The Bastrop Advertiser
W. L. Pearson was killed near the residence of Mack Darnell, near Pettytown, last
Saturday night. We learn that a dancing Party was going on at Darnell's and that
Pearson was killed within wo hundred yards of the house, and nothing was known
of it till next morning, when the dead body was found.
Dr. Jas. C. Stovall, a prominent physician of Travis county, while returning home Monday
night, from a professional visit, was shot from his horse. He was hit by two bullets, one
producing a slight flesh wound in the right arm and the other passing through the upper
part of the hip, penetrated the abdomen and possibly the bladder. Tom and Bob Pearson,
two brohers, have been arrested, charged with the shooting.
Dr. Jas. C. Stovall reported shot by too assassins, near Austin, an account of which we
publish elsewhere died about 7 o'clock Wednesday morning. He died at the house of Mr.
Gagnan, the man who found him. At the inquest, says the Statesman, three witnesses were
examined, the principal one being Gagman. He swore, in substance, that he heard several
shots in quick succession. His house was some 200 yards distant from the road. The firing
ceased, and not long after he heard cries as of some one i distress. Going in that
direction till within about fifty yards of the road, he came upon Dr. Stovall, who told him
wht had occurred. He stated that he was riding homeward and met two men going the opposite
way. When close up to him they separated a little, leaving him between them. He recognized
the men as Tom and Bob Pearson. The first named without speaking, fired and after falling
from his horse several more shots were discharged at him. He said he did not know why they
shot him. He fell on the right of the road as one goes to Lockhart, and lay still for a few
minutes till satisfied his slayers had left; then he crawled over a ditch and through a hole
in the fence to the spot where Gognan found him.
The above embraces the main points in the testimony of this witness.
Tom Pearson was indicted in this county a number of years ago, on a charge of killing a
negro, and was tried and acquitted at the fall term, 1883, of our diatrict court.
Dr. Stovall Seriously Wounded Near Austin
Austi, March 17, Dr. J. C. Stovall was dangerously shot last night. In a declaration made
to Justice Von Rosenburg he states that at about 9 o'clock last night, as he was returing to
his home at St. Elmo, a small place about five miles from the city, he met two men, who,
without saying a word, opened fire on him. Five shots were fired, two of which took effect.
One the most serious, entered his side and will probably cause death. He fell from his
hourse, and the men rode off.
After lying there a few minutes he succeeded in crawling to a house a short distance from the
scene of the shooting, where he received medical attention and was then conveyed to his
home. He further states that by the flash of the pistols he was enabled to see his assailants
and identified Tom and Bob Pearson as the guilty parties. Both of these men live at St. Elmo.
The shooting is supposed to have been caused by a previous difficulty. Both men have been
arrested and are now in jail.
Found Guilty of Murder in the Second Degree, and Sent Up for Thirty Years.
Austin Statesman as posted in the Bastrop Advertiser
The jury retired to make up their verdict in the Robert Pearson case, about 10 o'clock pm.,
Thursday. From the length of their stay, it was the general impression that they would be
unable to come to any agreement. Contrary to this opinion, a verdict was rendered about 10
o'clock yesterday morning. It found Bob Pearson guilty of murder in the second degree, and
fixed his punishment at thirty years in the penitentiary.
An analysis of the verdict, combined with certain facts as to the way the jury stood; made
known after wards, will justify the assertion that the verdict was the result of a compromise.
It is said on the authority of one of the jurors, that the first ballot taken showed eight of
the twelve were in favor of inflicting the death penalty; the remaining four voted for
a straight out acquittal. While the majority could not by any means be brought over to this
conclusion, they were unable to get their colleagues to agree to an infliction of
the severest punishment that can be imposed by any human tribunal. Hence the thirty years
Viewed abstractly, the verdict would seem to be singularly illogical. Here is a man accused
of perpertrating a murder of the foulest kind - a cold-blooded, heartless assassination. If
guilty of this crime, the death of the perpertrator could be the only expiation. Public
sentiment and the law of the land alike demand this justice to the family of the murdered man,
and to the community at large demand it. If he did not commit it, then he should have gone
Scot free. Really there was no middle stand.
But it seems that a doubt of the perpetration of this murder by Robert Pearson found a
lodging in the minds of one-third the number of men who sat as the arbiters of his destiny.
Did not several witnesses swear that he was at home at the time Dr. Stovall met his death?
True, these witnesses were members his own family. Still it might be asked, how else could
a man's presence at home, especially in the country be established save by his wife and
children. But what will not these latter do to save the life of a husband and father where
it is in such imminent peril? Human experience will readily suggest an answer.
Besides all this, however, it will be remembered that Dr. Stovall, when making his dying
statement, charged the killing on on the defendant, but on his brother Tom. This
doubtless had its weight.
There was not much talk about the action of the jury. Some expressed surprise that
Pearson was not cleared, a few denounced the verdict on account of its being too mild.
A motion for a new trial will be made right away by the attorneys for the defense, and
if that is refused, the case will be carried to the Court of Appeals. If the sentence
is ever executed, it amounts practically to a life sentence, as Pearson is now at least
fourty years old, unless some future Governor should see fit to grant a pardon.
(Family stories say that Dr. Stovall let one of the Pearson's relatives die in childbirth
and that is why they killed him)
The following account of the arrest of Tom Pearson appeared in the old Advertiser:
"Sherman, Oct. 2, 1882 - Deputy Constable John Moreys, of Van Alstyne, arrested a man named
Pearson yesterday, charged with murder in Bastrop county, in 1873. Pearson would probably
have remained undiscovered, as he has been a resident of this county for the past two
years, working as a farm laborer, and was not suspected of anything wrong until in a drunken
spree he informed a boon companion of his being indicted in Bastrop County. The authorities
there were communicated with and in answer they sent a capias for him for murder. Diligent
inquiry failed to discover the name of the party he is charged with killing.
"Tom Pearson, man referred to in the above telegram, was, in 1873, a tenant on the farm of
Judge Eastland, in the southeastern part of Bastrop county.
A negro named Wilkes Franklin, on the adjoining farm of Mrs. Ware's was waylaid and shot to
death. He was plowing in the field and was shot by someone concealed in timber, as he
approached the fence. This occured in June 1873, and about 3 o'clock in the evening, Franklin
expiring about sundown. Before his death he made a statement in which he declared that Tom
Pearson did the shooting. Pearson was arrested and placed under a $1,000 bond, with Judge
Eastland and Mr. John Jenkins as sureties. Shortly after giving the bail he skipped the
county and has never been heard of since until the notice from the officer as above
The following grand jurors were summoned for the term of district court to convene in
Bastrop, Monday, Oct. 17, 1882.
Enoch Smith, Wade Dixon, J. I. McGinis, Thos. Paine, Cornelius Hemphill, T. C. Hallmark,
David French, Aaron Kennedy, Richard Hancke, Forry Pope, T. C. Osborne, Ed Bastian,
W. A. Oatman, Jas. Fitzwilliams, Ben Williams, T. C. Hendrix.
A. Wiseman bought seventy odd bales of cotton, of the crop of Mr. Mark Young, Monday,
at 9 1-4 cents.
Mrs. M. A. Buell nee Mrs. Maggie Nicholson, who has been on a visit to Bastrop for several
weeks, left the early part of the week for Travis county, her future home.
Col. Jones, independent candidate for governor, returned home Wednesday evening. The
Colonel though fatigued from the ....
In another column will be found the card of Mr. N. A. Morris, withdrawing from the
canvass for tax collector of Bastrop county.
It was Louis C. Shilling, the eldest brother, who killed Scott at Loredo, last week.
On the examing trial he was held in the some of $10,000. The case is to be taken
up on a writ of habeas corpus, as it is generally considered the killing was justifiable.
On Friday evening lasat, the gin belonging to Mr. B. F. Jones, at Alumn Creek, was destroyed
by fire. The fire is supposed to have originated from a spark of fire falling from the
chimney into the lint room. Some ten bales of cotton inside of the gin, and thirteen
bales lying in the yard, were burned. The gin and buildings were insured for the sum of
The Bastrop and Alumn Creek clubs will play their third game, best two in three, on Piney
Creek, above town today. It is proposed to have a picnic dinner, and a party at Academy
Hall tonight. The game is to be played about one o'clock. Everybody and friends are invited
to the picnic and the party.
A Young man named Henry Scruggs, living near McDade, had his arm badly mutilated in a gin
last week, so much so as ato require the amputation of the hand. The operation was performed
last Saturday by Dr. Holt, of McDade and Dr. Lucett, of Bastrop. The young man was doing
well at last accounts.
The McDade gin, the property of Mr. Neil F. Campbell, was burned on Monday last. The fire
was discovered about 2 o'clock in the morning, but too late to prevent the destruction of the
property. There is no doubt of its being set on fire. Some eight bales of cotton were
burned. The property was insured for $2,600, but the insurance will not cover the loss.
10/1898, The Bastrop Advertiser
On Friday night of last week a Mr. Lake Cain (son of James Michael Cain), a resident of the
southern part of the county, registered at the Midland Hotel and was assigned a room. It is
said he had 75 cents, in money, ten cents of which he spent for morphine, 15 cents he paid
to Mr. Wilkes for his night lodging. About 8 o'clock he went to his room and to bed. He
had stopped the night before at the John Watts boarding house, but being unable to get a
room for himself, changed to the Midland Hotel. It is said he was subject to epileptic fits,
and was in the habit of taking morphine when he felt the spells coming on him. It is
supposed he took the dose between 8 and 9 o'clock, Friday night. When discovered Saturday
morning, he was in a comatose condition. Dr. Combs was called to see him, but the deadly
drug had got in its work, and he died between 12 and 1 o'clock. Justice Jenkins held an
inquest, deciding that he had died from morphine administered by his own hands, but whether
suicidal intent or not, is not known. His brother, J. M. C. Cain, came up from Smithville
and took charge of the remains which were carried to Upton and interred.