Life of the Marlows: A True Story of Frontier Life of Early Days

Life of the Marlows: A True Story of Frontier Life of Early Days

Life of the Marlows: A True Story of Frontier Life of Early Days

Life of the Marlows: A True Story of Frontier Life of Early Days


The story of the five Marlow brothers and their tribulations in late nineteenth-century Young County, Texas, was first related in 1892 by William Rathmell in Life of the Marlows. After killing a popular sheriff and escaping, Boone Marlow was murdered by bounty hunters. The other four brothers, arrested as accessories and jailed, made a daring break but were recaptured and later forced to fight off a lynch mob. brothers were shot and killed, the other two severely wounded, and three mob members died. The surviving brothers eventually were exonerated, but members of the attack mob were prosecuted in cases that reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Rathmell's book, biased in favor of the Marlows, has long been out of print. Robert K. DeArment has sifted through the evidence and presents an objective, annotated edition. Now the complete story can be told and readers can judge for themselves: were the Marlows as law-abiding as Rathmell claims? Or was the mob reacting with justified anger?


In Nashville, Tennessee, in 1822, there lived in happiness and comparative prosperity, a very youthful married couple, the husband being scarce eighteen years of age. This was the handsome and ever good-natured Williamson Marlow Sr. and his child wife.

After the birth of their first child they moved to Missouri, and a few years later, when three little pledges of love had gathered about the family fireside, the grim King of Terrors came in the still hours of the night and robbed that peaceful little home of its dearest treasure—a mother’s love and watchful care. a tiny spark of humanity was placed in the young widower’s arms, making four little ones for the griefstricken Williamson to be both father and mother to, and on that memorable day life lost for him its charm. Grief for the loss of a dutiful wife and loving mother knocked at his heart with a knell and he became for a time a wanderer, a brother and sister caring for the children. But time heals all wounds, so after the keen edge of his sorrow had worn

the father’s name is given variously as Wilson Williamson and Wilburn Williamson in Marlow Brothers Ordeal and his year of birth as 1800 (Ledbetter, 1). He is listed in the 1850 U.S. Census records taken at St. Clair County, Missouri, as Wilson W. Marlow, born in Tennessee in 1816. the name appears as W. W. Marlow with the same place and date of birth in the 1860 U. S. census taken at Carthage, Missouri.

the firstborn, a daughter, was named Acenthy (Ledbetter, Ordeal, 1). the U.S. census records identify her only as A. L., born in Tennessee in 1835 (1850 U. S. Census).

the four children born to Marlow’s first wife were Acenthy L. in 1835, James Robert in 1837, Pleasant M. in 1843, and Bithel A. in 1845 (Ibid.)

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