John Slovak lynching in Shiner
Rosemary had posted this article earlier this week. I found the death certificate, using FamilySearch (LDS site) which is free. Without the newspaper article, you would have difficulty knowing what happened. John Slovak was 43, married, and was killed on 23 August 1915 at 10 PM. Cause of death: Accidental from a gunshot wound in hands of J. A. Kunetka. (That is what the justice of the peace wrote.) Slovak was buried on the 25th by an undertaker.
I am curious as to what became of the wife. Does anyone know her name or more about the story?
Lesson I learned: just because the death certificate says one thing, there may have been an entirely different reality. It was undoubtedly more convenient to rule the death accidental and to close the books on the event than to prosecute the vigilantes.
SHINER MEN LYNCH A BOHEMIAN FARMER
LOCKHART, Texas, Aug. 26.-Unmercifully beaten with a wet rope and then
killed with a shot from a 4_ (.45?) caliber pistol was the punishment meted
out to John Slovac, a Bohemian farmer living on the Woods farm, four miles
from Shiner. The circumstances of the killing are about as follows:
Slovac had been in town Monday and had gone home in the afternoon. Shortly
after his arrival at home the officers at Shiner were notified that he had
whipped his wife, his boy, and his father-in-law. The officers left for
there at once and brought Slovac back with them and locked him up in the
city jail and expected to carry him to Hallettsville today.
About 10 o'clock Monday night parties unknown at the time, having a key to
the jail unlocked the door, taking Slovac out, and then locking the door
again, and carried him to a point on the railroad near the brewery and
whipped him with a wet rope an inch in thickness and then fired one shot
into his breast, which caused his death. The body was then laid upon the
track and the parties doing the killing made their escape. Parties living
near there went to the scene of the killing and reported the matter to the
officers. Sheriff Houchins and County Attorney Stavinola [as printed] of
Hallettsville were notified and went to Shiner at once. A coroner's inquest
was held by justice of the Peace Habernacher, but no new developments were
brought out. Slovac and his family have only been in the United States a
year, having come direct from Bohemia to Shiner. This is the first lyching
to occur in Shiner.
Victoria Daily Advocate, Thursday, August 29, 1915.