Early Justice at Red Hot
Old Time Tales of Warren County


Early Justice at Red Hot

In the halcyon days of oil the little settlement of Red Hot, three miles from Plummer, in Venango County, was all that the name implied. Red Hot was simply sizzling for a time, if you were looking for trouble it was probably the best place in the world to find it just then.

J. H. Hogg, the Titusville oil producer tells this little incident of early days at Red Hot. Nothing could more graphically illustrate the hard pan code of ethics in force in the oil country, at the time men rushed into the Pithole and Plummer district with all the frenzy of a gold rush.

In the year 1873 J. H. Hogg was a lad seven years of age, living on a farm near Plummer. His ambition had been to visit this exciting center of oil, so one day his father took the boy along on the wagon seat, on a trip to Plummer. "It is the one incident of the early oil days that stands out most vividly in my memory. It made a tremendous impression on me and I shall never forget it. I was very excited over the idea of visiting Plummer and every turn of the wagon wheels as we drove along increased my eagerness. We had to drive through Red Hot and as we came near to the place I saw something that gave me a shock. A man lay against a rock at the side of the road, there was a horrible blue bullet hole in his forehead. He was dead. We got out of the wagon and examined the body. There was a pencil-scrawled note pinned on the dead man's breast. It said,

"This darn fool tried to rob me and missed it."

"There were no other clues. We drove on and notified the authorities. They carne out to the place, took from the dead highwayman's pockets several watches he had taken in hold-ups, and some money. There was no inquest, no investigation. That afternoon when we drove by the place again there was the fresh mound of a grave in the ditch, near where we'd seen the dead man."

SOURCE:  Page(s) 111-112: Old Time Tales of Warren County; Meadville, Pa.: Press of Tribune Pub. Co., 1932


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