Deputy Warden Willoughby Howard Nelson

Deputy Warden Willoughby Howard Nelson

Tennessee Department of Correction, Tennessee

End of Watch Friday, July 27, 1894

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Willoughby Howard Nelson

Deputy Warden Nelson was killed when a bomb devised by convicts exploded at a coal mine in Tracy City.

More than 100 convicts, from the Tennessee State Penitentiary were sent to the Tennessee Coal Company at Tracy City to replace striking workers. The convicts declared they would not work and seized the powder magazine inside the mine. After negotiations failed, the convicts placed a keg of blasting powder in an empty coal car, lit the fuse, and pushed it down the track to the entrance where it exploded. Deputy Warden Nelson was killed instantly and two guards were injured. Guards opened fire on the convicts, killing the ring leader. After a brief standoff the convicts surrendered.

Deputy Warden Nelson was a member of the Tennessee General Assembly, representing Maury County. He was survived by his wife and nine children. He was a Civil War veteran having served with a Tennessee confederate regiment.


  • Age 50
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Bomb
  • Weapon Explosives
  • Offender Not available

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Thank you for your service and please know that your sacrifice will never, ever be forgotten. Rest in peace always.

Detective Cpl/3 Steven Rizzo
Delaware State Police (Retired)

July 27, 2020

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