I would like to communicate with anyone who recalls hearing anything about the murder of Ruth Vaughan in 1930 on the Vaughan farm southeast of Shamrock in Collingsworth County. She was the wife of Henry Vaughan, the son of Hal Vaughan, a prominent citizen of Shamrock. A young black hired hand, Jesse Lee Washington, was tried, convicted and executed for the crime on the basis of the testimony of Henry Vaughan and his 13 year old brother George, as well as a confession obtained shortly after the arrest by Sheriff Claude McKinney, County Attorney Luther Gribble and District Attorney James C. Mahan. At the time, mobs of white men quickly appeared and told blacks in and around Shamrock and in nearby Beckham County to leave the area for their own protection. Two years after the trial, Henry Vaughan died. Both Henry and Ruth along with Hal and his wife are buried in the same plot in the Shamrock Cemetery.
The venue was moved to Roberts County and the entire trial lasted about 12 hours. The jury was selected in the morning. Trial began at 2:00. Washington pleaded guilty and "threw himself on the mercy of the court." The jury reached its verdict of guilty with recommendation for the death penalty that evening after deliberating for 15 minutes. And Washington was electrocuted in Huntsville in September.
Dr. J. W. Gooch of Shamrock served as coroner.. He testified that Ruth was bludgeoned to death and died of a fractured skull. He also testified that Mrs. Vaughan was not sexually assaulted.
I would also like to know where Henry Vaughn died so that I can obtain a death certificate. I have been unable to find him in the Texas Death Registry.
My father, who at that time was living on a farm east of Shamrock, once told me about the case. He said that some local folks believed that Henry murdered Ruth and pinned the crime on Jesse.