Rum Runner shootout at Sledge

On a late Sunday night three men leave Memphis headed south toward Quitman County, Mississippi in a Lincoln coupe driven by O.P. Stroud. Another of the three men was named Simmie Askew. Their cargo was 47 gallons of whiskey divided into 8 five gallon cans, 2 one gallon cans and 24 quart bottles. Stroud’s car was specially designed for just this kind of trip. In fact the Lincoln could hold up to 150 gallons. Stroud was a big time rum runner in those days delivering whiskey to bars and clubs throughout North Mississippi and West Tennessee. All three men were armed with 30-6 Springfield rifles which were loaded with illegal dum dum bullets. They were serious men.

Quitman County in 1911

Government Liquor Enforcement agents knew all about Stroud. He was partners with Wes Turner in Memphis who was actually on trial for murder in that city. The two men owned a number of cars designed for the illegal trade. That night in Mississippi Stroud was transporting Old Private Stock brand

Just ahead of him waited three men at a road block. Their names were Agents A.B. Brister and E.F. Campbell of Clarksdale along with Marshall Frank Moore of Sledge. E.S. Chapman, deputy prohibition administrator, had been after O.P. Stroud for two years and he had received a tip he was bringing a load of liquor down. With that information in hand he ordered his agents to arrest him.

Stroud, upon seeing the agents, managed to get away. Speeding out of town with the law right behind him Stroud’s car careened into a bayou about a half mile north of town. Breaking out windows the desperados opened fire at the police who fired back. Stroud was hit in the hip and Askew in the shoulder. Stroud was immediately taken into custody. Askew actually managed to get to his sister’s house in Sledge where he was brought into custody. The other man fled into the fields without firing and made his escape.

Days later the liquor was burned in front of a large crowd in Sledge.

Although doctors didn’t think the wound was that serious, Simmie Askew died at Sledge. O.P. Stroud was carried to the hospital in Clarksdale under guard. He alleged that the police were murderers and Askew had just caught a ride. His bond was set at $1,500 in March. Stroud would go to trial in Clarksdale facing three charges in April and be found guilty of violating the national prohibition act. Stroud also pleaded guilty to charges in Tennessee. This kingpin of rum runners met his match at Sledge and sold his last bottle.

References:

“Clarion Ledger” Jackson, MS. Wednesday, May 1, 1929 Page 7

“Clarion Ledger” Jackson, MS. Sunday, April 14, 1929 Page 10

“The Clarksdale Press Register” Clarksdale, MS. Monday, February 25, 1929 Page 1

“The Clarksdale Press Register” Clarksdale, MS. Monday, February 25, 1929 Page 2

“The Clarion Ledger” Jackson, MS. Tuesday, February 26, 1929 Page 5

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