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
Between the 1860s and 1940s, East Texas produced some of
the strangest murders in Texas.
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
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
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 email@example.com.
If your suggestion turns up in the book, we¹ll send you a free copy when it is
completed this fall.
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)
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