Russell Brooks/Morrow: The First Man Hung in Ouachita Parish?

The Ouachita Telegraph, Saturday, May 13, 1871, Page 3, Column 2
First Man Executed in Ouachita.

Two weeks ago we stated, upon information, that a man named Leslie was the first victim of the halter in the parish. The person thus distinguished in our local annals was not named Leslie but Russel Brooks, which we have ascertained by consulting the records in the Clerk’s office, assisted by Major Bry the attentive incumbent. Brooks was sentenced at the October term, 1822; but the day of his execution does not appear, as the Governor fixed that in his warrant which is not on file. Jas. Dunlap was presiding Judge, and Jno. H. Overton, District Attorney. Brooks had no money, and the Court appointed H.A. Bullard and Dan’l I. Sutton as his counsel. As a matter of interest to old settlers we append the names of the Grand Jurors who found a true bill against Brooks, and also the names of the Petit Jurors who found Brooks guilty: GRAND JURY. Foreman — Ferd Morgan, John M. Fenner, George Hamilton, Frederic Lowe, Jno. M. Fonts, Robt. J. Knox, Jas. Huey, Jr., Ebenezer Lane, Wm. Weathersbee, Jno. Huey, Lawchlin McLawchlin, Wm. Birvey, Grammont Filhiol, Joseph Wilds and Jno. Liles. PETIT JURY. J.R. Dewitt; Eli K. Ross, Brutus Larche, Abraham Scriber, Phillip Hook, Wm. Trent, Jno F. Ailes, Jno. Dyson, Richard Ballew, Jno. Perkey, Sylvanus Bascom and Robert Bandy. It is said Brooks was executed for shooting a thief who had stolen his (Brooks’) horse, the thief being on the horse when killed; but the indictment not being among the papers we have examined, we are unable to state whether or not this statement is correct. Brooks, we are informed, was buried near the residence of Col. McEnery.

The Ouachita Telegraph, Saturday, June 3, 1871, Page 2, Column 3
Crime and Execution of Russell Brooks.

COLUMBIA, LA., May 26, 1871. Editor Ouachita Telegraph: DEAR SIR — In your issue of the 13th instant a notice is given of the first man executed in Ouachita, which has been near fifty years ago. After giving the names of the grand and petit jurors, you say that Brooks was executed for shooting a thief that had stolen his horse, &c. My wife and her sister, Mrs. Lowe, widow of Mr. Frederick Lowe, who was one of the grand jury that found a true bill against Brooks, are perfectly familiar with the case. Their father, Mr. James Humble, was then living on the Dugdemonia, immediately on the pass-way from Red river to Monroe, which was only a bridle pathway, there being no public road at that time, and which was a hard day’s ride from Monroe. The night before the murder took place, Brooks stayed all night at Mr. Humble’s, on the Dugdemonia. He had on a pair of moccasins, and had a bundle tied up in a handkerchief. His conduct was suspicious, which caused Mr. Humble to watch him all night. Brooks left the next morning afoot, and shortly after, Mr. Scamp, a citizen of Red river, came on going to Monroe and soon overtaking Brooks, they traveled together all day, and at night they camped out about four miles from the old Indian Village. During the night while Mr. Scamp was asleep, Brooks got a pine knot and knocked him in the head, and then cuty his head off and hid it behind a log. — He took off his moccasins, put on Mr. Scamp’s shoes, took his money, ($30) left the corpse and all things else at the camp and left. Soon next morning some Indians passing discovered the murdered man, and his horse tied where he had stood all night. They gave the alarm, a company was soon gathered and they pursued Brooks, caught him, brought him back, and made him get the man’s head he had hid. Brooks acknowledged further that he had murdered his wife and five children. Mr. Scamp was a good citizen, and his untimely death was lamented by all who knew him. Brooks was executed on Friday, the date not recollected, but all the old citizens recollect the cold Friday and Saturday which has so often been spoken of. But Friday was the day Brooks was hanged by the neck until he was dead sure enough. Very respectfully, THOMAS MEREDITH.

From Dr. Robert Forbes McGuire’s diary, we find the following entry for
February 15, 1823 : Brooks hung.  So we have details and we have a date. Now comes the weird bit. I just found the following article:

The Arkansas Gazette (Arkansas Post, Arkansas), September 10, 1822, Page 2, Column 3

Horrid Murder. – A most shocking murder was perpetrated a short time since, near the dividing line between this Territory and the state of Louisiana, on the person of a Mr. Scamps, of Natchitoches, by a monster in human shape by the name of Morrow. The circumstances of this murder, as briefly related to us, are as follows: Morrow and Scamps were travelling together, the former on foot, and the latter on horseback. Having stopped for the purpose of taking refreshment, Morrow watched an opportunity, and knocked out the brains of his companion, and then severed his head from his body. After which he rifled the pockets of the deceased of what money they contained, took a pair of pistols and some wearing apparel also belonging to the deceased, and sat off to make his escape. In his hurry to make his escape, the murderer left a valuable horse belonging to the deceased, together with a pair of saddle-bags containing a considerable amount in money, which is supposed to have been the object of the murder. he left the headless body of his companion lying near the road, where it was shortly after discovered, together with the horse, &c. by a party of Indians, who immediately gave the alarm. Pursuit was promptly made after the murderer, and we are happy to state, that he was overtaken and apprehended in Hempstead county. It is said that his clothes were stained with blood, and that he discovered evident marks of guilt when taken. we understand that the murder was committed within the limits of Louisiana; if so, the murderer will probably be delivered to the authorities of that state, to receive the punishment due for so shocking an offence against the laws of God and man.

Same details, same time frame, close name for the victim, but totally different name for the murderer. I did find out the victim’s first name was George and he had at least a wife and daughter he left behind.

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