Fear, Force, and Leather: The Texas Prison System&rsquot;s First Hundred Years 1848-1948

Minutes of the Texas Prison Board, July 24, 1934

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Minutes of the Texas State Prison Board, July 24, 1934

“When we got in the bull pen Charlie Frazier and Hub Stanley were
in there and two or three other[s], and I did not take time to talk to them.
Mr. Waid was with me and I said let’s go through and see what happened. We
started down in the yard, I was ahead and when I was a little past the
post office building, there was a number of prisoners standing around, I
hear Mr. Waid say – Mr. Simmons. I looked back but did not see him at
first, then I looked down the side of the building and saw him going toward
the death cell and about the time I saw him I cast my eyes on the death
cell and saw the death cell door standing open. I ran on down and caught
up with Mr. Waid and we went in the death cell and there found Joe Palmer,
Raymond Hamilton and Blackie Thompson were gone from their cells and Guard Lee
Brazil locked up in one of the cells. We looked on through and saw Pete
McKenzie and a negro named Rector were in there. I asked them just a few
questions and they stated that they had offered to let them out, but that
they would not go. We asked Brazil three or four questions and he stated that
when he got there with the meals, which was [sic] carried by two trusties, he un-
locked the door and let them take the food in. he went in with them and as
he turned around to lock the door behind on the outside Charlie Frazier, who
was in stripes, put a gun on him and said don’t holler or press the button
or I will kill you. We have a button in there that notifies the front office
when anything is wrong to bring the key.

“I said the Mr. Waid then let’s go and Brazil said get me out of here,
and I stated you are alright and we left. We immediately then went down in
the lower yard and when we got down there, there was Whitey Walker lying
there dead. We came on back as there was no one there, but I asked the
picket man if he had any guns and he said someone had given him a shot gun.
We came on back to the front and I told Mr. Waid to see about things in here
and I would get on the telephone and get something started. I asked the
telephone girl to stay on the line as we would need her bad for awhile, and
told her to give me Dallas first, then Corsicana, Centerville, Bryan and
Lufkin. Then after that as she could get them to give me San Antonio,
Shreveport and Houston. I got Dallas right away, that is in five minutes or
less and told them what had happened and to get on the Radio and broadcast it,
giving them the names of the three that escaped and that they had gone North.
Ten I talked to Corsicana, Centerville, Bryan, Houston and San Antonio.
When I called San Antonio they said they had done got it on broadcast from

“After talking to the various towns I called Mr. Paddock next. I
could hear some gentleman’s voice talking who said that he had gone to
Sugarland. I then called Sugarland for Captain Flanagan but could not get
him and I said I said I would talk to Mrs. Flanagan and could not get her. Then I
told the operator to tell the bookkeeper it was important and I wanted to
get Mr. Paddock or Mr. Flanagan if either of them come in.

“After that I went back down stairs to see what was happening and
went around to the picket where Burdeaux was and talked to him, and he made a
statement as to what happened. I did not take time to question him closely
when I was there first. He stated that he walked around the picket and
stopped right up close to a post, showing me just where he stopped, and that
as he looked up all at once he saw the convicts come around the end of a
building with Guard McConnell in front of them and that they throwed their
guns n him and told him to put them up. He said I put them up and stood
there with my hands up over my head and that they put a ladder up to the
Wall and that the convicts began to come over. One of them took his gun out
of his scabbard and another one got his rifle out of the picket.”

Q.  Dr. Lister: Mr. Simmons, were the convicts up on the Walls or down on
the ground?

A.  They were down on the ground.

Q.     At what distance were they?

A.     Thirty steps from where they came around the building to the Walls.

Q.     How is the visability [sic] as they were coming in around the building?

A.     It is open after they pass around the end of the building.

“As they came over the Walls they took the guns, one of them taking
the rifle from the picket, and as he started down the steps and had gotten
a short ways down, the shooting ad started and the one on the steps that had

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Minutes of the Texas Prison Board, July 24, 1934. Board of Criminal Justice minutes and meeting files, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Page last modified: February 10, 2016