The Murder of Benjamin Blanton on Pecan Bayou

Northern standard - December 24, 1842
Contributed by Sharon Black.
* Item 1. From The Northern Standard Newspaper published at Clarksville, Texas. Dec 24, 1842 issue. (Research shows that Dec 24, 1842 was a Saturday, thus the reference to "found dead Tuesday morning" in the following text refers to the morning of Dec. 20, 1842 and sets Benjamin's date of death as the night of Dec. 19th or early morning of Dec. 20, 1842

Benjamin Blanton was found dead Tuesday morning last, a citizen of this county, on the road leading from town to the mill of the deceased and within a quarter or half a mile of the residence of Mr. Mark Doss who lives upon said road. The deceased had evidently been killed by the discharge of a gun, the ball from which had entered at the left eye and passed out on that side of the head, breaking a large piece of the temporal bone and laying bare the brain for some distance. A coroner's jury set upon the case, and returned it as their opinion that the deceased came to his death by the hands of Mr. Doss. The accused was arrested and has been examined before Justices Willison and Donaho; he was placed in the county jail.

Item 2. From Red River County deed Abstracts, Republic of Texas and State of Coahuila and Texas (Mexico) by Joyce Martin Murray, p. 50.

Deed of Trust May 6, 1841 Benjamin Blanton and Jacob Blanton to Amos Morrell, $5.00, tract of 600 acres on Pecan Bayou on which a Sawmill erected by Benjamin and one Gilbert Clark and William Gragg, bounded on the east by Gragg, on the west by John Blanton, South by survey of Tarrent and Wright. Indebted for $874.09. Witnesses: none.

Item 3. Northern Standard, Feb 23, 1843

Escape of a Murderer Mark W. Doss confined in the jail of this county upon the charge of murdering Benjamin Blanton, escaped on Monday last. This is the second escape of the same individual. The first time, finding the river impassable from the freshet, and having no outlet, he wisely returned to custody, his outbreak however, resulting in the escape of a man named Payne, confined for horse stealing. This time, he has probably crossed into Arkansas. Our readers will recollect that bail was refused him by the examining magistrate, and subsequently on application upon writ of habeas corpus by the chief justice. The evidence in this case was of the strongest character, and his departure, just as the District Court is about to sit, tends to confirm the impression of his guilt. ….. (This article continues on with a lengthy discussion of the poor condition of the Red River Co. jail)

Item 4. Northern Standard, Oct 14, 1843

Stop the Murderer The subscriber has in his possession an offer of one thousand acres of land for the apprehension and delivery of Mark W. Doss into the custody of the keeper of any jail in the Republic of Texas. This Mark W. Doss married Jane Langston. She is known by the writer of this article to be an excellent woman and of a good family. During the winter of 1838, and when Judge Summers was engaged at Tuscaloosa as a representative of the County of Bibb, Doss went to Judge Summer's and Summer's wife being a sister of his wife, he prevailed on her to loan him the judge's wagon and team. He then started off under the pretext of a prospect of making some money by waggoning and had never returned since. He went directly on to western Texas where he turned his attention to preaching, and was very religious outwardly, and a strict member of the Baptist Church. He finally on being received into the house of a pious widow, by dint of slight of hand, pocketed her gold watch and suddenly disappeared from that part of the country. He then went to eastern Texas to **Jacob Blanton's who was another brother-in-law to Obadiah Langston of our neighboring county (Bibb). He here represented his wife to be dead, and said that he had left his children with her friends in Bibb County Alabama. He here became as usual pious and finally married a woman a shade deeper than would pass for white folks. After he had resided there for some time, a misunderstanding took place between him and Jacob Blanton, and he concealed himself on the road-side where he knew Blanton would pass, and from his hiding place he shot Blanton dead. He was arrested and broke jail twice in Texas, and it is supposed that he is now in Tennessee or Mississippi lurking about, or probably acting the part of a Baptist preacher under a new name. He has a good voice and sings well, and when he resided in Bibb he frequently taught singing schools. He was then a member of the Baptist Church but never attempted to preach.

He is six feet one inch, has a thin sharp face, a sharp looking nose, and is about 45 years of age. One of his big toes has been broken. It turns up so as to be plainly seen with a shoe on. If he should be discovered by any person seeing this, let them address a letter to Obadiah Langston, of Bibb County Alabama, and he will furnish them with the written offer of reward of One Thousand Acres of Land.

This is the same Mark W. Doss who has for some time past been noticed in the papers of this county as the murderer of Blanton and his having broke jail the second time and his final escape. We ask Editors to pass him around, and if he is in the United States let him be found and returned to Texas.

Obadiah Langston

Bibb County, Alabama

**Transcriber's note: The only Jacob Blanton known to have lived in Red River County, Texas was not murdered but lived to be an old man. Previous news reports of this murder attest that the man who was murdered by Doss was Benjamin Blanton, and not Jacob Blanton. Benjamin Blanton married Polly Langston in Madison Co. AL Aug 6, 1817. Mark Doss married Jane Langston July 18, 1821 in AL.

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