Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Mr. Jones and Mr. Bullock: Two Americans stand up to a bunch of domestic terrorists, U.S.A. 1966

I am publishing here a story written and provided to me by Mr. Bill Bullock in December, 2014. The story concerns events that took place just before the elections of 1966 in Wildsville, Louisiana, which were the first elections held there after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. I encountered Mr. Bullock in a small corner of the InterWebs in the discussion section of Forgotten Weapons, a wonderful resource which publishes daily technical, historical information about unusual, unique, and well, forgotten firearms. The discussion (about a job opening for a firearms designer) had wandered, as these discussions do, and one commenter had asked about what the motivations are for entering military service. A day or so later Mr. Bullock offered his personal answer:
December 8, 2014 at 7:31 am
Allow me to answer “denny's” question about why we join the military by first presenting my credentials: First, I am a 75-year old member of the Warriors' Society of the Bear Clan of the Western Cherokee Nation. Members of my ancestral family have served in every war from the War of Independence to present. I will not bore you with private details of my service or life except to state that after honorable discharge I volunteered to serve as a bodyguard for civil rights workers here in Louisiana during the late-1950s and early 1960s. This entailed more than one gunfight with the KKK. I am a college graduate and otherwise well qualified to take the job offered by Savage except for my age. I served for two reasons: first, it is required of me by family tradition; second, it is in response to the eternal truth that freedom is won and held unerringly with the willingness of society's members to fight, and if need be willingly die, for that cause. In this course of personal choice I follow these two dictums; we fight not because we hate those before us but that we love those behind us and that there are many things worse than Death and Cowardice is major among them. We do not ask other to fight or lose respect for them if they cannot, but we never lower our level dedication by refusing to fulfill our obligation to do so.
Bill Bullock
First Counterinsurgency Warfare Group, USMC
Mr. Bullock's answer piqued my interest and I replied:
December 8, 2014 at 8:22 am
That's a great answer Bill, thanks.

By the way, I have never come across any historical descriptions of gunfights with the KKK and wonder if you and/or others would be willing to write them up? Maybe a story or two might some day be the basis for the kind of vignette that Ian and Karl are making. That kind of history of Americans fighting domestic terrorism at a grass-roots level would probably be fascinating and educating to many.

Back in the 1970s I knew a fellow (Fredrick Douglas Kirkpatrick [1]) who had helped start the “Deacons for Defense and Justice” and he used to sing a song called “That's Why the Deacons Carry Guns” I knew Fred mainly as the founder of a “Hey Brother, Het Sister” coffee house (really a weekly sing-in) in NYC and then as a civil rights activist. Once, as I and a small group were about to be arrested at a protest in NYC Rev. Kirk as we called him took me aside and told me to make sure to “get three square meals” inside.

While there is some written history about the Deacons I think we could use more examples of citizens defending themselves against home-grown terrorists.

[1] Article from the Bangor Daily News, March 28, 1973 about a Hey Brother coffee house in Maine in 1973, mentioning Rev. Kirk,4307775
[3] NRA Publications article on "Deacons For Defense And Justice" by Dave Kopel
All of the above led to Mr. Bullock writing up the story you see below and generously giving me permission to publish it.

My hope is that you will find it as interesting and educational as I.

-Matisse Enzer

Isaiah Jones

Copyright © 2014 by Bill Bullock, all rights reserved

In reading this, please remember that this took place in the mid-1960s during the “Bad Old Days” and that for the most part the beliefs held back then no longer exist in this area of the South. It is a joy to see how most of our young people of all races have embraced the acceptance of each other and now are building a New South along the lines espoused by Dr. King during his lifetime. However, the past must be addressed in order that it never be allowed to happen again and that prejudice by all races disappear never to return. And yes, there remains a small but dedicated prejudice on the part of both races and probably forever will. Therefore the past must be remembered.

Mr. Jones was our neighbor in Wildsville, La. I think his first name was Isaiah, but we always called him "Mr. Jones" in respect for his age and integrity. His property adjoined that of my father along the western end of ours and his home was located on Levee Road bordering the Black River that is formed by the joining of the Ouchita, Tenasa and Little Rivers at Jonesville, Louisiana, in East-Central Louisiana. Mr. Jones' home was (still is but is abandoned) at:  31°36'18.98" N 
91°49'2.33" W (Google Earth), I then lived at: 31°36'36.70"N 91°deg;48'3.88"W (Google Earth).

Mr. Jones was a very interesting person to talk to and like "Uncle" Tom Bowie [1] had many tales from the distant past. Uncle Tom Bowie was a direct descendant of the slaves freed by Jim Bowie, the famous knife-fighter and frontiersman when he immigrated to Texas where he died in the Battle if the Alamo.
[1] “Uncle” Tom Bowie was an elderly Black man who was descended from one of the slaves freed by Jim Bowie (knife-fighter of Bowie Knife fame) just before he moved from Concordia Parish, Louisiana, to Texas where he died in the Battle of the Alamo. Mr. Tom Bowie was called “Uncle Tom Bowie” in respect for his age (90+) and for his integrity by both Black and White people. He and Mr. Lit Currey were close friends of mine. Mr. Lit lived to be 106 years of age.
Mr. Jones owned a very desirable piece of farmland where he and his family raised crops for sale as well as much of their own food. He was also very outspoken and did not hesitate to make his beliefs known.
When the Civil Rights movement finally secured the rights of African Americans to vote without the restrictions of the "Poll Tax" and literacy tests, Mr. Jones declared that he would register as a voter in Concordia Parish under these new freedom guarantees and forthwith did so[2].
[2] This would have been some time before the elections of 1966, to the best of my recollection it was in the summer of that year. The Voting Rights Act had been signed on 6 August, 1965 and we were registering voters from the time it passed forward.
Almost immediately rumors of planned retaliation by the KKK started to circulate and one night someone in a pickup truck drove down the levee (there was no outlet on the other end) and as they drove back fired a rifle shot through his roof as a warning.

Undeterred, Mr. Jones remained steadfast in his determination to vote in the next election.

I was raised to be neither racist against any person nor to stand idly by while anyone who could not defend themselves was abused.

I remembered that my mothers family had been singled out during visits to Oklahoma because she was half Cherokee and refused to deny her heritage. I also vividly remember that during the mid-1980s while working near Ponca City in Oklahoma I was told to take my lunch outside and eat it on the porch of the rural cafe because I identified myself as part Indian and “Your kind” was not allowed to eat with “White Folks.”

This, my respect for Mr. Jones, and my reputation of standing by people when no one else would, brought me to be on his front porch on the evening when the Klan had designated as the time he would be taught a lesson and made an example for the others in case they wanted to vote.

At the time I had access to a Thompson sub-machine gun with two drum clips that was owned by the family of an ex-police officer. This was quite common back then. I borrowed this weapon and went to Mr. Jones' home to wait. As I had heard from older combat veterans, I tied my handkerchief around the muzzle to give a better aiming reference in the dark and to hide the flashes from the compensator. He had his favorite 12 gauge double-barrel loaded with buckshot rounds as we set waiting beside the elevated front porch of his home. His family had been moved to homes of his friend for safety.

At about 11:30 p.m. two pickups trucks with several men in each slowly drove down the levee. Shortly they returned and as they came in front of the house they opened fire on Mr. Jones' home with rifles and shotguns.

We immediately returned fire with both guns. There were screams from the trucks as the occupants realized that they had fallen into our trap. The occupants were trying to take cover in the beds of the trucks and the drivers were trying to get into gear and get away. There was a long stretch between where they were and the nearest cover so both trucks sped down the other side of the levee for protection, came up the next access ramp and raced for the highway. As soon as they came back onto the levee, both myself and Mr. Brown opened fire again but they were more-or-less out of range for effective fire in the darkness.

We later found out that two men were hit and both trucks were pretty shot up. I only got off part of one drum before they got behind the earthen levee and most of the rest of my rounds went into the levee. Another of their number had quite a bit of shattered glass in his face and right shoulder from the door glass.

The next day this was the talk of the area with descriptions of 15-20 blacks ambushing several white men who were only trying to jacklight a deer or two to feed their families. It was a very tense time as everyone waited for the Black Uprising that the Klan had predicted but of course never came.

Mr. Jones voted in the next election without any problems. It was the first time anyone in his family had ever voted in his recollection. The next year his sons voted for the first time in their lives as did several of his neighbors and friends.

Mr. Brown is long gone now and many no longer remember who he was, what he did or where he lived. His family has moved on. The old house is abandoned and falling in now. But from time to time I drive down the levee and remember. Recently I took my two grandsons with me and explained to them what happened there so someone will remember what a Black Man and a Half-Breed Indian did that night.

Bill Bullock
December, 2014


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