|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.
|Vernon Dalhart recorded three songs about Kinnie Wagner in 1926.
See links below.
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.
|According to the information I found, Kinnie Wagner escaped, again, in 1948,
was recaptured, once again, and died in prison in 1958. If you have further
information or corrections, please let me know!
|Jody Bruton has very kindly offered another link to info on Kinnie Wagner: Click
here! He shared an anecdote about the time his grandfather once sent Jody's dad,
who was a youngster at the time, on an errand to help Kinnie Wagner find the house
of a neighbor. Those were the days when you never knew who might show up on