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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

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

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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.

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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'
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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.

hubbard city

Desperados in and Around Hubbard City, Texas

Desperados – The Life of Tom Varnell – and yes, he killed a man here in Hubbard.

The ARLINGTON JOURNAL, Arlington, Texas. Thursday July 30, 1903 –

Tom P. Varnell a somewhat notorious character was shot and killed at Abbott, Hill County, on the 26 of July, 1903, by Oscar Ferguson. Varnell had heretofore killed two men and served one term in the penitentiary. For years he has been one of the Hill county‘s bad men. Son of Isaac (Ike) A Varnell and Francis LaDocia Crawford.In 1880 at age 18 Tom P shot and killed A P Fisher in revenge for his father’s death in 1876. He shot and killed Jonas Hagar Land at age 21 in Hubbard City in 1883 after being caught by Land with his 16 year old daughter. After two years on the run he was captured in New Mexico and several trials later was convicted and spent 9 years in the Texas State Pen. He was released on Jan 19, 1902 and was pardoned at the recommendation of State Senator S C Upshaw, who had been his criminal attorney when he was convicted.

Six months later he killed a Mexican, Frenchy Rauls, in the Oklahoma Territory, and was sentenced to 10 years. The conviction was appealed, bail was set and Tom P returned to Texas.On July 26, 1903 he was shot and killed by Oscar Ferguson in Abbott, Texas, to “protect the honor” of Oscar’s sister. Oscar was tried for murder, but found not guilty. His father Isaac Alexander Varnell was murdered on New Years Day in 1876. His brother Isaac Napoleon Varnell was gunned down in 1867 at the age of 17 by a 16 year old. Death and misery followed Tom during his short life of 41 years.

Thomas Powhattan “Tom P” Varnell

BIRTH 13 Feb 1862 Hill County, Texas, USA

DEATH 26 Jul 1903 (aged 41)Abbott, Hill County, Texas, USA

BURIAL Hillsboro City Cemetery Hillsboro, Hill County, Texas, USA

PLOT Section 11

For the book about his life – https://www.amazon.com/Tom-Ps-Fiddle-True…/dp/0984185739

Jonas Hagar Land is buried here in Hubbard in Fairview Cemetery.

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Covid Strikes Again But Doesn’t Get Hubbard Down

Usually, here in Hubbard, Texas, celebrations are in full swing during Magnolia & Mistletoe. From parades, to vendors, to music, to parties, to events… this has all been curtailed this year in order to prevent the spread of this horrible thing that has been a blight during 2020. Life doesn’t stop and we wanted to remind everyone of all the fun times from Hubbard past. If you have any photos or videos to submit: hello@discoverhubbardtexas.org. Enjoy the photos of Christmas Past here in Hubbard and more to come!

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A Typical Hubbard Home in 1915

HUBBARD HISTORY — This was the home of Ward R. Dean in 1915. It was on a postcard that “Kittie” wrote home to Massachusetts August of 1915. “Kittie” appeared to be studying music (there was a music college here in Hubbard at the time). She was sailing out of Galveston and appeared to be going back home. From what I can tell from census records, this house was located at 208 Bois D’ Arc here in Hubbard. It appears to no longer be here. (If any one knows any different, please let us know). Mr. Dean was a cotton buyer and is buried here in Hubbard at Fairview Cemetery. He passed away when he contracted pneumonia in 1918. He was 43.

The “Real Postcard” thing was a huge deal from 1905 to about 1917 (ish), and lingered on until about 1930. Many of the inks and chemicals used in the postcards came from Germany, which explains the decline in interest about 1917.

[House of W. R. Dean], postcard, 1915; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/…/metapth1212784/m1/2/…: accessed October 14, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Private Collection of T. B. Willis.

308 Bois D’ Arc – Hubbard, TX?
Fairview Cemetery, Hubbard, TX
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The 1976 Bicentennial Madness (Even in Hubbard, Texas!)

In the USA, The Bicentennial was a big event! 1976 and our wonderful Country was 200 Years old. I was in elementary school at the time (in SC not Hubbard), but I am sure the excitement was shared all over the USA! National pride and the history of our country was at the forefront even in Hubbard! The articles I found in the Waco paper suggested there was a big celebration. The Hubbard Garden Club planted trees and at the celebration, Justice Sam Johnson was to speak recognizing that Hubbard was a “Bicentennial City.” Does anyone remember the celebrations here in Hubbard or wherever you were at the time? As I recall we began preparing in 1975 through 1976. They called it the “Bicentennial Madness”. I guess it was – everything was red, white and blue. Even Ford put out a special edition truck – don’t you wish you had one now! Where were you and do you remember?

The Hubbard Garden Club planted trees!
Justice Sam Johnson was to speak!
T-Shirts like this were everywhere!
Ford had a special edition truck – Bicentennial Madness was everywhere! It was wonderful!
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Hubbard Garden Club Christmas Tour of Homes!

The Hubbard Garden Club will be presenting the Christmas Tour of Homes on December 6th from 2PM to 5PM. This year, we have several options for you to purchase the tickets. You can purchase tickets from Garden Club members and local business, as well as order your tickets early ONLINE or with a Credit Card at the door.

Tickets: $10

The lovely homes to be featured:

Kelly & Marty Kimbrough – 200 NW 3rd Street

Bertha & Clarence Odom – 805 N Magnolia

Olga & Art Munoz – 901 N Magnolia

For information call: 254-495-3712

ORDER EARLY ONLINE – hubbardgardenclub.ticketleap.com/toh/

Masks will be required.

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1886 Men of Hubbard, Texas

Step back in time to January 24, 1886, in Hubbard. These are the boys and men you would see working and walking the streets, going in the shops and possibly the several saloons! This was an important day for them as you can see they dressed up and they all have their fancy watches and chains (a fashion at the time). They all probably worked hard, but took a Saturday afternoon off to take their photograph at the studio of J. E. Taulman. (Joseph E. Taulman Collection, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin)

Handwritten on back “Ottie Taulman, Percy Bryan, Zac Wilson, Geo. W. Bishop, Eddie Taulman, John Dunn. Hubbard City, Texas. Jan. 24th 1886”.

January 1886 – Hubbard, Texas