More on Berrien County, GA Desperado, Benjamin William Furlong

By request, an additional follow-up on Benjamin William Furlong.  His ghost was said to haunt the mill where he worked at the time of his last heinous crime.  The location was the “Sniff Mill,”  situated at or near Alapaha, GA on the route of the Brunswick & Albany Railroad.  So far, no additional details as to the actual site of the mill are known.

In 1886, the story of the Berrien County, GA desperado Benjamin W. Furlong made the national newspapers, and was published as far away as Maitland, Australia.

The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser
Thursday 25 November 1886, Pg 7

End of a Noted Desperado.

Allapaha, Ga., Oct. 8.-Benjamin W. Furlong, who committed suicide here two weeks ago, had led a life of singular desperation. From the time when he was a boy to the hour of his death he was a terror to every neighbourhood in which he lived. At the age of 15 a responsible position in a sawmill, owned by his brother-in-law, at Pine Bloom, was given him. One day a coloured teamster was found in his waggon dead, with his throat cut. It was developed that young Furlong had had a quarrel with the teamster, which ended in the tragedy. The murderer disappeared, and was gone several years. When he returned he resumed his desperate career, without ever having been called to account.

A little over two years ago Mr. R. P. Reppard, a wealthy gentleman of Savannah, fitted up a sawmill at Vanceville, on the Brunswick and Albany road, in which he invested 30,000 dols. He placed Ben Furlong and his brother John in charge of it, and, having the utmost confidence in them, left it entirely to their management. The charge of such a large business turned Furlong’s head completely. He began drinking heavily, neglected his wife and family, and took to the companionship of wantons. One day he rode up to his house with a woman from Savannah, and, taking her in, presented her to his wife, saying :

” Pocahontas, how do you like this. Ain’t she a beauty ?”

The dishonored wife broke into tears, whereupon her husband seized her by the hair and dragged her across the floor, stamping upon her and breaking a chair to pieces across her body. The pair then re-entered the buggy and drove off, leaving the wife unconscious upon the floor. There she was found several hours later by some passing neighbors. When her story became know the utmost indignation prevailed. Parties of men started out in pursuit of the recreant husband. He was caught up with at a country house, where he sat with a Winchester rifle across his knee.

” I’ll blow the brains out of the first man who dares to come near me,” he said determinedly.

For several hours the posse stood at a respectful distance, deeming discretion the better part of valor, and then retired and left Furlong master of

the situation.

Mr. Reppard soon became aware of the state of affairs, and dispatched a trusted agent to Vance- ville to take charge of the business. When the agent arrived at the mill he found that John Furlong had received information of his coming, and, had scraped together 10,000 dols of the mill’s money and skipped out for Texas. Three months later news was received of John’s tragic death in that State. He bid in some property at the Sheriff’s sale, and offered part payment in notes.

“That was not in the bargain,” said the Sheriff, “You are a liar,” retorted John.

The reply was a bullet from the Sheriff’s revolver, which pierced John’s heart.

In the meantime Ben Furlong threw off all restraints. Whenever he made his appearance, all the officers seemed to withdraw in his favour. On one occasion he boarded the train bound for Brunswick, and going into the colored coach, took a seat. In front of him sat a negro.

” Throw that cigar out of the window,” ordered Furlong.

” I have paid for my seat and do not want to be disturbed.”

Instantly, Furlong caught the negro by the head, pulled it back over the seat, and made several lunges with his knife into the negro’s throat. Furlong jumped off the car and escaped into the woods.

On another occasion Furlong sought out Engineer Brock on the Brunswick and Albany road, and asked him if he wanted the money which was due him. On Brock making an affirmative reply, Furlong said: “If you do, just take that,” firing at the same time and striking the engineer in the abdomen.

About six months ago Furlong gave some evidence of reformation, to encourage which his friends united and started him once more in the business, with headquarters at Sniff, on the Brunswick and Albany road. But his reformation was of short duration. He always went armed, and would shoot into a crowd of coloured people just for the purpose of seeing them scatter. On September 1 he started on a big debauch, and was so desperate that even his confederates feared him. On the night of Thursday, September 23, he called his wife and children to him, asked them to pardon him for his past bad conduct, and declared that the morning’s light would find him a new man. After kissing them he retired to his room, where he was found, an hour later in a comatose condition, and by his side was an empty laudanum vial. The end came before morning, and with the news of Furlong’s death went rumours of a darker crime. No one would speak for over a week, and then the story came out, which established the fact that Furlong had been driven to suicide because of a murder which he had committed two weeks before, and in the commission of which he had two confederates.

On the down freight train on Sept. 7 was Jesse Webb, coloured, who was in search of employment. He was put off the train at the Sniff mill, where Furlong spotted him as a man who had previously entered into a contract with him. Webb refused to go with Furlong, whereupon the latter seized him, and, handcuffing him, put him under guard of J. M. Lofton, a white man from Atlanta, and Tom Sharon. Webb made a break for liberty, running toward the swamp, with Furlong in full pursuit. A discharge from Furlong’s rifle brought Webb to the ground in a clump of bushes about 400 yards from the house. When Furlong returned to the house he put all under notice that he would kill the first one that “peached.” Furlong, Lofton, and Sharon, each carrying a double-barreled shot- gun, went down to where the wounded negro lay. Furlong, in his desperation, cut the victim’s throat. For three days and three nights they kept the victim there in sight of help and yet giving him none. On the third day they killed him, and dragged the body into the back yard, where it was buried. When the body was exhumed by the Coroner it was found that the skull was crushed in three places. In the man’s mouth was a roll of waste as is used for packing boxes on car wheels.

The strange part of the story is that for three weeks fully fifty men knew of the murder, talked of it among themselves, and yet stood in such mortal dread of Furlong that they did not dare to tell the story until his suicide removed all danger. The two accomplices in the murder have fled the country.

End of a Noted Desperado. (1886, November 25). The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843-1893), p. 7.   http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18898807

End of a Career of Blood. (1886, October 9).  The New York SunQuick View

Advertisements

2 Comments

  1. Benjamin W. Furlong said,

    January 23, 2011 at 1:15 am

    Weird, I have the same first middle and last name of this guy. Hopefully no relation though.

  2. September 9, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    […] Ben Furlong was a wiregrass outlaw whose infamous deeds were published around the globe. As previously told, his final victim, Jesse Webb, was  shot, knifed and brutalized. It seems this crime actually occurred at “Sniff mill,”situated on the route of the Brunswick & Albany Railroad near the county line between Berrien and Coffee counties.  Furlong was implicated in the murders of at least three other men, and his brother and partner in crime, John Furlong, was gunned down in Texas.  Ben Furlong was feared by foes, friends, lovers and lawmen.  Previous posts provide additional information on Ben Furlong’s “life of singular desperation.” […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s