Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Killing of Brack Thacker 1908

Brack Thacker was the step brother of my paternal great grandfather, Oliver Morton Wallen. His killer was 60 year old John Calvin Graves who had been a neighbor for many years. Oliver mentions J. C. Graves numerous times in his diary. Sometimes J. C. wasn't particularly amiable, sometimes he was. I think he might have been a bit cranky after he got older.

Mt. Vernon Signal
Aug. 7, 1908
"John Graves shot and instantly killed Brack Thacker near Graves home Wednesday morning. Graves is a well-to-do farmer, and is about 60 years of age, the deceased was about 25 years. Bad feeling had existed between the parties for some time. The circumstances immediately preceding the trouble as told us by Coroner John Taylor, who held the inquest over the body of Thacker, are these: Graves and his son, Rome, were at their barn and Thacker, who lived nearby came to Mr. Graves' peach orchard, climbed a tree and was knocking peaches, when Graves told him to get down. Thacker did so, got his shot gun and started toward the barn where Graves and his son were working with a crippled mule. What words took place just before the shooting we are unable to say. The only eye witnesses were Thacker's wife and Rome Graves, yet Mrs. Thacker says she run in the house just before the shooting took place. Graves came to town Wednesday afternoon and surrendered and is now under guard. His examining trial is set for to-day."

Later, we have the outcome of the trial:

Mt. Vernon Signal
Aug. 28, 1908
"John Graves had his examining trial Monday for the killing of Brack Thacker a few weeks ago, and was discharged on the grounds of self defense."

Twice in Oliver's diary he speaks of disagreeable encounters with J. C. Graves and his double barreled shotgun:

John C. Graves
"May 23, 1900 – Got up in the morning and found Ben Price’s mules in my meadow. These mules were running on Mr. J. C. Graves’ pasture and them and his mules had been getting in the meadow. I went down to see Mr. Graves to get him keep the mules out, we got mad and fought. I got the best end of the fight but did not hurt Mr. Graves very bad."

"June 4, 1900 - ....Came home and went to turning ground for millet on some land that papa and I had rented from Mr. J. C. Graves.  Mr. Graves came out with a D. B. shotgun and ordered me to quit the field but I plowed right on."

Other times all seemed well between the neighbors. 

I do believe Brack (aka Robert) Thacker may have had a few screws loose. Two years before he was killed, he tried to commit suicide over lost love...

Mt. Vernon Signal
Aug. 3, 1906

"Robert Thacker, aged about 22, a step-son of W. M. Wallen, having been disappointed in love, decided that life was not worth living and attempted to end his life by firing a bullet from a 32 caliber revolver in his right breast, the bullet passing through the lung. The last report stated that he was in a very critical condition, but would probably recover."

And then there was the time, just a couple of weeks before Christmas in 1907 that Brack was fined $25 for disturbing religious worship.

Within a year after his death, Brack's mother and my great, great grandfather, William M. Wallen, packed up their family and moved to Beeville, Texas. 

Time for a change of scenery....and neighbors, no doubt.



  1. Interesting "mini-series," Lisa. This is the stuff of Hollywood.

  2. Wow. Just wow! Very interesting. Thanks for sharing!