Last Hanging In The Panhandle

On the morning of June 3, 1910, many residents of this area journeyed to Clarendon to witness the last lawful hanging in the Panhandle of Texas.

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

John Alexander Fox, born August 21, 1883 in Tennessee, was a son of the Reverend William Petway Fox and Nancy J. Fox. In 1885 the Fox family moved to Peaster (PEA-ster) in Parker County , Texas .

When Jack entered Peaster School , the teacher thought he was in the wrong class because of his small size. He was quick to inform the teacher that he was right where he belonged.

In 1903 Fox came to Pampa as timekeeper for the Santa Fe Railroad. About two years later, his friend, J.E. Whitsell of the First National Bank at Weatherford, brought about an offer from the Brown Shoe Company of St. Louis . The shoe company, manufacturer of Buster Brown shoes for children, wanted an advertising agent to portray Buster Brown, the famous Outcault cartoon character.

Fox, who had never done any acting, was reluctant to leave the railroad for he had become chief clerk at Pampa . However, persuaded by his banker friend, he changed his career and trooped the nation’s movie houses, delighting thousands of children for nearly a quarter-century.

Richard F. Outcault’s popular comic strip first appeared in newspapers in 1902. Later the strip made its way into comic books dealing with the devilish mischief of Buster Brown and his companions and including the consequences of their misdeeds and often some sermonizing. The serial was so popular that thousands of baby boys were named Buster and countless canines were given the name of Tige.

The character Buster Brown wore a pageboy hair style and dressed in a Little Lord Fauntleroy suit consisting of knee-length pants and a jacket with a round collar and loose neck-bow.

About 1930 Fox retired to the Meadowbrook section of Fort Worth in Tarrant County where he was scoutmaster of a troop for several years. Because of his four-foot-height, he was given the title, “Smallest Odd Fellow in the World,” by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows where he was a familiar figure. He was a Methodist and a Mason.

Fox died of natural causes on May 14, 1961 in Fort Worth and was buried beside his parents in Peaster Cemetery . He was survived by three brothers and three sisters.

On Saturday, March 16, 1996, a ceremony was held at Peaster Cemetery which is on FM 920 between Bridgeport and Weatherford. The ceremony was to dedicate a Texas Historical Marker for Peaster Cemetery and a monument for Jack Fox, Peaster’s most famous citizen.

Crystal McCarty, president of the Peaster Cemetery Association, spearheaded the effort to obtain the marker and monument and donated funds necessary for the marker. Her sister-in-law, Doris Dodson, spent two years researching facts about Jack Fox and the cemetery.

Ron Gaskill donated granite for the Buster Brown Monument and also did the etching and engraving. In addition to the inscription, the monument shows a plastic-enclosed picture of Buster Brown and Tige. Boy Scout, Oddfellow and Masonic symbols are also shown.

Bernice Maddux wrote an article about Jack Fox which appeared on page 3 of the August 1996 issue of Texas Highways. Ann Galloway, senior editor of Texas Highways, supplied information and made it possible to contact the above named persons who most generously provided material for this article.

Over 200 Articles, written by Eloise Lane, were published in the Pampa News. These articles may be accessed by clicking on each section below. A list of articles will be revealed that are linked to a page containing the text of the article.

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