Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 1, January, 2000 Page: 23
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Consider the Lily: The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas
near Content. Four facts led the authorities to arrest David Landers for the murder: Morrisey
had spent much of the previous day with Landers; Landers had been heard to mildly threaten
him; Landers had been seen leading Morrisey's horse after the killing; and, Landers had
blood on his saddle. The same facts were apparently enough for the court, which refused his
plea for time to produce a witness who would testify that the blood was that of a slaughtered
animal, and on October 19, 1871, convicted him and sentenced him to death. Landers imme-
diately appealed, and, in March 1872, the state supreme court reversed the judgment. Landers
went back before the district court and, on October 17, 1872, was again found guilty, but this
time was accorded a sentence of 21 years in the state penitentiary. The third murderer
escaped with an even lighter sentence. On September 9, 1871, Sidney Ludlow, who was
apparently drunk, was thrown from his horse in downtown Oakland. He rose to his feet,
waving his pistol. When two of his friends, John D. Tooke and Jacob Andrew Eason, moved
to peacefully disarm him, Ludlow warned them not to approach and refused to give up his
gun. When Tooke tried to take it away, Ludlow shot him. Tooke died two days later. Ludlow
was quickly taken to trial, and on October 20, 1871, sentenced to seven years in the state
penitentiary at Huntsville.28
In late 1871, the troubles on the west side of the county made their way into the
county seat. Four years earlier, on July 15, 1867, a Lavaca County court had issued a war-
rant to arrest A. Stapleton Townsend for stealing two horses and conspiring to steal some
others. Two days later, a posse confronted Townsend near his house, near Oakland, and
when Townsend attempted to flee, opened fire. Townsend fell, mortally wounded. The five
members of the posse were indicted for shooting Townsend, but the case did not come to
trial for four years. On March 18, 1871, three of the defendants were found guilty of man-
slaughter and sentenced to two years in the state penitentiary. Two days later, however, the
defense attorneys asked for a new trial, citing among their grounds that they had only just
discovered what one of the state's witnesses could testify. That witness, Robert E. Stafford,
claimed to have visited Townsend on his deathbed, and heard Townsend state, at first, that
one of the defendants, David Snodgrass, had shot him, and then, about an hour later, that
because he was running from them, he did not know who had shot him. Apparently, prosecu-
28 Robert P. Tendick to Edmund J. Davis, July 6, 1870, Edmund J. Davis Records (RG 301),
Archives Division, Texas State Library, Austin; Galveston Daily News, June 24, 1870, August 6, 1870;
Henry Calhoun Thomas, "A Sketch of My Life," Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, vol. 1, no. 3,
February 1990, p. 90; Colorado County District Court Records, Criminal Cause File No. 912: State of
Texas v. David Landers; Criminal Cause File No. 913: State of Texas v. Sidney Ludlow, Minute Book E,
pp. 150, 151, 389; Colorado Citizen, October 26, 1871, March 14, 1872; E. H. Wheelock, Reportsof
Cases Argued and Decided in the Supreme Court of the State of Texas [Texas Reports], vol. 35
(Austin: Statesman Book and Job Office, 1873), pp. 359-361.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 1, January, 2000, periodical, January 2000; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151408/m1/23/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed August 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.