Burrow Gang – Robbing Trains in the South

Train Robbery

Train Robbery

The Burrow Gang was a group nationally known train robbers and outlaws in southern and southwestern United States in the 1880s

Reuben “Rube” Burrow, along with his brother Jim, robbed their first train on December 1, 1886, in Bellevue, Texas after Rube’s crops had failed. Though they netted only a few hundred dollars, they soon formed a gang, which included hard case brothers William L. Brock and Leonard Brock, Henderson Brumley, and Nep Thornton.

By early 1888, they had robbed so many trains that they had become the most infamous train robbers since Jesse James, and were pursued by hundreds of lawmen, including the Pinkertons, throughout the south and southwest. That same year, things began to fall apart for the Burrow Gang when Jim Burrow was arrested when he and his brother, Rube, were recognized by a conductor on a train pulling into Nashville, Tennessee. Notifying authorities, lawmen trapped Rube and Jim in a passenger car. Rube shot his way to freedom but Jim was taken into custody and jailed in Texarkana. Later that year, he died in prison of tuberculosis on October 5, 1888.

Jim Burrow

Jim Burrow

The arrest of  Jim; however, didn’t deter the rest of the gang as they continued their outlaw activities. Leonard Brock was arrested on September 26, 1889, and after he was convicted, he was sentenced to a long prison term. However, he committed suicide on November 10, 1890, by jumping from the fourth tier of the cellblock. In the meantime, Rube was killed in a gunfight with Dixie Carter in Linden, Alabama on October 7, 1890. Of the other gang members, their fate is unknown.

© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated December 2021.

Also See:

Adventures in the Old West

Outlaw Gangs

Outlaws on the Frontier

Outlaw & Scoundrels Photo Gallery