Happy weekend from the hay hook killer

Charles William Bruce, otherwise known in la casa de Maud as the great-grandfather who killed a man with a hay hook, has always been one of the most compelling characters in my personal deck of Notorious Ancestor Playing Cards. And now he’s the second forbear — his wife Rindia being the first — to whom I owe an apology.

June 1916 articles from the Dallas Morning News, Dallas Times-Herald, and Dallas Dispatch confirm that Bruce really did kill his former friend George Grimes — and with a hay hook. But the “difficulty” arose in a feed store, not in a bar. And Bruce was acting in self-defense.

“It is said,” according to the Dallas Dispatch (below), “Bruce’s testimony in [a trial in which Grimes was sentenced to five years for ‘mistreatment of a female relative’] caused the bitter feeling between the two. Grimes was pardoned after less than two years, and since then has threatened Bruce’s life.”

Evidently Grimes lunged at Bruce, who fended him off with a hay hook jab to the intestines. Grimes brushed off the puncture wounds, “which had not appeared serious at first,” and carried on as usual until peritonitis set in.

Bruce was arrested and charged with murder, but in the end a grand jury ordered his release. I think he died sometime between the 1920 census and Rindia’s remarriage in 1929.

(Bruce sired my mother’s charming lothario father, Robert, who reportedly married thirteen times, and was shot in the stomach by one of his wives.)


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