Looking Back At The Last Legal Hanging In The Texas Panhandle
It was on June 3, 1910 in Clarendon, Texas that the first hanging in Donley County took place. It would also be the last legal hanging carried out in the Texas Panhandle.
Looking back at the last legal hanging in the Texas panhandle; the ripple effect of that hot June day is still felt today.
The Legacy Of G. R. Miller In The Texas Panhandle
The man who would become the last to be hanged legally in the Texas panhandle was G. R. Miller. His crime? Miller had committed what was deemed--at the time--the most "cold-blooded double murder" in the Texas panhandle.
Reportedly, one day in March 1909, Miller walked off his job with the cement company; on the way out he purloined several units of dynamite. With the explosives in one hand and a stolen pistol in the other, he ransacked a friend's home before blowing it up with the explosives. It was then that he hopped a train headed west out of Childress..
While riding the rails, Miller would gun down two men and injure two others in cold blood.
Authorities caught up to Miller, and he would be found guilty of the murders. Of course, this is the "long story short" version of events.
The First Hanging In Donley County, And The Last Legal Hanging In The Panhandle
Some accounts of the day of Miller's execution lay out the details surrounding the construction of the gallows. It was a major event in the area. Men and their sons from all over went to see the sight.
It was to serve as both reminder and warning. Be good, make right choices, and you won't have to suffer this man's fate. Death is never an easy sight to behold.
According to accounts handed down from the time, women weren't in attendance.
The Lasting Impact On The Christian Colony Of Clarendon, "Saints Roost," Texas
I came across an archived paper from 2010 regarding the 100 year anniversary of the hanging. Of particular interest were the editorial comments.
In the editorial comments, it is pointed out that the hanging (which would be the last legal hanging in the Texas panhandle) had, over time, become part of the culture of Clarendon. The comments almost made it seem as if it were something that was celebrated.
The comments mention how the hanging had almost become a "seminal event" of the town's history. His reaction? Shame on us.
It's interesting to me because I wasn't aware of the hanging of G. R. Miller before today. From what I do know regarding the history of Clarendon is that it was established to a Christian colony, offering morality on the high plains when places like Tascosa were playing host to every imaginable vice.
Now I know it would also play host to the first and only hanging in Donley County, and the last legal hanging in the panhandle.