January 2, 1932 – The Young Brothers Massacre

Small-time thieves Paul, Harry, and Jennings Young gathered at their family’s farm on January 2, 1932. The brothers had fled town after Harry murdered a law enforcement officer during a traffic stop in 1929. While on the run, the Youngs became involved with an auto-theft ring in Texas. Soon after the men returned home their sisters attempted to sell one of their stolen cars to a local dealership. Greene County Sheriff Marcell Hendrix learned of the attempted sale and assumed the Young brothers had returned to the area. Hendrix went to the farm to arrest the brothers. He was accompanied by 10 of his officers and one civilian.

The group arrived at the farm and called for the Young brothers to surrender. There was no response. The officers fired tear gas into the home while Hendrix and fellow officer Wiley Mashburn kicked down the back door. The Youngs shot Hendrix and Mashburn at the door of the home with a 12-gauge shotgun and a .32-20 rifle. The brothers then began to fire on the others who were still outside.

Three officers were killed during the shootout. The remaining officers fled when they ran out of ammunition. Special Deputy Ollie Cartwright stayed behind and stationed himself near the home’s storm cellar. The Youngs discovered Cartwright’s hiding place. Cartwright was shot in the back of the head with a shotgun.

Before more officers could arrive at the scene the Young brothers stole the money and guns from the dead officers and fled. Three days later the brothers were tracked down and cornered in a rented room in Houston, Texas, where they committed suicide.

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