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Murder in 1888-Texas

Murder in 1888-Texas

Posted: 1306889235000
Classification: Query
Need any info on a murder in McCulloch County, Texas. It occurred in 1888 and the victim was James Yancy (Yank) Criswell. He was shot from his wagon while taking a load of sorgham to the mill.

Re: Murder in 1888-Texas

Posted: 1306938404000
Classification: Query
Found two newspaper mentions of the murder:

Galveston Daily News August 15th,1888

Brady, Tex., August 11—The Brownwood mail carrier brought news here yesterday evening that on Thursday the body of J. K. Criswell was found near Millburn, this county, on the Brady and Milburn road. He had been shot twice in the face
nnd onco through the head, from the effects of which he died. His team, hitched to a wagon loaded with sorghum cane hay, was found by the roadside, wound up in the
brush, near where his body lay.

It is supposed that he was shot while on the hay and when he fell off the team wandered into the woods. There is no clew lending to the detection of the perpetrator of the fearful deed. This is the seconf murder that has been committed close to Millburn In the past few months. The perpetrator appears to have taken his victim by surprise, as did the murderer of Dorse(?) White, near Millburn.
San Antonio Daily Light August 17th, 1888

The Brownwood. mail carrier has brought news to Brady that the body of J. G. Criswell has been found near Millburn on the Brady and Milburn road. He had been shot twice in the face, and once through the head.

Re: Murder in 1888-Texas

Posted: 1306944573000
Classification: Query
Below is a 2002 post from Charles Bauch on Ancestry. Might be a lead for you.

"My grandmother was in contact with Sue Diggle about 40-some years ago helping her with the Criswell History. Ms Diggle was researching it for Pastor W.A. Criswell of First Baptist, Dallas. He is descended from one of William's younger brothers as John Y. Sr is his great-grandpa. Anyway, as a result, we received a copy of her painstaking work. It is single-spaced, on onion-skin paper, about one inch thick. It contains everything that was known at the time regarding John Y Criswell, Sr. and his family. It also includes anecdotal history regarding her findings, such as one of the cousins who moved to Llano/San Saba, Texas area was roping calves one day. As he tossed his rope and stepped off the horse to catch the calf, on of the loops settled around his neck. The calf hit the end of the rope and, as the other end was dallied around the saddle horn, it broke this cousins neck, killing him instantly.

Incidentally, My sister and mother went and found the old original cemetary where grandpa Wm was first buried, before his being moved to the State Cemetary. We lived in Fayette County, Texas at the time and located several of the burial plots of Criswells. If you've not been to the State Cemetary to view his marker, it is on a website on-line, but I forget how to get there. Probably through the State of Texas somewhere. If I discover it, I'll get it to you, unless you tell me different.

If you have any questions about something in this history, you may contact my sister, who has the copy in her possession. Her e-mail is:

Re: Murder in 1888-Texas

Posted: 1306963429000
Classification: Query
Maybe your James Yancy (Yank) Criswell was caught up in this vigilante mob actions as was one of my kin, John Wesley Smith. Sure sounds like it.


Excerpts below from:
SEE NO EVIL, SPEAK NO EVIL by Ross McSwain and
A few years after the Civil War a large part of Central Texas was partially, to almost completely controlled by vigilante mobs. Settlements were scattered. There were very few lawmen and very few jails, but many army deserters, thieves, robbers and murderers. Many Texas counties, including San Saba, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas McCulloch, Brown, Llano and others had to contend with terrorist actions of the mobs. Many of these secret vigilante groups were ranchers who started out to counter the outlawry, and to enforce laws that were not enforced by officers of the state. In the end, most of the mobs and vigilante gangs were all acting under the same unlawful rules. The ranchers began to run off the little operators who strung barbed wire, or too run innocent people out of the area with violence. Eventually everybody was afraid to talk. Nobody knew who was a mob member and who was not. Silence was golden. If you were an innocent citizen who talked about or revealed a mob member's name or an unlawful deed, you were at real risk of assassination. The same rule applied even to mob members. Talk, and you are either killed or your house burned or, maybe, given a three days to get out of the county permanently. If you were told to perjure yourself for the sake of a gang member, you did as told. If you were told to assassinate someone, you obeyed or left the area fast and permanently to avoid retribution.

In 1869-1870 a study was conducted that revealed that 939 murders were committed in one three year period. That number was later revised to 1,035. And from 1865 to 1871 sheriff's reports revealed that 4,425 crimes were committed, with fewer than 600 arrests and very few convictions. Almost everyone was intimidated to a point of refusing to testify against a suspect. Texas Ranger W.J.L. Sullivan reported to his Austin officers at one time that the sheriffs of both San Saba and Mills Counties were members of the mob. This went on until late 1890s before the mobs began to weaken.

One murder and trial that started the decline of the mob was a bushwhacking and murder on July 19, 1889 of an elderly man named James Turner, a farmer and postmaster in Knob Ridge community, one morning while he was working in his field. Turner had been warned to get out of town about two or three months earlier because he had talked to his neighbor, James Daugherty about his dislike of the mob actions, and his belief that William Ford, a deputy sheriff, was a member of the mob. Daugherty then told Ford.

Family members of the murdered farmer testified that they had seen the murder, and murderers, and named Ford and George Trowbridge, along with John Harris who was never charged. Texas Rangers turned over their records to the District Attorney. The case against the two men was moved to Austin, and trial began in February, 1897, eventually ending with a hung jury. Second trial started June 14, 1897 ended in a hung jury. Charges were eventually dropped, but the trial had a lot of publicity and helped to hasten the end of the mobs control.

SMITH, JOHN W. testified in the first FORD and TROWBRIDGE trials for the state. He was in the cattle business with CUNNINGHAM and was told to leave by the Mob. Recognized the voice of AARON MEEKS at the time. He received a threatening letter from DICK SULLIVAN, telling him to "spool his wires" and leave the county. He may be the SMITH mentioned in the Texas court of Criminal Appeals record of the BILL OGLE case.* NOTE: The reference to spooling his wires revealing that the vigilantes were trying to stop fencing of the 'free range' or possibly trying to get rid of sheep men in the county?

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