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Bandera County TXGenWeb
Old Bandera County Crime News


The articles on this page come from the Dallas Morning News.

Bad News
News can sometimes be useful for finding clues and adding interesting details in your family history. 
Many times someone accused of a crime was never convicted, but the proceedings do leave a paper trail.

29 Oct 1885  "Charged with Perjury"

"Deputy Sheriffs Haskell and Kearby arrested Thomas Elam yesterday, near Elam Station, on the charge of perjury based on the allegation that he had made affidavit to being worth $1,000 in going on a bond exectuted in Bandera County. The Sheriff of that county forwarded the bond to the Sheriff of Dallas County for examination, and the latter passed upon it unfavorably. Upon Elam being brought in he at once took legal steps looking to his release on a writ of habeas corpus. The case is set for 9 a.m. Friday next. The Sheriff of Bandera is here watching the course of events."

6 Nov 1885   "Habeas Corpus Case"

"A few days ago Thomas J. Elam was arrested in this county on a capias issued from Bandera County on an indictment charging him with perjury in connection with a bond. The Sheriff of that county, Mr. Hamilton, came after the prisoner and Sheriff Smith turned him over to him. His bond was fixed at $2,000, which the prioner gave, with Isaac Elam, J.E. Gill, G.W. Elam and W.B. Elam on it. The prisoner sued out a writ of habeas corpus before Judge Aldredge this evening. The State did not object to the bond, but urged that as the indictment had been found in Bandera County, a capias issued on it and the prisoner was in the hands of the Sheriff of Bandera, a habeas corpus could only be heard in that county. The Judge sustained this position and dismissed the case. The defendant gave notice of appeal and will prosecute it to the higher courts."

22 Mar 1888   "Arrested for Arson" "Several Cattlemen looking for Young Cattle - A Big Transaction"

"Victoria, Tex., March 21 - Sheriff Thurmond today arrested and placed in jail a man who is supposed to be one Frank France who is badly wanted in Bandera County for arson and horse theft. France had gone to the depot to take the east bound train and when arrested denied emphatically that he was the man wanted and gave his name as John Miller and later on as John Lewis. He has been in Victoria only two or three days, is about 5 feet 5 inches high, has a sandy complexion and light hair and wears a light mustache. He was arrested on a description sent by the Sheriff of Bandera County to Sheriff Thurmond."

23 July 1894  "A Woman in the Case"

"Bandera, Bandera Co., Tex., July 19- M. Cravey, a deputy sheriff of Bandera County, has just brought in James Cravey, who this morning killed R.G. Crain and wounded John Crain at the head of Cherry Creek, in Kerr County. Cravey claims that he did the shooting in self defence; that he was attacked by both the Crains and two others and after he had killed one and wounded one he was chased for more than a mile by others and finally leaped from his horse and took to the brush to escape. He made his way to his brother, who is a deputy sheriff of this county, and surrendered to him. The deputy started with him this evening to Kerrville to deliver him to the sheriff of Kerr county. The Crains formerly lived in Bexar County. There had been some bad blood between the parties for some time. John Crain was arrested a short time ago by Sheriff Stevens at a meeting for carrying a gun, which the sheriff found on his person when he arrested him. His case is now pending in the county court. It is said that a woman is at the bottom of the whole affair."

5 Mar 1898   "Four Corpses Found.  The Horrible Death of Tramps in a Box Car at Forth Worth. Accidental Asphyxiation. They started a fire in the car and were strangled by poisonous gas. Two other men barely escaped."

"Fort Worth, Tex. March 4 -- Four men, homeless and known to the world as tramps, slept the sleep that knows no waking in a box car in the suburbs of Fort Worth last night and two other sare now lingering between life and death, caused by accidental asphyxiation......."
......( This article is quite long but includes this part reguarding Bandera County)
"Letters on the person of another identified him as Henry Harrell. His age is apparently 25 or 26, he was of medium height and weight about 130 pounds. A letter taken from his person was written at Mason Creek, Bandera County, Tex., was dated Nov. 31, 1897, and was from his uncle, who signed his name H.G. Johnson. He had on a pair of corduroy pants, brown coat and black vest and a woolen shirt, there being underneath his corduroy pants a pair of dark pantaloons."
   The rest of the article said that the bodies were interred by the county and that "Not as much  as 5 cents has been found on any of the dead persons".

24 Nov 1927 " 3 Get New Trial in Killing Charges" (this column covers lots of cases around the state, I will only quote the local names"

"Special to the News, Austin, Texas, Nov. 23 - .....But the evidence was ruled insufficient by the higher court.
Similar action was also taken in favor of Pat Forest, sentenced to life imprisonment on a charge of murdering W.A. Gray in Bandera County, the court holding that the trial court erred in authorizing conviction on the count of unknown weapons being used in the crime. Gray was killed after a dispute over the outcome of a gambling episode. The appeal was from Kerr County."

6 May 1930 - Similar column of sentences and reprieves from Austin, Texas

" A.B. Davenport, Bandera County, Six Years..." nothing else noted in the article.
Later I collected the Feb papers and found this previous article: 11 Feb 1930 from Autin's newspaper, reprinted in the Dallas Morning News " Gov. Dan Moody on recommendation of the Board of Pardons and Paroles ....furloughs extensions granted-Thirty Days; A. B. Davenport, Bandera County, theft. Six years, thirty days:..."

17 Apr 1934  -- "Austin, Texas, April 16. - Gov. Miriam A. Ferguson granted six conditional pardons......Kasper Mazurek, Bandera County, sheep theft,..."

26 Aug 1934 - Special to the News

"Deaf - Mute Rancher Tortured and Forced To Sign $100 Check."
San Antonio, Texas, Aug. 25 - 
Ross Essary, deaf-mute Bandera county rancher, was tortured and forced to sign a blank check for $100 by four bandits in a restroom within a block of police headquarters Saturday afternoon.      The quartet wrapped barbed wire around Essary's neck and wrists.

15 Jan 1940  "Medina Man Held in Slaying of Kin"

"Bandera, Texas, Jan 14 (AP) - J.M. Autry, Medina, was being held in the Bandera County Jail Sunday in connection with the fatal shooting of his brother-in-law, Hal Smith, Medina farmer."
"Smith died in a Kerrville hospital several hours after he was shot while he and Autrey were in a pasture on Smith's farm. Autrey was taken before Justice of the Peace Mitchell of Medina and released on $500 bond shortly after the shooting and rearrested early Sunday by Sheriff W.H.Burns when Smith died."
"Sheriff Burns said Sunday that a preliminary hearing for Autrey would be held Tuesday".

30 May 1952   -- "Jurors Indict Ranch Hand in Child Death"

"Bandera, Texas, May 29 (UP) - A Special grand jury returned a murder with malice indictment Thursday against Earl Mathews, 29, Tarpley, Bandera County, ranch hand. It charged him with beating and slapping and squeezing his 3-yr-old stepson to death."
"Mathews himself was brought to the jury room, and testified while Bandera County Sheriff John Faris and Texas Ranger M.L.Purivs stood guard. He was led, white and shaking, out of the jury room one hour later."
"Thirty-eight district prosecutors indicated they will press for an early trial. Mathews, meantime, will be held in the Medina County jail, at Hondo, where law enforcement officers took him after his arrest".

6 Mar 1963  Judge Rules Mistrial in Bandera Case

Fort Stockton, Texas (AP)- Dist. Judge C.E. Patterson.Tuesday declared a mistrial in the love triangle murder trial of Bill McKnight after efforts to seat a jury failed. 
     Patterson's ruling came after lawyers had practically exhausted the jury panel without seating a single juror. More than 40 prospects had been questioned in two days.
     The trial was moved here from Bandera where a jury couldn't be formed.
     The 83rd District Court judge said he would meet with lawyers Wednesday morning to determine the disposal of the case.
     Observers listed three possibilities; the case could be set for trial again in this term of court: it could be possibly returned to Bandera County for disposition, or Judge Patterson could possibly move it to another court. Most jurors were excused for technical reasons rather than for assertions that they had opinions in the case.
      McKnight, 21, once a University of Texas honor student from Kerrville but now of San Antonio, is accused of killing Kelly Parker.
     Parker was gunned down in front of the girl's hom in Bandera last May.
     Parker's family hired former Gov. Coke Stevenson of Junction as a special prosecutor.

6 July 1942  "Riot in Town, Bandera, Texas", July 5 (AP).

Lieut. Charles Addison Smith, 26, of Duncan Field was shot to death and Deputy Sheriff Vernon Merritt was severly beaten here early Sunday while many persons, including a large number of soldiers celebrated July 4.
     Sheriff B.H.Burns of Bandera County said he could not make a detailed report but that Merritt did the shooting and that the Army at San Antonio was conducting an investigation.
     Bandera Citizens reported that hundreds of soldiers milled sullenly about the streets but that military police quickly got the situation in hand.
     The shooting occurred shortly after midnight in front of a cafe, Lieutenant Smith was taken to a drugstore where he died.
     Another officer with the solders was credited with quieting the troops after the near riot was precipitated.
     Officers said there were no eyewitnesses to the shooting except the ones involved. 
     Smith was the son of Mrs. Charles A. Smith of Pendleton, Ky.


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