A murder over slander in 1896.
Last weekend, Briscoe Cain III wished his son, Briscoe Cain IV, a happy birthday on the House floor. It reminded me of the murder trial of his great-great-grandfather, who also went by Briscoe Cain.
On March 10, 1896, Whitfield Briscoe Cain shot and killed John T. Myatt in Robertson County, Texas. Some reports said the shooting took place in Franklin; others said Bremond, but these towns are near each other.
Allegedly, John Myatt made slanderous accounts of Briscoe Cain’s wife. Cain, a young dentist, just starting out in his profession, loaded up his shotgun and went to Myatt’s place of employment to confront him.
Myatt was a stockman, meaning he worked with livestock.
Briscoe Cain approached John Myatt in the rear of a beef pen, held up his double-barrel shotgun, and blasted. There wasn’t any words or argument between the two, Cain just approached him and shot.
The first shot hit Myatt in the chest.
Myatt raised his arms, possibly to shield himself, and then Briscoe Cain pulled the trigger again, the second time hitting John Myatt in the face.
Briscoe Cain was promptly arrested and charged with homicide. Cain was promptly released on $500 bail and testified on his own behalf about the slanderous language used by John Myatt about Cain’s wife.
What slanderous language could have been used in 1896 to warrant shooting someone in the face?
I saw your wife’s ankles?
She wasn’t a virgin?
Her face looks like a horse?
We’ll never know what John Myatt said about Briscoe Cain’s wife, which would have warranted a double-barrel shotgun blast in the face, but whatever it was, the jury rendered a not-guilty verdict.
Dr. Whitfield Briscoe Cain was only 22 at the time. He went on to live his life, have a successful dental practice, and his grandson Briscoe Roswell Cain Sr. later became the mayor of Calvert in Robertson County.
Undoubtedly, Briscoe Cain Sr.’s stint in politics influenced his grandson, Briscoe Cain III, who now is a sitting Representative in the Texas State House.
It makes you think about philosophical words, like destiny.
This story has no impact on the House District 128’s Representative’s life, who he is, or why he votes.
It gives us a multi-century reference to men named Briscoe Cain who have done things other Texans consider wrong or immoral. In the 1800s, Briscoe Cain murdered a man in cold blood for talking smack about his wife. An act that was wrong and immoral. And in the 2000s, Briscoe Cain worked to take away voting rights from Black and brown Texans. Also, an act that is wrong and immoral.
Since this name has been so widely used, we may poke around and see what the Briscoe Cains of the 1900s were up to. Stay tuned.