When Lucy Nabers Faced “The Beast”

And The Demon Was Almost Too Big For Her…

 She screamed* until she couldn’t scream anymore, and then she collapsed, her vacant stare indicating that she couldn’t quite grasp the fact that her two little boys, her babies, were gone, couldn’t make any sense of it in her mind. How was it possible that she had kissed them and sent them off to bed just hours before, with no understanding that it was over, that her role as their mother had come to an end?

I think the size of the tomb shows the depths of the grief of Lucy and Jack Nabers, who must have felt that this was the worst blow life could ever hand them.

I think the size of the tomb shows the depths of the grief of Lucy and Jack Nabers, who must have felt that this was the worst blow life could ever hand them.

It was the morning of April 20, 1875, and Lucy Nabers’ first reaction as she sniffed the whisps of smoke was to jump into action as she awakened her sleeping family with the news that the house was on fire.  Of course, in those first moments of dragging her sleep induced mind into the present and the danger of the fire, there was no reason for Lucy to suspect that the fire was simply a cover for the man who had murdered two of her children as well as two other children who had also slept in the Nabers’ home the night before.

Lucy’s daughter, Dora Nabers Green, lived with her husband and city marshal, Jeff Greene, not far from the home of her parents in the little frontier town of Comanche, Texas. There was no way that Lucy could have known that Dora had spent a restless night, crying out in her sleep multiple times that she could see her little brothers lying in their own blood.  Her last dream was interrupted by a knock on the door, her brother-in-law and deputy U.S. marshal Boss Greene, having come to deliver the horrible news in person. Her little brothers, Fleete and Jospeh Nabers, had indeed been murdered.


Of course, it was a senseless crime. A man by the name of Moses, often called Mose, had spent the previous day working in the Nabers yard as he sharpened various implements, including the ax he used as a murder weapon. In fact, Mose had the very boys that he would murder just hours later helping him with the task.

And then, Mose tried to force his attentions on a very young step-daughter, and Lucy stepped in, speaking sharply to the man.  It was that step-daughter and her friend who were murdered first inside the Nabers’ home.

Then Mose made his way into the room where Fleete and Joseph slept. I don’t know how the man was able to murder four children with an ax without disturbing anyone, but he obviously committed the horrible deed, setting the fire and cutting the well rope before he made his getaway.

 Of course, the town of Comanche literally went up in arms, forming multiple search parties, who fanned out across the area in search of the ex-slave.  It had been only a decade (almost to the day) since the close of the Civil War, and wounds on all sides of the conflict were still bleeding. No one in Comanche was going to accept the murder of innocent children, and (right or wrong) they certainly were not accepting it from a black man!

It was Clayton “Clayte” Carnes who found Moses, and it was Clayte who killed him.  It wasn’t easy, but the town of Comanche did eventually put itself back together. It would be another decade before the next evil deed was committed at the hands of another black man, a deed the town simply refused to forgive.

*Of course, I have no way of knowing just how Lucy Nabers handled the initial shock of losing two of her sons to murder.  The truth of the matter is that I doubt if her outside behavior was as I have described. I would be willing to bet everything I have, however, that her insides reacted exactly as I have described.

About Fredda Jones

Fredda Davis Jones was raised “in the country” in Comanche County and learned very early that creativity and innovation are traits that can flourish even in small-town Texas and that with enough effort, indeed nothing is impossible, including being married to the same man for over 40 years! Rickey and Fredda have 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and a crazy life that includes sitting in the bleachers several times a week. The rest of her time is spent creating great content for texansunited.com and marketing small-town Texas.
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2 Responses to When Lucy Nabers Faced “The Beast”

  1. mary peacock says:

    What an awfully terrifying story! I had heard it many years ago but still is horrifying each time.

    • Fredda Jones Fredda Jones says:

      Yes, it is, and it created a climate that said, “Never Again.” When again happened, mob violence was such as to change the town and the reputation of the town from then until now.

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