The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 48, July 1944 - April, 1945 Page: 322
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
known as Major Buck Walton, a leading criminal lawyer and
once attorney general of Texas. He died in Austin in 1914.
The book is a rare item of Texana, available today only in cheap
In 1909 and 1910 Major Walton talked frequently with John
Wheeler, now a lawyer in San Antonio, about his personal ex-
periences with Thompson. He said he had defended Thompson
at least fifteen times for homicide and had gained a state-wide
reputation as a criminal lawyer for getting him acquitted each
time. He explained that, though often the aggressor, Thompson
was careful to make sure each time that his adversary made
the first move, sometimes letting him draw first. Thompson
was familiar with the vital spots in the human body and was
a deadly shot under the most difficult circumstances. He was
never known to lose his nerve. So observed Major Walton.
Thompson was born of English parents in Nova Scotia in
1843. The family moved to Austin when he was a child. The
father, a seafaring man, left home, presumably to go to sea,
and was never heard of again.
Still a youngster, Ben started work in Austin as a printer.
After a while he went to New Orleans, where he got a job on
the Picayune. While riding an omnibus one day, he noticed the
unwelcome attentions a young Frenchman was bestowing upon
an unescorted young woman. Ben interfered. Promptly there
was a fight, in which the Frenchman, bearing the romantic
name of Emile de Tour, was disabled by Ben's flashing knife.
Ben escaped from the omnibus but a few days later was traced
to the Picayune office, where he received a challenge from the
Frenchman to fight a duel.
As the challenged party, Ben had the choice of weapons. He
proposed that the duelists enter a darkened room and fight
with knives until one was killed. De Tour objected but at length
was prevailed upon to accept in order to uphold his honor. Thus,
in the gray and eerie dawn the duelists were conducted by their
friends to an abandoned icehouse. They entered blindfolded,
each carrying a bowie knife. The door was closed and locked
from the outside. After a few minutes there was a knock on
the inside of the door. It was opened, and Ben emerged, leaving
the Frenchman bloody and lifeless within. Ben was spirited
away by his fellow-printers, hidden in the Italian quarter, and
finally assisted out of New Orleans in darkness.
He returned to Austin to resume his occupation as a printer.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 48, July 1944 - April, 1945, periodical, 1945; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146055/m1/362/: accessed September 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.