Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 2, May, 1996 Page: 73
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Consider the Lily: The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas
Ironically, when the new jail did come into use, the first two prisoners were
Dewees' brother-in-law, Leander Beeson, and Sheriff Townsend's brother, Spencer. Both
men were locked up in July 1838, indicted for the murder of Naham Mixon. The incident
occurred on December 12, 1837. At lunch that day with Dewees and Robert Brotherton,
Beeson was upset because, he said, Naham Mixon had called his brother, Abel Beeson, a
damned rascal. Spencer Townsend, too, was upset with Mixon because he had heard,
evidently from Taylor Barns, that Mixon had called him a swindler. That afternoon,
Beeson, Townsend, Barns, William B. Dean, and Moses Townsend, went to the home of
Mixon's brother, Noel, which also served as a boarding house, a modest grocery store, and
a saloon. There, in various ways, they threatened Naham Mixon, who was present, and
Beeson offered to uphold his brother's honor by shooting it out with him at fifteen paces.
When Mixon showed no interest, the men left. Less than an hour later, Beeson, Spencer
Townsend, and Dean returned with three other men: Dewees, Francis Mayhar, and Henry
T. Arnold. Several other men, including John B. Berry, were already there. Beeson
renewed his verbal assault on Mixon, adding that he was a damned coward. Dewees, who
was Beeson's brother-in-law, pulled off his coat and announced that he was man enough
to subdue the man who slandered Abel Beeson. Townsend advanced on Mixon, who was
sitting in a chair, threatened to beat him, and laid his hand on his shoulder. Mixon jumped
up and demanded that Townsend keep his hands off him. Dean pulled a pistol, told Mixon
that if he drew his own pistol he would blow his brains out, then roughly shoved him out
of the building. Berry grabbed Dean and wrestled him to the floor. Townsend, pistol drawn,
followed Mixon outside and fired a shot. Mixon may or may not have fired as well. The
rest of the men rushed outside in time to see Mixon advancing on Townsend with his pistol
aimed at him. When he got to point blank range, Townsend deflected his arm and swung
his pistol at Mixon. Mixon's gun went off, and Leander Beeson, from his position in the
crowd, shot him in the back. Mixon died five or six days later. A couple of days before he
died, Dewees, Dean, and Spencer Townsend were ordered arrested. It was not until April
3, 1838 that Beeson's arrest was ordered. That summer, Townsend and Beeson were put
in Dewees' new jail, guarded there, since one of them was the sheriff's brother, by a court-
appointed officer named Wesley Hunt. Their trial opened on August 20. They were
acquitted two days later. Dean, who had also been indicted, seems to have left the area and
was never tried.19
James Wright, arrested for killing an Indian in Houston, was another early pris-
oner, and has the distinction of being involved in the first attempted jailbreak in the county.
On August 16 and 17, 1838, John F. Smith and, apparently, John Lyle, plotted and
19 Colorado County District Court Records, Criminal Cause File No. 6: Republic of Texas v. Leander
Beeson and Spencer Townsend; Minute Book A & B, pp. 7-9.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 2, May, 1996, periodical, May 1996; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151397/m1/13/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed August 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.