Sunday 26 Sept. 1948
AND LOVE TRIANGLE POSED SERIOUS PROBLEM FOR
RESIDENTS OF DALBY SPRINGS IN DAYS OF
RECONSTRUCTION DURING 1865
Reconstruction in the South after the Civil War was a
tedious matter, and life- and death- would not wait for
the new government and new laws to be
instituted. The people of this area were under the
rule of a military government which was struggling to deal
with the freed Blacks, regulate the migration of
burned out Southern farmers to the new lands to the west,
and keep the burning embers of North-South hatred from
bursting again into flame.
In such a setting as this a love triangle and murder could
be a serious problem.
A man was found murdered at Dalby Springs in 1865, and his
wife's lover was suspected. Bowie county had no
legally instituted courts or authorities to take
charge of the case in the interest justice.
Residents of the community, however, had a great respect
for justice and would not permit themselves to
dispose of the case without court action. The
suspect was taken into custody by a group of citizens, and
then a letter was dispatched to the, district military
judge, the Honorable B. W. Gray of Mt. Pleasant, who was
requested to come to Dalby Springs to hold a trial.
Records of the case do not reflect the reason, but the
Hon. Mr. Gray did not make the trip, despite the
fact that the letter sent him was lent great importance by
an attached note written by A. H. Latimer, one of the
signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence and a
member of the Congress of the Republic of Texas who was
staying at Dalby Springs at the time.
In the note, Latimer said that he was staying temporarily
at Dalby Springs and that he knew the information
contained in a letter to Judge Gray describing the case to
be true. (Latimer, who was practicing law in
Clarksville, Texas, 1833, has many descendants still
living in Clarksville and Red River county). The
letter referred to by Latimer was dated July 16, 1865, and
was signed by W. K. Dalby, W. E. Estes, G. D. Dalby, B. S.
Greenhaw, and others. It follows:
An unprovoked and cold blooded murder was committed near
this place on Thursday last. The victim, a quiet
inoffensive man was decoyed from his home and after being
most barbarously assassinated was secreted in the woods
and his remains were found yesterday in a state too
horrible to describe.
We have under arrest the man who was last seen with the
deceased, near the place where the murder was committed,
the accused being armed with a double barrel gun and the
" The voluntary confession of the wife of the
deceased establishes her guilt as accessory to the murder
for she has known that the deed was contemplation
for a long time and relates the manner it was committed.
" We will not attempt to give you evan a summary for
the evidence in this case but will only say that the
evidence is clear and conclusive against both, the woman
and her paramour.
" We are informed that you occupy a position giving
you jurisdiction over such cases, and this is to ask you
that if possible you come over and examine into it.
As the witnesses are here, this would be the most
convenient way especially if you are authorized to preside
at summary trials.
" The citizens are law abiding men, do not wish to
resort to mob law, but we feel called on to act promptly
in the premises, if the law will not apply to the
" We have no jail and no officers and under the
circumstances a removal of the accused parties amounts to
" We respectfully refer you to the bearer for any
additional particulars you may desire."
Other documents relate how the citizens handled the matter
after the military judge failed to appear.
On July 18, 1865, 60 citizens of Bowie and surrounding
counties met and wrote, " We have only one recourse
and feel that our lives, our property, and the safety of
all those looking to us for protection demand our speedy
action in the premises. We will proceed to the trial
of the accused according to the law and evidence, not
admitting any evidence for or against the accused that
would be excluded at a trial before a regular court
Warren K. Dalby was required to act as chairman and
William E. Estes was required to act as secretary and Luke
C. Powell was required to detail a guard and take charge
of the prisoners. A. H. Latimer was appointed to act
as asstant chairman and they proceeded with the trial.
The prisoner was introduced and a jury of 12 men of lawful
age selected. The records read " J. M. McCowen,
Harvey Daughterty, J6s. Easton, William Hall,
T. P.Curbow, J. J. McClusky,
W. H. Harrison, S.R. Proctor, K. H. Willowford, R. P.
Lumpkin, Joe Hudgins and W. S. Proctor were duty empaneled."
The prisoner was informed that he was charged with murder
to which he pleaded not guilty.
W. E. Estes was appointed to act as attorney for the
accused and G. D. Dalby was appointed secretary to fill
Witnesses were F. M. Fulgham, Captain James Clark, R. S.
Greenhaw, D. B. Burks, J. Thomas, William Greenhaw, L. C.
Powell, Thomas Treen, James Phillips, J. L. Criner.
The witnesses testified they saw 11 the slain man and the
accused riding off into the woods on their horses and saw
a gun on the accused."
They said thev had seen the accused and slain man's wife
together on many occasions.
The case was submitted to the jury who gave a verdict,
" Guilty of murder in the first degree."
The convicted man " was ordered to be kept -in close
confinement until the next day when he was to be hung by
the neck until he was dead." Soon after the
trial and conviction , a pine coffin was made by some
members of the citizeh's court and the coffin was placed
in a two horse wagon and driven by a Black named Ferry.
The convicted man was made to get into the wagon and they
were driven to the spot where the murdered man's body was
found. The wagon was followed by the group of
citizens and the convicted man was blind folded and hung
on a tree. He was, then buried in a grave which had
been dug under the tree.
The wife of the murdered man had been kept tied to a bed
post since the discovery of the murder. After the
trial, she was set free and according to documents, "
she left Dalby Springs and was never heard from
W. K. Dalby, who acted as judge at this trial, was the
father of Judge N. L. Dalby, who now presides over 102 nd
district court in Bowie County.
G. D. Dalby, who was secretary of the citizen's court, was
a close kinsman of W. K. Dalby, and the father of Joe
Dalby, who now lives in Texarkana.
Dalby Springs, the scene of this unique and historic trial
was named for the Dalby family.
by Wayne Adcock.