Tazewell Republican, Tazewell, VA

February 23, 1911

Lebanon Briefs.

Russell County, Virginia History - In the News
Tazewell Republican, Tazewell, VA

July 6, 1899


Mr. Geo. W. Ratliff Killed by Moonshiners.

On last Friday morning the intelligence reached Tazewell that Mr. George W. Ratliff, a well known citizen of Richlands had been killed by moonshiners on Swords Creek in Russell county. Very few particulars were then given as to how the crime was committed.

From a gentleman, who has talked with the only person who was near when Mr. Ratliff was shot, we have learned the following particulars: On Wednesday night, the 28th inst., at 10 o'clock, Mr. Ratliff in company with Mr. Wayne Ferguson, who is a special agent in the revenue service, left Richlands, with the avowed purpose of destroying some illicit stills located on Swords Creek. They arrived at their destination on Thursday morning, and shortly after daylight succeeded in raiding and destroying one small still. They then proceeded in the direction of another still, which was located not very far from the one which had been destroyed. After going about one-fourth of a mile they dismounted from their horses, and Ferguson stopped to tie them. Ratliff began to advance in the direction where the still was located, and, when at a distance of some thirty or fifty yards from Ferguson, was shot by unknown parties from ambush, and was almost instantly killed. There were several shots fired, but the fatal shots were sent from a double barrel shotgun, loaded with rifle bullets or buckshot. Six of these bullets struck Mr. Ratliff in the face and six in the breast. The place at which the shooting was done was a wild one, covered with thick brush. When Ferguson heard the reports of the guns he hollowed for Ratliff but got no reply. The assassins, however, yelled back that they had killed Ratliff and would give Ferguson the same kind of a dose if he would advance. Mr. Ferguson was, of course, discreet enough not to go any further, but returned to Swords Creek station, and securing assistance, a posse went to the place, where they found Mr. Ratliff cold in death. An inquest was held and it was decided that he had come to his death by gun shot wounds inflicted by unknown parties. The shooting occurred on Swords Creek, about four miles above where it empties into Clinch River.

The remains of Mr. Ratiff were brought to his home at Richlands, and on Friday the 30th ult., funeral services were held in the Methodist church, conducted by Rev. Webb, pastor of the church. An immense congregation was present to show respest to the deceased. He was a Mason and an Odd Fellow, but was buried with Masonic honors. He was a member of Cedar Bluff Lodge, No. 260, A. F. & A. M. The ceremonies were conducted by that lodge, assisted by a number of visiting brethren. Mr. Ratliff was in the prime of life, being only thirty-eight years old. He left a wife and five small children. The deceased had a great many friends, and was an unusually brave man. His death will be regretted by many. It is understood that the Government will take prompt steps to discover the perpetrators of the foul deed, and bring them to trial and punishment.

We are informed that Mr. Ratliff would have received in a few days, if he had lived, a valuable appointment in the revenue service.