Night Riders Take Prisoners

     The eight yars Dad was County Jailer was the time the Night Riders of the county were most active.
This wasn't the Night Riders of the tobacco wars of another place. These men were called Regulators and took the law into their own hands and punished and whipped people for things that they had done or in some cases, for what they hadn't done.
      Dad slept by the window next to the driveway beside our house and it wasn't unusual at any time of the night for the sheriff or one of his deputies to drive up and toot the horn and Dad would slip some clothes on, then unlock the jail and lock up who ever they had arrested. One night, someone drove up and when Dad got the keys and half asleep went to the door, to his surprise it wasn't the sheriff but a bunch of masked men. They didn't hurt him, but they forced him to the jail and with his keys unlocked the jail, took the prisoners they wanted, locked him up and away they went. Dad wasn't one to get excited very easily so he waited until my mother came over to see why he hadn't come back. She got another set of keys and let him out. When they came back with the prisoners and put them back in jail, Dad said they had been soundly whipped, so bad as he put it their rear end wouldn't hold shucks.
       Some time later, I don't know how long, Dad was called to the door again late at night and they took him to the jail again and took his prisoners. This time instead of locking him up, they took him along with them.
       They went to a secret place and questioned the prisoners about several things.
One of them was questioned about some things, which he admitted to, but when asked about an old man who had been beaten up and robbed, he said he was not guilty of doing that. Then they put a rope around his neck, threw it over a limb and pulled him off the ground for a little while, then let him back down. They gave him time to get his breath and asked him the same questions again. He admitted everything that he was charged with except beating and robbing the old man and then they pulled him up for the second time. When they let him down this time, he still denied the beating charge so they pulled him up for the third time and Dad said he thought they had killed him but when they let him down, he finally got his breath back, he still denied the robbing and beating of the old man, so they finally gave up trying to get a confession from him.

They finally gave all the prisoners a sound thrashing and brought them back to the jail. About all I saw of this was a lot of masked men out in the yard when they brought them back to the jail as I was looking out the window. I wasn't about to go out there.
     The judge was unhappy about what had happened and sort of reprimanded my dad for letting them take the prisoners out of the jail. Dad usually had an answer for about everything and since the judge didn't live very far away, he told him he would try to watch a little closer and if they came again, he would grab the keys and run to his house and let him stop them. That seemed to satisfy the judge because he didn't say any more about it.

    Not too long after this, the Night Riders started to break up. In the begining, it might have done some good, but it was getting out of hand. People were arming themselves against them and there were some real bad things about to happen and it was good that the group broke up when it did.

    Some of the mothers around here tried to scare their boys by telling them if they didn't behave and come home early at night, the Night Riders were going to get them, but it didn't have much effect on them.

(c) copyright by Melvin "Bubbie" Martin 2001