Monday, June 11, 2007
The State Line Mob and Buford Pusser
(Corinth, MS) The more I travel in this great country, the more interesting it gets. A co-worker picked me up at the Memphis Airport late this afteroon and as we were driving toward his hometown of Corinth he began telling me some interesting history of his town.
And you know me. I asked him a ton of questions.
For one thing, this was a major theater during the Civil War. I learned that 300,000 soldiers from the north and the south occupied Corinth during a 4 year period during the Civil War. Of course that conversation got my curiosity up so I’m planning on doing some reading and refreshing my knowledge about the Battle of Shiloh and the Battle of Corinth.
But the story of the “State Line Mob” really got my curiosity going. This town gained a reputation during the 1940’s through the 1960’s of being a hide-away for several Chicago Mob affiliates and home to the infamous “State Line Mob”. Many of you will remember the 1973 movie entitled Walking Tall. Buford Pusser, a 6’6” 300lb former professional wrestler became Sheriff of McNairy County TN. He had one mission. He wanted to rid the county of the criminal activities that took place at the Mississippi-Tennessee State Line and more specifically the Shamrock Hotel. In a time when previous lawmen had been bought out by this State Line Mob, Pusser refused to be bought out. He refused to be corrupted. He was big enough and mean enought to stand up to them too. And he went after them, rarely toting a gun but with a 4 ft hickory stick.
The picture here is where the Shamrock Hotel and Grill stood for many years right outside of Corinth on the state line. It was at this hotel that Pusser shot and killed Louise Hathcock. In fact I was told today this was not only a restaurant and hotel but it was also a whorehouse and gambling house and a place where illegal whiskey could be purchased. And there were also a lot of killings that took place here if you complained about the crooked games or the crooked women. The burials took place in shallow graves behind the hotel. Characters like Jack and Louise Hathcock and Towhead White were part of the State Line Mob and they were a rough group of folks.
When Buford Pusser and his wife, Pauline, were ambushed near New Hope Church (pictured here) at sunrise on August 12, 1967, the State Line Mob was brought to national prominence. Pauline died in that ambush. Buford lived although his face was scarred for life.
I have learned there is a lot to be learned when you travel from place to place if you just take time to ask a few questions. The same is true about people. In fact it is true about anything. You just have to be willing to ask. A hit movie centered around the story of Buford Pusser. If I blinked I would have missed it today.
For you younger folks who haven’t seen the original movie you need to rent it and watch it. Then email me and I will tell you how much of it is true.
One thing is for sure. There really was a State Line Mob and there really was a Sheriff named Buford Pusser who was out to get them.
I saw where it all took place today.