SOLOMON "THE COUNTERFEITER"7 BRIGMAN, born about 1770 in Anson; was hanged for counterfeiting in
1824 in Shelby, Alabama; married LUCRETIA HOLCOMBE. Lucretia was born about 1780 in North Carolina
and died in Livingston, Missouri in July 1845, showing heirs as: Owen, Asa, John & Isaac Brigman,
Elizabeth Holcomb, Catherine Holcomb, Lucretia Williamson in July 1845
Solomon Brigman moved from Richmond County, North Carolina to Buncombe County, North Carolina in the early 1790s where he received his first land grant. By about 1795 he had married and started a family, eventually having eight children (five sons and three daughters). From 1796 through 1810 Solomon continued purchasing land in Buncombe and specifically in the area of Big Ivy and Little Ivy.
By 1810 Solomon had moved to St. Clair County, Alabama and he was listed on an 1816 tax record in Monroe County, Alabama (then Mississippi Territory). Census records show he was apparently still living in St. Clair County in 1820, however, his wife, Lucretia Holcombe Brigman had returned to Buncombe County, North Carolina by 1820 (without her husband) and with her four sons and at least two daughters. Land records showed that by 1818 Lucretia had purchased 200 acres in the Paint Fork area. Solomon continued to reside in St. Clair until his death by hanging in 1824. Two other children (possibly illegitimate) were born in Alabama either by Solomon or perhaps one of his sons and the folklore of the descendants of these illegitimate children tells of an ancestor who had become involved with a riverboat woman who gave birth to two Brigman children around the year 1825. For more information on Solomon Brigman's counterfeiting crime, please see Narrative #11 as well as an excerpt from Miriam Rogers Fowler's thesis on the counterfeiting that took place in St. Clair and Shelby County.
Even before Solomon death in 1824, an 1823 inventory of his estate was prepared in St. Clair (probably for the purposes of showing the value of his estate as available assets that might cover the cost of the damage he did in passing $50 counterfeit bills). At that time the estate was shown as possessing 2 quarter sections of land located in Range 4 East, Township 13, Section 27 and the land was appraised at approximately $1900.
After Solomon death another inventory of his estate was prepared in the Circuit Court of Shelby County, Alabama in 1824 and not finalized until 1828. This inventory listed his heirs as Asa Brigman, Elizabeth Brigman Holcombe, Catherine Brigman Holcombe, John Brigman, Isaac Brigman, Owen Brigman and Lucretia Brigman (a daughter).
Lucretia Brigman, the wife of Solomon Brigman, continued to reside in Buncombe County, North Carolina through part of the 1830s until she and most of her family had moved to Livingston County, Missouri (while others in the family continued to reside in Buncombe and some having moved to Kentucky). Lucretia died intestate in Livingston, Missouri July 1845 and her heirs and administrators were listed as Owen Brigman, Asa Brigman, John Brigman, Isaac Brigman, Elizabeth Brigman Holcomb, Catherine Brigman Holcomb, and Lucretia Brigman Scroggins Williamson.
The children of Solomon Brigman and Lucretia Holcombe Brigman were:
See Links: http://i111.photobucket.com/albums/n159/piggygrins/SolomonBrigmanTreeOnlinewithJoel.png
1.) JOEL BRIGMAN, born about 1795 in Buncombe, North Carolina
2.) CATHERINE BRIGMAN, born there about 1797; married about 1820, DIACLESIAN HOLCOMBE. Diaclesian was
born about 1799 in Laurens, South Carolina.
3.) ASA BRIGMAN, born about 1799 in Buncombe. Moved to Kentucky by 1840.
4.) JOHN KELSEY BRIGMAN, born there about 1804; married LUCINDA KEITH. Lucinda was born about 1806
probably in Buncombe, North Carolina. Stayed in North Carolina.
5.)ISAAC BRIGMAN, born about 1807 in Buncombe, North Carolina; married MATILDA MCDERRIS. Matilda
was born about 1808 in Tennessee or North Carolina. Stayed in North Carolina. In 1836 in Yancey
County, North Carolina, Isaac was brought before the court for a bastardy issue and fraud.
6.) ELIZABETH BRIGMAN, born about 1809 in Buncombe; married ZADOC HOLCOMBE. Zadoc was born about
1797 in North Carolina. Elizabeth resided in District 51, Buncombe in 1850.
7.) OWEN BRIGMAN, born about 1810 in Buncombe; died in December 1856 in Livingston, Missouri;
married ELIZABETH KEITH. Elizabeth was born about 1815 in North Carolina.
8.) LUCRETIA BRIGMAN, born about 1816 in Alabama or North Carolina; Lucretia married (1) 18 December
1828 probably in Buncombe, MARVILLE SCOGGIN OR SCROGGINS. Marville was born about 1810 in
Rutherford, North Carolina. Lucretia cohabitated (2) with UNKNOWN MALE SLAVE AND GAVE BIRTH TO A
MULATTO CHILD ONLY 5 MONTHS AFTER MARRYING MARVILLE SCOGGINS. THE MULATTO CHILD WAS EVENTUALLY SENT TO
TENNESSEE . She married (3) JONATHAN WILLIAMSON. in Missouri. Jonathan was born about 1812 in Virginia
9.) LUCINDA BRIGMAN, (likely illegitimate) born about 1823 in Alabama. Lucinda died when kicked in the head by a mule. She was adopted by William Skiles.
10.) EDMUND HARRIS8 BRIGMAN, (likely illegitimate born in May 1824 probably in Shelby, Alabama; died 19
July 1864 in Dent, Missouri; married 17 August 1845 in Crawford, Missouri, NANCY MCNEILL. Nancy was
born on 13 May 1827 in Haywood, Tennessee and died on 1 February 1896 in Dent. He was adopted by
< COUNTERFEITING >
Down South Magazine, No Date, Alabama Counterfeiters And the story of Cohort Smith Randall of Shelby County who “Spilled the Beans.” Condensed from a thesis by Miriam Rogers Fowler.
In the early 1800s the Alabama frontier was still wild and sparsely settled. The 1819 census shows Alabama’s population at just 127,901. Many early Alabama settlers were running from something in a checkered past looking for a new start. When Tom Davis arrived in Alabama he was not looking to change his ways but he was running from the law in Georgia. He had broken jail in 1816 in Warren County after being arrested for passing counterfeit money and found refuge in Brown’s Valley in Blount County among the renegade Creeks, Cherokees and white outlaws hiding from the law.
From newspaper accounts giving warnings of the circulation of bogus money, it is believed that Davis worked his counterfeit gang all up and down the East coast in the early 1800s. By his own words, “he had been 38 years engaged in that business during which time he had made from $600,000 to $1,000,000.”
Some of the men associated with him in Alabama may have been involved in other places as well, but Davis seemed to have a personal charisma that drew to him all that had a bent for larceny. So it was not difficult to find men to help him operate his counterfeiting ring in Alabama.
After spending a little time in Brown’s Valley, Davis felt it was safe enough move west and at first went to Marion County but eventually decided on a secluded spot (hideout) under Clear Creek Falls in Walker County for his operation. By all accounts he found at least eleven men to join him in this capital crime. And some of them were apparently dispatched to nearby towns and villages to “spend” the counterfeit money.
His eventual capture and arrest can be laid at the feet of a middle-aged rogue named Smith Randall of Shelby County. In 1822, in the town Tuskaloosa, Randall passed several bogus fifty dollar bills on the United States Bank, purchasing goods from the prominent merchants of the town, and the crime was discovered.
When confronted, he “disclosed a connection to a gang of thugs that one newspaper said “from its magnitude and influence is truly alarming.” His confession disclosed the unsuspecting gang and it’s “brains,” Tom Davis, at work in Clear Creek cave. Randall, according to the St. Clair historian of 1854 was the striker for the gang. The town of Tuskaloosa was in an uproar. It seems strange to us that the printing of bogus money created such havoc, but in the 1820s counterfeiting was a heinous capitol crime because it destroyed the delicate economy built on money printed by local and state banks. And after all the honor of the town had been stain. Within hours of this outrage a band of men led by MajorJames Childress, were assembled to find and capture this gang. The tale of the pursuit and capture is vividly told in Reminiscence of a Long Life, by William Russell Smith, Sr. who was an eye witness to much of the story.
A few details of that exciting saga merits repeating here. Major Childress was an imposing figure about forty-eight years of age, a mover and shaker in Tuskaloosa, then a town of 2,000. Childress was the natural leader for the angry citizens who wanted revenge against the counterfeiters. He assembled the posse and started to the north toward what is now Winston County. According to William Smith “every cabin in the village was emptied of its inhabitants — men, women and children — agape for news and craving revenge,” as the party left in pursuit.
Riding an iron gray horse and dressed in hunter’s garb, Childress led a party of twelve to fifteen men accompanied by yelping dogs and a supply wagon drawn by two mules. On the way north the men encountered a ‘sterling young pioneer named John W. Prewitt returning from a visit to Walker County. As they told Prewitt what had happened, he looked into his wallet and discovered that he had also been bilked by a party of men the day before in a horse trade and according to Prewitt’s description these men were the objects of the pursuit. When ask if he wanted to join the posse his response was “Count me in.”
The angry avengers knew that these horse traders were the men they were after. Major Childress instructed them to behave as if they were on a hunting trip since they were in the neighborhood of the counterfeiters and couldn’t be sure who to trust. They knew then from Prewitt’s encounter with the Davis gang, that their destination was Clear Creek. Childress suggested that the horse swapped to Prewitt by the forgers be left behind lest the
creature be recognized. So they left the stead at the home of a ‘thrifty young farmer.’ The group camped for the night on Clear Creek near a mill. Smith’s account says that they behaved like a hunting party shooting wild turkeys and at breakfast dined sumptuously “as only Daniel Boone ever enjoyed.”
Newspaper accounts say that they were on the road two days without food for them or their horses. Smith says that on the following morning a half mile from their camp site, the posse came upon a small newly-built log cabin surrounded by four to six acres of cleared ground planted in cotton and corn. In this cabin the men found a woman and two small children and ask the woman about her husband. The woman said that her husband had gone to Huntsville and she didn’t know when he would be back. However, when the men look around and find a stable full of freshly groomed horses, they decide that the Huntsville story is all a lie. They ready their guns surmising the counterfeiters to be nearby. Childress orders the men to scatter to the bluffs and cliffs of the creek as if they are hunting.
A small girl, about six years old with pigtails, comes from the cabin carrying something down a path and is observed going under Clear Creek falls. Some of the pursuers followed the girl under the water fall. Smith says that the men saw a flash of light and heard a voice asking the girl “What is it Lizzie?” As they watched the scene behind the dark curtain of the falls, a plank door with a leather hinge opens up revealing a cavern room and when an arm reaches out to close the door behind the small girl, one of Childress’ men grabs the arm and seizes the man by the throat. Instantly four rifles were leveled at the men within. They offer no resistance, and a tall straight man simply says, “don’t shoot men, and turning to his comrades said, “the jig is up.”
Some may believe this account of the charming, round-faced Lizzie which describes the capture of five men in the cave. Others may believe the newspaper reports that the Payne brothers, John B. and James, were captured in the log cabin, and after being surrounded they were coerced into leading Childress’ men to the shop behind the falls where only Davis, John Goodman and John Reed were found at work. In any case the result is the same. When the Childress’ party stormed into the cavern they found a well supplied print shop, “quantities of paper counterfeits on North and South Carolina and Georgia Banks, tools and implements for engraving bills, and dies for casting counterfeit coin of all denominations, and a quantity of counterfeit coins.
The capture took place in May after Smith Randall had turned state's evidence. Davis was jailed with Randall, while Reed and Goodman were farmed to other jails. The Payne brothers were released for want of evidence. Smith Randall, the “spiller of the beans,” and, “The most striking monument of moral depravity that has ever fallen within the sphere of ... observation,” was the first of the gang to be tried. Randall’s trial took place on May 12, Judge Lipscomb presiding. Randall was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged on Friday, June 7th. But before the date, for whatever reason, one hundred and twelve men, some of the leading men in Shelby County in 1822, sent a petition to Israel Pickens with an appeal to pardon Randall. The reason given in the petition to the Governor on Randall’s behalf was that “Randall is between fifty and sixty years of age, and has a wife with five children, three of which are infants and in helpless situation... we further represent to your Excellency, that we believe the said Randall to be entirely an illiterate man and that he can neither read or write.”
The signatures included Bennet Ware, founder of the iron works at Montevallo and Shelby. Others include the Seals, the Musicks, the Richardsons and others. Why 112 upstanding citizens would sign this petition to give this rascal a pardon is still a mystery. When the June 7th execution date came, the Governor had not yet given his decision and Randall was brought to the gallows. William Russell Smith testifies that he was an eye witness to this scene. “Randall’s conduct under the gallows was notable, amusing and disgusting. He sang, shouted, and danced; called for water, and whooped and Indian yell.
Everybody was anxious for him to be hung, and great was the disappointment and disgust when his reprieve was made known to the crowd. The reprieve was for thirty days, and the men of Shelby County again appealed to Governor Pickens. This time they upped the ante. To really tug at the Governor’s heart strings they sent Phoebe Randall, the wife and mother of the five little ones trudging from Shelby to Dallas County with petition in hand. Judge Webb called the Circuit Court of the county into session on Monday, Sept. 9 for the trial of the counterfeiters. While Davis had been in jail in Tuskaloosa for four months, Goodman was brought from the Huntsville jail, and Reed was brought sick from the Jefferson County jail for trial. Finding enough jurors not already convinced of the guilt of the felons was no easy matter. But the trial finally got under way on September 14th.
Out of the four counterfeiters that stood trial, only Goodman received a not guilty verdict. This is puzzling in view of the fact that he was caught red-handed in the cave, was a known forger and had a previous record of jail breaking. The Tuskaloosa Mirror reported that the entire investigation was “extremely laborious and fatiguing to the court” and “the bar and jurors... were sustained with persevering patience and assiduity, highly credible to them all.” One week after their trials began Davis and Reed were called before the court in a pathetic and impressive manner” had “pronounced on them the awful sentence of the law.” Tom Davis, “prayed for the Court’s indulgence to write his memoirs of his life.” The court granted the request and as a result the “fatal day was placed at a greater distance…than otherwise would have been.”
While Davis wrote, Reed grew sicker. Then on Wednesday before he and Davis were to be hung, Reed died of fever. Meanwhile, the ripples created by Smith Randall were widening. He had implicated in his confessions one Solomon Brigman, esquire, of St. Clair County. Men were sent to search Brigman’s house and found hidden in the chimney the engraving plates and other implements for making money. Solomon Brigman was sent to Shelby County for trial. His sentence was hanging. During this time, law officers made a sweep of Shelby County and Brittain Bailey, James B. Bailey and Needham Lee were remanded to the Grand Jury on charges of counterfeiting and passing counterfeit money. Tom Davis, age, about sixty, went to the gallows with quiet dignity on October 11, 1822. To this day, the personal account of his life has yet to surface. It remains lost along with his severed head, and the printing plates which were in the possession of his doctor in 1822, and later passed to Dr. William Hays of Tuskaloosa in the late 1800s.
A year after Tom Davis “swung,” his plate maker, Solomon Brigman, of St. Clair County, went to the gallows in old Shelbyville, the county seat of Shelby County. Back in Tuskaloosa a month after Davis was hung, sometime in November 1822, Randall was again brought to the gallows. Rumors were rampant among the people that the Governor had indeed sent a pardon for the redoubtable Randall, but the truth was not know until Randall had again performed for the crowd; weeping, singing, confessing, dancing and shouting. The crowd “surged forward” suspecting that they were to be cheated again, and indeed the sheriff pulled a “long paper with a great seal attached” from his pocket and read the pardon. The crowd dispersed and Randall was escorted back to jail. But the people had to have satisfaction. When he was discharged a mob grabbed him, took him into the woods, tied him to a stump and whipped him with cowhide thongs. When he was let go they admonished him never to show his face in town again, and he left with “universal execrations howling after him.”
Tuscaloosa [AL] Mirror, June 1, 1822. A GOOD HAUL. On Friday, the 24th inst. a company, consisting of some twelve or fifteen gentlemen of this place, directed by information obtained from Smith Randall, (before noticed as under sentence of death for making and passing counterfeit money) went armed and equipped as prudence and law required, in search of a gang of the money making fraternity. After a fatiguing travel, which by the route they too, they compute as little short of a hundred miles, in a sequestered and solitary wilderness, in a remote corner of the county, they succeeded in surprising them at their honorable employment, with all their implements and apparatus in full operation in a cavern admirably adapted to deeds of darkness. There was their paper mill--their plates--their engraving implements, and every article necessary for carrying on the business on an extensive scale--some of which they destroyed, and the rest they brought to town where they are now exhibited as specimens and proofs of American ingenuity and enterprise.
They first found two of the gang in a log house. They were armed with guns and refused them admittance for some hours; till the patience of our volunteers could no longer brook delay, and they seriously threatened to fire the house--on which the inmates surrendered--Placing one of these under a proper guard, they after a few tough arguments persuaded the other to pilot them to the cavern--which he performed with the utmost fidelity; when three others were surprised as above stated. From the house to the cavern was about four miles.
So complete was the surprise that 325 two dollar bills on the Planters' Bank of Georgia, just worked off, but not signed, were found as they fell from the press; also 28 ten dollar bills on the Nashville Bank--signed.--9 two dollar bills on the town council of Cahawba--one bill on the exchange for $500--one $50 bill on the United States' Bank, all complete. A plate for 2 dollar bills on the Planters' Bank of Georgia--one do. for Post-notes of the State Bank of Georgia; both executed in a masterly style. In the pocket book of each, was found a quantity of counterfeit bills of different banks and denominations. A quantity of paper was found some of which may be seen at this office, having the water mark, P.B. GEORGIA--intended no doubt, as a compliment to the Planters' Bank of Georgia.
On Wednesday evening last, the party returned, with the five culprits in strings. Their names are, Thomas Jones, alias Thomas Davis, Elias Thomas Dixon, (long know in that profession, and celebrated as an engraver) John Reed, John Goodman, (these three were taken in the cavern) John B. Payne and James Payne, brothers.)
The three first are committed for trial and the two others will be examined to day before Mr. Justice Powell
< LUCRETIA SCROGGINS BRIGMAN >
In 1835, Lucretia Brigman (wife of Solomon Brigman) began a court case in the Superior Court of Law in Buncombe in support of her daughter Lucretia in a suit for divorce and attachment of the estate of Marville Scoggins/Scroggins.
The case was later brought before the North Carolina State Supreme Court with excerpts from the following transcript: "Despite their sympathies, North Carolina judges agonized over the prospect that their judicial opinions might undermine the sanctity of the marriage contract. In 1832, the courts denied Marville Scroggins a divorce when his wife, Lucretia, bore a "mulatto child" just five months after their marriage. Chief Justice Thomas Ruffin praised the lower court of dismissing the petition because it did not meet the grounds of fraud. Had Lucretia Scroggins defrauded her husband, the courts could mullify the marriage contract. But Lucretia was pregnant when they married and, Ruffin argued, her concelment of the child's father was not true fraud. For fraud to exist, Ruffin continued, Marville Scroggins "must appear not to have been voluntarily blind, but to have been the victim of a deception which would have beguiled a person of ordinary prudence."
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