T.W. (Buckshot) Lane
By Nan Outlar
Every small town has it “characters” and it seems to me that Wharton has had more than it’s fair share. All have been colorful and many are still the topic of conversation when old timers get together to talk about the good ole days.
I first met Buckshot back in the Roaring Twenties during the days of Prohibition and bath tub gin. He was the last person in all the world I ever would have imagined would some day be the “high sheriff” of Wharton County! He was a real ring tail tooter, and one of the best dancers I’ve ever known. All of the “flappers” loved to dance with Buckshot and he exhibited a fast and furious style on the dancer floor which my Bolton called “The Wharton County Stomp”! The best description of buck in those days was “wild and woolly and full of fleas – never been curried below the knees”.
But as you know, he turned out to be a fine, upstanding citizen- feared and respected by criminals (and zoot suiters), and known all over the nation as a fearless officer of the law who, although small in stature, carried a BIG STICK, and he has been one of the most popular and well known fellows in the whole county. Most of the credit for bringing about this great change in Buckshot goes to his wife Margaret, the mother of his three sons (William, Jimmy and Tommy), and who kept the home fires burning in their apartment at the county jail while Buck was out keeping things under control all over the county.
Our county jail is also a hold over for Federal prisoners and during Buck’s years as sheriff several notorious criminals spent time here. Pete Norris, who was an associate of Pretty Boy Floyd, tried to escape from our jail and actually shot at Buck. (the bullet grazing his cheek) Pete was brought downstairs from his cell to accept a phone call in the office, and someone had smuggled a gun into him, and he pulled it on Buck. The late Mike Flourney was a deputy then and he and a Mr. Haines who had been hired by the federal government as a special guard for Norris could not shoot at Pete for fear of hitting Buckshot who had charged at Pete in spite of the fact he was holding a loaded gun. Somehow Buck managed to shove Norris away from him a little bit and that’s when Flourney and Haines both shot Norris, wounding but not killing him, and he fully recovered after a short stay in Caney Valley Hospital. Later Norris presented his gun to Buckshot explaining, “He treated me fair”.
Buckshot has been written up in such magazines as Time, Life, Look, Saturday Evening Post and Reader’s Digest. While sheriff he wrote a weekly column for both local papers and overseas service men during World War II. They looked forward to receiving the hometown papers because Buck wrote in the same flamboyant style in which he talked and lived. Often his column started with these words; “Well, folks, I tell you, Saturday night was a BOOGER!”. When Bolton’s Navy Days friends visited us after the war all they wanted to do was to meet Buckshot Lane, and to drink a beer at Louie’s Place. (Macha)
Buck traveled all over the USA, Canada and Alaska on an eight months tour as a speaker for the Knife and Fork Club. The citizens of Wharton County bought him an airplane to use while sheriff, and the money was raised with this slogan “Give a Buck for Buck!”. Many kids were appointed “deputies” and took great pride being helpers to crime stoppers. Buckshot also served one term as our State Representative, quitting because he did not like being pressured by lobbyists who tried to tell him what to do. Margaret is about the only person who ever got away with telling Buckshot “what to do”.
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