October 22, 1901
A DUEL TO DEATH BETWEEN FOUR MEN
Ex-Sheriff Wm. Harris and Son Instantly Killed by Dr. Lovelace and His Step-Son.
IT WAS THE TERMINATION OF A FAMILY FEUD.
Tragedy Took Place in the Turf Saloon and There Was a Fusilade of Shots - Lovelace and Reynolds Surrendered.
A bloody duel with father and son on one side and step-father and step-son on the other makes a gruesome story to tell.
The result of the one yesterday is that Bill Harris, ex-sheriff of this county, and his son, W.T. Harris, are both cold in death both being killed instantly.
Dr. J.D. Lovelace and his step-son, Z.T. Reynolds, both of Speegleville, will be held to answer for the murder of the two deceased men.
The terrific tragedy took place in the Turf saloon on Austin street at fifteen minutes after one o'clock yesterday afternoon and family affairs was the cause of it.
Their pistols still smoking the two men who did the shooting left the _ireful scene and walked to the sheriff's office five blocks away and gave themselves up to the officers telling what they had done.
There was twelve shots fired but the battle did not last more than a minute. There was only a few eye witnesses to the scene and as usual in such cases there are some contradictory statements as to how it happened.
The news of the tragedy quickly spread over the city and in a very short time there was a great crowd to see what had happened. M. Firnberg, the proprietor of the saloon, very properly closed the doors to all except relatives of the deceased, officers and newspaper men.
It was a sickening sight to behold. On the outside of the screen and near the front door lay ex-Sheriff Harris in a pool of blood with the entire contents of one barrel of shot gun in his thigh and two or three bullets in his body, cold in death.
On the opposite side of the screen and a little bit to the left of the entrance lay the son, with two bullets in his cheek, one just above the left nipple and several others in different parts of the body.
Neither men spoke a word after they were shot and both were killed instantly. Their bodies were about five feet apart laying almost in the same direction, the walls of the screen dividing one from the other.
Bad feelings have existed in the families for some time and this is what led to the fatal end.
The pistols used were a Colts forty-one, which was used by Reynolds and a Smith and Wesson thirty-eight calibre, used by Lovelace, Reynolds had shot five shots with his pistol and Lovelace shot the same number of times. Both barrels of the shot gun which was in the hands of young Harris were emptied.
As to who fired the first shot there is a dispute. It is contended by some that it was fired either by Lovelace or Reynolds, while others say that it was fired by young Harris. Though it is thought that whoever fired it used a shot gun and the shots from this were followed quickly by the pistol shots. The fighting began in the front of the saloon and the men were then pushed behind the screens which were of oak walnut and glass and there the shooting began. Young Harris was killed on the side of the screen next to the bar while the senior Harris was shot the last time on the side next to the front door. It is stated by some though that he was shot on the inside of the screen.
WERE BADLY SHOT.
As soon as possible after the tragedy the remains of the two men were carried to Fall & Puckett's undertaking establishment where they received the proper attention. An examination of the wounds by physicians, at which Sheriff Baker, Justices Davis and Williams, County Attorney Thomas and other officers were present, was made at the undertaking establishment. It was found that both men had been badly shot up and that each had several wounds either of which would have been fatal.
Will Harris, the son, had two shots in his left cheek that ranged to the back of the head, either of which would have been fatal. There was another shot under the left arm, one in the left side, three and half inches above the nipple, and five shots in the left groin. These shots were in a space of seven inches and were almost perpendicular up the leg. Some think that they were from the shot gun, while others think that they were from a pistol held either by Reynolds or Lovelace.
the senior Harris had a number of shots also. One bullet passed in the right side, three and a half inches above the nipple and ranged downward, another entered the abdomen, three inches below the naval and to the left, another in the left arm which did not break the bone, and an entire discharge from the shot gun in the left thigh five of the shots coming out on the left side.
DR. LOVELACE'S STATEMENT.
Dr. Lovelace said: "I went to the Turf about one o'clock for the purpose of getting dinner, accompanied by my step-son Reynolds. As we went in young Harris came forward, and without any apparent reason began cursing and abusing me in the most horrible manner. He first covered me with a double barreled shotgun, however, and his father, Bill Harris, stepped in between us and close to me, pushing against my arms at times in order to knock my pistol up in case I should draw a weapon. In this position I was powerless, as I knew if I made a move I would not be able to shoot young Harris, but would be killed. He told me that he would kill me unless I gave up my gun, and threatened to kill me, anyway, accompanying his words with menacing gestures. Some parties came in and asked me to give up my gun, thinking, I suppose, that the trouble could be avoided in this way. All this time I had not drawn a gun, neither had the senior Harris.
"I should have stated earlier that young Harris claimed to be cursing and threatening me because he said my wife had insulted Mrs. Harris. I stood the cursing as long I could, and suddenly young Harris began shooting at me with the double-barreled shot-gun, but he had to shot across his father and I suppose that is how he came to miss me. I thought that I was killed, as the gun struck me when it rebounded from the shock of the explosion. I thought that I would try and kill young Harris and before I fell and began shooting at him Reynolds began shooting the same time I did and young Harris was killed first. The elder Harris was then shot, both myself and Reynolds doing the shooting.
I fired five times, emptying my revolver, a 38-calibre, and Reynolds shot about four times. When we ceased firing both Harrises were lying on the floor. We then came over to the sheriff's office and gave up.
"As stated above, I did not want to have any trouble, but after it came up, went into it to the fullest extent. There has been some talking around but this was done chiefly by the senior Harris and I did not pay any particular attention to it."
Reynold's statement was practically the same as that of his step-father.
J.A. Grim who lives at South Bosque was eating dinner in the rear of the saloon, said that he heard the scuffling, he got up and walked toward the front. He says that he saw the four men together and that young Harris fired the first shot with a shot gun, then the shooting was general. He says that he saw young Harris fall to the floor and the senior Harris fell through the door of the screen and two other shots were fired by Lovelace, he thought.
Gus Lunsford who was in the saloon at the time of the shooting says that the row began on the side of the screens next to the front door. He said that the men had quarrelled before but had been separated. Just before the tragedy occurred Mr. Lunsford says that young Harris and Lovelace both had guns drawn and the senior Harris told his son not to shoot. The senior Harris then caught both men and shoved them through the door of the screens, young Harris having the shot gun in a shooting attitude and almost immediately after this the firing began and it seemed to him the shot gun was fired first but it was so rapid that it was hard to tell. He did not see the shooting on the inside but while it was going on the senior Harris came through the screen door partly staggering and reeled over into the corner. About this time the two men who were doing the shooting came through and fired. Lovelace fired two more shots at the senior Harris, the latter falling over after they were fired. One barrel of the shot gun went into the wood work of the screen work and splintered it on the outside. These splinters fell against Mr. Lunsford and he said that he thought that he was hit.
One other party whose name was not learned said that when the men came into the inside of the bar that they were all struggling over guns and that Harris fired both barrels of the shot gun and this was followed by the shots from the sixshooters.
A number of other statements were made to the officers and newspaper men but they did not vary a great deal from the ones quoted above. It is believed that the senior Harris received his wound in the thigh from the shot gun that was in his son's hands and was an accidental shot or hit the father while it was directed at one of the antagonists. Opinions differ as to how the younger Harris received the five shots in the groin. One man said that it seemed that they might have been pistol shots fired by either Reynolds of Lovelace, while the gun was held by one of the Harris men, while others think it was from the shot gun.
An examination of the senior Harris showed that he had no weapon other than a pocket knife which was found open in his pocket.
As stated above Dr. Lovelace and Reynolds went directly to the sheriff's office and gave up. There was none of the officers there when they arrived but they sat quietly in the office until some arrived and then gave up their weapons.
They waived examination and as yet have not asked for bond. It is thought that as the grand jury is in session they will remain in jail until action is taken by that body and it is understood that the grand jury has already begun its investigation of the affair.
Mrs. Harris, the wife of the senior Harris, was at her home when the news of the terrible tragedy in which her son and husband lost their lives was received there. It was broken to her gently and her grief as could be expected was almost unbearable. In company with friends she came to the city as soon as possible. She and Mr. Harris have been married for nearly forty years and have several grown children.
The senior Harris is one of the best known men of this part of the state. He was sheriff of the county from 1882 to 1888 and made a fine record as an officer. He was fearless but not aggressive. He has lived in this county for a half century and has always been highly respected.
The principals in the tragedy are related by marriage. Dr. Lovelace married a Mrs. Reynolds, the mother of Z.T. Reynolds, who is one of the parties to the killing. She was the sister of John McLennan who married Miss Harris, the daughter of Bill Harris, deceased.John McLennan had transferred some property to Reynolds and had entered suit to get it back again. The suit was called in Judge Scott's court last week but had to be postponed on account of the absence of John McLennan, the plaintiff in the suit. It was charged by the Harrisses that McLennan was absent at the instigation of Lovelace and Reynolds and this is what led to the tragedy it was thought.
The remains of Mr. Harris and son were at seven o'clock removed from the undertaking establishment to Mr. Tom Parker's residence on the corner of Twenty-third and Sanger avenue, Mr. Parker being Mr. Harris' son-in-law. Here the heartbroken wife and family are with the remains of their loved ones and their grief is uncontrolable.
Mr. Harris, senior, is 58 years of age and has lived in this county nearly all of his life. The son is 27 years old and unmarried. He has lived in Waco nearly all his life.
The funeral will take place this afternoon at 4 o'clock from the Parker residence. Interment at Oakwood cemetery.
The funeral services will be conducted by Rev. John R. Nelson and John H. Appell.
The following pall bearers have been selected:
For W. Harris, Sr., A.J. Holloway, Bob Ross, Judge G.B. Gerald, George Clark, Joe W. Taylor.
For W.T. Harris, Jr., Charles M. Sheppard, Robert Brooks, Asa Warner, G.C. Barnard, Jr., S.P. Ross.
October 23, 1901
NOTHING NEW IN MONDAY'S TRAGEDY.
Dr. Lovelace and Z.T. Reynolds Released on bond in the sum of $7,500.00 each.
FUNERAL OF THE HARRISES
Was Largely Attended and Services Were Very Impressive - Remains Laid to Rest at Oakwood.
Dr. J.D. Lovelace and Z.T. Reynolds who are charged with the murder of ex-Sheriff Harris and his son, W.T. Harris, were released on bond in the sum of $7500 each yesterday evening. Both defendants waived examination and Justice Williams fixed the bond at the above amount by agreement. It was taken out to Speegleville, the home of the two men, and signed by a number of citizens there and also by several citizens in Waco, and the two men were released about 5 o'clock in the evening.
The terrible tragedy of the day before in which Dr. Lovelace and Mr. Reynolds were two of the principals was the principal topic of conversation yesterday and the discussions were for and against.
In quoting Gus Lunsford who was an eye witness to the quarrel before the shooting took place the Times-Herald said yesterday that gentlemen saw both Dr. Lovelace and young Harris with guns between the screens and front door. This was an error. Mr. Lunsford stated that he saw young Harris with a gun at that time, but he never saw Dr. Lovelace with a gun until after young Harris was shot when Dr. Lovelace came from behind the screen.
It is understood that the grand jury has already taken up the case and has examined some witnesses but it has turned in no bill as yet.
There was an anti-mortem examination made of young Harris yesterday afternoon, there being present Justice N.B. Williams, Assistant County Attorney C___s, Sheriff Baker, Messrs. Fall and Puckett and Drs. Dean and Shelton. The purpose of the examination was to ascertain the kind of bullets that entered Mr. Harris' groin. As was stated yesterday there was seven bullet holes in the left groin, all in a straight row. After probing and cutting into the groin the doctors decided the wounds were all made by one bullet, it being a 41 calibre and was made by passing through the flesh and skin which was wrinkled there.
Another bullet was located just above the heart, and to the left and another in the right lung. Both of these were 38 calibre, the size of the gun used by Dr. Lovelace.
LAID TO REST
The funeral of ex-Sheriff Harris and his son, William T., whose tragic death was fully told in yesterday's paper, took place from the residence of Tom Parker on the corner of Twenty-third street and Sanger avenue yesterday afternoon at four o'clock and was very largely attended.
Ex-Sheriff Harris was one of the old residenters of the county and many of his old time friends from different parts of the country came to pay their last respects to their friend. There was also a large number of friends from the city who were present and many lovely floral tributes were offered. The funeral services were conducted by Revs. J.H. Appell and J.R. Nelson and were very impressive. After two appropriate selections by the Columbia quartette, composed of Messrs. Smith, Mayfield, Hamilton and Lueder_, Rev. Nelson offered a fervent prayer for the comfort of the bereaved ones. This was followed by a short talk by Rev. Appell who is an old time friend of the family. Rev. Appell deeply deplored the sad tragedy and gave words of comfort and consolation to the bereaved family. Rev. Nelson spoke briefly and his words were full of sympathy for the bereft family from which two members have been taken.
After the ceremonies were over the remains of the senior Harris were gently conveyed to the hearse by the pall bearers, Judge George Clark, Judge G.B. Gerald, J.W. Taylor, A.J. Holloway, R.S. Ross and Tom Padgitt, followed soon after by the remains of the son, who were conveyed to a second hearse by the pall bearers, Dan Morris, Chas. E. Moore, S.P. Ross, Asa Warner, Robert Brooks, G.C. Barhard, Jr. They were followed by the heartbroken family and a large number of sorrowing friends to Oakwood cemetery, where they now sleep.