by E.R. Bills / January 20th, 2019
When I was growing up, folks sometimes referred to the intellectually disabled as “dull in the head.” I think about that today as I contemplate a terrible anniversary for the state of Texas. An instance of that the state of Texas and Hill County pretend has no meaning and no place in contemporary discourse. A day that the city of Hillsboro gets away with every January 20.
One hundred years ago today, an African American man named Bragg Williams was burned at the stake in Hillsboro, Texas.
On December 2, 1918, a white woman named Annie Wells and her five-year-old son Curtis were beaten to death outside their home near Itasca. Their murderer utilized a blunt object to dispatch them and then carried their bodies into the house, setting it aflame to destroy any evidence. Neighbors saw smoke from the fire and retrieved the mother and son’s remains before they were too badly burned.
A young African American man named Bragg Williams, described as “tall and ungainly, and seemingly of low mentality,” was discovered less than three miles from the Wells residence and immediately accused of the crime. His accusers subsequently attempted to lynch him, so Williams was transferred to Waco. Later, a group of Texas Rangers transported him to Dallas and he would remain there until his trial date.
On January 16, Williams was escorted back to Hillsboro by the Texas Rangers and his trial began. Two well-regarded Hill County…