Caprock Chronicles: Murders at the Gaines Hotel: Part Two: Investigations and Tragedy

Editor’s Notice: Caprock Chronicles is edited by Texas Tech College Librarian Emeritus, Jack Becker. He could be reached at jack.becker@ttu.edu. Right now’s article in regards to the murders of two cattle inspectors is the second of a three-part sequence by frequent contributor Chuck Lanehart, Lubbock lawyer and award-winning Western historical past author. In Half One, the lifetime of legendary Texas lawman Dave Allison was examined.

In 1921, 60-year-old legendary lawman Dave Allison was an inspector for the Texas and Southwest Cattle Raisers Affiliation (The Affiliation), stationed at Put up, Garza County. To males, who lived within the space, would quickly be the main target of Dave’s skills as a livestock theft investigator.

One of many males, Hillary Loftis, was born in 1872 in Mississippi and moved to Texas at age 13 to reside with relations in Lamar County. He was stocky, 5’9” tall and 160 kilos, with an oddly-shaped head, darkish bushy hair and black eyes “that might pierce although a person like chilly metal.” Generally known as “Hill,” he drifted in regards to the Texas cattle nation, engaged on and off for the Waggoner Ranch in Wilbarger County. Loftis discovered the position of stockman so nicely he later was referred to as “among the finest ranchmen produced within the Southwest.”

A nice ranchman maybe, however the artwork of cattle rustling was not misplaced on younger Loftis. By 1895, he was concerned with an outlaw gang that allegedly robbed and pistol-whipped a clerk on the Waggoner firm retailer, leaving the clerk close to loss of life, then robbed one other retailer and the publish workplace at Ronda, Texas, making off with money and merchandise valued at $700.

Loftis fled west to Hobbs, New Mexico, and assumed a brand new establish – Tom Ross. Ross appeared to quiet down and married Trixie Hardin. There was an unsuccessful try and arrest him by the Martin County Sheriff and a Texas Ranger, however after a shootout with the fugitive, the lawmen gave up the chase. The Wilbarger County prices had been finally dismissed, however Loftis/Ross’ issues with the legislation had been simply starting.

1.	Hillary Loftis, aka Tom Ross, aka Charles Gannon, killer of two cattle inspectors at the Gaines Hotel.

The second man investigated by Dave Allison was Milton Good, born in 1889 close to Tularosa, NM. Good moved together with his household to Texas as a teen. His father was a infamous cattle thief and his uncle was often known as a person killer. “Milt”—brief and stout, with brown hair and hazel eyes—grew to become a well known rodeo competitor, named the 1920 World Champion Steer Roper in Shreveport, Louisiana. He triumphantly returned to Texas and commenced cattle ranching close to Brownfield, raised a household of eight kids, and continued roping steers—typically even his personal.

Affiliation inspector Dave Allison acquired phrase Good was transferring a sizeable herd of cattle with questionable manufacturers. Joined by fellow Affiliation inspector Horace “Hod” Roberson, Dave chased down the herd. There have been violent threats, however no gunfire, and the lawmen seized 516 head of stolen cattle, quickly returned to their rightful homeowners. Good was charged with cattle theft in Hockley, Lynn and Terry Counties, and he was livid.

In the meantime, Tom Ross, who stated “I used to be born to steal, and I don’t know another approach,” was the topic of a cattle theft investigation by Inspector Roberson, with Dave’s help. A Gaines County grand jury was scheduled to think about prices towards Ross—and he too was livid.

1.	Hillary Loftis, aka Tom Ross, aka Charles Gannon, killer of two cattle inspectors at the Gaines Hotel.

Dave and Hod had been summoned to Seminole, the Gaines County seat, to testify earlier than the grand jury starting April 2, 1923. Dave arrived alone, and Hod introduced his spouse Martha. They registered on the Gaines Lodge and settled in, on Easter Sunday, April 1. In the meantime, Ross and Good, the indignant suspects in Affiliation investigations, hatched a lethal conspiracy. They paired up, lurking simply outdoors of city.

The Gaines Lodge was maybe the one appropriate lodging within the small city of Seminole. Many contributors within the grand jury proceedings who lived in different components of the far-flung judicial district additionally checked in to the lodge: District Lawyer Gordon McGuire of Lamesa, Tom Ross’ lawyer George Lockhart of Tahoka and others. They joined Dave, Hod and Martha for dinner on the lodge, together with a number of native residents, together with Sheriff Frank Britton.

After dinner, Martha retired upstairs to learn in her room. The boys gathered round a desk within the tiny foyer for smoking and dialog. About 8 p.m., Sheriff Britton noticed an extended gun poking by the door, however there was no time to react. All of a sudden, BLAM! The deafening shotgun blast tore by Affiliation man Hod’s head. Instantly, a second blast hit Dave, piercing his coronary heart. Because the others scattered like a covey of quail, Ross and Good overtly entered the room, emptying their .45 semi-automatic pistols on Dave and Hod. The Affiliation males had been useless.

Lanehart

Martha heard the commotion, hurried downstairs and rushed to her husband’s lifeless physique. She grabbed Hod’s revolver and ran to the doorway, firing away on the fleeing gunmen as they made their escape in a convertible. Each had been wounded by Martha’s volley. In want of medical consideration, the outlaws surrendered to Sheriff Britton, giving up a semi-automatic shotgun, two .30-30 Winchesters and two Colt .45 semi-automatic pistols.

A day after the capturing, the Gaines County grand jury indicted the pair for homicide. On April 3, the choose on his personal initiative modified the venue, transferring the instances to Lubbock for trial.

The guide, “Fearless Dave Allison” by Bob Alexander, was a supply for this text. In subsequent week’s Sunday A-J, the story of the homicide trials of Tom Ross and Milt Good shall be chronicled.

This text initially appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Caprock Chronicles: Murders on the Gaines Lodge: Half Two: Investigations and Tragedy

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