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Alabama's Outlaw Sheriff, Stephen S. Renfroe, Alabama's Outlaw Sheriff, Stephen S. Renfroe, 0817352481, 0-8173-5248-1, 978-0-8173-5248-6, 9780817352486, , Library of Alabama Classic

Alabama's Outlaw Sheriff, Stephen S. Renfroe
by William Warren Rogers, Ruth Pruitt

Quality Paper
2005. 160 pp.
Price:  $24.95 s

A vignette of local Southern history

Among the villains, heroes, rogues and demigods who inhabit Southern folklore, Stephen S. Renfroe deserves a place. In the twentieth-century a few popular magazine and newspaper articles have been written about Renfroe, while Carl Carmer’s Stars Fell on Alabama, published in 1934, devoted several pages to him. Other than this, all is previously know about the enigmatic sheriff who because an outlaw is in the form of a legend.
In general, Renfroe appeared in the Black Belt town of Livingston, Alabama in the late 1860s and quickly became a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Allegedly playing a major role in driving out carpetbaggers and ridding Sumter County of Radical Republican rule, he was awarded with the office of sheriff. However, he reverted to a pattern of crime that earned him disgrace and ostracism.
As to his origins, his background, and the details of his career—much has been speculated but little has been documented. Although no statue commemorates Renfroe’s role as a statesman, educator, or solider (his highest military rank was that of private), a case can be made that he helped shape the course of politics in Alabama’s Black Belt.
William Warren Rogers Sr. is the author or coauthor of a number of works, including The One-Gallused Rebellion: Agrarianism in Alabama, 1865-1896; August Reckoning: Jack Turner and Racism in Post-Civil War Alabama; Convicts, Coal, and theBanner Mine Tragedy; Labor Revolt in Alabama: The Great Strike of 1894; and Alabama: The History of a Deep South State.

Ruth Pruitt was a faculty member in the English Department at Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, Alabama.

Paul M. Pruitt Jr. is Special Collections Librarian in the Law School of the University of Alabama.
“This vignette of local southern history . . . recounts Renfroe’s career as sheriff of Sumter County for a little more than two years, followed by six years of bizarre activities as a fugitive from justice before being lynched in July 1886. . . . He led the local Ku Klux Klan in 1868–69, participated in the Meridian riot of 1871, and took part in the killing of two active Republicans, one white and one black, in 1874. Rumors attributed other slayings to this violence-prone man who in 1867 had fled another county after killing his brother-in-law. . . . The story clearly illustrates the violent tactics of the redemption process.”
Journal of American History

“Rogers and Pruitt have done an extremely fine job of producing a long-awaited biography of Stephen S. Renfroe. . . . Skillfully done [and] first-rate.”
Alabama Review
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