Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 3, Number 2, May, 1993 Page: 64
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
Before the day was out, word of the case had spread all over Colorado
County. The notorious Moore had carved another notch in his pistol. The murderers
were denied bail and Moore spent the next two months appealing through his lawyers
to have bail allowed. He was finally turned down in early December 1890, and began
making other plans.
On January 22, 1891, a bitterly cold day that saw snow in Oakland, Moore
and the others attempted to break out of the Colorado County jail in Columbus by sawing
the lock off the cell door. Moore had sent out a letter asking for a "steel instrument of
even thickness with teeth as fine as silk and as hard as hell" and had used the tool to
cut through the lock. But Sheriff Townsend had read the letter and expected the break.
He heard the lock fall to the floor, instantly knew what the sound represented, went to
the prisoners and asked for the saw. One of the prisoners, presumably Moore, was so
disgusted that he snapped the blade so the sheriff could make no use of it. Townsend
jocularly told the newspapers that he had had no intention of sawing his way into the
It was Moore, though, who won the next skirmish. Because of the case's
great notoriety, his defense attorneys argued that it would be impossible to secure an
impartial jury in Colorado County, and the case was transferred to Fayette County. Thus,
Moore and his compatriots in the murder were put on the docket to be tried in the Fayette
County seat of La Grange in December 1891 and were transferred to jail in that city.
On the night of February 24, 1891, a month after Moore's aborted attempt,
six men, all blacks, Ed Bouldin, Charles Cole, George Moses, Caleb Rivers, Joe Williams,
and John Johnson, escaped from jail in Columbus. Sheriff Townsend had not slept for
the previous two nights and was deep in slumber in his residence on the first floor of
the jail throughout the break. His deputy, Sam Reese, was one of a number of towns-
people in attendance at a ball to inaugurate and celebrate the recently constructed
courthouse. The six prisoners removed a bar from a cell and used it to burrow through
the south wall of the building. Their absence was not discovered until the next morning.
It was not long before two of the men were recaptured. On Thursday,
February 26, Moses was caught in Eagle Lake by Constable John E. Stewart and Johnson
was caught near Osage by Constable Hatch York. Two more were retrieved two days
later. On February 28, acting on a tip that Rivers had been seen in the southwestern
part of the county, Townsend gathered Dick Bridge, Perry Clark, and a pack of
bloodhounds and tracked him down. The same day, Williams sent word to the sheriff
that he was tired of sleeping in the woods and could be found at his home in Osage.
Townsend wasted little time in returning him to jail. A month later, on March 29, Rivers
broke out of jail again. He and Henry Shelton slipped out of their cells and escaped
through the hole that the six earlier escapees had drilled in February. Rivers proved less
elusive this time, being captured the day after his second escape near Glidden.
Townsend did not recapture the most dangerous fugitive, Bouldin, until
November. On September 20, 1890, Bouldin had met Aubrey Chumney on the road near
Frazar's Store and briefly exchanged words about who had the right of way. Bouldin,
who was on foot, had coldly raised his Winchester and shot Chumney off his horse.
Several people had witnessed the murder. Bouldin had been arrested after an extensive
manhunt, during which he fired a shot at pursuing officers. Townsend knew that Bouldin
would not easily be taken again. In November 1891, Townsend got a tip that Bouldin
had been located in Robertson County. He telegraphed Washington County Sheriff
D. E. Teague to meet him in Houston and assist with the arrest. Teague and Constable
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 3, Number 2, May, 1993, periodical, May 1993; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151388/m1/12/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed September 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.