Outlaw Lincoln Waggoner terrorized North LA

By Wesley Harris
Journal Correspondent

The decades after the Civil War spawned more than its share of outlaws in Louisiana. None became so reviled by the public as the killer Lincoln Waggoner.

Linc Waggoner was born in 1865 on a small farm in a part of Claiborne Parish that later became northern Webster Parish. As a youngster he attended the school in the area and worked on the farm of his prominent and hard-working father, John Waggoner.

With a childhood as normal as any north Louisiana boy could experience, no one could have predicted Linc Waggoner's future as a bloodthirsty killer.

Waggoner's first connection with a murder arose from retribution for a perceived injustice to his family. Linc's brother, Matthew, had been killed in a quarrel at the home of a cousin, Tud Grider. A jury acquitted Grider, finding he acted in self-defense. Grider moved away, but a few months later he was shot and killed while plowing his field.

Witnesses placed Linc Waggoner and his brothers at the scene. The brothers were tried and Linc was acquitted, but "Spank" Waggoner was found guilty and sentenced to life in the Louisiana state penitentiary.

Linc's next known brush with the law occurred in 1890. Linc was with some friends, including Mun Newsom. A quarrel broke out and Linc pulled his pistol and fired at Newsom several times, killing Newsom's horse. Linc was arrested and tried, but was acquitted by the jury.

He again had trouble with Mun Newsom, and the two men agreed to leave each other alone, with the understanding that if either man ever spoke to the other under any circumstances, such conversation would be considered a declaration of war, freeing either man to shoot the other on sight. Two years passed before Waggoner and Newsom met at a country store. Newsom was drinking and offered Linc a drink.

Waggoner responded with a .45 Colt revolver. He fired quickly and missed Newsom, who ran out the back door of the building. Linc went around the building and encountered Newsom. The two men fired several times, resulting in a serious wound to Newsom's jaw.

Waggoner fled to Arkansas with brother Spank who had escaped from the penitentiary. Authorities captured them in February 1891 and jailed them in Homer.

Spank was returned to prison to wear chains for the remainder of his sentence. But with the mysterious murder of Cam Bloomfield, the witness in the Newsom matter, Linc might escape punishment. The citizens of Claiborne Parish had experienced enough of Waggoner's transgressions and plotted to break in the Homer jail and lynch him.

Late one night, a mob knocked a hole in the jail wall to get at him. With warning of the impending raid, two friends had smuggled two revolvers to Waggoner. The prisoner greeted the would-be lynchers with a hail of gunfire, leaving several attackers fleeing with serious gunshot wounds. The sheriff moved Waggoner to the more secure Monroe jail. After winning a change of venue to Lincoln Parish, Waggoner was tried and once again acquitted.

One member of the Homer mob was outlaw Tom Kinder. For unknown reasons, Kinder was dedicated to killing Waggoner and the feeling was mutual. Waggoner tacked a note to a tree in the center of the community bearing the following message: "I am not here to harm a living soul, except Tom Kinder . . . if he continues to haunt me, I will make it lively for him as I stand six foot in my stockings, wear a number nine shoe, and cover every inch of ground upon which I stand."

During the feud with Kinder, Waggoner was blamed for several unsolved killings in north Louisiana and south Arkansas. Evidence of Linc's role in most of the killings was sketchy. However, he was definitely guilty of one well-known crime. William Holland was home sitting by the fire, holding his baby in his arms, when Linc Waggoner fired a shotgun from a wooded area nearby, striking Holland in the shoulder and arm.

Eventually, Holland lost the arm. A huge contingent of armed citizens scoured the countryside searching for Waggoner without success.

After shooting Holland, Waggoner fled to Texas. He was hiding in Texas when he was captured and returned to Louisiana by Deputy Sheriff Reagan of Webster Parish in 1894. While Linc was in the Minden jail, his enemy Tom Kinder was brought in for killing a Mr. Tuggle as part of the ongoing Ramsey-Tuggle feud, a local dispute that surpassed the infamous Hatfield-McCoy feud in the number of bodies it produced. The sheriff placed them in adjacent cells where they could see and talk with one other.

Waggoner suggested the jailer give each man a Winchester and save the parish the cost of trials. But Kinder died suspiciously from a dose of morphine. Concerns for Waggoner's safety led the sheriff to again transfer him to the Monroe jail.

While Linc Waggoner was awaiting trial, citizens warned the Webster sheriff that when Waggoner returned to Minden, he would be killed. On Saturday, September 8, 1894, Waggoner was transferred back to the Minden jail for his scheduled trial on Monday. The following account of a mob of men forcing their way into the jail appeared in the Shreveport Times on Tuesday, September 11, 1894:

"When citizens started out of their houses toward the jail they were met by armed sentries and forcibly driven back. On all sides the jail was guarded by armed men, who had taken possession of every avenue that led to it. One man, Mr. John Sandlin, avoided the sentries and went to the Presbyterian Church and rang the bell to arouse the citizens. He also fired his pistol several times. Deputy Sheriff Reagan was a mile away at his home and heard nothing of it. Before the Sheriff could be appraised of what was going on the mob had accomplished its horrible and most cowardly work.

"A Times representative, who went to Minden yesterday, interviewed the three men who were in the cell with Waggoner, and learned from their own lips the story of the most brutal assassination it has ever been his misfortune to record.

"After the mob had cut its way through the brick wall of the jail, six or seven masked men came through the aperture, all heavily armed, and made their way upstairs to the upper tier of cells. The attackers were led by a man who appeared to be perfectly familiar with the interior of the jail. In this cell, as in others, there was a triangular ventilation flue in one corner, which was constructing by riveting a heavy piece of iron across the closed corner of the cage. This piece of iron extended from the ceiling of the cell down to within 12 or 15 inches of the floor.

Into this flue, Waggoner had squeezed himself and by standing erect and reaching up could get his fingers into some openings above that enabled him to pull himself up until his feet were almost out of sight.

"The men, who had lanterns, flashed a light into the cell and asked for Linc. The other prisoners told them he was not in there. They went farther, and moved everything to show that Linc was not in there. The lynchers swore that they knew he was in there and threatened to shoot or dynamite the whole outfit if they did not produce him.

Frightened to death, one of the prisoners gave away Linc's hiding place.

"The prisoners were ordered, under pain of death if they refused, to drag Linc down, out of the flue. This, two of them proceeded to do, grasping him by the feet and by main strength pulling him until his finger holds above gave way. When they had him partially out, one man shot at Waggoner legs, and missed him. Waggoner exclaimed: "Lord have mercy on my people, gentlemen let me talk." One man said: "Yes, if you will call no names on the outside." Another man objected to any talk.

"Then followed one of the most heartless and diabolical murders that men could be guilty of. The other prisoners were ordered to stretch out and hold Linc close to the open bars within a few inches of the muzzles of the pistols of the two lynchers who had been delegated to shoot him. These two men were squatted on their haunches, with the muzzles of their pistols resting in the opening of the bars. Waggoner, helpless in the hands of two powerful men, one of whom, Patrick, had both hands in his powerful grasp and Linc's head securely under his left arm, and the other man holding both his feet off the floor, commenced to curse his executioners, and told them if they would give him a pistol and a man's chance he would whip the whole mob.

"When the man holding Linc's feet was so exhausted he had to let go, the third prisoner was ordered to take his place. While this change was being made the executioners said: Boys when you get ready, you will shoot.' Patrick's hand had slipped down over Linc's left breast and he was told to move it up out of the way as they wanted to shoot Linc in the heart. One ball penetrated his heart. Twelve balls in all were fired into Waggoner's body. When the executioners were satisfied their victim was dead, they told the prisoners to drop him and made them remove the clothing from the upper portion of the body so they could see the wounds.

"Then the few men who had come into the jail went out through the opening they had made, a signal was given and their captain called out: "Fall in by twos!" With military precision they marched out of town north by the Germantown Road. Out about a mile or more they mounted their horses and proceeded on north.

"Parties who went out on that road next morning followed the trail for ten miles or more.

While the men were marching out of town on foot, one citizen counted twenty-one in ranks. Whether or not there were more is not known, but it is thought there were not.

The mob accomplished its bloody work in less than 30 minutes.

"The citizens of Minden, while not doubting that Waggoner was a desperate and very bad man and probably richly deserved punishment, greatly deplore the manner of his taking off, and condemn the work in unqualified terms."

The Webster Parish mob had accomplished what the Homer vigilantes could not.