I was reading a 1908 newspaper, a Houston Post, to be exact, when I discovered a piece of our heritage that has apparently flown right over my head. I still don’t have all of the facts so I am hoping that some of you can enlighten me.
Apparently those who were nothing more than mobsters did not get the memo that night riding was supposed to have ended with the turning of the century because in October of 1908, a group of men referred to as Night Riders appeared in Erath County.
According to the Post, a man by the name of A.G. Leverett lived about eight miles north of Dublin. Mr. Leverett had about 60 acres of cotton under cultivation when the men appeared late one night, telling him that he could not pick any more cotton for the next 30 days. Of course, he was also told that if he did not heed the mob’s warning, he would be “summarily dealt with.”
J.R. and Nicholas Turner also received the same warning that night. The next morning, farmers all over that part of the country had warnings attached to their gate posts.
And then…in the El Paso Herald, I found that Night Riders also posted notes on the Dublin gins, stating that unless all gins were closed within three days, they would be burned. The Houston Post actually printed the text of the letter received by the William Armstrong Gin.
“Mr. Armstrong- Dear Sir: As you are the head of the ginners, will notify you and you can tell the others we want them closed in three days. If they are not closed there will be some fires in Dublin.”
The note was signed, “The Men Hoo Ride At Night.”
According to the article, the gin men said they would stay open as usual.
Finally, in another Houston Post, I found the why in a reprint of a letter received by Dublin citizen G.W. Higginbotham. The Night Riders were trying to inflate the price of cotton.
“Dear Sir and Friend, We earnestly request you to haul no more cotton for thirty days. If you fail to do so we say you may expect just what some of the East Texas people are getting. We are your friends and want to help you. Warn your neighbors and if all don’t comply with this request, we will make a clean sweep. Hold your cotton for better prices. This is no fake. We mean business.”
The letter was signed by the Texas N R.
According to the Post, Mr. Higginbotham stated that he would continue to pick and sell his cotton.
And you thought it was only in the movies, didn’t you?