Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Tom Doran Story - A Wild Character in the Wild West

The past month has been crazy with more and more information about Tom Doran's life in Junction, Texas coming to my attention. I had made a couple of posts as I found it but thought it would be better if I can put it all into one coherent story. Here is the biography of Thomas H. Doran, the brother of my great-great-grandmother, Nancy Doran Dunnigan.

Much of the information regarding the events from September through December 1878 was found in newspaper articles obtained through the University of North Texas newspaper archive found here: These articles, along with the rest of the sources of this information are posted at the end of this post.

Tom Doran was born in Ireland on May 9, 1844. I suspect the family originated near Dublin but that is not certain at this time. His parents were Thomas and Catherine O'Hara Doran. At the time of Tom's birth, his parents already had at least two daughters, Fanny, about 18 years old, Nancy about 15 years old and one son, Henry, about 7 years old. They had two more daughters and one more son but it is unknown when they were born. Their names were Margaret (Reilly), Ellen and James.

The family emigrated to America, landing in New York City some time between 1844 and 1857. His sister Nancy became an unwed mother, giving birth to her son Thomas in 1857 in Brooklyn, New York. It appears the family moved together to the Germantown area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania before moving on to Carthage, Hancock County, Illinois. The family lived near the Wabash train depot near the west end of Carthage.

On May 24, 1861, at 18 years of age, Tom joined Company D of the 16th Illinois United States Infantry. He signed on for a term of three years. His occupation was listed as a musician. He was described as being five feet, seven inches tall with dark hair, light complexion and gray eyes. His civil war service file lists his birth location as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

On December 23, 1863, at 20 years of age, he signed up for another three years service and on December 30, mustered at Kelly's Ferry, Tennessee. He was described as five feet nine inches tall, with dark hair, light complexion and gray eyes.

He was discharged from the military on July 8, 1865 and returned to Carthage, Illinois. About six months later, he moved to Cleburne, Texas.

In July of 1868, Tom's brother Henry was killed during a fight in Carthage. Their brother-in-law Terence Neason, the husband of their sister Fanny, had given Henry a hard kick to the abdomen, resulting in his death.

On August 2, 1868, Tom married Ethelena Iola Hall in Cleburne, Texas. They had three sons, Henry, born about 1870 in Oklahoma, Thomas William Doran, born April 12, 1874 in Austin, Texas and John H. born in about 1877 in Texas. They moved to Junction, Texas no later than December 1877. A bluff near his home was known as Doran's Bluff.

In either December 1875 or January 1876, Tom's father, also named Thomas Doran, died in Carthage, Illinois. His probate papers list his widow as Catherine and his living children as "Thomas, now of Texas", Fanny Neason, Margaret Reilly and Nancy Dunnigan.

On December 24, 1877, a group of 15-20 Native American Indians raided the area he lived in near Junction, Texas. Tom Doran became the Paul Revere of Kimble County. Tom's family lived between the Spear family and the North Llano river crossing. Another resident, eleven year old Isaac Kountz and his brother, 16 year old Sebastian, thought they saw a company of Texas Rangers coming down the public road. When they got closer, they discovered the group was Indians intent on raiding the neighboring homes of their livestock.

The Indians shot and killed Isaac. Sebastian ran down the fence line towards the house. An Indian on horseback tried to grab him as he rode by but Sebastian ducked then climbed over the fence to elude his grasp. The Indians returned to their group and they crossed over the mountains and went down the North Llano river towards the community.

The alarm of Isaac's death and the Indian raid spread fast. A runner brought the message to the home of Tom Spear, then the Doran's. Tom Doran ran to the Spear home and found that Tom Spear had gone out on the mesquite flat to gather his horses. Tom Spear's brother, Sam, took his brother's gun and cartridges and ran out to find Tom. Neither of them had returned before the Indians crossed the river 100 yards from their home. Sam found his brother driving his horses home, gave him the gun and told him to go to their home to protect it while Sam drove the horses home. The Indians did not see Tom, who was on foot but did see Sam as he was driving the horses. Sam tried to outrun them but two of the Indians took after him, ran up beside him and shot at point-blank range, killing him instantly, 200 yards from his home. The other one grabbed the horse's bridle. One of them shot at Tom Spear, who was less than 100 yards away then returned to take the horses. The Indians killed Sara Spear, then drove the horses out of the area. It is unknown what else Tom Doran did during this event.

On September 18, 1878, Tom Doran was out at Bill Frank's Saloon in Junction with a friend of his, Jim Deaton. Tom was known to enjoy whiskey and cards. Tom and Jim got into a disagreement that turned into a fight and Jim slashed Tom across the bottom of his lip, cheek and/or chin. The skin of his neck flopped down like an apron. He had himself stitched up and apparently made up with his friend and continued drinking and gambling. Then, at about 4:00am, they had another fight. This resulted in Tom shooting Jim Deaton. It sounds like Jim left for home and Tom shot him in the back and he fell dead on his doorstep.

Tom was on the run from citizens on the lookout for him for nearly three weeks.

A newspaper carried a message from Jim Deaton's widow asking for help in finding her husband's killer with a description of Tom Doran. Tom was described as being five feet 10 inches tall with sandy red hair and moustache. She also said he "had a difficulty and had his cheek and lip cut very badly with a knife, which will be a good mark to identify him." Tom turned himself in to authorities on Sunday, October 6 and was brought to the Gillespie County Jail. It is noted that public sentiment was decidedly in his favor.

An article was published in the Austin Weekly Democratic Statesman on September 26 with a personal opinion about Tom Doran. In it, it mentions that Tom had killed an "excellent gentleman" in Memphis named Whitfield. It seems the writer of the article had found information about Whitfield's murder in Memphis by a man named S. A. Doran and assumed it was Tom. This is incorrect. They were two different people. Tom Doran did not kill Whitfield. However, it is believed that he killed a man in Fort Clark, Texas. The article continued, saying that Tom was not a bad man. It said he was utterly fearless and the victim of an incurable passion for playing cards and drinking whiskey. It said his friends were as devoted to him as his enemies are violent. Since the writer of this article identified the wrong Doran as the killer of Whitfield, is it possible he also had their personalities confused?

There was a hearing about Tom's killing of Jim Deaton held under an arbor as the courthouse had not yet been built. During the proceedings, Jim Deaton's widow made an appearance, brandishing a loaded gun, she made her way through the crowd saying she wanted to kill that man Doran. Several men relieved her of the weapon and the proceedings resumed.
Illustration from "It Occurred in Kimble" by O. C. Fisher

It was found that Tom killed Deaton in self-defense. It seems that a sheriff's deputy by the name of James Lewis Temple didn't agree with the finding. It seems that Temple held a grudge against Tom, either as a result of the shooting or possibly other reasons.

Illustration from "It Occurred in Kimble" by O. C. Fisher

Three months later, on December 21, 1878, just after dark, Tom Doran entered the Double OO Saloon, owned by Frank Garner and Jim Calhoun. He took a seat and didn't speak to anyone. Deputy James Lewis Temple entered, sized up the situation, then went to the bar and spoke to Jim Calhoun. He turned to the crowd and announced, "You gentlemen all come up and drink on me." The crowd, about ten men, complied, with the exception of Doran. Temple stared at Doran, who remained motionless. Temple moved to Doran, rested a hand on the back of the chair and said something to him. Doran responded by saying he could kill Temple and give him the first shot. At that, both men reached for their guns, with Temple getting the drop on Doran. Temple shot Doran through the right breast. Doran retreated backwards out the door, with Temple following, ready to fire again. At the doorway, Doran grabbed the door facing with his left hand to steady himself, and fired at Temple, striking him in the middle of the forehead above the eyes, with blood and debris spattering everywhere around the door facing.

Illustration from "It Occurred in Kimble" by O. C. Fisher

As Doran stepped outside into the dark, John Temple, Lewis' father, along with another man, grabbed Doran and struggled for the gun. The fight went back into the saloon. Inside, Joe Clements caught Doran, and called to the rest of the crowd for assistance in separating the combatants. He was helped by John Allen. As Clements wrenched the pistol away from Doran, the gun fired, and Doran broke free, running towards the doorway. As the gun fell to the floor it fired again. Then, John Temple picked it up and shot Doran through the hip.

John Temple then threw down the gun, drew his knife, and ran after Doran. He caught him, stabbed him 11 times, and slashed his throat, killing him on the spot.

He left behind the widow, Ethelena Doran and three sons, aged eight, four and between one and two years old.

I believe I need to contact Quentin Tarantino about a movie idea. ;-)

Jim Deaton and Tom Doran are buried in the same cemetery, the Pioneer - North Llano Cemetery in Junction, Texas. Jim's grave is not marked. Tom's is the oldest marked grave in the cemetery. The only confusion I have in this story, other than conflicting accounts on exactly what happened in the fights, is Tom Doran's headstones. I know for certain that my great-great-granduncle, Thomas H. Doran fought in the Civil War with Company D of the 16th Illinois Infantry. One of his headstones says he fought with Company H of the 24th Texas Cavalry on the side of the Confederacy. I do see a Thomas Doran that was in this regiment. Pvt Thomas Lafayette Doran born 1838 in Alabama. In the 1850 US Federal Census, he had been in Titus Co, Texas with his parents Samuel and Linney "Dorin" along with the rest of their children, William, James, Sarah, Polina, Nancy and John. He was in San Saba, Texas in the 1860 US Federal Census with his parents S. D. and Lina Doran and the rest of their children, Pelina, Nancy, John and Robert. It seems most of his other family members are buried in San Saba Cemetery in San Saba, Texas. I believe the Thomas L. Doran headstone with the Texas Cavalry service notation is a case of mistaken identity.

EDIT - December 3, 2018 - I took a close look at a more recent photo of the Tom Doran headstone in Junction. It adds an extra bit of evidence that the Tom Doran involved in the happenings in Junction is indeed the brother of my great-great-grandmother, who grew up in Carthage. Take a look at this photo:
Look at the top two lines. They read "Son of T & C" Doran. My great-great-great-grandparents were Thomas and Catherine Doran. The parents of the Tom Doran from San Saba were Samuel and Linney.  ---Matt

Below are all of the sources I have so far for this story. Some of the information is conflicting. I did my best to put together a coherent story using what I believe are the most likely correct versions of the events. If anyone has more information, I would love to see it. Please let me know!
O. C. Fisher - It Occurred in Kimble

Frontier Times - Devoted to Frontier History - Story about the Indian raid in Junction

Temple Genealogy - James Lewis Temple's biography

Temple People - Volume 1 -  Pages 358-360

Find-A-Grave: Tom Doran's Memorial
Find-A-Grave: Sam Houston Speer's Memorial
Find-A-Grave: James Lewis Temple's Memorial - Also contains an scan of a family history of John Temple's family, which mentions the shootout with Doran.

No comments:

Post a Comment