100 Years Ago – February 15, 1909

Houston, Tex., Feb. 15, 1909:  Around 7:00 a.m., a man was found dead beside the stove of the city jail. A police officer had run across him on Milam Street the night before, and he “appeared to be suffering from the cold, being poorly clad and almost helpless.” He was offered shelter in the police station, and was “allowed to enter the runway and rest beside the big coal stove.” He talked with some of the prisoners during the night, and had responded as late as 4:00 a.m. An inquest was held, and the justice of the peace declared that the man, Stoge “Tobe” Townsend, was found to have come to his death by natural causes, induced by exposure to the cold. The newspaper noted: “There were no signs of struggle, and it was evident that the sands of life had run out while the man was asleep.”

The man’s death was more notable than it might otherwise have been given that he was a member of the Townsend family, “who at one time were engaged in the famous Reese-Townsend feud.”


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