|The Notorious Outlaw
|William "Kinnie" Wagner was born in Scott County, Virginia, on February 18, 1903. He
was one of eight children of Charles Monroe and Nancy Clinton Wagner. In his
childhood, he became proficient at target shooting and, at the age of 16, Kinnie joined
the Richard Brothers Circus. Because of his skill as a bronco buster and target
shooter, he became known to audiences as the "Texas Kid." After leaving the circus,
Kinnie began running moonshine in Mississippi. This ultimately led to a shoot-out in
which a deputy was killed. Kinnie claimed the shooting was justified and said that he
had been framed by a sheriff who'd hired him to run moonshine. He claimed that, when
the FBI came to the county to conduct investigations concerning the manufacture of
illegal alcohol, the sheriff was afraid he knew too much and would give up information to
the agents. Not long before, he had been given a watch to keep for a friend and,
according to Kinnie, on trumped up charges, he was arrested for the theft of the watch.
However, his stay was short-lived, because he escaped from the Lucedale, MS jail. On
Christmas eve, 1924, the sheriff sent a deputy to recapture him. The deputy, whose
name was McIntosh, was waiting to ambush Kinnie but Kinnie discovered him. A gun
battle ensued and the deputy was killed. Kinnie fled to the Virginia/Tennessee area
and, with the help of family and friends, hid out from authorities. The State of
Mississippi offered a $1,000 reward for him, dead or alive. One day the Kingsport, TN,
police learned that Kinnie was supposed to meet his sister, who was graduating from
high school and hadn't seen her brother in a long time. They hatched a plan to ambush
the outlaw, but when the smoke cleared, two of the policemen were dead and one was
seriously injured and Kinnie had escaped across the Holston River. The Kingsport
News wrote, "The tragedy was the most shocking and disastrous one that has ever
occurred in or about Kingsport. With ten orphaned children and two widows weeping in
their homes, dozens of men of Kingsport and vicinity turned out on the manhunt for the
desperado." Kinnie ultimately surrendered and went to trial in Blountville. The jury
returned a verdict of guilty and Kinnie was sentenced to be executed in the electric
chair. But, before the sentence could be carried out, Kinnie Wagner made good
another daring escape. He escaped from custody numerous times, but ultimately died
in prison in 1958.
|Escaped Killer, Tired of Being Pursued, Surrenders to Woman after Outwitting Posses
Texarkana, Arkansas - The Associated Press
August 20, 1926
Carl "Kinnie" Wagner, 23, alleged slayer of six men, is in custody today after quietly
surrendering himself to sheriff Lillie Barber, woman executive of Miller County. "I'm tired of
being hunted," Wagner said. "I don't want to dodge people anymore."
Posses had been searching for the notorious gunmen since Tuesday, as the result of his latest
shooting escapade. On that day he is alleged to have fatally shot Sam and Will Carper and
wounded Bob Carper on a farm near Texarkana. Wagner, formerly an expert rifle and pistol
performer with a circus, declared, "I would have gotten Bob, but it was so dark I couldn't see to
The prisoner is wanted at Kingsport, Tenn. for slaying two officers and wounding a third in April,
1925. He had been sentenced to die in the electric chair and was in jail pending an appeal
when he led other prisoners in a jail delivery and escaped.
In Mississippi, Wagner is wanted in connection with the deaths of two officers who attempted to
prevent him from breaking out of jail. "I have never been arrested for stealing or been in jail on
any other charge except killing," Wagner told Sheriff Barber.
|Vernon Dalhart recorded three songs about Kinnie Wagner in 1926.
The Ballad of Kenny Wagner
It was down in Mississippi,
Not many years ago,
A young man started out in life,
A life of sin and woe.
Now Kenny Wagner was his name,
A bandit bold and free;
He shot down Sheriff McIntosh
And fled to Tennessee.
He was captured up in Tennessee
And put into the jail;
He had no one to help him out,
No one to go his bail.
But Kenny broke the jail one night
And he made his getaway;
He thought that he could go through life
And never have to pay.
It was out in Texarkana
Where Kenny met his fate;
A woman sheriff called his hand
And he pulled his gun too late.
He was taken back for trial
Right where the deed was done,
The judge to Kenny turned and said,
"No more you'll pull your gun."
For Kenny Wagner broke the law
And he threw his life away,
And right behind the prison bars
He'll sit till judgment day.
So folks take fair warning
And heed this kind advice,
Don't ever break the laws of God,
You'll always have to pay.