While researching the burial location of my great-grandfather, Henry Foote Boykin, I came across your website listing his obituary in 1915. Since my grandfather, Henry Foote Boykin, Jr., was only three years old when his father was killed, he never could tell me a lot about his father. I wondered if you had any more information about H.F. Boykin that you could share with me. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Tammy, you are in luck as I have found a fair amount of information about the murder of your great grandfather, H. F. Boykin. H. F. Boykin was born May 3, 1875 and met a tragic death at the age of 40 years on January 16, 1915 in Sierra Blanca Texas. He and Walter Sitters, son of Texas Ranger Joe Sitters, were gunned down by Horace Lorenzo (Hod) Roberson, a Texas Ranger with a considerable reputation for the killing of many men. For more about Robertson be sure to search the blog archive for several articles including, “A Cold Blooded Killer With A Texas Ranger Badge”. I am working a chapter in my new book, “More Little Known History Of The Texas Big Bend” about Roberson. Below you will find some 1915 newspaper articles about the murders of Boykin and Sitters. Also, there is more information about Roberson’s murder trial in the El Paso Times/Herald. You can find copies of the newspaper microfilm files of the El Paso Public Library. Also, UTPB in Odessa has the Times on microfilm. Be sure to check out the excellent EPT index and vertical files at the El Paso library. Good luck with your research. If you have any family photos of your great grandfather, I would greatly appreciate a good copy to use in my new book.
SIERRA BLANCA MAN IS KILLED: ANOTHER IS WOUNDED BY CATTLEMAN FROM MEXICO WHO THEN LEAVES TOWN
Sierra Blanca, Texas, Jan. 16-17, 1915--H.F. Boykin, a prominent citizen of this place, was shot to death in the Texas & Pacific stock pens early this morning by H.L. Roberson, one of the foremen of the T.O. Ranch, in Mexico.
Roberson, also shot and seriously wounded Walter Sitters, of Valentine. It seems that Roberson had some cattle in the pens, which were placed in Mr. Boykin’s pasture, north of this place, and Mr. Boykin insisted upon counting them before before taking them out. A quarrel insued, with the above results.
It is said that Boykin and Sitters were unarmed.
Roberson immediately left town.
Mr. Boykin leaves a wife and five small children, a brother and a host of friends here, and three sisters in El Paso. The names of Boykin’s sisters are Miss Florence Boykin, at the Central telephone office, Mrs. T.C. Armstrong, and Mrs. B. Taylor.
EL PASO HERALD
JANUARY 16-17, 1915
WITNESSES TELL OF KILLING; HEARING HELD FOR ROBERSON SIERRA BLANCA TRAGEDY IN WHICH TWO MEN WERE SHOT TO DEATH IN DIFFICULTY OVER CATTLE IS AIRED BEFORE JUSTICE OF THE PEACE; BOYKIN HAD A SMALL KNIFE IN HIS HAND WHEN SHOT BY DEFENDANT
The hearing of H. L. Roberson on the charge of killing “Foot” Boykin and Walter Sitters at Sierra Blanca, this county, last Saturday, is in progress in the court of Justice of the Peace J. J. Murphy. Testimony was taken Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning and the hearing was then adjourned to the afternoon to await the arrival of more witnesses.
When the hearing was resumed at 10 o’clock Tuesday morning, the testimony of James Burns and William Bartzer, the two young men who were “beating their way” to San Antonio and saw the tragedy, was heard.
Burns stated that the men were quarreling when he and his friend got off the train. They went over to the stock pens, he stated, to see if they could get a job. When they came up, they saw Boykin on the fence, pointing his finger at Roberson. Roberson struck his hand with a rope, and when Boykin grabbed the rope, Roberson struck the hand with his pistol, he said, and then Boykin threw the rope into the lot. Roberson then rode around to the gate. In the meantime Boykin threw the rope over the fence. Roberson asked him to give him the rope, and Boykin refused, but another man climbed over and handed it to him.
Burns testified that he heard Boykin say: “Nobody but a ___ ___ ___ ___ or a coward would pull a gun”.
BOYKIN “CAME AT ROBERSON.”
He further testified that when Roberson came around the gate, Boykin came at Roberson and he started for him a second time before Roberson fired the first shot. He, Boykin, had something in his left hand-he did not know if it was a knife. Five shots were fired by Roberson, the last one as Boykin was falling.
To the state’s counsel he stated that he could not remember what Robertson had called Boykin. Words were passed between them but in the excitement he did not catch all that was said. State’s counsel reminded him that his memory had been pretty clear concerning the testimony he had given the counsel for the defendant.
Burns stated that he told the same story to the justice of the peace at Sierra Blanca and that at 2 p.m. on the same day had been told that he and his partner could go their way.
The testimony of William Bartzer was similar to that told by Burns. He declared he did not know whether Boykin had a knife.
The state was represented in the case, by Frank Fulle, assistant county attorney, and by R. E. Thomason, special counsel. The defendant was represented by Victor C. Moore.
THOMAS CROSS TESTIFIES
Thomas Cross, of Sierra Blanca, a witness to the tragedy, was the first witness. He stated that he and “Foot” Boykin and others went to the stock pens about 6 a.m. Saturday, January 16, to load some steers. While thus engaged some of the animals got mixed up with others in the pen and they were engaged in counting the animals when H. L. Roberson drove up.
“When Roberson, rode up he called out, ‘What in the hell are you doing here?’ He told Boykin to get out,” he testified, ‘Boykin told him he wouldn’t and then Roberson and then Roberson said, ‘You ___ ___ ___ ___ you will get out.” Boykin called him the same name and told him he wouldn’t get out.” Boykin climbed up on the fence and Roberson then struck him with a rope. Then he pulled out his pistol and struck Boykin on the hand.” The he asked for his rope and I handed it to him. Roberson rode around and into the corral and shot Boykin four times. Then he rode away.”
Cross admitted to counsel for the defense that Boykin had a knife in his hand before Roberson hit him with the rope. He also admitted that he did not feel friendly towards the defendant.
HIT BOYKIN WITH ROPE
Elmer Norton, aged 14 years, another witness to the shooting, stated that when he came up, Roberson was telling Boykin to take back what he called him and Boykin refused. He stated that he saw Roberson hit Boykin with a rope and saw the latter pull the rope from his hand. He stated that he saw Roberson hit Boykin on the hand with his pistol, and then he saw Boykin step back into the corral. Roberson, he stated, rode around and came through the gate into the corral. Boykin moved towards him. Roberson’s animal wheeled around and Roberson fired over his shoulder, he declared, the shot hitting Walter Sitters. Then he fired four more shots at Boykin, he stated, the last one being fired after Boykin hit the ground.
He admitted to counsel for the defense that there was considerable bad feeling in Sierra Blanca against Roberson. He also admitted that some indirect efforts had been made to influence his testimony. He stated that his father told him to tell the truth.
TOLD ROBERSON HE WAS UNARMED
To the attorney for the state he stated that Boykin had told Roberson he was unarmed. When Roberson fired the second shot Boykin kept moving from side to side as though attempting to dodge further shots, he declared.
William Norton, aged 17, a brother of Elmer Norton, corroborated his brother’s testimony in its essential details. He was questioned concerning the feeling in Sierra Blanca against, “the T.O. people.” Asked by the defendant’s counsel if he had not been urged not to tell some things about the tragedy, he stated that two or three men had asked when the case was coming up. Later, he admitted that he had told them he was going to tell the truth.
FEELING AGAINST T.O.
“I, Norton, father of the two Norton boys, was the last witness examined during the afternoon. He was examined by the counsel for the defendant as to the feeling in Sierra Blanca and the “T.O. People”. He stated that there was considerable feeling against them.
“Is it not a fact, Mr. Norton, that when I attempted to ask you earlier in the day about the affair in Sierra Blanca, you said you did not have time to talk to me?” asked attorney Victor Moore.
“Yes, I was summoned to the grand jury and testified.”
Norton’s testimony concerning the tragedy, which he witnessed, was similar to that of the witnesses who had d him. Concerning the knife, which Boykin is alleged to have held in his hand, the witness stated that it was a pocket knife with a blade perhaps two and five-eighths inches in length. He stated he had assisted in removing the clothes from the body of he dead man and said that the man was shot once in the back, once in the left side, once in the arm and once in the chest just below the neck.
ROBERSON HELD ON BOND
Judge J.J. Murphy announced Tuesday afternoon, following the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, the he would hold Roberson on a bond of $5,000 on the charge of having shot Boykin and $2,500 on the charge of having shot Sitters.
It is probable that Roberson will give the combined bonds of $7,500 pending the grand jury hearing and will be released.
EL PASO HERALD
JANUARY 19, 1915
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