Who Killed Diamond Bessie?

The East Texas town of Jefferson is a quant community located not far from Caddo Lake, Big Cypress Bayou, and the Louisiana border. With a population of under 2000, it has become a popular tourist stop. Two historic hotels, The Jefferson Hotel and the Excelsior are said to be haunted. (I’ve stayed in both and never saw a ghost.)

Jefferson was founded around 1841. Between 1845 and 1872 the town reached a population reported to exceed 30,000 people. At that time, it was the sixth largest city in the state. In 1877, Jefferson became the site of the first big-name murder trial in Texas.

On January 19, 1877, a well-dressed man and woman calling themselves “A. Monroe and wife,” got off the train. They registered at the Brooks House in Jefferson. A. Monroe was an alias for Abraham Rothschild, son of a Cincinnati jeweler. Abraham was a traveling salesman for his father’s business. He met Bessie Moore at a brothel in Hot Springs, Arkansas a few years prior.

On the morning of Sunday, January 21, “Monroe” purchased two lunches from Henrique’s Restaurant for a picnic lunch. One of the last persons to see the couple together took note of Bessie’s large diamond rings. The two of them disappeared into the fog while crossing the footbridge over Big Cypress Creek.

Monroe returned to town that afternoon alone. When asked about his wife he stated she was visiting some friends in the country and would meet him on Tuesday morning for their planned departure. That morning the staff of Brooks House found the room empty. “A. Monroe” departed alone by train with the couple’s luggage.

A week of snow and cold followed. After the weather warmed up, a local resident, Sarah King, was in search of firewood when she found the body of a well-dressed woman near an oak tree. The remnants of a picnic lunch were nearby. The coroner ruled the woman died from a gunshot wound to the head. Jefferson residents took up a collection to bury the unidentified body in Oakwood Cemetery.

A week of snow and bad weather followed this, and after it began to warm up, Sarah King, while out looking for firewood, found the body of a well-dressed woman, without jewelry, near a twisted oak. The remnants of a picnic lunch were also found near the tree. The coroner ruled that the woman died due to a gunshot wound in the head. The citizens of Jefferson took up a collection and buried the unidentified body at Oakwood Cemetery.

Diamond Bessie’s Grave

Authorities issued a warrant for the arrest of A. Monroe on suspicion of murder. After learning “Monroe” left on an eastbound train and that he had previously registered in a Marshall, Texas hotel as A. Rothschild and wife from Cincinnati, Ohio, a new warrant was issued for Abraham Rothschild of Cincinnati. The victim was identified as Bessie Moore.

Back in Cincinnati, Rothschild drank heavily. Convinced someone was following him, he walked into the street and attempted to kill himself. He only succeeded in blinding his right eye. He was arrested while in the hospital. Texas and Marion County officials went to Cincinnati to identify and extradite him. His family put up a fight, but on March 19, extradition was approved.

Because of the Rothchild family’s social status, the case drew interest. Public fascination with the murder was comparable to the more recent trials of O. J. Simpson or the Menendez brothers. Texas governor Richard B. Hubbard stated the murder was “A crime unparalleled in the record of blood.”

The Rothschild family secured a change of venue and in December 1878, the case went to trial in Marshall, Texas. After three weeks, the jury found him guilty of murder, but the case was overturned by appeal.

A second trial began on December 22, 1880, this time in Jefferson. Rothschild didn’t testify in his defense, but his lawyers managed to plant doubts in the minds of jury members. He was acquitted and returned to Cincinnati with his family.

Rumors began to circulate, such as the jury being bribed, and that Bessie was pregnant at the time of her death. These rumors haven’t been proven. In the 1890s a handsome, elderly man wearing a patch over his right eye asked to see the grave of Bessie Moore. Upon visiting, he laid roses on it, knelt in prayer, commented on the goodness of the citizens to provide a decent burial, and gave the caretaker money for the care of the grave. Folklore asserts that this was a repentant Rothschild visiting the grave.

Since 1955, during its annual Pilgrimage Festival, produces a play titled The Diamond Bessie Murder Trial, derived from court transcripts, is performed. The case is still officially unsolved.

Me? Writing Poems? No Way!

Although I dabbled with poetry in high school, I am not a poet. I might add those attempts were sweet little rhymes mostly about the latest boy I had a crush on. Lots of us gals did that in those days. Maybe they still do, I don’t know.

Last week, I wrote that I had rejoined the Vocal writing community. I submitted two short stories, one of them for a contest. No word on that yet, but my flash fiction piece Where is Gunnar was selected as a top story earlier this week! Woo hoo!

I have several of my earlier fiction pieces that I plan to dust off and publish there over the next few weeks and months. I also want to write some new ones, as I have tons of ideas.

But what’s this about poetry? Oh yeah. Vocal has a new contest called Ludicrous Limericks. After two friends, Harmony Kent and Staci Troilo, submitted several, I decided to give it a try. I came up with four.

Two are more on the humorous side and one is a nature poem. The fourth was inspired when I began brainstorming my third Legends of Madeira novel. It’s titled The Road.

Royalty-free photo by Nathaniel Luckhurst | Dreamstime.com

It’s easiest to see all the poems by visiting my Vocal Profile. They immediately follow the three pinned stories.

If you’d prefer, here are the individual links:

I’m not giving up prose, and I may never write another limerick or any other poem again, but these were fun to do. If you have time to read and share, I’d appreciate it.

On The Road With Marcia Meara

Hey, Readers. I’m on the road again today. (Shades of Willie Nelson, anyone?) Seriously, I’m visiting with a dear friend who is well-known in the blogging community, Marcia Meara.

Marcia is the author of several books including the Riverbend and Wake-Robin Ridge series. You can check out all her books by clicking here.

Today I’m talking about music and the songs that inspired some of my books and short stories. I’ve closed comments here, but I hope to see you at Marcia’s place.

Haunted Tombstone

Hey, Readers. It’s time for another legend. It’s been a few weeks since I posted about a haunting, so I thought this would be a good time.

Tombstone, Arizona is a historic town founded in 1879 by prospector Ed Schieffelin. Known for its silver mines, it became one of the last boomtowns on the American frontier. It grew from a population of one hundred to around 14,000 in less than seven years. Today, a little over 1,300 reside there.

I visited there in 2006 while on a business trip to Tucson. My coworker and I took an early flight so we’d have time to see this legendary town. If you ask a resident what Tombstone first became famous for, they would say the silver. However, I doubt many would even know the town’s name if not for the infamous shootout at the O.K. Corral involving the Earp brothers and Doc Holiday against Cowboy members Tom and Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton.

Tombstone was known for its lawlessness, or blatant disregard for the law, which resulted in the deaths of several people. As you might imagine, there are said to be lots of ghosts that still reside there, some even walk the streets.

On October 28, 1888, Curly Bill Brocius, a leader of the Cowboy faction gunned down Marshall Fred White. He died two days later, and his spirit is said to haunt the street near the shooting site.

Some have claimed to have seen another apparition, dressed in a long black frock coat on several occasions crossing the street. This occurrence is near the place where Virgil Earp was ambushed and shot in the arm. Earp lived but was crippled for life. Some believe it is his spirit that haunts the place. Interestingly, the ghost never makes it across the street.

As you might guess, the O.K. Corral itself is said to be haunted by the ghosts of the Cowboys who died there. Several witnesses claim to see fading apparitions dressed in cowboy attire, often with guns drawn. Others say they feel cold spots in various places.

The graves of Billy Clanton, Frank McLaury, and Tom McLaury in Boot Hill Cemetery. The sign to the right states they were murdered on the streets of Tombstone.

Visitors to Boot Hill Cemetery report seeing strange lights and hearing unidentifiable noises in the old graveyard. Some say Billy Clanton walks from his grave back toward Tombstone. A number of people say spirits appear in photographs.

My coworker and I visited Boot Hill but didn’t witness any strange sights or sounds. However, another coworker went there with a group of friends. One of them took a photo of her standing near a grave marker. To Tami’s left was a dark image of what looked like a cowboy. This was in broad daylight. She showed me the photo, and I easily saw the apparition.

These are only a few of the reported sightings in Tombstone. But a town with its history is sure to have some hauntings.

I’m On Vocal!

Hey, Readers. A couple of years ago, I joined a site called Vocal. It’s a place where authors can publish stories of various genres in both fiction and non-fiction. Authors also earn money when stories are read. Vocal + members can enter contests.

I published one story, but I didn’t have the time to devote to it. This weekend, I decided to join again, and I’ve already published two additional stories and entered one into a contest.

The first one, Where is Gunnar, is a flash-fiction story. You can read it by clicking here.

The second, The Great Adventure is a short story that I entered into the Tall Tale contest. Click this link to read.

Both are a little different from my usual genre, although Where is Gunnar contains an element of suspense. I’d be grateful if you’d pop over to read and share. You’ll need a Vocal log-in to comment, but there’s no cost involved for that.