Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 3, Number 2, May, 1993 Page: 61
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The Conflict Between H. H. Moore and Sheriff Light Townsend
prosecution witnesses were reluctant to testify. Dug Thomas for instance, who had
been within a few feet of Garner when he was killed, repeatedly refused to come to court,
but finally did testify after Sheriff Townsend went to his home and picked him up. No
reason or justification for the crime was offered, but it was strongly implied that Garner
had been killed because he was due to testify against Moore, Downing, and Lehman. On
March 19, Simpson was pronounced guilty of murder. Two days later, the same verdict
was handed down to Durham. Durham drew a life sentence while Simpson got off with
just five years.
On Monday night, September 29, 1890, Bob Mills and Charlie Armstrong
went to buy a bucket of molasses at Frazar's Store in the Eagle Lake bottom and touched
off one of the most brutal killings in Colorado County's brutal history. The two men had
come to the bottom with another friend named Bob Wyatt to pick cotton. They worked
first for Tom Chappell, who kept a field on Foard Frazar's plantation, where they picked
cotton for 75 cents per 100 pounds. But, on September 26, after Frazar spoke sharply
to Mills for picking a ragged row, the three men left Chappell's to work for Shelton Martin
on Ben Vineyard's plantation.
The three itinerant cotton pickers were not well regarded around the bottom.
Mills, Armstrong, and, in particular, Wyatt, had reputations for gambling and carousing.
Though these activities were not considered objectionable in themselves, the fact that
they, as white men, would engage in them with their black and Mexican co-workers was.
On the night of the 29th, Mills and Armstrong ate supper as usual at Martin's house,
then set out on their errand to get the molasses. When the two men stopped at
Chappell's house to pick up a bucket for their molasses, Chappell decided to go to
Frazar's Store with them.
Mills and Armstrong took their bucket to Vineyard & Walker's, asking the
clerk, Buck Tally, to fill it with molasses. They then went across the street to Frazar's,
where a group of men routinely gathered to drink whiskey. Many of the regulars were
there that night, including Harvey Vineyard, who worked for his uncle Ben on the
plantation nearby, W. A. Hughs, Dr. Harry Bowers, Tom Mason, Clay Cabiness, and
H. H. Moore. The store's two proprietors, Foard and Underwood Frazar, and three of
their employees, S. P. Moore, Lawrence Williamson, and Ike Langston, were also there.
Hughs was a professional deer hunter who had been out hunting all day and had gotten
separated from his dogs. Because he had fed them at the store that morning, he expected
them to come back and was waiting for them. All the men had been there, and been
drinking, for some time when Mills, Armstrong, and Chappell arrived.
Mills owed the store $3.55. When he arrived, the clerk, S. P. Moore, asked
him for the money. Mills took exception to the request, apparently on racial grounds.
According to his later testimony, he replied that he knew he owed the money and that
he would pay it, but that he was a white man and ought to be treated as such. Moore,
taking a new tack, asked Mills to go out on the porch for a private talk. On the porch,
Moore tried to warn Mills that he should leave the bottom, invoking the name of his
employer, saying that "Mr. Frazar does not want you all on his place."
Mills replied, "1 have left his place since last Friday and have not been there
but once since and then to get a bucket."
Moore went on, "Mr. Frazar wants you to leave the bottom and there is a
crowd talking about mobbing you all."
Defiantly, Mills answered, "They can put me in the ground but they cannot
make me leave the bottom."
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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/m1/9/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed November 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.