Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 3, Number 2, May, 1993 Page: 56
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
it not for the rifle, he would give him a sound thrashing. At that moment, Arthur McDow,
who had ridden to the store with Moore about four o'clock that afternoon, walked up
to Green and grabbed the rifle by its muzzle. In the ensuing struggle, the rifle got
entangled in a rope on Green's saddle. As Green spurred his horse, the gun went off.
McDow, hit in the thigh, nonetheless retained his grip on the muzzle and was dragged
some ten or fifteen feet before both he and the rifle fell in the dust. Lying on his back
bleeding, he yelled, "Kill the damned son of a bitch!" Most of the one hundred or so
people who were present dove for cover, but three people were ready to oblige him.
A. H. Lehman, a blacksmith who worked at the store, scooped up the fallen
rifle and pointed it down the road. He could not get it to fire, however, and handed it
over to the store's bartender, A. J. Downing, who had appeared beside him. Moore had
also come up, and he and Lehman both drew pistols and began shooting at the fleeing
Green. Downing got the rifle working and added its firepower to the barrage. Green, now
about 100 yards down the road, fell from his horse with a bullet in his back. Dennis
Winslow, some twenty yards further down the same road, was killed by a stray bullet.
McDow was taken to Lehman's nearby house to be treated for his wound. There was
serious doubt that he would survive. He did, but he was not able to get out of bed for
Moore, Downing, and Lehman all were indicted for the murders of Green and
Winslow on March 30, 1888 and scheduled to go on trial the following September. But
before the trial date arrived, one of the prosecution's key witnesses, a black tenant
farmer named Henry Garner, was silenced under mysterious circumstances. Garner had
acquired a reputation as a dangerous man a few years earlier, when, on February 4,
1885, he and Henry Wheeler had been indicted for the brutal murder of Todd Adams.
On December 21, 1884, Adams had been shot in the back eighteen times. The charge
against Garner had been dismissed on March 25, 1885, immediately after Wheeler had
secured an acquittal.
Well after dark on the night of July 8, 1888, and after Garner and his wife,
Francis, had gone to bed, two men rode up to the door of Garner's small home in the
bottom. They woke Garner with shouts and asked him, in a friendly way, to come
outside. Garner was cautious. He asked the men who they were. They replied only that
they were his friends. Garner again asked for their names, and when they would not
say, told them he would not come out. Evidently swayed by Garner's reputation, the
two men decided not to go in after him and, shortly, rode away.
The next morning, a Monday, Garner and his wife routinely ate breakfast.
Then Garner decided to go visit his neighbor, Dug Thomas. He did not bother to put on
a jacket, but, perhaps alarmed by the previous night's activity, tucked his pistol into his
pants behind his back. He walked the 300 or so yards across his field to Thomas' fence.
As he and Thomas, who was horseback, talked across the fence, J. W. Durham and Gus
Simpson rode up to Garner's house. Both were rather shady characters. Durham had
just arrived in Colorado County, coming from Brazoria County in April or May. Since
then, he had adopted an assumed name, Dan Stafford. Simpson had been in the county
much longer and had once worked as a cowboy for Ben Stafford. Both were close friends
of H. H. Moore.
The two immediately struck up a conversation with Garner's wife and
another man who was at the house, Andrew Spann. After a brief discussion concerning
cattle, they asked about Garner. Spann told them that he was at Thomas' house and
the two rode off in that direction. Across the waist-high cotton between her home and
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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/m1/4/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed May 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.