This is the third in my “timeline series” on the Nations family in Live Oak, Bee and Gonzales counties and area. We left off last week after discussing how the editor of the El Paso Herald could call Neal Ricks/Rix a “Bad Man” when telling how Deputy Rix was killed by Walter Nations. The first article of the 1900s, currently in my Nations collection, is a Beeville Bee article for May 4, 1900. It says that Karnes County Sheriff Morris was in Beeville talking to witnesses of the assault Neal Rix made on Walter Nations in Kenedy. Walter was returning home from the San Antonio carnival by train. During the stop in Kenedy, a friend of Rix held Walter Nations at gun point whip Rix, a Karnes County Deputy, hit him several times with an open hand and then hit him in the head with a “sixshooter,” cutting a gash. The article stated, “It seems that Rix has held a grudge against Nations for several years and took this opportunity to settle it.” In January of 1902. Walter Nations would sue the railroad over the attack by Ricks. From one article reporting it, Refugio Review for Jan. 17, we find that the attack took place on the railroad platform at “Kenedy Junction,” and in full view of the operatives of the train. As a passenger of the train, he felt he should have been under their protection, yet they did nothing to stop the attack.
The article notes another “difficulty in Kenedy,” causing the men that stood for his bond on the Thomas 1891 Lassater killing to have it removed. That resulted in Ricks/Rix being jailed in Karnes City and causing the trial, nearly 10 years in the waiting to be called for court in Corpus Christi. That would cause Neal Ricks/Rix to pass through Beeville in January of 1901, the hometown of Walter Nations, where and when Ricks/Rix would be killed by Nations.
The Jan. 20, 1901 Houston Daily Post said that Neal Rix “was shot and almost instantly killed in Roy Thompson’s restaurant by Walter Nations.” They said that “Rix was a noted character in this part of the country” mentioning the killing of Tom Lassater and the “difficulty” that Rid and Nations had the previous year. They stated that Rix lived in Kenedy and was a deputy sheriff “at that place,” and had arrived on the “Aransas Pass” “in company of a party of men.” They were “seated at the supper table, when Nations confronted him with some remarks and the shooting began. Rix drew his pistol but fell before he got a chance to fire. Five shots were fired, but only two or three took effect.” It went on to note at the time Walter was a clerk in A. Hask’s grocery store, and that “Rix lived only a few minutes.” It also says that Nations was arrested and was in jail. The Beeville date line read Jan. 19.
Jan. 21, the Houston Daily Post pointed out that Rix was on the way to Corpus Christi for trial for “the Lassater murder” when he was killed, and that Nations was out on $5,000 bond. It says the body was sent to Kenedy for interment.
The Jan. 23, 1901 El Paso Daily Herald reported that, “At the sight of Nations, Rix started to pull his gun, but Nations was too swift for him and shot him before he could shoot. It was the same article that was titled “Bad Man Killed.”
A Feb. 22, 1901 Houston Daily Post article said the trial for Nations was “continued,” but as yet I haven’t found out if or when the trial may have taken place. By June 1901 it was announced that he was taking over the Nations Hotel from his father R. H. Nations.
The Brenham Daily Banner for Jan. 26 ran a correction, stating that Neal Rix was “not a deputy sheriff of Karnes, as heretofore stated.” That actually may have been the case, as Karnes Sheriff Morris may have removed him from that position as a result of his investigation, and the other “difficulty” in which Rix was involved in Karnes County.
In January 1903, a Beeville Bee article stated that “Frederick F. Clark, an attaché of the court of claims with E. C. Foster, an attorney of the court, and a stenographer, were in the city Wednesday to take evidence in Indian depredations claims.” The only claim they were in town at that time was from R. H. Nations for cattle taken by the Kiowas in 1871, noting that, “His claim had been before the court for the past 10 years and that his evidence has been taken twice before and has substantially been the same each time it was taken. The value of the cattle taken while being driven through Indian country to Kansas in 1871, together with interest, now amounts to about $30,000.” Quite a lot of money in 1871 or 1903. As yet, I don’t know the outcome of that claim. I have seen where a good deal of Live Oak County people received payment on claims resulting raids from Indians or Mexican nationals.
In a previous article I dealt with why sheriffs often hired “bad men” to be deputies. If you missed that article, or any of these articles on the Nations, you can find them on my Grace Armantrout Museum Facebook page. In time, they will all appear there as a great many of the 200 or more articles I have written on the area history that have appeared in The Progress. I post a good deal of photos, newspaper clips and other things there relating to the area history as well. If you like history, these can give you something to do until we are allowed to go about our normal lives again.