Albert Trammell (Execution of)

Albert Trammell was a Black preacher who was hanged at Rosston (Nevada County) on December 27, 1877, for the 1868 murder of his wife.

The 1870 U.S. Census for Ouachita County shows that a twenty-eight-year-old farm worker named Albert Trammell was living in Camden (Ouachita County); he could be the same man who had killed his wife Nancy (some sources say her name was Caroline) two years earlier.

According to a newspaper account, Trammell “suspected the fidelity of his wife to her marital duties” and borrowed a gun from one person and buckshot from another. Early on the morning of December 29, 1868, Trammell went outside their cabin, stuck the barrel of his rifle through a crack in the wall and placed it against “the head of the unfortunate woman, the brains of whom he literally blowed [sic] out.” Trammell fled, but Columbia County deputy Floyd C. Wood arrested the itinerant preacher nearly a year later after “having finished a sermon at some point on Red River.”

Trammell was tried by an all-Black jury in Camden in late June 1870, which deliberated for only an hour or two before returning a guilty verdict. Placed in the Ouachita County jail, Trammell briefly escaped twice, once in March 1871 when jailer Frank Austen was bringing him food and Trammel “knocked him down and ran out,” and again in May when the unfortunate Austen went to feed him and another inmate, “and they choked him down and let themselves out.” He was quickly recaptured both times.

On appeal, the Arkansas Supreme Court in mid-1871 overturned his conviction because the original “jury failed to find the degree of murder” and ordered a new trial. Trammell’s lawyers received a change of venue to Nevada County, and he was convicted by a jury of nine white and three Black men and sentenced to hang on February 10, 1872.

However, on January 5, 1872, Trammell again escaped, this time slipping away to Shreveport, Louisiana, where under the name of O. D. Dixon he married and had a son. He remained there until he was captured on June 13, 1877, and returned to Nevada County, where “the colored people are still very bitter against Trammell,” prompting the sheriff to post a guard to keep them from lynching him. Governor William Read Miller set a new execution date of July 27, 1877.

Around 2,000 people gathered at Rosston to watch Trammell hang, and he “never confessed his guilt until just before his execution.”

For additional information:
“City and General Items.” Arkansas Gazette, July 6, 1877, p. 4.

“The Courts.” Arkansas Gazette, July 4, 1871, p. 4.

“Execution of Wife-Murderer.” Arkansas Gazette, July 28, 1877, p. 1.

“The Nevada Hanging.” Arkansas Gazette, July 31, 1877, p. 4.

“State News.” Arkansas Gazette, December 2, 1869, p. 3.

“State News.” Arkansas Gazette, June 29, 1870, p. 3.

“State News.” Arkansas Gazette, March 10, 1871, p. 3.

“State News.” Arkansas Gazette, May 24, 1871, p. 1.

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System


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