Volume 1 Issue 7
Joe Mulliner and the Refugees
by: Donna Smith
by: Donna Smith
When Amanda and I Become Vets
By: Amy M. Miller
You’re riding in a stagecoach. The door is torn open. You hear the click of pistols. A deep, gruff voice demands all of your money and possessions. With trembling hands, you give the bandits what they want. You’ve just become another victim of Joe Mulliner and his gang. Today, Mulliner is called a carjacker, but in colonial times, he’s known as a highwayman.
Who’s Joe Mulliner?
Joe Mulliner lives in turbulent times. The colonists are fighting England for their independence. Mulliner’s brothers are patriots wanting to live in the colonies without England ruling them. However, Mulliner declares himself loyal to England so he calls himself a Tory.
Mulliner resides in the pinelands of the Mullica area in southern New Jersey. He’s a member of a well-educated family and he’s rumored to be a handsome, wild, fun-driven man. During the years 1780 -1781 his favorite past times are robbery and crashing parties. There are no accounts about him being politically active or fighting with the English Military. So, perhaps Mulliner along with 40 to 100 other men takes advantage of the colonist’s preoccupation with the revolution to become outlaws. They form a group and name themselves the Refugees. A small island in a swamp becomes their hideout.
The Widow Bates
As the Widow Bates approaches her farmhouse, she notices there’s something suspicious occurring. She sees a group of unknown horses and hears men’s voices. The widow and four of her young sons dismount from their wagon and are immediately met with a rough-looking group carrying her furniture and silver. Other men appear with her food, pigs, and chickens. The widow Bates is now face to face with the “Refugees,” but one famous member, Joe Mulliner, isn’t with the gang.
The Widow Bates calls the Refugees cowards, which infuriates them. They tie her and her sons to a tree, load up their bounty, and set fire to her house. Not long after the incident, the widow mysteriously finds a pouch with three hundred dollars worth of coins inside it. No one ever confesses to being her benefactor; although, many people in the area believe the money is from Mulliner. This may be the reason why Mulliner is called the “Robin Hood of The Pines.”
To the Rescue
One night, Mulliner passes by a tavern where he notices a crowd dancing to music. Riding up to the establishment, he spots a young woman crying. As Mulliner enters the tavern, it’s apparent that a wedding is about to start. He’s surprised when he sees the very same teary-eyed woman from outside walk up to the front of the room. She’s the bride and obviously not happy about getting married. Mulliner decides to save the woman from an unhappy marriage, so he fires his gun in the air and orders the groom to get out.
He’s a Nice Guy
Another tale about Mulliner involves a young man who refuses to let Mulliner dance with his partner. While this man stands up to Mulliner, the other men at the celebration scurry away from the dance floor to hide. Everyone is sure that Mulliner will shoot the defiant man, especially after he slaps Mulliner across the face. Instead of harming the man, Mulliner laughs, shakes his hand, and dances with his girl.
The Last Party
It’s easy to imagine Mulliner galloping down dark desolate roads, taking refuge in a sandy swamp, robbing the inhabitants of isolated farms, and looking for a good time. And, even though the stories about Mulliner describe him as an easygoing, gentle outlaw, he does terrorize many people and steal from them. Many members of the Refugees are ruthless, amoral men who commit murder. However, there are no accounts that Mulliner ever killed anyone.
In the end Mulliner is captured. A party guest informs Captain Baylin from the local militia that Mulliner is at the Indian Cabin Mills Inn. Mulliner is arrested and taken to Burlington, New Jersey for his trial. The court convicts him of high treason. He receives a death sentence, and he’s hanged in August of 1781 at Gallows Hill. After, Mulliner’s death the Refugees disband.
Mulliner is now just a local legend. His tales are tucked away in books about old New Jersey towns. Most of the literature does contain one last thing about him and his afterlife. Throughout the years people have claimed to see the ghostly Mulliner walking with his head down as if he is looking for something. Most of the observers believe that Mulliner is trying to find buried money. But, wouldn’t it be more likely that he’s still searching for another good party?
By: Donna Smith
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