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2017-03-09

Early jail breaks from the 1881 jail

By Raymond V. Carter, Jr. BCHC Research Historian ©2017

This photo shows the patch job in the wall where the prisoners made their escape from the holding cell. They used a crow bar to gain entry into the hallway of the jail by removing the stones in the cell wall. Then, they removed the hinges off the front door and began their run from the law.


On March 20,1882, Ike Danley, H. W. Johnson, William L. Granger, and maybe one more escaped from the Bandera County Jail. Danley was arrested on a warrant for theft of a horse, Johnson was arrested on a warrant for first degree murder, and Granger was arrested on a warrant for theft of neat cattle. It was believed that they escaped with the help of the jail guard, J. A. Brown, who was accused of "willfully permitting prisoners to escape."
A complaint (cause No. 114) was filed on March 23, 1882 against J. A Brown with Justice of the Peace Court of Precinct No. 1 for willfully permitting prisoners to escape from the Bandera County Jail. A warrant was issued that same day and Brown was arrested and placed in the county jail. On March 27, 1882 the cause came "to be heard and the state and defendant both appearing by attorney and defendant also appearing in person and both parties announcing (they were) ready for trial" and "the court after hearing the evidence and the argument of council, is of the opinion that the defendant, J. A. Brown, is clearly guilty of negligently permitting the prisoners to escape from the Bandera County Jail." During the trial in J. P. Court it was stated, "The said prisoners being legally confined in said jail and the said J. A. Brown having legal custody of said prisoners as Deputy Sheriff and jailor in and for said County of Bandera." Continuing, "It is there fore ordered and decreed by the court that the said J. A. Brown be and he is hereby required to enter into bond in the sum of Five Hundred Dollars conditioned that he will be and appear at and before the Honorable District Court of Bandera County at its next regular term to be begun and holden (held) at the Town of Bandera in the County of Bandera and State of Texas on the 8th Monday after the first Monday in the month of March A. D., 1882 to answer to any indictment that may be preferred against him by the Grand Jury of said county and in default of said bail that he be committed to jail." So ordered and signed by G. W. Moore, J. P. of Precinct No. 1, Bandera County, Texas.
J. A. Brown was indicted by the Bandera Grand Jury on case number 204 concerning escapee Ike Danley; case number 206 concerning escapee William L. Granger; case number 207 concerning escapee H. W. Johnson; and case number 205, which was not found. Brown's bail was set at $1,000 for each case. Trial for case number 204 was held on May 1, 1882 and Brown was acquitted on May 6th, 1882 in that case. Trial for case numbers 206 and 207 went into 1883 and on May 2,1883, in regards to case numbers 204, 206, and 207 it was stated: "...the District Attorney....will not further prosecute the defendant....Having been previously acquitted of the same offense in cause No. 205....the evidence showing the offenses in these claims to be identically the same transactions as in No. 205....Pinckney Jones, District Attorney, 24th District."
The next jail break I found occurred in 1889 and is recanted from the article found below:
From an article in the Bandera Bugle dated August 1, 1889.
JAILBREAK
"Between the hours of 8 and 9 o'clock on Wednesday evening--supper time-- two of the three prisoners confined in our jail succeeded in making good their escape from it. They were not confined in the cages, but were at liberty in the corridor and from this by making a hole through the stone wall they got into the hallway, drew the latches off the front door busted it open and got off."
"Graves, one of the prisoners, remained, but Ed Bonnard and J. I. Kidd, who was only put in on Sunday and is wanted in Milam County as a horse thief, made good their escape."
"This is the third similar attempt to break out in this way, but the two former attempts were unsuccessful."
'The prisoners were in possession of a crowbar, which must have been handed to them through the window."
"Sheriff Sanders and constable Parish immediately started in pursuit and it is to be hoped they will be successful in recapturing the fugitives."
"Latest - Before dinner today, Jeff Cooksey was arrested on a charge of complicity with the escape prisoners.

NOTE: The patch in the wall can still be seen where the prisoners made the hole and made their escape from the corridor holding cell to gain access into the hallway. Also, Jeff Cooksey was a witness in case number 204, State of Texas versus J. A. Brown, mentioned in the first story (1883).