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Friday, June 27, 2014

Terror on Highway 59

This is a post in a series. To start at the beginning, click here.

On our way to visit Lake Livingston in Texas, we pass through several small towns.
One of them is Coldspring, Texas - the county seat of San Jacinto County.
It's a quiet little town, with quaint buildings, a little shopping district, and of course,
a courthouse.

Now, I have a friend who's father lives there 
and I've actually visited once myself.
 So this little town wasn't completely unknown to me but to my husband, it was a new site.
As we drove around a bit, we saw a sign that pointed to the 
historic "Old Town" and historic jail.
Sold...we love visiting historic sites.
We toured the jail and saw life as it was then...
the docent of the jail was quite interesting.
She had her facts down and enjoyed showing us the memorabilia from days long ago.
There were docket books, clothing, pictures...and one special cabinet 
which held photographs of previous members 
of the San Jacinto County Sheriff's Department.
She casually motioned to an adjoining cabinet which housed a stack of cookbooks
but more importantly the grouping of books detailing the arrest of notorious
Texas sheriff: 
J.C. "Humpy" Parker.
What? A sheriff arrested by the FBI?
In this little town?
Really?
So as we were leaving, I purchased a copy of his story and read, and read, 
and read.


I'm not sure what intrigued me most:
the fact I live right off of this highway
or
the fact that a small Texas town (so close to me) has such an interesting past.

As I read, I was both shocked and amazed that this happened in the late 70's!

from the dust-jacket...

"The story that put a crooked Texas sheriff in jail.
An assistant United States attorney called it "highway robbery." An american civil Liberties Union lawyer called it "a monstrosity of justice." A young sheriff's deputy said it was "scary what we did."

They were referring to an extraordinary arrest trap set up by the San Jacinto County sheriff's department along US Highway 59, just seventy miles north of Houston. Young motorists traveling along the four-lane highway were systematically terrorized over a five-year period by deputies who stopped cars without cause and conducted brutal searches for marijuana. In 1980, for example, this tiny, five-deputy sheriff's department chalked up as many drug arrest as Houston's seven-hundred-deputy department.

The sheriff and his deputies flagrantly ignored the law, and the victims of their arrest trap often were subjected to humiliating strip searches on the side of the road. Some were tortured in a sadistic, medieval fashion, with handcuffs, water, and towels."

The book is a well written and a quick read...filled with actual accounts of witnesses, victims, and legalities.

Mr. Sellers, the author, was a reporter who received numerous awards for investigation and news reporting.

If you're curious about small town corruptness, this is a must read!

And...
as far as I know...
Coldspring is back to being a quiet, good-old-boy type of small town.
Drop by if you're ever in the area...
and you too can see where history was indeed made.
Just be sure to drive the speed limits!

4 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness! Now this is scarey~ Makes one wonder doesn't it???? About things that happen like this TODAY that we have no clue about! Mercy! Thanks for sharing but now I am like....OOH, almost wish I had not read this! LOL! YEAH, I am a scaredy cat! Hugs and blessings, Cindy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know...it's really hard to believe that this happened. I tend to think the best of everyone... ;(

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  2. So interesting... and it went on in the 70's? That's REALLY scary! I may have traveled that way on occasion!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes...you hear about small town speed traps, but to have such an infamous one close by is surreal!

    ReplyDelete

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