I’m addicted to morning coffee, jigsaw and crossword puzzles and more especially genealogy. There I’ve said it! Genealogy is my true addiction! It is filling in the blanks or finding the right piece to complete a story. It’s an insatiable desire to know everything; the whole truth and the details that paint a picture of a person in your tree. Having said that, the stories and documents you discover might surprise you and make you wonder if it should be included in your tree. Such is the case of two Pattillo brothers, both charged with murder.
My grandfather, Wesley Birdwell Stanley, never spoke of his mother’s family yet he spoke of her with a great deal of love and respect. I remember when I was a teenager, I asked about the Pattillos. He gave up little information other than his mother was Mary Lucinda (Mary Lou) Pattillo Stanley, daughter of Joycie Williams and George Alexander Thomas Pattillo. He also said his mother was half Indian, which I have yet to prove but looking at him, I would say if he got any of her genes, then it’s true.
Years later while searching through Roots Web queries, I ran across one that was searching for information regarding Mary Lou’s brothers killing their father! What?? Could that be? Last year I ran into a Pattillo cousin, Mary Jane Dominick Pattillo, and asked if she knew anything regarding the murder. The story that she recanted had been told by her father and it went like this:
George Alexander Thomas Pattillo had been murdered by his son, William, and the body had been dumped in a well!!!! Aha! That was most probably the reason my grandfather never spoke of the Pattillos! That could be the reason I have never located a gravesite for George Alexander Thomas Pattillo. Mary Jane thought the argument had been over a woman. What she didn’t share was that her grandfather, Wesley Elisha Pattillo, was also at the scene of the crime.
Mary Jane also told me that another of George Alexander Thomas’s son, Thomas Bird Pattillo, had murdered the person Hosston, Louisiana is named for, James Monroe Hoss! Wow! What kind of family was this? Two brothers from the same family had committed murder? I had to know more and the search was on!
Shortly after this conversation I was contacted by Michelle McBride, through Ancestry.com, who is also a member of this Stanley-Pattillo tree. She and I discussed the conversation I had had with Mary Jane and decided to work together to prove/disprove these stories.
Michelle located several articles regarding George Alexander Thomas’ murder on genealogybank.com. As you can see below, William and Wesley are first mentioned in the Little Rock Gazette on April 12, 1879.
On September 5, 1879 the following article was published in The Times Picayune via telegram from Texarkana regarding the indictment of these two brothers.
It seems that William, only 16 had been the black sheep of the family causing his father trouble. He had banished William from the family with instructions never to set foot on his land again. William moved to Texas but returned and while he and his brother Wesley were walking on the property, the father saw them. He fired a pistol at William who returned fire with a double-barrel shotgun, striking him six times in his heart.
Their acquittal was also published in The Times Picayune.
Case closed! However I still do not know if the argument was over a woman or where George Alexander Thomas’ body rests.
On to Thomas Bird Pattillo! Thomas Bird, settled in 1898 Mira located in Caddo Parish as an upstanding citizen. Since my granddaughter is a deputy clerk in the Caddo Parish Clerk’s office I asked her to run the archived files for documentation on the murder of Mr. Hoss. She was unable to locate any archived files other than the Warrant for Thomas Bird’s arrest, however, it did not say who he had murdered. This genealogy thingy will drive you nuts! There is always another question that needs to be answered.
And then, out of the blue, came the document I had been searching for; the name of the person Thomas Bird had murdered…….. J. M. Hoss of Hosston! This document was located at the James Noel Library located on the campus of LSU-Shreveport.
And there was more….
Wow! Now there was another person arraigned with Thomas Bird!! Who was Isaac Hale and what role did he play in the shooting?
Then on July 16, 1899 he was released? How could that be?
That question was not answered until I discovered he would be retried in September. From newspaper clippings I learned a poll of the jury of the first trial ended with a decision of 10 to 2 and on September 13, 1899 the announcement of the retrial appeared in the paper.
Followed by a postponement scheduled for September 19th.
And while the micro-film copy is difficult to read, on September 20th the court resumed the trial.
The trial was to begin in the morning, however several of the witness failed to appear in court therefore the trial was delayed until later in the afternoon. What I gleaned from this article was that the argument had been over a debt that Mr. Hoss owed Thomas Bird. Both had been carrying weapons for a while and there had been other altercations. Witnesses testified that Mr. Hoss ’ gun was usually cocked. On that day Hoss had ordered Thomas Bird out of the store three times. Thomas Bird told him he could not hide behind the counter forever and when he came out he would get him. Hoss exited the store armed, followed by his son and another man. Thomas Bird, who already had aim on Hoss, told him to lay down his gun and for the by-standers to move out of the way. Shots were fired and Mr. Hoss was stuck in the lower left arm. The bullet struck his 5th and 6th ribs before exiting on the right side.
The trial which had begun at 6:00 PM and by 8:00 PM the state rested its case. The judge instructed the jury that they were compelled to spend the night in the court-house and that soft side of the benches would be placed at their convenience. This meant but one thing to me, the verdict would be quickly reached!
Three hours later a verdict was rendered and Thomas Bird was convicted, not of murder, but of manslaughter.
According to Louisiana Prison Records, page 2, from Family Search.com Prisoner # 14382, Pattillo was convicted of Manslaughter and was sentenced to serve 10 years from Sept. 24, 1899 until Sept. 24, 1909. He was described was 5’5″ tall, fair with hazel eyes and black hair. He could read and write. Other physical description states he had a long thick head, flesh mole under right eye, bald in front, scar right wrist, long sharp nose, a flesh mole back of neck and was married. His information is listed the third from the bottom on both sheets of the Louisiana Penitentiary Records located in Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge Parish.
Following his incarceration Thomas Bird in lived in Miller County, Arkansas and in 1940 was listed in the census as residing in Rusk County, Texas with his son, John Raymond and family. Thomas Bird died on February 9, 1952 on the front porch of his house. He is buried at Munnerlyn Chapel Cemetery in Ida, Louisiana. In the late 1960s I located the grave site but last year I revisited the cemetery I could no longer locate the headstone.
Now that I have researched these two Pattillo brothers I feel sure that I have all the obtainable documents on record. But I still do not know what drove them to their actions. What was the motivation for the father shooting at his son? Or why would you take a life over a $10.00 debt? And who the heck is Isaac Hale?
Ah, but the unanswered questions are the driving force behind genealogy and in the words of Miss Scarlett O’Hara, “there’s always tomorrow.” Tomorrow I think I will choose a different ancestor, right after that first cup of coffee.