Inspector James Sherman Mullins

Inspector James Sherman Mullins

Virginia Department of Prohibition Enforcement, Virginia

End of Watch Sunday, August 8, 1926

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James Sherman Mullins

Inspector James Mullins succumbed to gunshot wounds sustained two days earlier when he was shot by the Dickenson County sheriff on the courthouse steps in Clintwood.

The county sheriff was known to personally violate Prohibition laws and to protect other violators. Inspector Mullins had issued several warrants charging him with prohibition law violations and was instrumental in having the him removed from office.

The sheriff had received an official notice in the mail informing him of the removal. He immediately picked up his gun, left his home, and walked to the courthouse where he located Inspector Mullins speaking with a justice of the peace and the commonwealth's attorney about unrelated cases. As he approached he ordered the other men on the courthouse lawn to back away. As they did so he opened fire on Inspector Mullins, who then retreated up the courthouse steps. Inspector Mullins, who had only one hand due to a previous injury, attempted to draw his gun as the sheriff continued to fire at him. He took up a position behind a pillar and returned fire, striking the sheriff twice.

Both men were transported to the local hospital, where the sheriff died within 30 minutes. Inspector Mullins succumbed to his wounds two days later.

Inspector Mullins had served with the Virginia Department of Prohibition Enforcement for 2-1/2 years. He had previously served as a Dickenson County policeman, justice of the peace, and with the United States Marshals Service. He was survived by his wife, several children, and several grandchildren.


  • Age 59
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Friday, August 6, 1926
  • Weapon Handgun; Revolver
  • Offender Shot and killed

Most Recent Reflection

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James Sherman Mullins was my great-grandfather through his daughter Manila, whom we kids called "Honey." In 1993, I drove my grandmotherHoney to Clintwood and she gave me a tour of where her family had lived. It included retelling the shootout at the Courthouse steps, recounting Pridemore's approach and James Sherman Mullin's attempt to get inside the Courthouse which had just closed and the front door was locked.

We then walked down about 50 yards and up the stairs into to the small rooms that constituted the "hospital" in those days. Honey pointed out where her father was laid and where they laid Pridemore. When the doctor heard what had happened he rather indignantly stated, "I can only work on one man at a time, and Inspector Mullins comes first." (That's why Pridemore only lasted for 30 minutes.)

Trivia: After the wedding of James Sherman Mullins and Cordillia Culbertson in June 1888, they alighted a single horse and a wedding gift of a spinning wheel was handed up to them and they rode off. That spinning wheel, marked the 110th made by a craftsman with the initials K.I., resides in our home in memory of them.

John Elliott

September 26, 2014

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