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Texas | Columns | "Cannonball's Tales"

SETH CAREY'S ESCAPE FROM THE MURDEROUS YOCUM GANG

Page 2

By W. T. Block, Jr.
‹ Page 1

Soon transferring his enmity entirely from Page to Carey, Brittain, so the old veteran noted, "shot his cattle, girdled his peach trees, turned over his windmill, injured his cart, and threatened and annoyed him in every way." On one occasion Brittain chased him with a cow whip at a time when he was unarmed and unable to resist. He added that he would have killed Brittain then and there if he had had any weapon, but he had neither owned nor carried a gun since his days in the Texas Army. Many neighbors, including the former Col. Moseley Baker, told Carey that Brittain had insulted him publicly in the town of Lynchburg and even threatened to kill Carey. Brittain warned that such indignities would end only when Carey acquired a will to resist. In desperation, Carey went to Houston and bought a gun, and even the justice of the peace assured Carey that if Brittain's death occurred at his hand, the killing could amount to no more than a justifiable homicide.

Early in 1841, Carey accompanied Dr. Whiting to the home of a Col. Turner to deliver some medicine. On the way, the doctor admonished him that Brittain needed no additional pretext for murder than to find Carey carrying a pistol. They arrived at Turner's place just as the colonel, in company with Brittain, rode up at the gate. The latter immediately launched "a tirade of abuse and threats against Carey," who in turn drew his gun, killing Brittain instantly.

The latter's death produced no tears in the Lynchburg vicinity, and a magistrate, to whom Carey had surrendered, scoffed at any thought of an arrest or trial, adding that the defendant had been provoked beyond human endurance and had rid the county of a violent and troublesome man. But within days, the same voices that had condoned the action before the event soon warned that public indignation over the killing was rising rapidly. Some suggested that Carey should abandon the country permanently, and a few offered to buy his property at a paltry fraction of its actual worth.

The warnings notwithstanding, Carey decided to give himself up for trial in Houston, and while on his way there, he stopped at Nimrod Hunt's place on Buffalo Bayou. Hunt offered to go to Houston and ascertain the true temper of the people, and after his return, he warned that the only justice that Carey could expect would be the lower end of Judge Lynch's rope. With a power-of-attorney received from Carey, Hunt went to Galveston to raise cash on the defendant's property there. And later, Hunt gave $100 in Texas currency (worth only $25 U. S.) to the fugitive, although Hunt had raised $300 in gold coin for the property.

Earlier, Hunt had told Carey of a place on Pine Island Bayou called Yocum's Inn. Located on the old Opelousas cattle trail northwest of Beaumont, it was a hideaway where an outlaw might purchase asylum for a price. In desperation, Carey gathered up what cash and valuables he had, along with his gun and a gold watch, and in the middle of the night, he saddled a mule and started eastward toward the Neches River. Finally, he arrived at the Beaumont cabin of David Cole, who was married to Yocum's daughter, Sydna Lou, and Cole agreed to accompany Carey to his father-in-law's estate.

The trail from Beaumont led through some of the prettiest pine and hardwood forests in North America. Blackberry vines and dogwoods were in full blossom, and here and there a raucous bluejay or redbird flitted through the branches. After a few hours' ride, the pair arrived at a large log house, nestled within the shadowy perimeter of a pine barren. A painted board across the front bore the crude notation "Pine Island Post Office." Nearby was a long barn, built of rough hewn logs, which also served as one side of a rail-fenced corral and a couple of slave cabins. As they approached, the bearded, old Tom Yocum could be seen in the doorway, conversing in an undertone with a stranger, whom Carey recognized immediately as William H. Irion. Irion's exact connection with the Yocum gang has never been firmly established. Perhaps he was deeply implicated; if not, he was at least an esteemed friend of Yocum's, one who was fully conscious, as he later admitted, of the murderous activities which were being conducted on the premises. Page 3

W. T. Block, Jr.
"Cannonball's Tales" - April 15, 2006 column


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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