Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 3, Number 2, May, 1993 Page: 60
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
toward Willis, for he and Birard immediately set off in the direction of that town. Some
distance down the road, Davis and Birard split up, with each taking a different road to
Willis. On the way, Birard rode up behind two men. He took them to be the two fugitives,
and his suspicions grew when they suddenly veered off the road and into the woods.
When he reached the spot where they had left the road, he saw one of them, who proved
to be Simpson, sitting in the grass with a holstered pistol on his knee. The other man,
Durham, who had taken ill, was lying behind a tree with his Winchester in his hands.
Under the circumstances, Birard did not identify himself and made no motion
to arrest the men. The fugitives, for their part, were relieved to see that the man who
had ridden up behind them was not Sheriff Townsend. Simpson asked Birard where he
was going and Birard replied that he was going to Willis. Simpson stated that they had
the same destination and Birard rode on. At Willis, he again picked up Davis, and waited
for Durham and Simpson to ride in. Soon, they did.
The two fugitives stopped on the edge of town. Durham dismounted,
handed his reins to Simpson, walked into a drugstore, and bought some medicine. Birard
and Davis followed him and, as he emerged, arrested him. The officers then went out
and arrested Simpson. Each of the fugitives was armed with a Winchester and a six-
shooter. Between them, they had 300 rounds of ammunition. Two days later, on
Sunday, July 15, Sheriff Townsend and Deputy Dick Bridge picked up the two prisoners
Without Henry Garner's testimony, the prosecution seemingly had a much
weaker case against Moore, Downing, and Lehman. During the trial, which began on
Monday, September 17, 1888, Ben Vineyard, called upon to testify as to Moore's
character, downplayed Moore's growing noteriety, implying that it was the product of
superstition among the ignorant and tremulous local blacks, stating, "I have never heard
that the defendant Moore was a violent and dangerous man, but I know the negroes in
the bottom are some of them afraid of him." On September 20, all three defendants were
found guilty of the lesser charge of assault with intent to murder and sentenced to two
years in the state penitentiary. All three quickly petitioned for a new trial. When that
petition was overruled, they appealed. Little more than a month later, on October 31,
1888, the appeals court granted them a new trial. The case was continued until March
10, 1890, when all charges were dismissed because one of the key witnesses,
presumably Garner, had died.
Townsend, meanwhile, was embroiled in a contest for the sheriff's office
with a strong challenger named James B. Endt. On October 23, 1888, Townsend and
Endt met in a particularly colorful form of political debate, a shooting contest staged at
the celebration of the Schuetzen-fest at Oakland. Using the same gun and shooting the
same distance, Townsend won handily, scoring 33 of a possible 36 points, then defeated
Endt at the polls two weeks later, with 2453 votes to Endt's 1150. Townsend's keen
aim was destined to serve him well again.
J. W. Durham and Gus Simpson were tried in Columbus in March 1889.
Durham had made several self-incriminating statements shortly after his arrest, and they
came back to haunt him. He had indicated to the arresting officers that it had been his
rifle that killed Henry Garner, and had confessed outright to Sheriff Townsend that he
had committed the murder. Moore sat through the trial of his two friends, regularly being
identified by witnesses. Naturally, after what had happened to Garner, some of the
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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/m1/8/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed February 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.