March 24, 2017 § Leave a comment
Chapter Five: A Girl from a Good Family
At 2:30 in afternoon of February 10, 1892, Annie Miller, a young German girl living over Mrs. Emily Jacoby’s eating house on West Fourth Street, died from the effects of some kind of poison taken with suicidal intent. At the inquest held about 4 o’clock by Justice Fisher, Mrs. Jacoby stated that she had known deceased for some eight or nine months; that she was about 20 years of age, and the only name she knew her by was that of Annie Miller.
All day Tuesday she appeared to be perfectly well, with the exception of a slight headache that grew worse towards night. She had no idea where deceased procured the poison with which she killed herself, as it was never kept in the house and the girl had not been out to purchase any all day Tuesday. The first indication she had that anything was wrong was about 10:30 on the morning of the 10th when she went to deceased’s door, which was locked, and was unable to rouse her by repeated rappings. She then went down and got Officer William Davis, who gained an entrance into the room through a window, which was about half way up. No note whatever was left as a possible explanation. Mrs. Jacoby said that a few days ago Annie had told her that her folks in Berlin, Germany, were trying to force her to go home, and that Officer John Chenneville had been to see her in reference to it and also that a reward of $200 had been offered for her return. They thought seemed to prey on her mind a great deal and she indulged in a good deal of crying. It may have been this that led to the rash act.
Officer Davis testified to his having entered the room, and to having summoned the doctors, the girl not then being dead, who worked on her until the time of her death. Three small empty wooden boxes were found in the room, but what they had contained is not known. He also stated that for a short time after she came to Austin she was an inmate of Jessie Mead’s “female boarding house” on Colorado Street in Guy Town.
Some other facts that were not brought out during the inquest were learned by a Daily Statesman reporter. They were to the effect that the girl was of a good family, her parents living in Berlin. She was sent to an uncle in New York, where she was educated. When her time was up it was intended to send her back to Germany, but for some cause she refused to go, and to escape ran off and came to Texas. She went to Houston for a short time and from there came to Austin. Annie Miller was not her right name, but what it was and her reason for not wanting to go back home remains a mystery.
A reporter saw Detective Chenneville that night and learned some further facts connected with the unfortunate girl. Her right name was Emma Peech. The uncle in New York was a baker, doing business on East 33rd street. The cause of her leaving home was not that she was disinclined to returning to Germany, but that she was decoyed away and taken to a variety dive in Houston. It was this fact that caused the reward to be offered for her. On the steamer while coming to Houston she was seduced, and to avoid detection she shaved her head and came to Austin. In the meantime Detective Chenneville had received information as to her absence from New York and located her and identified her by a picture. She confessed to him that she was the right party and expressed a willingness to go home if she could conceal her shame from her parents.
Could she have or couldn’t she have? That answer died with her. Re-entry into “proper” society from the company of the “fragile ones” was rare, as we shall read in a succeeding post.
March 14, 2017 § Leave a comment
Chapter Four: A Thousand Causes for the Act, A Thousand to Restrain
Saturday afternoon, November 22, 1890, a well-dressed young was seen more than once by a reporter and he was slightly under the influence of liquor. That afternoon at about three o’clock, with a friend, he visited a prominent jeweler and purchased a diamond ring and a diamond stud, paying $165 each, the payment being made by a check on B.W. Bonner of Lufkin for the sum of $330. Sunday afternoon, the university community and city were shocked by the report that W.G. Bonner, a student in the University of Texas Law Department, had committed suicide by taking either laudanum or morphine.
Leaving the jeweler’s with his gems he continued to drink, and at three o’clock Sunday morning, shorn of his costly jewelry and plucked of all his money, he was considerately loaded into a hack and sent to his boarding house on San Marcos street, where he went to bed.
At about 9 o’clock Sunday morning, T.O. Martin, his roommate, awakened Bonner and asked him if he wanted breakfast, but he only mumbled out a few words and turning over, dropped off to sleep. Martin went down to the breakfast table and when he returned again woke Bonner up and asked if he wanted breakfast, but he said no. Martin then left and came downtown, where he got his mail, and returned to his room, where he found Bonner sitting at a table in his night clothes writing.
It was now about 10 o’clock.
Martin sat down and began writing and a moment after, Banner quit writing, got up from the table, dressed himself and started out of the room. He stopped, however, at the door, and returning to Martin, said, “Have you got half a dollar? I want to mail some letters.”
Martin gave him a dollar and Bonner went out. In about an hour he returned and passing Martin, who was seated on the gallery, he went into his room. In about fifteen minutes, Martin went into the room, and picking up a notebook started out again.
“Where are you going?” asked Bonner.
“Back to the gallery,” Martin replied.
Martin noticed that Bonner spoke hoarsely and looked sleepy, but attributed it to his being up late the night before.
Shortly after reaching the gallery, Messrs. Kirkpatrick and Hood, university students, joined Martin, and all three went into the room, where Bonner was lying on his bed. He raised up and Martin introduced Kirkpatrick to him, after which Bonner, who have seemed to be very drowsy, laid down.
About this time the little son of Mrs. Graves, the land lady, came in and said to Bonner, “I went to see Doctor Willard, but he was not in, and won’t be back for an hour. Did you see him?”
“No,” Bonner replied.
The boy then left, and Bonner dropped off to sleep.
Martin, Kirkpatrick and Hood went out on the gallery, and remained there talking until about 10 o’clock, when the visitors left, and Martin returned to his room, where he found Bonner sound asleep and snoring heavily.
In about twenty minutes Hertzberg, another student, came into the room, and he noticed Bonner’s heavy breathing and snoring and spoke about it to Martin. Hertzberg took a seat and he and Martin engaged in conversation, and sometime after, both noticed that Bonner’s heavy snoring suddenly ceased. Martin suggested that Bonner had fallen into a peaceful sleep, but Hertzberg was suspicious and got up and went to the sleeper’s bedside.
Bonner was dead.
Hertzberg at once raised the alarm and Martin felt Bonner’s pulse and over the heart. But life was extinct. Doctor Thomas Wooten was hurriedly called in, but his services were not needed. Bonner was cold in death.
Four letters, evidently written during the morning, when Martin went down to the post office, were found on his table. One was addressed to his landlady, Mrs. Graves, kindly thanking her for past favors. One was addressed to Martin, and contained a check for $2 he owed him. One was for Brooks, a student, requesting that he draw on Mr. B.F. Bonner for the amount due him. The fourth was addressed to his brother, B.F. Bonner, of Lufkin. Under the table on the scrap of paper bearing no address or signature were these words: “There are a thousand causes for the act, there are a thousand to restrain – may God help and protect you.”
On the back of a photograph found in one of his pockets were the words: “Good bye, brother.”
Bonner was a brilliant young man and popular with all who knew him. He was a nephew of Col. Tom Bonner of Tyler. He was about 24 years of age and would have graduated from the law department that term. He had been drinking more or less of late and frequented the gambling rooms when under the influence of liquor.
Saturday night he lost heavily at cards and borrowed $150 from a sporting man named Dennis, giving as security the diamonds he purchased during the afternoon. This money he lost and he was kindly sent home as was been stated. Justice Fisher held an inquest and his verdict was in accordance with the foregoing. Exercises were suspended at the University on Monday, and a mass meeting of the students was held at 11 o’clock. Young Bonner’s remains were forwarded to Lufkin that night.
March 13, 2017 § Leave a comment
Chapter Three: Tired of the Buffets of This World
Mrs. Eva Taylor
A gentleman coming into Austin, Sunday morning, March 16, 1884, over took a beautiful woman about four miles from the city walking towards Austin leading two charming little children. She was a brunette, with hair black as the plumage of a Spanish chanticleer, fair clear complexion, her features very regular and marked with more than ordinary beauty, she possessed dark and liquid eyes full of soul expression and withal she was a woman so remarkable in her personal appearance as to attract attention anywhere, for added to these charms mentioned she possessed a full symmetrical form almost perfect in its contour. The girl was a handsome blonde of perhaps 8 years of age, bright and sweet as a little child could be. The other child, a little boy was about two years and a half old.
As the gentleman came up to her side, she asked for a ride, and he took her and her children into Austin. The lady and her children went to the Hubbard house, which was over Weed and French’s livery stable, and at about 11 in the morning engaged a room for the night, she and her children entering it immediately.
In a short time she came out and inquired where she could find Dr. J.W. McLaughlin, stating she wanted to see him. When noon dinner was announced, the two children came out, but their mother did not appear. The little girl was asked where her momma was and she replied that she was asleep and did not wish to be awakened. The lady arose about a quarter to three and wrote several letters, after this she borrowed a quarter of a dollar from the landlady and about four o’clock went out to the street and remained away from the house about an hour or more, returning about five o’clock and immediately went to her room again. Here she remained very quiet until half past eight, when she again left the house, returning just as the folks were getting back from Sunday evening church, probably about nine o’clock.
The little girl said that when her mother returned she emptied some white stuff into a tumbler, poured water on it, and drank it, taking a drink of water after she had taken the powder. She then told her little girl she was going to sleep, and if she should die before morning to tell the folks at the hotel to send her to her grandpa in Pine Bluff. She then lay across the bed without removing her clothing.
The next morning when the children came to breakfast, they said their mama was asleep and they could not wake her. On going to the room she was found lying across the bed in a very comatose condition from the effects of morphine. Physicians were sent for at once but before they arrived poor Eva was dead. A Daily Statesman representative visited the chamber of death and saw the beautiful woman in her last sleep, and indeed she looked as if she were but pleasantly sleeping. The girl was interviewed and the bright little thing gave a clear account of herself and mother as far back as she could recollect. Her story was this:
Her mother’s name was Mrs. Eva Taylor, and they formerly lived in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, a town of commercial importance on the Texas and St. Louis railroad. Her father was a carpenter, and at a time when her little brother was just old enough to sit alone, he went to some place not far from Pine Bluff and a stick of timber fell upon him, striking him in the head. She says he was brought home with a bad headache and in a short time died.
They lived about a year after his death with Mr. Taylor’s father, and then came to some place in Texas. It was in the country, and the child could not remember the name of the place. While they were living at this place a Mr. Roberts came to see mama, and they went to live with him. She said they went on the cars and they took the train in the morning and left it about dark, getting off at a station not far from where this Roberts lived.
She said that Mr. Roberts and her mother had trouble about her and her little brother, and her mother took them and started to walk to the city. She was overtaken by the gentleman heretofore mentioned, and he gave them a ride to Austin. The little girl’s name was Blanche Taylor and the boy’s name was George Taylor. Not a paper nor anything else could be found upon her person that would give any clue to the motive that prompted their beautiful mother to take her life. She did not have a cent of money and no doubt the 25 cents she borrowed went to pay for the poison with which she ended her beautiful young womanhood. Doubtless the letters she wrote and probably mailed, when she went out at four o’clock Sunday afternoon told the trail of her grief.
Everyone wondered what prompted this beautiful woman’s self destruction, leaving bright and promising babes orphaned by her tragic end, left, too, a thousand miles from home and friends to the charity and mercy of strangers. She was placed by the hands of public charity in a lowly pauper’s grave later that day.
Marshal Grooms Lee received the following telegram on March 19, 1884:
SAN ANTONIO, March 18, 1884. City marshal, Austin, Texas:–Go to Cloud’s stable and get two children of Eva Taylor and put in charge of conductor and send them here. Will pay expenses. Telegraph what train, CHAS. SAYERS.
Judge Z.T. Fullmore, of the county court, had made arrangements to adopt Mrs. Taylor’s two little children, but a telegram was received from their grandfather in Arkansas asking that they be sent to him.
G.M. Taylor, Eva Taylor’s father-in-law, a farmer, arrived in Austin on April 10 from Conway, Arkansas, to pick up the children and Eva’s personal effects. He told the sad story everyone in town wanted to hear.
His son, James R. Taylor, when 18 years old, married 17 year old Eva Lee (the deceased) on March 29, 1874. Little Blanche was born July 1, 1875, at Jackson, Arkansas. George Felix followed on December 12, 1881. They lived as a happy family until James was struck by the piece of timber that killed him. James soon died of brain inflammation on January 16, 1883, caused by the head injury.
After this they moved to Gatesville, Texas.
Mr. Roberts, was keeping a saloon in Gatesville at the time, and G.M. Taylor said that Roberts began to court her and made propositions of marriage. An old family friend by the name of Scott induced her to get away from Roberts’ influence and move to Lampasas. Roberts followed her there, the day of the marriage was set for some time in January, she writing to her father-in-law and others to that effect.
But instead of marrying her he took her to his ranch as a house keeper. Taylor said that Roberts acknowledged that he was engaged to marry her, but claimed that he refused to comply with the contract on account of Old Man Scott’s defaming her, saying that he did not cause her trouble but that Scott was responsible for it. Scott indignantly denied Roberts’ accusation. The details mattered little: love, disappointment, and a feeling of hopelessness caused the beautiful Eva to seek her own destruction.