Haunted Belton: This House is the Site to a Brutal Massacre in the 1800s
As we move on to the 4th Haunted Belton installment, we learn about Belton's old city jail and how past events served as a reaction to the times following the Civil War.
On May 25, 1874 around 1 a.m. a vigilante of 103 mounted masked men approached the Belton City Jail in one of the most violent massacres in Texas History.
According to Temple Daily Telegram dated June 9, 2008 there were 10 prisoners being held in the city's jail located at 210 Pearl St. on that May afternoon. Eight men were charged on various counts including murder, robbery, and horse theft. The ninth man was charged with the axe murder of his wife. The tenth man was being held in a different cell due to being ill.
The vigilante group managed to kick the front door of the jail down and fatally shoot nine of the 10 jailed prisoners while they stood in their cell. The citizen's attack was regarded as a major factor in ending lawlessness in Bell County during the 1870s.
The folklore says the faces of the murdered prisoners can be seen in the windows of the upper rooms of the 1873 native limestone building. The building is believed to be very haunted by those murdered prisoners.
The prisoners were originally buried in a common grave in South Belton Cemetery. But citizens began to complain on the issue of the common grave so a judge ordered the graves exhumed and the bodies be buried in separate graves.
The nine prisoners were William Henry Grumbles, John Alexander, Loyd Coleman, J.S. McDonald, Marion McDonald, and William S. Smith plus Bicknel, Cowen, and Crow, their first names are unknown.
The gravestone is being used as an estimation of the location of the buried prisoners.
The jail has been a private residence since the 19th Century.
In our next and final post of the series, we discover what may have been the reason for the beginning of the Belton-Temple rivalry.