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Continued ~ 5


History Could Have Played Out Different

William G. Butler~Murder

Sykes C. Butler~Murder

Juan Coy~Murder

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   The early commercial development of Kenedy was on "the hill," halfway between the water towers and the downtown bank corner.

   When it was decided to extend the railroad from Kenedy Junction eastward toward Houston, a group of merchants from Cuero, who owned a large block of land east of the San Antonio River, decided in 1887 to plat the townsite of Runge.  Runge, near the river and on the railroad to Houston, had a rapid growth, and soon developed into the largest town in the county.9

   On December 12, 1890, another group of Cuero businessmen purchased 1000 acres of land from J. L. Calvert, and in March 1891 platted the townsite of Karnes City.9   Some say this was a premeditated plan to establish a new county seat on the railroad.  In the short space of three years, Karnes City did demand such an election. 9  It was a hotly contested election in 1893, and Karnes City won. 2   The vote was very close, with Helena, Karnes City, Kenedy, and Runge in a tight race.  Helena was the older and historic place of government.  Runge was the largest town.  Kenedy was small and not strong politically.  Karnes City had been deliberately platted to be a County Seat on the railroad.

   Helena ignored the election.1  But in 1894 the county records were moved late at night from Helena to Karnes City in a wagon accompanied by armed men on horseback.  The guard hired by Helena to protect the county records rode on the wagon to Karnes City.  He reported that he was hired to protect the records, and that is just what he was doing.  Thus died the town of Helena.

History Could Have Played Out A Different Story

    Helena would have remained County Seat and the largest town in the county, if the railroad had come to that town.  The over-confident citizens of Helena thought that the railroad had to come through such an important town. 9,14   After all, Helena was located at the intersection of two ox-cart roads.

   Kenedy would have been located in Grandma Ammons' cornfield about four miles north of the present location, and Karnes City would never have been formed, had there been no gunplay at Daileyville.  There would have been no need for a Karnes City, since the railroad could have concluded its negotiations for a townsite with Grandma Ammons, Jeff Ammons, Fate Elder, and Bud Elder. 9,14

   Runge came very close to being voted County Seat, being just behind Karnes City and well ahead of Kenedy and Helena.  Runge flourished in its first years, but it lost its activity and its population in the next century.

   In regard to Karnes County being known for gun-play and shoot-outs, and the opinion of the railroad supervisor that it would be better for everybody if the new line could be run around Karnes County:  Mail addressed in the 1940's to "Six Shooter Junction, Texas" was regularly delivered to Kenedy.  This is personal experience, and it was before Zip Codes.  (Hempstead also experienced this unusual privilege.)


   The Shoot-Out at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona  is legend,  it is Hollywood, it is commercial tourism, and the tale is told in story and in song. Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers marched shoulder-to-shoulder down the street to the OK Corral.

   At Daileyville, there were more participants, more shots fired, more killed, and more wounded.  But the romance was not there, the interest by Hollywood was not there, and The Code of the West was not there.

In Tribute

   The Butlers made Karnes County.  This pioneer family, along with Choate, Borroum, Pullin, Ammons, and other families of the same era, wrested a successful part of Texas from the wilderness.  They made Karnes County with blood, sweat, and tears.  They protected, and had to protect, their cattle and rangeland.  Rustlers, raiders, brigands, coyotes.  It was a time of six guns and Winchesters.  There was no law to which they could turn.

   You did what you had to do.  They were fiercely proud men, depending on no one but themselves.  They were fully independent in nature.  There was a necessary way of life then, and it included a pistol in the holster and a Winchester in the scabbard.

   We today should not judge ancestors through our modern eyes.  Instead, we have to walk in their boots in that place at that time, and recognize what they faced.  Guns and shooting were a part of life in Karnes County.

Indictments 17

   The verdict of the Jury of Inquest:  “We the jury empanelled and sworn to inquire into the manner of  the death of I. L. Elder, Bud Elder and Henry Pullin, find that Henry Pullin came to his death by a gunshot fired by someone, striking him accidentally; that I. L. Elder came to his death by gun and pistol shot wounds, fired by Epitacio Garza and Juan Coy and Sykes Butler; that Bud Elder came to his death by gun or pistol shot wounds inflicted by a gun or pistol fired by William G. Butler.”  Signed: J. M. Choate, J. A. Martin, John S. Wycar, J. H. Little, J. W. Rutledge, C. A. Conway.  By  D. B. Butler, J.P., Precinct No. 1, Karnes County.  David Brown Butler is not known to be related to the ranchers.

   Six indictments for murder, one for aggravated assault, one for simple assault, and six for “Unlawfully Carrying” were returned against the ranchers as a result of the shooting at Daileyville.  The legal description of Unlawfully Carrying  is `Not Being a Peace Officer and Unlawfully Carrying a Pistol within One Half-Mile of a Voting Place while a Lawful Election was being held during the hours that the Polls of said Election were open.’


   Indictment ~  1141 ~ (Sykes Butler, Juan Coy, Eli Harrell) was for the murder of Sheriff Fate Elder.   


   Indictment ~  1142 ~ (W. G. Butler) was for the murder of Deputy Bud Elder.


   William Green Butler  ~   1142  Murder in the First Degree.  He was arrested.   Request for Change of Venue to Wilson County is granted, upon the grounds that `so great a prejudice against him exists in the County of Karnes that he cannot obtain a fair and impartial trial and further that there is in said County a dangerous combination against him instigated by influential persons by reason of which he cannot expect a fair trial.’   $10,000 bond by P. B. Butler, John Rutledge, and J. D. Newberry.    Material witnesses for the State of Texas will be P. B. Butler, John L. Sullivan, Thomas Pullin, John Shuler, Moliar Mayfield, Norris McClane, and J. D. Ammons.


   1137 ~  Unlawfully Carrying.  Guilty.  $25 fine.


   Sykes C. Butler  ~1131  Murder in the First Degree.  He was arrested.   Change of Venue to Wilson County upon the grounds that so great a prejudice against him exists.    $15,000 bond by W. G. Butler, M. L. Butler, and P. B. Butler.  Set for trial June 1887.    A. J. Jordan will be a witness for the defense.  Eighteen witnesses were served with subpoenas.   M. L. Butler is Marquis Lafayette “Fate” Butler, brother of WGB.   P. B. Butler is the brother “Pleas.”


   1141 ~  Murder in the First Degree.   He was arrested.  Change of Venue to Wilson County.  $5000 bond by W. G. Butler, M. L. Butler, and P. B. Butler.    Sixteen witnesses were served with subpoenas.


   1144 ~  Unlawfully Carrying.  Not Guilty.


   1131 ~  later changed to Cuero, DeWitt County.


   Newton G. Butler   ~ 1145  Aggravated Assault.  Guilty.   $25 fine.


   Fayette Butler  ~  1147  Unlawfully Carrying.


   Juan Coy ~  1130  Murder.  Change of Venue to Wilson County.  He was sent to jail in Bexar County because the jails in Karnes and Wilson Counties were not strong enough.   Juan Coy was the meanest, toughest, blackest, ugliest Hispanic in all of South Texas. 15


   1141 ~ Murder.   Sykes Butler, Juan Coy, and Eli Harrell were all indicted for murder under 1141.


   Charley Woodie  ~ 1136  Guilty of Aggravated Assault.  $25 fine.


   Charlie Woodard  ~ 1136  Assault with Intent to Murder.


   Eli Harrell   ~  1128   Simple Assault.  Guilty.   $5 fine.  Appealed.  Denied.


   1140  Unlawfully Carrying.  $500 bond by P. B. Butler and John L. Rutledge.  Hung jury.


   1141  Murder in the First Degree.  Changed to Wilson County.  $2500 bond by W. G. Butler, N. G. Reynolds, and A. J. Jordan.


   William Harrell   ~ 1135  Unlawfully Carrying.  $300 bond by W. G. Butler and W. M. Choate.  Guilty.  $100 fine.   He asked for a new trial.   Request denied.  He appealed.


   Hugh Pace   ~  1138   Unlawfully Carrying.   Not Guilty.




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