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Texas | Columns | "Wandering"

Outlaw was
Crazy Like a Fox

The Red Fox of the Big Thicket

by Wanda Orton
Wanda Orton
As mean as and maybe smarter than Bonnie and Clyde was another outlaw, Thomas Jefferson "Red" Golemon, the terror of Liberty and Hardin counties in 1939-40.

The cunning criminal also was known as the Red Fox of the Big Thicket, because, in that murky, mysterious forest, the long arm of the law could stretch just so far. Beyond their reach was Golemon, the great escapee. He was good at out-foxing his hunters.

Born in Kountz, Golemon once made an honest living, working in various oil fields. Boozing and brawling were his worst habits until a drunken fight led to a murder in 1939. He and two co-workers were charged with killing an oil rigger in Corpus Christi.

Goleman was released on bond but failed to show up for trial.
Hull Texas old bank building
The original Hull State Bank building still standing near the railroad tracks, with the new bank building across the street. - Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, August 2007

Instead, he showed up in Hull in Liberty County, where he and a man named Francis Smith robbed the Hull State Bank. The masked robbers locked two terrified employees in the vault, fled with $12,000 and then parted company.

Lawmen from Liberty and Hardin counties - aware that Golemon had friends and family ties in the area - went driving all over Southeast Texas warning people that it was a crime to harbor criminals.

Sure enough, he was hiding at the home of Houston relatives. One of his blood kin - perhaps heeding to the warning about harboring criminals -- called the cops.

After the Houston police delivered Goleman to officers in the Liberty County sheriff's department, he posted bail. Again he failed to appear for trial, choosing instead to disappear into the Big Thicket.

In December 1939 Golemon was identified as the man who robbed and shot a Beaumont taxi driver before stealing his cab.

In March 1940 he took a hostage but freed him - with strings attached. He let him go, providing that the man would help him rob a bank in Dayton.

OK. Sure. Anything he could do to help.

In advance of the robbery, Golemon planned to meet the man at a spot just west of Dayton.

However, it didn't go as planned. The would-be accomplice called the cops and went with them to the designated meeting place to wait for Golemon. They waited for quite a while.

Of course, he was a no-show. A fox knows when a trap is being set.

On April 11, 1940, Golemon finally was discovered hiding in a shed near his parents' home in Hardin County.

His story had a kind of Bonnie and Clyde ending, as he died in a barrage of gunfire. When he opened fire on the lawmen, they responded with a rain of bullets. His body was recovered inside the shed, riddled with bullet holes. He was 31 years old.

Curiosity seekers came from far and near, hoping to view the corpse. A carnival atmosphere took hold as "customers" paid 10 cents each to look at the shed where he was shot. They called it "the death house."

An estimated 4,000 people attended his funeral with vehicles lining up bumper-to-bumper.

Golemon is buried at the Old Hardin Cemetery.



Wanda Orton Baytown Sun Columnist
"Wandering" July 15, 2015 columns

TX   Liberty County 1940s Map
1920s Liberty County map showing Hull near Hardin County line
From Texas state map #10749
Courtesy Texas General Land Office

Related Article:

Bandit's bad baby brother
"Darious grew up with one goal - to follow in the footsteps of the black sheep of the family or, shall we say, the Red Fox."

Related Topics:
Texas Outlaws
Texas Bank Robberies

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