Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Olvin Houston - the family story

I called my cousin, Alma. Olvin Houston was her uncle. Olvin's sister, Lavina who married Rhodes Meade, was Alma's mother. Olvin died in 1919 when Alma was one year old.

In the court appeal the story goes that Olvin and his cousin, Grant Wright, were out drinking and causing general mayhem by shooting around town when they felt like it. Olvin, known for singing, was doing that also. They went to bed at a relatives house and got up and started over again. Henry "Mac" McClees, the local deputy sheriff, was aware of the goings on. Grant's brother went to McCleese home and told him if he went after the pair that they had already said they would shoot him (McClees). Mac finally did go after them and even though he had first refused to go, Nathan was with Mac and Thomas Quillen when the arrest was attempted. Grant greeted the trio with a "hello buddy", and Mac told them they were under arrest. Grant pulled his gun to shoot which Nathan was able to wrestle away from him. Olvin shot Mac in the side and Mac returned fire killing him. Quillen and Mac both told that story. Nathan testified that there was no conversation before Mac shot Olvin except him saying "I am your brother," to Grant before he wrestled the gun away from him.

It is a strange story to me. I wondered why Mac would be found guilty when this happened during an arrest situation, but he was found guilty and the appeals court though sympathetic to the defendant, upheld the verdict.

Alma told me the story that was told to her as a girl and as she was growing up. She said Quillen, Nathan and McClees went after Olvin to kill him. Grant was with Olvin down by the railroad tracks, but they weren't sure exactly where Olvin was standing. Nathan hollered to Olvin to sing a song, which he did thus letting them know where he was in the dark. Nathan shot and killed Olvin. He then ordered Grant to shoot him saying that if he refused he would testify that Grant did the killing. Grant shot Olvin after he was dead. Then Mac, took it on that he had killed Olvin.

I asked her why Mac would take the blame if he didn't shoot Olvin at all. She said she didn't know. They never knew why Nathan killed him except some of the Wrights would just shoot people for no reason.

Did Mac take the blame thinking that he would not be charged or spend time in prison if he were supposedly in the act of arresting Olvin? Was there maybe no warning that he was the law and there to arrest Olvin and Grant making the townspeople feel that it was out of the scope of Mac's duty as the law? Obviously, there was more to the story than the words in the appeal.

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