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133 chapter 10 “Shooting Each Other With Renewed Energy” On October 29 Lucia Holmes noted in her diary that “Old Man” Miller was shot at dark.1 Writing from Fredericksburg one correspondent erroneously reported that “reliable information from Mason” told of the killing of a “Mr. Martin.”2 Two days later the same paper corrected itself, stating in part that “The Fredericksburg correspondent of the Freie Presse mentions the killing of a Mr. Mueller in Mason.”3 Gamel also recalled the man as Miller but provides no first name. Contemporary records indicate that the man was J. P. Miller.4 Miller had been assigned the task of constructing the coffins for the men lynched in February but was never paid for his work. When Charley Johnson was arrested, he had a “fine pearl handled 45 Colts sixshooter” that was taken from him. How Miller came into possession of the pistol is unknown, but he decided to keep it in payment for his work. When Johnson wanted the weapon back, he asked Tom Gamel to get it for him. Miller refused, claiming that it was his payment for time and materials. Johnson worked for Gamel long enough to earn money for a new pistol, then rode to Miller’s and asked him if he had a good pistol available. Miller responded that he had had one but sold it. “The one I’ve got is alright [sic],” returned Johnson. He then drew and shot Miller as he turned to run. Only the intervention of Miller’s wife prevented Johnson from killing him.5 Gamel’s account is substantially the same as appeared in the San Antonio Daily Express. 134 Chapter 10 Last week a man called at the house of one Miller, a gunsmith in Mason and asked for a pair of gun-barrells [sic] which had been left with him a number of months previous. As Miller turned to get the gun-barrels , the visitor shot him through the right shoulder, and hastily decamped. This occurred in the town of Mason, about dark one evening last week, but no one seems to know or is willing to venture an opinion, as to why the deed was perpetrated, and from what I could learn this seems also to be the case in all these murders.6 Correspondence from Dan Roberts at this time indicates that there may have been a far different motive for the shooting. Desperadoism has somewhat ceased. The old man— Miller (who had charge of Coke when he escaped) was shot at his house in Mason County a few days after you started up the line, but was not Killed. It was said to be Johnson who shot him. Scott Cooley was in Menardville a few days since—called at the Blacksmiths to get his horse shod early in the morning -- told him to do the job quick and left immediately . Said he was going to Kicapoo . . . .7 Another correspondent who signed himself ALIZAN quoted a letter stating that Miller was seventy-two years old, which is hardly likely if he was riding in a posse in pursuit of Scott Cooley, and that Miller “detested these thugs, and had to suffer for it.”8 November 1875 began with a rumor that the “Germans and Americans” had had a fight near Spring Ranch in Comal County which resulted in one man being killed and several badly wounded .9 The rumor was apparently false, but it was not promising when District Court opened on November 8. Lucia Holmes noted that her husband was busy all day. Among his cases was one against Benjamin Franklin “Frank” Bolt for forgery. Bolt was indicted on October 2, but details of the case against the eighteen-year-old are lacking.10 135 “Shooting Each Other With Renewed Energy” Among those who visited Mason during November was a correspondent to the Austin Statesman who identified himself as Peter. Writing from Fredericksburg on November 12, Peter reported under the headline THE UNCIVIL WAR IN MASON that: The condition of affairs in Mason county is truly deplorable. We found the court in session at Mason, Hon. W. W. Martin presiding, but there was nobody in attendance except those who were compelled to be there. The people of the county are so equally divided, actively or in sympathy, between the prominent agitators of the local quarrel, that it is feared a grand jury cannot be formed to indict, or a petit jury to convict, and those...


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