Yesterday a party in Calhoun, styling themselves `Regulators,’ went to the house of one Jesse Durden, and we learn shot him, giving him a mortal wound. They then met and shot Willis Musgrove from his horse, who died instantly, also wounding Larkin C. Musgrove. These are the facts as we have been able to gather them, but it is believed that last night another battle was fought between the Regulators and the Durdens. All this happened near Abe’s Spring Bluff, in Calhoun Co.
The report of the death of Willis Musgrove appears to have been premature, as a man of that name was still alive ten years later in Jackson County. Jesse Durden and Larkin Musgrove, however, were gunned down by the vigilantes and their outraged and frightened families fought back with a vengeance. Neighbors joined them and open warfare spread through the piney woods of Calhoun and southern Jackson Counties.
One of the more widely publicized incidents took place only two weeks before the attack on the Durdens and Musgroves:
We are in the receipt of a letter from Dr. David L. White, of Gadsden County, informing us of an attempt to decoy off two of his negro boys. They were young, and decoyed off about the first of this month. Elias H. Kemp, Esq., of our county, captured one of the boys, and the other returned home. The boys say a white man in West Florida persuaded them off, mounted upon pony horses, and told them as soon as they crossed the Chattahoochee river to leave the telegraph road, which they did. Evidently the man or men who decoyed off these boys resides in West Florida. Let our citizens give an eye to this matter, and soon the thieves will be brought to justice. – There is yet another negro with the thief at the time Dr. White’s negro left, who has not been captured. – The public had better be on the look out.
The report provides pretty solid evidence that someone living west of the Apalachicola River was involved in an aggressive effort to lead slaves away from the plantations of the region.