Russell Embree

Tennessee’s first son, Russell Embree, was born April 14, 1869, shortly after the death of Nattie Embree. His presence changed Tennie’s writing habits since she now had two small children to care for. Russell was gladly welcomed by his parents and became, in Tennie’s words, their “brag boy”. He loved to hunt as well as fish, helped his father in the store, and eventually protected Tennie from Dr. Embree’s violent outbursts.

There is mystery surrounding his death March 12, 1893, at the age of 23. The Pendleton/Embree family history notes he “died in a duel.” Dr. Embree’s obituary mentions “the dastardly deed that laid his son low.” Information gleaned from the notes of Betty Sanford Lockart indicate he was killed “by a Mexican he had befriended” and Deborah Bauer recalls hearing that Russell had “had his throat slit while sitting in the barber’s chair.”

I have yet to find a newspaper account of this incident and there is no record of the event in the diary pages. Helen Embree does not mention this incident in her diary (privately held). In honor of her brother’s memory, Beulah Sanford named her son, who was born shortly after his uncle’s murder, Russell Embree Sanford, thus keeping his name and memory alive in the family.

Russell Embree’s tombstone, a small marble obelisk, stands next to his father’s larger marker, in the South Belton Cemetery in Belton, Texas. His epitaph reads “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.”

Russell Embree

Russell Embree's tombstone

Update: Taylor Kendall has locatedĀ  the Criminal Court of Appeals record of Mayes v. Texas. The date of his appeal of the second degree murder conviction (August 21, 1893) is December 16, 1893. The conviction was upheld. I am now investigating whether the court records from the original murder trial exist. Any new information will be posted here.

6 Responses to “ Russell Embree ”

  1. Amy, surely there was a criminal inquiry made into Russell’s death which would leave us some record. Have any inquiries been yet made?

  2. A JM Mayes was charged with the murder of Russell. Trial was on 8/21/1893.

    Texas case law - Mayes vs. THE STATE, 33 TEX.Crim(1893)

    Perhaps an attorney would have access to this record.

  3. Thank you, Taylor, I am beginning inquiries immediately!!

  4. Very interesting!!…they are relatives of mine..I love the web site!

  5. Leah!!!!! It’s your cousin Debbie Busch. Bauer now. Can’t believe you are on here. I know you and mom had written and got family info some time back. That is her, Betty in the ABOUT section.
    I’ll check back on here soon and see if you read this.
    Debbie

  6. Hey Yall,
    I’m Penny Leggett’s husband Chris Chandler. I’m doing her family history and I found the newspaper article on Russell’s murder on GenealogyBank.com. Titled “Belton Tragedy”, Dallas Morning News, Monday, March 13, 1893. If you need, I can email it to you.
    cchandler@sw.rr.com

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