Killing Rock: The Oft Told Tales Part 3 The Arrest of Taylor

Doctor Marshall Benton Taylor's eventual arrest was dramatic. On the run and afraid for his life, he tried to make his escape to Florida. But didn't make it.

Please share this story with your friends

The Headline part of the Daily Tobacco Leaf Chronicle 1892
The Headline part of the Daily Tobacco Leaf Chronicle 1892

On June 9th, Judge Lilly, the circuit Judge for Perry and Letcher Counties, in Kentucky issued a very odd and strange statement, especially coming from a judge. This statement said that if Taylor and the Fleming’s set foot in Kentucky, he would send out a party to hang them, without judge or jury.  

At about the same time Doc Taylor and the Fleming Brothers sent the first of three letters to Wise County Sheriff Wilson Holbrook. In these letters the three men offered to turn themselves in IF sheriff Holbrook would come to the Clefts of the Cumberland, and escort them to Gladeville as they had said that they feared for their lives.  

First Arrest Attempt

Then on July 17th, nearly 40 days later, Sheriff Holbrook would finally send an escort, led by one of his deputies, to the clefts of the Cumberland, to escort Doc Taylor and the Fleming’s to Gladeville, and the Wise Court House. 

Doctor Marshall Benton Taylor
Doctor Marshall Benton Taylor

The Sheriff would later testify that he did not know that the leader of the men he had sent out as an escort, R D McFall, was an enemy of Doctor Taylor. Sheriff Holbrook. R D McFall, and Booker Mullins would all give testimony that Booker had slipped in the mud discharging his rifle which started the shootout.  

Attempted Murder?

Regardless of how or why the shootout at the Clefts of the Cumberland began.  After the shootout, Doc Taylor would make his way back to his home in Wise Va and hide out in his attic. The Fleming brothers went on the run and into hiding, and it would be two years before they were found. Henry Clay Adams would also go into hiding until the charges against him were dropped in 1901.  

These four men were now convinced that the lawmen hunting for them did not care if they were innocent or guilty. They also believed that the Sheriff of Wise County Va had no interest in justice or arresting them, but rather sought their deaths. 

Taylor in Hiding

Taylor had remained hidden in his house for several days. Doc’s son, Sylvan Taylor, who also feared for his father’s life, convinced him that he needed to leave the area. Sylvan then took his father to his home and supplied him with new clothes. He gave him $60 then put him in a boxcar heading North to Bluefield West Va. From there Doc would spend the night and the next day catch a passenger train heading to Florida.  

Failed Escape Attempt by Train

The Bluefield, West Virginia train station about 1912.
The Bluefield, West Virginia train station about 1912.

It was hoped that in doing this it would throw off pursuit and that he would escape. But he had been seen in Norton Va. boarding the train. Commonwealth attorney Robert P. Bruce wired the Baldwin Detective agency. The telegraph told them to be on the lookout for the fugitive. 

The Oft Told Tale says that WG Baldwin of the Baldwin detective agency arrested Dr. Marshall Benton Taylor. The arrest would be without incident on July 22, 1892, in Bluefield West Va.  

The story goes that he was calmly sitting on a southbound passenger train waiting for it to depart. Doctor Marshall Benton Taylor would then be held in the Bluefield West Va. Jail for a few days. As Detective Baldwin went to Gladeville to secure his reward. 
However, this story is only a half-truth… Although Dr Taylor did go to Bluefield, West Virginia, he was not arrested there, nor did He spend any time in the Bluefield Jail. W.G. Baldwin did not arrest Dr Taylor, nor did he have anything to do with the case at the time of the arrest. 


Doctor Marshall Benton Taylor also known as the “Red Fox” the photograph is copied from the book A Narrative History of Wise County, Virginia By Charles A. Johnson
Doctor Marshall Benton Taylor also known as the “Red Fox” the photograph is copied from the book A Narrative History of Wise County, Virginia By Charles A. Johnson

A train conductor in Bluefield West Virginia had noticed Doc Taylor exiting a boxcar and followed him to a house. The conductor then proceeded to the sheriff’s office to report the crime of a man riding the train without a ticket. The Baldwins, RM & DO, were at the sheriff’s office at the time. The sheriff and the Baldwins questioned the conductor about the description of the man he had seen.  

It was decided that the man may have been Doc Taylor but there was a problem. Although they had been notified of the indictment and the reward, no arrest warrant had been issued and the reward of $400 had been issued by a private party. This meant that the Baldwins had no authority to arrest Doctor Taylor and the Bluefield West Virginia Sheriff refused to arrest Taylor on their behalf as Taylor could easily fight extradition under these circumstances. 


RM & DO Baldwin then notified the Sheriff of Giles County Virginia about Taylor’s presence. The Baldwins then kept watch on the house all night. In the morning Giles County Deputy Sheriff Moushon arrived just as Taylor was preparing to board the Southbound train. But at this point the three men were in doubt about the identity of the man they were following.  

Change of Appearance

Doctor Marshall Benton Taylor also known as the “Red Fox” photographed with his book.
Doctor Marshall Benton Taylor also known as the “Red Fox” photographed with his book.

During the night Doctor Taylor had changed his appearance. The man was clean shaven and instead of his customary black clothes he was now wearing the clothing that Sylvan Taylor had provided for him and carrying a doctor’s valise case. While waiting for the train, the man they were following seemed to be nervous and was behaving suspiciously.  

Caught and Taken into Custody

Deputy Moushon and the Baldwins boarded the train shortly after Taylor and kept him under surveillance until they reached Pearisburg Virginia. As the train pulled into the station, the three men quickly surrounded Taylor who surrendered to them with no resistance. According to the Clinch Valley News dated July 22nd, 1892, Doctor Taylor readily admitted his identity. When searched $80 was found on his person and his valise case contain his Colt 45 pistols and various surgical instruments.  

Dr Taylor would be briefly held in Giles County until an arrest warrant could be issued by the Giles County court. As far as we can determine this was the first arrest warrant issued for a suspect of the Pound Gap Massacre. The question immediately arises as to why an arrest warrant was never issued in Wise County. This fact must have been asked by the Baldwins as well.  

Double Checking the Arrest Warrant and Reward

We know this because the newspaper tells us that Doc Taylor was placed into the custody of RM & DO Baldwin after the arrest warrant was issued. The Baldwins then boarded a train headed back to Norton Virginia with Doctor Taylor in custody. But in Tazwell Virginia, D O Baldwin would exit the train with Taylor and lodge him in the Tazwell Jail for several days while R M went on to Norton to verify the $400 reward. 

Into the Slammer

Clinch Valley News
July 22, 1892
Clinch Valley News
July 22, 1892

The Clinch Valley News tells us that Taylor proclaimed his innocence after his arrest. While the Clarksville Tn newspaper, The Daily Tobacco Leaf, tells us that Taylor insisted that he and the Flemings were framed and that he begged the Baldwins not to take him to Wise County as he felt that his life was forfeit should he be returned.  

Ultimately Doctor Marshall Benton Taylor would be returned to Wise County and interned in the county jail on the 26th of July 1892. Then on August 2nd Doctor Taylor would make his first appearance in court to face the charges as stated in the indictment issued on June the 3rd. 

That Indictment against him was immediately quashed and thrown out by the court.  The Oft Told story says that this was for an unknown reason. And that the original indictment against him has been lost… 
But as we will discover in our next video that story isn’t exactly true either…  

Thank You

We thank you for continuing to support Kentucky Tennessee Living. As we bring to you the history of the Appalachian Mountains

Source Information

The Mountain Eagle Articles
Nature hike scheduled on Red Fox Trail
Site of the 1892
Killing Rock Massacre
The Hanging and History of Marshal Benton “Red Fox” Taylor

Pound Gap – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Pound Gap Massacre

On Patrol of the Lighter Side

Marshall Benton Taylor

Marshall Benton TAYLOR

Marshall Benton Taylor – A Legend

Marshall Benton “Doc” TAYLOR/Nancy A. BOOTH – Family Details

Marshall Benton Taylor – One Side of the Story

The Daily Tobacco Leaf

Clinch Valley News
July 22, 1892

A Narrative History of Wise County, Virginia
By Charles A. Johnson

The Wise County Centennial
100 Anniversary of Wise County
Published in 1957

Copyright and Other Information

All photos are in the public domain unless otherwise noted. This includes photos dated before 1923. All other photos are used with permission or under the education fair use statute of the US copyright law.

Copyright 2022 Kentucky Tennessee Living

Social Media Pages

For more about us, you can visit our Facebook page:

Our Twitter page:

Our YouTube Channel:

When we forget our past and who we are as a people, then we become who “they” say we are. ~~ David Sergent

Latest Posts