FAYETTE COUNTY, TEXAS
From Fayette County, Her History and Her People by F. Lotto, 1902
Carmine lies in the northeastern part of Fayette County, right on the Washington County line, on the Austin branch of the Houston and Texas Central. South of it lies the rich La Bahia prairie, north of it is sandy postoak.
It is a thriving business town. It consists of four general merchandise stores, four saloons, two blacksmith shops, one lumber yard, two drugstores, one millinery, one furniture house, one livery stable, two gins, two meat markets. The town has a newspaper, the New Century, edited by Messrs. Menn and Goerdel, tow enterprising gentlemen who promise to make a success of their paper. There live three resident physicians in the town.
Of the business men who treated the author of this book with kindness, he mentions Mr. Chas. Wagner, a public-spirited citizen, well known not only in Carmine, but in the county, the proprietor of the leading drugstore in Carmine; Umland & Hoppe; A. M. Weyand & Bro., proprietors of large general merchandise stores, and E. F. Hetzel, a worthy young man from Austin County, who has established himself in the butcher business at Carmine.
There is a Union Church at Carmine in which Lutheran and Methodist preachers hold services.
Carmine has two lodges, the Woodmen of the World and the Sons of Hermann. In the Woodmen lodge, C. Gillespie is presiding officer and Henry Menn secretary. In the Sons of Hermann lodge, Hermann Wendorf is president and Julius Menke, secretary.
Carmine was built in the year 1884. It first went by the name of Sylvan. After the establishment of the post office at that place, it took the name of Carmine. The first settler in the town was Dr. B. J. Thigpen, who owned the land on which Carmine was built. Almost contemporary with him were Henry Weyand, Phil. Saunders and J. Hill.
Old settlers of the Carmine neighborhood are the L. Fuchs family, C. Krueger, F. Hermann, Hermann Eichler, Wm. Johle, Ed. Garland, Wm. Krause and Chas. Meinecke.
The population of Carmine is American and German.
Photos of Carmine antique shops contributed by Sarah Reveley.
Footprints of Fayette
These brief histories were written by members of the Fayette County Historical Commission. They first appeared in the weekly column, "Footprints of Fayette," which is published in the Fayette County Record, Banner Press, Flatonia Argus, Schulenburg Sticker, and Weimar Mercury newspapers. A new article appears weekly. See index of all Footprints of Fayette articles.
Carmine Bank Robbery #1—Hamilton-O'Dare
by Sandra Briones
It was the 1930s and the notorious Bonnie and Clyde gang seemed to be everywhere. One of the gang was Raymond Hamilton. He had more nerve in handling a gun and was as cool as a cucumber when robbing banks. He made Clyde Barrow look like a novice.
The Carmine State Bank had the misfortune of a visit from Raymond Hamilton and his sidekick Gene O' Dare on Wednesday, November 9, 1932. The two men entered the Bank at about 11:15 and forced cashier Herbert Doerr, bank president William Stuermer, director William Plueckhahn and two bank customers to hold up their hands while the two bandits scraped up the money. Immediately after snatching the money, estimated at $1400.00, the robbers backed out of the bank and jumped into a Chevrolet Coupe and sped away.
Fayette County Sheriff Will Loessin was notified and immediately left for Carmine in company with Deputy Jim Flournoy. Later witnesses stated that the two bank robbers purchased gas at a station on the Ellinger highway and then headed straight for La Grange. It was reported that the two passed through La Grange driving over the Jefferson Street Bridge. Officers telephoned Weimer and other places to be on the lookout for them. Two Texas Rangers arrived to help take up the trail. The get-away car was later found abandoned in Smithville. It was suspected that the thieves stole another vehicle and traveled on.
Hamilton and O'Dare, who so easily and calmly robbed the Carmine State Bank, were seasoned bandits. They used the side roads to elude capture and many believed that their route had been carefully studied well before they ever entered the Carmine Bank. They made it all the way to Bay City, Michigan, where supposedly Hamilton's father lived. They were arrested and taken into custody on December 6, 1932. They were brought back to Texas to the Dallas jail where Hamilton already faced 4 felony charges and a murder charge in Hill County. The Carmine bank officials promptly identified both Hamilton and O'Dare as the bank robbers and that charge was added to the list.
The Fayette County Grand Jury convened and returned indictments against both men. On February 1, 1933, Gene O'Dare was sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the Carmine robbery. Seven deputies surrounded him as he was led back to his jail cell. Ray Hamilton was supposed to have been tried with O'Dare, but was awaiting his murder trial in Hill County.
On Friday May 5, 1933 Sheriff Loessin and Deputy Flournoy traveled to Dallas to bring Hamilton back to La Grange to stand trial for his part in the bank robbery. By then Hamilton had been tried five times, convicted four times, and assessed sentences totaling sixty-five years. Extra guards were placed on duty at the Fayette County jail for two reasons; Hamilton had a history of escaping from jails and officials were afraid his friends Bonnie and Clyde might try to break him out.
On Monday May 8, 1933, twelve jurors were selected and testimony was concluded the next day. Hamilton's attorney presented no witnesses and Ray Hamilton did not testify. Fred Blundell, Fayette County district attorney, completed his presentation in two hours. Bank officials Plueckhahn and Doerr and three other witnesses identified Hamilton as one of the bank robbers. Hamilton was found guilty and given a 99-year sentence to go along with his other prison time. He was then returned to the Hill County Jail where he escaped only to be recaptured the next day. He was eventually sentenced to 263 years at Huntsville.
On January 16, 1934, Bonnie and Clyde broke Ray Hamilton out of prison by killing two guards in a bloody shoot out. Ray Hamilton's sensational criminal career ended with his execution in the electric chair on May 10, 1935. He was only 21 years old.
Carmine Bank Robbery #2—Addington-Campbell
by Sandra Briones
While the Carmine Bank was still reeling from the effects of the Hamilton-O'Dare robbery they were targeted once again. But this time the bank and the town were ready. When three strangers arrived in Carmine the curiosity of the citizens was aroused and phone calls were made to deputy Flournoy notifying him of the three suspicious men. Flournoy said, "We kept an eye on them and the bank, I thought they would pull the job that day, but when they returned the next afternoon we were ready".
At about 3:30 on January 11, 1933, one of the bandits entered the bank and handed Assistant Cashier William Plueckhahn a note with a name on it and asked for directions. Before the cashier could answer the bandit pulled a pistol from his pocket and stuck it through the cage. "Stick em up" he ordered. The only other people in the bank were Bank President William Stuermer and customer John Krause. They, along with the cashier, were forced into the vault where the bandit scooped up $1224.00 and was about to leave when Flournoy arrived. The second bandit was outside in the get away car and was disarmed by Flournoy. The deputy then went to the back door of the bank, tried to enter and found it locked. The noise momentarily caused the bandit to look away giving cashier Plueckhahn the opportunity to grab his pistol and shoot the bandit twice in the head, killing him instantly.
The third man, believed to be waiting in another car outside of town was not found. The dead bandit was identified as Leon Addington of Oklahoma. His accomplice was Robert Campbell who was brought to the Fayette County Jail where he spent time playing dominoes and laughing with Gene O'Dare.
Addington's body was brought to the Reichert and Kneip undertaking parlor in La Grange where folks from all over the county came to view the body. Pictures were taken and circulated through the community. Addington's body was shipped out to Oklahoma on the midnight train.
No attempts have been made to rob the Carmine Bank since then.
Bank Worker Shoots Robber
by Connie F. Sneed
On Jan 11, 1933 in the small community of Carmine, Fayette County , Texas a man who was identified as Jack Snyder, believed to be from Oklahoma, was slain in Carmine after he had sacked up $1,224.85 of funds from the Carmine State Bank.
W.A. Plueckhahn, 34, assistant cashier of the Carmine Bank, shot the robber to death with a pistol he had in his possession. A gentleman who was seated in an automobile outside the bank, while the robbery was attempted, was arrested. He only gave his name as Campbell .
Plueckhahn got his chance when officers arrived at the bank, rapped on a rear door. The robber with his pistol drawn had earlier made Plueckhahn, W. H. Stuerner, President of the bank, and John Kraufe, a customer, lie on the floor. He later told Plueckhahn to get and help him sack up the money. Plueckhahn complied and as the bag of money was delivered to the robber the officers pounded on the back door. Snyder turned to look to see if who or what was happening at the back door, at that same time Plueckhahn drew his gun. He shot Snyder twice killing him on the spot.
The Texas Bankers’ Association paid $5000 to the official of the Carmine State Bank who defended the bank’s funds. It was announced from the office of the Texas Bankers’ Association in Dallas, Texas. This reward had been established years before and was paid only for dead bank bandits and did not apply to capture.
Carmine State Bank was once knocked off by the notorious Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. It was also robbed by Sean Brown back in 1997. Brown was the leader of a gang that robbed banks in six Houston area cities over a two month period. Brown was apprehended after a 20 mile chase on May 22, 1997. A federal jury convicted Brown after a four day trial. His brother, Eric Brown, and another man pleaded guilty to joining Brown in some of the robberies commited. He was convicted on 14 counts of bank robbery and use of a firearm during a bank robbery.
Carmine Dramatic Club
Transcribed by Connie F. Sneed
Taken from the Dallas Morning News, 28 June, 1930:
TEXAS BOASTS LITTLE THEATER
DRAMATIC CLUB AT CARMINE, FAYETTE COUNTY, FOUNDED IN 1895
What may be the oldest Little Theater in America has been discovered in Texas, and it is not the Dallas Little Theater. It is the Carmine Dramatic Club of Carmine, Fayette County in South Texas, which has functioned for thirty-five years according to the theatrical trade paper, Billboard. On its rolls are two charter members who still take an active part in the productions.
The beginning of this group was humble, but it has built a reputation for giving excellent plays, which extends far into the adjacent counties. Every play is presented before a capacity house. The history of the Carmine Dramatic Club began when the young folks of Carmine presented their first play thirty five years ago. Had not the determined members had the stamina to forget all of the trials and difficulties of that first play, there probably would have been no history to record today.
The first play was “At Cross Purposes” and the would-be Thespians discovered that there were more things to be considered than just selecting and rehearsing a play. There were other primary considerationslittle things like a theater, a stage, curtains, lights, properties and seats. The club members who remember that first play recall with much humor some of the now comical improvisations such as the red calico curtain for a drop, the makeshift stage and boards on beer kegs.
This group now meets whenever a play is to be put on and people for miles and miles watch for the announcement of these plays and their well-known players. For instance H.L. F. Doerr has been interpreting comic parts in this Little Theater for more than twenty years. In private life he is the cashier of the Carmine State Bankhis appearance is the signal for the most enthusiastic applause. His name on the program assures a full house.
Then there is Norma Bauer, present director, and also one of the charter members. She is versatile, playing equally well the part of an Indian squaw, a frost bitten old maid or a stern mother. Three Weyand brothers have played numerous parts. Only one, Max, now remains with the club. His deep resonant voice and acting ability have pleased many audiences. Another favorite is Leon Hoppe. Carmine audiences have watched him progress from a juvenile part to those of a lover, a hardened villain and the philosopher. Other favorites include Henry Haberlein, Alfred Hoppe, Irene Fricke, Ella Hoppe and Alma Doerr. Among the more youthful stars are Lila Kieke and Lorraine and Katherine Siebel.
Each performance given by the Carmine players nets in the neighborhood of $300.00 or more, and on occasions the group has played banker to some of the city institutions.
Carmine City Cemetery
Related article at the Handbook of Texas Online:Carmine, Texas