The Dallas Journal, Volume 44, 1999 Page: 2
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The Yegua Notch-Cutters
brush provided excellent cover for their murders. The
distances from the county seat required that two to three days
for law enforcement officers to respond to criminal activities.
Law abiding citizens of the three counties, fearful of the
criminals. finally got so tired of the dangerous living that they
formed open meetings, encouraged by law enforcement
officers, similar to the one described in the Galveston News,
Date line McDade:
Today 200 citizens from this [Lee] and adjoining
counties met in the church [in McDade]. Their object
was to assist the officers of the law to use every effort to
suppress lawlessness. The people in this section are
thoroughly aroused, and appear to be determined to stop
the frequent killings and robberies which have recently
occurred in this vicinity. The very best citizens are
interesting themselves in this matter.'
These meetings resulted in forming vigilante committees
in several areas. The Knobs Committee was organized in
1875 and functioned for eight years. There were committees
formed at McDade. Bastrop, Oak Hill, Giddings and other
settlements. These groups worked together, and for obvious
reasons, executioners were chosen from groups other than
from the one where the crimes were committed.'
In January, 1875, two men, a Mr Land and a Mr.
Waddell, were found hanged together. They were reported to
be the first of the Notch-Cutters to be executed by the
vigilantes. Both men were considered to be outlaws.
The Notch-Cutters scored next. Horace Alsup, a citizen
of the community, had been to Lexington to attend to some
business. When his horse came home with an empty saddle,
a search was mounted. Alsup's body was found in the middle
of the sandy road. He had been given the "Blue Whistler" (a
shotgun blast in the back) treatment.
The next victim was Bill Craddock (they called him Pea-
eye because of his small eyes). He was an older man, and by
all reports a good citizen. In fact, he was too good. He had
seen the outlaws rustling cattle, recognized them, and had
testified in court against them. Craddock was ambushed from
the side of the road. On a Monday morning Craddock hitched
hlus team of oxen to a wagon loaded with cane and went to the
syrup mill. Crushing the cane and cooking the syrup required
the major part of the day. He started home in the evening, and
on a lonely part of the road, someone slipped up from behind
and blasted him. Howard Cordell, who resided near Taylor,
was hanged for the murder.
Cow Hide Coats
In early 1876 the Olive brothers-John Prentice and
Jim-announced that after putting up with constant losses of
cattle for a long time they "would kill anyone they found
skinning their cattle or riding their horses." Two skinned
and dressed beeves were found on the Olive brothers' ranch.
Since the killers of the beeves were not around when the
range riders found the skinned and dressed animals the
range riders decided to wait out of sight and see who the
parties would be. Turk Turner and James H. Crow soon
returned with a wagon and loaded the dressed beeves. At this
point they were shot and killed by "unknown" parties. On
March 22, 1876, their bodies were found on the Olive
brothers ranch. They had been rolled up in the cowhides
they had skinned, with the Olive brand showing
Next was a mystery hanging - the two men were total
strangers to the area; no one in the community had ever seen
them. These two men were left hanging near the Williamson
County line and were found on May 22. 1876. They were
lynched with staking ropes.
The men were wearing fine clothes; their pockets were
filled with money, but they had no identification on their
persons. Another murder was for the victim's clothes. He
was found stretched out naked on a blanket. He too was
The Olives were tried in Williamson County for the
Crow and Turner killings, but court records indicate that the
case was finally dismissed for the lack of actual eyewitnesses
to the crime.
The Notch-Cutters waited some five months before they
struck back at the Olives. They were waiting for one of
Crow's sons to return from the penitentiary. The Austin
Statesman printed the details:
A letter received in this city Thursday from Post Oak
Island says that on the night of August 1, a party of
fifteen or twenty men attacked the Olive brothers on
their ranch. Beside the three brothers there were three
white men and two Negroes. Jay Olive was shot in the
body in twenty two places and it was thought he would
die. Prentice Olive was shot in the hip; and a man
named Butler was hit several times in the leg and hip.
Bill Wells, a Negro, was shot twice in the head 7The
railers got $750 from the house, and then forced one of
the Negroes to burn it (the house).'
The report was true: but, only a part of the house was
burned. The glare made those attacking good targets and,
knowing the flames would attract attention, they broke off
the fight, taking their wounded and dead with them.
2 The Dallas Journal 1999
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Dallas Genealogical Society. The Dallas Journal, Volume 44, 1999, periodical, June 1999; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth186858/m1/8/: accessed October 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Genealogical Society.