By Sherri Knight. Foreword by Judge Donald R. Jones. Softbound (2009), 244 pp. + xii., illus., indexed.
From reminiscences of old timers to the dusty pages of the court files of Erath County, Texas, the history of justice was recorded. Fed up with the inability of the court system to take care of outlaws, frontiersmen took matters into their own hands by administering swift but sure retribution to those who stole livestock or committed murder. A strong sense of right and wrong traveled with the “nightriders.” Operating in groups, the only evidence of their activity was left hanging from trees. District judges traveled twice a year to sparsely settled counties to administer justice. Law and order was imposed through the efforts of judges, sheriffs and citizens who wanted to back away from anarchy. Slowly, but surely, after Reconstruction the legal means to punish wrongdoers took back control from the vigilantes. Read about the incidents that turned the wheels of justice toward progress. From the quick dispatch of horse thieves, an overturned stagecoach driven by a drunken teamster, the trial of John Wesley Hardin to the hanging of Tom Wright, the pages of Vigilantes to Verdicts: Stories from a Texas District Court will keep you riveted to the events of the nineteenth century. Travel with frontier men and women whose stories built the judicial history of a Texas district court. Sit alongside the judges on the bench who served to bring order to a turbulent and chaotic time.