1. Moses Hampton Denman was born on 1 May 1859 in Texas. He died on 11 May 1944 in
Brown CO, Texas. He was buried in Greenleaf Cemetery, Brownwood, Brown Co, Texas.
Elected Sheriff of Brown Co 11/6/1900, re-elected 11/3/1902; re-elected 11/7/1904; reelected 11/8/1910; re-elected 11/5/1912; 11/4/1928; 11/4/1930
M. H. DENMAN was elected on November 6, 1900, re-elected November 4, 1902, November 8, 1904, and served until November 6, 1906. Contributed by Patsy Johnson in Brownwood at firstname.lastname@example.org
M. H. DENMAN was elected a second time on November 8, 1910, re-elected November 5, 1912, and served until November 3, 1914. Contributed by Patsy Johnson in Brownwood at email@example.com
M. H. DENMAN was elected a third time on November 6, 1928, re-elected November 4, 1930, and served until January 1, 1933. Sheriff Denman served a total of fourteen years. Contributed by Patsy Johnson in Brownwood at firstname.lastname@example.org
“The records at the courthouse show a contract was entered into between the Commissioners Court, after bonds had been voted, February 10, 1902, with Martin, Moodie and Company for the construction of a new jail. The contract price was $24,925.60. On June 1903 the jail was accepted. (In the Life and Lives of Brown County People; Brown County Historical Society Book 1 Second Edition Indexed 1988, complied by Lorene Bishop assisted by Melba Coursey; pg 23)
“Whiskey came to Brown County along with axes, Bibles and guns. The first saloons were established in the early 1 870s. September 8, 1885, the first county wide election was held to stamp out the sale of liquor and the prohibitionist lost by a vote of 472 to 687. Another election was held November 15, 1893, that stopped the sale of liquor and the saloons were forced to close their doors, in the City of Brownwood, Texas. The liquor people refused to abandon their fight, and another election was held, December 12, 1895, that gave them time to reopen their saloons in Brownwood. The vote was 327 for prohibition, 356 against. A county wide liquor election was held, September 5, 1903 and the prohibitionists won by a vote of 133 and this ended the saloons in Brown County.
The lucrative era of the bootlegger had arrived and was destined to last until liquor was voted in again in 1965, when Precinct 4 in Brown County voted the sale of all liquor for ‘Off Premises Consumption’. Source —Brownwood Banner Brownwood Bulletin
(In the Life and Lives of Brown County People; Brown County Historical Society Book 1 Second Edition Indexed 1988, complied by Lorene Bishop assisted by Melba Coursey; pg 24)
Moses Denman came to Brown County in 1883 from Houston County at the age of twenty- four and soon began the career which made him, briefly, the country’s most famous sheriff. At least his exploits were described in newspapers throughout the Southwest. Denman was everyone’s idea of a typical sheriff. He had a big black mustache, a wide- brimmed hat, a pistol at this side, and he always rode a large black horse.
Moses Denman served as sheriff of Brown County for fourteen years, having been elected first in 1900 for three terms of two years each. After being defeated in 1906, he ran again in 1910, won and served two more terms before losing another election. This time he remained in the life insurance business for fifteen years but, in 1928, he was re-elected for his seventh term. When he retired in 1930, at the age of seventy-three, he was believed to be the oldest sheriff in the state at that time.
Denman, grandfather of Jack Denman, became deputy sheriff soon after his arrival in Brown County. He made his first arrest on the same day he was sworn in to serve under Sheriff W.Y. Pearce. The young deputy was given a warrant for the arrest of a man named Jefferies who was accused of adultery.
The new officer was determined to prove his worth, so he went out with another deputy to the man’s home. There he found his man but in his haste he had forgotten to bring the proper papers with him. Back he went to the courthouse, leaving the other deputy in charge of Jeffries. Unfortunately, Jeffries went out the back door and escaped before Denman returned.
The embarrassed young deputy sheriff searched for his man all afternoon. Finally, someone told him that Jeffries was in one of the local saloons. On the way to the saloon, Denman met W.A. ‘Billy’ Butler, the city marshal. (Butler later became mayor of Brownwood.) Moses asked Billy to go with him to the saloon. When he arrested Jeffries, Butler was standing close by to back him up. Jeffries let loose with a stream of profanity that shocked and startled the young deputy. But not Billy Butler, He knew all the same words and replied with blistering language. When the prisoner saw that he was both out-manned and out-cussed, he went docilely to jail for the ‘crime’ of adultery.
All night Deputy Sheriff Moses Denman tossed and turned. No one had told him that one of the requirements for being a law enforcement officer was the ability to curse. Moses had been brought up to believe that cussin’ was a sin! His choice seemed clear - - learn to cuss or resign. Next morning, he decided to learn to cuss. He asked Billy Butler to be his instructor but vowed to use his knowledge only when it was necessary.
After Denman became sheriff in 1900, his fame as a law enforcement officer spread throughout the Southwest. He traveled in many states, searching for wanted men and had many heart-stopping adventures in tracking down suspects.
Bud Rhone, a deputy at the time the jail was being built in 1902, was the first law officer to place a prisoner in the jail. We do not have a record of who that prisoner was. Rhone attended an open house at the jail in observance of its 50th anniversary on September 21, 1952. Over 1,000 visitors toured the jail on its 50th anniversary according to Ray Masters, Sheriff.
There was no privacy in the cells. Prisoners lived four to a cell. There was no cooling system - just open windows. The building had gas stoves and electricity. A cardboard fan was provided for each inmate and was the basic cooling system.
The third floor housed the gallows which was intended to be used in carrying out capital punishment. Soon after the jail was built, all executions were moved to the state prison. No one was ever hanged in the old jail.
The maximum number of prisoners recorded in the jail at one time was 90 prisoners. During the time when Camp Bowie was occupied, 56 were arrested and jailed on one Saturday night. Most of the time all the cells were not taken. On cold nights in the winter there were homeless men who came to the jail and asked if there was room for one more person. Most of the men the Sheriff knew and would give them a bed and lock them in for the night. The next morning the cook at the jail gave the man a cup of coffee and something to eat. They did not have homeless in hot weather. It was cooler out under a bridge than in the jail.
In September, 1903, Denman created a nation-wide sensation by taking a prisoner from under the noses of Tombstone, Arizona’s officers and territorial rangers. He went to Tombstone to bring back a man named Joe Hughes who had been charged in Brown County with cattle rustling.
The sheriff took with him extradition papers from the governor of Texas to Governor Brodie of Arizona; however, the Governor had gone on vacation. Hughes had been arrested and was in jail but his lawyer refused to allow him to be brought back to Brownwood. Denman wired Governor Brodie asking him to honor the extradition papers but Hughes’ lawyer, Tom Flannigan, wired the governor requesting that he refused permission for extradition. After several days, the governor did honor Denman’s request but he sheriff knew that efforts would be made in Tombstone by officers to prevent the removal of the prisoner. Therefore, he made careful plans for escape. First, he hired a guide with three horses and hid the horses a short distance from Tombstone. Next, he rented a hack and, with the guide, went to the jail after his prisoner.
Since Denman now had the Arizona governor’s permission to extradite Hughes, the District Attorney, D.A. Cunningham, ordered the Tombstone sheriff to release the prisoner to Sheriff Denman. (Cunningham’s political enemies claimed that Denman paid him fifty dollars. This was enough to defeat Cunningham for district attorney in the next election.) The D.A. and the Tombstone sheriff did not notify Tom Flannigan nor did they allow Hughes to communicate with his attorney. As soon as Flannigan learned of the release, he immediately swore out a writ of habeas corpus against Denman demanding that he produce Hughes before a Tombstone judge.
In the meantime, the intrepid Texas sheriff had his man in the hack heading for his hidden horses. As he left the town, Hughes kept yelling, “They’re kidnapping me! They’re kidnapping me!”
Denman, his prisoner and his guide switched from the hack to horses and headed out over 175 miles of arid desert to the town of Sansamon with Hughes handcuffed to the saddle. All three of them nearly died of thirst before they reached their destination.
The Cochise County officers and the territorial rangers searched every train and scoured the country, carrying with them warrants for Denman’s arrest. Every law enforcement officer between Tombstone and the New Mexican border was alerted by wire to help in the search. All anyone knew was that the Texas sheriff, his guide and the prisoner were somewhere out in the desert. Finally, Denman and the two men reached Sansamon where they boarded a train and crossed the state line, out of the jurisdiction of the Arizona authorities. Denman was safely across the state line none too soon because news was out that Governor Brodie had changed his mind and had wired to arrest Sheriff Denman! He claimed that the case had been misrepresented to him. All of Arizona was angry at Denman for outwitting the whole territory’s law enforcement. Several years later, however, one of the Arizona law officers who had been chasing him wrote to Sheriff Denman complementing him on his job. He said that Arizona lawmen had been close behind Denman all the way, but that he had just plain outsmarted them.
That was not quite the end of the story. Thomas Flannigan, Hughes’ lawyer, filed a civil suit against the sheriff for $15,000.00, claiming his client had been ‘damaged by the unwarranted action of the Texas sheriff, and were proposed he shall suffer the consequences. The charges were later dropped. When Hughes was tried in Brown County on the charge of cattle theft, two jurors held out acquittal while ten were convinced he was guilty. The trial resulted in a ‘hung jury’ and Hughes was not retired but was released. Nevertheless, Brown County’s ‘typical Texas sheriff’ still ‘got his man’!
(The Nice and the Nasty in Brown County, A collection of Stories by Ruth Griffin Spence; Banner Printing Co, Brownwood, Texas; pg 63-65)
Mose Denman was sheriff in 1910. One morning, the milkman asked the Sheriff’s wife if they were hanging laundry out of the upper windows to dry. When she looked she discovered that two prisoners had cut through the bars and used bed sheets for a rope to escape. (Jail Stories — website — Brown County Museum)
1860 US census - Houston Co, Texas - Randolph post office wlparents
1870 US census - Robertson Co, Texas Pct 5 - w/parents
1880 US census - Bell Co, Texas - Pct 7
1900 US census - Brown Co, Texas - Brownwood
1910 US census - Brown Co, Texas - Brownwood Ward 3w/spouse and one son
Moses married Ruth Walton. Ruth was born on 10 Feb 1860. She died on 23 Aug 1940 in Brown CO Texas. She was buried in Greenleaf Cemetery, Brownwood, Brown Co, Texas.
They had the following children:
+2M i. Thomas ‘Tom’ Edgar Denman was born on 20 Oct 1879. He died on 28 Feb 1959.
+3M ii. Walter G Denman was born on 1 Dec 1881. He died on 9 Jun 1948.
4M iii. Homer Chilton Denman was born on 9 Apr 1894 in Brown Co, Texas.
He died Feb 1977 in Brown Co, Texas. He was buried in Greenleaf Cemetery, Brownwood, Brown Co, Texas. 1930 US census - Brown Co, Texas - Brownwood in household of Bill McConathy as a lodger Homer married Minnie E Brown on 14 Nov 1918 in Brown Co, Texas. Minnie was born about 1898 in Texas. She died in 1981. She was buried in Greenleaf Cemetery, Brownwood, Brown Co, Texas.
2. Thomas ‘Tom’ Edgar Denman (Moses Hampton) was born on 20 Oct 1879 in Brown Co, Texas. He died on 28 Feb 1959. He was buried in Greenleaf Cemetery, Brownwood, Brown Co, Texas. 1930 US census Brown Co, Texas - Brownwood -w/spouse and children
Thomas married Ina May Coggin on 26 Jul 1904 in Brown Co, Texas. Ina was born about 1880. She died on 28 May 1970. She was buried in Greenleaf Cemetery, Brownwood, Brown Co, Texas.
They had the following children:
5M i. Coggin M Denman was born on 29 Jun 1905.
He died on 29 Apr 1982. He was buried in Greenleaf Cemetery, Brownwood, Brown Co,
6M ii. Morris Denman was born about 1907 in Texas.
7M iii. Thomas Tom Denman was born about 1908 in Texas.
8M iv. Jack Denman was born about 1913 in Texas.
9M v. William Billie Denman was born about 1919 in Texas.