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Timon Family of Nueces County, Texas
Submitted by descendant Lacey Sparks
Judge Walter F. Timon
TIMON, WALTER FRANCIS (1876-1952). Walter Timon, lawyer, judge, and legislator, was born on October 4, 1876, at Rock Ranch in San Patricio County to John and Ellen (Keating) Timon. His father, a rancher, sent Timon to private schools in Corpus Christi and San Antonio. He later attended National Normal University in Lebanon, Ohio, where he earned a degree in business administration.
                     
After completing his undergraduate studies, he went on to earn a degree in law from Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee.  Admitted to the Texas bar in 1901, Timon almost immediately began to run for political offices. He served as county attorney for San Patricio and in 1903 represented the region in the Twenty-eighth Texas Legislature. He returned to the Texas House of State Representatives in 1905 as well.

Following his terms in the legislature, Timon ran for and won the position of county judge of Nueces County. Under his administration Nueces County built a new courthouse in Corpus Christi in 1914. He served as county judge until 1917, when Governor James E. Ferguson appointed him to the Twenty-eighth District Criminal Court.

Timon's career in politics was sometimes plagued by controversy. In May of 1915 a Federal Grand Jury indicted him and numerous other county officials for voter manipulation in the previous general election. When the case came to trial in September, prosecution witnesses testified that Timon had suggested that the use of bribes was the only way to insure victory.  Although the jury convicted five and acquitted sixteen of the defendants, they could not agree on Timon's part in the affair. The government attempted to revive the case in 1917 but ultimately dropped the charges against Timon.

Personal troubles also haunted Timon in 1917. He was named executor of his late mother's estate in 1916, and his sisters, led by Cecilia Leahy, brought suit to contest her will. After an initial mistrial, the case eventually ended in Timon's favor. Despite the court ruling, harsh feelings remained among the siblings to the extent that Mrs. Leahy's son, Harry J. Leahy, stalked Timon. On October 15 while in Brownsville on business, Timon shot his nephew in a hotel lobby. Leahy avoided serious injury when the bullet was deflected by a gold watch in his pocket. Although Leahy was not in possession of a gun at the time, Timon claimed he shot in self-defense. Leahy was arrested and held based on his uncle's charges.

As president of the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce following the 1919 hurricane that devastated both commercial and residential districts, Timon spearheaded the campaign to build the Corpus Christi seawall and breakwaters. At his suggestion, city planners laid an extra-wide city boulevard along the seawall. The street was named in his honor.

Timon also served on the Nueces County Navigation Commission from 1923 to 1925.

He married Bessie Baker of Lebanon, Ohio, on April 12, 1899. The couple had two sons, both of whom died in childhood.

Timon died on August 2, 1952, in Corpus Christi. 

Source: "TIMON, WALTER FRANCIS." The Handbook of Texas Online. http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/TT/fti18.html

Saved...By Time
From the History of San Patricio County
by Keith Guthrie

Stories about Judge Walter Timon are legion in the Mathis area.  The San Patricio County News of Oct. 19, 1917 had this terse little news item that tells it all.

Judge Walter Timon of Corpus Christi took a shot at his nephew, Harry Leahy of Mathis, Monday.  The bullet struck a watch in Leahy's pocket, which probably saved his life.  Timon said Leahy was following him to take his life.  Leahy was under heavy bond but allowed to return home to Mathis.

Brownsville Shooting
From the Brownsville Newspaper

The people of this community were much interested in the press reports of a shooting affray that occurred in Brownsville the first of the week.

It seems that Harry J. Leahy, a well-known ranchman of this place, had business in the appellate court in Brownsville, Judge James B. Wells, presiding.  At the same time district judge W. F. Timon was holding court in the same city.  There had been some bitterness between Judge Timon and Leahy growing out of a lawsuit of Leahy's mother against Timon, which lasted five weeks, in Corpus Christi.  Leahy, considering the matter settled, was unarmed at the time.

From what we can learn, words passed early in the day between Leahy and Timon, in the lobby of the Miller Hotel, where both were guests.  Later, as Leahy was in the act of stepping into the hotel by the street door, he was fired upon by Timon, the bullet from a high powered automatic pistol striking a gold watch in Leahy's pocket, which deflected the bullet so that it did no injury.  It is reported that another shot was fired at Leahy by a companion of Timon, which did not strike Leahy.  Both shots were fired from the lobby of the hotel and at very close range.

A charge of assault and attempt to murder was filed against Leahy, and he was remanded to jail without bail.  Habeas corpus proceedings were at once instituted, and bond in the sum of $25,000 was fixed and immediately furnished.  When the bond was tendered the case was dismissed and withdrawn form the docket.  As a precaution against further trouble Leahy was kept under guard during the remainder of his stay in the city.

Mr. Leahy came back to his home here Wednesday, and his many friends are congratulating him upon the fact that he wore a watch

JUDGE TIMON 79, DIES IN HOSPITAL
From the Corpus Christi Caller Times, August, 1954

Walter F. Timon, 79, well-known office holder and politician of former years, died in a local hospital at 9:55 last night after a long illness.

The silver haired man, who was known as "Judge" to thousands of South Texans for more than 40 years, had been in ill health for several years and had been at death's door many times but rallied each time until the last.

Judge Timon, state representative, county judge, district judge, wealthy property owner, was the center of many a political storm from the turn of the century until his health removed him from public life.

Judge Timon is survived by his wife, Mrs. Bessie Baker Timon, who lives in the home at 711 Winnebago.

Other survivors include a sister, Mrs. Laura Timon Dolan, and several nieces and nephews.

BORN ON ROCK RANCH
He was born on Rock Ranch in San Patricio County Oct. 4, 1872, the son of John Timon and Ellen Keating Timon.  His father was one of the prominent pioneer cattlemen of South Texas;  and his mother was the daughter of John Beresford Keating, a captain under Sam Houston.

Judge Timon attended Meredith's Private School here, National Normal University at Lebanon, Ohio;  Cumberland University Law School at Lebanon, Tenn.;  and the University of Texas.  He had degrees of
Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Business Administration, Bachelor Oratory and Bachelor of Law.

COUNTY ATTORNEY
He served as county attorney of San Patricio County from 1900 to 1902, member of the Texas legislature from 1902 to 1906, county judge of Nueces County 1906 to 1917, judge of the Criminal District Court from 1917 to 1923, and Nueces County navigation commissioner from 1923 to 1925.

Judge Timon was known for his economy in county administration.  The county courthouse and the old Nueces Bay causeway were built in his administration.

BAYFRONT BEAUTIFICATION
He was the originator of the "Timon Plan for Bayfront Improvement and Beautification" whereby the state, through legislative enactment, remitted to the City of Corpus Christi a 30-cent state ad valorem tax of seven counties to retire bonds issued for the construction of seawalls, breakwaters and other protective and beautification facilities.

The Chamber of Commerce in 1920 sent him on a commission to study and inspect breakwaters and seawalls on the Atlantic Coast from Canada to Florida.

REPRESENTED CITY
He represented Corpus Christi as a member of the United States Commercial Congress to Mexico in 1923.

Following the 1919 storm, which destroyed shipping facilities here, Judge Timon was elected president of the Chamber of Commerce and immediately advocated a re-survey of the entire port problem in this section and was one of those whose efforts resulted in the establishment of the Corpus Christi Port.

Judge Timon was a member of the Knights of Columbus, Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity and the Elks Club.

Rosary will be recited at 8 p.m. today at Dunne Chapel.  Funeral mass will be celebrated at Corpus Christi Cathedral at 9:30 a.m. Monday.

Burial will be in Rose Hill Cemetery under the direction of Dunne Funeral Home.

Articles on John Timon, father of Walter
February 3, 1891-Corpus Christi Caller Times

HORRIBLE DISCOVERY
Mr. John Timon Found Dead at his Home by his Wife Who Stumbles over the corpse in the Dark--
Diversity of Opinion as to the Cause of Death

Last Friday night Mrs. John Timon and daughter, Miss Laura, returned from a visit to Beeville, where they had been for the past week.  The train on which they were passengers arrived here about 9 o'clock at night and taking a carriage, they were driven direct from the depot to their home.  On reaching their house they stepped upon the porch and found that the front door was not locked, but standing slightly ajar.  Thinking that Mr. Timon (whom they left at home alone and in good health when they went to Beeville) knew of their coming and had left the door unlocked on purpose;  they entered the hall and started for an adjoining room to procure a match and lamp.  Mrs. Timon was in front, and had not proceeded more than halfway of the hall when she stumbled over an object which she soon discovered to be the body of a man.  Running to the front door she at once gave an alarm, and Mr. Thos. Southgate, who was passing at the time, ran to her assistance and immediately entered the hall where the body was lying.  A light was procured and imagine the horror of the beholder at discovering the body was that of Mr. John Timon, cold and stark in death. 

A large crowd soon gathered around the house, and the assistance of two or three physicians being procured, an examination of the body was at once made.  On turning the body over, which was robed only in a sleeping gown, the face, breast and knees which had come in contact with the floor were found to be badly decomposed.  The right arm was extended while the left hand was under his chin, with a few gray hairs, presumably his whiskers, between the fingers.  Both hands were clutched and showed that he had died a horrible death, undoubtedly from strangulation, as the tongue and eyes were both protruded, presenting a most horrible sight.

Justice Dunn, acting coroner, was sent for, but for reasons unknown, failed to hold an inquest.  An exterior examination of the body was made by Drs. Westervelt and Babcock, but owing to its badly decomposed state they could not arrive at any just conclusion as to the cause of death further than that they thought death was caused by apoplexy.  Their opinion was (unreadable) generally believed until an examination of the upstairs rooms, where the family slept, was made.  The bed in one room bore evidence of having been lain on and the cover, on being turned down, showed numerous marks of blood.  Blood marks were also found on the floor, and in the adjoining room, a broken wash-bowl and other disarranged furniture seemed to indicate that some kind of a struggle had taken place.  Several bloody marks were discovered on the floor of this room, and the marble slab from the top of the bureau was lying on the floor broken in two, while blood was also visible on the bottom of the slab.  All sorts of opinions were then expressed, most of which were to the effect that Mr. Timon had been murdered.  A broken window pane in still another room added to this belief, in which, so we have been informed, his entire family share.  What the motive for such a murder could have been, however, no one has been able to advance, and this in itself is strong evidence to corroborate the first opinion--that he died from an apoplectic fit.  No post-mortem examination was made of the body;  still there were no outward appearances, except a swollen throat, which could have been the result of apoplexy, to indicate in any was that he had been murdered.  The blood marks could have been made by the bursting of a blood-vessel;  which may have been the cause of his death, while a man in a fit of death could easily have disarranged the furniture as it was when discovered. 

The children of Mr. Timon, most of whom live in San Patricio county, were notified by Messrs. Tom Musselman and Ed. Shaw, who rode all night, arriving at San Patricio just about day.  The remains were kept until the arrival of all the family, and on Sunday were taken to San Patricio for interment.  Mr. Timon was one of the old landmarks of this section, having resided for many years in San Patricio county, where he accumulated a large fortune.  About a year or so ago he moved with his wife and unmarried daughter to Corpus Christi, where he built a fine residence, and had everything around him to make old age comfortable and pleasant.  He was about 65 years old at the time of death, but was able and hearty and as active as a man of fifty.

Up to the time this article is being written (4 o'clock p.m. Monday) the coroner has not returned a verdict as to the cause of death, although a number of witnesses were summoned Saturday to appear at his office yesterday morning at 10 o'clock, to give evidence that would assist him in rendering his verdict.  The witnesses were on hand, but the coroner was not, and sent word that he had to go in the country.  Why these proceedings, we cannot tell, unless it is that he thinks it best to sift the matter thoroughly and ascertain if possible whether or not death was the result of murder.  The opinions of the doctors who examined the body were handed him Saturday, and were to the effect that death resulted from unknown causes.

Cold in Death
The Body of John Timon found in His Residence in a State of Putrefaction

February 6, 1891  Corpus Christi Caller Times - p. 8

The sight that met the gaze of Mrs. Timon and her daughter, Miss Laura, in the family residence last Friday night was most terrible in the extreme and one long to be remembered by them.  Between the hours of 9 and 10 pm the mother and daughter returned from Beeville and were taken to their home on Mesquite Street in a carriage.  They alighted and were soon in the front room gallery, ringing the doorbell.  No response came to their call and Mrs. Timon and daughter entered, finding the door unlocked, much to their surprise as it had always been the custom for the father and husband to lock the door before retiring.  Proceeding through the hall to her bedroom, imagine, if you can, the feeling that seized that poor mother and wife when she stumbles over the body of her husband, who it was discovered to be with the aid of the light of a match.  There over the inanimate form wept the nearly crazed mother and daughter. There lay in a state of putrefaction the one who they had left behind only a few days previously in the possession of all his mental faculties and in the enjoyment of the best and most happy days of his life.  How could it be thus?  The thought of the vital spark having flown with not a fond relative near to witness the passage, or the warm kisses of the family circle to seal forever the cold lips that so often parted in life to tell of his love and devotion for those whom he so often took upon his knee in the childhood days, or to whisper his devotion for the one woman whose heart for him ever beat fondly and true and in whose sorrows and joys she equally shared, must have been terrible, and beyond the power of man to portray.

Their screams soon brought to the household men, who like themselves, will never forget the sight that met their gaze.  Doctors Westervelt and Babcock were soon upon the scene and an examination of the body made, after which it was prepared for burial and placed in a casket.  When found, Mr. Timon was lying in the hall near his wife's bedroom door, under the stairway, face down, with his left hand under the chin, clinched, while his right was also tightly clinched and extending out full length.  Within the left hand was found a few hairs, supposed to have come from his beard.  The body was in a  state of decomposition with the tongue between the teeth and neck somewhat swollen.  On the floor under Mr. Timon's face was about eight ounces of blood, which came from his nose and mouth.Justice of the Peace Dunn was summoned and, after consulting with the physicians, who stated and since in writing, that there were no marks or other bruises on the body which would lead them to believe that deceased had been murdered, but on the other hand, died of causes unknown to them, gave permission to bury the body.  Dr. Westervelt, who was interviewed by a reporter for the Caller, said positively that Mr. Timon was not killed, but was of the opinion that he died of catalepsy or epilepsy, but not of apoplexy and gave good reasons for advancing such opinion. He said that while there were several abrasions of the skin, none were of such nature as to cause death, and thinks they were inflicted by the deceased himself while wandering aimlessly about the house.  Dr. Ward thinks otherwise, and believes there was foul play, having examined the rooms upstairs thoroughly and carefully considered the position in which the body was found, and especially the swelling of the throat and the way in which the tongue was between the teeth which he thinks was made to protrude by choking.  Some who visited the house after the dead body had been discovered cannot be made to believe it was a case of suicide.  The bedroom bore strong evidence of a great struggle on the part of one man to protect his own life and a determined and successful effort on the part of human devils to wrench it from him, and for what purposes is at this time only known to those whose hands have been stained with the hearts blood of their buried victim.  If a murder, it was carefully planned and, as far as was in the power of the show that Mr. Timon was attacked when in bed, while the disarrangement of the bedroom effects point strongly to a fierce struggle.  A marble slab was broken, wash bowl and pitcher, a windowpane smashed and other things strewed about promiscuously.

All this on the second floor of Mr. Timon's residence, but that is not where his body was found.  How then, did he reach the first floor?  Was it there that he was felled while trying to make his escape after being attacked in bed, or did he, after having been left for dead on the room above, reach the hall, when his strength forsook him, and he expired?

If not for money, why was Mr. Timon killed?  Can it be that burglars entered the house, knowing the family to be absent, were detected by him, and in order not to disclose their identity, pounced upon him in bed when discovered and choked him to death?  Here again we are confronted with the fact that there were no visible marks on his person to indicate that he had been killed by a blow, save the discoloration on his neck, bruises on his knees, scratches on his legs and even the former may have been cause by decomposition.  But are not these sufficient to produce death in themselves?  In some cases, yes.  All men are not alike, a blow that would not stagger one man might kill another.  What is given above is about the way it is discussed on the street based principally on hearsay, though many men have visited the house and seen for themselves. 

A reporter for the Caller was shown through the house Tuesday by Mr. Timon's two sons, who gave us all the information possible and seemed anxious to assist in arriving at a conclusion that would establish a theory pointing to the true cause of their father's death.  The room which Mr. Timon occupied is on the second floor of the family  residence on Mesquite Street, and to the north (east?) corner of the building with a window on the south from floor to ceiling (unreadable) the (east?) and another on the north and containing two doors, one on the south, leading to the stairwell landing, and another on the west opening into another room, which contained a door on the south, also leading to the stairway. Beside the bureau in Mr. Timon's bedroom lay a marble slab belonging to the same, broke into two pieces, on the rough side of which was several drops of blood.  At this particular place there are other signs which smack strongly of a struggle to say nothing of the washbowl and pitcher that were smashed to pieces.  The dress shirt which he wore upon the streets together with the bedcovers and pillows were found upon the floor with blood.  A lantern had been overturned and the oil let loose. Between the bureau and the door on the west side of the room were plainly visible footprints in blood, showing the natural outlines of a man's barefoot, while leading from this door to the one on the south side were the same to be seen, and still further two more were found in the adjoining room on the west, directly between the door described as leading to the stairway landing and one on the west of the bedroom.  The bloody impressions were made by a right foot wherever found to exist. If Mr. Timon made them, then why did they not appear immediately outside of the room, from which it is supposed the one bearing the limb walked, and where but a few drops of blood were found?  There was no blood either to be seen on the stairs by which some think he reached the spot where found cold in death.  There were no wounds on his foot or his leg to prove that the blood came from his foot, or any blood on his leg to account for the flow down that made the footprint on the floor so plain. Strange indeed.  In the room south of the one occupied by the deceased, a large pane of window glass was smashed from within, and must have been done, it would seem, by someone falling against it.

What caused this poor man's death is, of course, a mystery, but one thing is certain, and that is, he never fell from the stairs to the hall below, as the place where he was found precludes all possibility of his having met death in that way.  The finding of the front door of the residence unlocked is something which the members of the family wonder at because Mr. Timon was always particular to see that it was securely fastened at night upon retiring.  Only a chair overturned in the hall of the first floor was discovered thereby dispelling the motive of plunder.  Justice of the Peace Dunn was seen by a reporter for the Caller on Wednesday and asked what steps he had taken to hear testimony and why it was he had not rendered a verdict.  Said he:  "I was called to the Timon residence last Friday night to view the body of Mr. John Timon, who was found dead, as you know.  Although under medical treatment, I got out of my bed and went.  Doctors Westervelt and Babcock were summoned, and after a careful examination of Mr. Timon's remains they said there were no marks on his person which would lead them to believe there had been any foul play, and signed a written statement to the effect that deceased came to his death from unknown causes.  (Here Judge Dunn handed the reporter the statement signed by the physicians).  "Have you taken any testimony, Judge?" we asked.  "Yes sir, I have.  Here is the testimony in writing of Mr. Thomas Southgate."  "Any other?"  "No, I am waiting for Mrs. Timon to return from San Patricio.  There are no others who know anything except the finding of the body."

"Was it right for you to issue a permit granting permission to have the remains interred before rendering your official verdict, Judge Dunn?" "Under the circumstances, and the decomposed condition of the body, together with the opinions of the physicians, there can be nothing wrong in it.  If the physicians had decided that there was the slightest evidence of foul play I most certainly would have then and there ordered a post mortem and taken such other stops to establish the true cause as far as in my power lay. The doctors are firmly convinced that Mr. Timon was not murdered.  In view of this fact and the decayed condition of the body, I saw no reason to postpone the burial for evidence that could, and has been taken since, and which in substance, only substantiates what has already been said concerning the finding of the body."  "Were you absent from the city last week, or this week, Judge?"  "I was not, and what has been printed about me in another newspaper, is absolutely false.

"The Caller here opens a new channel for investigation.  It is this:  We are informed by Arthur Franz, the 16 year old adopted son of Judge Dunn, who says that when he visited the Timon residence last Wednesday afternoon, about 4:30 o'clock to take the family order for fresh meat, he heard someone groaning and when he went home he mentioned the fact to his mother.  This is a very important point in itself and contradicts the report that Mr. Timon was seen on the streets Wednesday.

When found, deceased had on a night shirt, his shoes were found in their usual place, had removed his false teeth, and there was other evidence that when he retired he was in his right mind.  He also made coffee in the kitchen Tuesday night, and from appearances it would seem that he expected the family home, having made preparations for supper.

The remains were taken to San Patricio on Saturday last and interred in the family burying ground.  Deceased was 62 years of age, and leaves an estate worth considerable money.  He was considered quite wealthy.  His purse strings were always loose to the members of his family, whose wants were supplied with an open hand and willing heart.  He leaves a wife, five sons and three daughters, whose names are John W., Harry J., Hubert, Edward C., Walter F., Mrs. P. Leahy, Mrs. J.M. Barry, and Laura J. who have the sympathy of all who knew their father and will always remember him for his many noble traits.

Mr. Timon known for advertising that any poor and hungry had leave to enter his fields and kill one of his cattle.

He had extensive land holdings in the Nueces, San Patricio, and Bee County areas as well as down in the Valley.

James Mowat from the Corpus Christi Caller
March 31, 1899, p. 6

His murderer, Captain John McDonald, age 76, finally confessed to the deed he had committed 40 years earlier. McDonald and Mowat were both from the Orkney islands. In 1859, both lived in San Patricio county, both were farmers and ranchers. During an argument, McDonald killed Mowat. Was arrested and jailed. The jail was not secure; he easily escaped. A friend, John Timon, gave him a horse and money. McDonald escaped to Tampico, Mexico then went to New Orleans. "In January of the next year he received a letter from Judge Gamble, another old friend, telling him the sad news of the death of his wife. Still fearing to return, captain McDonald made G. W. Jones, an old resident of this county, who died ten years ago, the legal guardians of his children, and, heart-broken over his misfortune, shipped as mate on a sailing vessel bound for Cuba. From Cuba his vessel went to England. In the meantime, the civil war broke out and his returned here to see his children, spending a few months. He then went north and engaged in shipping on the great lakes, following this vocation until a few years ago. He returned here in 1874, and again in 1896, and has never concealed his movements while here. The old case on the docket in San Patricio county has been called each year and continued 'for want of service.' In order to clear the docket of the case a capias wa issued last week and sent to Sheriff Taylor for execution. The arrest was made Tuesday at the home of the captain's son-in-law, John A. McCullom, where he has been making his home lately. A writ of habeas corpus was heard yesterday by Judge Lowe of the 36th district, on his return from Oakville and Captain McDonald's bond fixed at $5,000, which he readily gave." This was a reprint in the Caller from the Beeville Bee.

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