John R. Strother my 4th cousin 6 times removed, was born May 18, 1834, near Sparta, Hancock County, Georgia, into a wealthy family. He was the son of Richard Strother (1768-1838) and Mary Black (1801-1874). When John was only four years old, his father died. His mother raised John and his four siblings on the family plantation in Hancock County. After the sale of the plantation in the 1850s, the family members moved to Baldwin County. With the outbreak of the Civil War, John mustered in the Confederate forces on June 12, 1861, serving as a private in Company F, 9th Regiment, Georgia Volunteer Infantry.
He served under Captain George Hillyer and stayed in this regiment for the entirety of the war. This group of men participated in many battles including Price’s Farm, Virginia on June 27, 1861; Leesburg, Virginia on October 21, 1861; Rappahannock Bridge, Virginia on March 29, 1862; Yorktown, Virginia on April 19-25, 1862; and last but not least at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on July 2-6 1863.
After the war, John returned to Baldwin County and married Mary Price (1841-1871) on March 14, 1865. In January 1866 he was elected sheriff of Baldwin County. On March 24, 1866, following an unknown misunderstanding, John shot Mr. W. A. Robertson in the right thigh, who died a few days later. John resigned as sheriff and fled. On June 2, 1866, Georgia Governor Charles J. Jenkins issued a proclamation offering a $200 reward for John’s capture. While no details are available, John was later exonerated. He returned to Baldwin County, and in 1871 he married Sarah Kenan (1833-1872). However, on July 3, 1871, John shot and killed Lewis Holmes Kenan, a member of a prominent Baldwin County family and former state senator, on a main street in Milledgeville, Georgia. Again, John had to flee. Friends put him in a crate and loaded him on a train bound for Louisiana, where his first cousin, Berry Strother, could provide refuge.
John lived alone in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, near Kimmelton. He taught penmanship and dancing. Being a fugitive from the law, he carried a rifle everywhere he went. He had been raised as a southern gentleman, so felt superior to most people in the community. He was a ladies man, hated and feared by many. With Naluse Americe “Nettie” Johnson (1854-1889), he had a son, John William Strother, born February 5, 1887, at Hico, Lincoln Parish. He and Naluse never married.
In November 1888, John taunted his neighbor, Turner Bentley, saying Turner’s wife Mary was carrying his child. On a fall morning, 20 November 1888, John R “Long John” Strother left his home in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, on horseback. He had not gone far when three men, Turner Bentley, Anders Lloyd and Will King attacked him. John was shot from his horse, and, after he fell, was shot in the top of the head with buckshot. Neighbors said it was a most brutal murder. “Long John” was 54 years old. He is buried in Buckner Cemetery in Claiborne Parish.
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have written two books “Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time” and “Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip”, both available on Amazon. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter @VHughesAuthor.