Dock Bigham, 1869 - 1919

Dublin Core


Dock Bigham, 1869 - 1919


The notorious outlaw and moonshiner Dock Bigham was the last man legally hanged in Tuscaloosa County.

Sheriff Palmer M. Watts, Deputies Verner Robertson and Nick Hamner, and special revenue officers J.H. Smith and J.H. Draper had raided two stills in northern Tuscaloosa County and had one more to go. As the sheriff made his way down a ravine to a third still, a shot rang out and the sheriff pitched forward on his face, instantly dead. A deputy fired a shot at the shooter identified as Dock Bigham.

Law enforcement officials looked for Dock Bigham for three days before he was arrested and confessed that he fired the shot that killed Sheriff Palmer. He went before a jury on September 17, 1918, charged with the murder of the sheriff.

The trial lasted three days before the case rested with the jury that deliberated just five hours before jury foreman John Wesley Morrison turned in the verdict that Bigham should be hanged for the crime which he did not deny having committed. Judge H.B. Foster immediately passed sentence upon Bigham and set Nov. 1, 1918, for his hanging. An appeal was made that delayed his execution; but the Supreme Court upheld the lower court ruling.

On June 27, 1919, Dock Bigham paid the penalty for the murder of Sheriff Palmer Watts. At 11:02, Deputy Hughes pulled the lever that caused Dock Bigham's body to shoot downward through the opening. It was said to be the most perfect hanging that ever took place in the county. Bigham had guaranteed its success himself by tying the knot that instantly broke his neck.

Onlookers passed the hat for money to bury Bigham at Macedonia Cemetery in Piney Woods, as he had requested. Dr. C.M. Boyd, who had counseled Bigham while he was incarcerated, performed the burial service.





Tuscaloosa County (AL)


Circa 1918


Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society


Betty Slowe (Description)





Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Date Added
August 7, 2013
People of Interest
Item Type
Still Image
Hinckley Photo Company, “Dock Bigham, 1869 - 1919,” Tuscaloosa Area Virtual Museum, accessed September 19, 2014,
No files are associated with this item.