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

Minutes of the Texas Prison Board, July 24, 1934

Page 3

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

The rifle came back up and was shooting at the picket over to the East and
shot some five or six times. He said that while the shooting kept going on
he just stood there  with his hands up, and that in a short time he heard two
cars start from over near a negro house and drive off and that at about that
time I got there. That is practically all he said.”

Question: Mr. Austin: - Mr. Simmons, did he say it was his own life or the
life of McConnell that he feared for?

A.  He said it was on account of McConnell, and said that when they told me
to put them up I could not do anything else.

Q.  Mr. Wearden: How long has he been in the service?

A.  About three months.

Q. Had he ever had any experience guarding?

A.  I don’t know, Mr. Waid put him on, but he had been in business here.

Q.  Did he come voluntarily and ask for a job?

A.  I don’t know, Mr. Waid hired him.

Q.  He was not employed on any recommendation from you.

A.  No sir.

Q.  Did you know he was employed?

A.  No sir, I do not recommend any guards. However, I did go on yesterday
morning and ask some man whom I could afford to take their word and they
said he was strictly honest.

“I did not make any further investigation that night, however, I was at
the telephone until mid-night. I did see Mr. Roberts the picket man on No. 8
and learned in a general way what had happened, and thanked him for what he did.
I told him he saved the day here and wanted him to know we appreciated what he
did but, of course, he only did his duty but that I wanted him to know we
appreciated it.

“I told the Guard George practically the same thing. He shot three
times from over on the East picket, No. 6, but the boys were shooting at him
and when the bullet grazed the side of his head he got down on the steps a few
steps and by that time the shooting was over.

“I was looking for some trouble Sunday evening, although I never dreamed
it would be anything like this. In fact I knew the trouble was not serious, but
I knew they were tunnelling [sic] out of the print shop. They had dug down through
the concrete, dug a well and were tunnelling [sic] out. Several days before Mr.
Barnett, the print shop superintendent had called me and stated he wanted to
see Mr. Waid and I, but as Mr. Waid was going up home for a day or two I told
him not to mention it to him as he either would not go or would worry when he
got up home and would not stay. You gentlemen, I am sure, realize that we have
business interest that we have to look after and I planned to leave here last
week and run up home. I did not want to disturb Mr. Waid, as I knew it would
take them several days to complete their tunnel. We planned every way to catch
them in the hole, which they worked on on Sundays during the ball game. This
tunnelling [sic] was being done by Mr. Barnett’s bookkeeper, who was a twenty five year high-jacker and another boy in the shop. We did not want to tip them off so I
finally planned to take Mr. Ellingson to see about some cartons they are making
in the print shop. Mr. Barnett gave me his keys to the shop. Mr. Waid went on
to the ball game, which he is always at and should be. After Mr. Barnett gave
me his two keys I then decided it would probably be better to take Mr. Barnett
with us. About that time a local banker, Mr. Webster, drove up and had some banker
friends from Dallas with him, and asked me if they could look inside and I told
him they could. I just took him in the cell block and by the post office and
when we stopped in the Chapel I saw Charlie Frazier setting there by himself,
there were a few negroes and whites in the Chapel and I suppose around twelve
or fifteen around, some laying in the shade. I then went out to the ball game
as I wanted them to see me around there. Mr. Albert Moore came out and said
Charlie Frazier was not at the ball game and that we had better look out. He
did not know anything about the tunnel. I left the ball game and we went down
and got the boys working in the tunnel, and as we came out we met Charlie Frazier
just this side of the archway walking West toward the toilets. Charlie 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: August 17, 2011