These are the stories included in this blog. They are listed in order of latest to earliest added. You can either enter a search in the provided space, or scroll to the bottom to find the earlier posts. I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I enjoy researching and writing about this aspect of our local history.

The Gainer / Collins Murders
The Infamous Coldest Case
The Treachery of Mrs. Vann
Husband believed in her innocence
Area War Dead
One small portion of a much too long list
Killer on the Road
Robbery, Kidnapping, Murder
Burden of Guilt
Solution to a Cold Case
A Killing, A Brothel and ....
The Armantrouts of Pensacola
A Very Tragic Chain of Events
A very sad tale
Murder on South Palafox
Workplace violence in 1905
The Tragic Death of Big Ed Morris
Fight at a Fatal Fish Fry
The Curious Killing of Charles Sudmall
Successful Russian Businessman killed in town
Tale of a Lynching
Prisoner J.C. Evans, left dead on the side of the road
Sheriff McDaniel of Jackson County
Shootout in his Driveway
The 1915 Wyman Murders
Home invasion and killing of Elderly Couple
The Kidnapping of Mrs. Phelps
Holmes County 77 year old widow kidnapped and beaten.
The Mulat Murders
Murder of Julian, and Mae Edwards
Bank of Jay Part II
Were the robbers Pensacola Police Officers?
The Jay Bank Robbery
January 1963 Bank Heist
Killing in Crestview

Was there really Justice for Lester Wilson's death?

The Phantom Ghoul of Whitmire

Grave desecration at the Roberts, and Whitmire cemeteries

Tragedy Near McLellan

The murder of Daisy Locklin Padgett

The Turpentine Feud of 1911

The Cooley family ambush and events leading up to it.

The Allen-Whitmire Shootout

Articles about the shootout at the L&N Depot in Milton

The Acreman Family Murder

The murders and arson of an entire family near Allentown

Retired School Teacher Kills Three Police Officers

Happened in Ocala, Florida

Unsolved Pensacola Axe Murder

Family attacked as they slept

Unsolved Murder of Henry Hicks Moore

Pensacola Lovers lane murder

Unsolved Hinote/Byers Murder

Young couple killed

The Short Life and Fast Times of Frank Penton

Chief Deputy and local Gunslinger

The Fate of Judge Trueman

Killed in Ogden, Utah

The Killing of John Wesley Penton

Shot down in the street in Milton

The Trial of C. B. Penton

Suspected of killing S.G. "Babe" Collins

The 1931 Pursuit and Capture of Criminals Near Milton

Captured in Mulat swamp

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Monday, May 8, 2017

The Short Life, and Fast Times of Frank Penton

                Francis Marion “Frank” Penton was the Chief Deputy under Santa Rosa County Sheriff “Long” John Collins.  He killed two men in Milton in two separate shootouts, and possibly a third in an ambush.  The aftermath of his two shootouts saw him cleared by a coroner’s jury. I think if Deputy Penton had lived out west in the 1880s, we would be reading about him along with Earp, and Hickock. 

                On the 14th of February, 1909, at Andy’s Restaurant in Milton, Deputy Penton, and a man named Robert Fleming decided to settle their differences.  Apparently, as soon as they saw each other they drew their weapons, and commenced shooting.  Shortly after one pm on that day, Mr. Fleming died of gunshot wounds.  The Coroner’s Jury determined it was justifiable homicide.  It was reported that the shootout was a result of an old grudge. 

                On April 20, 1912, in a downtown Milton poolroom, Frank Penton, and his father, Abner T. Penton, were involved in a gunfight with George Warwick Allen.  Allen was a newly married 24-year-old, and the brother of Minnie Allen Collins, wife of S. G. Collins.  According to newspaper reports, 15-20 shots were fired, and though Frank Penton was wounded, he would recover.  Allen was shot with two different caliber bullets, once in the stomach, and a smaller caliber in the shoulder. Allen had been a witness against Penton in the Felix Corbin shooting. The Penton’s were both arrested, and later indicted for murder of Allen.  The elder Penton was found guilty of manslaughter, and was sentenced to 4 years in prison.  I have not been able to find any information on the sentence, (if any), for Frank Penton.

                 In early April 1906, George Allen had been tried for the murder of Eubesau Whitmire. On December 3rd 1905, they were quarreling at the L & N railroad depot over luggage owned by a traveling salesman.  Both young men were working as, “Hacks”, or porters for arriving passengers. During the quarrel, Whitmire was shot dead.  Allen was acquitted for the killing. As a possible motive for the gunfight with Penton, Allen had testified against Penton in Penton’s murder trial, and was assisting the prosecution against Penton in the Corbin Affair.

The Felix Corbin Affair

                In May of 1910, Felix Corbin fled Emanuel County, Georgia, with a warrant for Assault, and Battery on his head.  Emanuel Co. Sheriff Fields was able to track Corbin to Milton, Florida.  The Sheriff obtained the extradition paperwork, and took a trip to Milton.  When Sheriff John Collins received the paperwork, he arrested Mr. Corbin.  Corbin immediately got an attorney to arrange a hearing on the validity of the extradition papers. At the hearing the papers were declared to be, “irregular”, and Corbin was temporarily freed.  Sheriff Fields swore in an affidavit that Corbin was a fugitive from Georgia, and Corbin was again arrested.  Fields, Collins, and Deputy Frank Penton drove Corbin to Brewton, and Fields, with his prisoner took a train back to Swainsboro, Georgia.

                Once in Georgia, Corbin appeared before the U. S. Commissioner and swore out warrants for the arrest of John H. Collins, Santa Rosa Co. Sheriff, Deputy Frank Penton, also of Santa Rosa Co., and Sheriff Fields of Emanuel Co. Ga.  The charge was depriving Corbin of his constitutional rights by conspiring to take him back to Georgia without extradition papers.

                On June 16th, Collins, and Penton were arrested by Federal authorities for forcibly removing Corbin from Florida without a warrant. They were later released. Penton with a $300 bond, and Collins with a $1000 bond.  They were to appear in the next session of Federal Court.

                On December 6, 1910, Felix Corbin ate supper with his wife, and step-children.  As he finished his meal he heard someone calling his name outside.  He opened the door and was hit with four bullets. He died quickly, without naming his assailant.  Frank Penton was immediately suspected for the killing. He and a man named W. A. Simmons of Foley, Alabama were taken into custody.  On Dec. 9, there was a preliminary hearing, and both Penton, and Simmons were released with no indictment.  There wasn’t enough evidence to move forward with a case.  The Corbin murder goes unsolved.
                (The above description of Corbin's death was reported by the Pensacola Journal. Local Attorney H.S. Laird wrote a letter to the paper complaining about the inaccuracies of the story. He contended that Corbin was boarding at C. F. Clark's and owned no home of his own. He said Corbin was actually shot in the street in front of Clark's store, and that he was only shot twice.)

                By December 22nd, the federal authorities were investigating the murder. Penton Is no longer a Deputy and is in federal custody on two charges, killing Corbin to prevent him from testifying against him, Collins, and Fields, and a charge of conspiracy to commit murder in the Corbin case.

                On April 3, 1911, Penton was indicted by Federal Court, but was freed on a $2000 bond.  His trial started later, on December 1.  The Government case was presented by Emmett Wilson, and Penton’s attorney was E. A. Pace of Dothan, Alabama.  On Dec. 3rd, after deliberating for 12 hours, the jury reported that it was hopelessly divided, and the court ordered a mistrial.  When the jury began deliberations the 10 man jury was 9 for conviction, and one for acquittal.  After 12 hours of debating the issue it was 6 to 4 for conviction.  Penton was released on the same bond, and was to be retried at the next federal court session. 

                In the March 10, 1913 issue of the Times-Democrat newspaper from New Orleans, it was reported that the U. S. Attorney, nol prossed, (dropped prosecution), in the Penton, and Collins cases.

                One final note on Felix Corbin.  There is a full slab grave marker in the Milton cemetery for Mr. Corbin next to his wife, who died in 1954.  Shortly after his killing, a newspaper in Georgia reported that his body had been shipped back to Georgia to be interred in the Corbin cemetery.  Personally, I think he was buried in Milton, and the Georgia newspaper jumped the gun.  Corbin had three sons from his first marriage living in Georgia, with their maternal grandmother. 

                Frank Penton sometime after being finally cleared of charges in the Corbin, and Allen cases found himself employed as the Chief of Police  at the Pensacola Shipbuilding Company.  On June 27, 1919 he was shot, and killed by W. P. Cox, who was a subordinate on the police force at the shipyard, and shared a dwelling with him. Cox, (I think he was Walter P. Cox, born in North Carolina in Oct 1889, but I'm not 100% sure.) and his wife lived in a small house on the shipyard property.  They took in Penton as a boarder, and to all accounts, Cox and Penton were close friends.  Mrs. Cox did not like the domestic situation, and moved to the Merchant Hotel, and filed for divorce.  Cox hired a Mrs. Maroena as a housekeeper. She had once owned a soft drink stand on West Zaragossa street.  Penton, had been drinking and got into an argument with Mrs. Maroena, who later testified that he "unmercifully misused" her.  She fled to Mr. Cox's room for safety.  A couple of days later Penton accosted Cox and asked him if he was his friend.  During the conversation, Cox told Penton to go to hell, and Penton pulled a pistol and fired two shots at Cox, missing both.  Cox returned fire and shot Penton in the temple, killing him.  The Coroner's Jury, after hearing testimony, found it to be justifiable homicide.  There was applause when the verdict was announced. 

                Good, or bad, Frank Penton was an interesting character.  I would like to know more about him.  I bet there is much more about his short life that would be of great interest. 

                Mr. Penton is buried in section three of our Milton Cemetery on Berryhill.  His marker claims he died in 1920, but the newspaper claims he was killed in 1919.  Felix Corbin’s marker is in section 12 as is Eubesau Whitmire’s.  George Warwick Allen is buried in the Collins plot also in Section 12. (northwest part, near the fence).  Allen’s widow, Eva Jernigan, remarried in 1915.  She, and her husband Henry C. Collins, are also buried in the Collins plot.

Penton's death certificate shows his occupation as Fire Marshal at Pensacola Shipbuilding Company. He was actually the Shipyards Chief of Police. The certificate show Homicide by pistol shot, and confirms his date of death as 27 June 1919.

Frank Penton death certificate

Supplemental certificate showing homicide.

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