Monday, February 05, 2007


I really appreciate you meeting with me today to discuss the possibility of your paper publishing an article this month commemorating the 200th anniversary of the capture of Aaron Burr on Monday, February 19, 2007.

The closest thing I have to a primary source is Albert J. Pickett's 1847 conversation with George S. Gaines. Eventually I would like to examine letters and transcripts found in the Library of Congress' Burr Manuscripts. I also need to examine a number of 1807 newspaper articles.

The following chronology gives you an idea of the importance of this February 1807 event which occurred near where you now reside; an area which at the time was called "the wildest and most isolated place in the whole of the United States."

1) On Friday, February 4, 1807, a federal grand jury in Washington, Mississippi Territory returned no indictment for treason or anything else against Aaron Burr.

2) Federal Judge Romney ordered Burr to appear in court and Burr did not show. Judge Rodney ordered Burr's bail forfeited.

Silas Dinsmoor [his name appears on the historic marker at St. Stephens Masonic Lodge #9] is quoted as writing, "We are all in a flurry here, hourly expecting Colonel Burr and all Kentucky and half of Tennessee at his [back] to punish General Wilkinson, set the negroes free, Rob the banks and take Mexico. Come and help me laugh at the fun."

3) Fearing military arrest, court martial and firing squad, Burr jumped bail and became a fugitive. On Sunday, February 6, 1807, Mississippi Territory Governor Williams issued a proclamation describing Burr as a fugitive and offering $2000 for his capture.

4) At about 11 P. M. on Friday night, February 18, Major Robert Ashley and a disguised Burr arrived at Nicholas "Bigbee" Perkins' cabin near Wakefield [near present-day Sunflower]. The visitors interrupted a game of backgammon Perkins was playing with Thomas Malone [Malone is also mentioned on the St. Stephens Masonic Lodge #9 historic marker]. The visitors asked for directions to Colonel Hinson's place located 7 miles south of Wakefield.

Nicholas "Bigbee" Perkins, II (1779-1848)

5) Suspecting that his mysterious visitor is Aaron Burr, Perkins goes to Sheriff Thomas Brightwell's house and wakes him up. The two men proceed by horseback to Col. Hinson's.

6) Sheriff Brightwell & Perkins are invited inside by Mrs. Hinson where they meet the strangers.
Perkins goes outside to wait for Brightwell who does not come out. Because Brightwell does not return, Perkins proceeds to Ft. Stoddert. According to George S. Gaines, Perkins rode his horse 15 miles that night to Mr. Joe Bates' place on Nannahubba Bluff. Bates let Perkins have a slave and a canoe. Perkins and the slave canoe 8 or 9 miles down the river to Ft. Stoddert.

7) Perkins tells Lt. E.P. Gaines about Burr and after breakfast they and a group of 4 or 5 soldiers head north toward Hinson's place. On that Saturday, February 19 afternoon Gaines arrests Burr near McIntosh Bluff.

8) On March 5, 1807, Perkins and eight others accompany Burr on his 1500 mile trip to Washington, D.C. The party consisted of Colonel Nicholas Perkins, of Tennessee, who had, as we have seen, been the cause of his arrest; Thomas Malone, formerly a clerk in the land office at Raleigh, North Carolina, but who, at this period, was a clerk of the court of Washington County, Alabama; Henry B. Slade, of North Carolina; John Mills, a native of Alabama; John Henry, of Tennessee; two brothers, named Mc- Cormack, of Kentucky, and two federal soldiers.

9) On Thursday, March 26, the party delivers Burr to the authorities in Richmond, Virginia. They averaged about 30 miles per day.

Here's a good article on the Web
and you can find other sources at

Any assistance you can give in sharing this story with others will be appreciated.

Robert Register



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