So, the guy I was talking about yesterday is Jesse Wilson. He ran a trucking company and he was running his trucks heavier than legally allowed. The state put in some truck scales along his routes and he blew them up. He also appears to have, maybe, if I’m understanding the story correctly, accidentally almost killed one of his drivers when he was trying, on purpose, to kill another one of his drivers who had been making some pro-union comments.
He also, maybe, though I’m not certain on this, may have been involved with blowing up a ton of construction equipment–maybe owned by the state?–in Old Hickory. And he seems to have bombed the yard of an old mayor and tried to bomb the house of the publisher of the Tennessean, but failed.
For all this, he went to prison for like 28 months. But then in ’61, he had to go back to prison because a gang he organized robbed some people in Carthage.
In spite of all this, the police officer who caught him all the times he got caught seemed to have become genuinely fond of him and reported that, after one of his prison stints, when he learned to read and write, he did seem to be a changed man.
He was out of prison during my bombings and he was desperate for money, because he had lost everything. But his name hasn’t come up in any of the stuff I’m reading about my bombings. He didn’t appear on Kasper’s witness list. The papers made no note of him being at rallies. So, he’s not at the top of my list of suspects.
But I am confused and baffled by how off the radar he has fallen. There’s nothing about this story online, except at Newspapers.com, that I could find. This dude waged a years’ long war against the state and local authorities and the media and no one remembers him. I’m kind of surprised he didn’t become a folk hero.
But I’m also surprised that he’s been so completely forgotten. It must have been traumatic and scary for Nashville to have this series of bombings. But we just developed cultural amnesia about it and taught ourselves that we were a peaceful city.