True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young. Page: 220
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220 TRUE STORIES OF OLD
have been a "throwback," and some one of his warlike ancestors
must have come back in him, for there was nothing in the history
of his immediate family to account for him. His father
was a leading physician of the state and the whole Woodlief
family was one of the best and most prominent in Texas. All
its members, with the exception of Matt, were peaceable, lawabiding
citizens, and there is no way of accounting for such a
volcano as Matt breaking out among them except to assume
that he was a "throwback."
Matt had a reputation for cool courage and desperate bravery
second to none of his dangerous associates, and when it is said
that those associates were such men as Ben Thompson, King
Fisher and a number of similar characters, the full meaning of
this assertion can be understood. He was a very handsome fellow.
Tall, with hair and mustache inclined to be blonde and
with, what is so common among desperadoes, steel gray eyes.
His manners were those of a gentleman; he dressed well and
with good taste, and no one, merely meeting and conversing
with him, would ever have taken him for a desperate character.
For years he lived at various points in the interior-at Austin,
San Antonio, Columbus and other places-but in 1873 he came
to Houston to make this his home. He was a professional gambler
and before he moved to Houston had nearly always owned
and operated a gambling house. Wlben he came here, however,
he made no effort to open a game himself, though he had money
and could have gotten all he wanted had he needed it, but contented
himself with playing against the games of others. Luck
was against him and he lost heavily. Then he got to drinking
from time to time, and as whiskey always made him a fiend,
everybody kept out of his way when he went on a spree.
There was one exception to'this. At that time there was a
little fellow here who was chief of police and if he ever kept out
of anybody's way or ever wanted to keep out of anybody's way
no one ever heard of it. He was Alex Erichson, the coolest,
bravest man I ever knew. I saw him right after he had killed
a man one day and if he was any more excited or agitated than
his six-shooter with which he had done the killing there was no
evidence of it. One day Matt got to drinking, and soon got to
raising a rough house in a saloon. Alex Erichson heard of it
and went there to arrest Matt. He walked in on him and told
him he was under arrest. Matt was not so drunk that he did
not recognize the danger and folly of resisting an officer in the
discharge of his duty, so he submitted and handed over his pistol.
Erichson took him down to the police station and allowed him to
stay in the front room while awaiting the arrival of some friend
Matt had sent for to go on his bond.
During the delay Matt had time to think over the situation
and he began to feel the humiliation of his position. This made
him angry and he began to abuse Erickson for having arrested
him and to express regret that he had submitted to it and had
given up his pistol. His language was very personal and finally
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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/m1/220/: accessed April 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .