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Ben Bookout of the 1874 Murder, Pope ARK
Posted by: Bob Williams Date: December 06, 1999 at 13:18:36
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To all of you who have recently posted in various places on the Internet and are otherwise involved in researching the Ben Bookout who was involved along with James McCoy and Sam Osborne in the 1874 murder of William McAlister in Pope County, Arkansas:

I am surprised to see that Gilbert Bookout is still being associated with this crime. I am interested in frontier crimes, and I think I can help you all with the BOOKOUT connection to the McAlister murder by combining and condensing some of the available material here for you.

The murder took place on 26 January 1874 at the home of William McAlister who was a neighbor of the widow Malinda Bookout and her family. Researchers have used original old records to identify the location of the McAlister home, and it was about seven or eight miles out of Dover, and still in the country today. The house itself was torn down some time ago.

The records show that this Ben Bookout was the son of John & Malinda Bookout, and was NOT named GILBERT Benjamin Bookout as some of you believe. This issue was resolved several years ago to the satisfaction of many researchers, and has been online for the last four years in various places, among them the Bookout list and the Bookout GEDCOM.

Ben Bookout of the murder was born on 8 March 1856 in Pope County AR to John and Malinda Bookout. He was not yet 18 years old at the time of the 26 January 1874 murder. By today's legal standards, he would have been tried as a juvenile. Even the local newspaper was unaware of how young he really was. On 29 June 1874, the reward notice says he was "about twenty-two years old..." In any case, he was much younger than Gilbert Benjamin Bookout who would have been 30 years old at the time of this murder.

The Ben Bookout of the murder had a middle name or initial and a nickname, none of which was G, Gib, or Gilbert or anything similar. On the other hand, GILBERT Benjamin Bookout is found in the records as Gilbert, G.B., or derivatives of Gilbert. He never used the name Ben.

Ben Bookout of the McAlister murder was the brother-in-law of James McCoy, one of his cohorts in the murder. James McCoy's wife was Lucinda Bookout and the daughter of John and Malinda Jones Bookout.

The Ben Bookout who was involved in the murder of McAlister was killed on Christmas Day 1878 in California, according to an August 1879 Pope County newspaper account. [Aside to the person or persons who claim that his/her grandfather knew this Ben Bookout: Unless you are very elderly and born to very elderly parents, etc. I doubt that your grandfather knew this man. He died way too many years ago.]

According to the Bookout GEDCOM available online, Gilbert Benjamin Bookout was born 26 February 1844 in NC. I repeat, he was too old to be the young Ben Bookout of the McAlister murder. His parents were David Bookout and Sarah O'Connor. He died on 5 October 1945 in Bryan County, OK. The closest he ever came to living in Pope County was when he moved to Knoxville in neighboring Johnson County, Arkansas, long AFTER the murder took place.

Are you folks all aware of the Bookout GEDCOM? It plainly states this for Gilbert Benjamin Bookout:

!COMMENT See under Benjamin Bookout, son of John and Miranda Bookout for Cynthia Dickinson's reasoning why he, and not Gilbert Benjamin Bookout, was the Ben Bookout implicated in murder.

Her correct name is Malinda Jones Bookout, the name Miranda coming from a census transcription error which was published. But despite that little glitch, Cynthia is accurate in stating that the Ben Bookout of the murder was the son of John and Malinda, and was not Gilbert Benjamin Bookout. According to the Bookout information online, the Ben Bookout of the murder and Gilbert Benjamin Bookout were third cousins with a Joseph Bookout as their common ancestor.

Perhaps this is the family connection that has confused some of you. Members of the Gilbert Benjamin branch of the Bookout family moved into the neighboring Johnson County area AFTER the family of Ben Bookout of the murder left Pope County. (See the census records.) The newcomers with that same Bookout name obviously heard about the infamous Ben Bookout of the murder and somehow confused the two men, as well as the location and other details of this crime. Having a long-standing family tradition does not make it true.

To any of you who are still claiming that Gilbert Benjamin Bookout (1844-1945) was involved in the murder of McAlister, I am sorry, but you have nailed the WRONG Bookout for this murder. This poor man with the unfortunate middle name of Benjamin has been unfairly maligned! He deserves to have his name cleared. May he rest in peace!

Bob Williams

p.s. I'm sorry, but I have no additional information beyond what is in this post. If you are interested in the murder trial itself, I can recommend two excellent, highly qualified local researchers who have spent many hours studying the details of this murder trial. Their names are Debra Blackard and Anna Fields


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