Mudcat Café message #228524 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #21456   Message #228524
Posted By: Art Thieme
15-May-00 - 10:23 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Railroad Bill
Subject: RE: Help: Railroad Bill
Railroad Bill (the real one) was MORRIS SLATER.

Norm Cohen says in his fine book, LONG STEEL RAIL, that in the rural south, particularly along the L. & N. railroad in Alabama and western Florida, the name Railroad Bill referred to this Nego desperado who terrorized the countryside. Slater's activities first came to public notice in about 1894 snd continued until March 7, 1897, when he was shot and killed in a grocery store in Atmore, Alabama... It was generally believed he could only be killed by a solid silver miisle because he had escaped being shot so many times. Some thought he could change himself into various animals to escape capture. Food he stole was said to have been left by him outside many cabins during the night. Local blacks protected and housed him. After his death, someone was charging fifty cents a head to view his body.

Railroad Bill turned up more recently in Fannie Flagg's fine novel of life in the South Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe. The kids were kept in line by their parents when the latter scared the hell out of the former by saying things like "If you don't clean up your room Railroad Bill will come and get you !"

Art Thieme