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Orville Rogers… a Man from Hubbard, Texas

There was no better Christian life to write about last year—and celebrate—than that of Orville Rogers, who died in November at the age of 101. His life story embodied the positive and profound role faith plays for a very large number of Americans. (Newsweek)

Orville Rogers was born in Hubbard, Texas, in 1917, but it didn’t take long for life to deliver its first body blow. “My father deserted my mother, my sister and me when I was 6 years old, so I grew up in the home of my grandparents,” Rogers recalled. His grandfather, a farmer, wasn’t a particularly affectionate man. “He was not loving in an obvious way,” Rogers explained. “I knew my grandfather loved me, but he never told me so. But it worked out OK because I eventually came to the realization that it was just his way.

“Growing up in Oklahoma, a young Rogers was obsessed with flight. “I’d wanted to be a pilot since I knew what an airplane was,” Rogers told Philanthropy magazine in 2017. “I was named for Orville Wright, after all.”Two experiences as a young man changed his life. “In 1927, Charles Lindbergh flew the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic. Afterwards, he made a tour of the United States and deliberately circled as many school houses as he could,” Rogers explained. “He circled around mine.”

Then came his first ride in an airplane. “I was 10 or 11 years old, and I was in the yard, and a plane flew over very low, and it looked like he was going to be landing, and sure enough he landed, and I talked to him, and he told me he was giving rides for $4,” Rogers gushed. “So I went home, broke my piggy bank and came back and got my first airplane ride. I didn’t tell my parents until much later. It was a wonderful experience and cemented my idea of becoming a pilot.”His is a remarkable life and a remarkable story and it all began here in Hubbard, Texas.

You can read about him in Newsweekhttps://www.newsweek.com/man-mission-orville-rogers… or check out his video biography here as well: Flying High for the Glory of God. He passed away at the age of 101 in 2019, Pilot and world champion runner Orville Rogers trained bomber pilots in World War II, flew the B-36 on secret missions during the Korean Conflict, ferried airplanes to remote Baptist missions all over the world, and managed to squeeze in a thirty-one-year career as a pilot with Braniff Airways. As if that wasn’t enough, Orville took up running at age fifty-one and ran his first marathon six years later. At age ninety he broke two world records. He holds 15 World records. And it all began in Hubbard, Texas. https://youtu.be/UkAC1XCMj_o.

Orville Rogers
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The Hill County Vixen Who Tried to Snag a Vanderbilt-Whitney (1920’s)

Looking on the map, the ghost town of Huron, Texas, which used to be a town here in Hill County, Texas, is just a dot on the map. Huron is on Farm Road 933 fifteen miles northwest of Hillsboro in northwestern Hill County. The site was settled sometime after the Civil War, when Huron Gist arrived and established a general store for area farmers. Soon thereafter, a stone gristmill was added and later a church and a three-room schoolhouse. When residents applied for a post office branch, they submitted the name Huron in honor of Gist. The post office operated at Huron from 1897 to 1904. In 1918 the old Huron schoolhouse burned and was replaced by a more modern building. There are few reliable population statistics available for the community, but apparently its population never exceeded fifty.  Cedar Creek Baptist Church is there as well as a few homes. This is where Evan Burrows Fontaine was born on October 2, 1898.

Fawn aka Evan Burrows Fontaine

With a name like Evan Burrows Fontaine, she had to become famous, or infamous. The Fontaine family didn’t stay long in Huron, and by 1900, they had moved on to Dallas, Texas to live with her Mother’s family, the Evans clan. Her father was a Bookkeeper and her Grandfather sold insurance and they ran a boarding house. Just your average middle class family of the times. According to sources, she was trained in dancing by the famous DeShawn and she and her mother, Florence Fonatine, had moved to New York by the time she was 15 to pursue a career and so they did!

1916 San Francisco Chronicle

By 1915 she was living with her mother in New York City and that at an early age she traveled to California where she became a protégée of dancer Ruth St. Denis. She studied and performed with the touring Denishawn Company of Vaudeville dancers. She then embarked on her own solo Vaudeville tour in 1916, supported by Kenneth Harlan, later to be a film star. Vaudeville led quite naturally to Broadway revues, and she appeared in Ziegfeld’s Nine O’Clock Revue (1919-1920) and Ed Wynn’s Carnival (1920). She next appeared in three silent films, Women Men Love, Madonnas and Men, and A Romantic Adventuress, all released in 1920. Her time in the sun was to be short-lived however thanks to an affair she had with the millionaire Cornelius “Sonny” Vanderbilt Whitney, resulting in divorce from her husband Sterling Lawrence Adair (a young sailor from Houston, Texas whom she met on a train in 1917 and married in 1918; the marriage was annulled in 1920. He committed suicide soon thereafter). Fontaine bore a son in 1920 whom she claimed was Whitney’s, resulting in a breach of promise suit against Whitney which Fontaine lost at considerable cost to herself, financial and otherwise.

1922 Scandal!

She later married a former Olympic swimmer, Harold “Stubby” Kruger in 1928 or 1929 (he toured fairs and carnivals with fellow Olympian Johnny Weismuller; he became a Hollywood bit actor and stuntman). Fontaine had a second son, Bobby, by Kruger. They divorced in 1935. Fontaine married a third time in the late 1930s to Jack Lynch, a restaurateur. They managed a Philadelphia night club she owned called the Walton Roof atop the Walton Hotel. Her first son, Neil “Sonny” Winston Fontaine debuted there as a bandleader in 1939–he remained as the club’s master of ceremonies until it closed in 1946. Jack Lynch managed restaurants and clubs in the Philadelphia area until his death in 1957. Fontane lived out the remainder of her life in the small rural town of Paris in northern Virginia. She died at age 86 in the Winchester Medical Center in Winchester, Virginia.

1923-1925 Lawsuit
Mother killer in auto/train accident in 1928

William Spotswood Fontaine was her Father and apparently moved around a lot in Texas. His father was quite well-known –

From The Columbus Commercial, Columbus, MS. November 04, 1917

Colonel Fontaine Is Dead

Jackson, Miss., Nov 3. – Col. Williamson Fontaine attached to the staffs of Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson and Gen. J. E. B. Stuart, during the war between the states. Died at his home here Friday, age 84. He was with General Jackson at the time of his death at Chancellorsville. While on General Stuart’s staff he was captured and served nine months as a prisoner in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign on Johnson Island. After the war Colonel Fontaine became a member of the faculty at Baylor Female College at Independence, Texas, and afterwards for 10 years occupied the chair of Latin at the University of Texas.

Curious as to the reason they lived in Huron as in 1880, they were in Burleson and William Fontaine was a practicing Lawyer. After that, his employment seemed to continue as an insurance salesman.

Such was her appeal that she was photographed by Alfred Cheney Johnstonthe photographer of young beauties in that era.
The San Francisco Examiner
San Francisco, California
25 Jan 1925, Sun  •  Page 119

The story goes like this – according to Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney. Evan sued Cornelius for breach of promise as well as paternity of the child. She was suing for $1 million dollars, which at the time was a huge sum of money. Evidently, she came into town and asked to see young Whitney. In the room was her Mother, and her Texas Grandfather holding a gun, demanding that he marry Evan (who at the time was still married to the man who would later commit suicide.) They demanded he marry her (this was 1920 and she had not had the child as yet) as it was his child and he had promised! It was shown in court that Evan had asked for an annulment from her first husband and in order to do so, had to prove she wasn’t with him and it had not been a real marriage. Her mother backed her up and an annulment was provided. That’s when she went to confront Whitney.

Whitney’s lawyer provided photographs showing that she was still in touch and together with her annulled husband. Evan and her mother were indicted for perjury and as to the child… the paternity issue was also thrown out. This happened in 1925 and in 1929, it was still ongoing.

1925
1929
1929

I think Evan was one of the people who may have been down, but was never out. In 1928 or 9, she married Harold Stubby Kruger, an Olympic swimming champ and – she was still dancing.

Stubby Kruger

Kruger married dancer and actress Evan-Burrows Fontaine in 1928 or 29. A son Bobby was born to this union before their divorce in 1935. Kruger was a colleague of Johnny Weissmuller’s and performed at carnivals and fairs billed as the Incomparable Water Comedian. He also had a career in Hollywood as an actor and stunt double that began in the silent era and lasted well into the 1950s. His last film credit was as Spencer Tracy’s double in The Old Man and the Sea. In 1986, Kruger was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as a “pioneer swimmer.

In the late 30’s and 40’s, Miami was a hopping scene. Evan and her son Neil Fontaine, who by this time was a bandleader and a singer, were there. Neil was playing at the Club Bali.

Fun in the 40s!

Sometime in the late 1930s Fontaine became a co-owner of the Walton Roof, a Philadelphia night spot atop the Walton Hotel, along with her husband (or soon-to-be husband), restaurateur Jack Lynch. Her first son, Neil “Sonny” Winston Fontaine whose father was Cornelius “Sonny” Vanderbilt Whitney, debuted there as a band leader in 1939, and later served at times as master of ceremonies before the club’s demise in 1946. Jack Lynch was a long-time owner of clubs and restaurants in the Philadelphia area before his death in 1957. Evan-Burrows Fontaine died on December 27, 1984, aged 86, at the Winchester Medical Center in Winchester, Virginia. She spent her final years as a resident of Paris, a small rural town in northern Virginia.

Hotel Walton – Philadelphia PA
The Walton Roof was a favorite spot under the direction of Jack Lynch and his friend Evan Burroughs Fontaine, and guests there could be entertained by Sophie Tucker, Georgie Jessel, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

This next clipping may get you singing the famous Barry Manilow song…. “at the Copa…..” What a story and what a life. We can only hope Evan had a full and productive life as I am sure Neil did. Neil passed away in February of 2010 at the age of 80. What stories they all must have told!

At the Copa – Neil Fontaine

Uncategorized

Becky Priest – A Talented Lady From Hubbard

Are you ready for some romantic instrumental music by The Nashville Keys? Co-produced by Becky Priest, a talented lady from here in Hubbard, Texas. You can find the album for play and download on Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/album/0EkFPMYZekxnQCy1QV1qYl?highlight=spotify:track:2NcDcWMZMUYIcEmgCC7QrG

New Album from Becky Priest – The Nashville Keys

From: https://thinkcountrymusic.com/whats-new/the-nashville-keys-release-instrumental-country-love-songs-album/

Country Love Songs, the new album from The Nashville Keys, released today by Country Rewind Records.  The instrumental project was co-produced by Becky Priest and Johnny Garcia and features musicians who play for country music’s superstars, such as Garth Brooks, Rascal Flatts, Trisha Yearwood, Lonestar and more.

Recorded at EastSide Manor and Busy At Play Recording Studios in Nashville, the album is being distributed by Select-O-Hits in both national and international markets.  The Nashville Keys Country Love Songs is available for streaming and download on all digital music platforms, including Apple Music, iTunes, Spotify, YouTube Music, Pandora, Amazon Music and more.  Click here to listen The Nashville Keys Country Love Songs

Some of the most talented touring musicians in the business came together to record this album.  They include Becky Priest (keyboardist/background vocalist for Trisha Yearwood, Pam TillisPatty Loveless), Keech Rainwater (drummer for Lonestar ), Johnny Garcia (lead guitar for Trisha Yearwood, Garth Brooks), Travis Toy (steel guitar for Rascal Flatts), Scotty Simpson (bass guitar for Pam Tillis, Travis Tritt,  The Oak Ridge Boys), Brad Corbin (dobro/steel for Lonestar), Renaé Truex (fiddle/mandolin for Ray Price), David Priest (harmonica for Lee Roy Parnell).

“It was an incredible experience playing on The Nashville Keys record.  Probably my favorite part was playing ‘I’ll Still Be Loving You’ by Restless Heart and the collective groove-type feeling of unity we had at that moment.  Breaking off into ‘Roseanna’ by Toto in between takes!  It was such a pleasure to have been included in this project!” ~ Keech Rainwater, drummer for Lonestar

“It was great re-visiting all these great country love songs that I grew up singing and playing bass on.” ~ Scotty Simpson, bass guitar for Pam Tillis, Travis Tritt, The Oak Ridge Boys

“It was an absolute pleasure to play so many of my favorite country songs in this instrumental format with Becky taking lead on piano.  A personal highlight for me was getting to re-create some of John Hughley’s steel guitar parts on Vince Gill’s ‘Look At Us.’” ~ Travis Toy, steel guitar for Rascal Flatts

The Nashville Keys Country Love Songs Track List:

  1. How Do I Live (Diane Warren)
  2. Amazed (Marc Green, Aimee Mayo, Christ Lindsey)
  3. When You Say Nothing At All (Paul Overstreet, Don Schlitz)
  4. I Swear (Gary Baker, Frank J. Myers)
  5. I Cross My Heart (Steve Dorff, Eric Kaz)
  6. Bless The Broken Road (Marcus Hummon, Bobby Boyd, Jeff Hanna)
  7. Always On My Mind (Johnny Christopher, Mark James, Wayne Carson)
  8. One More Day (Bobby Tomberlin, Steven Dale Jones)
  9. In This Life (Mike Reid, Allen Shamblin)
  10. Look At Us (Vince Gill, Max D. Barnes)
  11. Valentine (Jim Brickman, Jack Kugell)
  12. I’ll Still Be Loving You (Todd Cerney, Pam Rose, Mary Ann Kennedy, Pat Burch)
  13. To Make You Feel My Love (Bob Dylan)
  14. I Will Always Love You (Dolly Parton)

These recordings are a follow-up to previous releases from Country Rewind Records that include music from well-known artists like Conway Twitty, Mickey Gilley, Tex Ritter, Jeannie C. Riley, Connie Smith, Johnny Russell, Merle Travis, Carl Smith, Waylon Jennings, Billy Don Burns and more.  All have received great reviews by music critics worldwide.

Country Rewind Records has dedicated itself to bringing classic country with this contemporary feel to not only the past country fans, but also to the new country listeners.

Keep up with Country Rewind Records on their website at countryrewindrecords.com and on Facebook at Country Rewind Records on Facebook.

Becky Priest

Becky Priest is an American country music singer-songwriter and instrumentalist hailing from Hubbard, Texas now based in Nashville, Tennessee.

Since moving to Nashville, Tennessee in 1992, Priest has toured over 26 countries as both primary artist and with many artists including Neal McCoyTrisha YearwoodPatty LovelessPam TillisMel TillisMel Tillis, Jr.Carrie April TillisVince GillAlabamaGarth BrooksMichael McDonaldChristopher CrossLiza MinnelliEngelbert HumperdinckHuey Lewis and the NewsJim Peterik & The Ides of MarchLou Gramm of ForeignerFoghat38 SpecialLynyrd SkynyrdChuck Negron of Three Dog Night and Who’s Line Is It Anyway comedian/entertainer, Wayne Brady.

Check out her fan page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BeckyPriestFanPage

Uncategorized

A Tragic Tale of Murder in Hubbard

On August 22, 1922, a tragic murder occurred in downtown Hubbard in front of the Taulman store. Was it a case of self-defense or a clear case of murder?

The August heat in Texas seems never-ending and it can be unbearable. Imagine the scene, a hot dry August day about 5:00 or so in the afternoon. It was a Friday. Quitting time after working a full day on constructing a building in downtown Hubbard, and Martin Luther Wisenbaker was packing his tools and getting ready to go home to his wife and 13 children. Mr. Wisenbaker was 44 years old at the time, and had come with his family to Texas from Georgia. They called him Luther and he had a twin brother who lived in Mineola, Texas.

Luther and his family lived towards Dawson, a short distance from Hubbard on a property or farm of the Wilkes family. There are a couple of newspaper accounts of the day, as well as the Appeal of Conrad Simpkins (the shooter), which I have relied upon to piece together what happened on that hot and fateful day in 1922 that changed the lives of so many people.

After working the day on constructing a building downtown in Hubbard, Luther Wisenbaker was packing up his tools when Conrad Simpkins entered the area. Did they have an argument? Were words exchanged? Conrad Simpkins was about 26 years old in 1922, and allegedly, he was interested in one of Luther’s young daughters who was possibly only 15 or 16 at the time. Luther objected to the relationship or interest Conrad took in his daughter and would not have been too happy to see Conrad Simpkins that day. Not only was he hot and tired, he most likely was incensed upon seeing Conrad Simpkins.

In 1922, was it common to carry a gun in Hubbard? We know that Conrad Simpkins did. We don’t know the intent of Conrad Simpkins that day. Why did he approach Luther Wisenbaker? Did he intend to get into an argument? Did he intend to shoot Luther Wisenbaker? We will never know. In a space of time, an argument commenced in front of the Taulman store. Wisenbaker took a hammer and struck Conrad Simpkins and Conrad Simpkins fired his pistol, striking Luther Wisenbaker three times, once in the heart, once in the side and once in the leg. He was killed almost instantly.

1920’s Revolver

According to the Appeal filed in criminal court, Simpkins was struck in the head by a hammer and this evidence was not presented at the murder trial. According to the Justice of the Peace, Simpkins stated to him that Luther Wisenbaker struck him in the head with a hammer, and Simpkins was bleeding 30 minutes or so after the shooting from a wound on his head.

The case was remanded for retrial due to the fact that the evidence of the hammer wound on Conrad Simpkins’ head was not presented at trial. What happened after that could not be determined. It is known, according to census records, that Conrad Simpkins was in Hillsboro in 1930 working at a service station. He died in 1961 at the age of 63 in Fort Worth, Texas. How much time he actually served for the manslaughter or murder of Martin Luther Wisenbaker.

There are many stories such as this in small towns everywhere. Tragedies that ripple in time down the families of those involved.

Headstone of Martin Luther Wisenbaker (Dover Cemetery, Dawson, Texas)
Newspaper Story

https://casetext.com/case/simpkins-v-the-state

Celebrations and Holidays

Flag Day – June 14th, 2021

As we look back, I remember how important Flag Day was in my elementary schools. I went to 4 elementary schools back in the day and there was never a time when Flag Day was not made a day of importance. What about you?

Today is FLAG DAY. Flag Day is celebrated on June 14th and it commemorates the adoption of the American flag by resolution of the Second Continental Congress in 1777. Flag Day is a nationwide observance today, but Pennsylvania is the only state that recognizes it as a legal holiday.

The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise. The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free. The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored so that it might be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day; on August 3, 1949, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress. Flag Day is not an official federal holiday. Title 36 of the United States Code, Subtitle I, Part A, CHAPTER 1, § 110[6] is the official statute on Flag Day; however, it is at the president’s discretion to officially proclaim the observance. On June 14, 1937, Pennsylvania became the first U.S. state to celebrate Flag Day as a state holiday, beginning in the town of Rennerdale. New York Statutes designate the second Sunday in June as Flag Day, a state holiday.

Today we celebrate this wonderful Flag of ours that symbolizes, love and sacrifice and well as this wonderful, crazy country of ours. HAPPY FLAG DAY!

mount calm · Patents · Uncategorized

Washing Clothes in 1884 (Mount Calm, Texas)

Mount Calm is just down the road from Hubbard, and we consider her a Sister City. The history of Mount Calm intertwines with the history of Hubbard and sharing the history of Mount Calm ties the towns together!

Imagine this… in 1884 three brothers who were living in Mount Calm and at the time decided to patent a detergent that they had invented. The instructions for washing clothes were detailed and contained highly flammable as well as harsh materials.

Jordon Davis, Epaminiondas (named after the Greek General) and David Davis, patented a new and wonderful invention for the women to use (yes it was always the women) in washing clothes. This is what you had to do:

Take 1 Gallon of Pure Water, 1 Pound of Rock Potash (I had no clue what rock potash was – Potash is an impure combination of potassium carbonate and potassium salt. The term potash has been commonly used to describe the fertilizer forms of potassium derived from these rocks by separating the salt and other minerals.) We continue… 1/4 Pound of Borax, 4 Ounces of Kerosene Oil, and 1/2 ounce of Benzine (which is a mixture of liquid hydrocarbons obtained from petroleum).

Then follow the directions for your wonderful Detergent!

This is where potash is mined:

Ladies, to use this washing compound you must thoroughly wet all your clothing in cold water, and then wring it all out again. Probably in a wringer or mangler like one of these!

Then, as above, to 3 gallons of soap suds, add 1/2 pint of the Davis Brothers detergent and sit there awhile. Then you dump that out and start all over again in boiling water and soap suds and detergent. Let that sit for at least a 1/2 hour or paddle around to get the stains out. Then you need to rinse in cold water, wring out again, and go hang it out on the line to dry.

Many of the other washing compounds of the day contained beef tallow, skim milk, magnesia, turpentine, alcohol and ammonia!

Patten Number 278, 409 – May 29, 1883. This is a copy.

I also found a photo of Epaminiondas Davis!

Epa, was born in Arkansas and passed away in Waco at the age of 66 and his brother Jordon, with his family (did she wash the clothes?)

Jordon Davis passed away in 1928 in Mount Calm, Texas. They had several children who remained in the Mount Calm area.

When you do laundry today with your little Tide Pods and your Downey Liquid, think about the women who had to struggle and use all those corrosive and dangerous materials just to keep their clothes clean!

Source of Patent: Portal to Texas History – https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth170548/m1/1/?q=%22Mount%20Calm%22

Uncategorized

Buzz The Bee of Honey Nut Cheerios

#DIDYOUKNOW that a young lady from Coolidge named the Honey Nut Cereal Mascot? Their mascot is an anthropomorphic bee, designed for the first commercials by Dean Yeagle at Zander’s Animation Parlour in New York City. The bee did not have a name until 2000, when Kristine Tong, a fifth grade student from Coolidge, Texas, won a national contest to name the bee, dubbing him “BuzzBee”. Buzz also appeared as the host in the Honey Nut Cheerios Spelling Bee game, which was named after the breakfast cereal. Buzz has also gone through several different voice actors in his career. He was originally voiced by Arnold Stang until 1990. He was then voiced by Billy West, Charlie Schlatter, Jason Marsden and currently Oliver Wyman.So, thanks to Kristine Tong from Coolidge, Buzz the Bee is the Honey Nut Cheerios Mascot. In 2017, Buzz the Bee was missing, in order to draw attention to the dwindling bee population.

Uncategorized

The Story of a Murder in Hubbard City, Texas.

I came across this story in the Texas Criminal Reports citing a case from 1888/9. It was an appeal from a murder conviction, John D. Pitts v. The State, No. 3040, Decided February 25, 1889.

It goes something like this: John Dayton Pitts, came to Texas from Georgia and according to the census of 1900, he was a lawyer here in town. He even graduated from Cornell University. Mr. Pitts was born in 1855 and in 1888, at the time of the murder, he was about 33 years old. In 1889, Hubbard was still basically a wild town. While there were stores, and drug stores, and doctors and lawyers, there was also a house of prostitution according to the case.

On with the story… On March 13, 1888 (or 1889 according to the appeal documents) , at about 12 ‘o’clock, John Pitts shot and killed Dave Stern here in downtown Hubbard City, Texas. Dave Stern was a merchant here in Hubbard. Dave Stern was Jewish and came to this country from possibly Russia in 1882, according to the records. He was born in 1852, which would have made him 36 at the time he was shot and killed. His wife was residing in New Orleans at the time of his death and that is where he is buried. According to:

CLIPPED FROM
The Times-Picayune
New Orleans, Louisiana
25 Mar 1888, Sun • Page 4

John Pitt was married and his wife was also in her 30’s at the time of the incident. They lived on Walnut Street, but I cannot clarify the exact house.

This is where the story begins. There was a hotel in Hubbard City called the Covington Hotel. It was reputed to be a house of prostitution run by a Mrs. Covington. Mrs. Covington had, prior to the murder, been charged and acquitted of running a disorderly house. Mr. Pitt assisted in prosecuting Mrs. Covington and Mr. Stern took an interest in Mrs. Covington’s affairs in more ways than one. (There is no other information on Mrs. Covington. Who she was is consigned to history).

John Pitts heard that Stern had said, “Pitts need not be cutting up about Mrs. Covington because his wife, Mrs. Pitts, was no better than Mrs. Covington as she had gone to the Covington Hotel and begged Mrs. Covington for a job and she was broke and destitute and needed something to do; and if Mrs. Pitts had a child in 3 or 4 months, it would not be John Pitts’ child.” Evans denied making the statement and even said he would apologize to Mr. Pitts for any slight given to Mrs. Pitts. The day prior to his murder, Mr. Stern was walking down the street and went in to a drugstore to purchase a cigar. Mr. Pitts saw him and said to another man, “There is that son of a bitch, don’t let him come this way.” Mr. Stern did not come that way and at that time was unarmed. The next day, Tuesday, on March 13, 1888, Stern was walking on the street and Pitts came from his home, armed with a double barreled shotgun and he called to Stern, “Stern, Stern, you son of a bitch,” and shot him once, wounding him in the face and head, killing him instantly. Stern, at the time, was armed with a 6 shooter in his hip pocket, but had made no attempt to use it.

The trial was held on October 20, 1890. Pitts was convicted of murder in the second degree was was given only 5 years in the penitentiary (Huntsville).

Pitts appealed the verdict by stating that Stern’s language was grossly insulting to his wife and he acted in a fit of passion to defend the honor of his wife. He also had a witness who stated that he had caught Stern and Mrs. Covington in bed together. The Court stated that since Pitts didn’t know this fact before he killed Mr. Stern, this could not have attributed to the passion in killing Stern. The Court denied his appeal and he was sent off to Huntsville Prison. It does not look like he actually went to Huntsville until March 23, 1891.

Only a year later, John Pitts was granted a pardon by the Governor of Texas at the time, Governor J. S. Hogg. This was attested to by many men around the area and due to the fact that he was a trustee and his father was supposedly ill, he was released in 1892.

Was his father really ill? Well, we may never know. His father passed away in California in 1904. John Pitts and his wife were here in Hubbard in 1900 living on Walnut Street. Later, he moved to Mount Calm. By 1904, he and his family were living in California and he was a still a practicing lawyer and dabbled in property. In 1905 we find him giving a lecture on the Bible.

Los Angeles Evening Express
Los Angeles, California
31 Aug 1905, Thu  •  Page 4

Pitts also became interested in a death row case:

The Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles, California
29 Dec 1907, Sun  •  Page 9

The murder of Mr. Stern must have weighed on his mind. He passed away in May of 1919 at the age of 64 and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery with many of the famous stars of the era. He remained married to his wife Carrie, who died in 1918 and is also buried in Forest Lawn. He had 2 children, Mabel and Marion. Marion was born in September of 1888 and died at the age of about 38 in California, and is buried with his parents. Marion had a rough time of it evidently, and was placed in the Norwalk State Hospital for the Insane according to his draft registration card in 1917/18.

Norwalk Hospital founded in 1915/16

Marilyn Monroe’s mother Gladys was treated at this hospital after she had suffered a mental break down. Bela Lugosi is another famous former patient, admitted for 90 days in 1955 to treat his morphine addiction.

The daughter of John Pitts, Marian, married and had two children. She died at the age of 63 in Los Angeles.

Should I find any further information of Dave (David) Stern, will update a post at a later time.

There is always a story to be found and lives behind the headlines and the tombstones.

Uncategorized

Rural Transportation in Hubbard, Texas

The Heart of Texas Rural Transit District (HOTRTD) is one of 39 Rural Transit Districts designated by the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT). HOTRTD provides demand response transportation to the general public, including transportation for seniors age 65 and older, and to the disabled of any age. Service is primarily provided using a fleet of 28 HOTCOG owned vans and small buses. The shared ride services is considered “origin to destination,” meaning the vehicle stops at the passenger’s address, instead of the passenger being required to go to a pick-up location; and multiple riders may be on the vehicle. Transportation is provided Monday through Friday in Bosque, Falls, Freestone, Hill, Limestone and rural McLennan counties. Here in Hubbard you can contact Frances at 254-292-1873. Thank you Bobbie Loud for the information!