Liberty County History

An occasional gathering place for articles, documents, photographs, records and other ephemera dealing with the history of Liberty County, Texas.


Kevin Ladd is director of the Wallisville Heritage Park at Wallisville, Chambers County, TX and lives in Hardin, TX. He is chairman of the Liberty County Historical Commission and writes for "Texas Illustrated," a monthly publication of the Liberty Gazette newspaper, which is devoted to local history and folklore.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Crowder Cattle Theft Case (1918)

Nothing set rural folks into a state of alarm quite like cattle theft, which might strike some modern folks as unusual. However, during the summer of 1918, cattle raising translated into the chief or a major livelihood for many families. This series of stories gleaned from old issues of The Liberty Vindicator tells the story of one such incident, which was stopped through the efforts of Franklin Abshier, son of Capt. Frank Abshier and his first Sophia Susan Garrard. These articles tell the whole story.

Friday, July 26, 1918

Tuesday, Franklin Abshier reported to authorities that a drove of cattle were being loaded on the cars at Hardin, consigned to New Orleans, and that an investigation of the same should be made. Sheriff [Charlie] Carlisle, deputy [Allen] Wheat, and D. R. Davis of the Cattleman's Association, accompanied by the sheriff of Waller county, who was here investigating other matters, responded, stopped the shipment, and discovered that the brands on the cattle had been defaced and that they belonged to people in Waller county. In this drove there were 43 head. The arrest of Jim Crowder, John Crowder, Dick Crowder, J. D. Crowder, [Corbet] Kuykendall followed.

Friday, August 9, 1918

The examining trials of the Crowders, charged with cattle theft, were heard before Judge Perryman Monday and the result was that the bonds of H. B. , H. B. jr. and Jim Crowder be fixed at $500 in each case. Dick and John Crowder, and Corbet Kerkendell were discharged here but taken in custody by the Harris county officials.

Friday, August 23, 1918

Indict Men for Cattle Theft -- The Harris county grand jury last Friday indicted H. B. Crowder jr. and John Crowder, and Travis Butzka on five charges of cattle theft. The two Crowders were in custody in Liberty county. In order to gain custody of the men, the grand jury indicted them without waiting for examining trials. Butzka is in the county jail here but has never been given an examining trail. The three men are alleged to have stolen cattle in a large scale from Fort Bend, Waller, Liberty and Harris counties, all of which they are said to have sent to Fort Worth, Kansas City and other markets. In Harris county, it is alleged they, they stole 81 head of cattle belonging to persons who reside near the Fort Bend county line---Houston Post.
The Liberty county grand jury has also indicted the Crowders for theft of cattle---H. B. Crowder in seven cases and Jim Crowder in one case.
Friday. October 11, 1918

Crowder Admits Guilt. Gets Two Prison Terms -- H. B. Crowder jr., a well-to-do stockman who lives near Katy, pleaded guilty to two charges of cattle stealing in criminal district court Saturday morning and was sentenced to two years in the penitentiary in each case. Crowder was convicted on one charge last Monday and received two years, making six years in all. The other two charges against him were dismissed.

Crowder, officers say, stole more than 80 head of cattle from stockmen living in Harris, Waller and Liberty counties and placed his brand on them. He has yet to answer to a number of other indictments pending against him in Waller and Liberty counties. Similar charges here against Travis Butzka, a hired hand of Crowder, and John Crowder, a younger, have all been dismissed. – Houston Chronicle.


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