History Of Hooker Morris' Murder
On the 7th day of December, 1894, many people
this and other counties were shocked to hear of the murder
of Hooker Morris by Jim Hill, a negro.
The murderer escaped and for months evaded
though rewards by the sheriff and relatives amounting to $150
were offered for his capture. Finally he was located near
Navasota by a negro who immediately secured papers for
his arrest and on September 25th, 1895, after a struggle, the
capture was made, though not until Jim Hill was wounded.
He was lodged in the Anderson jail for a day or two, or
until Sheriff Standley and Deputy Vinson went for him.
He was tried at the November, 1895, term of
Hightower appointing J. A. Brazil to defend him, and A. W.
Morris, father of the murdered man, employing Holshousen
& Feagin to aid District Attorney Carter to prosecute.
When the case went to trial it was proven
by good and
credible witnesses that defendant
had been working at the Carmona mills; that the morning of
the 12th he had quit work at 9:30 and, arming himself had
gone in search of a man and woman. That he and the
woman had been "sweethearts" and that the man, Bill McLeod,
had supplanted him in her affections, and for this reason
they must both die, even if they burned his G-- d--n body,
and until he killed them both no G-- d--n white man and no
G-- d--n officer could arrest him.
McLeod was found with one Pasley in a room
boarding house where the woman worked, and as soon as Jim
entered he opened fire with his
pistol, shooting both in the head, but he has claimed that
Pasley was shot accidentally. McLeod and the would-be
angel-maker got into a scuffle over the pistol and got outside the
house. McLeod would not turn loose the gun, and Jim picked
up a hand axe and threatened to kill him. The pistol having
been emptied in the scuffle he turned it loose. Jim then went
to his own house presumable to get more cartridges, and said no
white man could arrest him. He then went to Dr. Herrington's
office and requested him to attend Pasley whom he claimed
was accidentally shot. But before doing this and immediately
after re-loading his pistol he
commenced a search for the woman in the case, Ella Mitchell,
but failed to find her as she had run off. It was then he
said that as soon as he killed her they could burn his body
and that no white man could arrest him.
After going to Dr. Herrington's office he
and the doctor
started off to the boarding house where he had done his shooting,
and as they passed the commissary Hooker Morris came
out on the gallery rolling a cigarette, and called to him:
"Wait a minute, Jim." and walked on toward him, striking
a match on his leg and lighting his freshly rolled cigarette as
he stopped from the gallery.
Upon being addressed the negro ran his hand into the bosom of
his shirt and Morris told him not to pull his pistol, but Jim kept
working at it, and just about the time he got it out Morris
jerked his and both fired almost together, the negro aiming with
deadly precision and sending his bullet crashing through the
brain. Morris fell and Jim Hill ran up and fired at the corpse.
The foregoing is taken from the testimony
given upon the
stand at the trial which resulted in his being given the death penalty.
The case was appealed, and upon this
affirmed by the higher court, and at last term of the district court
Judge Hightower set Friday, July 3, 1896, between the hours
of 11 a.m. and sundown, for his execution.
About June 15th, petitions were started out
asking for a
commutation of his sentence to life imprisonment, and soon
others were being circulated asking the governor to let the
law take its course and to not interfere with the verdict of an
unprejudiced jury and the decision of the Court of Criminal Appeals.
As the fatal day drew near it was thought
by some that the
condemned man would show a little remorse for his terrible
crime, but they were mistaken. He has never ut-
tered a word of fear or sorrow, until the past two or three days,
that the writer has heard of, but has called to those who through
curiosity were examining the gibbet to "let his gallows alone."
The governor had not stated up to 8:20
this morning whether
he would or would not interfere in the matter, and the suspense
of the condemned man must be worse than a thousand deaths.