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  • Texas | Columns | Bob Bowman's East Texas

    LOOKING FOR OLD MURDERS

    by Bob Bowman
    Bob Bowman
    To a historian or writer, few stories are as gravitating as a murder. A lawyer friend said it best: "If you want to build your reputation, sign on for a nice little murder case."

    Between the 1860s and 1940s, East Texas produced some of the strangest murders in Texas.

  • In November of 1868, John Wesley Hardin, Texas' most famous gunfighter, killed his first man on a lonely forest trial near Moscow and then shot down three soldiers who came to arrest him. Before he died in El Paso, he had killed at least 30 more men.
  • In January of 1877, a prostitute known as Diamond Bessie was found dead near Jefferson. Her death and the trial of a man associated with a wealthy European dynasty became Texas' first high-profile murder case.
  • In February of 1888, the deputy and son of a respected Panola County sheriff slit the throat of the county treasurer, looted his safe, and started spending the blood-stained money in poker games and saloons.
  • In March of 1905, the owner of a promising new agricultural enterprise was shot down inside a Lufkin bank vault by his father-in-law, who resented his son-in-law¹s allegations that he had not married a virgin.
  • In the autumn of 1914, the brand-new husband of a wealthy Beaumont widow hired two killers to do away with his wife on a hunting trip. He and his brother were then charged with eliminating the hired killers by shooting and burying them in the Big Thicket.
  • In November of 1922, a wealthy lumber tycoon was slain in his own bed near Hemphill. His wife, one of East Texas' best known women, was charged with his murder. She may have been involved in the death of three other members of the lumberman¹s family.
  • On Leap Year Day in 1940, a burglar who killed a Newton night watchman was quickly apprehended by the local sheriff, who was then indicted for trying to help the killer escape from the local jail.
  • On December 15, 1951, at Corrigan, a long-standing feud between two prominent families erupted with a rifle-shot murder, followed by a trial covered by Life Magazine.



    A few months ago, we embarked on an effort to collect, research and write a book about some of East Texas' most famous and unusual murders. With the help of friends, lawyers, historians and librarians, we¹ve collected a fascinating list of murderers and their victims. But we could use your help, too.

    If you know of some interesting murders in your community -- preferably those that happened before the 1950s -- call us at 936-634-7444, write us at P.O. Box 1647, Lufkin, Texas 75902, or e-mail us at bobb@lcc.net. If your suggestion turns up in the book, we¹ll send you a free copy when it is completed this fall.



    Bob Bowman's East Texas / All Things Historical July 13-19, 2003 column
    (Bob Bowman of Lufkin is the author of almost 50 books about East Texas. He can be reached at bob-bowman.com)
    Related Topics:

    East Texas | Texas Towns | Texas Ghost Towns | Texas | Hotels
  • Best of East Texas Publishers - Order Here

    Historic Murders of East Texas
    Bob and Doris Bowman
    A collection of some of the most unusual and bizarre murders in East Texas
    Order Here
    More Historic Murders of East Texas
    Bob and Doris Bowman
    An additional collection of unusual and bizarre murders in East Texas
    Order Here
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