Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 3, Number 3, September, 1993 Page: 120
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
adjoined the dormitory and was connected to it by a covered walkway. In addition to
two bedrooms, a living room, and a bathroom, the house contained a large kitchen,
where all the cooking for the farm was done.23
On May 2, 1954, Basilio Anicello, a resident of the county farm for about
three years, committed a murder on the grounds. Anicello had become a resident of the
county in 1938, when he knocked on the door of the home of Olaf Gustav Kolberg and
his wife, Gail Violet Kolberg, near Eagle Lake and asked for something to eat. The
Kolbergs took him in, and put him to work in their dairy to pay for his food and lodging.
Anicello gave his name as "Sammy" and was known by that single name for a few years.
During World War II, the FBI identified him as a native of Italy and revealed his real name
to the Kolbergs. But, satisfied that he was harmless, the FBI allowed him to remain on
the job. He did so uneventfully until September 28, 1950, when, without warning, he
walked up behind Donald Kolberg, the son of Olaf Kolberg and the operator of the dairy,
and struck him on the back of the head with an iron pipe. Kolberg, unconscious and
bleeding profusely, dropped to the floor while Anicello bolted across a pasture. He was
arrested the following morning after an intensive manhunt but was never brought to trial,
and, on March 16, 1951, shortly after his release from jail, he was sent to the county
farm as a pauper. Three years later, he struck again. Annoyed by what he later
characterized as incessant "jabbering," he beat two of his fellow residents on the county
farm, John Moore and John Skypalla, with an iron pipe. Skypalla, who, according to
the newspaper reports of the incident, had lived on the county farm for about thirty years,
died of his injuries the next day. Anicello was apprehended the morning after the assault
by Crockett Leyendecker, on the road near Leyendecker's home about five miles north-
east of the county farm. Anicello was indicted for the assault on Moore and the murder
of Skypalla on September 7, 1954. Two weeks later, he was judged insane and therefore
incompetent to stand trial and was confined in the state hospital at Rusk.24
After Jeff Smith, the county went through at least seven more superinten
dents, of whom John E. Brigham (who served from 1900 until 1912), Adam Burttschell
(1912-1923), Fred W. Bunge (1923-1930), John Cleve Obenhaus (1934-1940), and
Joe Knight had particularly long stints. Knight, who began the job in March 1946,
oversaw the conversion of the farm from a poor farm to an old age or convalescent home.
On January 9, 1956, William Thomas Youens, the county health officer, proposed that
the commissioners court consider leasing the property to an individual for operation as
a home for the aged because, as he pointed out, under such an arrangement, the
residents of the home could draw a stipend from the Department of Public Welfare, pay
something for their lodging, and save the county money. Youens projected that the
facility could become the home of up to thirty people. At the time, only three people lived
The commissioners heard the opinions of Knight, and of Grace Towell, the
county health nurse, on February 13. Three months later, on May 14, 1956, the com-
missioners leased the county farm to Knight for two years for one dollar per year for use
23 See Commissioners Court Minute Book 15, pp. 387-390, Office of the County Clerk, Colorado
24 See The Eagle Lake Headlight, October 5, 1950, The Colorado County Citizen, May 6, 1954 and
September 30, 1954, Commissioners Court Minute Book 16, p. 324, Office of the County Clerk, Colorado
County, Texas, Criminal Minutes 6, p. 212, and Cause Files 5164 and 5167, Office of the District Clerk,
Colorado County, Texas. The judgment of insanity only suspended action against Anicello until he became
sane. The charges against him were finally dismissed on March 28, 1962, and only then because he had died.
25 See The Colorado County Citizen, January 12, 1956.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 3, Number 3, September, 1993, periodical, September 1993; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151389/m1/12/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed June 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.