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Brooke Smith's Connection to the Knights of the Golden Circle

Posted by Jay Longley on January 4, 2015 at 8:15 PM Comments comments (0)

I originally posted the following message on our Bloody Bill Anderson Mystery group's message board in July, 2006, shortly after creating our group.

Jay Longley

jay_longley@yahoo.com

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bloodybillandersonmystery

***

I was called to the Library Annex today to pick up an article about

Wild Bill Longley and, since I was there, I started thumbing through

a few more local history books and what I discovered blew my mind! I

picked up a typewritten book entitled "Memoirs of Brooke Smith of

Brownwood, Texas" written by "Himself". He wrote it from 1933-35.

Brooke Smith, like Henry Ford, was one of the early-day leaders of

Brownwood, Texas. He moved to Brownwood in the mid-1870's and opened

a general mercantile and soon became a well-known and respected

banker and civic leader. Since he was only a boy at the beginning of

the Civil War, he remained at home with his parents in Indiana after

moving there from Virginia where his family owned several slaves.

Apparently, he abided by the "Code" (of silence) that Henry Ford's

great grandson Lex Johnston mentioned in his book about his great

grandfather because nothing is said about the mysterious Henry Ford

or Bill Anderson in his book. But, to my knowledge, the page I am

about to quote below has never been revealed in recent decades until

now.

***

"...his passage to Detroit, and arriving there he crossed the river

to Windsor, Canada, and stayed there until the war ended. He was

there about a year, and when he came home he had about a quart cup

full of silver money. We hadn't seen anything but greenbacks for

four years, and we thought Channing was rich. When the soldiers came

after Channing and asked where he was, Pa said, 'He said he was going

to slip over into Kentucky and join John Morgan's cavalry.' During

the war, after so many had volunteered and gone South, our vicinity

was about equally divided between the remaining northern and southern

sympathisers, and the friends of the South organized a secret

society, known as "The Knights of the Golden Circle". Our attic was

one of their favorite meeting places; they would come dark nights,

quietly, singly, and in every conceivable disguise. Camp Morton, at

Indianapolis, was a Federal military prison, and there were some

twenty to twenty-five thousand Southern prisoners confined there.

(Jim Smith was a prisoner there). Indianapolis had a large supply

arsenal, with arms and munitions and military food supplies. The

plan was that John Morgan would come over from Kentucky with his

cavalry army, and make a swift raid to Indianapolis, and that as he

came along, the Southern sympathisers would join and augment his

forces, and at the appointed and expected time the Knights of the

Golden Circle would gather at Indianapolis from all over the State,

all in all would have made a pretty large fighting force. There was

a book-binder in Indianapolis named H.H. Dodd, and the big long

revolvers to be supplied to the Knights of the Golden Circle were

shipped to Dodd from Hartford, Connecticut, labeled "Sunday School

Books', and these pistols were known as 'Dodd's Sunday School Books',

and those things would shoot; it is claimed that they would shoot

through a telegraph pole, or would shoot through a span of mules and

break both legs of the rider. My father was allotted one of the

Sunday School Books, and it is now in our family and is loaded with

the same loads he put in it to take to Indianapolis. Margan

attempted his contemplated raid, but it was not successful. Indiana

had too many railroads and too much telegraph line that cavalry

travel could not compete with, and before he got well on the way he

was overwhelmed with numbers and driven back to Kentucky. Some one

had tipped the secret of the expedition, and given the plan away, and

that is the reason that Morgan's expedition was not a big success.

The plan was to raid the arsenal, free the prison, and arm the

prisoners, which, together with Morgan, the Knights and the

prisoners, would have made history. Dodd was betrayed, arrested, and

given the death penalty, and was confined in the Indianapolis jail.

The next night was cold and drizzling, and someone went to the jail,

attracted his attention, and threw him a ball of twine, which he drew

up, sawed out of prison, came down the rope and escaped to Canada,

where he remained until the war was over. He came back to

Indianapolis and was never executed. Then there were the public

political parties that had their organizations and their flag poles

and their public speakings and torch light processions and

parades...."

 

-26-

****


 


Update on America Unearthed gpr "Hit"

Posted by Jay Longley on July 19, 2014 at 8:20 PM Comments comments (0)

I was driving on Fisk Avenue in Downtown Brownwood this week when I passed the parking lot where Scott Wolter and his ground penetrating radar operator said that the gpr had indicated an anomaly that could have been a tunnel was 2.5 feet under the strip of grass beside the concrete parking lot. I noticed that there was a dark patch in the grassy area about where they had drawn off a rectangular section with orange spray paint before I arrived on the scene to film part of the Brownwood segment. The dark patch seemed to be the same size as the small area that had been spray painted so I drove behind the lot on Pecan Street, parked my car, and walked over to take a closer look. Sure enough, the ground had been disturbed sometime in the past few months but it was long enough in the past that some weeds had started growing over it where only grass had been the day we shot the segment. The rest of the small strip still was covered with the grass, just as it was last September.

As I said before, I never witnessed the gpr running so I can't say whether or not it was ever turned on during the 11 hours I was with the crew. I was always kept away from the gpr operation. The small area that had been outlined in orange paint was not over the spot where I believe the front loader operator's equipment had fallen through the tunnel entrance years ago. I believe that spot was under the concrete parking area and not under the grassy strip.

While Scott Wolter used the time period necessary in obtaining the proper permits to dig in the alleged gpr location as an excuse not to dig and see what, if anything, was 2.5 feet down, apparently someone else didn't need an excuse not to dig. Someone has dug up the spot fairly recently. Now the big question is who did it? By the way, permits have never been required to dig on private property downtown and I knew when Scott and the gpr operator started discussing that on camera, that it was just a dodge but it was not my place to object to the way he directed his own show.

~Jay~

My blog entry about my appearance on America Unearthed: Lincoln's Secret Assassins - http://knightsofthegoldencircle.webs.com/apps/blog/

Facts about My Appearance on America Unearthed

Posted by Jay Longley on May 25, 2014 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (2)

The Truth About My Appearance on America Unearthed: Lincoln's Secret Assassins - Season 2

In the months leading up to the filming of this episode, I was in regular contact with Committee Films and I spent many hours providing them with factual information regarding John Wilkes Booth's reported stay in Brownwood in 1871, Jesse Woodson James aka "J. Frank Dalton", Henry Ford of Brownwood, the locations of several entrances to the KGC Tunnel Network under Downtown Brownwood, and many other topics which they said they were interested in.  Most of that information and more can be found on this website.  I was with the crew in Downtown Brownwood for 11 hours in September 2013. Much of it was while being recorded as I gave as much information about the subjects as I could. They promised that they would return to Brownwood to do a much more detailed account but when the show aired in February, I was truly disappointed in the results. They made it look like I believed that our Henry Ford was Jesse James, which I don't believe and which I told them I didn't believe. I also told them that I believed "J. Frank Dalton" was and why. We spent a lot of time as I detailed the circular route of the KGC Tunnel Network under Downtown Brownwood too but when the show was edited, they took out the top half of the route which included me saying that one tunnel went from the Old County Jail (Museum) across Main Street to the old Ford School. My tunnel route was confirmed when Scott Wolter and I took a trip during a break in the filming to visit the Courthouse and the Old Jail. Nick, the Museum manager, took us under the old jail and showed us exactly where the tunnel was and it clearly led precisely to where I had told Scott it did. I didn't have my camera with me but Scott took some photos of it with his. After the show aired, I wrote to one of the contact people with the film production company that makes America Unearthed for the History Channel and asked for Scott Wolter's email address because I wanted him to send me some copies of the photos he took of the tunnel entrance. I never heard back from them again. Also, in the program, Scott says that they left the ground penetrating radar operator and equipment with me. That is simply not true. I met the gpr operator when he arrived from Ft. Worth about lunchtime as Scott, the sound and film crew and I were about to take a lunch break and he began scanning some of the areas while we were at lunch and when we were filming in other locations downtown so I never got to see him actually using the machine. Scott and the crew continued filming me until an hour or so after the gpr man had left to return to Ft. Worth late that afternoon. Their filming of the descendent of Gen. Joseph Shelby didn't happen until a day or two after they had shot the Brownwood part of the episode.  Scott Wolter made several inaccurate statements during the episode.  Many of them were done after the filming during the "editing" process.   I made one very clear and non-negotiable stipulation when I finally agreed to meet with Committee Films for the show.  That was that I would not say anything that I didn't believe was true or accurate and they assured me that they didn't want me to and that they would portray my statements accurately. Well, that's not the way it turned out but a few good things did come out of doing the show. One was that it put a brief spotlight on our town and county and another is that every time the show reruns, the viewership of our affiliated KGC and Bloody Bill Anderson websites skyrocket. Needless to say, I won't be doing any more tv shows based on our work here in the foreseeable future. I will say whatever I want the public to know about my beliefs about the KGC, Bill Anderson, Jesse James, and anything else on this message board, on the webs.com sites, and on other sites on the Internet. I may do some YouTube-type videos in the future but I haven't decided that yet.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bloodybillandersonmystery - My Yahoo group where we have been researching these topics since 2008.

http://browncountyhistory.org/bcmoh.html

Jay Longley

Brownwood, Texas

jay_longley@yahoo.com


Historical Tours of Brownwood & Brown County KGC Sites

Posted by Jay Longley on April 28, 2014 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (0)

After my appearance on H2 Channel's America Unearthed - Lincoln's Secret Assassins in February, 2014, interest in the Knights of the Golden Circle history has grown tremendously. I will be giving tours of some of the KGC historic sites in Brownwood and Brown County, Texas for people who want to learn more about the history of our town and county.  Several of the old stone buildings that the Knights constructed are still standing in Downtown Brownwood and they will be some of the highlights of your tour.  I will also answer any of your questions during the tour to the best of my ability.  Brownwood, Texas was a stronghold and safe haven for the Knights of the Golden Circle and for numerous famous outlaws of the time.  For tour prices and details, please email me at: jay_longley@yahoo.com


My Review of John H. Surratt's Diary

Posted by Jay Longley on February 19, 2014 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (2)

http://archive.org/stream/privatejournaldi00surr#page/n5/mode/2up

 

 

The most memorable part for me though was Surratt's recording of his relationship with John Wilkes Booth. Throughout the journal, he's telling us of Booth's involvement with the KGC as well as his own. I was most interested in learning all I could about Booth as I was aware of an old newspaper article about John Ravenswood who spent a year in Brownwood in 1871 and I've always been fascinated by the Lincoln Assassination. Here's our Bloody Bill Anderson Mystery group's post where I transcribed the article from an old local history book.

 

***

 

Hi members. I found this story many years ago when I first

read "Frontier's Generation" by Tevis Clyde Smith (Sr.), 1931, pages

46, 47, 48, & 49.

 

***

 

"And now we approach the Booth legend. Perhaps you have forgotten

the details of the story; let us go into it briefly:

Booth was not killed at the Garrett place by Boston Corbett; he made

his escape, drifted down to Mississippi, hid at the home of an uncle

until the broken bones in his leg knitted together: then he journeyed

to the Pacific slope, went from there to the South Seas, to India, to

Ceylon, back to North America, and to Mexico, where he became

embroiled in political intrigue; he would have lost his life there,

but someone saved him because he was a Catholic. Booth, disguised as

a priest, escaped from the country; he came to Texas, settled at

Granbury under the name of John St. Helen, and went into the saloon

business. But Booth took little interest in his saloon; he received

much money from some mysterious source, and spent most of his time

reciting Shakespeare. Becoming seriously ill, and thinking he was

about to die, he confessed to Judge Finis L. Bates of Granbury that

he was not John St. Helen, but in reality John Wilkes Booth. Bates

thought him delirious; Booth recovered, and moved to the Indian

Territory, where he took the name of David E. George. He committed

suicide at the Grand Avenue Hotel, in Enid, during the month of

January, 1903. Before his death, he told several people that he was

John Wilkes Booth. The Enid Wave printed the following story January

17, 1903.

 

'David E. George, a wealthy resident of the Territory, who committed

suicide here, on his death bed announced himself to be John Wilkes

Booth, the assassin of President Lincoln. He stated that he had

successfully eluded the officers after shooting Lincoln and since had

remained incognito. His statement caused an investigation. Surgeons

examined the body and stated the man to be of the age Booth would be

at this time, and that his leg was broken in the same place and in

the same manner as that of Booth after jumping from the president's

box at Ford's Theatre following the assassination. All the time

George has received money regularly from unknown sources. He had

previously attempted suicide at El Reno. It was at El Reno that Mrs.

Harper, who was mentioned in George's dying statement, had befriended

him and had listened to a similar supposed death bed confession. No

reason for the suicide is known. George maintained to the last to

his attendants that he was John Wilkes Booth, and his general

appearance closely resembles that of Booth.'

 

Bates, reading of George's death, took the train for Enid, and

identified David E. George as John St. Helen; he then had George

mummified, and placed on exhibition throughout the nation as the

assassin of President Lincoln. At the same time, he set to work on a

book, "The Escape and Suicide of John Wilkes Booth", which he

published in 1907. The book was read with avid interest throughout

the United States; Bates sold 75,000 copies.

The story died down, to leap into print from time to time. In 1920,

according to the Dearborn Independent, Bates tried to sell them the

body of George for one thousand dollars. The Independent took little

stock in Bates' story; deciding to investigate the facts, they sent a

reporter over the ground traversed by Bates; the reporter wrote his

observations, and the Independent editor filed them away. In 1924,

the story broke into print again, and in 1925, the Independent

published its 'exposure' of the legend. The series of articles, six

in number, were written by F.L. Black. Black claims that Booth was

killed at the Garrett place in Virginia; he says that it is all hokum

about no one knowing where Booth is buried - that he is interred in

the family burial plot; and he claims that the government, contrary

to Bates' statements, paid something like $75,000 in rewards to the

men who had a hand in the killing of the president's assassin.

There are two sides of the story. Many people believe Bates, others

discredit his version as a myth.

Booth, according to stories appearing in the local newspapers in December,

1922, is supposed to have spent the year 1871 in Brownwood; while

here, he went under the name of John Ravenswood. One day, he told

several friends that he was hiding under a pseudonym. 'My name is

not John Ravenswood,' he said; 'it is, in reality, John Wilkes

Booth.' Later, when he expressed a desire to go to the Indian

Nations, these friends, to show their sympathy for him, gave him a

horse, and money with which to buy supplies along his route. So John

Ravenswood left Brownwood; he never appeared here again. Instead, he

went to the Indian Nations, and committed suicide at Enid in 1903.

The author of this newspaper article concludes by asking if anyone in

this section remembers a man by the name of Ravenswood, who visited

this country between the years of '68 and '72.

Five days later, he gets startling results. A Brownwood woman, who

says she is a cousin of Booth's, tells him that Booth was not killed

by Corbett; Booth escaped, fled to Mexico, then came to Texas, where

he lived under the name of Ravenswood. While in the Lone Star state,

Booth ran a grocery store; then, he went to Oklahoma, and adopting

the name of Joseph Johnson, entered the dry goods business. On March

4, 1913, he died from pneumonia; a short time before his death, he

revealed his identity to his wife.

This woman tells the reporter that she knows beyond a shadow of a

doubt that Booth died in Enid in 1913; she has read letters from

Booth to another one of his cousins, Olivia Booth. These letters

must have been widely circulated, and Booth must have had a host of

cousins, because I have read of about fifty of these close relations

who have been favored by a glimpse at John's correspondence. But

regardless of this, according to the newspaper man, his informant has

vouched for the truth of the story, so there you are.

Unfortunately, I have been unable to find this lady, so I have not

traced this particular phase of the legend to my complete

satisfaction. But I have asked a number of oldtimers who were living

here in the sixties and the seventies if they remember a man named

Ravenswood. They reply that they do not - and all of them have

uncommonly sharp memories."

 

***

 

On pages 12 and 13 of Surratt's Journal, he tells of the horrible consequences he will face if it is discovered that he has written any information down about the Knights of the Golden Circle, their members, their organization, or their members. This part impressed me because it emphasized how important extreme secrecy was to the KGC. It also helped me better understand the one of the reasons some of the most mysterious men in Brown County, Texas including William C. "Bloody Bill" Anderson and Henry Ford refused to tell anyone (even their families) about their lives before coming to Brown County. Henry Ford went to his death(?) in 1910 without ever revealing anything about his past to anyone with the probable exception of other KGC members including Bill Anderson. Bill Anderson was just a secretive about his past until 1924 when he allowed Brownwood Banner-Bulletin writer Henry C. Fuller to do a series of interviews with him at his Salt Creek, Texas farm. This was several years after his second wife had died (1916) and the KGC had ceased all operations (1916 also). Still, Anderson never divulged any secrets about the Knights, their organization or activities. That these ex-guerrillas, KGC members, and a large number of ex-Confederates who sought refuge in Brownwood and Brown County still feared prosecution or even death at the hands of the Federal Government these many years later also helps explain the necessity of having an underground tunnel network so that they could freely travel without detection all around this KGC stronghold.

Beginning on page 11 of Surratt's Journal, he begins describing the people who were present at the Baltimore Castle of the KGC. This chapter impressed me greatly because revealed that some of the highest and most-respected leaders in the country were in attendance including cabinet members, judges, congressmen, actors, and editors. This gave me a clearer understanding about the KGC's influence and membership and erased whatever doubt I had that they not only had members in the Southern States but they had members in the highest levels of the Federal Government and military. Reading pages 16 and 17 helped me to understand that the KGC had the utmost respect for our Revolutionary heroes and even patterned themselves after them. During the Civil War, the KGC even changed its name to the Sons of Liberty after the Revolutionary Sons.

Chapter III of the Journal beginning on page 25 gives a lot of historical details about the KGC's plans and works before and after Lincoln's first inauguration and tells a lot about Booth and his relationship with "that woman" who Surratt felt was a severe threat to their plans. The rest of the journal deals with the intricate plans and activities of Booth, Surratt, and the Knights and the many frustrating obstacles and defeats they faced throughout the War. The entire journal makes it clear that it was the KGC's official plans that Lincoln be kidnapped, not killed.

On about page 60 through 62, Surratt explains the plans to infiltrate the Federal military or to encourage recruits to reconsider and back out of enlisting.

Chapter XIII, beginning on page 80 tells about Booth's desire to kill, not kidnap Lincoln. This of course is very important to anyone who seriously studies the ensuing assassination.

One of the most important phrases to me in the entire journal is when Surratt says, on page 94, "If he (Booth) takes the road planned out, he will certainly escape. This suggests what I believe really did happen, that is, that Booth did escape and was not killed in the barn.

jay_longley@yahoo.com 

 

America Unearthed - Lincoln's Secret Assassins

Posted by Jay Longley on February 12, 2014 at 5:55 PM Comments comments (4)

This Saturday night's America Unearthed show on H2 Channel will be about Lincoln's Secret Assassins and will delve into the Knights of the Golden Circle's part in the Assassination and other related topics. Part of it was filmed in my hometown of Brownwood in rural central Texas.

 

***

http://www.history.com/shows/america-unearthed/episodes Lincoln's Secret Assassins

 

Premiere Date:February 15, 2014 - 09:00-10:00PM ET

 

When Scott Wolter gets a call from his friend John DeSalvo, an avid collector of Abraham Lincoln memorabilia, he has no idea that he's about to embark on a quest to learn whether there were a lot more people than just John Wilkes Booth behind the assassination of one of America's most influential presidents. Evidence Wolter uncovers suggests Booth was part of an infamous group of Confederates who formed a secret society called the Knights of the Golden Circle; a group that included influential politicians and rogue raiders like Jesse James. The evidence Scott complies suggests a new twist on the motives behind Lincoln's killing, and takes him on a wild ride through the history of the South at the time of the Civil War as seen through the eyes of the Knights of the Golden Circle.

TVPG L Upcoming Airings:

 

 

 

•February 16, 2014 - 01:00-02:00AM ET

•February 22, 2014 - 11:00-12:00AM ET

•February 23, 2014 - 03:00-04:00AM ET

 

 

***

 

~ Jay Longley

Home - Knights of the Golden Circle

Home - William C. "Bloody Bill" Anderson

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bloodybillandersonmystery

John Wilkes Booth aka John Ravenswood in Brownwood, Texas

Posted by Jay Longley on December 25, 2013 at 9:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I found this story many years ago when I first
read "Frontier's Generation" by Tevis Clyde Smith (Sr.), 1931, pages
46, 47, 48, & 49.

"...Booth according to stories appearing in the local newspapers in December,
1922, is supposed to have spent the year 1871 in Brownwood; while
here, he went under the name of John Ravenswood. One day, he told
several friends that he was hiding under a pseudonym. 'My name is
not John Ravenswood,' he said; 'it is, in reality, John Wilkes
Booth.' Later, when he expressed a desire to go to the Indian
Nations, these friends, to show their sympathy for him, gave him a
horse, and money with which to buy supplies along his route. So John
Ravenswood left Brownwood; he never appeared here again. Instead, he
went to the Indian Nations, and committed suicide at Enid in 1903.
The author of this newspaper article concludes by asking if anyone in
this section remembers a man by the name of Ravenswood, who visited
this country between the years of '68 and '72.
Five days later, he gets startling results. A Brownwood woman, who
says she is a cousin of Booth's, tells him that Booth was not killed
by Corbett; Booth escaped, fled to Mexico, then came to Texas, where
he lived under the name of Ravenswood. While in the Lone Star state,
Booth ran a grocery store; then, he went to Oklahoma, and adopting
the name of Joseph Johnson, entered the dry goods business. On March
4, 1913, he died from pneumonia; a short time before his death, he
revealed his identity to his wife.
This woman tells the reporter that she knows beyond a shadow of a
doubt that Booth died in Enid in 1913; she has read letters from
Booth to another one of his cousins, Olivia Booth. These letters
must have been widely circulated, and Booth must have had a host of
cousins, because I have read of about fifty of these close relations
who have been favored by a glimpse at John's correspondence. But
regardless of this, according to the newspaper man, his informant has
vouched for the truth of the story, so there you are.
Unfortunately, I have been unable to find this lady, so I have not
traced this particular phase of the legend to my complete
satisfaction. But I have asked a number of oldtimers who were living
here in the sixties and the seventies if they remember a man named
Ravenswood. They reply that they do not - and all of them have
uncommonly sharp memories."

KGC, Catholic Church, & Knights Templar Connection?

Posted by Jay Longley on November 22, 2013 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (0)

This is part of a reply I made to another member of our Bloody Bill Anderson Mystery group on Yahoo today:

****

While I haven't found a direct tie between the Knights of Columbus and the Knights of the Golden Circle, there are good reasons to believe that the Catholic Church had at least some knowledge of the Lincoln Conspiracy.  There's a lot of "conspiracy theories" out there concerning this and they can be found online but the thing that raised red flags for me was the fact that when the conspirator John Surratt fled this country after the assassination of Lincoln, he was given a job with the Papacy in Rome.  He was finally arrested and brought back to face trial for his role in the plot but the jury let him go and he was never again prosecuted for his involvement.  Members can find the online version for "The Private Diary and Journal of John H. Surratt, the Conspirator" in our group's Links section and our Moderator Gayla McDowell read and placed the Transcripts of Surratt's trial either in our Links or Files section.  Some say that the Catholic Church was allied with the Confederacy but I don't know that for sure.  If the Church was, the possibility that the KGC had custody of at least a significant portion of the medieval Knights Templars' enormous treasure hoards becomes much more realistic.  If you believe that the medieval Templars had possession of the Church's most treasured relics including the Holy Grail and/or the Ark of the Covenant, the likelihood that these treasures made their way to America, later to be recovered by the KGC, makes a lot more sense. 

***

Brownwood, Texas - KGC Stronghold and Safe Haven

Posted by Jay Longley on October 5, 2013 at 7:45 PM Comments comments (2)

From: http://brownwoodbulletin.com

***

Brooke Smith's historic memories published in 1939
Brown County History
Published: Sunday, March 16, 2008 8:05 AM CDT
Alene Drinkard

"Memoirs of Brooke Smith" was published by the Brownwood Banner in
1939; Jim C. White, publisher. Brooke Smith stated that "Brown County
had a population of 700 when we opened our store in 1876."

"Brownwood had five or six general merchandise stores, with small to
moderate stocks; one drug store, a meat market, a restaurant, a
blacksmith's shop, two saloons, three or four family boarding houses
and hotels, a few lawyers, doctors and preachers. There were no
railroads nearer than Waco, Fort Worth and Austin. Transporation of
persons was mainly by horseback or in wagons, mails by stage lines
and freighting by horse, mule or ox teams. "In addition to the cash
business, there was much barter and trade in those days, and our
effort was to buy everything that the people brought to sell, and to
sell them everything that we could that they wanted to buy. Ours was
a "general store"; we carried a full line of dry goods and groceries,
and we specialized in staple hardware, and soon added a stock of
wagons, buggies and farm implements, and we also specialized in good
saddles, harness and ranch equipment.

"Banking was an unexpected development of a new business demanded by
people. When we engaged in business we did not apprehend that we
would soon be in the banking business, and we had no such intentions,
but the banking business `was thrust upon us.' Almost daily and many
times a day different people would come to us with checks that they
wanted cashed, and we could generally accomodate them, and if the
check was larger than the cash we could spare, they would say, `Just
let me have a part of it and I will get the balance some other time.'
In this way we would have several thousand dollars of depositor's
money.

"On the first day of July 1876, we opened the `Pecan Valley Bank.' In
those days anyone could open a private bank and there were no
restrictions placed upon them. From the beginning our business grew
and grew, and in a few months I had to have a bookkeeper. One man
could not do all the work. That was before the days of typewriters,
posting machings and adding machines; all the work had to be done by
pen and ink.

"We bought an immense safe, fire and burglar proof, six feet high,
four feet wide and three feet deep, with a heavy burglar proof chest
inside, double combination locks, and as a precaution against
robbery, I could unlock to the books and records, and Stefens could
unlock the money chest. In this way we felt very secure, as the only
way we could be robbed was to have both of us at the unlocking. Our
deposits steadily increased until there were times that we could have
more than $50,000 in currency in the safe. I fixed in the safe secret
receptacles where money could be concealed, and in addition to this
we had a small safe at Mr. Steffen's residence, which no one knew we
had, and it was cased in and under the washstand in his room. In this
little safe we kept a very large amount of currency, known to us
only. We were never robbed, but used every precaution.

"The bank was in a back corner in the store; the large safe resting
on a brick foundation. We would work at the store late into the
nights, and when going home time came, one of us would get his six
shooter and go out, and the other one would have his six shooter and
put out the lights and lock the door; then we would start on home,
Indian file, one forty or fifty steps behind the other so that no one
could `get the drop' on both of us.

Alene Drinkard's Brown County History column appears in the Brownwood
Bulletin the first and third Sunday of each month. She may be reached
at 646-7389.
***

~Jay~

jay_longley@yahoo.com

"Memorable events in the life of Captain Jason W. James"

Posted by Jay Longley on June 10, 2012 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (4)

I've just finished reading the online version of one of Captain Jason W. James's  very rare books, "Memorable events in the life of Captain Jason W. James".  It's his autobiography which covers his childhood, service to the Confederacy, his time as a Texas Ranger, and the later years of his life.  I've placed the link for this book in this website's Links section and I highly recommend it.


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