Sunday, July 11, 2010

Crime Doesn't Pay - A My Town Monday Post

I'm trying something a bit different for this My town Monday post. I'm going to rely on my skills as a storyteller to share a rather macabre tale.

He hailed from Childress, Texas. A town a hundred and ten miles southeast of Amarillo. He worked for a cement company, but he was damn sick of both the job and the town. Miller was his name. G.R. Miller. No one needed to know what the letters stood for.

Maybe it was spring fever. Maybe it was the wanderlust of a crazed man. Hell, maybe it was the desperate need of adventure, but when the opportunity presented itself Miller walked away from his job. But not before making off with some of the companies explosives.

Knowing he would get caught if he stuck around town, miller headed for a relatives house where he stole a .38 caliber pistol. The pistol was a hell of a lot more practical weapon on a crime spree so Miller placed the stolen explosives underneath the house where he had stolen the gun.

He caught a train out of town as a cloud of black smoke filled the air.

But he wasn't alone on the westbound freight train. Discovering two youths he shot the first in the back and then took aim on the second. the boy leapt from the train as Miller plugged him in the leg. Miller shoved the first boy's lifeless body from the train as it rumbled over the sandy bed of the Red River.

Unaware he was dealing with a murders a brakemen discovered Miller when the train stopped in the small town of Memphis Texas. The brakeman ordered Miller off the train but the criminal hopped right back aboard a different freight car when the train began to pull out of town.

Again, he wasn't the only stowaway. This time Miller shot a man in the head while he played his harmonica. But the music lover's friend managed to escape through the open door. Crawling along the tops of the cars he reached the engineer and relayed what had happened.

Miller jumped off the train between the towns of Hedley and Giles but was soon caught by Donley Counties finest.

G.R. Miller was tried for the first murder and found guilty. He was given life and sent to Huntsville. He served several months before being returned to Clarendon, Texas, 60 miles southeast of Amarillo to be tried for the second murder. Again Miller was found guilt but this time the judge sentenced him to death.

With the exception of finding so many people hopping trains this could be a story from yesterdays newspaper. However my tale is a bit older. it is from '09. Not 2009 but 1909.

G.R. Miller stole that dynamite, and gun blew up that house, and murders those folks more than a hundred years ago. In doing so he earned the infamous title of being the last man hanged in the Texas Panhandle.

Known far and wide as Saints' Roost in Old West times, Clarendon, Texas was not a town for even the mildest of outlaws. There was no saloon, no drinking at all. Per the rules of it's founder, a Methodist Clergyman.

Come execution day the town swelled ten times in population. Matter of fact the crowd around the scaffold became so large and mob-like a construction crew building a new road was forced to abandon their work for the day. (actually I'm wondering if road crews then were like those today and readily took the first excuse not to work that came along)

People flooded into town via train, buggies, on foot, on horseback and in wagons. it was said that every man and boy for miles was in town that day. Women were not allowed to attend the hanging and to make certain they did not witness the event all females were sequestered to the wagon yard until the lever was pulled.

Newspaper reports described Miller as tall, dark and handsome. They said he was led onto the platform by a Catholic priest and a protestant minister.

Allowed a few final words Miller said, "All you children be good."

At 11 Am on June 3rd 1910, G.R. Miller breathed his last breath.

The crowd then rushed forward straining to get a better look at the body. The masses pushed and shoved destroying the makeshift platform. eventually the deceased was carried away in a hearse. But the wagon was too short, so his feet stuck out for all to see.

Below I will include a list of this week's fellow My Town Mondayers once they get their posts up. Please visit their towns and feel free to leave a link and join us if you you have something interesting to say about your chunk of the world.
The official My Town Monday Blog can be found here.

Terri Moran parks it in Queens, New York.
Gabriele Goldstone has a festive time in Winnipeg, Canada.
J Winter scales castle walls in Loveland, Ohio.
Theresa Milstein takes us to Northport, New York.
Richard Levangie gives us Canada's Cape Breton Highlands.
Debra Bures celebrates Village of Peninsula, Ohio's python days.
Barbara Martin chugs through Canada's Kicking Horse Pass.
Barrie Summy talks about the glass half full vs the glass half empty in San Diego, California.


Old Kitty said...

Oh wow!! What a story!! I loved how your brought it to life with your writerly skills! :-)

Why did he have such a death wish, the silly man! And all those people who wanted to see him hanged. What a story indeed!

Thanks for sharing
Take care

the walking man said...

I guess ol' GR just was looking to do something a little different that day.

DrillerAA09 said...

I don't suppose G.R. stood for "Good Riddance". Probably not.

B.E. Sanderson said...

See, now this is why I'm dead certain you'll get a book published. You had me enthralled from beginning to end. Damn, Travis, I'm impressed and about ready to do the whole 'I'm not worthy' thing.

Teresa said...

ROFL! Great story, Travis, and really well-told.

Barbara Martin said...

Interesting, Travis.

Barbara Martin said...

Forgot to say that my post is finally up.

debra said...

Interesting post, Travis. Good to be back at MTM. My post (better late than never) is up.

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Very well told!


Charles Gramlich said...

I wonder if things would be different today if they had public hangings. Of course, we have train wrecks on TV, like American Idol and America's got talent. I guess we don't need public hangings.

Barrie said...

What a nice change for MTM post! Don't fall over in a dead faint, but my MTM is up!! Hey, it's still Monday here in San Diego. And the link:

Bernita said...

Wanton evil..Some things never change...
Good job, Travis!