Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Latest News

March 9, 2014

History on loan

Corsicana — A slice of Texas history is being preserved for future generations with the help of the Corsicana Public Library.

The original 1870 indictment of John Wesley Hardin for attempted murder was placed in the Corsicana Public Library by the Navarro County District Clerk Josh Tackett Thursday, in honor of Texas History Month.

The documents, which include the hand-written indictment by the grand jury, will remain at the library for at least a year and a half while the courthouse is being renovated.

During the demolition and renovation everything has to be moved out of the historic courthouse, including two enormous vaults of records dating from the 1800s of everything from criminal and civil court proceedings, births, marriages, land deeds, and death records.

“I want to have them here at least during the move,” Tackett said. “Just so they don’t get lost in the shuffle. I don’t want them to be by themselves where they could be lost or stolen.”

Hardin moved to Navarro County and became a school teacher in Pisgah Ridge in 1869. In 1870, he tried to kill a man named S.H. Presley, for which he was indicted.

Texas was in a period of reconstruction at the time, it was following the Civil War, and Governor E.J. Davis, a Republican Reconstruction governor who believed in centralized power from Austin, had formed a statewide militia-type police force. Disliking the outside authorities, local residents took it upon themselves to harbor the fugitive Hardin.

It’s unclear how much of the Hardin legend is true or not. Hardin’s autobiography was printed after his death. However, at least one account states that between 1868 and 1878, he had killed 40 men. He was supposedly 15 when he killed the first man in Polk County, according to an article in the Corsicana Daily Sun, printed Jan. 11, 1987.

Hardin ended up in Navarro County because he had family here, and his parents were worried about him getting in trouble for the 1868 killing, and sent him to live with relatives. After teaching for one year, he was offered a second term on his contract but he turned it down.

Later, Hardin was sentenced to prison for murder. He was pardoned and released in 1894.

The bound document, which has been restored in the last few years, will be on display in the glass display case in the foyer of the library, along with some historic photos and branding irons, all part of early Navarro County history, according to Dana Stubbs, genealogy librarian.

Beyond what’s written on the paper, the document has its own history. In the 1990s it was stolen from the courthouse by someone who came into the district clerk’s office claiming to be working on some research. In 1996, the thief was caught trying to steal documents in Presidio County and arrested. Among the items seized was the Hardin indictment and a few others from Navarro County.

They were returned to Navarro County by the Marfa Police Chief in 1996. When Tackett came into office, he found the documents in a file folder that had been set aside from the other records.

“This kind of things happens all the time across Texas and the country,” Tackett said.

Not only are security features expensive, but it’s difficult to allow the vaults to be open to researchers while still maintaining tight security, he said.

“Ultimately, that’s why I wanted it here (at the library) during the move for safekeeping,” he said. “I’m a big proponent of history and the upkeep of these records.”

People can collect things, such as guns and uniforms from the past, but a handwritten document from 100 years ago is a rare piece of history that needs special attention, he said.

“It’s very important to keep these things in good shape for future generations,” he said.

After the display is taken down, the papers will be put in a secure location in the library until they can be returned to the restored courthouse.

“March is Texas History Month, so we thought this would be pretty cool,” said Chief Librarian Chad Freeze.


Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail:


Text Only
Latest News
  • 8-2-14 backpacks of love.jpg Backpacks of Love needs volunteers this week

    What had begun as a few churches collecting random bags of pencils and notebook filler paper has turned into a once-a-year community-wide project to get every kid an even shot at succeeding in school.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • 5-2 Tanner Elmer mug.jpg Sheriff's Corner: Compensation remains an issue for NCSO

    We recently submitted the Navarro County Sheriff’s Office 2014-2015 budget proposal for review. Included in this year’s budget is Option 1, a complete salary restructure for the entire sheriff’s department, or Option 2, an 8 percent across the board raise.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-23-14 food pantry girl.jpg Local girl raises money for hungry families

    Lacy Rose Goodrich, 9, is a typical Bowie fourth-grader. She likes to watch “Full House,” reruns and “iCarly,” and she has a dog and a cat. She takes gymnastics and dance lessons, and has attended four different Vacation Bible Schools this summer, as well as all the parks and recreation summer programs for kids.
    What’s unusual about Lacy is that she also raised nearly $500 for the food pantry since Easter, which is the equivalent of 3,450 pounds of food for hungry Navarro County residents.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hope Center Celebrating 30 years: Hope Center sends out appeal

    The Hope Center, which began in 1984, will celebrate a huge milestone soon.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jury dismissed for Monday

    The jury called for Aug. 4 at 8:30 a.m. District Court, Judge James Lagomarsino has been dismissed.

    August 1, 2014

  • 8-1-14 city council meet.jpg City to raise water, sewer rates

    Water rates, sewer rates and trash rates will all go up for Corsicana city residents, according to preliminary budget figures presented to the city council Thursday afternoon.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • City cancels ambulance contract with county

    The City of Corsicana has notified Navarro County officials it is cancelling its agreement with the county to provide EMS ambulance service to areas outside the city limits. According to a letter sent to county officials by Corsicana Mayor Chuck McClanahan, ambulance service to county residents will end on Jan. 31, 2015.

    July 31, 2014

  • 8-1-14 TxDOT.jpg TxDOT work nears completion

    The project to rebuild Seventh Avenue or Highway 31 as it goes through Corsicana is almost over. From an uneven patchwork of paving and pitted concrete, now it’s a smooth ride from Beaton all the way through town.
    It just took an extra year to finish.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7-31-14 Fire2.jpg Deputies, fire departments have busy weekend

    An attempt to bootleg electricity off a pole using jumper cables is believed to have caused a building fire that took out a former restaurant in Angus Friday morning, one of a series of calls to Navarro County Sheriff’s Office to the southern end of the county over the weekend.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • 7-31-14 Rice ISD Alex Stough mug.jpg Rice students win UIL scholarships

    Three Rice High School students received UIL scholarships for competing in academic competitions at the state level, according to advisor Alan Lewis.

    July 30, 2014 3 Photos

AP Video
Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction
Twitter Updates