The Steele-Kirby, Loggins-Morris and Morris-Loggins Tragedies.
[Special Correspondence of the News.]
Hempstead, Oct. 18. — The above titled cases, with others that preceded them, have made a name for Waller county in criminal history. During the past ten days these cases have been before judge Burkhart, and Hempstead, county seat, has been overrun with witnesses, lookers-on, relatives of accused and lawyers. Kirby's case was continued. Dan Morris has a hung jury, and the three Loggins go to Austin county for trial next January, on change of venue.
Your correspondent is not the first one to remark upon the clever class of people of Waller county, and to wonder at the daring deeds of bloodshed committed in that county. The testimony in the above cases, generally considered, carries one back to the days of the most cowardly ambuscades, the deadliest vendetta, and the blood-thirstiest family feuds. Men take up shotguns, fix themselves in the paths of antagonists and make their intentions unqualifiedly certain and viciously murderous by shooting from ten to fifteen balls, at one load, at unsuspecting (at that moment) victims. The feud starts in the usual way. A man is shot in a quarrel. The friend or relation of deceased yearns for vengeance. Threats pass from one side to the other. A sickly sentimentality of manly courage is mistaken for real bravery, and the prisoner's broodings of months or days crystallize into a boiling passion that evaporates only with the smoke of the effective charge from the friendly shot-gun. Perhcance (sic) there is a quarrel that for the time breeds only venomous hate. Fear of death without warning arms the haters, and a heated moment ignites the powder.
HOUSE DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF.
"Ah! sir, it has given me worlds of trouble, this family feud," said uncle Daniel Loggins to me in the county clerk's office at Hempstead, where the speaker and I had seated ourselves for a talk. "No more affectionate set of relatives ever lived till this trouble between Tom Loggins and Dan Morris, my nephew. The first time Tom saw Dan he hated him, and hence this trouble. Our family heads are church people, and have a law-abiding record in the past."
The old gentleman trembled with emotion, and leaned over the table.
"Then there is intermarriage among you!" I asked.
"Yes, even to double cousins."
"How are the Logginses and Morrises connected, and how long in Texas?"
"We are from Tuscaloosa county, Alabama — farmers of poor and respectable parentage."
He then ran over the family names, from which I got an insight into the branches of the family tree.
Brothers — Reuben Loggins, James Loggins, Daniel Loggins, (the interviewed), John Loggins, of Grimes county.
Brothers — Reub. Morris, Dan Morris, and Tom Morris, nephews of Reuben, Daniel, James and John Loggins.
Tom Loggins, son of Reuben Loggins, alleged to have been killed on the 31st of May, 1879, by Dan Morris, his cousin.
Reuben Morris, brother of Dan Morris, alleged to have been killed on the 9th of July, 1879, by his uncle Reuben Loggins and cousins Henry, son of Reuben Loggins, and Williford, son of James Loggins.
Tom Loggins and Reuben Morris, the deceased, cousins, married Miss Alstons, sisters, by which (Alstons being related to them) Reub. and Dan became double cousins.
Tom Loggins was riding with Mat Alston, brother of the Miss Alstons just referred to, when he was shot. Hence Mat Alston is the principal witness against his brother-in-law, Dan Morris, the alleged murderer of Tom Loggins.
Old man Reuben Loggins came to Texas in 1856. His nephew, Reub Morris, whom he is charged with killing, came with him at the age of twenty years. Daniel Loggins came to Texas in 1870. Other members of this large family, said to embrace over seventy in all, came between 1856 and 1870. Until the past year no feud has ever existed among them. They are tall men as a rule. It is said no male adult Morris or Loggins is less than six feet high. Those I saw would fill the bill, and some of them have an inch or two to spare.
THE COURT ET ALS.
Judge Burkhart was a Davis appointee of years ago. His district of six counties — Wharton, Fort Bend, Waller, et id omne genus — has rolled up its republican vote for him since the appointment. He has beaten competitors of his own party. About forty years of age, a little embonpoint, affable, witty — even waggish, business-like, plain and unostentatious; brown hair and long, brown beard covering his face from a level with his lower, strong lip down, a little over medium height; brown, active, observant, twinkling, terrible-or-tender-at-will cross-eyes — such is the judge who handles the scales for Morris, Loggins and Kirby. Ex-attorney general Boone, who, by the way, looks better than I ever saw him, tells a good story on judge B. It runs thus: The judge found it necessary, in view of circumstances governing the case, to nolle pros., one after another, several cow-theft cases standing against one man. His honor swept the charges off one by one til he came to the last, against the same man, this time for horse-stealing.
"Well," said judge B., "dismiss that, too; he'll want a horse to herd the cattle with."
Major Boone, once a presbyterian minister, now an eloquent advocate, defended Dan Morris and closed the defense. His illustrations, figures of speech, flights of oratory and adroitness of argument were characteristic of him, I am told by his brethren at the bar. About the size of his brother, the ex-attorney general, he possesses the brow that marks ability, and can out-talk if he can't out-law his brother.
District attorney Davidson hammers steadily at the evil-doers of Waller. His pleadings drive at the facts with hammer force. He labors hard for two reasons — to avenge the law and get the fees, and in this is like all other well regulated state prosecutors.
"The Steele-Kirby, Loggins-Morris and Morris-Loggins Tragedies.", The Galveston Daily News, Sunday, October 19, 1879, p. 4, col. 5.