Notes for George W. Sisney: The Civil War Company E 81st IL Inf, was raised in Wmson and Jackson counties in Aug 1862, and contained 31 men from the former county. The commissioned officers of this company were Capt Marmaduke F Smith of Marion, who resigned 05 Feb 1863, and was succeeded by Lt John P Reese of Jonesboro. The latter was succeeded as 1st Lt by 2nd Lt David R Sanders of Marion, and he was succeeded as 2nd Lt by John Lamar of Jonesboro. Company G of the same regiemtn was organized at Fredonia in Aug 1862 and contained 71 men from Wmson Co, and afterward recieved 6 recruits therefrom. The first commissioned officers of this company were Capt George W Sisney and Lts William W Russell and William L Farmer. Capt Sisney resigned 03 Aug 1863 and was succeeded by Edwin Fozzard. Ly Russell resigned 28 Feb 1863 and was succeeded by Lt Farmer, who was killed in battle 22 May 1863. Henry C McCulloh was commissioned 2nd Lt 22 May 1863 and promoted to 1st Lt 03 Aug 1863. Company H of this regiment was raised in Aug 1863 and contained 83 men from Wmson Co and afterward recieved 10 recruits therefrom. The commissioned officers of this company from Wmson Co were: 1st Lt William A Stewart of Marion, who resigned 05 Dec 1862 and 2nd Lt James V Price of Marion, who resigned 28 Jan 1863. The 81st ILL Inf was recruited from Perry, Jackson, Wmson, Union, Pulaski and Alexander Counties, and was mustered into the service at Anna, 26 Aug 1862, with the following field and staff officers, viz: Col James J Dollins of Benton; Lt Col Franklin Campbell of DuQuoin; and Maj Andrew W Rogers of Carbondale. Soon after its organization, the regiment joined Grant's army, at Humboldt, TN; where it arrived 01 Nov 1862, and then moved to Abbeyville, MS, and then to Memphis, where it arrived 19 Jan 1863. It then moved to Lake Providence, where it arrived 23 Feb 1863, and remained there until 17 Apr following. On the 21st a call for volunteers was made to run the Vicksburg and Grand Gulf batteries, with 7 common transports loaded with supplies for the army. From the 81st, Capt George W Sisney and Pvt George W Winfield of Co G; Edward Hoxsey of Co K, Uriah Butler, William T Green, Eli J Lewis and Frank Mayo, all of Co I were accepted. Capt Sisney was assigned the command of the transport "Horizon" and carried her through safely, but somewhat disabled. One boat, the "Tigress," was sunk before passing the Grand Gulf batteries. The regiment crossed the Mississippi at Bruinsburg, 01 May, and went thence to Port Gibson, and participated in that battle in the division commanded by Gen Logan; was in the battle of Raymond, 12 May, and helped to capture Jackson, MS, 14 May, and Champion Hill, 16 May, and was at Black River bridge on the 17th. It engaged in the siege of Vicksburg, and on the 22nd assaulted the enemy's works, losing 11 killed and 96 wounded, including Col JJ Dollins, killed. 16 Oct it was in the battle of Brownsville, MS, and then returned to Vicksburg, whence it departed 09 Mar 1864, to participate in the Red River campaign, in which it met with considerable loss, and arrived at the mouth of the Red River 21 May on its return to Vicksburg, where it arrived 24 May. It was in the battle of Guntown, MS 10 Jun 1864, where it lost 9 men killed, 18 wounded and 126 prisoners, out of a total of 371 men. Of the number captured 6 were line officers, who were placed under the fire of the Union batteries at Charleston, SC and the enlisted men confined in the Andersonville prison. In Aug 1864, the regiment moved to Duvall's Bluff, where it broke camp 17 Sep, and marched in pursuit of Gen Price on his last raid into Missouri. It arrived at Warrensburg, MO 25 Oct, and remained there until 08 Nov and then moved via St Louis to Nashville, TN under Gen AJ Smith. It participated in the battle of Nashville 15 & 16 Dec 1864, and then went in
The Bloody Vendetta The leading families connected with this affair were those of Capt George W Sisney, composed of himself and his sons Winfield S, John and George W Jr; Capt George Bulliner, composed of himself and sons David, John, Monroe, George J and Emanuel; the Henderson family, composed of 3 brothers, William, Joseph W and James, and some of their sons; also the Crain family, composed of George F, Noah W, Warren, Marshall T and 2 cousins both named William J. Thomas Russell, Vincent Hinchcliff and others, hereafter mentioned, were also noted characters. It seems that the leaders of the two opposing forces in this terrible affair were the Sisney and Bulliner families. The other characters were the friends and assisstants respectively of these families. The first quarrel, however, did not take place directly between these families, but it ocurred over a game of crads between the Bulliners and Felix G Henderson, on the 04 Jul 1868, in a saloon one and a half miles east of Carbondale, resulting in a fight in which Henderson was severely hurt. In Sep following 3 ricks of hay belonging to Bulliner were burned, and a few days later his cotton-gin containing many thousand pounds of cotton was also burned. Suspicion naturally rested upron Henderson, but it is generally believed that the real incendiary was a former enemy of Bulliner, from TN. In 1872 Samuel Brethers raised a crop of oats on the farm of Capt Sisney, adjoining the Bulliner farm, and without moving the crop away he sold it, after it was threshed, to Sisney to pay the rent, and also sold it to David Bulliner to pay a debt, and then went to Texas. Bulliner replevied the oats from Sisney, but got beat in the trial. This was probably the beginning of the ill feeling between the Sisney and Bulliners.
The following April, David Buliner went to Sisney's blacksmith shop to settle with him, but they quarrelled about their accounts and Bulliner accused Sisney of "hard swearing" at the aforesaid trial about the oats, whereupon Sisney knocked him down with a shovel. Bulliner then went home and got his father, John Monroe, and a man by the name of Ward, and with them returned to Sisney's. The latter on seeing them coming retreated from the rear of his house with a Henry rifle in his hand. The Bulliner party fired on him and four shots took effect in his leg and thigh. At this instance Milton Black, who was working in a field near by, ran to the assistance of Sisney, and then the fight ended. The Bulliners and Black then carried Sisney to the house. They were all indicted in Sep following, and the four Bulliners and Sisney each fined $100. In 1872, Thomas Russell and John Bulliner were rivial suitors of a young lady who finally preferred the attentions of the latter, and thus created enmity between these two parties. The next scene brings in the Crain family, who were friends of the Bulliners. In Nov 1872, Marshal T Crain and John Sisney has a fight which resulted in a "drawn battle." And in Dec following a quarrel occured at Carterville , which created enmity between the Hendersons and Crains. The Crains being enemies of the Sisneys, the Hendersons now became allies of the Bulliners. In the same month the Carterville riot took place, which brought new characters to the arena. In this affair several knock-downs took place, but no one was killed. About 20 of the rioters were arrested on an information of the State Attorney, and al the Feb term, 1873, of the county court, they were all in Marion but the information was squashed and they all became free.
The quarrel between the actors continued, but without serious results, until 12 Dec 1873, when Capt George Bulliner started to Carbondale on horseback, on which occasion some of his enemies had concealed themselves by the wayside, and as he was riding along fired upon him from their ambush, shot him from his horse and then made their escape. Bulliner was soon found and carried to the nearest house, his sons were notified, and John reached the place just in time to hear his father say "turn me over and let me die." On being turned over he immediately expired. This was the first murder in the Vendetta. On the night of 27 mar 1874, Monroe and David Bulliner were on their way from church, and when about half a mile from home, were fired upon by concealed parties. They returned the fire and several shots were fired by both parties, one of which wounded Mrs Stancel, who was also on her way from church, and from the effects she recovered. The last shot fired by the assassins struck David Bulliner in the back, which caused his death that next morning. Before dying he declared that Thomas Russell and David Pleasant were his murderers. They were both arrested and brought to Marion for trial. The case against Pleasant was nolled, and he immediately left the county. Russell was tried, and for his defense he proved an alibi by five witnessess, and thus secured a release. A letter was sent to the sheriff from the State's attorney of Jackson Co, to hold Russell for the murder of George Bulliner, but the letter was not received until Russell had been released and taken his departure. Years afterward Russell was arrested, and tried in Jackson Co for the murder of Bulliner, and was sentenced to 50 years in the penitentiary.
Soon after Russell was released from Marion in Mar 1874, a band of persons, led by Vincent Hinchcliff, arrested Gordan Clifford alias "Texas Jack", and after treating him badly, brought him to Marion, and subjected him to a mock trial, and put him in jail, where he lay until Oct following, when he was indicted "for harboring fugitives from justice." He then gave bonds and left the country. On 15 May 1874, James Henderson was at work in his field, which was surrounded by a dense forest. There he lay down to rest with little Frank Jeffreys, whom he had watching around the field to notify him if any men were approaching. Three assassins, who had evaded the watchfulness of the boy, were concealed behind a pile of logs, only a few steps from where Henderson and the boy were lying, and from this place of concealment they fired upon and shot him, and then fled. Hewas carried to his house where he lingered eight days and then died from the effects of his wounds. He charged that his murderers were James Norris, John Bulliner and Emanuel or Monroe Bulliner. Soon after his death his widow became a lunatic and died on the following New Year's day. The day after Henderson was shot, Jasob Ditmore, who was plowing in his field, about a mile west of the Henderson place, was shot and five wounds inflicted on his person, from the effects of which he recovered, and then left the county. There was no accounting for this shooting, as he was not connected with the Vendetta. John Bulliner and James Norris were arrested 25 Aug 1874, for the murder of Henderson. In Oct following Bulliner was tried, and proved in his defense by four witnesses from TN that he was in that State at the time Henderson was killed and thus secured his acquittal. Soon after Ditmore was shot, John Rod saw a man fal down in the weeds in a field about one and a half miles NW of Henderson's, and thinking that the man needed assistance, he started to his relief, and when about ten feet from him, the man rose and shot Rod through the thigh and then fled.
On Sunday 04 Oct 1874, Vincemt Hinchcliff, a physician, was returning from a visit to a patient, and when about 250 yards from his house he and his horse were both shot dead by assassins who were conceled behind the fence and under the bushes. Felix G and Samuel Henderson were arrested and tried for this murder, but proved an alibi and were acquitte. Suspicion has ever since rested upon Gordon Cliford alias "Texas Jack" and his brother as committing this murder, in retaliation for the ill treatment Gordon received from Hinchcliff as before stated. On the might of 12 Dec 1874, Capt Sisney and George Hindman, a younf relative, were both wounded by shots fired by assassins through a window where they were sitting in Sisney's House. In Oct 1875, Field Henderson was tried for the murder of Hinchcliff. He proved in his defense, by 15 witnesses, that they saw him near a church 12 miles away at the hour Hinchcliff was killed, and the case against him was then dismissed. On the night of 23 Oct 1874, a party of disguised men visited the house of Henry D Carter, in Northern Prec, and ordered him to leave the county within 40 days, and then fired a number of shots into his house. A few days later another and larger party met at County Line Church, and ordered six of the Carters to leave the county. Nothing further resulted from this affair.
JDF Jennings, the State's attorney during these troublesome times, seems to have been a bad man, of whom Erwin says in his history, "that he defrauded the county of $900, and then ran away owing everybody. As a prosecutor, he was a regular sarcasm on justice, a great hideous burlesque, free from religious scruples, and ready to sail from any point of the compass." In Apr 1875, the office was declared vacant, and in June, JW Hartwell was elected to fill the vacancy. On 23 Jul 1875, Marshall Crain went to Carbondale, to which place George W Sisney had previously moved, and about 9:30 o'clock that night shot through the window and killed George W Sisney in his own house. On the last day of the same month, the Crain boys and Samuel Music went to the store of William Spence about 10 o'clock at night. Marshall Crain called Spence up, and then asked who was there, he replied: "John Sisney, I want to get shrouding for a child." Spence, who was sleeping over his store, came down and went to the door, where Marchall shot and killed him. The assassins then separeted and went home.
At the August special term, 1875, the county commissioners offered a reward of $1000 for each of the murderers of David Bulliner, James Henderson, Vincent Hinchcliff and William Spencer. On the 09 of Aug the Governor issued a proclamation offering $400 reward for the arrest and conviction of each criminal referred to, and also the murderers of George W Sisney and George Bulliner. On the 22 of Aug the Jackson Co Court offered $400 reward for the murderers of Sisney and Bulliner. Effective measures were now being devised by good citizens, among whom James H Duncan and Benjamin F Lowe should be mentioned. The latter acted in the capacity of a detective, in which he was very successful. He went to Cario where he, "trapped" Samuel Music and brought him to Marion on 10 Sep, and lodged him in jail. Here Music made a confession of the killing of Sisney and Spence, and implicated William J Crain, "Black Jack" Crain, Noah W Crain, Samuel R Crain, Marshall Craine, John BUlliner and Allen Baker. Writs were then issued for the arrest of these parties, and a posse of 20 men and the sheriff went to Crainville. William J Crain (Big Jep), Noah W Crain, Sameul R Crain, "Black Bill" Crain and John Bulliner were all arrested and brought to Marion, and placed under guard. Lowe then went to DuQuoin, and arrested Allen Baker, and brought him also to Marion the next morning. In a few days the prisoners were all put in jail. Music accused Bulliner, Baker and Samuel R Crain, with the murder of Sisney in Jackson Co, and on the 15th, Sheriff Kimball came over and took them to that county where they were tried; Samuel R Crain was released for want of evidence, and the others committed to jail.
A special term of the Wmson Co court was convened, and the State's attorney was authorized to employ counsel to assist him. Hon WJ Allen and Judge AD Duff were employed. This produced a revolution in the public sentiment. On 16 Sep the prisoners, except Music, were examined and committed to jail. Mr Lowe then went to Arkansas, where he found and arrested Marshall Crain, and brought him to Jackson Co, where he was lodged in jail. On the 19 Sep the Governor sent the sheriff of Wmson Co 100 rifles by express.. Two companies of militia were then formed, one at Marion and the other at Carbondale.. The officers of the Marion compnay were Capt JV Grider and Lts William Hendrickson and WJ Pully. The officers of the Carbondale compnay were Capt JW Landruma nd Lts William Dowell and Wilshire Bundy. John Bulliner and Allen Baker were tried at the Oct term of the Jackson Circuit Court, and sentenced to 25 years in the penitentiary.
At the Oct session of the Wmson Circuit Court, Music, "Big Jep, "Black Bill", "Yaller Bill", and Marshall were all indicted for the murder of Spence. Music's case was continued; Noah W Crain alias "Yaller Bill" was admitted to bail on motion; William J Crain alias "Big Jep" and William J Crain alias "Black Bill" prayed for a change of venue, and their case was sent to Alexander Co. The indictment against "Yaller Bill" was nolled at the APril term, 1876. On Tuesday, 19 Oct 1875, Marshall T Crain was arraigned and plead not guilty. He had no attorney, and the court appointed WW Clemens to defend him. The prisoner then withdrew his plea of not guilty, over the objection of his attorney, and plead guilty to the crime of murder as charged, and threw himself upon the mercy of the Court. The Court then fully ezplained to the prisoner all his rights, and had the indictment read again, and then asked him again if he was guilty, and he again plead guilty; whereupon the court ordered the plea of guilty to be entered of record, and the case was continued until Thursday, when it was called, and a number of witnesses examined, and the guilt of the prisoner proved beyond all doubt. Judge Monroe C Crawford then made some extended remarks concerning his great responsiblity, and the importance of vindicating the law, and after warning the prisoner to make his peace with God, he said, "The sentence of the Court is that the defendant be hanged by the neck until he is dead, within the walls of the prison, in the town of Marion, county of Wmson and State of ILL, on the 21 Jan 1876 between the hours of 10 o'clock in the morning and 2 o'clock in the afternoon of the same day. May God have mercy upon you."
Crain was then taken back to jail, where he was strongly guarded by details from the militia. The next day he was taken before the grand jury, where he voluntarily confessed the facts concerning himself as related by Music. On the 21 Nov, he was baptized according to the rights of the Christian Church. When the day of his execution came, adn the people had thronged about the jail, and he had only a few more minutes to live, he stood at a window and addressed the multitude as follows: "Gentlemen; I must make a statement in regard to this matter. I feel it is my duty to God and man to make it. I am guilty of killing two men. My punishment is just. I hope all of you will forgive me. I pray God will judge and prosper in this country. Good bye to all." A few passages of Scripture were then read by the chaplan, a song was sung, and a prayer was offered to God. The doomed man was then placed upon the scaffold and prepared for the last struggle, and when asked if he had anything more to say, he replied, " I am the murderer of William Spence and George Sisney. That is all I have got to say." The time being up, the rope holding the platform was severed, and Marshall Thomas Crain was launched into Eternity.
On 25 Dec 1875, James Norris was arrested at a ball five miles SE of Marion, and lodged in the Marion jail,a dn on the 31st of the same month "Big Jep" and "Black Bill" were taken to Cairo for trial. The case was called 28 Jan 1876. The defendants were sentenced to the penitentiary for 20 years. They were prosecuted by Allen and Duff, and defended by Clemens, Calvert and Linegar. At the April term, 1876, of the Wmson Co Circuit Court, James Norris was tried for the murder of James Henderson, and sentenced to serve 18 years in the penitentiary. Samuel Music was tried at the same term for being accessory to the murders of Spende and Sisney, and sentenced to serve 14 years in the State's prison. Also at the same time Samuel R Crain was indicted and arrested as accessory to the murder of Spence, but being ill with comsumption his case was continued, and he placed under bonds of $5000. He died soon thereafter. This ends the narrative concerning the "Bloody Vendetta", but three more homicides have yet to be recorded. On 11 May 1880, John Russell, brother of Thomas, of Vendetta fame, and Henry Stocks, who were close neighbors, had a difficulty over a trifling matter, and met one day on the road about a mile and a half from Carterville, when Russell shot and killed Stocks. Russell ran away, but was afterward brought back to Marion, where he was tried and acquitted. Following this affair, Bennett Stotlar was shot and killed at Carterville by Thomas Hudgens, acting marshal thereof. The action of Hudgens in this matter seemed to be so justifiable that he was never indicted. At the April term, 1887, of the Wmson Co Circuit Court, an indictment was found against David Skidmore and his sister, Hannah Carter, for the shooting and killing of Willie Ford at Creal Springs. The indictment charges that the shooting took place on 07 Jan 1887, and that Ford died the next day in consequence thereof. Skidmore is in jail awaiting trial and the sister, having a very young child, has not been arrested.
Wmson Co has a long record of crimes committed therein, but since the days of the "Vendetta" a general peace has been restored, and at present writing the surviving members of the families connected with that affair are all on friendly terms. The spirit of revenge has been subdued, and past offenses forgiven. The people have suffered much on account of the bad men who happened to be among them. Without doubt there was a time when justice was not fairly asministered. The pleas of alibi, adn self-defense, have no doubt cleared criminals who ought to have been severely punished. This seems evident from the fact that when the State began to prosecute with vigor, through the instrumentality of such attorneys as Hartwell, Allen and Duff, and the people determined to bring criminals to justic, the commisson of crime suddenly ceased in a very great measure. It is true three homicides have taken place since that time, but with few exceptions Wmson Co has always been a safe place for those who were not disposed to be quarrelsone. The good people of the county have been slandered and vilified by the papers far and near, on account of their misfortunes. But the dark cloud has passed away, and the light of a brighter day is shining, and a good feeling among the people everywhere prevails. Wmson is as safe a county in which to live as any other county in the United States.
Listing of Williamson County Sheriff's Geolrge W. Sisney ~ 1866 - 1868
Purchaser: SISNEY GEORGE W Residence of Purchaser: WILLIAMSON Social Status:
Legal Description: Aliquot Parts or Lot: NWNE Section Number: 22 Township: 09S Range: 02E Meridan: 3 County of Purchase: WILLIAMSON
Details of Sale: Acres: 40.00 Price per Acre: 1.25 Total Price: 50.00 Type of Sale: FD Date of Purchase: 03/23/1849 Volume: 110 Page: 231
More About George W. Sisney: Occupation: Bet. 1866 - 1868, Sheriff Williamson County,Illinois.
More About George W. Sisney and Penina Brown: Marriage: November 17, 1850, Williamson County,Illinois.
More About George W. Sisney and Fredonia Arbelle Williams: Marriage: September 23, 1863, Williamson County,Illinois.
Children of George W. Sisney and Penina Brown are: