1906 Menardville Texas killing of Tom Turner, hotel man
After a decade long search for information on my husband’s great-grandfather Thomas Augustus “Tom” Turner; father of Mayme Louise Turner Wilkinson, wife of Wilson Lamar Wilkinson, I have finally found enough information to write a blog post. I found some distant cousins on the Internet that helped with some of the search.
T. A. “Tom” Turner was shot and killed by William Bevans, Sr. on Monday, August 6, 1906, inside the Cottonwood Saloon downtown Menardville, Texas, at 4 o’clock. The only reason known was, “after an argument earlier that morning.” Many different stories are rumored as to the true reason of the shooting. Ruling was accidental even though he was shot by Bevans with a Colt 45 that had to have the hammer pulled back in order to fire…and said it was accidental!
The Houston Post, 8 Aug 1906
Galveston Daily News 8 Aug 1906
Fort Worth Star-Telegram 10 Aug 1906
I have a copy of Cause No. 727, State of Texas vs. Wm. Bevans, In the District Court of Menard County, Texas, November Term, A. D., 1906, of the Habeas Corpus trial on the 15th November, 1906, filed November 19, 1906. It does not contain any reference to findings of the court, but Mr. Bevans was not punished in any way.
The Menardville Banker Found Not Guilty
Hon. C. H. Jenkins returned last night from Menardville, where he has been for the past week as counsel for the defense in the case of the State vs. Billy Bevans, charged with the murder of a man named Turner at Menardville more than a year ago. The case was concluded Friday at 3 o’clock and the jury was out only a short while and returned a verdict of not guilty. The case has attracted unusual attention on account of the prominence of the defendant, Billy Bevans, who is one of the most prominent bankers and cattlemen of the Southwest. The testimony in the case showed that trouble came up between Bevans and Turner on the day of the big overflow of the San Saba river at that place. There was much drinking in the town that day and several quarrels. Bevans had been instrumental in keeping down trouble several times. Turner passed Bevans, who was standing in front of his bank, and made some kind of an insulting remark, being at the time under the influence of liquor. Words passed between the two men and finally Bevans struck Turner. Officers interfered and the trouble was averted for the time. The two men met again and a knife and a gun were drawn. Bevans struck Turner over the head with the gun and in a manner thought to have been accidental, the weapon was discharged and Turner was killed. Mr. Bevans is a highly respected citizen of the Menardville country and Mr. Turner was an agreeable man when not under the influence of liquor “Brownwood Bulletin.”
The Abilene Daily, Reporter, Thursday, April 25, 1907
I understand from rumors that the day William Bevans Sr. was on his deathbed August 19, 1937, he was still being haunted by the ghost of Tom Turner; Bevans kept yelling at the foot of his bed; “Make Tom Turner go away!”
Turner Hotel Boarding House photo from The Portal of Texas
Thomas Augustus Turner was born in Panola, Texas, May 1844 (unknown date) and was the youngest of eight children of John Henry Turner and wife Mary Elizabeth Alexander. His family came to Texas from Alabama where all his siblings were born. His father, John Henry was a farmer and age 56 in the 1850 census in Panola Texas with his wife, Elizabeth age 49 with son Allen G, Delaney age 19 and Elijah P. age 16 then Thomas age 6.
John Henry married Elizabeth Alexander on 12th June 1818 in Madison county, Alabama, per the Orphan’s Court. It also shows her name to be Elizabeth D. on the record. I am unaware why this is the name of the court.
From an Internet Cousin: Five Turner brothers all served in the military. The Turner Brothers
Brother 1: Richard H. Turner living in Llano, TX. I am told he enlisted with his brothers and died after having his leg amputated. But have found nothing else on him.
Brother 2: Allen George Turner b. 1829 Turner, Allen G. Pvt. Comm. Off. Mabry, Seth Capt. Co. E, Llano Co., Allen’s Regt. TVI, 31st Brig, CSA. Ap. 1-62 in Llano Co., Mus. in Ap. 4-62 at Camp Terry, 4th Military sub-division, Age 33, R and F; En. Off. Capt. Mabry; Mus. Off. Col. R. T. P. Allen: Elec. certif. with roll; 2MR, 1 dtd. Je. 7-62 and 1 undtd.
Allen George died from the measles outbreak and his family is listed on the indigent list of Llano Co.
Brother 3: Delaney Washington Turner
Turner, Delaney W., Pvt, Mabry, Seth, Capt., Co. E, Llano Co., Allen’s Regt. TVI, 31st Brig., CSA; Ap 1-62 in Llano Col; mus. in Ap. 4-62 in Llano Co., at Camp Terry, Age 31; R and F 86; En. Off. Capt. Mabry; Mus. Off. Col. R. T. P. Allen; elec. certif. with roll; 2 MR, 1 dtd. Je. 7-62 and 1 undtd. Name not on undtd. roll.
Delaney W. Turner died November 9, 1862 at Camp Nelson, Ark. of the measles outbreak. His family is also listed on the indigents list of Llano Co., TX.
Fourth Brother: Elizah Portor Turner
Turner, E. P. Pvt. Barton, Decator, 1st Lieut. Co. No. 1, Prec. No. 1, McCulloch Co., 31st Bvg, 2nd Frontl Dist. TST, Roll dated Ma. 12-64, Age 27; R and F; Rifle and Six-shooter.
Fifth Brother: Thomas Augustus Turner
Tom Turner was a member of the Company E, Frontier Regiment of the Texas State Troops under Captain N. D. McMillin. On April 2, 1862, Company E had a fight with Indians. On April 2, Thomas was slightly wounded with an arrow across the shoulders with the Indians.
Elijah Portor Turner (1836-1904) and wife Nancy Rebecca Preslar (1843-1924) and their youngest Ava Ophelia, Marshall Lee and Myrtle c1894.
Here is the only photo of Thomas Augustus “Tom” Turner with his hand on his hip, standing in front of the Benchoff Building in Menardville, Texas prior to August 1906, even though it’s marked 1907.
Thomas Augustus Turner was born in May 1844 in Fort Worth, Texas, his father, John, was 50 and his mother, Elizabeth, was 43. He married Mary Elizabeth Betty (Bettie) Watson in 1867. He was a member of Texas State Troops (TST) and was wounded by an Indian arrow in 1862. He and Bettie had seven children in 24 years and was in the 1900 census in Menardville. (Only 5 lived to adulthood). He was shot and killed on August 6, 1906, in Menardville, Menard County, Texas, at the age of 62 by William Peter Bevans, Sr. (1860-1937), trail driver, pioneer stockman, Banker-President of First State Bank of Menard which became Bevans State Bank.
Unfortunately, I still have many historical details unknown; no death certificate, where is Tom buried; where is his wife Bettie buried?
Would love to hear from anyone with additional information about this part of Menard history.