Texans of today think of their Lone Star state as having been a haven for killers,
fleeing from American justice. And it was true, for if a criminal could cross
the Sabine River, it was easy to lose one's self in the vastness of Texas.
Cross was as vicious and cold-blooded a killer as Texas ever produced, but he
quickly found it necessary to reverse directions, that is, to flee to Louisiana
from Texas jusice.
Cross was living in San
Antonio late in 1855 when he got into a argument in a saloon. He killed a
man that was unarmed, and was soon locked up, charged with murder. Later he bribed
a jailor to let him escape and he fled to Nueces County.
A few weeks later,
Cross attempted to hold up a stage coach near Corpus
Christi, and he ended up killing both drivers. A passenger had recognized
Cross, and soon after he was dodging wanted posters, charging him with murder
in both Bexar and Nueces counties.
Hence he decided to flee eastward to
escape Texas justice, and luckily for him he was able to become a drover with
a trail herd from Calhoun County, bound for the New Orleans market. One warm afternoon
late in May, 1856, Cross and the other herd drovers swam their cattle across the
Neches River at Tevis Ferry in Beaumont.
Orange, Cross discovered
that the frontier village was divided into two armed camps, one of them, about
70 Regulators, being led by Sheriff Edward Glover, John Moore and other allies
of several wealthy Mulatto cattlemen. Ironically Jack Cross joined up with about
50 Moderators, who labeled themselves as the "party of law and order."
to anyone, Sheriff Glover and Moore comprised for 20 years the most successful
counterfeiting ring in frontier Texas, making fake land clertificates, silver
dollars made of lead, Mexican pesos, and American banknotes that were virtually
On the afternoon of June 15, 1856, a few Moderators were
in front of the Casino Saloon on Front Street when 2 men, suspected of being Regulators,
rode up. Soon Bennet Thomas, believed to be a Regulator, quarreled with Willis
Bonner, a Moderator, and killed him in a shootout on Front Street. An hour later,
Jack Cross clashed with Burwell Alexander, a Regulator, and shot him through the
neck. As a physician, Dr. Andrew Mairs, knelt to tend to his friend's wound, Cross
walked up and shot the doctor in back of the head.
Later the Moderators
rode north out of Orange
and broke into a log cabin, where the surprised Sheriff Glover, John Moore and
others were hiding. When the Moderators discovered the "Sabine bogus mint," the
strong box where Moore kept his counterfeiting equipment, Moore quickly drew his
pistol, but Cross cut him down with a single bullet. When Glover refused to surrender,
Cross shot him through the head. Tired of the killings, the Moderators released
the other Regulators, upon their promise to cross Sabine River and never return.
then continued his flight eastward to Lake Charles, La., where he quarreled with
a prominent citizen named Jake Morrison in a saloon and killed him. Cross was
again charged with murder and locked up in the town's loghouse jail. That night,
friends of Morrison overpowered the jailor and hanged Cross to a live oak tree
limb on the courthouse lawn. Thus, as one old proverb foretold, Cross, who "had
lived by the sword, also died by the sword."