July of 1888, Rupert P. Wright, dressed in rags and one eye blinded
by his own hand, pleaded for mercy on a charge of bigamy before an
To those who knew Wright, his appearance and demeanor were far removed
from the days when he was a prominent newspaper editor, attorney,
and aspiring legislator in Little Rock.
But they would soon learn that he was also an escaped murderer, forger,
arsonist and jail breaker named Pete Loggins from East Texas.
Born Lewis L. Loggins in 1848 near San
Augustine, Loggins moved to Jasper County in 1871, became a printer,
studied law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1874.
Seemingly on his way to success, Loggins married, sired three children
and was elected county attorney for Jasper County. But he soon returned
to San Augustine County to practice law and edit a local newspaper.
Between the late 1870s and early 1880s, Loggins’ law practice and
newspaper career prospered and he became well known in East Texas.
But in 1881 his career took a deadly turn when he and a friend, Abe
Smith, forged a land document for 1,107 acres near Hemphill.
When his crime was discovered, Loggins fled to Arkansas and married
On an 1882 trip to Hemphill he was arrested, but set fire to the jail
and escaped. When Smith turned state’s evidence against Loggins on
the forgery charge, Loggins ambushed him at a sawmill and killed him.
Loggins also became an ally of outlaw Willis Conner and his sons Fed,
Bill, Charley, Leander and John, who were indicted for murdering two
men in 1883 during a feud over wild hogs.
When the Conners’ trial began, it was transferred to San Augustine
on a change of venue and the Conners were placed in jail there. In
March of 1885, Loggins helped break Willis Conner and one of his sons
from the jail.
Loggins apparently left East Texas in 1885, assuming the name of Rupert
P. Wright and became a reporter and city editor for the Arkansas Democrat
in Little Rock, where he covered the Arkansas Legislature, and made
friends with influential politicians.
Wright/Loggins eloped to Searcy, Arkansas, in 1887 with Alice White,
a farmer’s daughter. It was his fourth known marriage and his past
soon caught up with him when a former wife charged him with bigamy
Loggins fled to Tennessee, but was hauled back to Searcy by a police
chief, placed on trial and given a five-year prison sentence. While
in the Searcy jail he attempted suicide twice.
In 1892 he was released from prison on good behavior after four years,
but was seized by lawmen from Sabine County, Texas, on pending charges
of murder, forgery, arson and jailbreaking in East Texas.
Loggins was convicted of murder and jailbreaking in Hemphill, but
served only five years at the old State Prison in Rusk, where he studied
He became a physician and practiced at Willis in Montgomery County,
where he was killed in 1905 by a former constable in a fight over
Pete Loggins remains one of the most intriguing outlaws in frontier
East Texas and even his descendants in East Texas remain puzzled about
his strange life, the details of his death and his burial site.