The Letters of Rufus E. Brummagem
Rufus E. Brummagem
RUFUS ELIXIR BRUMMAGEM
born: July 4, 1848 in Jefferson County, Missouri
A notorious rogue, prevaricator, outlaw, cutthroat,
pirate, murderer and a spurious, pinchbeck, fake!
His crimes were legendary and his associates were as well.
He was reported to have married:
6 women in his short 32 years of life,
but no record of
these marriages exist and no church records were kept as he never
set foot in such buildings.
Besides his "wives" seemed to all be
sporting women from various towns and various establishments
no real records of any of them surviving.
Below is a few of his letters to his dying mother, which he wrote during
his two month trial ordeal and prior to his hanging,
which tell of his "wives" in some form or another.
With some letters from his "wives" or family.
- July 4, 1853 Rufus "accidentally" kills a boy twice his age
at a nearby town picnic, by pushing him over a cliff when the boy
calls his mother a whore.
- July 3, 1863 joins a group of men who ride off
with William Anderson and join up forces with William Clarke Quantrill.
He is severely wounded in a raid and is treated as a war hero by
his family (cousins)
and friends. Where he recuperates until the end of the war.
- Early 1865 when a general amnesty is offered, Rufus rides with
Jesse Woodson James to Lexington, Mo. They are ambushed. Jesse is severely
Rufus helps Jesse escape from the Yankee soldiers and they hide
out at a friendly farmers home. Assuming Jesse will die,
Rufus takes Jesse to a hiding place in Nebraska.
- February 13, 1866 Rufus is one of the eight men who wait by
the horses outside the Clay County Savings Bank, as Frank James
and Cole Younger rob the bank of $60,000. He was also the man who
started the shooting by killing George "Jolly" Wymore in cold blood.
(Frank James later gets the blame)
- With his new fortune Rufus takes himself into Indiana, where
he befriends a Matilda "Easy" Washboard and they live as husband and wife.
- October 6, 1866 Rufus joins with Frank Sparks, John &
Simeon Reno who hold up the Ohio & Mississippi train as it
pulled out of the Seymour Depot, in Indiana.
- May 2, 1868 - He helps rob the
Ohio & Mississppi Valley train at Marshfield,
Ind., and splits $96,000 in cash and valuables. Just missed being strung up
by some vigilante group who do hang his pard, Franklin Sparks, plus two others.
- Rufus makes a clean getaway from Indiana and the Pinkertons never
connect him up with the Reno crimes.
- August 20, 1871 - Rufus changes his name to Jim Riley and
becomes a local hero while in a brothel in Newton, Kansas.
Having a drink with his new bride to be, Gynnie Wade,
he sees his new friend Railroad forman Mike McCluskie get shot to death
in cold blood, by three cowboys.
He calmly locks the front door of Tuttle's Dance Hall
and shoots the first assassin
in the legs and kills two Texans, outright.
Others sided up and the bullets flew.
Some men stepped forward to stop the shooting
and received lead samples of their own. Riley (Rufus) shot off the
tip of the nose of one unarmed cowboy who was yelling at him.
There were five dead and five wounded.
It had been the worse gunfight ever in the Old West,
lasting three minutes and expending fifty bullets.
It was equal to the later Earp/Clanton battle of 1881.
It became known as the "Newton General Massacre."
No lawman ever did anything about the mess and Rufus faded from Kansas
and the history books.
- October 5, 1871 - Rufus, now in Abilene, Kansas, joins in with some
Texans, drinking and whoring, when some shooting brings out the town Marshal.
A shoot-out occurs and the Marshal kills a gambler. Then, in the heat of
the battle, turns around shooting a friend by mistake. Rufus was overheard
saying, "He's a wild one that Bill!" The press from then on started
calling the Marshal, Wild Bill Hickok.
- By 1875 Rufus E. Brummagem was building a nasty and lengthy crime
sheet as he began to kill, steal, rape and pillage every town he set foot
in. Most of his crimes were so dastardly as to make even the press
blush with the telling, so that details of his crimes were not made
public. This caused the courtroom, during his eventual trial,
to fill to capacity as the testimony was heard.
- July 4, 1875 - In Kansas City, Kansas,
Rufus Elixir Brummagem kills a "snake oil" salesman
after tasting the brew and yelling, "This tastes like panther piss!"
A woman in the crowd tells him to watch his mouth and he punches her
in hers. "No one tells me what to do on my birthday!" he was reported to
say to the woman laying on the ground.
- July 4, 1876 - Rufus E. Brummagem enters the brothel in St. Joseph,
Missouri, called Brick House Manor. He discovers his "wife" with another
"customer" and shoots the man dead. While beating his "wife" and dragging
her by the hair through the hall way of the upper floors, he shoots every
person who steps forward to assist her. In the slaughter there were six
prostitutes killed and four wounded, as well as five male customers.
Over her screams and the gun blasts people reported they could her Rufus
yelling, "It's my birthday Gawddammit!" (see his last letter)
- July 4, 1877 - Rufus was reported to have broken every window,
smashed every glass, broken every bottle, shooting every statue and painting
with his cap and ball Remington, wrecked everything wooden and
nearly set fire to the Brimstone & Fire Saloon in the lower part of
Kansas City, before being run out of town by angry patrons.
- July 5, 1877 - Rufus snuck back into town late at night and
emptied his pistol into the
barkeep while he was cleaning up the mess left by Rufus. Telling a shocked
onlooker, "That'll teach the SOB for talking purdy to my wife."
He then handed the youthful looking lad his
.44 Remington and smiled big, stating,
"Remember who gave this pistol to you and the damnation it wrought!"
- July 3, 1878 - His last known
wife has a child she claims is his.
- July 4, 1879 - Rufus goes into town and starts shooting every
man he sees, claiming after a year the child didn't look like him at all
and he stated in court, "If I killed every male in town I might get the
fellow who did sire the bastard!" Twenty men are killed or wounded
including the town sheriff.
- July 5, 1879 - The local townswomen rustled the gun away
and drag him off to the jail house, where he sat for many months
awaiting a circuit judge.
This is the oldest known letter and it was penned in red ink!
It comes from his association with a prostitute mentioned above
from Indiana. Little is known of that particular incident..
(From the collection of Miss Shauni Ankles)
I am sorry that you are angry with me. I must have been the only
person that believed that you did not cheat during the card game.
Maybe it was not a wise idea to shoot the accusing Gentleman.
I am sure if the Sheriff had just given me one more opportunity,
I surely would have been able to persuede him that it was all an accident.
Rufus, please believe that I spent only three days with the Sheriff.
The girls send their regards. Don't do nothin foolish!
I dont like bean called easy, nether!!
His first known letter to his ailing mother. dated May 1880
(All letters here may be partial and the
language and spelling are his.)
"I take pen in hand for the last time to let you know
that all the false claims they have brot agin me ain't true and fer
yew to not fret none. I only kilt folk I didn't know and only if they
were pesterin me some. If I kilt anyone I knew I soon forgot 'em. for
I know'd those I kilt were none of my frinds nohow. Yew know me mah,
I'd never hurt a flea, if I like him. I like to see you
one more time but knows that it would be too hard on yew.
yew bein sik and all. they say I harmed a young lady & did
unspeakible thangs to her & how purdy she was & vidal & how I stopped
her chances of ever havin a family & lovd ones.
whal I knowd this she weren't all that young & purdy atall & from
what I seen of her family they never lovd her none and I was glad
to have to kilt them to. fact be, she wood have thank me for the murders.
I be writen more later. Yer lovin son Rufus."
A letter from his
sister. dated April 1, 1880
His last letter
(Dated: July 4, 1880)
Its fittin theyll have a necktie party fer me on my birthday.
It brings ta mind a person I had to hear about durin
my trial, member that woman I tolt yew I married in St Joe
who staid at the big brick house? She was from Paree Franse
I think as her name sounded that way and she talk mighty funny.
I always called her Dew Twat for her last name and fer another
reason too so I send her love letter she wrote me with all her
speshal Paree words of love she had fer me. Please keep it
in yewr files with all my letters and the tintype Im sending yew
of me that was taken a few days ago. I also include other letters
and things to member me by.
(He lists some of them and talks about the weather
and the poor food he gets for the next two pages. Then he
ends his letter with the following remarks)
What they said about Dew Twat durin the trial warnt true
atall. Some fella was havin his hands all over her on my
birthday in 76. I was angry that a man would take such
open assalt on my lovin wife so I shot him and took my
wife upstairs to help her pack so we could leave that boardin
house. Some folk came out and yelled at me that I cuddnt take
her away from their house and I shot them too. I had rights
yew know! What made me real mad was all the other men
takin advantage of all them young girls and I was sure that
they had all had their dirty hands on my wife at one time or
ta other and so I shot them all until I had no more lead pills and
so I beat a few with my pistol. and the worse part of it was that it
be my birthday I kep sayin.
Forgive me for dyin mah
Your dead son
Rufus Elixer Brummagem
The letter from his wife:
(Dated: June 1876)
It is very difficult to live with you as you think I can be
just your wife when I can have more money being the wife
to many men. En Francais we are called prostituees and I
do not think you understand that I am always going to be
for every man and not just your epouse.
Vous etes si idiot un imbecile
Veuillez me pardonner
(signed) Per Sonne du Tout
HAVE A LETTER OF HIS? SEND IT!
RUFUS' FAMILY TREE:
- November 17, 1732 - At age 30, convicted of piracy, Bartholomew
"the Black" Brummagem, is aboard the Frigate Anne which
sailed from Gravesend, England with 114 new Georgia colonists
made up of......"debtors and other ne'rdowells."
- January 13, 1733 - Bartholomew "the Black" Brummagem
arrives at Charles Towne in South Carolina
- January 20 1733 - Bartholomew "the Black" Brummagem
arrives in Beaufort and is finally allowed to disembark
- February 12 1733 - Bartholomew "the Black" Brummagem
arrives from Beaufort at Yamacraw Bluff
- June 17, 1740 - Bartholomew Brummagem marries a 19
year old girl (Mary Smith) and they begin their large family
working on their 50 acres of good land.
- July 7, 1742 - Part of the defense of Georgia, under the command
of General James Oglethorpe, Captain Bartholomew Brummagem is
slightly wounded at the Battle of Bloody Marsh.
- By 1755 - They have 15 children, two still borns and
the thirteenth child is Menteur Faux Brummagem
(the grandfather of Rufus).
- 1774 - Menteur Faux Brummagem sides
with the Tories against Independence from England.
- 1779 - Menteur Brummagem marries
Keine An Allem and goes into battle in the states first Civil War
as Georgians fight Georgians over ideals.
- 1790 - Spurio Frode Brummagem is born the
tenth of 13 children.
- 1831 - S. Frode Brummagem marries Gjertrude
Johannsdatter and travels to Jefferson County in Missouri.
- 1832 - Bartholomew Tyro Brummagem is born and
died of consumption (1842) attributed to his association with Indian boys.
- July 4, 1848 - Rufus Elixir Brummagem is born
- August 1849 Rufus' father deserts family for California
Spurio Frode Brummagem
- Spurio Frode Brummagem killed by one of Joaguin
Murrieta's brigands on March 29, 1850 in Marysville, California
Harry Love, who had been Spurio Brummagem's pard, swears revenge
for the murder of his friend.
RUFUS' LAST "TREE":
He was taken up the thirteen steps of the public hanging platform
and when someone asked him if he had any last words he spat at the
preacher and yelled a profanity to the gathering crowd that caused
the women present to swoon and the men to turn bright red.
It was reported that a few females in the crowd laughed at his
remarks and their laughter grew louder due to the subsequent
reaction to his words. This only added to his discomfort as
the hangman botched the job and placed the rope in the
wrong position causing him to strangle for 20 minutes due
to his slight build. It took a
Captain Lugner Unecht Falschung
, from the crowd of on
lookers to gather the courage to walk up to Rufus and place
a round hole in his temple, after three tries, with a
small pocket pistol.
Thus ended the life of Missouri's lesser known outlaw, July 4, 1880.
Write to: Black Bart the Legend at
More Information or Your Connections
22725 Main Street
Columbia, CA 95310
Page created by
© 1984-2010 Shadows of the Past, Inc.
Want to see my Old West Reenactors Web Site? Touch
Shadows of the Past, Inc.
Click to see our Columbia Bookstore WebSite
Pages created by