The Comanche Chief, Comanche, Texas, 10 July 1880

Local Matters

A Worthy Object

A liberal sum of money has been subscribed by the citizens of our town for the benefit of Mrs. McKEE, the widow of the man who was so brutally murdered.

Scholastic Population

According to the assessment rolls for 1880, the scholastic population of Comanche county sums up 1358 white and 11 colored children between the ages of eight and fourteen years.

A Mean Trick

Last Sunday some villian shot a horse belonging to Wm. BELL, which was quietly grazing on the range north of town, away from anybody’s house or field. It was a most contemptible trick.

A Horse Thief Sent Up

We had the pleasure of meeting Mr. J.D. TRUSTY, who was just returning from Cleburne, where he had been to give in evidence against one W.M. THOMSON, alias William Thomas THOMPSON, who stole two horses from Mr. TRUSTY on Blanket creek, on the line of this and Brown county, and was followed and captured in Johnson county. THOMSON was sent up for ten years.


The little boy of Mr. ALEXANDER’s who fell from a tree several weeks ago, at Mr. J.D. [illegible] residence, and broke his thigh is able to walk out on crutches.

Mr. E.L. SHROPSHIRE has returned from the Cincinnati convention. He was accompanied by his accomplished wife and child, who have been absent for some time on a visit to [illegible].

The Hibarger Murderers

As soon as Sheriff CUNNINGHAM learned of the murder of Mr. HIGHBARGER, he took Deputy YATES and ex-Sheriff F.E. WILSON and started in pursuit. They found the tracks of the horses near where the old man met his tragic end, and started off on the trail at once. They followed this trail for miles and miles—out of Comanche, through Erath, Eastland, Stephens, Shackleford, Palo Pinto and Jack counties—occasionally hearing of the game from citizens along the road. From Griffin to Breckenridge and back to Griffin, where they lost all trail and had to give up the chase. They followed the trail over two hundred miles, and the distance and speed at which they traveled was clearly shown by the jaded condition of their horses when they returned. Our officers deserve the highest praise for the promptness and energy of their action, and it is to be hoped their vigilance will yet lead to the apprehension and capture of the parties who perpetrated the henious crime.

Preliminary Trial. Rape and Murder. An Exhaustive Examination. Five Days Consumed in Examining Witnesses.

In last week’s issue we have an account of the perpetration, in this county, of the horrible crime of rape upon Mrs. W.J. McKEE and the subsequent murder of her husband by some unknown parties. The young men arrested, Mack O’DELL and Henry TATE, were brought to town, Saturday, and lodged in jail until Monday, when they were put upon trial for the crime of rape. After two days trial, Justice BROWN deemed the evidence sufficient, and bound the parties over to await the action of the grand jury, in a bond of $1,000 each.

The same parties were then put upon trial for the murder of the man McKEE, and after the first day, James O’DELL, a brother of Mack O’DELL, was also arrested upon the same charge.

On Thursday, TATE was released on a bond of $250, and on Friday the two O’DELLs were allowed bail in the sum of $1000, and in default of which were sent to jail.

In the first case the evidence was not at all positive, but still of a very strong character, the lady not being sure of their identity, and swearing only to the best of her knowledge.

In the murder case the matter was sifted to the very bottom, there being some thirty or forty witnesses examined, and the evidence was thought sufficient to bind the parties over.

We do not wish to say anything that would militate against the parties on final trial, which we trust may be fair, and their guilt or innocence be fairly established. As to young TATE there was little or no evidence pointing to his guilt on the charge of murder, and the small bail required in his case was a mere matter of formality.

We listened to the entire evidence of Mrs. McKEE, and must say we never heard testimony given more succinctly, clearly, and bearing more the semblance of truth. Modest in deportment, she bore the fire of a cross-examination for several hours without apparent confusion and without a single conflict in her testimony. What carried conviction of the truthfulness of her story was the absence of all attempts at exaggeration.


©2004 Judith Michaels.  This transcription is the generous work of Judy Michaels taken from microfilm held by the Newspaper Collection of the University of Texas at Austin with a microfilm copy at Comanche Public Library.  The information may be used for personal research only and not for commercial purposes without specific permission.