Redmond—moonshiner, murderer, notorious outlaw or folk hero? In “King of the
Moonshiners: Lewis R. Redmond in Fact and Fiction” historian Bruce Stewart
brings together Redmond’s family history, a sympathetic newspaper interview, a
dime novel depicting Redmond as a hero, the arresting deputy’s report and an
array of articles to unravel the true story.
|Old postcard depicting a mountain moonshine still.|
Redmond was raised in Transylvania County during the Reconstruction Period when
the political climate was highly charged. A moonshiner by trade, Redmond’s real
trouble began on March 1, 1876 when he killed U.S. deputy marshal Alfred
Duckworth who was serving a warrant against Redmond for illegal distilling.
escaped into Pickens County, SC where a five year conflict between Redmond, his
cohorts and supporters and the Bureau of Internal Revenue played out. At the time, Revenuers were viewed as
carpetbaggers, and thus the real criminals, by many former Confederates. Plus Redmond
cast himself as the victim in a July 1878 Charleston News and Courier article
that wrote, he was “an honorable man who protected his family and community
from corrupt federal agents.”
the national media picked up the story Redmond became a larger-than-life figure
and the anti-hero of a dime novel. Stewart includes the novel, “Entwined Lives
of Miss Gabriel Austin, Daughter of the Late Rev. Ellis C. Austin, and of
Redmond, the Outlaw, Leader of the North Carolina ‘Moonshiners’” by Bishop
Edward B. Crittenden published in 1879, in this biography of Redmond.
included is Deputy Collector Robert A. Cobb’s “The True Life of Maj. Lewis
Richard Redmond, the Notorious Outlaw and Famous Moonshiner of Western North
Carolina.” Cobb and his men arrested Redmond on April 7, 1881.
just three years in prison Redmond was pardoned and lived out the remainder of
his life relatively quietly in upstate South Carolina. “King of the
Moonshiners” separates the facts in this legendary Transylvanian’s life from
the fiction and is available to be checked out at the Transylvania County Library.
and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina
Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit the NC Room during regular library
hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional
photographs. For more information, comments, or suggestions contact Marcy at