Sam Spicer, Texas

Rowan Spicer 1804-1865 > Rowan Spicer Jr 1851-1914 > Sam Spicer 1893-1917

Sam Spicer was in trouble from an early age. Born in Abilene in 1893, the 10th of 12 children, he was arrested the 1st time in 1909 for stealing dogs, then in 1910 for burglarizing the Star grocery, when he made the unfortunate mistake of asking a deputy sheriff for a job while on the run.

 

In 1912 he was convicted for stealing oats from his father’s barn, and sent to Huntsville prison for 2 years. Tom Royston of Abilene was already there for burglary.

ABN Reporter 2 Years 9-3-1912

Huntsville in 1912 was a hard place, and Sam was not a cooperative inmate. More than once he was punished for laziness and impertinence by being placed in chains. A century later, impertinence is probably the least concern at Huntsville.

SamSpicerHuntsville
Huntsville Prison Conduct Register

Then as now, inmates worked on the prison farms. Governor Colquitt gave lots of pardons, with the proviso that they didn’t go into effect until the growing season was over. Sam got a pardon in November 1914, but wasn’t released until January 1915, 2 months after his father Rowan died. He went home to Abilene, where he worked for his brother Grover Cleveland in the family house-moving business (more of this in a later post, including when they moved the town of Buffalo Gap).

Sometime in 1915 he met Tom Roystons’s 15 year old sister Ruth. Sam and Ruth were common-law wed, and Sam beat her regularly.

In June 1917 Sam got his draft notice, and would soon be on his way to basic training before shipping over to France.

On July 9th, he went to the 10¢ matinee at the Gem Theater movie house, to watch an episode of the serial The Neglected Wife, starring Ruth Roland.

While Ruth Roland played on the screen, Ruth Spicer walked in and shot him once in the chest with a .32, then walked to the courthouse and handed the gun to Deputy Sheriff Peevey: “Lock me up Mr. Peevey, I’ve shot Sam. He has beat me up for the last time.”

Sam Shot

Sam died the next day, and was buried in the Abilene Cemetery by Laughter Undertakers as a loyal if not respected member of the Odd Fellows.

Ruth was charged with murder and went on trial in August: she was convicted, and a sympathetic jury gave her a 5 year suspended sentence.

 

Afterwards, Ruth married John Thomas in 1927, had 2 children, and died at the young age of 39. She too is buried in the Abilene Cemetery.

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