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John Barnett twice charged with murder

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: 1855 to 1858
Location: Fort Bend County, Texasmap
Surname/tag: Barnett, Glasscock, Lowther
Profile manager: Michael Smith private message [send private message]
This page has been accessed 17 times.

The Glasscock Case

Texas State Times (Austin), Saturday, August 11, 1855:

Richmond -- A HOMICIDE.---Our town was thrown into considerable excitement on Monday evening last, in consequence of the killing of Benjamin Glasscock, a well-known citizen of this county by John Barnett, the Tax Collector of the County. The difficulty arose, we are informed, about the selling of some property by the collector for taxes. Some angry words took place between the parties in the town, when Barnett left and proceeded to his house, a short distance from the business part of town; whilst there, Glasscock rode up and renewed the former conversation in a boisterous manner, when Barnett discharged a double-barrel shotgun loaded with buck shot at him, taking effect in his breast -- eight of the shot striking him. Glasscock instantly fell from his horse, dead. As the affair is undergoing a legal investigation before Justice Lowther, we forbear making any further statements. Mr. Glasscock leaves a wife and several children, and a wide circle of relatives and friends to mourn his untimely end.

Texas State Gazette (Austin), Saturday, August 11, 1855:

Mr. John Barnett, Tax Collector of Fort Bend County, in a difficulty with Mr. Benjamin Glasscock, killed him with a double barrel shot gun. We learn this fact from the Richmond Sun. The examination of Barnett was going on at last accounts.

Galveston Weekly News (Galveston), Tuesday, August 14, 1855:

MAN SHOT IN RICHMOND.---We learn from the stage driver, Mr. Good, that Benjamin Glasscock of Fort Bend County, on Tuesday the 13th by John Barnett of Richmond. It seems there had previously been a misunderstanding between the parties, and Glasscock, on going to the house of Barnett, was told by the latter not to come in. Glasscock still advanced and was shot, receiving seven buckshot in his body. He fell dead without speaking.

San Antonio Texan (San Antonio), Thursday, August 30, 1855:

KILLING AT RICHMOND.---We learn by a gentleman who passed through Richmond last week that John Barnett, the Assessor and

Collector of that place, killed a man by the name of Benjamin Glasscock with a double-barreled shotgun. Our informant was not able to give the particulars.

San Antonio Texan (San Antonio), Thursday, August 30, 1855:

The trial of John Barnett for shooting Benjamin Glasscock was brought to a close last Saturday evening. The case was argued before Justice Lowther, by F. M. Gibson, G. W. Keadall, H.B. Waller, and Judge Mitchell for the defense, and by C.W. Buckley for the State, after which Mr. Barnett was bailed in the sum of $8,000 for his appearance before the District Court.

Galveston Weekly News (Galveston), Tuesday, December 11, 1855:

At the recent term of the District Court in Richmond, John Barnett was tried on the charge of murder, for shooting Mr. Glasscock last summer, and a verdict of acquittal was rendered.

The Lowther Case

Weekly Telegraph (Houston), Wednesday, April 30, 1856:

MURDER.---We learn that John Barnett, who, it will be recollected, was tried and acquitted of the killing of Glasscock at the last term of the District Court in Fort Bend County, committed an unprovoked murder on Tuesday last in the killing of Mr. Lowther, a young lawyer and Justice of the Peace of Richmond. The circumstances, as related to us are, that Barnett was very much intoxicated, and Lowther, acting as his friend, had succeeded, together with a young man whose name we have not learned, in getting him to bed. The young man went out of the room, leaving Lowther at the looking glass, dressing his hair, and when he had got a little distance, he heard the report of a pistol. When the city Marshall entered the room, Barnett was upon his knees with his bowie knife in his hand, and said that he had killed his friend. He, however, denied killing Lowther the next day. We learn that Barnett had threatened sometime previous to the occurrence to kill Lowther for having put him under so heavy a bond at the time of killing Glasscock. Public sentiment seems much excited against the accused in that town. He is now in the custody of the Sheriff of Fort Bend County.

Washington American (Washington-on-the-Brazos), Wednesday, April 30, 1856:

HORRIBLE TRAGEDY.---On Tuesday evening, John Barnett had the misfortune, whether justifiable or not, to send to his long home William Lowther. Soon after Barnett was lodged in jail to await the judgment of his peers and the law. Anything more than a bare statement of the leading facts of this melancholy affair, would be, previous to the trial, ill timed and improper. The prisoner on the evening of the unfortunate tragedy, which has spread gloom over our community, was seen in state of reeling intoxication. About supper hour he was taken to the rooms of Drs. Weston and Weaver and laid in bed. Sometime after, young Lowther entered the room to arrange his costume for the evening party. While standing before the mirror, no doubt thinking of the gay scene for which he was preparing, the stillness of the hour was broken by imprecations and a startling report of a pistol. The ill-fated Lowther, with a heavy noise, fell to the ground, never to rise or speak again. The deceased and the prisoner were alone in the room at the time of awful catastrophe and none but the All-Seeing Eye of Jehovah, was witness to the deplorable deed. It was a corner room of the Masonic Hall, used as a dormitory and an office, and could be entered only through an adjoining one of the larger dimensions. In the farther door of the latter, at the platform at the head of a flight of stairs running from the street, stood Dr. Weaver filled with sorrow and dismay at the sudden and appalling scene enacted so near him.

There was a winning sweetness combined with a lofty independence in the character of the deceased, which won for him the hearts of all associates. Though not a favorite of fortune in point of worldly wealth, yet was his hand as open as day to deeds of melting charity. Whenever young Lowther was master of a dollar, a worthy object of distress could never pass him by uncared for and unrelieved. The pleasure that benevolent acts gave him, when he had the ability to perform them, shed sunshine around his path. Farewell, dear friend. We part, we hope, to meet in brighter realms.

Galveston Weekly News (Galveston), Tuesday, June 10, 1856:

We have been informed, says the Columbia Democrat, that John Barnett, who killed Lowther at Richmond, someweeks since, was heard from in New Orleans, and thence to Nicaragua. It will be remembered that he gave bonds in the sum of $20,000 and was forthwith missing.

Weekly Telegraph (Houston), Wednesday, January 14, 1857:

The Richmond Reporter says in the case of John Barnett, indicted for murder, Judge Bell on application of the defendant, granted a continuance and admitted him to bail in the sum of thirty thousand dollars.

Texas State Times (Austin), Saturday, April 11, 1857:

Items and Gleanings - Richmond The trial of John Barnett, charged with the murder of William Lowther, will transpire, unless further continued, in June next.

Civilian & Gazette Weekly (Galveston), Tuesday, January 5, 1858:

John Barnett has been tried at Richmond under the charge of having murdered William Lowther, and acquitted.

Weekly Telegraph (Houston), Wednesday, January 6, 1858:

In the case of the state versus John Barnett, in Fort Bend County, for murder, trial was had this week, and after but fourteen hours, the jury brought in a verdict of Not Guilty. He was cleared under the plea that the act was committed during a state of somnolencia. I will be remembered that Barnett had been intoxicated and was lying asleep on a bed as was supposed in that state. Whilst thus situated, Lowther came into the room to dress for a ball. He had been in but a moment when the discharge of a pistol was heard in the room. Persons nearby immediately rushed in and found Lowther weltering in his blood, and no doubt shot by Barnett. A slight grudge is alleged to have previously existed. Barnett had always been a good character. And thus the case stood. We have always supposed that temporary insanity must have incited the act. Somnolencia is, we are told, another name for the half asleep awakening drunken state in which a man so situated is not responsible for his acts, and does not know what he is doing.

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