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"Hindsights"

Looking back at:

A Disturbance on Creek Street

By Michael Barr
Michael Barr

This story is for those of you who walk out on the hot driveway every Wednesday afternoon, pick up the local newspaper, peel away that pesky plastic bag and turn straight to the police report. I know you're out there, even if you won't admit it.

On April 17, 1916, at 5:15 in the afternoon, there was a disturbance on Creek Street in Fredericksburg causing a great deal of excitement in that part of town.

The disturbance began as a young stranger, just arrived a few days earlier from Llano, was walking west on Main Street on his way to the post office.

In those days there were no traffic lights or stop signs at intersections, and the law was unclear as to which party had the right-of-way. A pedestrian crossing the street looked for an opening in the traffic and made a run for it, just like people do today.

The young stranger probably guessed that the automobile bearing down on him like a duck on a June bug would slow down and let him pass. He guessed wrong. Because of that miscalculation he became what may have been the first pedestrian hit by a car at the intersection of Main and Adams.

Now getting hit by a car was no cause for arrest, but that incident was only the beginning of a wild, unfortunate afternoon.

As the young man lay in the street Deputy Sheriff Frank Morgan came over to see how badly the guy was hurt. While checking the young man for injuries, which were minor, the deputy found a Colt pistol in the waistband of his britches.

As the stranger could give no account of himself being an officer of the law with reason to carry a firearm, Deputy Sheriff Morgan took his gun, helped him to his feet, placed him under arrest and escorted him in the direction of the Gillespie County Courthouse a short distance away.

But at the door of the courthouse the young man suddenly grabbed his pistol from the deputy and bolted in the direction of the Nagel Bros. Granite Yard on San Antonio Street. Deputy Sheriff Morgan and several citizens took up the chase.

The stranger ran through Nagel Bros Yard, leaped over a couple of granite headstones and made a beeline for a gate on the backside of the property that opened onto Creek Street.

Arthur Nagel tried to block the opening, but the young man presented his pistol and "got permission to pass." The fugitive hurried through the gate, turned west on Creek Street and took off like a rifle shot.

In hot pursuit Deputy Sheriff Morgan stumbled and fell at Nagel's gate, so he tossed his pistol to a citizen named Mr. Wuensch with an order to stop the fleet-footed fugitive before he reached the brush.

Mr. Wuensch ran out in the middle of Creek Street, leveled the pistol and fired 2 shots. Both shots missed, but the second shot kicked up some dirt at the stranger's feet and brought him to a halt near John Lott's house.

Deputy Sheriff Morgan arrived on the scene and relieved the stranger of his pistol a second time. Morgan then led the prisoner to the jail on San Antonio Street amongst a host of curious people who had been alarmed by the shots.

At an examining trial the following Tuesday the young man told a sad story. He identified himself as A. Bonnar, and his home was nowhere. He was traveling from the western part of the state to San Antonio because he heard a man could find work there.

After arriving in Fredericksburg he "put up" at Louis Klaerner's Saloon on Main Street. Knowing it was illegal to carry a firearm in town he asked to leave the weapon at the saloon, but was not satisfied with the terms for leaving it.

So he took it with him on a leisurely walk to the post office not knowing he was about to be hit by an automobile, shot at and arrested.

After the hearing the officers felt the poor man had suffered enough and turned him loose.

Michael Barr
"Hindsights" September 5, 2022 Column
Sources:
"Arrested For Carrying A Pistol Unlawfully," Fredericksburg Standard, April 22, 1916.


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