Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of four articles about Denison’s "Night of Terror" that took place in May 1892.

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of four articles about Denison’s "Night of Terror" that took place in May 1892.


In the second article in this series we related how Hattie Haynes, wife of a Denison physician, was the first to lose her life in the hands of a murderer. Hattie was shot to death at her home in south Denison and her diamonds were brutally ripped from her ears and her fingers.


In August 1942 Grayson County Sheriff Lee McAfee related that at a restaurant on Austin Avenue that belonged to a man identified only as "Tom" was where business contracts could be made for house burglaries, horse and cattle thefts and even an assassination if such a contract was to be made.


Sheriff McAfee thought that Mrs. Haynes’ killer told Tom about the bungled robbery, which upset him so much that he took his gun and went to Madam Lester’s saloon and brothel in the 100 block on Skiddy Street (now Chestnut) looking for Mrs. Haynes’ half-brother, George Garner, whom he thought had double crossed him. The half-brother was a son of Mrs. Haynes’ father, Dr. J.D. Garner and his first wife. George frequently was at Madam Lester’s place, a bagnio, a disreputable house also called a brothel just one block from Main Street. The "house" was a 50-foot frame building in front with a two-story brick building like a hotel in the rear where Madam Lester quartered her "girls."


The sheriff believed that the killer walked into Madam Lester’s shortly before midnight, where the scene was quite festive with a man plunking away on the piano and the madame was coaxing a frequenter to purchase a drink. Girls and men were lounging about the room in a rather promiscuous manner enjoying the evening, according to an article in the Sunday Gazetteer on May 22, 1882. Maude Kramer was seated in a wicker chair near the front center of the third room and to her rear were George Garner and Alice Adams. Standing in front of these three was another woman.


According to the Gazetteer, the shooter, without warning fired his .45-caliber pistol. The flash startled everyone, and then was followed by a few seconds of hushed stillness. Not a breath was drawn, not a voice was heard and no one moved. Another flash was seen as the culprit began shooting at Garner from the door and hit Maude instead, then turned and ran. Maude threw up her hands and cried out in a low, but audible voice, "I’m shot!" He missed Garner completely.


The wildest confusion followed with women screaming and men darting out and behind every conceivable object. Someone made a break for the rear door and men and women literally trampled one another in the stampede to exit the building.


The first bullet had passed entirely through the right side of Maude Kramer, through the arm of the chair, then the clothing of the woman standing in front of Alice Adams and George Garner before burying itself in the opposite wall near the door leading out to the beer chest.


The second shot entered Maude’s body near the center on the right side and passed entirely through the stomach. Its force had been spent, however and it fell down into the chair and when she was removed, it rolled out onto the floor. She was taken to the upper room and a physician was summoned.


The house soon filled with an excited crowd of morbidly curious men. During the excitement, news was received of the earlier tragedy at the home of Dr. W.F. Haynes near the Exposition Building in south Denison.


After the shooting at Madame Lester’s a man with a heavy mustache, dark clothing, square shoulders and a rather striking appearance called at the front door and asked permission to see the wounded woman. His request was denied and the man acted very strangely. He drew out a large pistol from his hip pocket and said: "The wages of sin is death," and turned to a man nearby and said "You would make a good target."


He spoke at some length on the wickedness of the world and appeared to be a kind of ministerial crank. On leaving the building he headed toward Main Street and nothing more was seen of him. He was a stranger to everyone and by a good many he was thought to be implicated in the assassination.


A short time after the shooting at Madame Lester’s someone ran across the block to the Rivers bagnio and informed the girls there of the tragedy, and all, of course, wanted to go down to see. In the front east room was a girl, Rosa Stuart, and her company. The lamp was burning brightly, and Rosa gathered an outer garment and was putting it on over her head when there was a flash and a loud pop and the girl sank to the floor with a stream of blood gushing out from the right lower breast and another on the opposite side behind.


The window shade had not been pulled completely down, leaving a crack about two inches between the top of the window sill and the bottom of the curtain. On the outside of the window was a wire screen and the deadly bullet passed through the screen.


The doctor was just finishing dressing the wounds of the Kramer girl when he was summoned to rush to the Rivers house, where his services were urgently needed. Everything possible was done for Rosa but at that time it was thought that death would be sure and soon.


After the shooting, the killer was believed by McAfee to have returned to his Austin Avenue business, and then headed north toward Morton Street.


According to the newspaper article, news of the shootings spread like wildfire. Men armed themselves and waited at their homes for the next attack of the "fiend." The Stanley Rangers and the Denison Rifles were called out and every stranger on the streets was stopped. Officers Preston and Deering stationed themselves at a point in the rear of the Star Lumber Yard. A suspicious character was seen, and when he was called to surrender, he turned on his heels and fled. Chase was given, four shots were fired, but the fleeing man turned the corner at the north approaching the viaduct and disappeared in the darkness. His identity was never known.


Some believed that Tom also had a contract to kill Rosa that had been arranged by her brother who came down from Michigan and was rejected in his plea for Rosa to return to her husband and children back in that state. Sheriff McAfee surmised that Tom recognized Rosa and decided it was as good a time as any to complete the contract so he shot her too.


Fortunately Rosa didn’t die, but she did return home to her family in Michigan as soon as she was able to travel. Maude, however, didn’t fare as well, and died.


About 3:20 a.m. a courier came down to Main Street from the North part of town and announced that there had been another killing. The fourth article in the series will go directly to Morton Street where the killing occurred.


Donna Hunt is former editor of The Denison Herald. She lives in Denison and can be contacted at d.hunt_903@yahoo.com.