The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 44, July 1940 - April, 1941 Page: 202
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
was $10 and costs. H. L. St. Clair had fired his gun "just
for fun" on the main street the preceding Saturday night;
he had been a little careless and the bullet had completely
taken off another man's ear-his fine was $5 and costs. The
man who lost the ear was evidently inebriated; as he picked
up his ear he winked at the man who had shot it off. The
mayor held that his winking made him an accessory to dis-
turbing the peace and fined him five cents and costs.41
Proceedings in frontier courts were not always as orderly
as in courts situated in older settled communities. On occasion
the person being tried might take over the case and clear the
court room. Such was the procedure at Fort Griffin in 1877,
when the court rendered an adverse decision against John B.
Carn. Mr. Carn, with considerable coolness of head and skill
of execution, systematically knocked out the judge, the clerk,
and the opposing attorney. Bystanders were convinced that he
would have probably served the jury the same way had there
been one.42 He in the end walked out of the court room, and
no effort was ever made to hold him in contempt of court.
In Mason in 1889, a lawyer, J. L. Adams, was being tried
for using "boisterous language." The county attorney objected
to Adams introducing a certain witness; this so enraged Adams
that he tried to strike the county attorney over the head with
a chair. The county attorney avoided a broken head by catch-
ing the blow on his arm and hand, and he sustained only a
broken finger. The whole affair so pleased the jury that Adams
was promptly acquitted. No mention is made of the judge's
taking contempt exceptions.43
One should not get the idea that the citizenship of the frontier
as a whole was lawless or lacking in the fundamental elements
of character. They were not versed in legal conventionalities;
they resented too much governmental regulation and interfer-
ence; they were typical exponents of frontier individualism,
and they possessed a considerable amount of rugged fortitude
and honesty. Littleness was not among their faults. Petty
thievery was practically unknown. A stranger was considered
honest until he was proved to be otherwise. People never put
locks on the doors of their homes. Often they did not bother
to put them on the doors of their business houses. In Colorado
City during the 80's there was not a lock on a store or office.
e"Frontier Echo, March 31, 1876.
42Frontier Echo, November 2, 1876.
"4Mason News, April 13, 1889.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 44, July 1940 - April, 1941, periodical, 1941; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146052/m1/222/: accessed August 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.