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2017-04-13

"Snakes" and Diamonds don't mix!

By Raymond V. Carter, Jr. BCHC Research Historian

I have read some rather strange criminal and civil cases on cattle theft, rape, burning houses, fence cutting, attempted murder, assault, murder, etc., but this one is in a class of its own. Strange, maybe not today, but in 1922, yes it would be classified as bizarre, queer or different. How it ended up in Bandera County, I have no idea, except they must have brought the "show" to town. Anyway, I will let it play out as the court case file reads and you can make up your own mind.
Case No. 27 was filed on September 9, 1922 in Judge George Hay's, Justice of the Peace of Precinct One Bandera County Court. The case concerned a contract over the management of three snakes. Yes, I said "three snakes". The Plaintiff, Thomas Edward "Tom" Fulbright (1900-1938) was represented by his attorney Joe G. Montague of Bandera and it was stated in his complaint that the terms of the contract made between the Plaintiff and the Defendants, Emma Diamond and Harry Diamond, was not fulfilled and was broken.
Tom Fulbright, at the time the contract was made, was a resident of Lampasas County, Texas, and Emma and Harry Diamond, husband and wife, where from Bell County, Texas. On July 8, 1922 the two parties entered into the following agreement. Tom Fulbright obligated himself to deliver to Emma Diamond "one Ford truck, chain drive”, under certain obligations and conditions. Emma Diamond was an expert snake charmer, snake trainer, snake handler and exhibitor. Diamond was the owner of three snakes covered in this contract and they were: " 1 Boa Constrictor, 18 feet long and weighing 305 pounds; 1 Python, 12 feet long and weighing 95 pounds; and 1 Python, 9 feet long and weighing 45 pounds. In the agreement Diamond was to turn over the management and control of the snakes to Fulbright. Fulbright wanted the snakes so he could exhibit and show them commercially, "charging gate receipts and collecting the same from the general public. "The period of the contract was from" July 10, 1922 up to and including December 24, 1922. Fulbright was to select places to exhibit the snakes, which was anywhere in and beyond the State of Texas.
Also included in the contract was the agreement of Fulbright to pay Emma Diamond one dollar per day, except Sundays, throughout the stated period whether showing or not. Fulbright was "to pay all expenses incurred in the business of exhibiting said snakes", except for the Diamonds personal expenses and her costumes. Fulbright was to "retain all the profits, receipts and monies." There was a clause in the contract about him advancing monies to the Diamonds beyond the obligated $1.00 per day. There were also clauses in the contract that stated that if Fulbright failed to hold up his end of the contract that the Ford truck would become the property of the Diamonds and if the Diamonds failed to fulfill their end of the contract that the snakes would become the property of Fulbright.
One important thing understood by the parties in this contract was ''that the truck above described is covered along with four other trucks in chattel mortgage in favor of R. H. Evans, of Jewitt, Texas, to secure payment by the said Fulbright of an indebtedness of $450.00 due said Evans...." Fulbright promised in the contract to "give the said Diamonds a bill of sale conveying said truck to them free of all encumbrances..." The contract also stated that, "Emma Diamond is to be the sole caretaker of said snakes' for the period of the contract and that Fulbright was not responsible for the "safety", nor "sickness, injury or death" of the snakes during the period of the contract.
Of course you guessed it, they wouldn't be in court if they were getting along. In the case file there were receipts of payment to Emma Diamond. One dated July 22, 1922 was for $5.00, paid at Gatesville, Texas; one for $8.00 paid on August 21, 1922; and another one, which showed $6.00, paid on August 28, 1922. The last two receipts were written upon the back of a celebration flyer out of Boerne, Texas. Evidently, Fulbright must have been exhibiting the snakes during a dance, barbecue and farm demonstration there on August 27, 1922. Then they must have brought the snake show to Bandera, because that is were they ended up in court on September 9th.
In the complaint filed on the 9th it stated that he should have possession of the three snakes and ''That on or about the 3rd day of September, A.D. 1922, the Defendant, Emma Diamond and certain persons acting for and with her, did, by force and threats overpower and forcible (forcibly) take from this Plaintiff and his family" the three snakes. Also, the complaint stated that when defendants broke and violated the contract, ''then said snakes shall become the absolute property of this Plaintiff."
Fulbright's attorney, Joe G. Montague, request a sequestration form Judge George Hay for the three snakes and valued them at $100.00 for the Boa Constrictor, $50.00 for the Python 12 feet long and $45.00 for the Python 9 feet long. The property being located in Bandera County and in the possession of the Defendant, Emma Diamond. A Citation was written out on September 9, 1922 to the Sheriff and Constables of Bandera County by Judge George Hay and a copy of said situation were delivered to the Diamonds at 8 am that day. Also, on September 9, 1922, Judge Hay issued a writ of sequestration to the Sheriff to take possession of said snakes. Sheriff, Henry Stevens, took possession of the three snakes on the 13th day of September.
Bond was issued by Tom Fulbright on September 9, 1922, which stated, ".... that we, Tom Fulbright, as Principal, and G. Montague and Henry Fulbright, as Sureties, acknowledge ourselves bound to pay to Harry Diamond and Emma Diamond, Defendants...., the sum of $390.00...and all costs in (the) case, (if) it shall be decided that the writ of sequestration....was wrongfully issued."
A replevy bond was issued by the Defendants on September 13, 1922. The bond was signed by both Diamonds, along with U.B. Boren and N.B. Allen. Attorney, W.S. Ethridge, represented the Diamonds and he stated that they "deny each and every allegation in plaintiff's petition" and that the case should be "discharged", etc.
The case was tried before a jury and the jury stated. "We the Jury find for the Defendant, Mrs. Emma Diamond, and access costs against Plaintiff, Tom Fulbright." Go figure! If you add up what he paid her provided and given in the evidence it would come to $19.00. Now, per the contract he owed her $1.00 a day except for Sundays. From July 10, 1922 to September 3, 1922 there were a total of 55 days minus eight Sundays, which would equal 47 days owed at $1.00 per day. 47 days would mean Fulbright should have paid Diamond $47.00. Subtracting the $19.00 already paid, Emma Diamond was still owed $28.00.
That will go to show you, at least for some, that certain "snakes" and Diamonds don't mix!