This amusing but true story appeared in our local paper, The Crittenden Press on April 6, 1899. I'm glad the paper reporter was present and had the sense of humor to record this incident. Gives us a peek into our past history with some humor.
Saturday a tramp helped himself to a pair of pants at a store in Crayneville as he was passing through that town. (As the IC Railroad passed through here, tramps were a common sight in the area.)
The theft was discovered shortly afterwards and as the thief was coming this way, a telephone message was sent to City Marshall Loyd, who intercepted the man and soon had him in the circuit court room, waiting for the grand jury, which was in session, to send up an indictment.
The witnesses were present, the thief was in possession of the stolen goods, and there was no doubt of his guilt.
Circuit Judge Nunn was on the bench, lawyers, officers and spectators were grouped about the court room, and the prisoner occupied a chair inside the bar. Judge Nunn turned to the prisoner and the following conversation took place between his Honor, as the questioner, and the prisoner.
Judge - Where are you from?
Prisoner - Cairo.
Judge - What were you engaged in there?
Prisoner - I was in the hospital.
Judge - What hospital and what was the matter with you?
Prisoner - Small-pox hospital.
Judge - Were you discharged as cured?
Prisoner - They said I was well enough to leave, and told me to go.
Judge - Did you change your clothes?
Prisoner - No sir, got on the same clothes.
Just here the questioning stopped abruptly and the crowd began to scatter as if a thirteen inch shell from a war ship had ripped up the jury box and demolished the judge's stand. In the twinkle of an eye, Lawyer Ollie James, had widened the space between himself and the prisoner, and with his basso voice pitched to a tenor key said, "I move the court you let him go."
Circuit Clerk Haynes rushed back, raised a window and was about to leap from the second story.
Attorney A. C. Moore got the stove and all the vacuum possible between himself and the prisoner, and vigorously seconded James motion, the sheriff got the front door and wrapped for order as he hurried outside, but had to run to keep from being run over. Over benches, helter skelter, pell-mell, the spectators went for more room.
Here the court caught his breath and said, "Mr. Marshal, take the prisoner where he can get some air."
The prisoner is still out enjoying fresh air, for when order had been restored he was gone, nobody knew where, and not a man in that house wanted to follow him, and further more nobody wanted anybody to follow him.