Immortal 10 – S.J. Willis

In September of 1854 the “2nd” party of the New England Emigrant Aid party led by Charles Robinson arrived in the Lawrence area. Mr. S. J. Willis was in that party. He became one of the first city councilmen. Mr. Willis was an exceptionally strong man. For that reason, I believe he was selected as one of the three men who were to actually enter the jail and rescue Dr. Doy. He also carried an unusual weapon that was converted for a special use that night. Thomas Simmons was selected to play the part of a captured horse thief with Joseph Gardner and S.J. Willis to be his captors. When they approached the jail, Simmons’ hands were to be made to look like they were bound behind his back, They used a “Slung Shot” for this purpose. The “Slung Shot” was a lead ball attached to a length of rawhide rope. The rope was wrapped loosely around  Simmons’ hands and if necessary, he could unloosen his  hands and come out swinging the “Slung Shot.”  I  thank Dr. Tolly Wildcat for pointing out the “Slung Shot” shown in the belt of S. J. Willis.

3 thoughts on “Immortal 10 – S.J. Willis”

    1. Great yes use it. I got it from a book published by Dr. Doy in the 1860s. How did you happen to get onto the slung shot? I had never heard of it before, myself and I nhave never seen anything about it since. Are you going to put this online where I can blog about it and link to it? If not, I am curious about what you find. If you want to publish a paper on my blog, I would be happy to help.

      1. Great. Thanks. 🙂

        I’ve found several copies of this pic, but yours is the clearest.

        My interest in Slungshot began because I am a martial artist with a special interest in weapons and unarmed fighting styles from western culture. You know, boxing, wrestling, saber, *slungshot*. 🙂

        I’ve already published a book on the grappling techniques which *used* to be in pre-Marquis of Queensberry boxing, published through and my intention is to publish the slungshot book in the same.

        I’ve given several seminars teaching slungshot, among the other Western Martial Arts (WMA) seminars I’ve given (particularly with friends and like-minded enthusiasts), and am currently running a 4 week class on the slungshot at a local fencing salle.


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