Clay Allison: Southern Outlaw

By  | April 28, 2018 | Filed under: News

The other night I was watching a documentary on famous outlaws of the old west.  A segment of the program was on Clay Alison.  Being an old west history buff, I had heard of Allison but did not know that he was born in Waynesboro, Tennessee.  That got me thinking that I needed to do some research on him since he was a basically “a neighbor” from where I live.

Robert Clay Allison was born in Waynesboro, Tennessee on September 2, 1841.  His parents were Jeremiah Scotland Allison and his wife, Mariah Ruth.  Clay was the fourth child of nine children.  Jeremiah was a Presbyterian Minister.  He also owned a cattle and sheep farm that supported the family.  Clay worked on the farm until he was 21 years old, when he left to fight in the Civil War.

Clay Allison enlisted in the Confederate States Army on October 15, 1861.  He was assigned to Captain W. H. Jackson’s Artillery Battery.  Clay was Medically Discharged from Service three months later from an old head injury.    Not to be swayed, Clay re-enlisted On September 22, 1862.  He was assigned to the 9th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, commanded by General Nathan Bedford Forrest.  On May 4.1865, Forrest and his men (including Clay Allison) surrendered at Gainesville, Alabama.  They were held as Prisoners of War until May 10, when they were pardoned and released.

Clay returned to Waynesboro, Tennessee after the war.  It wasn’t long before Clay began having violent confrontations in the area.  Probably the incident that got him from to move from the area involved a member of the 3rd Illinois Cavalry.  History records that a Corporal of the arrived at the Allison farm with the intent of seizing the property.  A scuffle broke out and the Corporal broke a vase belonging to Clay’s Mother.  The Vase had been an anniversary present from Clay’s father.  Clay ended up killing the Corporal.  Clay soon left Tennessee.

Clay arrived in New Mexico and got a reputation as a dangerous man during the Colfax County War.  Legend has it that a man had gone mad and was arrested.  He was a suspect in the disappearance of several people including his Daughter.   Clay led a mob that broke the man out of jail and lynched him.

In January 7, 1874, in New Mexico, Clay was involved in a confrontation with a man named Chunk Colbert.  There had been previous incidents between the two that led to heated exchanges.  Colbert then invited Clay to dinner.   When Clay arrived, Colbert drew his gun but the barrel caught on the edge of the table, allowing Clay to draw his and kill Colbert.  People asked Clay why he went to dinner with Colbert knowing there would probably be gunplay.  Clay replied, “Because I didn’t want to send a man to hell on an empty stomach.”

  On October of 1875, Clay was involved in another mob lynching of a person that had killed a minister.  The lynched family began to make threats toward Clay.  The Uncle of the lynched man confronted Clay in a hotel and drew on Clay.  Clay was faster and killed the Uncle.

In 1877, Clay moved to Kansas then to Texas where he started a cattle farm.  He began to start a family.  However, he was involved in several incidents due his intoxication.  Once incident was him riding through town naked except for his gun belt.

Clay continued with ranching with having the occasional run in with the law.  On July 1873, Clay was hauling a wagon of supplies when the load shifted.  Clay tried to grab some of the supplies but the supplies fell to the ground.  Clay also fell to the ground and the wagon rolled over his neck, killing him.  Thus bringing the end to the Southern Outlaw.

 Bobby Inman is retired from Law Enforcement after 21 years of Service.  He is the Store Manager of Southern Heritage Gun & Pawn in Tuscumbia.   He has articles published in Law & Order Magazine, Police Marksman Magazine, Guns & Weapons for Law Enforcement Magazine as well as several published ebooks on Amazon, Kobo Writing, as well as Nook (Barnes & Noble).  He is owner of Poopiedog, an Animal Rescue Dachshund, who is his constant companion.   He is a Senior Investigative Reporter for the Quad Cities Daily

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