16 July, 2008

An excerpt from Hunter James' account of how the Ponder Boys took Bloody Madison:

In Bloody Madison, however, they were a special breed of Democrat. "Sweetheart
Democrats," Zeno calls them, men who ran the county with the connivance of the
Republican majority. It was then, as the new party chairman, that Zeno faced his first
real test of strength, defying custom and skirting the edge of the law by throwing out a
slate of precinct officals approved by the sweetheart Democrats and putting in his
own people.

"Wouldn't have been surprised to see bloodshed at half a dozen spots around the
county that year."

Came election day and Zeno strapped on his holster and went out to look around. At
one precinct he found himself outnumbered by four armed Republicans. He was fond
of telling the story of how he strode into the place and got the drop on them.

"I told 'em, 'Don’t wanta kill nobody, but I'm prepared to do it. I got six bullets in here
and I can can get all four of you before you can get your guns outa your pockets.'" It
was a bit of a bluff. Just then the Democratic poll watcher, one of Zeno's own men, a
76-year-old who had also come armed and ready for trouble, got out of his chair and,
as the "boss" remembers it, said: "Zeno, you take them three over there. I'll get the
first one on the left." "

Hunter James


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