True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young. Page: 224
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224 TRUE STORIES OF OLD
OLD MAN LAKEN.
O F ALL the remarkable characters who lived in Houston
in the early days "Old Man" Laken occupied a place
very near the head of the class. He was the most
serious man I ever knew. I don't think anybody ever saw him
even smile, let alone laugh, and I am sure I never did. He had
been a policeman, a jailer or private watchman all his life, and
having occupied only subordinate positions, he did not know
anything except to obey orders. Being old and somewhat feeble,
Marshal I. C. Lord always gave the old fellow an easy berth at
police headquarters and his principal duty was to keep order in
the recorder's court. During his long career as a policeman and
jailer it had fallen to his lot to kill several men and no enthusiastic
hunter ever displayed greater pride in telling of the
game he had bagged than did "Old Man" Laken when telling of
what he had done in the killing line. He did not speak of them
often, but when he did his face showed the only animation that
was ever seen on it.
"You see, it was this way," he said to me one morning, describing
an attempted jail delivery. "I'm all alone in the jail, when
one of them fellows puts up a holler and says he wants a doctor,
for he is sick. I goes to the cell and peeps in. He's stretched
out on the floor and is all doubled up, and when he sees me he
begs for water. Thinkin' he's sick shore enough, I opens the
door and steps in. Just as I gits in the other fellow, who is
on one side, slugs me good and hard behind the ear and knocks
me down. Before I can git up both of 'em is on top of me and
begins chokin' me to keep me from hollerin'. Then they throw
me in the bunk and piles all the bed clothes over my head and
sits on top of the pile to smother me. Before they throw me in
the bunk they takes my gun and my keys. They nearly smother
me, but I manages to git my nose where I can breathe a little.
I see what their game is, so after a little kickin' I laid right
still and they got up and went out in the corridor. They went
to the big door and unlocked it and went out in the yard. There
was a big fence and as the sheriff always carried the key to
the door of that they knew I did not have it and got ready to
climb the fence. The fence was about eighteen feet high, but
they got a pole and one of 'em dim up and dropped down on
the outside. I had got up and had got one of them old hoss
pistols, the only thing I could find, and was watchin' 'em.
When the first fellow got over, the other one commenced climbin'
the pole. He was the fellow who had knocked me down and I
wanted to git him bad. I slipped out and got right behind him,
but he was too busy to see me, but just kept on climbin'. I
waited until he got to the top of the wall and then I raised my
pistol. It was so heavy I had to hold it in both hands. I took
good aim and made the best shot I ever made in my life. I got
him right in the middle of the back of his head and that fellow
don't know till yet what happened to him. We caught the other
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/m1/224/: accessed May 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .