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 murder case."
Between the 1860s and 1940s, East
Texas produced some of the strangest murders in Texas.
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.
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.
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-lawšs allegations
that he had not married a virgin.
In 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 Big
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 lumbermanšs
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
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, wešve collected a fascinating
list of murderers and their victims. But we could use your help,
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, wešll send you a free copy when it is completed
Bob Bowman's East
July 13-19, 2003 column
(Bob Bowman of Lufkin
is the author of almost 50 books about East