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.

Revolver from the Early 1920s, Stock Footage Video (100% Royalty-free)  24418673 | Shutterstock
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


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:

Mosaic Shares Fall After Early Mine Closure Cuts Potash Output

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


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.


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:

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.


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!

May be an image of grass and text that says 'HEART OF RURAL TEXAS HEART OF TEXAS one way trip within county (excludes McLennan County) OF COUENINN RURAL TRANSIT DISTRICT WWW.HOTCOG.ORG PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION FOR: BOSQUE, FALLS, FREESTONE, HILL, LIMESTONE COUNTIES one way trip county to county within region (includes McLennan County) ANYONE, ANY AGE, ANYWHERE (WITHIN SERVICE AREA) TO MAKE OR CANCEL A RESERVATION CALL BOSQUE, FALLS, COUNTY 254-292-1873 LIMESTONE COUNTY 254-729-2625 254-292-1873 The Heart Texas Rual Transit Districtprovides District affordable public transportation within service area including Bosque Falls, Freestone Hill, Limestone County. Service classified "demand response' curb curb service. For questions or clarification call or email transportation@hot.cog.org'

Call Jesse Thomas

If you have ever been out to Valley View Cemetery here in Hubbard, you will see these headstones. Call Jesse Thomas. …. he really meant call him. He has headstones all over the area and this was his way of advertising his services as a tombstone maker!

This is a neat piece of history and who was Jesse Thomas? His gravestone for his services also can be found in Tanyard Cemetery in Madison, Texas. No telling where else! He was a shoemaker in Mexia as well as a monument maker.

His obit – Funeral Set Funeral Set Here Friday Funeral – services for Jessie S. Thomas, Sr. of 319 West Commerce Street, will be held at 2 p.m., Friday, in the Westside Church of Christ. Brother W.H. Meachum will conduct the services. Burial will be in Henderson Cemetery, under direction of Dorsey and Keatts Funeral Home. Mr. Thomas, a native of Limestone County, died May 3 at 12:05a.m. in the Marlin Veterans Hospital. He was 88 years of age. A veteran of World War I, Mr. Thomas worked as a shoe repairman and monument maker. He was a member of the Church of Christ and affiliated with Masonic Lodge 282, Pride of Coolidge. Survivors include his wife, Mrs. Ida Thomas of Mexia; two daughters, Mrs. Lee Jackson and Mrs. Mozell Brewer of Groesbeck; three sons, J.W. Thomas and C.T. Tatum of Dallas, and Jessie Thomas, Jr., of Houston; a sister, Mrs. Anna Murphy of Waco; 14 grandchildren and 18 great- grandchildren (May 6, 1976). Years down the road people will be wondering who Call Jesse Thomas was with the obsolete phone number underneath!


August 11, 1881 – Hubbard, Texas, Up For Sale!

On August 11, 1881, Hubbard City lots came up for public sale. This was the flyer that announced the sale and showed some of the lots. This map is part of the collection entitled: Map Collections from the University of Texas at Arlington and was provided by the University of Texas at Arlington Library to The Portal to Texas History, a digital repository hosted by the UNT Libraries.


Hubbard, Texas – Where Did The Name Come From?

Hubbard, Texas . . . where did the name come from? For those of you who don’t know, Hubbard was named in honor of Richard Bennett Hubbard, former Governor of Texas (1876-1879) and also the Ambassador to Japan. He lived in Tyler and was originally from Georgia, but like many Southerners, he came to Texas. He was a very large man and was a great speech maker. As far as I can tell, Hubbard is the only city in the US to be named after the former Governor.

There are many stories about Governor Hubbard which will be shared later. #themoreyouknow (Governor’s Mansion Collection) Richard B. Hubbard, 1876-1879Silver cake server presented to the Governor by the government of Japan, engraved J.R.H. for First Lady Janie Roberts Hubbard. Richard Hubbard was appointed Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Japan. The Hubbard’s had been living in Tokyo, Japan, for almost two years when Janie Roberts Hubbard became ill and died. Her remains were returned to her Tyler, Texas, home for burial.