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Historic Downtown Ruston Walking Tour
Item 11 of 22

John Tom Sisemore was a deputy United States marshal renowned for tracking down violators of federal law, especially moonshiners, whiskey runner, post office robbers, and other offenders. To deal with nightly bouts of drunken gunfire and illegal whiskey sales, Ruston hired Deputy United States Marshal John Tom Sisemore as a police officer and later as police chief in the late 1890s. Sisemore frequently arrested a notorious bootlegger named Frank Mullins for federal and city liquor violations. Sisemore and Mullins met in a final showdown on this corner on the stormy evening of February 26, 1898. At about 8:00p.m., a string of gunshots filled the air and Sisemore prowled the rain-dampened streets in search of the culprit. Sisemore encountered Mullins on this corner. In an exchange of gunfire, Mullins was wounded by Sisemore’s shotgun and died at a nearby boarding house. Sisemore would later be ambushed and killed in apparent retaliation. Sisemore’s brief career and death helped mold Ruston’s path into the new century. The attitudes towards alcohol and lawlessness in Ruston’s early days endured for decades. The city would remain "dry" for nearly 75 more years before legal alcohol was sold in the 1970’s.


  • Chief of Police John Tom Sisemore