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Lavaca County

Texas | Columns | Lone Star Diary

Lavaca County violence
from back in the day

by Murray Montgomery
Murray Montgomery

Back in 1905, Lavaca County was having its share of violence, murder, revenge, and the like.

In those days if you had a quarrel with someone it was usually settled with firearms and although Hollywood would portray it differently; there were very few times when the participants dueled face-to-face on some dusty western street and the man with the quicker draw being the winner.

It really didn't happen that way, more likely than not, the poor victim was shot from ambush.

When a lady was the cause of some dispute, it seemed as if revenge was the order of the day. And it didn't take long for the grieving family members to get even. As is the case in the following story taken from the pages of an old issue of The Hallettsville Herald. This article is unedited and appears just as it did nearly 110 years ago.

The Hallettsville Herald - May 18, 1905
(Headline: SHOT AND KILLED)
Shell Mason Pays the Penalty of a Woman's Ruin

Another killing has occurred in Lavaca County. Tuesday morning at 6:30 o'clock. Shell Mason, a prominent citizen of Yoakum, was shot and instantly killed by M.A. and P.A. Newman. Mason was shot as he was leaving Fred Mason's residence, the Newman boys being in a lower room of the Lane Hotel across the street.

Both men used Winchesters. One ball crashed through Mason's head and another entered his body. The spark of life flickered for an hour and a half when it abandoned the shattered hulk and another soul was sent into eternity for a woman's ruin.

The killing of Mason recalls the death of Miss Lillian Newman in Runge three weeks ago. Mason was held accountable for her death, and Dr. J.M. Boyd of Yoakum is now under $5000 bond in the case. Abortion was alleged.

Miss Newman was a trained nurse and was regarded as a heroine. In the summer of 1903 when yellow fever appeared in this locality, she volunteered to nurse the fever patients in the Bennet family in DeWitt County. She also contacted the fever but recovered. As a token of appreciation for her heroism the citizens of Yoakum and Cuero made up a fund and presented her with a fine gold watch. She was 28 years old, an intelligent woman, and of comely appearance.

After the shooting the Newmans surrendered to Constable Allan Humphries and were held in Yoakum for an examining trial. Deputies Jim Deborah and Charley Munson and County Attorney W.T. Bagby went over on the afternoon train. The examining trial was postponed until yesterday and at the hour of going to press nothing further had been heard of the case.


Murray Montgomery
Lone Star Diary March 21, 2017column

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