Bartee Haile


Lamar dies mourning Houston's victory over Burnet

by Bartee Haile


Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar, second president of the Texas Republic, dropped dead of a heart attack at his Richmond home on Dec. 18, 1859.

When he stepped down as the Lone Star chief executive in December 1842, Lamar was a physical and emotional wreck. Not only had his grand plan of setting the new nation on an irreversibly independent course gone wrong, the voters had picked archenemy Sam Houston over soul mate David G. Burnet as his successor.

A much anticipated trip to Georgia to visit his daughter Rebecca, whom he had seen just twice in seven years, was almost permanently postponed by a duel. Blaming Lamar for his recent rejection as vice-president, Memucan Hunt demanded satisfaction but mutual friends managed to defuse the private powder keg.


Lynchings ignite Hoodoo War

by Bartee Haile


A masked mob dragged five suspected cattle thieves kicking and screaming from the Mason County jail on Feb. 18, 1875, lynched three of the terrified outlaws and touched off a nasty feud forever known as the Hoodoo War.

In the chaotic aftermath of the Civil War, Texans often took the law into their own hands. Desperate characters, who mistook common folk for easy pickings, were routinely dispatched without benefit of judge, jury or clergy.


Infamous Texas fugitive flees to Brazil

Bartee Haile is a syndicated columnist of 'This Week in Texas History' read in the pages of The Highlander.

by Bartee Haile

The news out of Brazil on Jan. 30, 1977 was that a 19-year fugitive from Lone Star justice, had been arrested for financial misdeeds in his extradition-proof sanctuary.

Long before the savings and loans scandal of the 1980’s, there was BenJack Cage, scam artist supreme. The six-foot four-inch former football player could size up a sucker across a crowded room, or as one of his many victims observed, “He can take your pulse at 20 paces.”

Six decades ago, any Texan with $25,000 and a gift for gab could get into the insurance racket. Taken in by BenJack’s stirring promise to erect “a living memorial to the working people of Texas,” gullible labor leaders helped him launch his own company in 1952.

The AFL-CIO went so far as to encourage locals and members to invest in ICT Insurance. The unions complied by purchasing more than half of the $15 million in stock that flooded the market.


This Week in Texas History

U.S. Navy caught running guns to Santa Anna


While on patrol off the Mexican coast on Mar. 20, 1836, the Invincible vanquished an enemy man-of-war and seized an American blockade runner on the high seas. It was all in a day’s work for the Texas Navy.



This Week in Texas History

Bartee Haile, This Week in Texas History

Disgraced politician tries to settle the score


Mar. 14, 1882, was the date and the Dallas County Courthouse was the place a former mayor of three Texas towns chose to have it out with the man he blamed for his latest fall from political grace.


It was no coincidence that James Thurmond went out west in the late 1850s. Like other youths of draft age, the Kentucky native wanted to put as many miles as possible between him and the soon-to-come Civil War.

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