True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young. Page: 209
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HOUSTON AND HOUSTONIANS 209
those who did such excellent killings took good pains to avoid
taking credit for them.
The slungshots used by the thugs were made of lead and were
about the size of a large egg. They were fastened to a leather
thong and this was slipped over the wrist and securely knotted
there. It was a fearful weapon and with it skulls and bones
could be easily crushed. An old German was found on Washington
Street one morning with a crushed skull, while a negro had
his shoulder smashed somewhere out on Main Street. No doubt
there were other cases, but if so, I have forgotten them. I do
remember three casualties on the other side. One was a soldier
found on Main Street just above where the Rice Hotel stands.
He had been shot through the head and the slungshot attached to
his wrist told the story of why he had been shot. Another was
a soldier found one morning at daylight just in front of the gate
of the old Episcopal Cemetery. He, too, was shot through the
head, but as the ball entered at the back the supposition was that
he had missed his victim when he struck at him with the slungshot
and had then tried to get away. The slungshot attached to
his right wrist told what part he had played in the tragedy.
Another case that occurred out on Main Street had more of the
ludicrous than the tragic about it. A negro was going home late
one night. He was met by a soldier, who walked directly up
to him and without a word made a lick at him with his slungshot.
Instinctively the negro threw up both' hands to protect
his head and the lead ball struck him on the palm of his right
hand. His hand closed and he hung on for dear life. He was
afraid to turn loose and the soldier, having the leather thong
knotted around his wrist, could not get loose. They fought and
struggled there, the negro shouting "murder," "help," at the top
of his voice. They made such a row that people in the neighborhood
were aroused and help came. The soldier was captured
and taken to the provost officer in the old courthouse. He was
locked up and presumably punished, though I never heard how.
Soon after the troops had been located at desirable points in
the state the reason for their presense was more apparent. All
state, county and city officials, who had been chosen by the
people, were turned out of office and their successors appointed
by the president of the United States and by the state officials
so appointed, and the work of "reconstruction" was begun.
Houston was reconstructed, of course, and though it had escaped
all the horrors of war, it was made to realize that there are
some things worse than war. A lot of "scalawags" were put in
office and as they were backed by Federal bayonets, they proceeded
to loot the county and city in the most up-to-date manner.
But I do not intend to say anything,on that subject now, but
shall simply jot down some memories that come to me as my
mind goes back to the long ago.
The army was not much in evidence, for its mere presence
was all that was necessary to give the looters free hand. The
citizens accepted the inevitable and did the best they could.
Here’s what’s next.
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Young, Samuel Oliver. True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young., book, 1913; Galveston, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24646/m1/209/: accessed August 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .