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  • The Granger Chronicles according to Dan Martinets

    Double Murder in Granger - 1934
    The Badman From Hoxie and
    The Schoolboy with Moxie
    Granger, Texas

    by John Troesser
    Actually, the man wasn't bad. It was a sad case of circumstances that brought things to such an ugly end. The newspaper account was cut and dry. The City Marshall was dead and the deputy dying. The year was 1934,which was before everything needed to be prefaced with the word "alleged." The no-need-to-be-alleged killer was apprehended easily enough for he was lighting his pipe not 100 feet from the crime. He was letting what he had done sink in, when he was knocked unconscious by a window-weight wielded by a schoolboy.

    That would've been all we would have gotten from the story (just the facts), but since we had a witness to the "apprehension" to fill in the details, what emerges is a look at what life was like in Williamson County, Texas in 1934.
    Granger Texas street scene historic photo
    Granger street scene, 1909
    Courtesy of Dan Martinets

    The event took place a little after 5:30 and only two blocks from Dan Martinets' house. Dan looked up when he heard the sound of gunfire and seconds later saw a man running down the street shouting, "They're shooting everybody!" (Which later turned out to be a slight exaggeration). Being a boy, Dan ran in the direction of the fracas, forgetting his grip on his bicycle. He dragged it the entire two blocks on it's side and it never rode quite the same after that.

    Alongside a car parked at the rear of the JP's office was the first corpse young Dan had ever seen. Another body was on the other side of the car. The assailant had walked to the sidewalk in front of the building and was leaning up against a telephone pole. He had already reloaded his Luger pistol, a souvenir from his WWI service, and was trying to light a smoke with his trembling hands.

    While he was keeping the crowd at bay, he was engaged in conversation with the mob. One of a group of boys who had been watching from the relative safety of a lumberyard, picked up a window counter-balance (a common item for sale at that time in lumberyards) and struck him on the head from behind.

    Marshall Lindsey from Granger Texas
    Marshall Lindsey
    Photo courtesy of Dan Martinets

    Mr. Martinets filled in these details and also the name of the boy-of-the-hour. His name was "Maxey" Golf and he had the personality to go with such an act. To use an expression of the day, the kid had "Moxie." The Luger was taken from Ludwig's hand by the local dentist. Dan watched as the body of Marshall Henry Lindsey was loaded into the wicker basket from the funeral home's hearse.

    Dan explained that Ludwig Cernoch, the man with the Luger, was a working man from the nearby Hoxie Community. He had done some work for a man who had not paid him and when he went to collect, he learned that the man had died.

    To give an idea of the deceased, he had had a cement floor put in his barn for his cows, while his family still had dirt floors. He was a miser of the old school and had postponed paying Ludwig for months. Anyway, the man's family had words with Ludwig, refused to pay him and they may have called him a liar. The words got raw and the Marshall was called. Ludwig had come expecting trouble with the (now dead) miser, so he had brought his pistol. The Marshall, however, wasn't expecting any trouble, so he didn't pat down Ludwig, which proved to be a fatal error.

    They went to the Justice of the Peace to talk things over and it was decided to take Mr. Cernoch to the Williamson County Jail. That was about the time Ludwig introduced his "little friend." Like we mentioned, Ludwig was rather high-strung, which may have been related to his being "shell-shocked" in WWI. Now we call it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Ludwig might've gotten a reduced sentence with a sympathetic jury, but in 1934 it was Murder period, and Ludwig was electrocuted within 90 days. The crowd had asked Ludwig if he knew he had killed two men, and his reply was "so, what? I killed hundreds in the war." It was a sad day for everyone. And Dan had to go to school alone the next day thinking about mortality. Grief Counseling hadn't been invented yet.

    An interesting note: During the initial frenzy immediately after the shots, people asked who had been shooting. The answer was "Cernoch," which is a Czech surname, but literally translates as "blackman." The simple one-word reply to Czech ears, might've led them to look for a Black Man, but Cernoch's failure to leave the scene, quickly ended the misunderstanding.

    September 2000
    John Troesser

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