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Willaim T. Bobo Biography

William T. Bobo


By: Janet Barrett Walker

William T. Bobo was born in Bastrop, Morehouse Parish, Louisiana in 1848 to Harriet Brooks Bobo and Andrew Jackson Bobo. A.J. Bobo was born in Kentucky and his wife Harriett was born in Mississippi. They had moved to Morehouse Parish, La sometime prior to 1848. They owned a farm there valued at about $1500.00.

In 1860 Andrew Jackson Bobo had become a sheriff in Bastrop Parish, La. By this time they had had not only William "Bill" but also Robert H. who was 9 years old and a daughter Mary "Mollie" who was 6. They had two other deputy sheriffs living with them on the 1860 census, Phillip Sessions from Mississippi and L. H. Cohemer from Indiana. Also living in the Bobo household was Arthur Bostic an 18 year old man born in La who worked as a laborer.

In 1862 the Bobo family moved from Louisiana to Ellis County, Texas taking with them their children and at least one slave that they owned by the name of James Harvey. Evidently the Bobo family did not own this whole family as James' mother put an ad in the New Orleans Advocate concerning her son. From there they went to Millican in Brazos county, Texas on the Brazos river. The Bobo family traveled by wagon train, the value of their property by this time had increased to $5,300 and their personal estate had increased to $30,000.00 so they were considered wealthy people for this time.

Finally in 1863 the family settled in Madison County, Texas, but in July of that year Andrew Jackson Bobo died on the 23rd of that month. His body was buried in the Madisonville City Cemetery there on the edge of town. By this time William was about 19 years old and had met Martha Barrett the daughter of the Inn keeper and dry goods store owner, John Whitten Barrett. The Barrett family was prominent family in the county who owned a lot of land, and John W. Barrett also served as a Justice of Peace.

By 1869 young Martha also called "Mattie" and William also called "Bill" were married and their first child, Asie Bobo, was born in Madison County.

One of Bill Bobo's friends was Redden "Red" Page,

who also named one of his sons Asie as Bill did. Red Page married Mary Ann Parks circa 1861.

Also a friend of Billís wasAlfred "Alf" Whitten Jr.

Alf Whitten's father, Alfred Whitten Sr. , who was also a Justice of the Peace in Madison County, was the uncle of Martha Barrett Bobo's father, John Whitten Barrett. Alfred Whitten Jr married Martha E. Park, in 1879. Martha died in 1887 and is buried in Park Cemetery in Madison County along with the Whitten family. I have not yet established the connection between the two Parks women but I know they were family.

The Bobo, Barrett, Parks, and Whitten families were all upstanding members of the community.

In 1870 there was a man listed as "Young Bobo" enumerated in the census of the Huntsville prison system. Also in 1870 there is a William F. "Bill" Bobo listed as living in Coleman county, San Saba as driving cattle. Working on the large ranch of C.J. Coggins as well as John Parks age 20 from Texas and W.C. Parks, 35 born in Tennessee. This Bill Bobo has a different year of birth, but it is my belief that this is our William Bobo.

The reason I am leaning toward this is because of a newspaper article found in the Dallas Weekly Herald on January 19, 1882 that says that in San Saba , William Bobo, who killed a man nine years ago in the Beverly Settlement, in the southern part of this county, has been arrested in Walker County and will be brought back and tried for murder. This would be just 2 years after the above census. Now Mattie had just had a baby so she may have stayed in Madison county with her family, although we haven't found her on any census records for 1870.

A story was passed down through the years about this incident. Mitch Vetuski, another researcher of the Bobo family, records that in an interview with a family member it was stated that Bill was in San Saba/Coleman county and a sheriff had tried to detain him. Bill didn't want to be bothered and he shot the man. Betty Bobo Niemann another researcher of this Bobo line inquired about the details of this arrest, and learned from the San Saba court house that Bill was held over for trial with a 300 dollar bond. But the next district court was going to be held in McCulloch County. It is thought that he was then transferred to the jail in McCulloch County Texas. We are still waiting for the details of the trial to see if he was convicted or acquitted. He was most likely acquitted as we find Bill Bobo in other records after this. The punishment for murder in Texas was to be hung by the neck until dead.

In 1871 another child was born to Bill and Mattie Bobo, Robert Bill must have returned to Madison County or Mattie may have joined him in San Saba county. By 1879 four more children were born in Brown County, Texas to Bill and Mattie: Bill Dugan born in 1874, an unknown child who may have died at birth in 1875, in 1877 Martha "Mattie" A. Bobo was born and on Dec 25 1879 the Bobo family got a wonderful Christmas surprise, Annette M. Bobo was born to them that night. That would mean that sometime between 1877 and 1879 the family moved back to Madison county to be near their families.

William Bobo made an application for a preemption (homestead) claim of 160 acres of land in Madison County, Texas in 1879. In order to claim this homestead William and his family had to occupy the land for a specific period of time so it is most likely that Annette was born on this land.

According to a story that has been passed down through the generations, sometime maybe during this time, Bill was arrested again in Cold Springs, Texas. Mattie traveled to visit Bill in jail. During this visit the two of them traded clothes. Bill walked right past the sheriff wearing Matties clothes and out the door. When the sheriff went to check on Bill in his cell, there was Mattie sitting there with Bills clothes on. The sheriff let Mattie out and sent her home to her children. The family left Madison county and went back to San Saba. In March of 1882 Bill sold the 160 acres in Madison county for $500.00 to J.C. Matthews of Lampasas County, Texas. The deed was executed in San Saba County on 9 March 1882 and filed in Madison County on 27 of March, no doubt by either Billís mother or Mattie's father.

In 1882 another child was born to Bill and Mattie, Elizabeth "Lucy" G. Bobo. It was about this time that Bill was arrested in Walker county and taken back to San Saba, so maybe the land was sold to help with legal expenses for Bill since he was arrested in January and the land was sold in March.

In 1882, Williamís sister Mollie married Steven Franklin Barrett the nephew of Mattie Barrett Bobo, Williamís wife. And joining Williamís outlaw bunch was Steven's brother John Daniel known as Dan Barrett. Steven was also a part of them , but not to the extent that the others were. Steven was also a gambler, cattle rustler and horse thief. But I think, it is possible Mollie kept him in check.

Williamís brothers were also getting wild, and his mother Harriett rode a donkey all the way to town carrying a shotgun. She broke one of Williamís younger brothers out of jail and made him high tail it back to Lousiana and told him to never come back.

Evidently, by 1884 all was better with the legal matters as another son was born, Charlie Bobo. and then in 1887 the last son Thomas Nathaniel Bobo was born. In an interview with a grandson of Thomas Nathaniel Bobo's, he stated that his father had told him he never knew his older brothers, and they had left home at a young age; and in turn Thomas also left home when he was 16 years old. He also said that his father did not get mixed up in the rough affairs of the other members of the family.

In January of 1888, the outlaw gang that consisted of Bill Bobo, Red Page, Alfred Whitten Jr, whose wife had just died, Dan Barrett and one other unknown man, evidently had been wreaking havoc on the county. The townspeople all got together and had a meeting. They decided that if the sheriff wasn't going to do anything about these men then they would. They gathered together 200 or 300 men from all over the county and went on a manhunt. They first went to Red Page's house. Red didn't come out of his house so they went in and got him. They took him to a tree and hung him by the neck until he was dead. Mary Jane was devistated..she buried him in an unmarked grave in the Parks cemetery and then she left Madison County.

The mob then went into town as that was where Alf, Bill and Dan were. When they reached the town square Bill and Dan were standing in town talking to Bill's mother, Harriett. When the men saw the mob coming Dan ran into the livery stable and Bill panicked and reached down into his boot where he had a gun hidden. Before he could pull it out one of the men from the mob shot Bill in the top of the head. He fell to the ground and his mother fell with him, crying and trying to put his head back together. Harriett reached into his hand and grabbed the gun and started firing into the mob.

Meanwhile, some of the men surrounded the livery stable and called for Dan to come out. He wouldn't come out and the mob knew better than to go in there, they knew Dan would shoot them as soon as they stepped in the stables. Somehow Dan got away and hid in the woods around Madisonville. His wife would take him food while he was hiding out. At one point he heard the mob and was hiding behind a bush. Suddenly a man crawled up next to him. "Have you seen him?" The man asked Dan. Dan said "Yes, he went that way, you go that way and I will go this way and we will surround him and flush him out." The man crawled off in the direction Dan pointed and Dan went the other way, as far as he could away from the man.

Mysteriously, several of the men who were a part of the mob were found dead by persons unknown, they never did figure out who or how they died. Dan eventually went to Oklahoma and settled there.

Alfred Whitten Jr., was also shot by the mob but only wounded. Although his descendants never knew what became of him, he may have, with the help of his family, recovered from the wound and then left Madison county and went on with his life. The townís mob thought they had fatally wounded him so they never went looking for him. The other unnamed man who was with them was also killed.

There were several newspaper clippings from Huntsville to Galveston which recounted the incident.

NEWPAPER: DALLAS WEEKLY HERALD JAN 19 1882 San Saba Jan 14, 1882

William Bobo, who killed a man nine years ago in the Beverly Settlement, in the southern part of this county and will be brought back and tried for murder.

Jan 1888 in Madison County when he was shot.......... diary of O. Wiley, as published in the Leon Hunters Dispatch, Vol. VIII # 1, p. 19: "Bill Bobo was killed in Madisonville Jan 7 (sic.) 88."[2] newspaper clippings

MISCELLANEOUS TEXAS NEWSPAPER ABSTRACTS - DEATHS VOLUME 2 BY Michael Kelsey, Nancy Graff Kelsey, Ginny Guinn Parsons:

THE OLD CAPITOL, Published at Columbia, Texas Issue January 7, 1888

Huntsville, January 4th. Reliable news reaches here from Madison Co., thirty miles west of here, that a mob of 200 or 300 men went to the town of Madisonville yesterday and shot down one Will Bobo on the public square in presence of the sheriff. The mob went from there to the house of one Red Page and took him out and hanged him. Also, shot Alf. Whiting, it is supposed, fatally. Killed one other party, name unknownÖ

Galveston Daily News, January 24, 1888 page 4, column 5; from newspaper files (on microfilm) Sterling C. Evans Library Texas A&M; Madisonville County Library Genealogy Dept. 605 South May Madisonville, Tx 77864:

Our citizens, who recently shot BOBO and hung, met at the court-house in this place and after consultation divided in small companies and visited a number of persons in this county, not for the purpose of injuring them or of giving them notice to leave the county, but to admonish them to become good, civil, law abiding citizens. Those who live at a distance perhaps regard these men who have been compelled by force of circumstances to take the law in their own hands for the time being as desperate men, when in fact they are first-class, clever, honest gentleman; and although they have determined to supress murder and theft in our county, they are as kind and law-abiding gentlemen as Madison County can boast, and if an honest, upright citizen was being imposed upon they would be willing to come to his rescue as they are determined to supress murder and theft, and I have not yet met or heard of a good citizen in the whole county who attaches any sore of blame to them on account of the course they have been driven to pursue in defense of life and property.

Note: The Sources from this biography include, oral family history, newspaper clippings, family biographies, census records, birth and death records, land records. Written by: Janet Barrett Walker, the great-great niece of William "Bill" Bobo, great-great granddaughter of Mollie Bobo Barrett. With the help of the research of Mitch Vetuski, Karen Hett, Betty Bobo Niemann, Troy Splawn and Jearledene Cummings.