Crime-related articles, Dallas County, Texas

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(Updated December 2, 2004)



The Mail and Tarrant County's
"35" Knocked Silly by Dal-
las' Criminal Records.


Upwards of Fifty Killings Re-
corded in the Brief Space
of Five Years.

     The killing record of Dallas has kept up with the social and commercial records, if the old grand jury dockets are good authority.
     A T
IMES-HERALD reporter searched the records of crime and secured a list of the killers back to 1885. The following is the list found on the grand jury docket books:
     E. G. Fritz killed Will Bickham Aug. 15, 1885. Fritz was acquitted.
     John Legget cooked John Andrew's goose at Hutchins, July 4, 1885. He was tried and given five years in the state penitentiary, but the case was appealed, reversed and nollied by the county attorney.
     James Scott removed his father-in-law, John McDonaugh, from this cold world on Nov. 17, 1885, assisted by Jack Duncan and Elmer Lovely, it was alleged.
     W. M. Sealey sent Jessie Bonner to the world beyond on Jan. 28, 1886. The case was nollied by the county attorney.
     Miss Katie Salisbury put out Regina Fromleth on Aug. 9, 1888. the case is still pending.
     George Moseley sent Nelson Bush up the golden stairs, Nov. 15, 1887. The case is still pending.
     Bob Land, also known as Windy Bod, shot and killed Frank Jones, Jan. 10, 1885. Bob was acquitted.
     Carter Roberts was the disease that took A. T. Jackson out of the wet on Dec. 12, 1889. The case is still pending.
     Will Chapman and C. Reynolds sent Dudley Lowery up the long train in 1886.
     Robert Slaven freed Horace Read's ghost in 1887.
Mason Miller made an angel of John Collier in 1887 and got five years in the penitentiary.
     Frank Shaw sent Henry Jones to his eternal repose on Nov. 1, 1888. Shaw was not arrested.
     Jim Smith sent Joe Convay over the range, May 4, 1888.
     Nick Lowery stopped Will Chapman's pulse in 1888. No bill was found against him.
     James Jett cashed in Ed. Martin's checks for him, Oct. 20, 1886. He was not arrested.
     Tom Scroggins murdered a boy by the name of Lindsey in 1887, and was acquitted.
     Ed. Hyatt laid E. H. Batton out for keeps on Dec. 10, 1889. Hyatt was acquitted.
     John Surrell let Jeff Armstrong's spirit out with a knife and got twenty years in the penitentiary.
     Emma Brittain was charged with making away with her husband, Geo. Brittain, near Jimtown, May 2, 1889. She was released.
     F. W. Habel removed Ed. Gilbert from this mundane sphere, Sept. 18, 1889, and got two years in the penitentiary.
     Will Humphreys cut. S. J. Dillard's career off short on the night of March 14, 1880. Humphreys was acquitted yesterday.
     Leo. Cahn sent M. Benedict to that bourne from whence none return, on March 22, 1888. The case is still pending.
     J. R. Humphries had a row with a reckless chap by the name of Skaggs, at Mesquite, on Sept. 25, 1888. Skaggs went for his gun, so did Humphries, and is sleeping beneath the daisies. The case is still pending.
     S. E. Lane sent J. H. Wilson across the dark river, Sept. 1, 1889, and was sentenced five years in the penitentiary, but preferring death to disgrace, he killed himself.
     Mack Massy severed Mose Burton's thread of life, Sept. 15, 1888. The case is still pending.
     W. B. Arnold closed James Lucas' eyes in sleep eternal on March 10th, 1889.
     Frank Quinn numbered Ben Nelson with the things that were on June 6, 1890. Case still pending and Quinn is in jail.
     Claude Stuart sent Joe Fish to explore the land of promise on June 9, 1890. The case is still pending, and Stuart is out on bond.
     W. E. Murf freed poor Nathan Geer from toil and care on Dec. 24, 1890.
     The following names also decorated the docket book. Their owners were fortunate enough not to have bills found against them. Many of them under the charge of killing could not be proved against.
     Harlow Grizzle, Bill Peyton, Will Brooks, D. A. Hook, Jack Norman, Bill Pey, Harvey Jones, Henry Cran, H. Wood. Maria Burgess, William Hennessell and Joseph Pruitt.
     John Brunck, Robert Lang and Joe Feslie, also belong to the list. They took the responsibility upon themselves of sending J. G. Engle up the flume on March 10, 1890. Lang was acquitted, Feslie's case was nollied by the county attorney and Brunck's case is still pending.

- January 17, 1891, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 2, col. 4-5.
- o o o -




For the Ravishing of Little
Rhody May Dexter
in May.


The Prisoner Says He is "Ready
to Meet His Mother
in Heaven."


A History of the Hangings
Which Have Taken Place
in Dallas.

     When the forms of the TIMES-HERALD were sent to press yesterday afternoon, A. L. Rodgers, the rape fiend, was in the witness box. He gave in his testimony in a rumbling, incoherent manner, and made a poor impression on the jury, the court and the great crowd of spectators. He could not breast the terrible chain of evidence. His doom was sealed, and anticipated by the TIMES-HERALD yesterday. His attorney, Mr. Clark, late of Ellis county, made a hard fight for the prisoner. He is an able lawyer and a most affable gentleman, and worked as zealously as though a big fee had been paid him, instead of having been appointed by the court. His argument was most plausible and eloquent, but the spectre of the gallows loomed up before his client and the hard set faces of the jurors was a note of warming that the fate of Rodgers was sealed. Colonel Williams and his assistants closed in sharp and incisive speeches. Judge Tucker delivered his charge to the jury at 7 p. m. and that body retired and a recess was ordered.
     At 9:30, the jury returned the following verdict:
     "We, the jury, find the defendant, A. L. Rodgers, guilty of rape, as charged in the indictment, and assess his punishment at death.
               "W. B. F
ERGUSON, foreman."
     The other members of the jury were: G. C. Petty, O. P. Wolcott, M. J. Wakeham, Sydney Smith, W. F. Swain, C. O. N. Perkins, W. C. Hustung, J. A. Russell, G. W. Shanks, Fred Steere, J. Q. Holman.
     Rodgers sat by the side of his attorney. A shudder shot through his frame and his face took on a ghastly pallor. The verdict was evidently a great surprise to him. He recovered his composure and requested his attorney to communicate the news to his relatives. The detail of officers took the condemned man in charge and departed for the county jail, where he will pass his last moments on earth unless a judicial decree or executive clemency sets aside the verdict.
     No demonstration was made by the large crowd of spectators, due, no doubt, to the order of Judge Tucker early in the evening, to the sheriff, ordering that official to place under arrest any person giving vent to demonstrations of applause or otherwise, whatever the verdict of the jury might be.
     Once beyond the jurisdiction of the court, however, the great crowd could not be controlled and applauded the verdict of the jury. Had a light punishment been assessed, it is more than likely that the spectators would have taken the prisoner from the officers and lynched him, as it was generally understood that would be his fate if the jury failed to do its duty. They were men of nerve, however, and determined that the way to prevent lawless murder and rapine was to crack the necks of criminals.
     As the jurors filed out, Rodgers, in a low voice, muttered his thanks to them for what they had done. On the way to the jail with Deputy Sheriff Darby, he said he was ready to go to his death and would "meet his mother in heaven."
     Rodgers is forty-four years old and has lived the greater portion of his life in Texas. In 1858, he attended school in Austin, where his mother lived at the time. He has a brother in San Antonio, who is in good circumstances. Eighteen years ago, Rodgers was a resident of Dallas county. He afterwards removed to the Alamo city and after fourteen years' absence, returned to Dallas four years ago. He has been twice married and has no children, by his last wife, at least.
Rodgers is the first white man ever sentenced to death by the law in the courts of Dallas county. His attorney, Mr. Clarke, will ask for a new trial.


     County Clerk Bev Scott has resided in Dallas county thirty-five years, and is as familiar with the history of the county as any of the older pioneers. A representative of the TIMES-HERALD called on Mr. Scott to-day and asked him how many hangings have taken place in the county since it was organized.
     "In 1858," said the affable clerk, "a negro woman, a slave, murdered a white child down on White Rock. She was tried and convicted and hanged by due process of law. This was the first hanging in Dallas county.
     "In 1860, just after the beginning of hostilities, two emissaries of John Brown, carpet-baggers of some sort, incited a number of negroes to perpetrate the crime of arson. They applied the torch to the village and it was swept almost from the face of the earth. The three negroes were captured and lynched by the indignant citizens. The citizens gave chase to the white ringleaders, captured them below on the banks of the Trinity and executed them without calling in judge or jury.
     "In 1866-7, there was a great deal of lawlessness in this portion of the state, and many outlaws rendezvoused in Dallas county. Cattle and horses were stolen and run off and the farmers suffered terribly at the hands of the marauders. One night, a well-organized band of regulators swooped down upon Keenan's crossing, near Farmer's Branch, and captured John Record, his two younger brothers and two strangers who were herding 3000 head of cattle which, it was claimed, they had stolen. The Records and their companions were all hanged on the same tree.
     "In 1876, Wesley Jones, a negro, was hanged for the crime of rape, the victim being a white lady. Marion Moon, who was sheriff, was ill and my brother, Tom Scott, pulled the trap and Jones was switched into eternity.
     "In 1878, Adam Thompson and Wesley Pollard, two negroes, robbed and murdered an old German storekeeper near Cedar Hill. They were tried, convicted and sentenced to death. Pollard died in prison with consumption and Thompson was hanged by Sheriff James E. Barclay.
     "The last legal hanging in Dallas county was in 1881, when Allen Wright, a negro, was hanged for the murder of another negro. Ben Jones was sheriff and officiated. The next hanging, I hope, will be Rodgers, who deserves death if ever a man did."
     Four years ago, a negro who assaulted a white lady, was lynched by a mob on the Oak Cliff side of the Trinity river. It will be noticed that Rodgers is the first white man ever legally sentenced to death in the county.

- July 3, 1891, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 1, col. 3-4.
- o o o -


The First Hanging in Dallas

     W. W. Peck narrated to a TIMES-HERALD reporter to-day.
     "With reference to T
IMES-HERALD'S report of July 4, Mr. Scott says the first person hanged in Dallas county was a negro woman in 1858 for the murder of a white child on White Rock. The first hanging was a negro woman in 1853, by Sheriff T. G. Hawpe, whose son now lives in East Dallas. The negro was hanged for murdering her master, which she did by splitting [his] head with an ax while he was sleeping in bed with his two little children. The deed was committed six miles north of Dallas on Buchanan branch."

- July 17, 1891, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 4, col. 3.
- o o o -




Human Life Not Cheap in
Texas Now, as in
the Past.

     Walter B. Stevens, the noted correspondent of the Globe-Democrat, is writing letters from Texas to hi paper. The following extracts are taken from a recent article, entitled "Decrease of Crime in Texas."
     "The convict population of Texas reached its maximum on the 21st of July, 1889. On that day, there were 3432 prisoners in the penitentiaries of the state--more than there had ever been before, more than there have ever been since. On the 1st of January, 1866, Texas had only 134 convicts. The fact was not to her credit. Demoralization followed the war. The number of convicts bore no relation to the amount of crime. It only revealed a lax enforcement of the laws. Lawlessness grew. Public sentiment came slowly after. The courts gradually increased in efficiency. It was a long and waiting race between crime and law. But, the corner has been turned. For a while, sentiment became arouse and the courts began to do their duty. The effect was seen in the increase of convictions. This went on until the maximum was reached. Then crime recognized that it was beaten. The offenses grew fewer, and though sentiment and the courts did not relax, but rather became stronger, the convict population began to grow less. Two years ago, Texas passed her criminal crisis. The decline of the convict population has been slow, but it has [been] steady ever since. There are now about five hundred convicts less than there were two years ago. Everything indicates that the improvement is as permanent as it is gratifying. These penitentiary figures, rightly studied, afford a good barometer to the moral tone of Texas. Although the maximum number of convicts in the penitentiary population was reached in 1889, that was not the year when the largest number was received. Two years previously, or in 1887, there were received in the Texas penitentiaries, 1134 convicts. The number increased steadily up to 1887; it has fallen off every year since.
     In 1870, the courts sent to the penitentiaries only one person to 3770 of population.
     In 1880, there were sent to the penitentiaries, one person for 1648 population.
     In 1890, the penitentiaries received one person for 2138 of population.
     The maximum of prison population would quite naturally follow the maximum of sentences by two or three years. That it does so is presumptive evidence that the penitentiary figures do not lie when used as evidence to show the improvement in Texas morals.
     The superintendent of the Texas penitentiaries has figured out this:
     1870. One in penitentiary out of every 1519 inhabitants.
     1880. One in penitentiary out of every 769 inhabitants.
     1890. One in penitentiary out of every 703 inhabitants.
     This does not warrant any particular conclusion other than that in 1870 there were many people in Texas who ought to have been in the penitentiary, but did not get there.
     There will be twenty legal hangings in Texas between now and New Year's. One of the best signs of the times is the change of sentiment in this direction. Gray walked up to B. C. Evans in the latter's store at Fort Worth and shot him twice. The provocation was some business dispute involving Gray's continuance in the employ of Evans. As Gray was taken to jail, some one said to him: "You've gotten yourself into a bad scrape."
     "No, I reckon not," replied Gray, with composure, "It'll be about eighteen months in jail; that's all."
     If Gov. Hogg does not interfere, Gray will hang at Fort Worth next month. The first death verdict ever returned by a jury at Dallas was given last week. It was in the case of a man who had shamefully misused a child. Dallas has a record of between seventy and eighty indictments for murder, and has never had a legal execution. It will be different from this time on. A judge sitting on the Dallas bench once said, indignantly: "You might as well lock up your courthouse and throw the key in the well." He had just seen four juries fail to convict in four murder trials. At the same term of court, two green country boys who, in a freak of waywardness, had ridden off a pair of old plugs belonging to the farmer for whom they worked, had been given ten and fifteen years respectively in the penitentiary. It was a Dallas jury which gave a verdict of six months' imprisonment and a fine of $250 for the theft of a single chicken.
     Time was when human life was about the cheapest thing in Texas; it is not so now. W. B. S.

- July 17, 1891, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 5, col. 4.
- o o o -

Added April 10, 2004:



Bandits Make a Hold-Up at the
Edge of Dallas.



Express Car Uncoupled and Taken
From the Train.



Officials Say the Robbers Secured No Money.
One Man Arrested and Held at Po-
lice Headquarters on Suspic-
ion -- Armed With Pistols
and Chloroform.

     The spirit of Sam Bass evidently hovered over Dallas last night. The old-time sensation of a train robbery was experienced. One of the boldest hold-ups ever known in Texas took place at 7:10. The north-bound Houston & Texas Central train, which leaves the Union Station at 7 p. m., was stopped by a band of highway men at the Missouri, Kansas & Texas crossing, about three miles north of the station. Reports as to the number of bandits disagree. The first report, telephoned in to police headquarters, had it that there were fifteen men in the band. Later, the number was revised to seven; then, the party was swelled to nine, and the latest returns placed the force of desperadoes at only 4. Whatever the number may have been, they did their work in the most up-to-date manner, whether their exploit was one of profit, or not.
     The train was in charge of conductor Westbrook, and Engineer Tom Averett was in the cab. Messenger A. H. Harris was in the Wells-Fargo express car.
     When the train stopped at the Missouri, Kansas & Texas crossing, the bandits cut the express car loose from the body of the train. No commotion was created. Engineer Averett was ordered to pull out, and all the other train men were left behind. The engine and express car were run to a point about five miles north of the Union Station, and there halted. The robbers compelled Messenger Harris to open the safe. They rifled it of its contents, tore up a large number of packages, shot out the headlight of the engine, destroyed other illumination arrangements, and told the engineer to run back to the cars he had left behind, as soon as he pleased.
     The bandits then scattered across the fields and probably took to the bottoms of White Rock creek, where they are presumed to have had horses and comrades in hiding.
     The facts of the hold-up and the running off with the express car and engine were telephoned in to police headquarters about 8 o'clock, and Chief of Police Arnold and Sheriff Cabell, with a strong posse of regular officers and specials, at once took horses and started for the scene of the robbery, but by the time they arrived there, the highwaymen had nearly two hours the start of their pursuers.
     As usual in such cases, the express and railroad officials declare that the robbers secured no money, because there was none in the car. Newspapers and the public always weigh these statements on disinterested scales, however, and the general opinion will be that it is a queer sort of express train that carries no cash.


     Sheriff Cabell, who was out all night in pursuit of the robbers, stated to a TIMES HERALD reporter this morning, that through a mistake in the direction, the dogs were not got to the scene of the robbery until 11 p. m., and they only followed the trail a few miles, when they became confused and lost the scent.
     Sheriff Cabell says the descriptions given of the robbers were very conflicting and meager. In the first place, passengers and trainmen estimated the number all the way from four, up to fifteen, and that they wore handkerchiefs over their faces and carried two six-shooters each.
     Sheriff Cabell believes that the robbers returned to the city, although squads of the Sheriff's posse went north to cut off the escape of the robbers in that direction. Deputy Sheriff Simpson, Police Officer Rawlins and Deputy Constable John Cornwell, who were dispatched to Plano, are still scouring the woods of that region.


     At 11 o'clock last night, City Judge Foree called the attention of Police Officer "Deacon" John Keehan to a suspicious-looking man he had just met down the street. Officer Keehan followed the man to the Camp Street variety theater. On seeing the officer, the suspected man evinced a nervous uneasiness and quickly got out of the playhouse. The "Deacon" and Judge Foree followed him to the Oak Cliff depot and arrested him.
     The prisoner had two pistols, one of them being a 42-calibre bulldog, and the other, a 38-calbre, nickle-plated, pearl handle weapon, having more the appearance of an exhibition than a war-like gun. He also carried a dirk with an eight inch reaching capacity, a two-ounce bottle of chloroform, and a pair of "step-easy" socks. He gave the name of R. E. Cauthorne, and at first, said he was a farmer and lived at Oak Cliff, but afterwards said he came from Tennessee three weeks ago. The chloroform, he claimed to carry for the toothache. The guns, he said he was taking home to his sister, who worked in a hotel. He, however, did not explain about the dirk, nor the socks. In addition to these articles, he carried an odor of whisky and $16 in silver, the remains of a $20 gold piece he got Henry Jenkins to change for him.
     Mr. Cauthorne was committed to the city prison.


     A TIMES HERALD representative, to-day, interviewed Cauthorne in his cell at police headquarters. He said: "I know I was in a place that is against me when I was arrested last night, but that is no evidence that I am a train robber. When the train was robbed, I was on my way from the farm of Mr. Bigby, in the country, two miles beyond Oak Cliff. I came to Dallas three weeks ago from Wartrace, Tenn. I bought the bottle of chloroform from Knott & Houston, druggists, of that place, to use to relieve the toothache, from which I suffer almost constantly."
     Mr. Cauthorne has no toothache to-day, and has not complained of that ailment since his imprisonment.
     Continuing, he said: "Mr. Bixby will be in from his farm this evening to vouch for me as an honest man. If the police authorities of Dallas desire, I will give them the names of a thousand men in Tennessee, who will recommend me as being alright. The reason I had those two pistols on me when arrested, is that my sister, Mrs. Lizzie Jones, who has been boarding at 186 Ross avenue, was preparing to go to Weatherford to meet her husband, and she gave me the pistols to take to the country with me."
     Cauthorne looks to be about 25 years old. A woman, claiming to be his sister, called to see him this forenoon. He is a cool-mannered fellow, but he has no toothache.


     Sam Burke, City Marshal of McKinney, and John Roland, City Marshal of Plano, came down to Richardson on a freight this morning to meet Chief of Police Arnold and Sheriff Cabell, and came across the country to Dallas with the latter.
     Marshal Roland says he noticed five men near Plano yesterday. They told him they were farm hands and were going North.


     Chief of Police Arnold, who came in to-day, says the robbers probably came back to the city. He believes that if Sheriff Cabell had had his dogs with him, instead of having to wait five hours for them, that they would have caught the robbers. He says the robbers made the negro porter cut the air brake. As soon as he cut it, the negro dodged under the car and ran for Dallas. The robbers shot the glass out of the headlight of the engine.


     Mr. Montgomery, Agent at Dallas, of the Wells-Fargo Express Company, stated to a TIMES-HERALD reporter that the company no longer carries money or other valuables on night trains, where they can ship them in daylight, as between here and Denison, and that there was but one small package of money in the possession of Messenger Harris last night, and the robbers overlooked this, and got nothing from the express company but a six-shooter.
     Agent Montgomery says the robbers were evidently inexperienced men, otherwise, they would have posted themselves, instead of taking such desperate chances for nothing, as he is convinced Bill Cook, Bill [Doolin], or any other Bill in the business, would have done.


     The old style of holding up a train was to shoot it up in regular Indian fashion and terrorize the passengers and crew into submission. Now, the robbers, in a quiet, gentlemanly way, cut off the express car and engine and request the engineer to run off a short distance, so as to not disturb the passengers or any guards that may be on the train, taking it for granted that the guards will always be in the cars with the softest seats, towards the rear of the train.


     The mounted posse that went in pursuit of the robbers was composed of Police Officers Rawlins, Tanner, Durham, Magee and Kahn, and Deputy Sheriffs Ledbetter, Hall, Simpson, Rhodes and Tucker, headed by Sheriff Cabell and Chief of Police Arnold.


     It is said, that if the robbers had held up the train below Dallas, they would have struck it rich. The Wells-Fargo Express Company, on account of the frequent hold-ups in the Territory, is said to have recently adopted the plan of transferring the money and other valuables from the Houston & Texas Central to the Santa Fe, at Dallas, and that the money the robbers expected to get was thus transferred last night.


     The camp of the robbers was found about 150 yards from where they held up the train. By a smoldering fire, they left the fragments of their meal, consisting of a few scraps and two paper bags, one of which had had sandwiches in it, and the other, parched coffee.
Sheriff Cabell brought the bags to his office.

- February 28, 1895, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 1, col. 3-5.
- o o o -

City Laws and Official Publications.

     Dallas, Tex., April 24, 1896--Sealed bids will be received at the office of the city secretary until Monday, May 4, 1896, at 5 o'clock, p. m., for feeding the city prisoners for the fiscal year ending the third Monday in April, 1897, as per following bill of fare:
     Breakfast--One-half pound round streak, half pound bread, one pint coffee with sugar and milk.
     Dinner--On-half pound roast, half pound bread, soup and potatoes.
     Supper--Same as breakfast.
     All meals to be of good, wholesome food, well cooked and served with plates, cups, etc., and subject to the approval of the chief of police or his assistants. Should any meal be rejected, the chief of police or his assistants shall have said meal prepared and the price of same shall be deducted from the contract. A certified check for $25 must accompany each bid.
     The city reserves the right to reject any or all bids.
                                                      T. L. L
                                                            City Secretary.

- April 25, 1896, Dallas Morning News, p. 9, col. 6.
- o o o -



Some of the Faces That May
be Seen There.



Several Noted Crooks Who Found
Their Nemesis in the
City of Dallas.

     The office of the city detective, in the basement of the city hall, is about the dimensions of a roomy china closet or a sizable sarcophagus; and half of one whole side is occupied by a cabinet, the shiny knobs on whose frowning glass front doors look down upon intruders with the insolence of a man who has seen many people more interesting, by far, than yourself, and who holds locked in his breast, more secrets than you ever knew or heard tell of. The rest of that side of the room holds another cabinet, but this one is much less arrogant and more disposed to make friends with you, even though you are woefully ignorant of the ways of detective bureaus. Through its glass doors, you can see paper boxes and bundles with typewritten legends upon them, and that robs it of its interest. You want to see the inside of the other case.
     When it is open for inspection, there are many doors to be seen, and fastened in them are scores and hundreds of photographs of the professors and past masters of crime; also young and inexperienced crooks who are merely trying, in their feeble way, to emulate the skill of the men who lead in iniquity.
     This is the "mug gallery." When the apprentice has had his "mug struck," he feels an increased self-respect. It is encouraging to know that he is getting along, albeit slowly, in his profession and may some day be able to slap upon the back, the men he has striven to be like.
     The Dallas detective department consists of three men--M. W. Kirby, J. G. Alexander and Wood Ramsey--and each of them has served many years in that particular department, Mr. Kirby having been a member of the detective force when it was first founded, some fifteen years ago. Mr. Alexander came on a year or so later, and Mr. Ramsey, about ten years ago.
     They will tell you that the banner year for crime in this city was 1892, when the influx of crooks almost swamped the country; and nearly all the noted criminals whose faces are to be recognized in the rogues' gallery have that year as the date of their capture.
     The largest theft of that time was attributed to Sol Richardson, a negro, whose picture is prominent in the gallery. In the fall of 1891, he made away with the Wells Fargo Express money box containing $14,000. He was captured a short time after and indicted by the grand jury, but in spite of moral persuasion, and perhaps stronger influence, he refused to tell where the money was to be found. He was tried and, on account of insufficient evidence, was acquitted. Shortly after his release, the box, which had contained the money, was found in the Trinity river bottom, wrecked and devoid of contents. Richardson was not heard from until several years later, when he was shot by a citizen at Purcell, I. T., for attempting to rob a postoffice.
     In 1892, one of the foulest murders ever committed in Texas was brought to light. The body of A. Titche, proprietor of a store in East Dallas, was found in the bushes about a mile southwest of Oak Cliff with two bullet holes in his side. He had been missing from town about three days, the murder being committed on Sunday and the body being discovered Wednesday.
     The evidence, as pieced together, pointed out the murderer as one Geo. F. Bouton, who kept a restaurant near Titche's store and had always been, apparently, a warm friend of the murdered man. Bouton was arrested, and the evidence brought up at the trial showed that Titche had been in the habit of taking the money he made during the week to a friend on Elm street, with whom he deposited it for safe keeping. Bouton knew this, and on the Sunday of the murder, he hired a horse and buggy and drove past Titche's store to take him down to deposit the money. That was the last time Titche was seen alive. It was never learned how much money he had with him to deposit. All that was known was that it never reached the friend with whom he was to have entrusted it. Bouton was tried and sent to the penitentiary for life. His photograph is in the gallery--a blonde man with sweeping, bird's wing of a mustache, and on his head, a soft, light felt hat.
     There is a story of a man whose miniature is preserved in the rogues' gallery and who possessed more aliases than were good for him. His name was Frank Wilson, and one of his aliases was Frank Blair. He lived at Richmond, Va., when he was at home, and he was never at home, for reasons which he and the police knew better than any one else. One evening in 1892, just at dusk, he entered a jewelry store on lower Main street and asked the clerk, a boy who was alone in the store, to see some diamonds. The boy, suspecting nothing, placed a tray of sparklers upon the table, when --puff!-- the boy's eyes were blinded, and himself in the most terrible agony from the pepper which the man had thrown in his face. In that instant, the man grabbed the tray of diamonds, shoved them under his coat and escaped. There were $2500 worth of the sparklers in the tray.
     The man was traced for several months and was at last captured in Jefferson City, Mo., and brought back to Dallas for trial. He was given eight years in the penitentiary.
     Jim Dugan's photograph is in the possession of the local detectives--Dugan, the porch climber, who robbed the Keiser residence of $750 worth of diamonds in 1892 and was captured before he left town. On account of insufficient evidence, he was acquitted. He was later captured in Minnesota and sent to the penitentiary for snatching a woman's purse.
     Joe Digman, a young man, went to a residence in South Dallas during the same year and stole a diamond brooch worth about $300. The robbery was committed in daylight. The lady of the house sought to intercept him and prevent his escape, but he drew a butcher knife and threatened to kill her. The poor lady was almost prostrated with fright and gave up all attempts to capture the thief. He was caught a few days later in the city under the name of Harry Smith; occupation, bell boy of the Leland hotel, Chicago.
     There are two long leather cases, very carefully made, in the vault where captured articles are kept, and in each of them is one of those things which are the bane of the unsophisticated farmer and the theme for countless jokes in the comic papers--a gold brick. They are quite smooth upon the outside, but not smooth enough, to all appearances, to tempt any sane man to buy one. The smoothness lies in the bunco man who manipulates it. These bricks were left as a present by Billy Adkins, Tom Tracy and W. P. Hillis, whose pictures all occupy prominent places in the local gallery. They were captured here in 1889, during the Fair.
     There is another brick in the possession of the department which looks as if it might have been cast in a skillet, and has the appearance of real gold upon its crusted top. It was taken from a confidence man not long ago. The man who was saved from buying it had made all arrangements for the transfer of the property and was in town for the purpose of drawing $8000 of his money from the bank when he was notified of his exceeding folly and induced to go home without the beautiful toy which the bunco steerers proposed to sell him.
     At least two native Texan professional criminals are to be found in the records. One of them is J. M. Morgan, alias Jack Milsap, who has the enviable reputation of being one of the best "con men" in the country. He was captured here in 1890 and sent up. He hails from Colorado City.
     The other Texan is "Black Bart," the lone bandit who robbed trains single-handed in the 80's and escaped unharmed out of all his deviltry. He held up a train on the Mississippi Valley railroad in 1888 and secured big money. The picture in the rogues' gallery shows a broad-shouldered old man with gray hair and a long gray mustache, piercing dark eyes and a chin that showed well the brutal determination of the man. It is always a sad thing to contemplate old age going down to death, and mayhap a violent death, unrepentant of past misdeeds and seemingly satisfied that death ends all and there is no hereafter. It is doubly sad to think of an old man like this who is not only unafraid, but persistent in crime. "Black Bart" has not been heard of by the detectives here for many years, and it is likely that he is dead.
     It is a singular fact, in direct contradiction of the theory which may people hold that the criminal propensities show in the countenance, that so few of these photographs are evidence of their original's degeneration. Some of the faces, it is true, are types of criminal degeneracy, but more, far more, of them, particularly those of thieves who have climbed high in their profession, evince more than ordinary intelligence of their subjects. The only way it can be accounted for is that there is a screw loose somewhere.

- February 17, 1901, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 4, col. 1-3.
- o o o -


Welk Goes to Death Chair
Baring Jail Break Plot




Body of Executed Slayer on Way to Dallas
for Burial; Denies Knowledge of Master
Mind's Connection With Plot.

By the Associated Press.
     Huntsville, Tex., April 3.--Certain phases of the murder in the Dallas county jail outbreak on October 26, 1923, of Willis Champion, assistant county jailer, were cleared up by Sidney J. Welk just before he went to the electric chair in the state penitentiary here early today.
     Welk told Sheriff Schuyler Marshall of Dallas that it cost $1,000 to smuggle two pistols and a quantity of ammunition into the jail. He named a number of persons, who, he said, were in the plot, but failed to name still another person whom Sheriff Marshall believed to have been implicated.
     With almost his last words, he denied any knowledge that the person Sheriff Marshall described as a "higher up" had anything to do with it.

Dies Serenely.
     Welk walked to the death chair with a buoyant tread and a serene countenance. The preliminaries lacked unusual developments. At 11:48 o'clock, Warden N. I. Spear, from his office in the main prison building, stepped to the telephone and called for Dr. L. H. Bush, Huntsville physician, announcing that the execution would take place shortly. Within a few minutes, the physician had arrived, and at 12:08 a. m, the warden left the office on his way to the death house. The current was turned on at 12:15, and at 12:19, Welk was pronounced dead.
     "I wish you would tell me yes or no," the sheriff said to Welk as he was being strapped in the chair.
     "I wish I could, but I can't," Welk replied.
     The subject of this bit of last minute conversation between the officer and the condemned man was obscure until Sheriff Marshall cleared it up after the execution. Bystanders in the death chamber took it to mean that the sheriff was asking Welk if he fired the shot that killed Champion.

Names Not Revealed.
     Names of none of the persons whom the sheriff mentioned to Welk were made public. The effort to get Welk to disclose the whole plot came at the end of two conferences between the official and the condemned man. Early in the evening, the sheriff, who, other officials said, apparently had the confidence of Welk, talked to him for more than two hours. Later, the sheriff said it merely was to pave the way for a second conference, during which, he hoped that Welk would reveal the entire plot.
     At the first conference, Welk gave the sheriff a red rose, sent another to Murray Fisher, chief jailer at Dallas, with a bouquet of white roses to his (Welk's) wife, who, until a few hours before his execution, was continuing her efforts to secure a reprieve. Welk also asked the sheriff to say to his wife that he did not desire her to remarry until their four children were grown.
     "I do not want them to grow up under the influence of a stepfather," he said.

Reveals Jail-Break Plot.
     About two hours before the execution was to take place, Sheriff Marshall again visited Welk in his death cell, and at that time, he revealed much of the plot which was planned as a jail delivery with the avowed object of freeing Welk and C. R. Gaines, then in custody as one of the participants in the sensational Jackson Street postoffice robbery in 1921, in which a postoffice clerk was killed.
     Gaines was captured in Indiana and taken to Dallas, where he found Welk under a sentence of forty years after conviction on the charge of killing Tom Wood, a deputy sheriff, in a pistol fight between dry raiders and Welk and his friends between Garland and Rowlett in Dallas county on Dec. 21, 1922. Welk, reputed as a deadly pistol shot, claimed the officers closed in on him on two sides and that bullets from the guns of one advancing line of officers found a mark in Wood's body.

Bids Negro Farewell.
     About midnight, guards opened the door in the death cell and one of them, with the cell keys in his hands, stopped in front of the second cell. Behind the bars, Welk could be seen by those who had gathered to witness his execution. The key in the lock clicked and Welk stepped out. He asked the guard if he might say goodbye to Lavannie Twitty, a negro, the only other occupant of the death house. Twitty is under sentence of death on the charge of killing a negro taxicab driver. He received a sixty-three day reprieve this week from Gov. Miriam Ferguson. Welk and the guard stopped in front of the cell furthermost from the entrance to the death house. He thrust his hand through the bars and shook the hand of the negro. Those in the death house, who were within earshot, heard him say to the negro: "Goodbye, I hope you have better luck than I had."
     The march to the electric chair followed immediately. With his guard, Welk marched to the narrow door and passed through it ahead of the prison attache. A full pace ahead of the prison attache, he stepped briskly the few feet toward the rear of the room and to the contrivance which soon was to take his life.
     Facing more than a score of persons who where in the small space marked off by an iron railing, he bade them goodbye and hoped he would "meet them in a better world."

Couldn't Tell.
     Unassisted, and without suggestion, he took his place in the chair. At this juncture, Sheriff Marshall put his question for a yes or no answer to the question about the "higher-up" in the Dallas attempted jail delivery. Firmly, without hesitation and apparently earnestly, Welk said he wished he could, "but I cannot."
     Attendants strapped him in the chair, and during the process, one of the guards exclaimed "not too tight," referring to the straps which held him. "Take your time," said Welk to them, "and have the very best luck."
     The cap was placed over his head and his eyes bandaged. During the process, he, so far as the spectators could discern, made no sound. At 12:15 o'clock, Warden Speer, who had taken his station at the switchboard behind the prisoner, threw a switch. Welk did not move. At the second shock, he slumped in his seat, and at the third shock, Dr. Bush placed his stethoscope on the prisoner's breast, and after a moment, announced, "I pronounce Pete Welk dead." Pete was a nickname under which Welk was generally known.

Took Four Minutes.
     The actual execution had occupied exactly four minutes. Attendants carried the body out through a rear door, the spectators dispersed and the first white man had been legally electrocuted in Texas.
     Welk was indicted for the murder of Champion on September 27, 1923. He was convicted October 22, of the same year, carried his case to the Court of Criminal Appeals and was denied a new trial on February 20, last. His death warrant bore date of February 24, and directed that he be electrocuted on April 2.
     District Attorney Shelby Cox of Dallas county, who prosecuted Welk, came here to assist in an endeavor to have Welk clear up some of the hitherto obscure details connected with the attempted Dallas jail delivery. Welk, he said, chatted with him, but disclosed nothing. Mr. Cox did not witness the execution, but stayed in the warden's office until it was over.
     Meanwhile, he recounted to the small assembly in the warden's office, events leading up to the killing. He reached the Dallas jail just after the last shot was fired. He held Champion, his friend, in his arms while the assistant jailer's life ebbed away from a shot in the back. He asked Mr. Cox to see "that justice was done," and to bring his son to him.
     Allen Seale and one Hal Hood, then deputy sheriffs, now investigator, attached to Mr. Cox's office, together with Jeff Wilson, jailer, were given credit for stopping the attempted jail delivery.

Jail Break Foiled.
     Welk and Gaines had gained possession of pistols and a quantity of ammunition. On the night the plot was to bear fruit, they appeared in the corridor fully armed and began to shot. Champion and Gaines, according to Mr. Cox, were struggling for possession of Gaines' weapon, even though Champion had, in the meanwhile, been shot in the back and mortally wounded. In the melee, the pistol was discharged and the bullet broke Champion's leg. The assistant jailer fell, and as he lay on the floor, Welk, the district attorney said, kicked him in the face, and knocked out a number of his teeth.
     About this time, according to Cox, Seale and Hood appeared armed with riot guns. They advanced, their guns belching lead and fire. Meanwhile, Welk and Gaines had taken refuge beside obstacles in the corridor and were shooting at the advancing officer. Finally, Welk became incautious and one of the officers emptied the contents of a shell into his exposed foot. A little later, he came more fully into view and a second charge was fired into his body. This particular shell was loaded with small shot [which] merely peppered Welk's face and breast. He fell, apparently dead, and the officers concentrated their fire on Gaines, who, after a moment, sprang across the corridor and fled through an adjoining corridor into the hospital, where he was killed.

Recovers From Wounds.
     Meanwhile, Welk lay as if dead. Presently, one of the officers thought he detected signs of life and leveled his gun at Welk. He thought better of it, apparently, and withheld his fire. Welk was removed to the hospital, a physician was summoned, and in due time, he fully recovered.
     Welk, according to this version, had been suspected of illicit liquor dealing for a long time previous to the killing of Deputy Sheriff Wood in December, 1922. his subsequent fruitless appeal was in process of adjudication when the attempted jail delivery took place. Welk, according to Mr. Cox, all along claimed that he was an unwilling conspirator in the plot. He asserted, Mr. Cox said, that Gaines forced him into it at the point of a pistol.
     Welk, as he stepped from the death cell to the electric chair today, appeared to be an average citizen, except for prison pallor.
     He was inordinately fond of his long, waving black hair, Warden Speer said, and in deference to his request that his head be not shave, that detail was deferred until the night of the execution. Ordinarily, the warden said, a condemned man's head was shaven the night before his sentence was to be carried out. Welk's body was shipped to his wife at Dallas for burial.
     A wife and five children, living four miles from Rowlett, in Dallas county, survive Welk. They visited him in the death cell two weeks ago, but returned home. Last night, he gave Sheriff Marshall, who spent two hours with him, a bunch of white flowers for his wife. He also sent Mr. Welk a message requesting her not to remarry until the children grew up.


     The body of Pete Welk, executed early Friday morning for the death of Willis Champion, Dallas jailer, is expected to reach Dallas from Huntsville sometime Friday evening. It will be taken direct to Rowlett, where funeral services will be held in the Christian church Sunday.
     An undertaker at Garland, and another in Dallas, offered their services to take complete charge of the church and burial arrangements. Welk's wife and 80-year-old mother are at Rowlett, awaiting the arrival of the body.

     Welk made his peace with God yesterday afternoon when Chaplain W. E. Miller held services in his cell. Up to the last minute, he apparently had hope of a reprieve, even after Warden N. L. Speer showed him a letter from Gov. Miriam A Ferguson's secretary, stating that no reprieve would be granted. After reading this letter, Welk sent a telegram to Mrs. Ferguson, in which he said:
     "I beg that you grant me a reprieve for a few days, and further ask, that either yourself, or your husband, come to see me before the expiration of that time."
     A last -minute effort to obtain a stay of execution failed Thursday when Federal Judge Wilson at Fort Worth refused to grant a writ of habeas corpus and Governor Ferguson did not rescind her refusal to interfere with the sentence of the law.
     Pete's wife is undecided what she will do. Friends are trying to keep her quiet for a few days before permitting her to break up for a new home. She is fortified against want for a few days, at least. When she left the county jail, Friday Morning, Mrs. Body saw to that.
     A number of persons have communicated with the Times Herald office, asking where they might send checks or food for the Welk family. They have been referred direct[ly] to Mrs. Welk.

- April 3, 1925, Dallas Times Herald, Sec. I, p. 1, col. 1-2;
continued on p. 14, col. 1-4.
- o o o -

Home of Welk's Aged Mother
Scene of Sorrow After Execution

Mrs. Cynthia Welk, 80-year-old mother of "Pete" Welk, who was executed Friday morning, and the farmhouse on the little rented farm, where Mrs. Welk's two remaining sons are trying to make a living for their families. Photo by Bart King.


     Friday's dawn found abject grief in two Rowlett homes.
     Justice must have its retribution! And, never mind the sorrow. But it is there, deep in the hearts of those who must live on and carry on.
     While prison attendants were sending home the body of Pete Welk, who paid with his life early Friday for the death of another man, neighbors were fighting to save Welk's mother from following her son into the great beyond.
     "They've killed my baby," she wailed when news that justice had been satisfied was brought to the 80-year-old mother. During Welk's long, vain struggle for freedom, this faithful, loving woman has been kept out of the public eye. Why, no one knows. Perhaps it was an evidence of the stoicism of the family. Perhaps it was something else!

Feared Shock Would Be Fatal.
     Mrs. Welk, a tall, typical Texas type, her face lined with wrinkles cut deep by the elements, has been ill for the past twenty years. In a shambly, weather-hued house, which stand unprotected on the crest of a slope near Rowlett, she lives with her two remaining sons and their families. the neighbors for miles around have been watching the elderly woman since Gov. Miriam Ferguson refused to commute Welk's death sentence.
     "We were surprised to find her alive this morning when we went over there," Rowlett farmers declared.
     "I wanted to go and be with my baby," cried Mrs. Welk, "but, I guess there's more work to be done here. I reckon I'll have to stay. But, I'll be with him some day."

Widow Returns Honor.
     Mrs. Pete Welk and her five children returned to their little board hut, resting deep in a pecan grove at Chiesa, a few miles above Rowlett, early Friday morning. During the night before, she sat disconsolate, on a white cot in the prison ward of the Dallas county jail. Her only companion was Mrs. Lela Body, night matron of the institution.
     The minutes dragged interminably during the night. At midnight, Mrs. Welk stiffened and began to sob quietly. At 12:15 a. m., the hour when the executioner closed a switch that sent hundreds of volts of electricity through the body of the man she loved, Mrs. Welk shook convulsively and cried.
     "She was one of the most wonderful little women I have ever met," Mrs. Body said. "I expected that she would scream or faint when that dread minute was reached. But, she didn't. She just seemed to shake inwardly."

Children Await Return.
     Five neatly dressed youngsters awaited Mrs. Welk when she was taken back to Rowlett by Mrs. Body and Mrs. D. E. Poynter. They had spent the night at the home of Mrs. R. L. Willis, Mrs. Welk's mother, who lives about five miles from the Welk shack.
     "I don't want him buried in his family plot," the little mother sobbed. "I want him buried, oh, I don't know where I can have him buried right now. But, I want him near me."
     Cecil Williams, Garland undertaker, sent word to the family, Friday, that he would be glad to take charge of the entire funeral arrangements without obligation to any one. It was understood that a Dallas undertaker made a similar offer.

Boy Volunteers. 
     Olan, Welk's 11-year-old son, found it hard to repress tears as he walked down the steps leading from his grandmother's house Friday morning. He quietly took his mother by the hand and pressed it close to his breast. Then, he forced a smile.
     "I'm going to be daddy now, mother," he said. "And, I promise I'll try to make a good one."
     As the little family climbed into Mr[s]. Body's car to ride to their own home, Mrs. Welk went back into the house and brought out an armful of clean clothes for the children. Pauline, the oldest girl, ran back to her and took the bundle.
     "You're not to work now, mother," she said.
     "How can I be anything but brave with such children as these?" Mrs. Welk asked.

Will Have to Move.
     As far as could be ascertained, nothing has been done about securing a house for the little family. Thursday, Mrs. Welk said it was necessary for her to vacate the place in which she was living.
     "They want the house for some negroes who are going to work the farm," she said.
     Welk's mother was found sitting quietly beside a small fire in the old hearth of her house upon a low hill. Three or four old-style "sad-irons" were propped up against an iron bar, which was stretched across the front of the fire.
     "Yes, they took him away. My baby. Pete wasn't---oh, well. There is no use. It's too late now."
     She rocked herself to and fro in the rickety cane chair as she crooned, "Some day, some day, I'll be with you, Pete." Minnie, her 3-year-old granddaughter, climbed up into the old lady's lap.
     "Sing for me, grandma," she pleaded. But, grandma's heart would not let her sing. Grandma had just lost the joy of her life.

Plans "Regular" Funeral.
     The boy whom she cuddled and loved and raised to be--killed in the electric chair. Justice demanded that. And, grandma and Pete's little wife and their five children must be the sufferers.
     "We'll have a regular funeral service in the Christian church in Rowlett," Pete's mother said. "It will be a nice funeral, too, with lots of flowers. And, I'll see my baby once more before they take him away for good. My Pete."

- April 3, 1925, Dallas Times Herald, Sec. I, p. 1, col. 2-5;
continued on Sec. I, p. 14, col. 2-3.
- o o o -


     Widowed by the execution of her husband in the electric chair at Huntsville early Friday morning, Mrs. Sidney Welk, who spent the night in the Dallas county jail awaiting the news, has returned to her little home near Rowlett.
     The mother of Welk's five children, borne up bravely under the strain until a telegram from Sheriff Schuyler Marshall, Jr., informed her that the slayer of Assistant Night Jailer, Willis Champion, was dead.
     According to County Jailer Murray Fisher, she looked at the death message as if she did not understand its contents for a moment, and then, shrieking, "Oh, God, have mercy," collapsed. The jail matron revived the fainting woman, who spent the rest of the night and morning moaning and crying.

Body Due Here Today.
     News from Huntsville Friday was to the effect that Welk's body will probably reach here late in the afternoon. The state, at its own expense, is required to ship bodies back to the county seat.
     The career of crime that finally landed Welk in the electric chair was brief, but sensational.
     A raid on a whisky still, which Welk was helping operate near Rowlett, resulted in the fatal shooting of Deputy Sheriff Tom L. Wood in December, 1922. Clayton Coomer, Henry Belcher and Welk were all charged with the murder. Coomer, drawing ten years, Belcher being acquitted after two trials, and Welk received a penal term of 40 years. This sentence was later reversed by the higher courts.

Tried to Break Jail.
     While Welk was awaiting the results of an appeal from his first murder conviction, he and C. E. Gaines, postal bandit, attempted to escape from the county jail, September, 26, 1924. The attempt was foiled by the bravery of Assistant Night Jailer Willis Champion, who flung the keys to the jail out of a sixth-story window, after he had been stuck up by the two men. Evidence in the Welk case was, that in a homicidal rage at this act of Champion's, Welk shot him in the back and then beat and kicked him in the face.
     Former Deputy Sheriffs Hal Hood, Allen Seale, Hilliard Brite and Jeff Wilson killed Gaines and severely wounded Welk. On trial in Judge Charles A. Pippen's court, Welk was given the death penalty for the murder of Jailer Champion.
     Hope that Governor Miriam Ferguson would commute Welk's sentence to 99 years was clung to by his family up until Wednesday, when Governor Ferguson notified him that she would not interfere with the jury's verdict.
     Welk's application for commutation was backed by thousands of Dallas county citizens who signed petitions in his behalf. A last minute effort of his attorney, Frank Wilson, to put off his execution by habeas corpus proceedings in federal court, was blocked by the refusal of Federal Judge Edward H. Meek, who refused to intervene in the case.

- April 3, 1925, Dallas Times Herald, Sec. I, p. 7, col. 4-5.
- o o o -


Front and back of J. Sidney "Pete" Welk's grave marker in the Welk family plot at Big A Cemetery, in Rowlett, taken June 25, 2002. The marker is a replacement for the original, which was still in place as late as 1974.

Added December 2, 2004:
"Dangerous Beats"
of Dallas Police


In Certain Districts of City
Patrolmen Always Go in Pairs
With Eyes Skinned for Trouble


"Little Mexico", "Deep Ellum"
And Other Sections Like Them
Are No Places for Scarecats

By William Ward,
Police Reporter of The Dallas Journal.

     Walking a beat in "Frogtown" may sound like an uneventful job, but if you are seeking a thrill, get a place on the Dallas police department and ask for an assignment in the vicinity of McKinney avenue and Orange street. If things seem a little quiet in that neighborhood, maybe the night life of "North Central" or "Deep El-lum" will furnish a few surprises. Then, there is the East Dallas beat extending about six blocks east on Elm street from the intersection of Walton, and the "courthouse square." Any of those assignments will furnish enough excitement in a single night for the hungriest thrill hunter, and a lot too much for the average person.
     Dallas police say that "Frogtown," so-called because it was once the tenderloin district of the city, is the most dangerous beat in Dallas. It is in this section, largely populated by foreigners, that some of the most gruesome murders of recent years have been committed, and a long list of unsolved crimes, such as hold-ups, assaults and kidnappings, are chalked against this land where gang leaders and bootleggers sip their coffee in shady resorts and chatter in the lingo of twenty-six different races.

Hidden Motives.
     But, there is one thing that can be said to the credit of Frogtown and its denizens -- the gangsters of that section usually confine their operations to people of their own race. Americans seldom understand the promoting cause of a murder in Little Mexico. Recently, two Mexicans had slain a countryman. Detectives, thinking like most Americans would think, believed robbery the motive of that slaying. But, they were wrong. Latin intrigue, mysterious and hard for an American to "savvy," was the cause of the murder. Detectives Will Fritz and John Henderson, working on the case, unearthed information showing that the slain Mexican had been trailed to Dallas by political enemies from the City of Mexico. This is an example of crime in the foreign sections that form the notorious district known in the lingo of police headquarters as "Frogtown."

William (Bill) Ely (left) and L. O. Buzan (right), two other officers who have encountered many perilous situations in the performance of their duty. Mr. Buzan, with his brother, is now serving on the beat in "Little Mexico."

The Buzan Brothers.
     There have been several policemen who have "worked Frogtown," but George and Louis Buzan, brothers, are veterans at patrolling the section. The Buzans were reared in Southwest Texas and speak the Spanish language as well as any Mexican. This fact is a great assistance to them in their work in the district. The Buzans have walked beats in Frogtown for several months and have had some thrilling experiences. They also have made some important arrests in that section.
     William Ely, better known to his associates as Bill Ely, is another veteran of many wild nights on the "dangerous beats" of Dallas. Ely has worked them all. For months, he had the "dog watch" in Little Mexico. This phrase in police life means the detail that goes on duty at 11 o'clock at night and remains until 7 o'clock the next morning. This is the period of night burglaries -- a time for all wise policemen to keep an eye open for danger.

Ely's Adventures.
     Ely can tell many interesting stories of adventures he has experienced in the underworld of Dallas. On two occasions, he has ventured into back alleys and been rewarded by happening along just as a knobknocker was applying the hammer to a safe. On several other occasions, Ely has nabbed burglars who were in the act of removing rear windows, in order to gain entrance to some office or store building.
     One time, Ely was walking a beat in East Dallas, when a noise in an alley attracted his attention. He reached for his six-shooter and cleared for action. The noise stopped, but Ely was not satisfied. He entered the alley on a sort of spying expedition. Everything went well, until Ely peeped into a window. Then, he had to put up with a genuine scrap. He had caught a burglar in the act of pillaging a store. The intruder was, at length, subdued and brought to police headquarters, where finger-print records showed him to be a notorious criminal.

A Bullet From Above.
     On another occasion, Ely entered a dark alley to investigate a noise. This time, he searched a rear door and almost got killed for his trouble. A pistol was fired from some hidden place in the vicinity, but Ely couldn't figure out the location of his assailant. At length, the policeman looked upward, and there, standing on the roof of a two-story building, a burglar was peeping down into the darkness of the alley, attempting to locate the policeman. Ely knew that the robber could not see him, so he just waited. This burglar was a so-called "skylight artist," the sort of chap who goes to the roof tops and gains entrance to buildings by coming down the skylight. Ely waited until the prowler and a brother in crime climbed down the fire escape. Then, he emerged from the dark recesses of the alley and arrested them both. Such adventures, while extremely thrilling, are not as safe as playing a friendly game of dominoes or watching the baseball scoreboard, yet, Ely seems to get a lot of fun out of chasing night prowlers and bootleggers.

Tom Sebastian, another officer who has done his bit in checking up on the criminals of the city's underworld.

Thrills on "Deep Ellum."
     One night, a few months ago, Patrolman Tom Sebastian was walking the "Deep El-lum" beat. Things were quiet and the night was chilly. Sebastian was striking his baton against the palms of his hands to drive away the cold. Suddenly, out of the night, there appeared the form of a man. Then, bang! and Sebastian lay unconscious on the sidewalk. A few minutes later, the patrolman regained consciousness. He had been attacked from behind by a big negro, who slugged him with a piece of gas pipe. Sebastian suffered a broken nose and a severe laceration of the head. But, he did not run from the job. Instead, he asked to be kept on the "Deep El-lum" beat. He wanted to get "his man," and he did. Sebastian believed his assailant was a notorious negro bad man. So, he silently walked his beat and watched for the black who had been so cowardly as to come up from behind. One night, not long ago, Sebastian encountered the negro down on "North Central" and the "bad man" went to jail.
     "Working nights on 'dangerous beats' isn't so bad, after all," Sebastian said. "It's pretty tough over in 'Deep El-lum', and along the Central tracks, a fellow has to keep his eyes skinned, or he'll sure get bumped off. But, I like it. There's usually lots of interesting things that happen during a night's time that will give most any person a real thrill."

Cleve Wood, Dallas patrolman, who has had the particular brand of thrills encountered in policing the more perilous sections of Dallas' slums.

Surprising Knob Knockers.
     Cleve Wood has spent many nights patrolling the "dangerous beats" of Dallas. For more than a year, he walked a beat in "Frogtown" and had many thrilling experiences with underworld characters, whose habitat is that meeting place of races. Wood has experienced the thrill of peeping into an oil filling station just as the yeggman applies the sledge hammer to the knob. The knob knocker, usually a chap of about 20 years, seldom gets "hard boiled," Wood says. When he sees he is caught, he just admits defeat and takes his medicine.
     But, dope runners and bootleggers also figure in the night life of "dangerous beats," and this species of criminal, usually unscrupulous offenders, is more dangerous than the safe robber, police declare. A bootlegger, always armed as a precautionary measure against "booze hijackers," often will "shoot it out" with a policeman who happens to attempt an arrest.

Autos That Speed in the Night.
     When a policeman halts a motorist in the dead hours of the night, he is taking a chance with his life. There is seldom any question asked of a motorist who drives the streets at a decent hour, but things get suspicious when an automobile is seen speeding along a deserted street at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning. There's usually something wrong with a driver who keeps such late hours.
     The "market beat," which includes that section on South Pearl frequented by vendors of fruit and produce, is another section that police class as a dangerous district, especially at night. Policeman A. W. Tedford, now a member of the plainclothes division, served six years on "the market." It was while walking a beat in that section, that he was attacked and severely cut by a crazed negro drug addict, whom he had discovered in the act of entering a store. Tedford finally overcame the negro and brought him to the city jail, but the policeman was seriously injured in the encounter.

Some Disagree.
     Many of the veterans of the police department, however, will tell you there are no really "dangerous beats" now. They declare that one section of Dallas is about as safe as another, since the "red light district" was closed and saloons voted out. A rookie patrolman in the heart of the downtown section might surprise a half dozen knob knockers at work in office buildings and have several narrow escapes from flying bullets, while another policeman, maybe a veteran, would have a peaceful time for several weeks down on "Deep El-lum." Jess Bonner, now a detective, is one of the police veterans who doubts if there are any really "dangerous beats" in Dallas any longer.
     "It's altogether where you find your man," Bonner said. "Of course, Little Mexico and the North Central tracks are bad places, still, but there are really no hardened criminals in those sections. Motorcycle policemen who investigate suburban robberies are chief among those taking a big chance with their lives. Crooks, such as knob knockers or burglars, may be in hiding in those residential stores and kill a policeman on sight. Two police officers have been killed in Dallas in recent years by negro burglars lurking in suburban stores."

Jess Bonner, who is of the opinion that no "beat" in Dallas today is more dangerous than another. In the old days, says Mr. Bonner, things were different.

Chief of Detectives Charles Gunning, who in his time, has walked all of the "dangerous beats" of Dallas.


Capt. George Eimicke. Capt. Eimicke is a veteran of the force who has patrolled all the toughest sections of Dallas during his career.

When Times Were Bad.
     Bonner is, himself, a veteran walker of "dangerous beats." In the old days, he served several months in the old "south end," which was considered one of the cesspools of crime in the Southwest. In those days, the saloons were open, and there were no drug peddlers, because morphine or cocaine could be bought like any other drug over the counter of a pharmacy. Many other policemen who have gone up in the department here, also served on "dangerous beats" in the old days. Charles Gunning, chief of detectives, walked a beat in the old "south end." Will Henry, now a sergeant of police, also walked a beat in the same district. George Eimicke, now a captain of police, has walked most of the beats that, in days gone by, were considered "tough jobs." Eimicke tells numerous stories of the police adventures of his early life.
     But, Capt. Eimicke realizes that the policeman of the present also has many dangers to face. He says the youthful knob-knocker and the "baby" bandit of the present are just as dangerous and liable to kill as the hardened "soup-mixer" or road agent of yesterday.

A Ghostly Touch.
     One of the classics of the old days is the yarn about the rookie policeman sent to guard a house in East Dallas which was threatened in an anonymous letter with dynamite. The writer of the letter said the house would be dynamited at midnight. The chief of police instructed the policeman on the beat to be present at the hour and see that nothing happened. The policeman, who is now a plainclothes man, as at his post of duty when the hour of doom arrived. It was a winter night and a slow drizzle was falling. The policeman (who steadfastly refuses for his name to be used) says he was lurking behind a servant's house and peeping into the blackness of night. A mournful wind was crying through the bleak fruit trees, while the drizzle, turning into sleet, made the night one of icy terror.
     The policeman leaned over a fence and investigated a noise. It might be the dynamiter. Something with an eerie softness touched him on the neck! The policeman, frantic with fear, yelled like an Apache on a rampage. And, the poor old cow was almost as badly frightened. Ol' Bossie, probably lonely and unable to sleep, evidently was seeking the companionship of man when she licked the policeman on the neck!

An Interrupted Crap Game.
     Patrolman P. O. Davis is an authority on "Deep El-lum." Davis spent months along the Central tracks and knows a lot of interesting things about the negro district. He says "Deep El-lum" and the Central tracks are not so dangerous if a man uses good judgment.
     There are many funny things to be seen among the negroes, Davis says. Once upon a time, Davis was tipped off to a crap game. He determined to raid the place single-handed. He crept to the window of a "shotgun" house and discovered a gang of fully twenty negroes seated or standing near a table, gently praying to the Goddess of Chance. Suddenly, the guard gave the alarm, and the stampede for the only door available for escape, was on. Twenty negroes attempted to pass through the doorway at one time, and the result was the entire front end of the house was pushed away.
     Davis says it was the most amusing sight he ever witnessed. There was not an arrest. The patrolman was conquered by an overwhelming desire to laugh. He sat upon the front doorsteps and enjoyed the show, while the twenty crap shooters bucked the rear wall of the house.
     On another occasion, Davis was chasing a small negro, known as "Keen Ankle," along the North Central tracks. The youth was suspected of being implicated in a raid upon several chicken houses in the vicinity.
     "Keen Ankle" was some sprinter; but Davis, also a fair racer, was gradually gaining ground, when the negro suddenly made a dive into an open door of a box car that was being switched along the tracks. Davis was not a good trainman and "Keen Ankle" made his get-away.

The Lonely Evangelist.
     One icy night, Davis was patrolling North Central avenue, when he heard the familiar words of a camp meeting hymn floating forth on the still night air. He was charmed by the music, but not convinced. So, he went to conduct an investigation and found that his suspicions were well founded. There, leaning against a telephone pole, was a big black negro, singing at the top of his voice and making all the motions of a summer camp meeting evangelist.
     "Now, brethe'n and sistern," the negro began, making a waving motion of the hand. But, Davis wasn't going to have a religious service conducted in any such manner.
     "Hey, what's the big idea, preaching to a vacant street?" he demanded.
     An investigation disclosed the negro had a pint of corn liquor in his hip pocket, or more correctly, the remains of what had once been a pint.

Working in Pairs.
     Policemen assigned to dangerous beats usually go in pairs. The patrolmen stay fairly close together, and both keep their eyes open. In the event an establishment, such as a drug store or cafe, is to be searched for prowlers, one of the policemen usually goes to the front, while his companion goes to the rear. This precautionary measure is taken to prevent escape of the burglar.

Lonely Night Watches.
     Policemen on long night watches are not always busy. They have many long and lonely hours. Of course, they do not encounter burglars and liquor runners every night. Yet, they usually find enough excitement to make their jobs interesting. Each hour they are on duty, they have to call in over the Gamewell system telephone and report to police headquarters, giving their name and number and the street address from which they are calling.
     Policemen on the various beats usually manage to make the acquaintance of other persons who have night work to do. Garage men, taxicab drivers, waiters in all-night cafes are some of the persons who keep the patrolmen company. But, down on "Deep El-lum" and North Central avenue, there are only a few all-night places, and policemen on those beats, in the early hours of the morning, live solitary lives. Veteran policemen declare that "North Central" and "Deep El-lum," on nights when burglars or bootleggers are not busy, are the most lonely and abandoned districts of Dallas.

"Shaking Doors."
     "Shaking doors" is one of the ways that patrolmen on night duty make useful time of the monotonous early morning hours. Do you know that dozens of Dallas business men, each night, fail to lock the doors, either the front or back, or maybe both, of their business establishments? Long years in patrolling a great city has disclosed the value of careful policemen who thoroughly investigate the doors of every establishment of their beat. In the event a door is found to be unlocked, the policeman gets in connection with the proprietor and informs him of his carelessness. But, sometimes the business man can not be located. In that event, the patrolman keeps an eye trained on the unlocked door until daybreak.

A Shot From Inside.
     But. all open doors are not left that way by the manager. It's about as safe for a patrolman to shake the door of a burglar-infested store, as it is to strike a match to investigate the contents of a gasoline tank. The burglar, a peaceful sort of fellow when allowed to use his jimmy unmolested, usually becomes a gunman when confronted by a policeman. But, fortunately for Dallas patrolmen, burglars do not always take steady aim. Two Dallas policemen have been killed in Dallas during the last three years while "shaking doors," however. This fact shows clearly that the habit of rudely examining the entrances and exits of a store in which a prowler is trapped, is not as safe as watching a movie thriller.
     Still, many of the burglars fire carelessly and their bullet misses the mark. Dozens of Dallas policemen have been fired upon, but only a few of them have been struck. Policemen are better marksmen than the burglars. Once the battle starts, the burglar, who gets the first shot, had better not miss, because then, he usually gets "bumped off." For the policeman, shooting to kill, has a habit of finding his mark.

Police Shifts.
     There are several members of the Dallas police department who like night work better than day hours. These men have asked to be kept on night duty, and there are some who have worked only the late night shift in several years. But, the detail from 7 o'clock in the morning until 3 o'clock in the afternoon, is supposed to be the choice shift, and men long in the service, who are given certain privileges, are allowed these hours, in the event there are straight day assignments. The police detail changes every month and the men are given different hours -- at least, most of them are. There are some men, like those on late night duty, who, by special agreement, work those hours, month after month, and it is this fact that gives other men straight day hours.

"Speed Cops."
     Motorcycle policemen who patrol the outlying sections of the city have but little time for loneliness. The "speed cops" seldom are still. They go from place to place and, contrary to the general belief, seldom are on the lookout for speeders. In fact, motorists are the tamest offenders that the motorcycle policeman encounters. The pillagers of suburban stores are the criminals sought by the motorcycle policemen. The dope runner and the bootlegger, also, are sought by the "pop-pops" and are often caught. The police department of Dallas, being unable to furnish patrolmen for the entire city, has organized a splendid motorcycle division, in charge of Sergt. D. C. Garrison, and this one arm of the public safety department probably has prevented more burglaries and similar crimes than any other part of the law-enforcement branch of the municipal government.
     Other policemen in "flivvers" patrol various sections of the city in the dead hours of the night. These policemen, like the patrolmen on the downtown beats and the motorcycle policemen, go in pairs. The "flivver cops" are armed with sawed-off shotguns, and are hunting for night prowlers. Numerous suspicious characters are arrested each month by the policemen who, in automobiles, patrol the residential and suburban sections of the city.

- May 3, 1925, The Dallas Morning News, Part. VII, p. 3.
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