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Book: Shootout at Jackson City




This is the true story of an eager Deputy Sheriff who went to do the right thing but got himself and his posse into the largest shootout in Alexandria County history (The county was renamed Arlington County in 1920). By the 1890’s Alexandria County Virginia across the Potomac River from Washington DC was a place of some promise and much vice. Jackson City sat in the swamp area at the Virginia end of the famed “Long Bridge.” The area around it was known as Hell’s Bottom, a lawless place of gambling, illegal liquor, and vice where saloon owners and gamblers ignored the law and politicians turned their backs. Armed with tenuous laws, newly elected Sheriff William Palmer and his deputies were set to clean up the county. They busted up gaming and liquor parlors and brought those who worked them before ineffectual county judges only to see them get off lightly.

On a cold night in February 1896, Deputy Sheriff Edward Deuterman decided to form a posse with a friend and eight local black men to raid a gambling saloon run by the all too well-known John C. Nelson. What was supposed to be a quick raid, instead ended in a hail of gunfire. Deuterman and his friend would both come near death from their wounds, another in his posse would be killed and four others wounded. The raid became the catalyst for a long and drawn out war against vice in Alexandria County which took nearly a dozen years to win. Justice for the wounded and killed was slow and ultimately lost.

Author George Axiotis lives and has raised a family in Arlington, Virginia for over 37 years where he worked for the Department of Defense. He is an amateur historian, a member of the Arlington Historical Society, and has an interest in military history, especially the Civil War in and about the Washington, D.C. area. It was during research for his first book on how the Civil War affected local families (“Two Hills: The Story of Survival Between the Lines“) that he discovered the long-forgotten tale of the Jackson City shooting.

Softcover: 86 pages with bibliography

Publisher: Xlibris, 2020

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