Chasing Our Tales: A Hangin' in Young County

The historical marker at the Young County Jail in Graham, Texas, states the following:

“This jail was built with two stories in 1878. The jailer lived downstairs, and above were two cells--one with a steel cage for maximum security. There were many dramatic jailbreaks, with lives lost on both sides of the law. In 1881, killer Jack Post, the only man legally hanged in this county, rode from the jail astride his coffin. The five Marlow brothers broke out in 1888, causing a major shootout and manhunt. The property was phased out as a jail in 1921, and saw many changes in use and appearance before being bought by Kelley B. King in 1975.”

Young County was part of our wild and wooly frontier days in Texas, and although the Indian fights were on the down turn in 1881, Jack Post was hung for the murder of G. B. McDermott. He and his brother, Nelson (Nels), were accused of murdering G.B. McDermot, who was found with a crushed skull in a ravine. Nelson Post was given a life term, and Jack Post was given the death penalty. Jack Post made several attempts to break out of jail.

On 28 October 1881, it was estimated that over one thousand people, one of the largest crowds ever to assemble in Graham, watched. Jack Post rode on his coffin in the back of a wagon to the scaffold on the bank of Salt Creek, near the Rock Hole crossing. He appealed to his lawyer, C.W. Johnson, to help him, but Johnson just replied, “Go to hell, Jack. We’ve gone as far as we can go.”

When Jack Post arrived at the scaffold, he was in store for yet more bad luck because of a greenhorn hangman. He refused to make a last-minute statement, always asserting his innocence. The hangman’s rope broke, and Post had to be hung twice.

His brother, Nelson, contracted tuberculosis in prison and was pardoned. He confessed that it was he who was the murderer, not Jack. Too late they discovered that they had hanged the wrong man.

Jack was then buried in an unmarked grave in the old Eastside cemetery, also known as Boot Hill, in eastern Graham. While he was the only man legally hung in Young County, there may have been other hanging not brought about by legal means.

In June 1881, the McDonald brothers, Dee and Nick, and their cousin Pete were apprehended for the murder of J.E. Martin, Postmaster and merchant of Belknap. On 1 January 1882, all three unsuccessfully attempted to escape from the Young County Jail and were killed in a shootout in the alley behind the jail. All three are buried in unmarked graves in the old Eastside Cemetery, as well.

One of the most sensational outlaw incidents in Young County was that of the Marlow Brothers, 1888-1890. There are at least four published books and a movie, The Sons of Katie Elder, based on this incident.

Marlow, Oklahoma, was named for Dr. William W. Marlow, the father of these illustrious Marlow Brothers, George, Charley, Alfred, Lewelleyn (Epp), and Boone who moved from western Oklahoma to Fort Sill due to a rough winter. An Indian accused one of the brothers, George, of stealing a horse. The story soon escalated and an arrest warrant was issued for all the brothers. The warrant was issued by the Northwest Federal District Court in Graham and was to be served by Federal Deputy Marshal E.W. Johnson, who brought all the brothers, but George, in to stand trial.

George went into Graham to visit his brothers. He was arrested, and all but Boone then bonded out. However, later Boone was bonded out, but soon Sheriff Marion D. Wallace and Tom Collier, Deputy Sherif,f went to take him back in. At that point, Boone killed Wallace.

Charley, George, Alfred, and Epp were once more arrested, and in January of 1889 a mob attempted to break the brothers out of jail to hang them. This attempt was thwarted.

The law in Graham decided to move the brothers to Dallas by way of Weatherford. The four Marlow brothers, along with two other prisoners, were transferred during the dark of night. They were held by Deputy Marshal Johnson and several other guards.

The group was ambushed by a mob, and a gun battle began. Alfred and Epp Marlow were killed, andt Charley and George were each chained to a dead brother. They cut off the feet of the corpses with their pocketknives and escaped. According to accounts from the incident "thirteen men, killed and wounded were lying along the road."

Boone, who was murdered in Oklahoma Territory (he was first poisoned and then his body shot), along with his brothers Llewellen (Epp) and Alfred Marlow are buried in Finis Cemetery.

Young County certainly has a colorful past!

Now for some correspondence:

“I have finally found the webpages about our ancestors: , with pictures of some. Mainly Jesse and Mary Crow Garland, their daughter, Moriah Jane Garland Horton, her husband on the second page, William Batts Horton, a plantation owner of South Carolina. Lon Outen wrote a lot of the history about this family, the Hortons, from whom he descends. He still lives in Kershaw, SC, and when one talks to him those old magnolia blossoms just drop off his way of talking, sounding like the true "Southern Gentleman" that I know he is. Ralph Avery Phillips, another cousin of the old South, in Charlotte, NC, sounds somewhat similar when you talk to him.

“In the pictures of the ladies in the first page, notice their hair style that seems to be maintained their entire life. Pictures of Rochella Blair Horton, if all are she, were taken when she was younger, the other three pictures on the first page somehow don’t appear to be the same person. A word of warning to the young male swains in the family, when you fall for a pretty young maiden, be sure to check out the mother, for that’s what your blushing bride may look like in 30 years.

“There is another website somewhere out there that tells of Jesse and Mary Crow, and that Jesse was a slave owner, as was Moriah Jane Horton, in her day. Lots of interesting history about the war of the rebellion and how it affected the Hortons, Blairs and about Sherman's march to the sea…Noel Garland,”

“I am searching for Sarah Ann Post (age 69) widow of Martin Post is listed in the 1880 Young county/Graham census . Listed with her is daughter Mary Francis age 30. In July 1885 Mary F Post and E H Wheeler applied for a marriage license, but it was never used. What happened to Sarah Ann and her daughter Mary Francis? M. H. Shearer”

“The Rodgers family and the Chick family lived in and around Young County, Texas. Anyone having info on them, please send it. Also am looking for books..."Possum Kingdom Country" copyright 1978 and "History of Palo Pinto County (Word of Mouth Family History)" copyright 1978. Have a copy of "Scrapbook of Young County A Pictorial History", "History of Palo Pinto County Texas" copyright 1986 and "Possum Kingdom Journal Vol.1". Does anyone know the history of Chick Bend that was (is?) on the Brazos River? Chick, “

The Little Rock Schoolhouse Museum in Mineral Wells is looking for information on Christine Barker Blackerby Donald, wife of J. M. Donald. If you have information, please let us know!


Susan said…
Where do you find out all this stuff? Are there really great records to research? This is amazing!

We're somewhat south of Midland, right now - 40 miles south of Uvalde, in fact, in Crystal City. Love it here, but it's been a rainy couple of days, and one more to go.

I don't know if we'll get any further east than San Antonio this year, but I do know we'll get that far, somewhere in the beginning of April.

Thinking of going to the Ogallala quilt show in Dimmit, but not for sure, yet.
PEA said…
Wow, Young County certainly does have quite the history! I so enjoyed reading all the history behind it...I think I'm glad I wasn't born in the "cowboy" days! lol xoxox
Tracey said…
Interesting read. Too bad about Jack. I guess that's why they tell us we're judged by the company we keep? No doubt Jack had a few crimes under his belt as well...
Anonymous said…
Jack Post was hung three times according to Young County's commissioner reports. Third time did the trick. There are four eye witness accounts of the story. I'm interested in your source for your information. Some of your story sounds like 2-3 books that were written about Young County History back in the 1970s.

There's much, much more to the story.

Dorman Holub
Chairman, Young County Historical Commission
Anonymous said…
Kelly and I were wondering where that plack was moved to. We were looking for it, this summer. He was pointing out where he watched a Texas Ranger shoot an escaping convict, that was about to kill the officer that had him in custody.

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