Lawmen beat the bushes for fugitive inmates

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Texas History

By Bartee Haile

Texas History

In the second mass escape in two weeks from the same Texas prison farm, eight more convicts bolted from infamous Eastham on Jul. 8, 1937.

This was how the Associated Press reported the manhunt for the first bunch on Jun. 23: “Nineteen ‘hard-boiled’ convicts who fled to freedom from Eastham prison farm sought to keep out of the reach of an army of men and bloodhounds searching for them in the scrub oak and pines of East Texas.”

The large work detail had just arrived at the designated field the previous morning, when the single guard put down his shotgun to roll a cigarette. Two alert convicts, Hilton Bybee and James Rice, quickly overpowered him seizing the shotgun as well as his pistol, uniform and horse. They rode off on the mount followed by 17 fellow inmates on the backs of mules.



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