Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Business Some of Us visited - Very Carefully

Samuel Ruey Eaton

This man owned a business quite a few of us were cautious to go to, but the powerful thirst for his illegal product wouldn't go away until we did.

Part of his obituary:

"Ruey" Eaton was a retired businessman and a member of the Methodist Church. He served the town of Jumpertown as its first mayor when the Prentiss County town was first incorporated and later served as a town alderman.

He was the author of one book, entitled "In Prison and Out," which described his experiences in the state prison at Parchman and in three federal prisons. In August of 1931 Eaton and his brother, Clovis, were found guilty in the Circuit Court of Prentiss County of murdering U. S. marshal Clyde Rivers.

Ruey spent time in Parchman prison, escaped and eluded the law officers for several months by hiding out in and around Prentiss County. After his recapture, he served time in federal prisons in Leavenworth, Atlanta and on Alcatraz Island.At Alcatraz Eaton met such infamous criminals as Machine Gun Kelly, and Doc Barber. He also shared a cell for a brief time with Al Capone.

From a commenter on another website: Some of you speak as if the moonshine days are gone. I grew up in Prentiss county Mississippi. It's a dry county to this day (this was evidently written some time ago-CH). Also, to this day I could drive 100 miles from Memphis to Jumpertown, Mississippi and drive up in the driveway of a home, flash my lights once for commercial liquor, twice for pure grain alcohol or blow the horn for Mississippi Moonshine.

The law officers know this as well as I do. As long as the family keeps the law officers’ cabinets supplied...all is well. The only trouble is when a new sheriff gets elected, somebody has to go to jail for a year or so for the sheriff to keep his campaign promise but the business never stops.

How many local proprietors did we have? The Adamses, Robinson, Lee-Ann Truck Stop, Buster Jones, and how many more? Incidentally, Ruey did own a legit business in Jumpertown, a furniture store.



  1. Jim Strange, the constable in Baldwyn, was not a drinker, but he sold his confiscated booze and put the money in his pocket. He sent cases of it out on milk trucks that unloaded their cans at the Carnation plant and then took the beer and other stuff to all four directions when they left.

  2. Don't forget the Hesters, Larry and Butch, and Barnard Copeland, the master of hiding the stash.

  3. Ruey was a legend all right. I didn't know that he bunked with Al C. Course Al was only in for income tax evasion.

  4. Larry Hester worked out of the LeeAnn truck stop, didn't he? He could fix you up with anything.

  5. Wasn't there more Eatons than just Ruey? Seems that there were brothers that were bootleggers and stationed themselves on either side of Booneville to get maximum coverage of business clients.??

  6. Yep, many Eatons,,,Charles and Louis were brothers,,Clovis, I think , was with Ruey when the revenue man was killed.........cops came to my grandpas house looking for Ruey.My Mamma knows all about the Eatons, since all are her first cousins.....

  7. My cousin Bonnard Copeland certainly sold his fair share of illicit beverage. I think he was ensconced on the southeast side of Twitchell Hill for a number of years.

    Bonnard was set up by a couple more well known northeast Mississippi scoundrels and took the fall for them on a counterfeiting charge. As Bonnard said, “I didn’t know didley squat about counterfeiting!”.

    He let it be known that he was going to get even when he got out of the pen and when that time came the “scoundrels” conveniently relocated to another state.

    As it happened, the day Bonnard was released from prison, the movie “Walking Tall” was being shown at the Malco Theater in Tupelo. After the movie he came by my store with tears in his eyes and allowed as how it was a good movie but “they didn’t show ever thang just right, why I was holding Barefoot Hester in my arms when he died from gun shots! They didn’t show that!”

    Bonnard could have told a lot of tales, maybe he should have written a book too….

    He passed away on April 9th 2006 in Livingston, La.

  8. I didn't know the Walking Tall story about Bonnard but he was a really fun guy to be around. I worked with him at Mid South Packers one summer and, true to form, he out worked everybody there.

  9. I had an up-close and personal experience with Charles and Ruey Eaton. Their south county location was south of Frankstown and had a poker game at various times. On a visit home from college about 1958, a fellow classmate and I tried our luck one Saturday night. I needed some cash to continue playing and cashed a check, expecting to redeem it after completion. I forgot. The check was presented at the FMB for payment with the signature 'Adams Housecat'
    as the writer. I heard about it later and only then realized how dangerous a thing a little? alcohol could allow. I could have been an earlier reason for the Eatons to go to Parchman. Imagine if there had been a requirement for personalized checks in those days.

  10. Anon 10:36 - I remember the incident but I'll never tell. The check was presented to you at Tom's Drug Store a couple days later. Whomever the check was made out to couldn't read.

  11. Tammy Hasting MartinApril 23, 2010 at 2:55 PM

    "Ruey" Eaton is my great, great Uncle from my Fathers side . Velma Eaton was my Grandmother, I have heard many, many storie about the Eaton's from my Father.. This is really intriguing and fascinating to know all this information, and to think it's in my family tree.

  12. My mother is kin to Ruey somehow, cant remember the relationship. She occassionally tells me stories of things Ruey would used to say and do. She claims...He was very nice, but you didnt want to cross him lol. I want to find out as much as I can on this. It really intrigues me!!

  13. Strangely enough, Ruey Eaton was one of my relatives... now im using his experience with Al Capone for a college project