Carolyn Ericson

1614 Redbud Street

Nacogdoches, Texas


           Kissin Kuzzins is an East Texas query column entering its 43th year. It appears weekly in two East Texas newspapers: The Lufkin Daily News and The Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel. Queries are free, but they must pertain to a Texas ancestor. They may be submitted by e-mail, snail mail or by FAX to 936-552-8999. Please remember to include your snail mailing address

March 15, 2015


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         My grandfather, John Alington HARGIS, was a Nacogdoches Deputy Sheriff and was killed in the line of duty in August of 1928. My mother, Bobbie Hargis TODD was the youngest of his five children. A man, Will THORN was arrested, tried and convicted to live in prison. He came up for parole a couple of times, and my grandmother, Vera BOOTH traveled to Huntsville to testify before the parole board. My grandmother died in 1960, and as far as the family knew, Will THORN died in prison.

         We only recently learned that Will THORN was given a “Conditional Parole” in 1939 and later in 1951 was given a “full pardon.” This has been quite alarming to my family and especially to my mother who is 86 years old.

         Intrigued, I started researching records here in Nacogdoches and in Austin. We now have all the newspaper accounts from across the nation, the court records on file, but still no answer to my questioned. I f Will THORN did not kill my grandfather, who did?

         Will THORN was reported to a negro, a mulatto, or half-Indian, depending on the newspaper report. His prison record has him as “half-breed Indian.”

         My mother says that her mother, Vera HARGIS, never talked out the 1928 shooting. Most surprisingly, the 1939 Conditional Pardon includes “Mt. Giles M. Haltom, Owner and Manager of the SENTINEL, has states that is it believed that this subject was not really guilty,.” Strangely, my grandmother and her five kids lived just down the street from Will Thorn’s wife and two of his kids according to the 1930 census.

         Would like to hear from anyone having facts about this case. We need your help.



Another early Nacogdoches obituary:

Wednesday, May 22, 1901


         We no sooner realize that we are in life than we begin to hear of death, bereavement and sorrow.

         In life we are in the midst of death. Life’s sweets come most from friendships and endearing intimacies. Our friends become our chief treasures.

         Jas. M. Justice, Jr. was born April 3, 1872, died May 12, 1901. He joined the Christian church July 1892,; was married to Miss Cora Hurst, of Patroon, September 6, 1896. Up to the hour of his death he lived a devoted Christian life and died as a Christian only can die-happy. He stated just before his death that he was ready and willing to die.

         He was a kind and affectionate husband, a sweet and loving brother, a thoughtful and obedient son. To know him was to love him. He was a native Texan, born in Nacogdoches County. Sad indeed it is to chronicle the death of such a warm-hearted, pure minded man. Bereaves ones, death gentle patient Jim is dead, but peace and perfect happiness is born.

         No sleep so beautiful and calm.

         So free from trace of pain

         “Thou are gone, the abyss of heaven

         Just swallowed up thy form,

         Yet on our hearts

         Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou has given

         And shall not soon depart.”

         Truly has it been said on the path of life sorrow treads heavily. While it is true that life is real, life is earnest, it is also true that life has its sorrows and embittering cares......

         Did you live him tenderly, and do you still weep in the bereavement of that love? Do not forget that God loves him more tenderly and with an infinitely more helping and blessing love. Your love for your lost one is good, but God’s is better.

         Let us so live that when the golden cord of life is snapped asunder, when at last for us the bell tolls our requiem and the angel of death hovers o’er our shattered form and sweeps away the mist that gathers on the soul in its earth’s wanderings, heaven’s aisles may echo with: “Well done, thou good and faithful service; thou has been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many.”

                           George M. Hale

[James M. Justice, born 3 April 1872, died 12 May 1901, buried Swift Cemetery.]