated occasion.
A photo of the last legal hanging in Carroll County, shared by Pete Moore from the archives of his mother, the late Alice Marshall, shows a wooded hillside with a gallows surrounded by fancily-dressed adults and children. Hang Hill, its landscape changed by latter-day logging, is a couple hundred yards off the Old Coila Road, southwest of the MDOT maintenance headquarters on U.S. 82 at Carrollton.
Silas DuBard, now 88 and a lifetime resident of the Jefferson community, said, “I can see it clearly, Bob Myers riding on top of his casket, smoking a cigar as they took him in a wagon to Hang Hill. Maybe it’s just I’ve heard about it so many times, but it seems that I was there.”
T.A. Watson of North Carrollton, a former state legislator who was born in 1909, didn’t go to the hanging, but his elder brother, the late Jerome Watson, and his father, the late William Edward Watson, who was born in 1878, did go.
“It was customary for men to shoot the hanged man if he survived the noose and the fall through the trap door,” Watson said. “Two men pulled out their pistols that day just in case, but Bluford Vance waved his arms and said, ‘There’ll be no shooting here today’. People ran for their children when he did that, and everyone scattered over Hang Hill.”
McDougal’s bones are interred in a family plot on the southeastern side of Evergreen Cemetery, but the whereabouts of Myers’ remains are more of a mystery.
“No, I don’t know where they are now,” said Harry H. Lott of North Carrollton, who was born the Halloween the jury convicted Myers. “Oh, I know where they buried him.”
It was in a pauper’s grave on the edge of a hilly burying ground just south of the Carrollton courthouse. This is the old town cemetery, and his aren’t the only bones to have washed out of it.
“They buried him there. Years later, his bones washed out of the grave. They knew it was Bob Myers, because of the black bowtie around the neck, which was broken. They dressed him up to hang him,” Lott said.
Legend has it the rope used to hang Myers was installed as the bell-pull at the Carrollton courthouse. It’s true a rope ending in a noose for decades has dangled above the public seats in the courtroom – the same courtroom in which an alleged sheriff killer who ran, was convicted seven years later. Upon closer inspection in October 2000, this noose does not appear to be of the typical construction for public executions. “Hanging” nooses were usually made with a large knot and 13 twists of the rope. The large knot was placed at the back of the condemned person’s neck, so that it would snap the head forward, serving to break the neck, rather than let the victim choke to death. It also appears to be made of a softer fiber than hanging ropes, which might have resulted in the rope’s stretching as the end of the body’s travel was reached. HOWEVER, you be the judge.