The residence of Valentine O. Weed (300 E. 4th Street), location of the murder of Mary Ramey. Earliest photo circa 1900, later re-modeled in the colonial revival style circa 1940, and finally demolished, as a parking lot 1997. PICH 00103 Austin History Center. PICH 02612 Austin History Center. 300 East 4th Street. 1997. I took the photo of the location in 1997. For some reason I thought I… Read more.
Posts by JRG
"Officer Sendry reports that someone entered Gov. Ireland's room last night and stole a pair of pants and one dollar in the pockets." -- 17 MAR 1885. Austin Police Calls. Gov. John Ireland The above incident is the perfect metaphor for Austin in the spring of 1885 -- a time when it was possible for someone to sneak into the Governor's Mansion, enter his bedroom and steal his pants away in the middle of the night, never… Read more.
In spite of already knowing the story, I was nevertheless turning the pages as fast as I could to find out what happened. Read more.
The sixth Annual Save Texas History Symposium will take a look at the history of Austin in a whole new light. In the Shadow of the Dome: Austin by Day & Night will examine diverse aspects of Austin’s history, including the Texas Supreme Court, the destruction of one Capitol Building and the construction of another, and the impact on the city of notable hotelier, George W. Littlefield. It will also delve into some of the less celebrated aspects of Austin’s… Read more.
I've often been asked if I know where Eula Phillips is buried and my answer has always been that I don’t know the exact location, just that she was buried in an unmarked grave in the oldest section of Oakwood Cemetery known as the Old Grounds. And that raises the question, why doesn't her grave have a marker or headstone or why isn't there some indication of where she is buried? I guess it’s puzzling how the last resting place… Read more.
The Hancock Inquest is a fascinating document filled with peculiar details, opinions and suspicions about the murder of Susan Hancock that were never published. I thought it would be worthwhile to transcribe the handwritten document in full in order to facilitate its examination and consideration. The testimony of witnesses including Dr. William Burt, Dr. R. S. Graves, William Scaggs, Theodore Clark, Moses Hancock, Hester Campbell, David Hagy, A. M. Persinger, Jack Williams, Belle Williams and Caroline Mason, was taken on… Read more.
Materials in Travis County Archives Collection. The mission of the Travis County Archives is to serve the government and the community of Travis County by documenting, preserving, and making available its records and history. The Travis County Archives documents the functions and activities of the Travis County government, supports the conduct of the government by preserving and providing access to essential county records, and maintains the history of the county and its community through the preservation… Read more.
Last year I had the pleasure of working with the staff from PBS's History Detectives for the upcoming History Detectives Special Investigations: Texas Servant Girl Murders. The cast and crew came to Austin last summer; they did a number of interviews and on location videos and I got to chat with the esteemed Tukufu Zuberi, who was very enthusiastic and a lot of fun to work with. I'm looking forward to seeing what they discovered! Tuesday, July 15, 9pm /… Read more.
Saving Austin's History A short film by Alpheus Media. ______________________________ Read more.
Unidentified albumen print. One morning before dawn in the summer of 1883, a strange persistent cry echoed through a west Austin neighborhood and caught the attention of two women, Sophia Phillips and Sallie Mack, both of whom lived nearby. They went to investigate and much to their surprise they soon came upon an abandoned infant lying in the grass. There was no sign of the mother. Inquiries were made but no one could find where the… Read more.
One-time Austinite Steven Saylor tells the story of the Servant Girl Murders through the eyes of one-time Austinite O. Henry in the novel A Twist At The End. You think you know people, but you don’t. A Twist at The End is an old-fashioned mystery novel of people not being who they seem, thwarted expectations and unexpected resolutions. The novel begins in 1906 in New York, with O. Henry spending his last remaining years writing, drinking too much, struggling with… Read more.
Once there was a killer in nearby Austin who was still at large. He had chloroformed his victim (rather humanely, I thought) before chopping her head off with an axe. Fear that ‘dat debblish axe-man’ might strike again, in only the Lord knew whose house, resulted in some extraordinary precautions. From the morning Pinkie heard about the axe-man’s method of operation until the day that he was finally trapped -- a period of three weeks -- she and Annie (her… Read more.
Austin, Texas is the seasonal home to a large population of Mexican free-tailed bats who spend their summers under the Congress Avenue bridge on the edge of downtown. According to Wikipedia it is the largest urban colony in North America, with an estimated 1.5 million bats. The Congress Avenue bat colony is a popular tourist attraction and bat aficionados line the bridge on summer evenings to witness the impressive display as the colony departs into the skies over Austin at… Read more.
Austin native Henry B. Barnhart, was a successful attorney in 1885. He was appointed Travis County Attorney in 1886. An 1887 description of Barnhart’s career included the following passage: With uncompromising firmness, he has made successful war upon evil and wrong-doing wherever and whenever found, and by vigilance and courage brought evil-doers and lawbreakers to justice...Not more than sixteen months ago, Austin had a national reputation for midnight murder, with criminals undiscovered and unwhipped by justice. Crimes, the most… Read more.
The Robinson ResidenceCourtesy DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, Ag2008.0005. Many people must have been aroused between one and two o'clock by a rapid discharge of fire arms on Rio Grande street, near its intersection with Pecan. This time it was at the residence of Mr. J. H. Robinson. Some outhouses occupied by colored women were visited, window panes broken in, and the inmates frightened nearly to death. Their screams aroused the family. Mr.… Read more.
I am not the first to delve into this mystery. The first time I opened the drawer of the microfilm cabinet and saw all the small cardboard boxes of microfilm packed snuggly inside, I noticed that the boxes labeled 1885 were noticeably more worn than any of the others, undoubtedly having been pulled out, opened and put back many times before I got to them. I wondered who had looked at them and what they had found. What was I… Read more.
1885 locations of the servant girl murders now in Google Maps! Read more.