Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 1, January, 2000 Page: 50
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
shots. The first, aimed at Brown's head, missed. The second hit Brown in the chest. He fell
forward onto the table, then rolled onto the floor. Moments later, he died. As bystanders
attempted to minister to him, his outer garments were removed and searched. He had been
unarmed. Grissom was brought to trial on February 26, 1878. He was convicted, but he
immediately appealed. The following June, his conviction was overturned because the jury
had not been properly sequestered. He was retried and again convicted. Finally, in March
1880, the court of appeals affirmed his conviction, and he began serving a 99-year sen-
These sensational murders were by no means isolated. Violence and murder
pervaded the county. On October 22, 1871, at the culmination of an argument, Ben F. Gee
struck John B. Harvey in the head with a shotgun, killing him. In Alleyton, on May 26, 1872,
Colonel Samuel Stoudenmier and George S. Walton had an argument at the local Sunday
School. Later that day, when Stoudenmier visited Walton to iron out their differences, two or
three insults were exchanged, and Stoudenmier punched Walton in the face. Walton re-
treated into his home, emerged with a pistol, and shot at Stoudenmier. At Eagle Lake, on
May 3, 1873, Nat Morris went a step further, shooting and killing William L. Wynn. In
Columbus on September 11, 1873, livery stable owner Arthur Sherrill was stabbed four times
by an itinerant salesman named O. M. McKinney, with whom he had argued. Though Sherrill
was severely wounded, he recovered. Near Oakland, on April 1, 1875, in the course of
trying to help Deputy Sheriff Christian Heydorn arrest Oscar Hargon, R. Gideon Blakeney
shot and killed Hargon. In Oakland, on May 12, 1877, Thomas A. Woolridge, who had gone
to town to get a haircut, got into a heated argument with one of his tenant farmers named Joe
Holland, who was upset that his crops had been damaged by cattle. As he left, Holland
threw a parting remark, but tripped near the gate when attempting to run from the scene.
The enraged Woolridge, taking advantage of the fall, leaped onto Holland and, in the ensuing
scuffle, slashed him in the arm with a pocket knife. Holland, fully conscious, stalked off and
bled to death. 65
64 Colorado Citizen, May 31, 1877, June 7, 1877, October 11, 1877, January 10, 1878, Febru-
ary 28, 1878, March 7, 1878, June 20, 1878, February 27, 1879, May 8, 1879, March 25, 1880. Brown had
moved to Columbus from Tennessee in 1866. His first wife, Margaret, died in the yellow fever epidemic
in November 1873. Ironically, Brown had examined the bodies of each of Amos English, Mose Perry,
and Mathias Malsch, the three men who preceded him as annual sensational murder victims (see
Colorado County Police [Commissioners] Court Minutes, Book 1876-1879, p. 102).
65 Colorado County District Court Records, Criminal Cause File No. 984: State of Texas v. Ben
F. Gee, Criminal Cause File No. 993: State of Texas v. George S. Walton, Criminal Cause File No. 995:
State ofTexas v. Colonel S. Stoudenmier, Criminal Cause File No. 1073: State of Texas v. NatMorris,
Criminal Cause File No. 1102: State of Texas v. O. M. McKinney, Criminal Cause File No. 1135: State of
Texasv . M McKinney, Criminal Cause File No. 1608: State of Texas v. ThomasA. Woolridge; Fayette
CountyNew Era, May 16, 1873, September 19, 1873; Colorado Citizen, October 26, 1871, April 8, 1875.
"Colonel" was Stoudenmier's first name; not a title. He was the brother of the celebrated El Paso
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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/m1/50/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed October 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.