Contributed by Billy Joe Cabaniss, Jr.
Cabaniss Web Site
April 29, 1999
I was recently asked if I had any knowledge of a 1918 crime that occurred in Huntsville, Texas (Walker County). The crime was described as the lynching of a family of six African Americans on June 4, 1918. I think I was asked about it because the family and I share the same surname, the crime was committed in Texas, and, finally, I live in Texas.
I’m ashamed to say it, but I had seen a reference to the crime some years ago and did nothing to obtain any details it…until now. After a little digging I surfaced two news reports in the two San Antonio newspapers. What follows is my transcription of the reports. While the crime was not a lynching, it’s horrific by anybody’s measurement. I want to know more. If you know anything about this crime, the victims, or the family of the victims, please contact me.
Billy Jœ Cabaniss, Jr.
P.O. Box 701128
San Antonio, TX 78270
San Antonio Express: Sunday Morning, June 2, 1918, Page 10
Six Negroes Dead After Battle With Citizen’s Posse
Entire Family Wiped Out as a Result of Resistance to Draft Call
By Associated Press
Huntsville, Tex., June 1-Sarah Cabiness, negress, and her sons, George, Pete, Cute, Tenola and Lena are dead and her daughter, Bess, is fatally wounded, as the result of a shooting affray in the Dodge neighborhood in this county this morning. George Cabiness was shot and killed on Thursday afternoon when he resisted offivers [sic] who had gone to his home to arrest him for pulling a gun on A.P.W. Allen. The killing of Cabiness aroused the members of his family to a point where they made up their minds to kill the entire Allen family, and on Friday Mose Allen was informed of the intention of the negrœs.
About 10 o’clock last night one of the Cabiness negrœs carrying a double barrel shotgun approached Mr. Allen’s home, and upon failing to give an account of his presence and reason for carrying the gun, was shot and badly wounded. The other members of the Cabiness family were near and carried the wounded man to their home about two miles away.
Shortly after daylight this morning a posse of citizens surrounded the Cabiness home and were met by the negrœs with a volley from six shotguns. The posse began firing into the negro house and soon it began burning. As the flames gained headway the mother began carrying the bodies of her four dead sons to the yard where she too met her death.
The negrœs fired nearly 200 shots at the posse but none of the white men were injured. The Cabiness negrœs were among the most desperate in this county and the cause of the killing was the result of George Cabiness for refusing to register in the selective draft and failing to answer two calls sent him by the Walker County exemption board.
Sheriff T.E. King and a number of deputies were on the scene early this morning and on his return to the city late today stated that the wounded Cabiness girl could not recover and that by her death the entire Cabiness family had been wiped out.
The San Antonio Light, June 1, 1918, Page 5
Six Negroes Slain For Alleged Plot to Wipe Out Family
Wholesale Execution Sequel to Killing of Draft Evader at Dodge, Tex.
Huntsville, Tex., June 1-As a sequel to the killing two days ago of George Cabiness, a negro draft resister, following threats the negro had made against Sheriff T.E. King and the King family, six more negrœs were shot to death today and their cabin burned near Dodge, ten miles from here.
The negrœs, it is said, had plotted to avenge the shooting of Cabiness by murdering the King family, their plot being exposed by a seventh negro, who had ostensibly joined the conspirators. The wholesale execution occurred shortly after daylight this morning, the participants in the affair dispersing quietly immediately after. Reports thus far received here did not make it known whether the negrœs were killed in resisting sheriff’s deputies or whether they were attacked and killed by a mob.