This Week in Texas History

Bartee Haile
Noted historian

Trivial incident results in manhunt, four kills

A trivial incident on a passenger train on Jan. 12, 1894, set in motion a series of violent events that led to a Central Texas manhunt and sent four men to the cemetery.

The dominoes started falling when a conductor kicked DeWitt “Dee” Braddock off a train in Colorado County for refusing to pay the fare. The hot-tempered freeloader chunked the nearest rock at the ticket-taker as the train pulled away and followed that with a single shot through the sleeping car.

The railroad worker reported the episode at the next stop, the small community of Weimar. The mayor summoned the local marshal and several able-bodied citizens, and together they followed the tracks to the source of the trouble.

Dee Braddock surrendered without a struggle but gave his captors an earful all the way back to town. He informed the stern strangers they did not know who they were dealing with and that their ignorance might prove fatal. He already had killed two men and there was plenty of room left on his pistol for a few more notches.

The tough talk from the 23-year-old loudmouth did not impress, much less alarm the watchdogs of Weimar. They had seen their share of dangerous desperadoes, and the youth did not fit the profile.

But Braddock was telling the truth. Three years earlier on his father’s farm near Flatonia, he had shot to death two black sharecroppers. At his murder trial in La Grange, he pleaded self-defense and the jury gave him a free pass in spite of testimony to the contrary from an eyewitness.

In the three years since the double murder, Braddock had been suspected of numerous crimes and even arrested for train robbery. However, none of the charges stuck and the ne’er-do-well stayed on the loose.

If Mose Townsend had known all this about his prisoner, he might have... 

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