Uncle Jerry the Train Robber

July 1st, 2009

I’m a story teller. I try to tell about the past as it was during my childhood.

So, once again I’ll attempt to let you go back in time just a tad. Have a good trip.

As a kid most of my summer evenings, especially those on the weekends, I’d like to sit on the front porch with the adults and listen to their conversations. The old people in particular were the ones I enjoyed the most. Never crossed my mind that the time would come when I’d feel a need to remember those long-ago, warm, honeysuckle-laden evenings.

On some evenings the old folks would invite me to add my opinions to their conversations. Being recognized and called upon by your elders was an honor not taken lightly.

My Grandpa Cole (pronounced Co-lee) would sit back in a straight-back chair, clasp his hands across his lap, and watch. He never hid his disdain for me. Whenever present, he would end my participation post haste. To his way of thinking I was just a dumb kid.

It soon got to where the old folks avoided me. They’d learned what resulted if they talked to me. When Cole wasn’t around it was a different story. Many nervously joked with me about his attitude toward me. I learned to stay out of his way.

Uncle Jerry and the train robbery came up during one of these front-porch forums. My dad’s Uncle Jerry had helped a man from Mississippi rob a train or two. Some years later my Aunt Verda somehow got a copy of the Frisco Railroad newsletter. The newsletter contained re-prints from old newspaper stories about the robbery. I’ve tried to recount the story many times but without Verda’s newsletter there was never quite enough proof to have it come off as real.

My computer is a wonderful tool and information source. Just for the heck of it I had Google search for “Jerry Ennis train robber.” Low and behold, he was in there. If you want to read about Jerry just Google him.

Or, try this one:  The Barney Lewis Train Robbery

My Grandpa Henry had four brothers — Jerry, Thad, Early, and Geemer. Henry lived to one hundred and four years of age. Jerry died at eighty. Suffice to say the other three had untimely deaths caused by the wicked lives they led. All three were felled by gunfire. Jerry fathered one daughter. Henry father three daughters and two sons. He out-lived all but one.

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14 Responses to “Uncle Jerry the Train Robber”

  1. Harvey |

    Another great reminiscence! Wow, what a colorful family!

  2. Tom |

    I like the part in the article about Uncle Henry being initially arrested for the robbery, maybe because Jerry gave him $1,000 from the loot. Also, if I can be forgiven for saying so, it appears that Jerry may not have been the brightest bulb on the tree if he accepted that his share of the haul was only $9,000.

    It’s a great story, and I really enjoyed it. Thanks, Larry!

  3. Anonymous |

    jerry ennis was my grandpaw.i am the youngest son of his daughter.My name is Charles Tidwell,my mother was Mary Ellin Ennis.He died when i was three,1964

  4. Anonymous |

    My grandfather is James Oliver Ennis ‘Geemer’. He died at the age of 88 of natural causes in the Carbon Hill Nursing Home in Carbon Hill, AL. He had lived in our home prior to being placed there. He had seven brothers. Most of them, except for Homer, died late in life. Another brother, Jeffrie Owen, died at the age of 92. The remaining brothers died either in their 70’s or 80’s. Requards to you and your family.

  5. Janet Green |

    I am a granddaughter of Eula Enis Duke, who was a sister of these Enis men of whom you speak. I have heard these stories all of my life and would love to find some family members who know more.

  6. T.Fazzini |

    In 1968, Robert Elman’s classic “Fired in Anger” has a chapter on the gun used by Barney Lewis. Railroad Detective E. W. Starling (he was investigating an epidemic of train robberies in MS and AL from 1905 to 1913) believed that Lewis had been involved in train robberies and murders of railroad men in MS, but lacked evidence for indictment. Starling is, also, credited with Lewis’ capture and the capture of Billy Miner and Jerry and Henry Ennis.

    Barney Lewis died 1962

  7. Jodi Hinds |

    I need to correct one part of this article. Jerry Ennis fathered two daughters. Della Audrey Ennis was the oldest and then Mary Ellen Ennis. Della is my grandmother.

  8. Mike Sawyer |

    Henry “Uncle Henry” Ennis was married to my great aunt (one of the Whitley girls from Wolf Creek, just outside Carbon Hill). Most of the old timers called him ‘Dugan’. I remember him as a kind, quiet old man always neatly dressed in his Liberty overalls, ironed white shirt, brogans and brown fedora/trilby hat. They lived on the same block as us (in Carbon Hill). My aunt, Dolly Ennis (Ezra Ennis’ widowed wife) helped take care of Uncle Henry in his last years). She still lives in Kansas, Alabama…

  9. Breanna Toney |

    My grandfather told me yesterday about his late wife’s (and my grandmother), Winter Ann Lewis Toney, uncle or maybe great uncle, Barney Lewis, who robbed a train. I love learning about my family history! It’s so neat to connect with the past.

  10. Ernest Nichols |

    Hi, I am Ernest Nichols at the grandson of Eula Enis Bowen Duke and the 1 st cousin to Janet Green in the above post. Larry that was an interesting article. Growing up I knew Jerry personally. I lived with grandma (Eula) for quite a while and many of her brothers visited and some lived with us from time to time. Anyway, in your article you stated that without your aunt Verda’s copy of the newsletter your story never came off as real. I heard accounts first hand growing up. Also, I have a hand written unsigned letter stating that Jerry married Jodi Rutledge daughter of John Rutledge when he got out of prison. The letter writer stated that John Rutledge was her father-in-law. In addition to the letter, I have a copy of the old newspaper account of the robbery. If you would like to correspond you have my email address. In fact, if any of the people posting on this site would like to correspond since it sounds that most of us are kin, my email is nick.chryal@outlook.com. Blessings to all Ernest

  11. Donna j. Lewis Gomez |

    I enjoy reading about family history,Barney Lewis was my great uncle, my grandfather was Monroe Lewis , my grandkids are so impressed that even a road is named after us Lewis Road in Kokomo not sure who but someone misspelled Kokomo

  12. Rachel Rodrigues |

    Barney Lewis was my 2nd Great Uncle, his father, Arthur Lewis was my paternal great grandfather. Would love to know more about and meet other family members of his. 🙂

  13. Barbara Laurent |

    I am Barney Lewis’ granddaughter. My mother is Joella Lewis Laurent, her mother was Ruby Booty Lewis- married to Barney.
    Email- pawley@mail.com
    Currently reside in Covington, La.

  14. Hilda Laurent |

    I am granddaughter of Barney Lewis. He was married to my grandmother Ruby Booty Lewis. Had a daughter Joella Lewis Laurent which I my mother.
    Email: hildalaurent03@gmail.com
    Currently reside in Amite County MS

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