Clippings show county’s rough-and-tumble roots

Posted 5/12/20

Recently I discovered two collections of interesting old newspaper clippings about the Madisonville area.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Clippings show county’s rough-and-tumble roots


Recently I discovered two collections of interesting old newspaper clippings about the Madisonville area.

For decades after the Civil War, Madison County was reputed to be wild and wooly, unsafe for average folks. Earlier Musings detailed evidence of some incidents which are therefore left out here, but there is more proof below. Some reported local fires, which have always plagued us.

For the next few weeks, I’d like to share my favorite stories about shootings, stabbings and even a couple that made me laugh. The stories are titled like the originals, and listed in chronological order, noting the publications that printed them.

“Another Man Shot,” from the March 9, 1854, issue of Texas Ranger out of Washington, Texas, stated “Here is another Texas item of the shady sort, which we clip from the Leon Pioneer of the 1st inst.: ‘We understand that Mr. E. T. Robinson, of this place, was shot at Madisonville, Madison County, Monday evening, the 27th, and dangerously if not fatally wounded. He was shot by a Mr. McIver of that county, who also, had his arm broken. As we have not heard the full particulars of this melancholy occurrence, we forebear further comments.’”

“Another Murder,” in the July 27, 1854, edition of Texas Ranger, read “We learn from Antonio Rivers that James Wiseman was killed at Madisonville on Monday evening last, by a man by the name of Nash. Nash, it seems, kept a grocery, and young Wiseman, for he was but a youth of some sixteen summers, called at his shop about sundown to request his two uncles who were there, to accompany him to supper. Being invited to participate in a drink by some of the party, he unavoidably spilled some bitters upon the counter, for which trifling offence Nash drew his knife and inflicted a wound in the region of the heart, which produced death almost instantaneously. Nash was immediately arrested, and while under strict guard on Tuesday night, was shot by someone (in the dark) in the back with nine buckshot, four of which passed entirely through the body. As last account, he was alive, though his physician was of opinion that he could live but a short time.”

“Terror in Texas,” in the Jan. 26, 1888, issue of the Brenham Weekly Banner, related “Madisonville, Tex., Jan 5 - A body of armed citizens calling themselves Reformers, shot and killed "Bill" Bolo Tuesday night while he was standing on the steps of Viser's drug store, and then hanged "Red" Paige and another man. Bolo and his friends were opposed to the reform crowd and were in favor of maintaining liquor saloons. Sheriff Black has applied to Governor Ross for troops. A state of terror prevails. Since the killing of Bobo and the hanging of Page, peace again reigns supreme at Madisonville.” (Note that twice it says Bolo and last Bobo, and first it says Paige and last Page. I sure don’t know but our county history book tells something similar about Red Page.)

“Stabbed to Death,” from the Aug. 2, 1900, edition of The Houston Post, headlined “Madisonville, Texas, July 30,” included “In a difficulty at a dance in the edge of town Saturday night, Wall McDonald was stabbed and died about an hour later. There are some conflicting reports. The parties were the best of friends to the time of the difficulty, and reside here. No arrests have yet been made.”

“Big Fire at Madisonville,” in the Sept. 13, 1901, issue of The Bryan Eagle, reported “Madisonville, Texas, September 11. At 12:30 this morning, fire broke out in the Parten building and could not be checked until $25,000 worth of property was destroyed, about one-third of which was covered by insurance. The following is a list of the losses: O.A. Parten building, loss $3,000, insurance $1,000. Dean and Dean General Merchandise, loss $10,000, insurance $2,500. W.L. Turner, Meteor Office, loss $2,000, insurance $1,000. W. T. Hawkins, Groceries, loss $1,200, insurance $600. W.A. Price, saddler, loss $10,000, insurance $5,000. J.M. Brownlee law library, loss $500. The Eagle deeply sympathizes with Editor Turner in the loss of his office, which is more to be regretted at this time in view of the fact that the busy season is at hand. He will doubtless re-establish his plant at the earliest possible moment.” That was followed by “Notice by W. L. Turner: W.L. Turner, editor of the Madisonville Meteor, requests the Eagle to announce that although he was burned out, he will be in Bryan today to make arrangements for the publication of the Meteor right along without missing an issue, until he can get a new office put in. He will print all of his Bryan advertisements, and others as well, and mail the paper to all of his subscribers, as usual.”

“Barn at Madisonville,” from the Feb. 20, 1904, issue of The Houston Post, reported “Madisonville, Texas, February 19: The barn belonging to the Brizzolari Hotel caught fire and burned in a few minutes. No insurance.” (There is a reason for variations in spelling of Brizzolari/Brizzolara. David Brizzolari (1838-1902) came to Texas from Italy at the age of 16. After spending some time in Houston and marrying there, he moved his family here where he ran a saloon for six years and the hotel for 23. In 1903 the family began ending their surname with the letter a. His tombstone has Brizzolari and his wife’s, Brizzolara.)

Madison County Museum, at 201 N. Madison Street, is usually open to the public Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. In these unique times, it’s best if you call ahead, 936.348.5230, if you hope to visit. You may wish to support the Museum by giving your time as a volunteer or with a monetary donation (P.O. Box 61, Madisonville, TX 77864).