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King County, TX
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The TXGenWeb Project

“Red” and “Cripple Will” Mitchell

by Hoyte Cook

Joseph J. “Red” Mitchell served as Sheriff of King County, Texas during the years 1907-1910.

He was born circa 1868 in the Lost Creek area of White County, Tennessee, -ninth of the ten children of James Wamon and Nancy Jane Wheeler Mitchell.

 “Red” married Ellen Douglas, a native of Warren County, Tennessee.  They were parents of three children: Anna May, Sally Lou, and Joseph Pratt Mitchell.

“Red’s” younger brother William Riley Mitchell (a.k.a. “Cripple Will”), tenth of the ten children, was born December 14, 1870.  He served in Company G, First Tennessee U.S.V. during the Spanish American War, and reportedly sustained a severe leg wound while fighting in the Philippines.

On the night of Christmas Eve 1916 Joseph J. “Red” Mitchell was shot dead on the sidewalk in front of a drug store in Knox City, Texas.  A deputy marshal by the name of Reed was also killed in the same incident.  The murderer was “Red” Mitchell’s brother-in-law, George Douglas.

On March 20, 1917 in the courtroom at Benjamin, Texas, George Douglas was, in turn, shot dead by “Red” Mitchell’s brother “Cripple Will.”

[For an eyewitness account of the courtroom shooting and the events leading up to it, please read “When the Motive was Revenge” by John Bunyon Rhea, Wichita Heritage Magazine, Spring 1990.]

It is known that “Red” Mitchell was buried in the Knox City, Texas Cemetery, and that the Baker, Bryant, Link Company provided the coffin and a (probably inexpensive concrete) monument.

A 2014 search of the Knox City Cemetery revealed no engraved headstone for Joseph J. Mitchell.  However, the remnant of a concrete monument –that appeared to have been destroyed with a sledge hammer- …was found.   A desecrated tombstone reflects a sinister statement.  Could this be what remains of “Red” Mitchell’s grave marker?  Reliable information would be most welcome.
Christmas Eve 2016 will mark the 100th anniversary of the murder of “Red” Mitchell.  We would now like to erect a monument in the Knox City Cemetery:  ‘To The Memory of J.J. (Red) Mitchell, 1868-1916, Native of White County, Tennessee; Sheriff of King County, Texas 1907-1910.’
We hereby request, and will be grateful for the efforts or contributions from individuals and organizations who are interested in helping us provide this monument.  Please contact:   David L. Cook, 204 Dry Hollow Road, Doyle, TN 38559-3021   (e-mail:

Last update: June 15, 2016

Text c2016 Hoyte Cook
Format c1998-2016 Tim Seawolf Self and Barbara Peck