Posts Tagged ‘1879’

Sent Out In Stripes

October 21, 2009



A Burglar on His Own Confession, a Good Record Within Walks, an Early Discharge and an Effort to Wear His Convict Stripe in Peace, in which He Comes to Grief.

This is a hard old world we live in. It has a philosophy which declares it is man’s first duty to take care of number one, and his second duty to go against every poor wretch who especially needs help. It is not at all fashionable to help an unfortunate, and charity is fading into the sickly hues of romance and sentimentality. It is rather hard to say so, but once in a while some little incident comes to light and makes such accusations just. Yesterday we happened on one of these incidents.

The reporter met a negro with not too good a face, but with a dejected, cowed look which at once appealed to one’s sympathies. He was talking to some gentlemen, and from his few remarks we gathered his history for the past three years. It may be worth telling.

His name is Leonidas Lambeck and he is a mulatto of thirty. In May, 1876, he was arraigned in August for burglary. He was guilty, and said so. The judge sentenced him to three years of penal servitude, and soon he was hustled about from one to another of our “model convict camps.” He was made to do his full share of work and managed to get his full share of rations. He does not seem to have been very villainous, for his papers show that he was discharged three months before his time was out because he had behaved so well. His penitentiary record is very good therefore.

Last Tuesday morning he was discharged. At that time he was working on the Marietta and North Georgia railroad, twelve miles beyond Marietta. He was human enough to rejoice in his liberty regained after three years of hard penance, and when he spoke of it yesterday he looked happy. When he left his fellows he went out a free man in a felon’s garb. He had worn a decent suit when he went to put on the stripes, but he had long since lost sight of that. He says he did not like to go out in the convict’s stripes, but no other garb was given him and he had to march out a sort of wandering advertisement of the penitentiary system of Georgia.

It was a hard story he told of his troubles in that disgraceful attire. He started to walk to Atlanta in hope of finding here the means of obtaining decent clothes and transportation to Augusta. But his woes began soon after he left the camp. He was arrested before he had gone a mile and with difficulty escaped even after he showed his discharge. Again and again he was stopped and sometimes rudely. Some of his captors could not read his discharge, and insisted that he was an escaped felon. Everywhere people looked on him with scorn, and jeered at him as he passed, even when they did not attempt to halt him. He had a desolate tramp to Atlanta. Not a kind word fell in his way. After being stopped forty times he reached the city, and here had a hard time. At length some kind-hearted person procured him a decent suit and burned up the stripes.

Yesterday afternoon Mr. Frank Haralson, the state librarian, kindly interested himself and raised enough money to send him to Augusta. He left on the 6 o’clock train.

Is it right for convicts to be set free in their stripes? Can the state provide no better way of liberation than that of sending forth a man without a cent in the world, marked with a badge of shame? It does not seem humane or just. It appears cruel and unjust.

Perhaps this is the custom, but, like many other customs, it is “more honored in the breach than the observance.”

Daily Constitution, The (Atlanta, Georgia) Feb 15, 1879

One-Legged Steamer Pilot Takes a Fatal Tumble … And So Does a Riverboat Captain

October 13, 2009

Fatal Accident Last Night!


Falls Down the Stairway of the Little Grand Theatre, and Receives Fatal Injuries

A DISTRESSING accident occurred last night, between the hours of ten and eleven o’clock, at the Little Grand, which will doubtless result fatally. Capt. John Parsons, pilot on the steamer Logan, who had been attending the variety theater, over the Little Grand saloon, during the acts, started to go down stairs, and having but one leg, and somewhat in his cups, stumbled and fell to the bottom, receiving spinal injuries from which his physicians, Drs. Mussey and Davidson, think he cannot recover.

A TIMES reporter found him at one o’clock this morning, in the rear of the saloon, laid out on two tables, breathing heavily and unconscious. A sympathizing crowd stood around, and every moment it looked as if he would die in a saloon before a place could be found for him at that hour of night. Dr. Davidson was still in attendance.

Parsons lives in Huntington, and has a wife and three children. He is an old steamboat pilot in the Portsmouth and Huntington trade, running on the Dugan and Scioto, but for the last two weeks on the Logan.  He built the Viola. He lost his right leg by amputation some fifteen years ago, from an injury received by a line.

River Scene - Portsmouth, Ohio

River Scene - Portsmouth, Ohio


At twenty minutes to two, Parsons was removed to the Europa House, where he lies unconscious at this writing, with no hope of his recovery.

The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) Nov 1, 1879

West End View - Portsmouth, Ohio

West End View - Portsmouth, Ohio

Portsmouth Public Library (postcard collection can be found here)


OCTOBER [excerpt]

31st. Capt. John Parsons, pilot on the steamer Logan, a one-legged man, while in an intoxicated condition, falls down the stairway of the Little Grand theatre, fracturing his skull, and causing his death the following day.


14th. Condemnation of the Little Grand Theatre Hall.

The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) Dec 27, 1879

Portsmouth Times Advertisement 1870

Portsmouth Times Advertisement 1870

CAPT. LAFE SICKLES‘ new packet, James Fisk, Jr., came up Sunday, fully furnished and equipped, and took her place in her trade Monday morning. She is a beauty, being the finest finished boat of the class ever equipped at Cincinnati. She is light of draught, swift, and elegant — just the boat for the trade. Her hull was built at Concord, Ky., by Taylor & Shearer, and is 130 feet in length, 26 feet beam, 31 feet over all, and 5 feet hold. The cabin is the work of M. Wise & Co., Ironton; painting by O. Hardin, Portsmouth; landscaping by John Leslie. She has three chandeliers, brought from the East, at a cost of $130 each. Her cabin contains thirty staterooms, and on the door of each is a handsome landscape. Her skylights are made to serve a new feature in advertising, as each one contains the advertisement of some business firm along the line, and at each end of her route. The office is at the front of the cabin, and is of black walnut, and will be graced by a life-sized portrait of her commander. She was built expressly for the trade, at a cost of near $15,000, and is owned by W.P. Ripley, W.A. McFarlin, and W.L. Sickles, all of Portsmouth.

1870 Census Record - Portsmouth, Ohio

1870 Census Record - Portsmouth, Ohio

She will carry the mail between Portsmouth and Pomeroy, making three trips a week, and will be officered as follows: Captain W.L. Sickles; Clerks, W.A. McFarlin and Doc. Hurd; Pilots, John Parsons and Ed. Williamson; Engineers, Jacob Henler and Frank Neil; Mate, William Kennet.

The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) Jul 9, 1870

Portsmouth Times - Feb 1872

Portsmouth Times - Feb 1872

Sad Accident.

CAPTAIN W.L. SICKLES died last Saturday night under very peculiar circumstances. His wife was visiting her father, and he died alone, with nothing but the silent evidence of appearances to interpret the manner in which he died.

The bed chamber was a small one, and in one part of it was the bed, a bureau near it, and between the bureau and bed Captain Sickles had placed a chair, on which he had put a dipper of water. It appears that he had gone to bed naturally enough. His vest had been hung on a nail, the key of the door laid on the bureau, his coat hung on the back of a chair, and his pants lay on the floor.

Sunday forenoon when he was found, he lay with his face in a pool of blood, between the chair and the bureau, one leg and part of his body on the chair, and the other leg under the bed and partly on the chair, wedged between the two, the collar of his shirt sunk in his throat, producing strangulation and hemorrhage. The print of the dipper was on his leg where he had fallen on it, and the water was still in it when he was found, showing that he died in the exact position in which he fell. The following is the


We the undersigned jurors impanneled and sworn on the ?th day of January 1872, at the Township of Wayne in the County of Scioto ???? of ????, ?? George S. Pur?ell, Coroner……[too hard too read]….of Portsmouth, Ohio, on the 7th day of January A.D. 1872 came to his death, — after having heard the evidence and examined the body, we do find that the deceased came to his death by accidental strangulation.

C C ROW ??

The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) Jan 13, 1872

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle - Feb 21, 1872

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle - Feb 21, 1872

THERE is a remarkable coincidence in the death of Col. Fisk and Captain Sickles. Captain Sickles had a high regard for Col. Fisk, and named his steamer after him. Col. Fisk appreciating the compliment, forwarded a handsome set of colors for the boat. Captain Sickles was found dead at about the hour Sunday forenoon that Fisk expired.

The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) Jan 13, 1872


On Google Books:

The Robber Barons: The Great American Capitalists, 1861-1901
By Matthew Josephson

Page 134: Reference to James Fisk, Jr. being called the “Prince of Erie.”


NOTE: Capt. Sickles full name was William Lafayette Sickles, based on the name variations from different sources.

Hank Parish: A Royal City Desperado

September 27, 2009
Boarding House - El Dorado Canyon

Boarding House - El Dorado Canyon

Image from Southern Nevada: The Boomtown Years, on the UNLV website, which has quite a  collection of digital images.


Hank [P]Farish and one Taylor, of El Dorado Canyon, had a row over a game of cards. Taylor upset the table and drew a knife. Farish whipped out his revolver and shot Taylor twice, wounding him badly.

Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada) Sep 9, 1879


Murderous Desperado at Large in Lincoln County.

A letter from Pioche, under date of March 6, to a prominent gentleman of Eureka, gives the partial particulars of a desperate shooting scrape, which occurred at El Dorado, Lincoln county, in which two men were wounded, one slightly and the other fatally.

The letter reads as follows:

El Dorado has just had an extensive boom. Three days ago Hank Parish and a man styled Ni**er Clark were playing poker in Greenwood’s saloon. The former was drunk and lost $100. The loss incensed him and he pulled his pistol and shot Clark, wounding him, though not very seriously. Parish then opened fire on Greenwood and shot him in the stomach, inflicting a mortal wound. He then left. Shortly after the shooting Andy Fife, the Coroner, appeared on the scene, and was proceeding to take Greenwood’s deposition, when Parish again put in an appearance with a pistol in each hand, and demanded that Fife take $100 from Greenwood’s pocket, which he (Parish) had lost, or he would kill both of them forthwith. Of course Fife was obliged to comply in order to save his life at the hands of such a desperado. Parish defies arrest, and says he will kill the first man who attempts to arrest him. At the latest accounts he was still at large.

Daily Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Mar 11, 1881


The Pioche Record says that Greenwood, the man shot by Parish, in Lincoln county, is not dead, and is now considered out of danger. Clark, shot at the same time, is recovering, and it is thought that his wound will soon heal.

Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada) Mar 26,  1881

Royal City/Jackrabbit (Image from

Royal City/Jackrabbit (Image from


A Drunken Brute’s Bloody Work at Royal City.

The Pioche Record of the 9th inst. says: At Royal City Sunday morning about 4:30 A.M. Hank Parish stabbed and mortally wounded P.G. Thompson, aged 31, a native of New Jersey, and lately from Aspen, Colo. As nearly as we can ascertain, the facts of the cutting are as follows: Bob Martin, H. Hill, P.G. Thompson and a Chinaman were engaged in playing poker at Jimmy Curtis’ saloon on the morning in question. Hank Parish was present, and being intoxicated, persisted in leaning on the shoulder of Thompson, although the latter remonstrated with him, claiming that he could not play poker under the circumstances.

Parish repeated the act a few times and returned to the bar, when the laughter of the poker party attracted his attention.It seems that the players were laughing at the Chinaman for passing out a “club flush,” but Parish seemingly thought that they were laughing at him, and advancing to the table, he addressed some foul language to the party, mainly addressing himself to Thompson, the latter replying that he did not give a d–n for him.

Upon this Parish struck him in the face with his right hand, and upon Thompson rising from the table, Parish struct out with his left hand and stabbed him with a large pocket knife a little above and to the right of the navel. Upon receiving the wound, Thompson cried out that he was hurt, and hurriedly left the saloon. Jimmy Curtis at once secured a team and brought the wounded man to town, arriving at McFadden’s Hotel at 8 A.M., and Dr. Nesbitt was summoned immediately.

Sheriff Turner at once secured a team and repaired to Royal City, where he arrested Parish, unaided, and he lost no time in jailing him on his return to town.

The wounded man did not seem to have a chance for recovery from the start, for previous to his death, Dr. Louder was called in and performed an operation at Thompson’s request, the same having shown an advanced stage of decomposition and that the bowels were badly cut. The deceased died Thursday evening about 9 o’clock, and although a stranger in the community, the citizens mourn him as an old resident, from the fact of his pleasing presence and fortitude under great bodily pain.

Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada) Aug 15, 1890



He Dies Protesting His Innocence, But Claims To Have Killed Three Men.

The White Pines News contains the following account of the hanging of Hank Parish at Ely on Friday last:

Hank Parish, for the murder of A.G. Thompson at Royal City last July, was hung in front of the jail yesterday at noon. The death warrant was read by Sheriff Bassett in the jail, and at two minutes to 12 o’clock the solemn procession wended its way from the jail to the scaffold, Parish ascending the steps without the least apparent fear. There were quite a number of spectators within the inclosure, and Parish stepped to the front railing and addressed them. He said:

“I have been charged with a great many crimes; I killed three men, and I was right in doing it. The last man I killed (Thompson), he assisted in stringing me up three times. They say I have a wife and family that I have not treated right. My wife has been dead thirteen years; I have two children in Oregon, well fixed. I am an ignorant man, have always been persecuted, and am innocent of crime. All this will appear in Mr. Murphy’s book of my life, and I want you to believe it.”

These words were spoken calmly and with ordinary coolness. He made no reference whatever to the Unknown Realm into which he was about to be launched, nor expressed any regret for anything he had done.

He then stepped back on the trap door, shook hands with the Sheriff and his attendants, the black cap was pulled over his head, the rope adjusted about his neck — and the News reporter hurriedly walked into the Court House to prevent witnessing the final act in the drama of life and death.

Sheriff Bassett sprung the trap; the fall was a little over six feet, and the doomed man’s neck was broken. There was not a move or a quiver of the body, and as soon as Dr. Campbell could get to feel the pulse he pronounced life extinct. The whole time occupied in the execution was but 12 minutes. Parish went on the scaffold at 2 minutes to 12 and was cut down at 10 minutes past 12.

Dr. Campbell examined his pulse before he left the jail. It was beating at 99. When the black cap was pulled over his head it ran up to 142. That Parish was a bad man, and met the fate he deserved, is the general sentiment of this community.

Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada) Dec 16, 1890


The News says:

Lincoln county has responded to White Pine’s call to the tune of $588 on account of the little job it did for that county, namely: the hanging of Hank Parish.

Daily Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Mar 25, 1891



Colorado Difficulties — The Nevada Big Mine — Aligold – Bryonic.

While Mr. (D.) Turner was sheriff he proved himself of such nerve that desperadoes did not care to face him. In 1890 it became necessary to arrest a fellow named Hank Parish, who had 17 notches on his gunstock. He had left a bloody trail all the way between Arizona and the coast and made brags that he was good for a few more. The record of the murderer was so bad and he was known to be so quick with his gun (in fact, shooting was a pastime with him) that no officer would accompany the sheriff to make the arrest. Hence he went to the cabin of the murderer alone, and getting the drop on him, arrested his man, who in due time was hanged.

The Fitchburg Sentinel (Fitchburg, Massachusetts) Oct 12, 1896


You can read about Hank Parish’s ghost in the following book on Google:

Haunted Nevada By Janice Oberding (page 104)

More on Hank Parish HERE

Memorial Day 1879

May 24, 2009


Fourteen swift years have passed since the flag of Rebellion was furled in defeat on the battle-field; since the Flag of our Union, as the emblem of National supremacy, was restored to its place of honor over every section of the Republic; since the loyal citizen-soldiers who had survived the terrible contest, returned to their peaceful homes, laying aside the sword and musket in the belief that the great principles for which they had fought were fully and finally established. Fourteen swift years — and how events have outrun even the haste of time! To-day it is for the loyal of the Nation to turn back the hands upon the dial, and in the presence of the Nation’s Dead to remember the full measure and purpose of that devotion which inspired the Grand Army of comrades, fathers, husbands, brothers, sons, who have laid even the costly sacrifice of their lives upon the altar of their country.

It is not merely to celebrate a military triumph of Greek over Greek, that the patriotic people of the land assemble amid the graves of heroes to-day. Such homage would mean little to the living and yield scant honor to the dead. The garlands and blossoms are brought as affectionate tribute to the champions of a righteous cause, to the upholders of the principles of Liberty and Justice; to the patriots who walked even into the valley of the shadow of death that the Republic might live, purified, regenerated and exalted among the nations.

The tender observances of this day are not simply expressions of personal remembrance and sorrow — they are the loving tribute of a People who have not yet forgotten the debt they owe to those who died “that government of the people by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

As the long, long Roll of Honor grows longer year by year, while the surviving veterans close up in thinner ranks around the monuments of their departed comrades, it is meet that there should be serious remembrance of the cause for which so many precious lives were given on the murderous field, in the weary hospital and amid the horrors of the prison pens of the South.

That cause is the legacy of the Nation’s Dead to the loyal living of to-day, and amid all the beautiful and appropriate exercises of Memorial Day let us remember that beyond the utterance of eulogy and the strewing of sweet flowers, we can best honor the memory of our heroes by firmly maintaining what they have bequeathed to us; by cherishing their comrades and aiding the widows and the fatherless, and by standing guard over the welfare of the Nation they redeemed, with that unceasing vigilance which is the price of Liberty.

Whig and Courier (Maine) May 30, 1879

Mary Had A Little…Benzine

May 13, 2009

The Antwerp Gazette says:

Mary had a little lamp,
Filled with kerosene;
She took it once to light a fire,
And has not yet benzine.

Indiana Progress (Indiana, Pennsylvania) Mar 27,  1879

Budweiser: The Printer’s Choice for a Lubricant

March 25, 2009
Becker's Saloon Ad 1879 Reno Gazette

Becker's Saloon Ad 1879 Reno Gazette

The Gazette Makes a Bow.

J.J. Becker, the handsome, sent two bottles of Budweiser to this office at three o’clock this afternoon. For the benefit of the Sorosis let it be said that Budweiser is a lubricator, by means of which a printing press is able to produce a great deal better newspaper in less time than has ever been accomplished by any other known oil. It is of a beautiful light red color in the body, and pure amber in the neck of the bottle, which is so constructed that as it is emptied it keeps saying “good, good, good.” A great many people think this article is useful in blacksmith shops, dry goods stores, camp meetings, and other places, but this is a mistake. It is only safe to use it sparingly outside a newspaper shop. Mr. Becker, here’s luck.

Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada) Mar 17, 1879

St. Patrick’s Day

March 17, 2009


The Shamrock of Ireland. — One day, St. Patrick was preaching at Tara. He was anxious to explain the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. The people failed to under stand and refused to believe that there could be three persons and yet but one God. The holy man paused a moment absorbed in thought, and seeing a shamrock peeping from the green turf exclaimed, ‘Do you not see in this simple little wild flower how three leaves are united into one stalk?’ His audience understood without difficulty this simple, yet striking illustration, to the inexpresable delight of St. Patrick. From that day the shamrock became the national emblem of Ireland.

Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) Jun 5, 1869



Shamrock Mistaken for Watercress and Devoured by a Beer Drinker.

According to a story that is going the rounds a laughable and yet very annoying mistake was made in one of the saloons of this city on St. Patrick’s day. It is said that the proprietor had received from Ireland some shamrock which he placed on the bar so that any patron desiring to could have a sprig for his lapel. The courtesy was greatly appreciated by those who understood it, but unfortunately, according to the story, one man stepped in for some beer and, mistaking the shamrock for watercresses, cleaned the dish before his error was discovered. It was an expensive free lunch, but the mistake was one which could not be remedied and there was nothing to do but to grin and bear it. It is probably, however, that the man who made it will never again commit so grevious a blunder.

North Adams Transcript (North Adams, Massachusetts) Mar 19, 1897


THE editors of the Benton, Cal, Messenger and the Bodie, Cal., Standard have signed articles to fight a duel under the following rules and conditions: Time, St. Patrick’s Day; weapons, pitchforks; distance, 200 yards; stakes, six bit a side; gate money to go toward defraying the funeral expenses of the loser.

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Mar 15, 1879

The Notorious ‘Doc’ Middleton

January 22, 2009
'Doc' Middleton

'Doc' Middleton

From the (WOLA) Western Outlaw Lawmen History Association website, which provides a good amount of information about ‘Doc.’

Doc Middleton** was born James M. Riley in Bastrop County, Texas (his death certificate says he was born in Mississippi). Family members state the middle name was Middleton. Doc’s early years are confusing, but sorted out nicely by Harold Hutton in his book. Suffice to say, Doc got into some trouble in Texas, joined a cattle drive and headed to Nebraska.

The website link** above doesn’t seem to work anymore, so here is a link to the WWHA site, which also has a good article about Doc Middleton.


Fight with Outlaws.

OMAHA, July 26. Hazen, the detective wounded in a fight with Doc Middleton, has arrived here. Lewellyn, third detective in the fight, arrived at Fort Hartsuff and has left with soldiers from there for the place where Middleton is.

Later report shows the detectives treacherously fired on the outlaws, during negotiations. The outlaws promptly returned the fire. Middleton is severely wounded. Hazen badly and Llewellyn slightly. Black George and another outlaw were killed. The result will be the capture of Middleton and breaking up the gang.

Daily Kennebec Journal (Augusta, Maine) Jul 28,  1879


Chicago, July 24. — An Omaha special to the News gives meagre details of a desperate fight between a body of detectives and four desperadoes of Doc Middleton’s gang of thieves and murderers infesting the cattle country on the Niobara river which occurred Monday on one of the branches of the creek called Long Pine, 140 miles north of Grand Island. Shots were fired by two of the detectives and returned by the desperadoes, with effect upon each side, although no lives were lost. Hazen, one of the detectives, received three balls — one in the neck, one in the arm, and a third through his body below the ribs, coming out near the backbone.

S. Lewellyan, another of the detectives who was present at the fight, is missing, and the remaining detectives escaped without a scratch, and made their way to Columbus, 150 miles distant. Hagan reached the place safely and his wounds are not serious, though painful. Middleton would have been killed, had not the detective’s revolver missed fire four times. He was badly wounded in the groin, and it is thought he will die. He is being cared for by friends.

Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Indiana) Jul 30,  1879



CHEYENNE, July 31. Doc Middleton, the notorious horse and cattle thief for whose capture large rewards were offered by different counties in Nebraska, was taken last Sunday in his camp on the Nebraska river, about 200 miles northwest of Columbus, Neb., and brought into that town this evening. Sunday morning, detectives and soldiers from Columbus and Grand Island surrounded the house of Richardson, Middleton’s father-in-law, and captured Middleton and five of his gang.

Daily Kennebec Journal (Augusta, Maine) Aug 1,  1879


“Doc.” Middleton, the notorious horse and cattle thief, has been sentenced to five years in the Nebraska penitentiary for stealing horses from Carey Bros, of that Territory. There are other indictments against him in Nebraska.

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada) Sep 21,  1879


Killed by Gamblers.
OMAHA, March 26 — A gang of gamblers, supposed to be Doc Middleton’s gang, went to Covington, Neb., Tuesday night and opened up a room. Yesterday morning they killed John Peyton, a gambler, and fled. The sheriff is in pursuit.

Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey) Mar 26,  1891


–Covington, the Nebraska suburb of Sioux City was the scene of another saloon and gambling house murder. James Peyson, ex-mayor of the town, is nearly dead, and Doc Middleton, a young gambler, has a dangerous wound in the abdomen. The trouble grew out of a game of craps in the White House, a notorious place kept by Sioux City saloon men. All were drunk.

The New Era (Humeston, Iowa) Apr 1,  1891



For a While He Ran Things With a High Hand in the Black Hills Country — Defied the Federal Authorities and Made a Judge Quickly Throw up His Hands.

“‘Doc’ Middleton was the most daring desperado that ever terrorized the Elkhorn valley and ruled the Black Hills country with a high hand,” said John C. Barclay, a shoe drummer, at the Lindell, as a party of western traveling men were swapping stories.

“Middleton always bore the soubriquet of ‘Doc,’ but nobody seems to know how he was so dubbed. Before the railroads were built into Deadwood, S.D., I used to make one trip a year by stage to that country, and I saw ‘Doc’ Middleton several times. He was a powerful fellow, with quick, elastic step, and wore a dark sombrero, an overcoat of wildcat skins and a bright handkerchief, and his cowboy make-up gave him the appearance of a typical western frontiersman. Leading a band of rangers, he waged war on the Sioux Indians and protected the settlers of the Elkhorn valley, Neb. Government officials in those days feared him, and for years he was the chief of desperadoes in those parts. But he settled down to a respectable life in Nebraska over 15 years ago and was engaged in the cattle business.

“When I first knew ‘Doc’ he was freighting from Sidney, Neb., to the Black Hills. One night, in a Sidney dance house, a half-dozen soldiers engaged in a quarrel with ‘Doc,’ and there was a shooting scrape. Middleton escaped and his in the hill sands on the Platte river. While living in the hills he picked up a bunch of horses and started out with them. He was captured and thrown into jail in Sidney. The second night there he got the jailor drunk and walked away. He next appeared at a road ranch up the Elkhorn, having been without food for five days. Soon after that he was hurrying down the Elkhorn valley with a bunch of horses that belonged to the Indians. ‘Doc’ and his party were pursued by a company of United States soldiers, about 50 settlers and a band of Indians. The white men gave up the chase in a few days, but the Indians kept on the trail. One night the thieves were overtaken by the Indians. The red men dared not shoot Middleton, so they took the horses and returned home. Middleton’s front teeth were filled with gold, and he was known to all the redskins as the ‘Gold Chief.’ The Indians believed that ‘Doc’ must have been favored by the Great Spirit in oder to have gold teeth, and they would not kill him.

“One of Middleton’s escapades was known all over the country. He was at North Platte, and a deputy sheriff tried to take him. ‘Doc’ mounted his horse, pulled a couple of revolvers and rode over all the town daring any man to shoot at him. The government finally made a determined effort to capture ‘Doc’ and sent out four secret service men. They met ‘Doc’ at a Fourth of July celebration at Atchison, Neb. He took their pistols away and made them run foot races and join in the other festivities of the day. Once Judge Moody of Deadwood demanded Middleton’s surrender. He made the judge throw up his hands and then took all the valuables he had.

“Middleton was finally captured by Deputies Lewellen and Hazen, who were sent out by Governor Thayer of Nebraska. ‘Doc’ was taken to Omaha, where he received a sentence of five years in the penitentiary. He was shown leniency because he always protected the white settlers and only stole the stock belonging to the Indians. At the expiration of his term ‘Doc’ returned to Atchison, Neb., and became a law-abiding citizen.” — St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

New Oxford Item (New Oxford, Pennsylvania) May 6,  1898

“Doc.” Middleton, well known to pioneer Nebraskans twenty years ago, who served a term in the penitentiary and afterwards engaged in the saloon business at Gordon, is now in the same business at Ardmore, South Dakota. He is also town marshal and so gets pay for “running men in” after he has “filled them up.”

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Dec 21,  1900


Doc Middleton Had Asked Malone for Job as Detective
“I knew Doc Middleton well,” said Chief Malone, in discussing news of the outlaw’s death. “My relations with him were very friendly. When he was at Whitman I got acquainted with him. Some months ago Doc asked for positions for himself and his son as specials in the railroad secret service. I have his letter of application in my possession now.” The chief said that Middleton wanted a job at Crawford.

A Burlington man tells a good story of the outlaw and gambler and an old time detective of the road. The latter had gone to a western town in the state with the avowed purpose of cleaning out the Middleton gang. He and his assistants were quartered in a freight car when it reached the town. The gang heard of the arrival of the detective and his force of exterminators and when the train pulled in shot after shot was fired into each freight car. Quick orders from the sleuth resulted in the train being pulled outside of the corporate limits of the town. The job of extermination was nipped in the bud.

Lincoln Daily News (Lincoln, Nebraska) Jan 1,  1914


(From the Journal Files.)
Five of Doc Middleton’s gang, including Middleton, passed thru Sidney, Neb. Local officers were in hot pursuit and shot one of the outlaws within city limits.

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Apr 28,  1939

Sixty Years Ago Today.
It was learned that Doc Middleton, the notorious outlaw, had paid a quiet visit to Lincoln during the week.

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Sep 13,  1944

Doc Middleton's Gravestone

Doc Middleton's Gravestone

Doc Middleton, Nebraska “bad man” of the seventies, died at Douglas, Wyo. In the early history of the state his gang was the terror of settlers in northwestern Nebraska. He belonged to the “Wild Bill” and “Calamity Jane” period in that section. He had a ranch at Rushville said to be the rendezvous of many noted road agents.

The Lincoln Star (Lincoln, Nebraska) Dec 30,  1933


Santa Fe Publisher Puts West in Books
Of Our Staff
(excerpt from article)
The other two, “Doc Middleton, The Unwickedest Outlaw,” by John Carson, and “The Lynching of Elizabeth Taylor,” by Jean Williams, are based in Nebraska…
The story of Doc Middleton — horse thief, gambler, accused murderer and Texas fugitive — also is interesting reading. A lot happened between the time Middleton came to Nebraska in 1876 at the age of 25 and his death from a group of diseases while in the Converse County jail in 1913 at the age of 62.

Amarillo Globe-Times (Amarillo, Texas) Nov 10,  1966

Golden Empire: A Novel of the Northwest
By Chalmer Orin Richardson
Published by Greenberg, 1938
274 pages

…by Chalmer Richardson now superintendent of schools at Vesta. “Golden Empire,” by Mr. Richardson, is a story of Custer county of the 70’s and 80’s and brings into prominence the Olives, well known Nebraskans because of the Mitchell and Ketchum case long in the courts of the state. Mr. Richardson does not say that none of his characters are drawn from life. He admits that several are fairly close copies of early people of Custer county. Doc Middleton, another well known and lawless early day resident, is easily recognizable. The original title of the book was “Buffalo Grass,” which has sufficient meaning for people brought up in close proximity to this familiar landscape covering, but evidently not enough for Mr. Richardson’s publishers. The book made its appearance as “Golden Empire, a novel of the northwest: blandly ignoring the fact that Custer county is far from being in the northwest of Nebraska, to say nothing of the territory usually known as the northwest.

The Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, Nebraska) Oct 9,  1938

The England Family Murders

January 6, 2009


Ben Krebbs/Krebs/Kribbs/Cribbs was mentioned in one of the news articles posted in “The Brown Family: When Vigilantism Turns to Outright Murder posted on Dec. 30, 2008.  This is a tragic story, in more ways than one, which will become apparent in the follow-up post to this one.

Here are the initial news articles about the murders and convictions:

There were seven persons murdered six miles south of the town of Montague on Saturday night by parties in disguise. The persons murdered are Rev. W.G. England, his wife, a step-daughter and four step-sons. They were murdered with knives. The opinion prevails that they were murdered for money, as the family was known to be well off, having just completed a fine house. Mr. England was a Methodist preacher. The mother was shot but still survives at last accounts. No cause has yet been heard for the fiendish outrage. The family once lived in Grayson county.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Sep 2, 1876


The particulars of the fiendish murder of a whole family in the Montague county were printed in the News last week. Mrs. England has since died, but stated before her death that Ben. Cribs, a neighbor, was one of the murderers. He has been arrested, but bitterly denies the charge. The excitement is high, and it is thought Cribs will be lynched.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Sep 5, 1876


The Decatur Tribune very truly says:

The good people of Montague county deserve credit for not lynching the murderers of the England family. For black-hearted fiendishness that certainly far outstripped any crime which has ever been committed in this country, and the proof was positive, yet the people preferred to permit the law to assert her supremacy. All praise is due the people of that county for their action in the matter. County Attorney Matlock, as soon as he heard of the murder, repaired to the scene and was not long in taking in the whole situation, had the guilty parties arrested and used his official and personal influence to prevent violence.

This wholesale assassination exceeds anything ever known in Texas for atrocity, excepting the acts of the Indians.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Oct 6, 1876


Ben Kribbs, charged with being the principal in the murder of the England family, an account of which a few months ago, was put upon trial at the recent session of the District Court of Montague county, and found guilty of murder in the first degree and his punishment assessed at death. Preston and Taylor, also indicted with Kribbs for the same foul murder, succeeded in having their cases continued to the next term of the district court, when it is confidently expected they will meet the same fate of their dastardly leader. The defendants were represented by Griggsby & Willis, and the State by F.E. Piner, of Denton, and Mr. Matlock, County Attorney of Montague county.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Nov 30, 1876


…Captital Conviction…
(Special Telegram to the News)
SHERMAN, Feb 17. — Kribbs, who murdered the England family, of husband, wife, son and daughter, in Montague county, Texas, in 1876, has just been convicted of murder in the first degree in Cook county district court, where the case was taken on change of venue, and will swing in a short time. The jury were out only twenty minutes. The criminal is described as a small, sunken-eyed, shallow-pated and hardened-looking wretch.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Feb 18, 1879


Important Cases Affirmed.
The court of appeals yesterday affirmed the judgement in the James Preston and Ben Krebs cases, for the murder of the England family in Montague county on the 26th day of August, 1876, A full statement of which was published in the News at the time. On the trial of this cause a change of venue was granted to Cook county, where the appellants, together with Edward Taylor, were convicted of murder in the first degree, and the death penalty assessed on Preston and Krebs, while Taylor was sentenced to the penitentiary for life. On appeal to the court of appeals the judgement in Taylor’s case was affirmed, but in the case of Preston and Krebs it was reversed and remanded. On a new trial in the same county they were again convicted of murder in the first degree, and the death penalty assessed, which judgement was yesterday affirmed, and will be carried out unless the governor interferes. The family murdered by them consisted of four persons– the old man, his wife, a daughter and son, the latter of whom was to have been married in three days. So far as the record shows, this murder was wholly unprovoked.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Feb 15, 1880


Krebs and Preston En Route to Huntsville
(Special Telegram to the News)
DENISON, April 29.– Calhoun, agent for Cunningham & Ellis, lessees? of the state penitentiary, arrived in this city on the 11 o’clock train from Gainesville, with Krebs and Preston, convicted of the murder of the England family. They were placed in the city jail until 8 p.m., when Calhoun took them to the train of the Houston and Texas Central, and left with them for Houston. It is said that a large number of persons from Montague county arrived in Gainesville a few minutes after the train left, and it is supposed their intention was to lynch Krebs and Preston. The indignation of the people of Montague, the county where the atrocious murder was committed, and also in adjacent counties, at the commutation is intense, and mainly directed against judge Carroll. Your correspondent interviewed the prisoners while in the Denison jail. Krebs is 52 years of age, a native of Switzerland, and has lived on the frontier for more than thirty years. Preston is 56 years of age, a native of Tennessee, and had only been in Texas a few years when the murder was committed. Both are emphatic in their declarations of innocence. Preston seemed to be well pleased with the commutation, while Krebs says the governor did not do him any great favor, as he would much prefer to die than stay in jail the balance of his life.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Apr 30, 1880


Bendicht Krebs and James Preston–convicted for the massacre of the England family in Montague county, on the 25th? day of August, 1876….
The death penalty in the case of Krebs and Preston was commuted on the 24th instant by the governor to a life term in the penitentiary.


was the most solemn and impressive scene ever witnessed in the courts of the state. The court-room was crowded with spectators– many ladies being amongst the number. The three doomed prisoners–one in the hey-day of manhood, and two past the meridian of life– were led into court, heavily ironed, and seated in front of awe-impressing? judge. The court having solemnly recited a brief statement of the proceedings in their several cases, addressed James Preston and asked him what he had to say why the extreme penalty of the law should not be pronounced against him. The prisoner, rising from his seat, spoke deliberately as follows:

“I am fully sensible that I can say nothing now that would be effective, but I can not permit the opportunity to pass without saying that I know I am innocent, and that though my life is forfeited, I thank God that this conscious knowledge of innocence can not be destroyed.”

Taking his seat, Krebs was next addressed with the same question. He arose and, with a tremor of emotion in his voice, said:

“It is true that I have been legally convicted. I would like to say much on the subject, but will not now do so, because I am not so familiar with the language as to make myself correctly understood. Besides that infirmity, I know that what I should say would not abate? the sentence of the law. I see a large company here present, and I want to say to the court, in the hearing of the country, that I am not the murderer of the England family, and that the perpetrators of that crime are not here.”

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) May 1, 1880

Are Preston and Krebs lying to save their skin, or telling the truth?

The Brown Brothers: Execution Day

January 2, 2009
Old West Hanging

Old West Hanging

The background articles about the Brown family and the murders committed were posted Dec 30, 2008. I can’t figure out how to link back to the post.


History of Their Crimes.
(Special Telegram to the News)

DENTON, via Pilot Point, Nov. 21.– Some years ago, within the recollection of children born at the outbreak of the war, a man was hanged in Denton by a mob. A gallows, rude and ???????????? ?????? today almost upon the same spot, for the ????????? of crimes committed by two young men, who, like the executioners of the man, had taken the execution of the laws into their own hands. The first death ?????? ended the earthly career of a black fiend, and the last was the ex???? of two of the most savagely bloodthirsty whtie men who ever darkened the doors of a penitentiary.

whose sould were launched into eternity were George and Andrew Brown, natives of Missouri. They were the terror of Montague county, where they were directly and indirectly implicated in fourteen murders.

The criminals paid the death penalty for the murder of Doc McClain, in Montague county, in May 1876, this fourteenth known victim of the “vigillante,”of which they were members. They were jointly indicted as principals in the district court of that county. Their father, George Brown Sr., and the oldest brother Jesse Brown, were also indicted, but were charged with being accomplices who were not present when the crime was committed, but who prior to its commission advised, commanded and prepared arms and aid for the purpose of assisting the principals in the execution of the dead. In June, 1877, all the defendants united in an application for a change of venue, setting forth this usual statutory grounds, and supported by the affidavits of eleven resident citizens, who bore witness to the high state of feeling existing against them in the county. The application was granted, and the court ordered the venue changed and the cause transferred to Denton county, together with three other cases, in which the Browns and their confederates were charged with the murder of R.S. Morrow, in September 1873; Mrs. Elizabeth Morrow, in June 1875; and Freeman Batchlor, in November, 1875. Before the cases were transferred by change of venue, George Brown, Jr., was tried, on a severance, forthe murder of R.S. Morrow, found guilty of murder in the first degree, and appealed from the judgement of conviction. The cause was still pending in the court of appeals when he was arraigned for

At the February term of the district court of Denton county, 1876, Andrew, Jesse and George Brown, Jr., were placed upon their trial, they having been duly arraigned, and their plea of not guilty having been entered in Montague county before the venue was changed. The testimony established the fact that Doc McClain, a stranger in the neighborhood, was killed on Farmer’s creek, in Montague county, in May, 1876. On the morning of the day McClain was killed, the principal witness for the prosecution saw George Brown, Jr., Andrew Brown, Sampson and John Barrass coming towards and pass out of sight into a ravine, near the banks of which the deceased was killed. The witness saw the deceased walking ahead of him in a bridle-path toward the ford of the creek about the same time that he noticed the armed party enter the ravine. The deceased walked about one hundred yards further when the witness saw the party rise up from behind the bank and shoot at the deceased, who immediately fell and commenced struggling as though he was in agony. A minute later he saw George Brown, Jr., run out of the ambush and shoot McClain with a pistol, when he (witness) hurriedly left the vicinity, fearing that if seen he would be killed. He concealed the facts until the Browns were brought to trial, not having even intimated the murder to his brother, although the following day they had in company passed the scene. McClain was buried near the spot where he was killed.

Another witness testified that on the day before the killing, George Brown, Jr., told him that deceased was spotted and would be gotten away with, and that on the day following the murder he was approached by Jesse Brown, who asked him, significantly, “Has George got you under control?” and then developed that it was expected that he would go to the scene where the inquest was being held over the body of McClain, and casually inform the jury that he had seen three men from the Indian nation, on the morning of the killing, looking for a robber, and express the belief that they “got away with Doc.” This conversation occurred within ear-shot of a school-house, and was heard by the teacher, who subsequently, together with Johnson, was ordered out of the state under pain of death if he remained or spoke of what he had overheard. Another witness, Joseph Collier, who had known the deceased in Grayson county, and had met him in the neighborhood, testified that in a conversation with Jesse Brown, after the killing, about a written warning he had received to leave the county, Jesse had promised to protect him. The deceased, Brown said, was a thief, and some one had followed McClain from the nation and got away with him. The witness’s brother lived at Johnson’s in the same house with McClain, and had been forced to flee the county. Jesse Brown, speaking of him to witness, said: “Joe, you know, you and I have been friends. Your brother John is a young fellow. I sent him word to get out of the country to keep from being killed. He is young, and

if he is a thief.” The result of the trial was that George and Andrew Brown were found guilty of murder in the first degree with the the death penalty assessed, and Jesse Brown, the accomplice, was found not guilty and acquitted. A motion for a new trial was made, the main ground of which was to obtain the testimony of their co-defendant, Jesse Brown, and of whose testimony, up to the time of his acquittal, they were deprived by virtue of the fact that he was jointly indicted and on trial with them. In addition to the sworn statement of the defendants as to what this new witness would swear, the affidavit of Jesse Brown himself sets out the facts that he would contradict the main witness of the state in his declaration with regard to statements made to him by ?????; and further, that he would prove that on the morning of the day McClain was killed three armed strangers came to his house and inquired for McClain, whom they said parties from Red river and the nation were hunting; that one Milas Miller had told him that he was going to kill McClain, about a week before the deed was committed; that this party from the nation was watching round Johnson’s house (where McClain and young Collier were living) for them, and said if they did not leave the country they would kill them; that Miller had told him that he had found out, in the Indian nation, that McClain and Collier were members of an organized band of thieves, and that there was a party coming over to kill them; and that he warned young Collier, who was a brother of a hand on his farm, to leave the country or he would be gotten away with. The motion for a new trial was overruled, and an appeal was subsequently taken from the judgement of the court.

Before the motion for a new trial in the McClain case was filed, Andrew Brown was put on trial for the murder of R.S. Morrow, for which he was indicted jointly with his brother George, Albert Haw and J.W. Bell. Haw fled the country, and is a fugitive in the mountains of Virginia, and Bell was arrested, bailed, jumped his bond, and has taken refuge in New Mexico. George was tried in Montague for this crime, convicted of murder in the first degree, and appealed his case, which was reversed by the superior court. The facts elicited on the trial of Andrew Brown were that R.S. Morrow had settled on a pre-emption claim in the neighborhood of the Browns, on Farmers creek, in Montague county. He lived on good terms with the Browns, but was under the ban of the vigilants. On the night of the 14th of September, 1873, his mules were turned out of his pastures by J.W. Bell, a member of the vigilants. The next morning, on discovering the absence of his mules, he started to hunt them up, accompanied by his six-year old boy, and a lad from the nation. As they were about crossing the ford, where McClain was subsequently murdered, a volley was fired, riddling him with buckshot and bringing him down from his horse. While attempting to regain his feet one of the party of murderers rushed up from the bank, threw him on his back, and placing the muzzle of his gun under Morrow’s chin, fired, tearing away the windpipe arterius. The children were carried back to the homestead by the frightened horses, after the discharge of the volley, unhurt, although Morrow was riding between them when he was first shot. Early the next morning Andrew and Jesse Brown were soon armed in the town of Montague, and apparently on the alert. They stated that Morrow had been killed, and fearing that a mob would rise and hang them, they had come to town for protection. They gave themselves up to the authorities, and on preliminary trial the same day before J.M. Grisby, a justice of the peace, they were

In a conversation in 1875, with one of the witnesses for the state, Andrew Brown told the witness that Jesse Brown had always poked and worked him up to the murdering point when a man “in their beat” had to be disposed of, and that he and George never would have killed R.S. Morrow, if it had not been for Jesse and the old man. “My father and Jesse,” he said, “were after us every time we came home to kill Morrow, and offered us all the money we wanted to do so; but when we finally did kill him, the old man never even gave us supper when we went there the night of the killing.” The boys were married and lived on farms of their own in the vicinity, which is known as the Brown neighborhood. The defense in this and the McClain case attempted to introduce evidence which would go to show that these murders were the result of lynch trials, and the parties to the deeds ?????ed as executioners, but the court overruled it in every instance, the unknown parties alleged by the defense not being on trial. The jury in the Morrow case returned a verdict against Andrew Brown of murder in the first degree. It is from this judgement of conviction that Andrew Brown brought his case to the court of appeals, where it is still pending.

The next case called, and before any steps for a new trial in the McClain case were taken by the defense, was that of the state against George and Andrew Brown, who were indicted jointly with George Ross?, Thomas White and M.B. Wal?er, for the murder of Mrs. Elizabeth Morrow, wife of Rat Morrow. The Browns were the only defendents brought to trial. White had been arrested and released on a heavy appearance bond, which he jumped before the term of the court convened, at which Jesse Brown was tried for the murder of Batchlor; M.B. Waller had fled the country before the indictment was found, was last seen in eastern Kentucky, and is supposed to be now in British America, near its southern boundary line; George Ross turned state evidence, and was the witness whose testimony convicted Jesse Brown, who is now serving the term in the penitentiary. In order to clear the cause of legal entanglements, the case against George Brown for the murder of Rat Morrow–which as above stated, had been reversed by the court of appeals and remanded to the lower court in Montague county for a rehearing– was dismissed, and he, jointly with Andrew Brown, was arraigned in the case of Mrs. Elizabeth Morrow. The state in this case dis???ed for murder in the first degree, and the defendants plead guilty to

The facts show that after the murder of her husband Mrs. Morrow moved with her two children to St. Joe, where she occupied rented premises. The bed she occupied was near and in front of a window. Two years subsequently, about ten o’clock at night, a volley of seven shots was fired into the bed. For some reason unknown, she and her children were sleeping on a pallet on the floor. Startled by the volley, and realizing, doubtless, what she had feared, she ran out of the house to take refuge in the house of a neighbor. As she ran through the garden several shots wer fired at her, one taking effect in her thigh and breaking it. While  down George Ross, Andrew Brown and others of the party closed in and finished her with pistol balls, and leisurely remounting their horses rode away. The mruder was for the double purpose of suppressing her testimony in the case of her husband and to wrench from her children her pre-emption claim to the homestead on Farmers creek. It is alleged, to travel outside of the record, that before moving she placed a tenant on the claim who was to hold it in her name for twelve months to perfect her title. This tenant, at the expiration of the year, claimed that she had abandoned the claim and he had settled on it as a pre-emptor.

In this case Geo. Ross, M.B. Waller, Thomas White and J.C. Thompson, members of the vigilants in the Brown beat, were jointly indicted as principals, for the murder of Freeman Batchlor, in November, 1875. Jesse Brown was also indicted, but he was charged with being an accomplice, who was not present when the crime was committed, but who furnished arms and a horse to Geo. Ross to execute the deed while Batchlor was out with the party on the cattle trail. All the parties to the murder fled the country excepting Jesse Brown, on learning that the matter was being investigated by the grand jury of Montague. The whereabout of Ross was known to authorities, and at their suggestion Gov. Hubbard offered a reward for his apprehension. The action of the governor was made known to the county authorities in Arkansas, where Ross and his wife had taken refuge. He was arrested and brought back to Montague on a requisition of the governor, and at the first term of hte district court held afterwards, “poached” and was used as a state witness on the trial of Jesse Brown, as an accomplice, who was convicted and his punishment assessed at twenty-five years in the penitentiary, which term he is now serving at Huntsville.

Batchlor was a member of the vigilants, as was George Ross. They had been warm personal friends up to within a month of the horrible murder. The belle of Farmers creek, a buxom lass of seventeen, was the cause of the estrangement, Batchlor and Ross being rivals for her hand. The former was the favorite of the lass. The courtship was yet in the bud, neither of the rivals having formally proposed marriage. Ross was bold and unscrupulous, and the favorite with the younger members of the vigilants. On a trumped-up charge, the death of Batchlor was debated in committee and defeated by Jesse Brown, who suspected the crookedness of the charge. Subsequently Ross an his friend got a quorum together and passed the death sentence. Batchlor’s horses, together with those of Waller, White, Ross and Thompson, were stampeded in the direction of the nation, where Batchlor was invited to go with the party to drive them back. Toward nightfall he suspected that Ross would attempt foul play, and informing him of his suspicion, warned him if he made “a bad break” he would kill him. They encamped that night on the banks of Red river. While the party were lying down on their blankets chatting, Waller shot Batchlor in the right side, Ross gave him the contents of two barrels in the left side. While Batchlor was yet alive he robbed him of his shirt-studs and collar button, drew his head over the trunk of a fallen tree,

with his hunting-knife, and threw it into the river, where his body was also thrown afterward. Returning to their homes the party circulated the report that Batchlor had been killed in a difficulty with an Indian, who had, according to the report in the nation, thrown  his body into Red river. A few months afterward Ross married the belle, and, when the crimes committed by the vigilants were begun to be inquired into by the outraged citizens of Montague county, fled to Arkansas where his wife followed him. The shirt-studs and collar-button of Freeman Batchlor were of gold and peculiar in shape. When Ross testified on behalf of hte state in the trial of Jesse Brown, he had them on, and they were recognized by every one present who had known Batchlor in life. His testimony was point blank that, prior to Batchlor’s murder, Brown had advised, commanded and encouraged him and the others in its commission, and prepared arms and horses for the purpose of assisting him and Waller in the execution of the deed.

After sentence was passed in the case convicting George and Andrew Brown of murder in the second degree in the cause of Mrs. Elizabeth Morrow, the punishment for which was fixed by the jury at thrity years in the penitentiary, the defense filed a motion for a new trial in the McClain case on behalf of George and Andrew Brown, and a similar motion on behalf of Andrew Brown in the Rat Morrow case. The motion was overruled in both cases and appeals were taken. Pending the notion of the court of appeals, sentence was passed on the criminals in the case of Mrs. Elizabeth Morrow, and the convicts taken to Huntsville and placed in the penitentiary to serve out the thirty years term. Subsequently the court acted on the McClain case, affirming the judgement of the lower court, but the appeal of Andrew Brown, in the Rat Morrow case, is still pending. On the oder of the district judge, and by advice of hte attorney general, the prisoners were taken out of the penitentiary and brought to Denton to receive the death sentence in accordance with the mandates of hte court of appeals. After sentence, the last effort of their attorney was for a commutation of the sentence from death to penitentiary for life, based upon the facts that the condemned young men were deluded and beguiled by the quasi-military

into their organization and thence into the several deeds of bloody murder with which they are charged; that hey had been in the penitentiary, under a plea of guilt of murder in the second degree, where they were serving a thirty years term when the death sentence was passed on them; that the jury that returned the verdict against them, joined in a petition ????????? the law had left it discretionary ?????????? they would have fixed the ?????? imprisonment for life; that the officers and authorities of the state prison at Huntsville, where these criminals have recently been confined, also forwarded strong recommendations for commutation, based upon the good behavior of these prisoners and that the citizens of Montague, Cooke, Grayson and Denton counties, after viewing the circumstances of the killing, petitioned for executive clemency.

These petitions were signed by some eight hundred citizens of Montague county, said to be representative men; some five hundred citizens of Cooke and Grayson counties, and about the same number of citizens of Denton county., including the officers of the county, excepting the prosecuting attorney, the members of the bar generally, and Miss Callie Forester and a number of ladies of Denton, who are noted at their homes for acts of kindness and charity, and their exemplary religious and moral bearing. These petitions were left with Gov. Roberts by Mr. M. Fulton, the indefatigable attorney of the defendants, who called the attention of the executive to all of the points. The governor took the matter under advisement, promising to telegraph the result, and the attorney left without encouragement. The response came on the day indicated, and with its perusal perished the last, earthly hope of the criminals.

On Sunday last the reporter of the News visited the condemned in their cell. George is of medium size, lean, and wiry in his movements. His eyes are small, hazel in color and penetrating in gaze. While his mouth and chin indicate great firmness, there is nothing in his features suggestive of brutality. He is intelligent, expresses himself with ease, and is above the average frontier-raised mad in education. Andrew is over the medium in height and in frame a fine specimen of the muscular farmer. His eyes are blue, and frank in expression. His face and head are round and his features German. He is full of life, and is a jolly fellow in manners and conversation. When the reporter entered the jail he found the passageway between the iron cage and the walls of the jail occupied by ladies and gentleman of various denominations who were holding a union prayer meeting. During the intermissions between the hymns, the criminals and their fellow prisoners would talk with the visitors upon religious subjects and about the status of their cases.

In an interview with George Brown, after religious service, he gave the reporter a rambling history of the vigilants. It appears from his statement htat a vigilance committee was organized at Red river station in 1872 to drive outlaws out of the county, which was then the readezvous of the worst characters in the Indian nation, and on the Texas frontier. In 1873 Brown’s father moved to Montague from Grayson county. The old man located on Farmers creek. During the first month on the new farm his horses and cattle were preyed upon by the outlaws on Red river in the nation. His complaints to the authorities lead to his boys’ connection with the band. Maj? Bronson was the reported head of the vigilants, who appointed a captain in every precinct in the county. The object of hte organization was to assist the civil authorities in bringing to justice horse and cattle thieves, and other bad characters. Toward the close of that year some members of the committee took the administration of the law into their own hands, and hung or shot the outlaws wherever caught. The vigilants in Brown’s beat were opposted to this summary proceeding, and confined their operations to apprehending had characters, and turning them over to the authorities for punishment. Sampson Barras, a brother-in-law of the Browns and now an inmate of the penitentiary, was

in the vigilance organization. His confederates were Dave Priso?, Abe Walins, George Imboden, George Howard, James Wise, George Richardson, Bill Brands, James Drake and others. The murders committed by the lynch party were made known to the Browns by their brother-in-law, and afterward, in a number of cases, confirmed by some of the above parties confessing their participation in the killing. The knowledge thus obtained, George says, has led to his, Andrew and Jesse Brown’s conviction for some of the crimes committed by the lynchers. When the outrages of hte lynchers aroused the citizens of Montague, and the murders committed begun to be looked into by the authorities, their conviction of death became necessary to the safety of the lynchers. Testimony was manufactured and conviction secured. “Iti s a notorious fact,” Brown said, “that Sirton remarked in the witness room that we must swear to enough to convict them, that is Jesse, Andrew and myself.” When asked by the reporter for the names of some representative men in Montague county who were members of the vigilance committee, he replied, “I have nothing to say concerning them. They acted for the public good, and in assisting the authorities in suppressing crime, they advanced the prosperity, peace and quiet of Montague. If you must know my feelings toward them, I tell you I will never say anything against a good man and citizen, no matter what I know on him.” The prisoner was calm and resigned to his fate. His parting words to the reporter were, “I hope that my friends and the justice-loving citizens of Montague will see to it that the judicial investigations wind out square for then in the final wind-up all will come right.”

Promptly at 1.35, the hour fixed for execution, the condemned were brought from the jail and


The sheriff read the death warrant and the governor’s refusal to commute the sentence to imprisonment for life, at the close of which George Brown addressed the crowd, in a five minutes speech, during which he said that he had made a statement for publication which would show that he was not more guilty than others who are at large.

At the conclusion of his speech Rev. Dr. Grafton, of the Cumberland presbyterian church, read the fourteenth chapter of Job; two hymns were sung, in which the concourse joined. Andrew Brown refused to speak, and maintained to the last that he was innocent of the murder of McClain.

the only member of the family present, left the gallows before the trap was sprung. Handshaking was indulged in for several minutes. At 2.10 the ropes were adjusted and the black caps put on and their legs and arms pinloned. At 2.18 the sheriff cut the trap-rope, the drop fell and the criminals were

George died in nine minutes, his neck being broken. Andrew died in eleven minutes of strangulations.

The execution was witnessed by seven thousand people.

of the condemned was brought about by a family quarrel, and the jealousy of Andrew’s wife, whose husband was a gallant among women in the neighborhood. She and her sister-in-law, Mrs. Barros, were devoted friends, and sided against the Browns in the quarrel, during which the boys were charged with the assassination of R.A.F. Morrow, which they tbreatened to make public. A meeting of the vigilants was called, especially for the purpose of posing the death decree on the women. Their husbands were present at this meeting and sanctioned the proceedings. The plan agreed upon was that Barros’s wife should spend the following Saturday with Andrew Brown’s wife, when they were to be assassinated; and the crime charged to outlaws who had been driven out of the county into the nation. Barros informing his wife of the plan, and guarding her against ??y allusion to the matter, secrectly made his way during the night to Montague and informed county attorney Matlock of the situation, and made a full confession. He swore an affidavit against the Browns for the murder of McClain, upon which affidavit they were arrested. The Barros family removed the same day to Montague. During the investigation of the McClain murder the vigilants took fright and several of them turned state’s evidence when the catalogue of crime committed by the vigilants became known. Mrs. Barrow is sister of the Browns, both of whom are married. Andrew leaves two children and George a son by his first wife. His second wife abandoned him.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Nov. 22, 1879