TexasEscapes.comTexas Escapes Online Magazine: Travel and History
Columns: History, Humor, Topical and Opinion
Over 1800 Texas Towns & Ghost Towns
NEW : : TEXAS TOWNS : : GHOST TOWNS : : TEXAS HOTELS : : FEATURES : : COLUMNS : : ARCHITECTURE : : IMAGES : : SITE MAP : : SEARCH SITE
HOME
SEARCH SITE
ARCHIVES
RESERVATIONS
Texas Hotels
Hotels
Cars
Air
Cruises
 
 Texas : Features : Columns : Bob Bowman's East Texas

Pistol Packing Mamma

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman
One of the most popular songs in the U.S. during the mid-1940s was “Pistol Packing Mama,” which became Billboard Magazine’s most played jukebox favorite in 1944.

Both Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra performed the song at the peak of their careers.

But few know that the song came from East Texas and was written and performed by an Cherokee County musician.

Clarence Albert Poindexter, who was born at Jacksonville in 1902, was working as a house painter when he began performing in local bars and clubs in East Texas. For professional reasons, he shortened his name to Al Dexter.

Dexter was 34 when Cherokee County Sheriff Bill Brunt was killed in a shootout with bootlegger Red Creel near Rusk in 1939. Creel also died in the shootout. Brunt’s death prompted the commissioners court to appoint his 26-year-old wife, Mary Dear Brunt, as sheriff. Strapping on a pistol, Mary completed her husband’s unfinished term.
1939 Report of Sheriff Bill Brunt Killed
A 1939 front page from the Rusk Cherokeean reported on the slaying of Sheriff Bill Brunt and the apointment of his wife to succeed him.
Mrs. Brunt’s elevation to the sheriff’s office caught the attention of Dexter, who had already written with James B. Paris “Honky Tonk Blues,” the first country song to use the term.

He soon wrote Pistol Packing Mama and recorded the song with Gene Autry’s backup band.

The song was released in 1943 and, although controversial because of its lyrics, sold one million copies in its first six months.

Over time, Dexter’s honky tonk sound lost its popularity, but in 1971 he was installed in the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. Dexter invested in loan, motel and real estate businesses in Texas and died a wealthy man in 1984 at Lewisville, Texas.

In 1940, when Mrs. Brunt’s term as sheriff was scheduled to expired, she decided not to seek a full term and her brother-in-law, Frank Brunt, filed as a candidate for the office.

He won on November 5, 1940, and took office on January 1, 1941, at the age of twenty-seven. He remained in the office through 1954 when he resigned to accept a security position with Exxon USA in Houston.

Brunt was later transferred to Tyler, where he retired and was appointed to accept a temporary position as Smith County sheriff, leaving the office a year later.

The Brunt family legacy in the Cherokee County sheriff’s office came to a close in 1976--some 37 years after Bill Brunt’s murder--when John Bill Slover, a Cherokee County sheriff eight years, left office.

Slover, a cousin of Bill and Frank Brunt, was elected November 5, 1958, and served eighteen years.


Bob Bowman's East Texas
March 7, 2009 Column
(Bob Bowman of Lufkin is the author of more than 35 books about East Texas history and folklore. He can be reached at bob-bowman.com)
Related Topics: People | Texas Music |
Texas | East Texas | Texas Towns |
Texas Ghost Towns |
Bob Bowman's "All Things Historical"

Making Music for the Snarks
By Bob Bowman The unique story of Lufkin's famous Hoo-Hoo Band
Order Here
 
HOME | TEXAS ESCAPES ONLINE MAGAZINE | TEXAS HOTELS
TEXAS TOWN LIST | TEXAS GHOST TOWNS | TEXAS COUNTIES

Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South | West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast
TRIPS | STATES PARKS | RIVERS | LAKES | DRIVES | MAPS

TEXAS FEATURES
Ghosts | People | Historic Trees | Cemeteries | Small Town Sagas | WWII | History | Black History | Rooms with a Past | Music | Animals | Books
COLUMNS : History, Humor, Topical and Opinion

TEXAS ARCHITECTURE | IMAGES
Courthouses | Jails | Churches | Gas Stations | Schoolhouses | Bridges | Theaters | Monuments/Statues | Depots | Water Towers | Post Offices | Grain Elevators | Lodges | Museums | Stores | Banks | Gargoyles | Cornerstones | Pitted Dates | Drive-by Architecture | Old Neon | Murals | Signs | Ghost Signs | Then and Now
Vintage Photos

TRAVEL RESERVATIONS | HOTELS | USA | MEXICO

Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Recommend Us | Contributors | Staff | Contact TE
Website Content Copyright ©1998-2008. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. All Rights Reserved
This page last modified: March 7, 2009