Down a Rabbit Hole
A while back I purchased an old book at an estate sale. Flipping through the pages I found an envelope.
Let’s do some searching and see where this leads.
It is postmarked Dallas, April 29, 1907.
The addressee is Mrs. Berta W. Bowen of Austin. She lived at 706 Colorado Street, just two blocks from the capitol grounds.
Today that block is occupied by the art moderne style Brown Building (which is closer to tan). Built as an office building in 1938, both Lyndon Johnson and John Connally officed there during their careers. It has been converted to loft style apartments.
In 1907 there was an earlier structure on the site called the McDonald Building. Unfortunately I can’t locate any photos of it.
The Brown Building
But who was Berta W. Bowen? Another quick search takes us to an 1890 publication called Local and National Poets of America. Here we learn much.
We learn that she was born in Victoria in 1854. She was married to Walter C. Bowen. They ran a newspaper in Cotulla. She was the mother of four boys.
We even get a sample of the poetry that landed her in Local and National Poets of America.
This snippet of her verse may have you rolling your eyes, but nineteenth century people ate this stuff up.
A little more searching reveals our Berta was the daughter of George Washington Wright, a veteran of the Battle of San Jacinto.
She died at Corpus Christi in 1938. Her husband Walter though died young. Only forty. There has to be a story behind that.
And so there is. Here is how the news was reported in San Antonio:
Dilley Station, where Mr. Allee killed Mr. Bowen, between San Antonio and Laredo.
Walter Bowen’s behavior sure seems odd. Until you read up on Alfred Y. Allee. Then it makes perfect sense.
Here’s what I found out:
He had served as a deputy sheriff in both Karnes and Frio Counties. He had a reputation for “quick and casual violence.” Suspects in his custody had a habit of dying.
While on the job in Frio County, Allee got into a “debate” with a fellow deputy over which was the fastest draw. Allee proved it was him, putting eight slugs in the other man. He was acquitted because witnesses said the other man drew first. So maybe Deputy Allee just had the better aim. A witness would never lie.
Allee stood trial in February of 1892 for the murder of Editor Bowen. He was acquitted. Again.
So, what became of the dangerous Mr. Allee? He lived another four years. This 1896 clipping is long, but worth reading.
I hope you enjoyed this trip down the rabbit hole. It’s pretty amazing where an old envelope can lead you.
I Should Be Dead
Last week another car hit mine while on an overpass. The impact sent me into the guardrail which acted as a launch ramp, sending me up and over.
My car rolled multiple times in the air, and at least three more times on the ground. I should be dead, but by the grace of God I’m still here.
People are good. An angel named Julie, a total stranger, held me down and kept me from going back into the car to get things. A man, whose name I never got, held my hand and prayed for me. The paramedics were on the scene in under five minutes and were fantastic. Same with the trauma team and Christus-Spohn Shoreline.
So many friends have gone out of their way to see to my needs for everything from food to transportation. Like I said, people are good, and I am blessed with more than my share of true friends.