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Texas | Features | Texas Murders

The Lonesome Death of
Diamond Bessie

Jefferson, Texas

by John Troesser
Diamond Bessie tomb and plaque

Jefferson hosts Texas' "Trial of the (19th) Century"

As the couple detrained in Jefferson on January 19, 1877*, they caused quite a stir among the station personnel and carriage drivers.  These were no ordinary people; this couple had all their own teeth.  They also had matching luggage and the woman wore enough jewelry to open a small jewelry store.

Checking into a hotel under the name of Mr. and Mrs. A. Moore, Cincinnati, Ohio, they spent the next two days eating, walking around town and not caring who overheard their arguments. Much like visitors to Jefferson today. He called her Bessie when he wasn't calling her other names. They were last seen together on January 21st crossing the bridge on the road to Marshall with what appeared to be a picnic lunch. The man was seen returning alone that evening, spending two more days in Jefferson before taking an eastbound train with all of the matching luggage and according to a serving girl, Bessie's rings on his fingers.

On February 5 an excited woman ran into town to report a well-dressed corpse just off the Marshall road reclining peacefully amid picnic debris.

It was Bessie sans diamonds with a hole in her forehead and ants in her eyes and nose. The townsfolk were shocked and saddened that an otherwise pleasant picnic ended in this way and promptly collected $150.00 to make Bessie a permanent guest of Jefferson.

After learning the couple had previously registered in a Marshall hotel under the name of A. Rothschild, Cincinnati, a warrant was issued to authorities in Ohio, and was served after Mr. Rothschild's return there.  Shortly before he was arrested he attempted suicide (evidently with a BB gun since he succeeded only in putting out an eye). It was in this condition he was returned to Marion County for trial.

Distantly related to the European Rothschilds (Rothschildren?) who pulled their carriage around London with a matched pair of zebras, Abraham Rothschild was the son of jewelers, playing the role of black sheep, keeping company with high priced "soiled doves" of whose sisterhood Bessie was a dues paying member (Hot Springs, Arkansas Chapter).

To make an already long story short, since he walked like a duck.... etc., he was found guilty by twelve Jeffersonians who recognized ducks when they saw them.  But there were lawyers, remember?  Ten high priced ones.

The verdict was overturned and after nearly three years of appeals, postponements and changes in venue Mr. Rothschild disappeared from history.

Years later a stranger appeared in Jefferson and paid for a fence around Bessie's grave and the stone you see here.  No one seems to remember if he had one eye.

Each year in May the Diamond Bessie Murder Trial is performed in Jefferson.


© John Troesser
* Various sources show the date on the plaque to be in error. 

See Jefferson, Texas | Jefferson Hotels

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