William L. "Brack" Mitchell Jr.

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Pioneers of Ellis County

Death of William L. "Brack" Mitchell Jr.

Contributed by Granville D. Edwards

Source: Abilene Reporter-News, April 28, 1899, Weekly Newspaper


News has been received here of a terrible double tragedy which occurred Sunday, (April 23, 1899) 2:00 p.m. near the little town of Eskota, 30 miles west of Abilene, on the Texas Pacific (Railroad), in Fisher county.

It appears that a young man of 21, named Frank Anderson, who had served a term in state prison, was charged with trying to sell a note with forged signatures, and acting deputy sheriff Brack Mitchell arrested Anderson and, in company with Will Simpson, started to Roby, the county seat, to place the accused in jail, all three riding in the same buggy.

When less than a half mile from Eskota, Anderson made a break for liberty, by jumping from the buggy and starting for the brush. Mitchell threw his six-shooter on him commanding him to halt, which he did and came back to the buggy joking as he did so.

As he reached the side of the buggy, he made a sudden and unexpected grab for Mitchell's pistol, at the same time pulling the officer' head down, and , twisting his-the officers-hand with his own piston, shot him in the back of the head, making a wound which proved fatal in 8 to 10 hours. The team ran away, tearing up the buggy.

Mr. Mitchell was brought back to his home, where he died late last night. The funeral took place in Sweetwater. Anderson's father lives in Eskota, and the boy was reared in this country.

Mr. Mitchell was an old man, white-haired, some 70 or more years of age. He was engaged in several pitched battles with E.J. Davis' police when those marauders were the terror of the white people of Texas. Mitchell came to the Eskota district 8 or 10 years ago (from Ellis County), and was deputy sheriff at Roby four years.

He leaves a large family, five boys and a number of girls, most of them married, all standing high in their several communities. The father of Frank Anderson is said to be a respected, peaceable citizen.

The Rest of the Story

Brack Mitchell was my second great grandfather and a pioneer settler of Chambers Creek also known as the Howe Settlement in Ellis county in 1843. He was a rancher, farmer, third U.S. Postmaster of Chamber Creek as well as a well know nlawman of Hill County. He was also the second great grandfather of Danny Reagan who today is a reporter for the Abilene Reporter News. Danny has recorded that, "according to family legend, which was kept hush-hush for decades – William L. (Brack)'s son, Benjamin Franklin Mitchell (H.C.'s father and known as Ben), tracked down this murdering fellow Anderson and meted out some ‘Code of the West' justice which the authorities kindly ignored."

I would like to thank Jean Caddel for bringing this article to my attention and dedicate it to our cousin Master Sergeant Michael Danny Mitchell now serving with our armed forces in Iraq. Sergeant Mitchell and his wife are carrying on the family tradition by serving where duty calls and have named one of their young sons, Brack Mitchell.


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