Page 1 Page 2

Noah, R. F., Wilkerson

A Narrative Story

Written by: Ed Walker ©2005


Page 2 of 2 Pages

Re-capping the events of Noah’s life in Coleman/Runnels counties as has been previously shown through mostly trial transcripts, it becomes evident that he spent almost 2 full years in jail either in Coleman or Runnels counties.

JUNE 27th, 1898

On an execution docket for Coleman county, a return of execution by R. P. Kirk, Sheriff of Runnels county after levying on 640 acres of land belonging to Noah Wilkerson, less 200 acres established as homestead, the sale of which occurring on the steps of the courthouse in Ballinger, Texas to the highest bidder, that being W. S. Boswell for $65.50 and of which sale $11.35 being the expenses thereof, a net of $54.15 was applied against an indebtedness in Coleman county of $250.oo, court costs that most likely were incurred in the perjury trial during February term of the year 1898.

AUGUST 22nd, 1898

640 acres and also 320 acres, less the 200 homestead acres, thereafter and before sale, Sheriff was enjoined from sale of same by R. F. Wilkerson himself.

An amazing irony suddenly emerges to wit:

AUGUST 22nd and 23rd, 1898

An attempt at sale of 440 and 320 acre land tracts belonging to Noah Wilkerson appears to have been enjoined by the owner. The night of the following day, August 24th, Ben Slate was murdered by Tump Eldred, who admitted to same, and very soon afterwards, having told at least one other, Mal Cox, that those were his intentions.

Would Noah be angered enough by legal attempts on his lands to want to take vengeance against a named friend, Ben Slate, whom nothing thus far spoken has shown that he would have reason to want eliminated?? It had been stated that he, Ben Slate, was a witness for his (Noah’s) defense in the upcoming trial for alleged perjury in Coleman County in February 1899.

What would have been gained by his hiring a young man (Tump) to kill someone he apparently had no quarrel with or against? Noah, thus far appears to be more intelligent than to attempt such a blatant act as murder, using someone easily mis-led and who would be easily swayed to turn things back upon him (Noah). Until court testimony more incriminating than has thus far been presented or made available to public scrutiny at this writing, very little reason exists to give motive for Noah to want Ben Slate dead! Others, though, through their testimony, stated they had reasons to hurt Ben. No one pointed at Noah as though to say he, Noah, wished him, Ben, any harm!

FEBRUARY 17th, 1898

Verdict returned by jury..2 years in prison.

AUGUST 25th, 1898

Randal (Tump) Eldred was arrested at Noah’s home where, apparently, Ben Slate’s body was being held?? Why there?

SEPTEMBER 2nd, 1898

Noah Wilkerson was arrested for 1st degree murder.

OCTOBER 17th, 1898

Noah is tried and convicted of Murder in the 1st degree and given life in prison.

FEBRUARY 14th, 1899

Noah is brought to trial in court in Coleman, Texas for a charge of perjury.

MARCH 4th, 1899

Motion by Noah for new trial overruled and there and then he, Noah, excepted and gave notice of appeal to Court of Criminal Appeals of State of Texas at Austin, Texas.

MARCH 31st, 1899

Assignment of errors, District Court of Runnels County, Texas, Noah’s appeal for new trial by relating errors committed during murder trial in October, 1898.

DECEMBER 19th, 1899

A very lengthy response from Court of Criminal Appeals refuting purported errors in earlier murder trial.

JUNE 13th, 1900, Coleman County Census

Noah Wilkerson enumerated as prisoner being held in Coleman County jail, shown as aged 40 and a stock raiser.

JUNE 19th, 1900

Noah, along with a reputed 5 others break out of Coleman County jail.

Stories that have been passed down through family lore and still related by those family members who are alive still, give colorful, if not sketchy accounts leading up to and following Noah’s break from jail. A son, Chester, in later years, doing research extensively hoping to gain the truth, spoke through his writings and is hereby quoted: “My father was not implicated in any way with men who robbed a train between Santa Anna and Coleman, but he escaped from Coleman county jail when they did. A kinsman from Atlanta Georgia brought the saw to my folks and came into Talpa one day and left for Atlanta the next so that his coming would not arouse any suspicion from those who might have seen or met him, had he stayed longer. I don’t know who took the saw into the jail, but it got there and back to our home, for I saw it many times in our old bureau drawer, but never suspected that it was the one that they used to get out of jail until many years later. I was too young to know about [Coleman County Jail] such things. The men sawed out of the cell and they almost made a serious mistake, for Bill Taylor, as they got the hole so small that he could hardly get through it. They had to put soap on him and help pull him through the opening! He was much larger than the others in the cell. The men did much of their sawing when the train was in town switching the cars, the train tracks were very close to the jailhouse, and they added to the noise by singing while one sawed. They used paper to catch the saw dust and then would use soap to cover up the places where they had sawed.” Noah ran a long way that night when he got out, toward home, or Glen Cove. When he had gone as far as he could he would hide in an old haystack. He ran barefoot, thinking his bare feet would make less tracks to aid the search by officials. There was a lady, Beulah Kingston, who did the housekeeping in the jail where Noah was incarcerated. She remembered seeing him as she came and went and she would wave to Noah. It was said she became known to the family of Noah for many years afterwards but never let it be known that she’d been known to Noah in the way she had until she’d become a resident in a Bangs, Brown county, rest-home, some 50 years later! It was said that a letter sent to Noah in jail, not known from whom, though apparently wanted by Sheriff Kirk, was wanted badly enough that he, Kirk, purportedly choked Noah in the attempt to gain access to it. A possible speculation might be that a friend in another state had written to offer safe haven if he were to escape and Sheriff Kirk got wind of it, as he (Noah) did start on his “owl-hoot” trail in Portales, New Mexico. Noah is said to have stayed around his home and among his friends for several weeks, but the stress on Dorintha was too much and he was urged to leave. Stories have circulated over the years that Dorintha got pregnant while Noah was incarcerated, however the timeline until the birth of Loyd, the 9th child, showed it more likely to have occurred while Noah was close by after the break from jail, as Loyd was born the following March, 9 months later! It would seem highly unlikely, although certainly possible, that a conjugal visit would have been allowed, more especially due to the fact that Noah had lost lots of his popularity and that would seem to be an “extreme privilege” what with all the other men being housed in the same jail at that time! He went west, most likely in late July, as the first known record of him was the beginning entry in a diary that he kept, dated August 12, 1900, showing him to be in Portales, New Mexico. Another rumored story of descendants of today of neighboring families speaks of the possibility of Noah being friendly to local Indians and in turn buying stolen horses from them to resell to the U. S. Army! That being true could surely explain the mounting bitterness towards him by those close to him that may have been the previous owners of said horses! Again, so much of Noah’s activities have gone unrecorded, or are inaccessible to researchers, that much speculation has to be utilized to create even a mediocre narrative of his life and lifestyle while a resident of Coleman/Runnels county. It is the opinion, at this time, of the writers and researchers of this narrative that heavy emphasis was utilized by local law enforcement officials to rid the free world in and around the two above named counties of one Noah, R. F., Wilkerson and there seems to be a very strong tenacity exhibited by one Sheriff, R. P. Kirk and it makes one wonder, strongly, if there might have been a purely personal vendetta involved? Again, 90% of this writing has been based on pure speculation derived from, again, “reading between the lines,” those lines that are still available to peruse! Also, again, as previously stated only those who were alive at that time could really tell us the truth! The following will be a sincere attempt to interpret the wording and meaning of a copy of the original of Noah’s diary, it seems appropriate to show it as it was originally written with the spelling left as is. Noah’s son, Chester, made a valiant attempt to translate and transcribe what his Father was trying to say and these writers will attempt to do the same and hope to improve on some of the translations of the spelling and meaning of Noah’s words. [Chesters signature] [Chester Wilkerson] The following will be a quote from Chester Wilkerson, son of the deceased:

“On February the 11, 1948 I tried to copy my father’s diary as we were able to read it. Some words may be spelled differently through the copy. We made no attempt to put every word in the copies as he had them in his diary. For instance, take the word “there”, in the diary he always spelled it “thire.”
Some towns may not be spelled correctly, but we have tried to put them down as he spelled them and we understood them.
To the best of my knowledge it is correct.
The original is in the hands of Arthur E. Wilkerson, the oldest child, whose address is now 2654 Vickery Blvd, Fort Worth, Texas.
Now begins the diary of Noah, R. F., Wilkerson, as he lived for the next several months away from home and family.

August the 12, 1900

Left Potalice, (Portales) New Mexico, Joe Lewis Ranch, got nothing to eate till next day.
Come to Liberty, stade all night there, awful sick, traded horses there, traveled six days come to Clayton stade all night there.
Come to James Ranch, stade 3 days there come to Fulfer Town stade one night there. From there to Walson Burg stade allnight there lots of Mexicans there to Trinadall (Trinidad) camped close to the town lots of “kinds” there come from there to Peublo stade all night there. Changed wagons and outfits I come with Joe Tollos to Rosita with him on fruit wagon. Stade with him 2 weeks.
We all left there Sept. 12 for the state of Idia (Idaho).

Sept. 12, 1900

Left Rosila (Rosita), Custer co. come to Wetmore the night of the 12 stade in Pueblo the night of the 13.
Camped at Roberson the night of the 14, 1900. stade all night in Colorrado Springs the night of the 15. I sleep in the wagon.
Camped 5 miles of Farmers lake the night of the 16.
Camped all night in Littleton the night of the 17. Came through Dinver the morning of the 19.
Camped 30 miles of Denver the night of the 18.
Camped in Littleton the night of the 19.
Camped 30 miles above Dinver night of the 20 in the mountains in a canion (canyon) lots of mines had ice.
Came through Idaho Springs the morning of the 21.
Camped at Infire Town (Empire) the night of the 21 where the ladies all ride horseback a straddle.
Ate diner at a Hotel Events Spring Lodge 22

Sept. 23

Camped at Cousing (?) the night of the 23 in a canion sonow on the mountain.
Camped at Hot Sulpher Springs the night of the 24.

October 9, 1900

On the day we left I went out after a deer on my horse and tide (tied) on the saddle and he (supposedly the horse) got lose from me and pitched till the deer and saddle turned under him and came off he kicked all to pieces but hind quarter.
Eate diner on 14 Miles Creek camped that night West Riful (Rifle) bought some honey eate diner at the Big Dich on Riful the 10 of Oct.

Oct. 10

Came to New Castle the night of the 10 we skinned deer the morning of the 11 one mountain at this town of fire have ben burning for 30 years or more.
We left New Castle the 12 of Oct. Eate diner 10 miles down on Grand River.
Camped at Rifel Town the night of the 12
Eate diner at Fairshoot (Parachute) the 13 on the Railroad station.
Stopt (stopped) for the winter 6 miles north of fairshoot (Parachute) station in a canion tha air (there are) lots of peaches and Apples hear.
Oct 16 and 17 cut peaches and dried the 16 and 17 went a hunting up on the mountains 18th killed 3 grouce as we went up with my six shooter it was 3 miles to the top of the mountain I led my horse up he was packed with beding and grub.
Killed one grouce 19 and Buck it snowed all day the 20 on the mountain where we was camped.

Noveher 6, 1900

Lectdtion (election) day we had a big time at parachute that day at the church house. We left parachute the 7 of Nove with 2 loads of Apples going to Wichoming (Wyoming) state to sell them Eate diner at Rifel the 8 of Nov.
Camped at Dickson Ranch Nov. 8
Camped at White River the night of the 8 of Nov 3 miles from Meeker.
Eate diner 6 miles north of Meeker 9 of November.
Colloms (?)
Camped at Doe Ranch in a gully one mile from the Elk Horne Ranch Nove the 9 1900 it is very coal (cold) some snow on the mountains.
Eate diner on Bair (Bear?) River at a Ranch called at Wards a Wider (widow) woman house she had ben (blank space) all of her life tha (they?) was drunk.
Nove the 10 camped at a Ranch and Post Office called Lay sold thre (3) boxes of Apples there, the night Nove 10 1900.

Nove the 11, 1900

I & Joe Trimer slept in the Post Office that night. He had Skelpt (skeleton?) of a Mountain sheep in his house.
Left Lay on Nov. 12. Walaham the man that keeps Lay post office Bought game picture from Mr. Walaham deer & Elk Antelope & Bair (bear) sent them to Joe Lewis we traveled that day 30 miles camped at Tember (Timber) Lake Ranch. Wilson the man that ownes the Timber Lake Ranch one of the men is deaf & dum. This is in Routh county colo. Nov the 12. 1900
Came over in Wyoma (Wyoming) State the even (evening) of the 13 of Novebemer. Camped in Town Greg Barkin’s on Snake River, 150 (miles) from parachute. Lots of now in this country…..

(In the back pages of my father’s diary we found a brief note of his journey and the number of miles he traveled. We have copied them here the best we could make them out.)

“the No of Miles I traveled up to date of Oct. 13, 1900 1100 Miles to New Mexico. (it is not 1100 miles from Crews, Runnels county, Texas to New Mexico maybe he meant from Portales to Wyoming) stoped there 2 weeks. Went from there to Clayton Citty New (Mexico) 200 miles.
Went from there to Peublo Next which was 200 miles went from ther to Rositar (Custer co) 50 miles stated thire 2 weeks and left went from thire Next to fairshut (Parachute) Station which was 600 miles more. Stopt thire for winter the 13 Oct.
400
200
50
600
200
1450 hundred fifty have traveled Oct. 13, 1900.”

(This Statement on the last page of the diary copied as is-)

portailes Sept. 8, 1900
U pull out for Arizano to our Ranch and go to work Sam Sirnon Station is the name of the place.
Jeso Hurby is the Boss tell hem that I an old man Parramore told you to go thire now you get up and go
Don’t waste anytime Take my advise

Yours friend

Joe.


[Carbon Co Wy map] Noah Wilkerson woke to a new day on November 14, 1900 in a place called Dixon, Carbon County, Wyoming situated just over into the state from where he had been in Colorado.

He had brought several boxes of apples from the place in Colorado from which he’d arrived the day before, with intentions of selling them to the locals while looking for work in Dixon.

He readily made an acquaintance that morning, Deputy Sheriff Bob Meldrum, with whom it is said he shared lunch that noon. It is said Noah purportedly made a few brags to Meldrum about his (Noah’s) plans to join up with the “hole in the wall” gang or various other noted outlaw bands that frequented and/or occupied the general area. That would seem a strange thing to brag about to an actively visible peace officer? Truths have always had a way of becoming twisted by the telling of the same stories numerous ways that might be just the right wording to catch a curious reader of the media, or those who revel in gossiping!

Whatever dialogue passed between the two men, something must have sparked an urge for Meldrum to choose to check the mail that day, possibly a suspicion that Noah might be a wanted man. Surely enough, contained in the mail received that day was a wanted poster showing a striking resemblance to Noah, so much so that Meldrum proceeded to find and deputize a man there in town, C. E. Ayer, to assist him in his plan to find and arrest Noah. Having done so the two proceeded to follow that plan. Information gained at a later date with regards to Meldrum might suggest he preferred to take Noah’s life since it was established that he was more bounty hunter than peace officer, if there was any proof to the rumor that he had carved 13 notches into his pistol grip!!

As the news media has been noted for, for many years, there have been many variations of what took place from that point!

One version says that Meldrum and Ayer located Noah on a street corner near a Charley Perkins’s store. An order was given by Meldrum to put up his hands (Noah’s), with a reply from Noah of “oh no” with which he allegedly pointed his saddle gun at the officer. A scuffle for that rifle allegedly ensued and a shot was fired into the ground. Noah began to run across the road as Meldrum had gained possession of the rifle and could not fire it again because it had jammed. Noah, reportedly, trying to run to a safe place across the road, was trying also to withdraw a pistol he was carrying inside his shirt. Apparently the pistol became entangled and Meldrum drew his gun and fired at Noah’s backside, striking him in that area of his body. It is stated that Noah fell dead instantly!!

As has been previously stated, numerous versions of what happened that evening about 5-6pm in Dixon, Wyoming emerged and have been researched and gleaned from local newspaper accounts in the Rawlins Semi-weekly Republican as well as a Saratoga newspaper account, all showing various differences in the actual happenings that day. Regardless of the manner in which Meldrum accomplished his deed for the betterment of society that day, he became an instant hero to the locals and, for sure, a prized enforcer of the law to one Robert F. Kirk, sheriff of Runnels county, Texas, a man who had passionately yearned, for months, maybe even years, to see Noah Wilkerson removed from society (and maybe from his (Kirk’s) “craw” for evermore!

[Bob Meldrum in prison] Noah, R. F., Wilkerson was DEAD, shot in the back, and that “dropped a curtain” on his life and began quite a series of events in that area of southern Wyoming. Later accounts of witness will testify to the fact that Noah could have been taken peaceably, perhaps, if the effort had been made to do so. A dead person is much easier to cope with for law enforcement, however, than one who is still alive and needful of constant watch!

This picture should show just a small measure of the chances Noah might have had for continued life had he met with a different breed of law enforcement that fateful day! Granted, the fact that he was a fugitive from justice meant he was pretty much living on borrowed time anyway!

This picture should show just a small measure of the chances Noah might have had for continued life had he met with a different breed of law enforcement! Granted, the fact that he was a fugitive from justice meant he was pretty much living on borrowed time anyway!

And, it could be wondered, would Noah have preferred to live an incarcerated life, for life, or have died as instantly as he was said to have?

Of course the news media of that day surely resembled that of today in that everyone who could try to tell the story and no two stories were the same!

What followed that fateful day, first of all, the frantic notification of the sheriff and the official powers at large there in Dixon and of course the telegram to R.P. Kirk in Ballinger, Texas to say “we have your man” and “he is dead.” There should be no doubt of the rejoicing from that department!

NOVEMBER 15, 1900 DIXON, WYOMING

Before M. A. Groshart, a Justice of the Peace, the following jury was duly impaneled and duly sworn:

R. Reader
Ed Wren
W. A. Clark

To examine the personal effects found upon the body of a man laying before them dead in the warehouse building of the Dixon Lumber Company, found the following list of effects:

Envelope addressed to W. Lee Esq., Rosita, Colo Custer County, postmarked Portales, New Mexico Sept. 05, 1900, from Joe Lewis, Portales, New Mexico.

1- pair brown gloves lined #9
1- .41 cal. Colt revolver in .45 cal. Frame 7 ½ inch barrel, all chambers loaded. Serial # as show below on butt plate 168107.
[Butt plate serial number colt 41 pistol] 1-303 cal. Savage gun serial #14163, nearly new.
1-small round mirror.
1-bottle medicine, labeled Louis F. Strahek & co Druggists, Meeker, Colo.
1-box junnis pills.
1-silver teaspoon (or plated)
1-small mirror and comb
1-3-blade pocket knife
1-openface watch & chain (yellow watch & chain, Hampton movement.
1-tooth brush
1-pkg. (4) .41 cal. Cartridge
1-old handkerchief and 1-scarf pin
1-red silk handkerchief with 1-$20.00 treasury note rolled inside, had a silk garter on outside of the roll.
1-collar button
1-silver ring with 1899 on outside taken from little finger of left hand.
1-gold ring found in pocket with initials scratched inside 7v-NW, very dim.
2-boxes of 303 savage rifle cartridges, also 1 tote sack filled with same kind of cartridges.
1-bottle medicine, Glenwood Springs, Colo., W. S. Parkinson, # and doctor’s name erased.
1-small package powder.
[Pat Watkins Noahs Model 99 Savage 303] 1-pin bangle inscribed “While I am away”, with flowers underneath.
1-daquerotype of an old gentleman with the following written on back, “Wilkerson, Atoka Texas, Lawrie.
1-large photo of man sitting, a woman standing by his side, photo evidently of man now laying dead before jury, has the same peculiar box ear boots as was found on dead man’s feet.
1-letter read by jury.
1-saddle & bridle #135 collins maker.
1-diary full of writing, giving dates of the travels of said dead man, about $1.80 in coins was also found in pocket.


The man’s horse & saddle was turned over to deputy sheriff R. D. Meldrum for safe keeping, body was left in his charge also, to await the arrival of Sheriff McDaniel.

[Saddle scabbard for Noahs savage rifle] All the other articles was turned over to H. S. Ellis to be locked in safe of J. W. Hugus’s store at Dixon, to be held by him for safe keeping until further orders from M. A. Groshart, Justice of the Peace.

Signed

A. R. Reader
W. A. Clark
Ed Wren
Witness my hand and seal this 15th day of November, A.D., 1900

M. A. Groshart
Justice of the peace
Dixon, Wyoming November 15, 1900


We, the undersigned jurors in the above cause, having inspected the body, heard the testimony and made all needful inquiries, do hereby find that the deceased (supposed Noah Wilkerson) came to his death by a gun shot from a .41 cal. Colt revolver fired by one Robert Meldrum, deputy sheriff for Carbon co. State of Wyoming while resisting arrest and we find from the evidence that the said Robert Meldrum while acting in the capacity of sheriff was justified in making the arrest and we further find that it was a justifiable homicide, and we exonerate the said Robert Meldrum from any and all blame in said cause.

A. R. Reader, Foreman
W. A. Clark
Ed Wren
Subscribed and sworn to before me this the 15th day of November, A.D., 1900

M. A. Groshart J. P.

Evidence of Robert Meldrum, Deputy Sheriff, being duly sworn, deposed: That on October 7th I received a letter from the sheriff of Carbon County (Wyo) ordering me to arrest a man named Noah Wilkinson, accused of murder, with description and photograph of said Noah Wilkinson. That on November 14th, 1900 at 9 am I saw a man answering description of said Noah Wilkinson. I wished to be positive as to his identity and stayed with him all day, ate dinner with him. We were together till just about five o’clock when I became positive that that was the man.

Q. What followed?
R. I met Charles Ayer in east Dixon and deputized him to assist me in making arrest.
Q. What followed then?
R. I went down to Perkins ranch with the man and went to the warehouse. When we came to door of warehouse I called on him to throw up his hands, that he was under arrest. Does not know precise words used.
Q. What followed then?
R. Instead of doing so he made a grab for his rifle.
Q. Did he get possession of it?
R. Yes.
Q. What followed?
R. I grabbed rifle and we scuffled for it. Gun was discharged during scuffle.
Q. Who discharged it?
R. Don’t know.
Q. Do you know where the ball struck?
R. 5 or 6 feet to one side.
Q. What followed?
R. Mr. Ayers caught him by shoulders, he swung Ayers to one side loose altogether, and I got possession of gun, tried to throw lever down again but catch had caught and could not work it.
Q. What did you do with the rifle?
R. I threw it down, then I called to him to stop, and he started reaching for his six shooter, but it seemed to catch in scabbard.
Q. What did you do?
R. Then I shot.
Q. What did you shoot with?
R. A six shooter .41 Colt.
Q. Was the man moving away from you?
R. Yes, he was edging away sideways, trying to get six shooter out.
Q. Did you fire more than one shot?
R. Yes, I shot twice.
Q. Did the man fall when you fired?
R. After I fired first shot he still went on as far as about 75 feet before he fell.

Meldrum (sig)

Sworn to before me this the 15th day of Nov A D 1900
M A Groshart
Justice of the Peace

Joe Trimmer, being duly sworn, deposed, that he lives in Parachute, Garfield co. Colo.

Q. Did you see body of decease?
R. Yes
Q. Were you acquainted with him?
R. Slightly.
Q. What name did you know him by?
R. Forgot his surname, said his given name was Lee.
Q. When did you first meet this man?
R. On or about Oct 10th.
Q. Did you know his business?
R. I did not.
Q. Where did you first meet him?
R. On Flag Creek, Rio Blanco co. Colo.
Q. Did he tell you where he came from?
R. He said he came from southern New Mexico.
Q. Did he say when he left there?
R. No, he did not.
Q. Did he say where he was going?
R. He started for southern Wyoming.
Q. Was he armed when you saw him?
R. He had the same guns he had now.
Q. Did he have a horse?
R. Yes.
Q. Did he say what he was coming here for?
R. He said he was coming to get work.
Q. When did you last see this man alive?
R. About 9am November 14th.
Q. Did he say what he was going to do?
R. Said he was going to remain here till I returned, would go up to Al Reader to look for work, and asked me to speak to him, then changed his mind and said he would wait.
Q. That was the last you saw him?
R. Yes, alive.
Q. Did he come from Flag Creek to Dixon with you?
R. No, he came from Parachute with me.
Q. Did you have any talk as to his profession or business?
R. Yes, he said he had handled sheep in New Mexico and had worked with stock, had owned a bunch of horses there.
Q. Did he tell you why he was leaving there?
R. Yes, he had been sick down there and had come here for his health.
Q. Did he say what was nature of his sickness?
R. No, he did not.
Q. Did he ever claim to be in pain or hold his hands over any part?
R. No, he said he was better than he had been, weighed 10 lbs. more on morning of 14th Nov at Dixon than he had for a long time.
Q. What was his weight here?
R. 140 lbs.
Q. When leaving Colo, was he sociable?
R. Yes.
Q. Did he ever intimate that he ever was in trouble with the law?
R. No, on the contrary, intimated he never had.
Q. Did he say why he had two guns?
R. No, he did not.
Q. Did you know he kept a diary?
R. Yes.
Q. Did he ever say anything to you about corresponding with a girl?
R. Yes, some woman wrote him from Newcastle but he did not know her.
Q. Did he say what her name was?
R. If he did, I have forgotten.


Joe Trimmer (sig)
Sworn to before me this the 15th day of Nov A D 1900
Dixon, Wyoming Nov 15th, 1900


Inquest held on body of man killed by Deputy Sheriff Robert Meldrum at Dixon Nov 14, 1900.

Coroner, M A Groshart Justice of the Peace

Jury, A R Reader, Wm Clark, Ed Wren

Evidence of Chas Ayers:

Chas Ayres, being duly sworn, deposed:

That about 4pm Nov 14th 1900 he was called on by Robert Meldrum deputy sheriff to act as assistant in the arrest of a man supposed to be named Wilkison.

When he reached Perkins warehouse, Meldrum and deceased came from door of warehouse, Meldrum said to deceased, “throw up you hands, you are my prisoner.” Deceased said, “no, I guess not.” I jumped and grabbed deceased hands and said, “yes, yes, he means it.” Deceased then slung me to one side whirling me like a top. As I was turning I heard a shot fired, did not see who fired shot as my back was towards them at the time. When I looked again I saw deceased running across the road with his hand up to coat at left breast, looking back as he ran. Both Meldrum and myself called to him to stop, repeatedly. Deceased paid no attention to calls, continued to run, then one or two shots were fired. I’m positive there were two shots fired and the man fell, did not see shots fired. Think they were fired by Meldrum

Q. Did deceased have gun in hand?
R. Yes.
Q. What kind of gun?
R. Savage rifle.
Q. Did he have gun in hand at start?
R. Yes.
Q. Did he have any another gun?
R. Yes, a six shooter which lay beside him as he fell, before anybody approached body.
Q. Is that all you know?
R. Yes, up to time of death.

B. E. Ayers (sig)
Sworn to before me this the 15th day of Nov A D 1900.
M A Groshart, Justice of the Peace.
The State of Wyoming, county of Carbon


S.P. Kirk being first duly sworn according to law on oath deposes and says that he is sheriff of Runnels county, State of Texas, that one Noah Wilkerson was a fugitive from Justice from said county of Runnels, State of Texas, he having committed the crime of murder in said county and state and after the commission of said crime he fled the county and left said State of Texas. That thereafter on, to wit, the 14th day of November, A D 1900 the said Noah Wilkerson was found by Robert Meldrum, deputy sheriff at the time and place aforesaid did attempt to arrest said Noah Wilkerson for the purpose of returning him to officiate so that he might be imprisoned, he having been convicted for the said crime of murder which he had committed in said Runnels county, State of Texas, that while so attempting to arrest said Noah Wilkerson, the said Noah Wilkerson resisted arrest and was shot dead by said deputy sheriff, Robert Meldrum of Carbon county, State of Wyoming. That amongst other pro0erty found on the person of said Noah Wilkerson, and in his possession at the time of his death was: one open face gold watch, one pair of gloves, one pocket mirror, one book diary, letters and papers, two pictures, one pocket knife, one tooth brush, a number of cartridges for guns and pistol, one pair of boots, one savage rifle, one colts pistol one gold finger ring (with initials of deceased), one silver ring, one silk handkerchief, one pistol scabert and one gun scabert, that this officiate is about to return to the State of Texas taking with him the body of said Noah Wilkerson, and is desirous to obtain the above and foregoing described property, for the purpose of identifying said Noah Wilkerson and for the further purpose of using the principal part of said property in evidence in the prosecution of certain parties who aided, abetted and assisted the said Noah Wilkerson in his escape from said State of Texas, and asks the Judge of the District Court for an order directed to the clerk of said court to deliver said property to this officiate.

S.P. Kirk, Sheriff Runnels co, Texas
Sworn to before me and subscribed in my presence this 22nd day of November A D 1900
D T Dunlap, Clerk
Rawlins, Wyoming, November 22nd 1900

To David T. Dunlap, Esq., county clerk and Exofficio clerk of the District Court of Carbon County, State of Wyoming.

You will please deliver to R. P. Kirk, Esq, all the property of every kind and nature whatsoever mentioned and described in the above and foregoing affidavit taking his receipt therefore, and this shall be your authority for your actions in the premises.

David H. Craig,
Judge of the Dist Court
Third Judicial District
Wyoming
Rawlins, Wyoming, November 22nd 1900


Received of D. T. Dunlap, clerk of the District Court of Carbon County, Wyoming, all the articles and property mentioned and described in the affidavit hereto attached and referred to in the above and foregoing order of the Judge of the District Court of the 3rd Dist of Wyoming.

R. P. Kirk (sig)
Sheriff of Runnels County
State of Texas


Again, numerous reports, re-copied telegrams to and from Ballinger, Texas or Dixon, Wyoming have been read and hopefully adjudged as being capable of some measure of truth.

One particular subject needs to be addressed at this time: the reward posted for Noah. It was alleged in different media reports that Sheriff Kirk had offered $200.00 for the capture and/or arrest of Noah in conjunction with the posting, by the State of Texas, of a $500.00 reward for the capture and “return” of said prisoner, Noah Wilkerson, to be delivered to the warden of the state prison in Huntsville, Texas. Upon his arrival and identification of the body Kirk paid to Deputy Meldrum the $200.00, anticipating that he, Kirk, would in time collect the larger reward from the Governor of Texas!

The following is a direct quote from the Ballinger Banner on February 16, a Saturday, 1901:

“Sheriff R. P. Kirk returned Wednesday night from Austin where he went to interview the governor regarding the reward offered for Noah WILKERSON. He was able to secure only expense money, the governor saying he was not authorized to pay a reward for the man dead.”

It’s a bet that was a “kick in the britches” for Sheriff Kirk!

A copy of the reward by the governor does in fact state:

PROCLAMATION
By the
GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF TEXAS


$500------ REWARD

Whereas, It has been made known to me that on the 19th day of June, 1900 in the County of Coleman, R. F., Noah, Wilkerson did escape, he being a convict, under conviction for murder and that said R. F. Wilkerson is now at large and is a fugitive from justice.

Do, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Laws of the State, hereby offer a reward of $500.00 dollars for the arrest and delivery of the said R. F. Wilkerson to the Supt. Of Penitentiaries at Huntsville Penitentiary, inside the said Penitentiary. Reward is payable on condition of the arrest and return of said fugitive with six months from this day and conviction thereafter.

Signed: by the Governor
Joseph D. Sayers
This 26th day of July, A.D. 1900


It is known that Sheriff Kirk showed decency enough to ask of Noah’s family what should be done with the body. First, allegedly, he was told to bury Noah there in Wyoming and again, allegedly, a change of heart instructed him to bring him home to Ballinger, Texas for proper burial. Apparently his horse and saddle were sold to have the body embalmed and all that remained was to escort Noah’s body and personal effects back to his home and family.

A story of that return goes as such:

“When Sheriff Kirk arrived with Noah’s body in Ballinger the rains had been so constant that mud was hub-deep to a buggy,” thereby negating immediate burial and, again, as the story was told “they just placed the coffin on the railroad dock and there it remained for the number of days needed until burial in Norwood cemetery could be effected” The temperature at that time of the year could easily have been such that it had no drastic effect on deterioration of the body, however, if the story is true, that should show the measure of respect given to the return of a fugitive from justice who had been severely ostracized during and after court trials, conviction of murder, sentencing to life imprisonment and subsequent escape and eventual death by backshooting. Not a pretty picture for anyone’s demise, but as we have looked at feelings shown and expressed by the local populace over the preceding two years towards Noah, R.F., Wilkerson one could not help but wonder, “what could have precipitated that kind of animosity”?

Was Noah really that bad of a person? Could he have been that mean-spirited enough to have done all that he was accused and convicted of? Granted, the times required that a man be strong and desirous of something better for himself and family, and Noah had a large family without a doubt!

In attempting to have a look at Noah’s life before he and Dorintha married when he was extremely scarce to public recording, opinion has it that he and his siblings lost both parents within a short period of time, and both of them at a young age to tuberculosis, which most likely necessitated farming out the kids to relatives to raise. That being the case, if true, could easily account for the apparent aggressive nature spoken of relating to brother Zan and of course Noah. A small man might be either meek or cowardly or excessively the other way, leading to easy speculation that possibly all those siblings had to grow up tough and, having adopted that mannerism, continued to live their lives accordingly. Who knows? But, wouldn’t it be nice to talk to those who lived at that time and hear a good cross section of opinions from the common folk of the day, not just the authoritative lot.

[Bob Kirk and Bob Goodfellow] [Colt pistol]

[R P Kirks headstone]

[Alexander Milton Wilkerson brothers] [Shaving mug] [Loyd Wilkerson]

The photos above show a younger image of Robert Paul Kirk and Bob Goodfellow, both Sheriff of Runnels and Coleman County’s respectively, a photo of the .41 caliber Colt pistol that Noah carried at his death, a photo of the Tombstone of R.P. Kirk in the Evergreen cemetery of Ballinger, Texas. A photo of brothers Wilkerson, Zan, Milton (who appears, with family, on census in 1910 in Comanche, Texas), and Berry E. “Ed” who remained a Georgian and was listed as a Sheriff of Fulton County, Georgia in 1920. The last two photos are of child #9, Loyd, born after Noah’s death and a shaving mug won by Noah in a horse race in Abilene

It was rumored that Ed was the brother that made a special trip to Texas to see that a means of escape was arranged for Noah, most likely using Dorintha to possibly hide the saw in her clothing to get it into the jail to Noah! It is a known happening in many instances that a conjugal visit could be arranged for the proper promise of reciprocation from a prisoner, and that just might have happened with Noah and Dorintha. (hence, a possibility of Loyd’s conception?)

Interestingly, if Ed did arrange this means of helping his brother to have a longer spell of freedom by escaping, then he, Ed, might have had remorse or twinges of guilt in later years that caused him to become an upholder of the law!

Much has not been said of the trial and/or sentencing of Tump Eldred, the true killer of Ben Slate. It appears that he was arrested in August of 1898 and did not come to trial until one month before Noah was killed in Wyoming, October 1900, making him a prisoner in Runnels county jail for over two years. Tump, having turned state’s evidence on Noah and receiving a reduced sentence of 25 years in Huntsville State Prison was transported to that end just a few days after his sentencing.

Ironically, information was obtained from the Texas State Archives in Austin, Texas regarding Tump’s incarceration in the Rusk Unit of the Texas State Prison showing a complete description of his physical self but without an accompanying photo, which would have been interesting to see, as we know what Noah looked like!

Convict Record Ledger Data Transcription Form – later records

Number: #19746
Name: Tump Eldred
Age: 23
Height: 5’ 11”
Weight: 152
Complexion: Fair
Eyes: Grey
Hair: Light
Marks on person: Scar on right arm; Long white mark on right breast; scar on inside right heel; scar on left hand; #6 shoe.
Marital relations: No
Use of tobacco: yes
Habits: Temperate
Education: None
Able to read: No
Able to write: No
No. of years at school:
Date of birth: 1877
Birthplace: Texas
Birthplace of father: Unk.
Birthplace of mother: Texas
Occupation: Laborer
Time of Conviction: Oct. 19, 1900
Offense: Murder, 2nd degree
Terms of imprisonment: 25 years
County: Runnels
Residence: Ballinger
Plea: Guilty
When received: Nov. 01, 1900
Expiration of sentence: Oct. 19, 1925
Ex-service:
Remarks: Escaped Oct. 10, 1906


The Conduct Register Transcription Form shows regarding the following:

Punishments: Escaped from Rusk Oct. 10, 1906. Asst. Supt. Regan.

By the looks of the foregoing information it cannot be determined if Tump was re-captured and punished or was allowed to remain free. If Tump did indeed remain free, it looks like he got the best end of the deal in the long haul with a total of 8 years imprisonment for the cold blooded murder of an innocent man that he admittedly confessed to long before he was brought to trial!

Not having seen ANY admission of guilt from Noah’s defensive table during any of his trial transcripts available to the writers of this narrative (not to say there are none, just none that were available in any of the court records researched for this writing) it would be very easy to, again, surmise that the deck was stacked against the defendant!!

Regardless of the severity of the separate punishments for Noah and Tump, it is the opinion of those of us writing this story that Noah was, and most likely, had been for many years, very unpopular among his ranching peers and local city and county dwellers, even among his own kin!

Rumor has it that younger children, seeing Noah riding their way would run and hide in fear. Not too much can be gathered from family members of today since most are grandchildren who never knew him and only have family lore to impart as to their knowledge of what Runnels County was really like with Noah living there, and even that lore may or may not have been changed numerous times in the course of it’s telling.

Members of the Clayton kin, brothers of Dorintha, Benjamin Jerome (Rome), Finis and George Washington Jr. (Wash) had very little use for Noah, possibly because he was very quick to aim a rifle or pistol at most anyone whom he wanted to control and apparently he was not that selective whether it be male or female.

Dorintha did overcome the sordid details of Noah’s extremely disruptive lifestyle and eventual death at the hands of an over-eager Deputy Sheriff, and within just a few short months of his death gave birth to her ninth and final child, Loyd in March of 1901.

She raised all those children to adult ages and never remarried, probably never had a boyfriend, even, how would she have had time to entertain one?

All the Clayton brothers and sisters of Dorintha, and of course her father, were there to help her.

The story goes that on weekends she would load all the kids up in a wagon and go to visit kin and be most welcome! Can you imagine how many people would be in one place to cook for and feed? That was not a problem in those days though because company was a treasure and lonely ranch folks looked forward to it, she probably brought as much food with her as was provided for she and her family. This is all pure speculation, of course.

Joyce Wilkerson, son of Loyd, tells that Dorintha was a laid back, kind and gentle person and with all that many kids she probably was walked on a bit by all of them but even without a father to help with authority, by all indications they all grew into rather responsible, upright individuals with a good degree of normalcy in each of their lives and their family. One son, Chester, became a minister and was one of the greatest sources of the research that contributed to this writing, second possibly to the court transcripts, but certainly without the input of his research this would have been a very difficult attempt to put Noah’s life in an even semi-proper perspective.

[Noahs grandson Joyce with pistol] With reference to the various personal effects in Noah’s possession at his death, there seems to be only two of importance that should bear mention. The pistol is the property of one grandson and the rifle is in possession of a granddaughter along with the scabbard, both items are in remarkably good condition considering their age. All the other items listed in the inquest most likely were spread out amongst the children and handed down to theirs and “theirs.” It would be most difficult to track down all the various items and would serve no end for the writing of this story. A large oval frame with a painting, done from separate photos of Noah and Dorintha, put together, exists with a great-great-grandson, one who chose not to share much of his legacy and/or research, and that is o.k. too!

Dorintha lived a long life, dying in 1952 and it’s pretty sure, surmising of course, that she enjoyed and loved each and every child that she bore and the fruits thereof as there were and are quite a “smattering” of them!

It is hoped that when this is completed, and there is not much more that can be said, that those of the family that this writing will, hopefully, be shared with will enjoy and comprehend the feelings expressed as it was written and not be too harsh with their critiques!

It’s hard to write about someone that didn’t leave much of a “track record!” That is to say, documentally “track recorded!!”

Noah seemed to be an artist at deception in the form of not being around when “recording” was being done.

It was a great disappointment when neither cattle nor horse brand was found recorded in Noah’s name either in Coleman or Runnels County?

Maybe his aggressive nature kept potential thieves away, negating his feeling of the importance of marking what was his.

A final, closing wonderment that is purely of personal and spiritual concern on the part of this writer is:

Could it have been possible that sometime in the short life of Noah, R.F., Wilkerson, that just maybe someone shared about The Lord Jesus Christ with him, and hopefully encouraged him to turn his life over to The One who could promise him eternal life in Heaven with Him. It would have been a simple thing, Salvation always is easy, the follow-up is the tough part, the living for God and Jesus, but wouldn’t it have been wondrous for Dorintha and her children to have been informed at some point in time that a certain (or any) person was instrumental in being the seed planter, nurturer or harvester of Noah’s decision to follow Christ in what remained of his life!

Many have been down to their last vestiges of hope and on the verge of certain and/or imminent death and God decided that they really were worth His efforts at putting someone in their path that could not only help with their suffering on this earth but give them the knowledge that would bring them the Peace and Joy and Gift of Eternal Rest in Heaven with Him! We can all hope that that did happen, as God desires that no one should perish and up until their last breath, choices are available for them to make!

It might have been difficult for those who so desired riddance of Noah from their Runnels and Coleman County lives to even imagine his turning his life over to Christ, but all a person of today has to do is realize that God even loves Sadam Hussein just as much as he does each and every one of us and would receive him quickly upon his profession of faith in Jesus Christ! So, who are we to judge? We might pray that the Joe Trimmer, who spent time with Noah in his last days, neglected to inform Dorintha that he had shared Christ with Noah when he wrote that letter some 50 years later!

It is hoped that this story will inspire some and be a measure of enjoyment to others as they read and digest what has been a sheer pleasure to research and write.

To the family of Noah and Dorintha, it is hoped that feelings, observations, that which was “read between the lines” will not offend anyone but merely show a sincere attempt to get at the truth!

[The Wilkersons Dorinthia Arthur Luther Mertie Leonard Beulah] [Wilkersons less Arthur 1934] [Wilkerson boys Gama]

[Another pic of Ed Wilkerson]

[washpot]