The Death of
Charles Bigbee - Bigby
Charles Bigbee(Bigby) is buried
in his family
cemetery, He was 18rs old and died 16 Aug 1889. He was the son of Henry
& Mary O'Dell Bigby (Bigbee).
Article from Denison, Texas newspaper
'Sunday Gazetteer', dated 1 September 1889:
The Fatal Six-Shooter
Deputy Marshal Hackney Shoots and Instantly
Kills Charles Bigbee While in the Discharge of his Duty
unusually sad in its results and attendant circumstances occurred in this
city Monday night about 10:30 o'clock. About this hour four young
men named George Shackleford, William Bryant, William Blagg, and Charley
Bigbee, residing east of the city, rode into town at an unusual and unlawful
rate of speed and thus attracted the attention of the police. They
entered the city through the Crawford street tunnel and making their way
to Main street by Austin avenue drove up as far as Dollarhide's gun store
and one of them, George Shackleford, dismounted, went inside and asked
for some cartridges. It seems he could not get the kind he wanted,
and remounting he rode rapidly, accompanied by the others, down to the
Texas Barrel House. Here, Shackleford, Bigbee and Bryant dismounted,
leaving Bigbee in charge of the horses, and entering the saloon asked for
a quart of whiskey. While they were trading with the clerk in the
saloon Marshal James and officers Hackney and Lawrence appeared outside
and put Blagg under arrest. Then James and Lawrence went inside leaving
Hackney in the street with the prisoner and the horses. ?Boys,
consider yourselves under arrest,? said the marshal, addressing the three
men at the counter. They turned and one of them threw his hand back
as if to pull a pistol. Lawrence threw his gun down on him as he
put up his hands. The other two made a break for the door and ran
into the arms of the marshal. One of them (Bigbee) broke loose and
ran for his horse but the marshal clung to the other and went rolling
and scuffling across the sidewalk into the street. Bigbee sprang
upon his horse (which Hackney was holding along with two more by the bridle)
and tried to spur it to break loose. At this juncture Hackney states,
he (Bigbee) drew a large pistol and threw it down on James, who was struggling
with Bryant a few feet distance, and to save the life of a brother officer
he raised his own pistol and fired. Bigbee instantly fell from his
horse and died in a few minutes, the ball from Hackney's pistol having
entered his brain. James' assailant was overpowered and the three
prisoners were marched off to jail. While the corpse of the unfortunate
young Bigbee was taken to the undertaker to be prepared for burial.
At the coroner's
inquest, which took place before Corosor J.N. Cook Tuesday, the evidence,
in so far as it bore upon the justification of the officer in shooting
as he did, was contradictory. Haney and James testified positively
to the young man drawing and pointing a pistol at the latter, while Blagg,
who sat upon horse in full view of the melee, swore quite as positively
that he never had a pistol in his hand at any time. In apparent confirmation
of his statement is the fact that no pistol was found upon the ground near
the scene of the tragedy, though the official claim that one was picked
up by a man named Henry Bowie but who at this writing has not been found.
A small pistol was found in the hip pocket of the deceased but it was not
loaded and no one claims that he could have put it back there after being
shot. The tragedy has provoked a great deal of conflicting comments.
No one seems to think that Hackney knew Bigbee had no gun in his hand.
Most people agree that the officer thought he had a pistol in his hand
but that in the excitement and uncertain light he was mistaken. A
few declare that, acting as he did upon a mere impression, it was an unwarrantable
rashness; others urged that inasmuch as he could have nothing but his senses
to guide him, and the moment was a critical one he was perfectly justifiable,
while still another few believe that the man actually had a pistol as stated
by the officers, and that it was a mere question of which life should be
sacrificed, that of James or the unfortunate young man. Concerning
the latter, the Gazetteer has failed to hear anything but favorable reports.
He was 19 years of age and though occasionally given to having a little
fun, as it is the nature of boys of any spirit to be, he is generally
commended for his excellent qualities of mind and heart. His tragic
death is a sad blow to his parents and friends who have the sincere sympathy
of the entire community. His remains were interred Wednesday in the
country church yard east of the city near his parents' residence.
Mr. Hackney was put under a bond of 500 dollars to await an investigation
by the grand jury.
Later ? Mr.
C. H. Scholl, editor of the Evening Dispatch, states that in company with
Charlie Dickenson he was coming down Main street, when at the Austin avenue
corner a quick word of command given by an officer drew his attention to
what was going on in front of the Barrel House. He saw a man run
out of the saloon and jump upon a horse, heard Hackney cry, ?Look
out, Ed,? and distinctly heard two pistol shots, the one following the
other so closely as to almost be covered up by the first. He ran
to the scene of the difficulty and found a man lying upon the ground, and,
wishing to see how badly he was hurt he bent over him. As he did
so he saw distinctly in the light of the electric lamp a pistol lying upon
the ground several feet from the body. Later he visited the dead
man's friends in jail and one of them admitted to him that Bigbee had been
armed with two pistols. The next morning he went to Dallas which
accounts for his evidence not being taken at the coroner's inquest.
This is the substance of Mr. Scholl's statement and should put a
very different aspect upon the case. If Bigbee actually had a pistol
in his hand at the time Hackney's shot was fired there can be no blame
whatever attaching to the action of that officer.
(Ted's note: Shackleford, Blagg and
Bigbee are cousins. George Shackleford is the son of Phoebe
Bigbee who married William Shackleford, William Blagg is the son of Susan
Bigbee who married Joseph Blagg and Charles Bigbee is the son of
Henry Clay Bigbee and Mary O'Dell. They are also my cousins since
my gr-gr-grandparents were Susan Bigbee and Joseph Blagg.)
Sherman Siftings, Dallas Morning News,
27 Sep 1889 page 6
The Judge After the Jury....
Sherman, Tex, Sep 26- It having appeared
in Denison papers that the grand jury had indicted Henry
Hockney for the murder of young Bigbee,
the district judge called the grand jury in this morning, and after reading
what the Denison Herald said, turned to the grand jury and in substance
said: "Gentlemen, this item may be based upon reliable information or it
may be just based upon rumor and given as facts. you as members of the
jury, know whether the statement of the paper is correct or not. I do not.
If it is true it would be well to see who it is that is divulging secrets
which you alone or possibly me or two officers have a right to know, and
I hereby instruct you to investigate this matter closely and locate the
man who has divulged a matter which should be held in secrecy until the
proper time for publicity, that is if the statement of the paper is correct.:"
The grand jury retired to their room.
Further than that the reporter does not have 'reliable information'.
The matter has created some comment,
and especially in newspaper circles in both the cities of Sherman and Denison.
Dallas Morning News, 21 Nov 1889 page
Sherman, Tex., Nov 20-The case of the
state vs Henry Hockney, charged with the murder
of Charles Bigbee, is on trial in the district
court at this hour. The theory of the prosecution is that the defendant
unwarrantedly shot the deceased, and that he was not forced to do so in
the discharge of his duty as a peace officer. The witnesses for the
defence state that the deceased had a pistol drawn at the time he, Hockney,
fired the shot.
Dallas Morning News - Sherman, Shavings,
23 Nov 1889 page 2
The Hackney-Bigbee Killing Case Near
to Close... Sherman, Tex., Nov 22.-...Argument pro and con in the case
of the state of Texas vs. Henry Hackney, charged
with the murder of Charles Bigbee in Denison
in August last, was finished about noon to-day. The state summed its case
up in about this light; A crowd of county boys rode into Denison and in
doing so rode by some officers who formed an idea that they should be arrested
on the charge of fast riding, of which the state alleges they were not
guilty. The officers followed, and in endeavoring to make an arrest met
with some resistance, which put the officers in a bad humor, and when (Charles)
Bigbee mounted his horse to get away (Henry) Hackney shot him for no other
ground than that Bigbee's animal moved upon him. In substantiation of this
they quote the words of a witness who testified that after the killing
Hackney said he had killed Bigbee because he had tried to ride over him.
The state denies on that the deceased had a pistol drawn on Marshal James
at the time he, Hackney fired the fatal shot.
The defence takes the position that
the crown who came to Denison started out to a dance and on the way became
intoxicated, or at least under the influence of wine, and they armed themselves
with pistols. Subsequently they came to Denison to have a whiz, and one
of the first things they did was try to buy cartridges. it is further claimed
by the defence they rode into town at a very rapid rate that being against
a city law of Denison. The officers followed them to a saloon and attempted
to put them under arrest when they resisted. Officer Hackney was on the
outside holding the horses when he saw the stuggle going on on the sidewalk,
and that when he saw Bigbee dashing out of the saloon he called for help.
Bigbee mounted his horse and proceeded
to present a pistol, as if to shoot Marshal James, who was struggling with
Bryant on the sidewalk. Hackney called on him to hold but he still seemed
determined to shoot James, and Hackney, to save James' life, fired the
fatal shot. The charge consumed fully a half hour in being read to the
jury. The charge dwelt upon the right of one officer to protect the life
of another in making an arrest and said the jury must look at it as it
reasonably appeared to the defendant. The charge also called attention
to the penalty for the failure of an officer to make an arrest of a person
for carrying a deadly weapon.
At 5 pm the jury reported thay could
not agree, but were sent back.
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