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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Cold Coldwater Ambush
Milton, Sept. - 2. 1911
Alf and Arch Cooley, residing in the northern part of this county, were ambushed and shot from their horses early last night, adding two more murders to the already long list of crimes in this year. The ambuscade was in what is known as the Clearwater creek neighborhood. A coroner's jury has been impaneled and a thorough investigation will be made of this latest murder. Arch Cooley was a brother and Alf a cousin of Daniel Cooley, who was shot and killed near here last Sunday.There is considerable excitement,!but from what could be learned tonight the Cooleys were returning to their homes early in the night and were shot from the roadside by parties secreted in some thick undergrowth. Shot guns were used and there were several in the party, as five shots in rapid succession were heard. Later the riderless horses galloped up to the homes of the men with blood on the saddles. A searching party found the bodies riddled with shot and death must have been instantaneous.

Santa Rosa County Sheriff John Houston Collins“long John Collins.” faced a wild and sometimes murderous frontier, folks in remote areas of the county generally settled things themselves and for the most part peacefully, however violent feuds are well known to have occurred in many areas of the county during the early twentieth century.  One of the more notorious Munson feuds would lead to the killing of a constable, for unknown reasons this death has not been recorded as an LODD .
Robert E.L. Collins was killed on 2 December 1916 while serving as constable for Munson District.

John Houston Collins was born on May 16, 1868 in Santa Rosa County, Florida. In 1893 Collins was first elected Sheriff of Santa Rosa County. He was considered to be a “frontier type” sheriff and served two separate terms in office. descriptive speaking, Collins stood 6’7”tall, was thin in build, and often considered to be an imposing figure. He earned the nicknames of “honest John” and “long John Collins.” While Sheriff Collins and his family resided in the upper level of the jail in the county courthouse.
At the age of 69, Collins died following a lengthy illness. He and his wife are both buried in the Milton Cemetery.
Served as Sheriff  from 1893-1897
and again from 1909-1913

SRC Courthouse photo (State Archives of Florida

References: Pensacola News Journal- Library of Congress Collection.  Collins Bio and photo srso.org 

Further reading :  History of Santa Rosa County: A King's country Unknown Binding – 1973

History of Santa Rosa County: A King's country 1973 by M. Luther King (Author)

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