In the afternoon of March 16, 1931, a skull was found slightly protruding from the ground just outside the Greenville city limits. Of course, the news caused a whirlwind of excitement and speculations.
A group of boys found the skull while playing in the field. Immediately men and boys congregated to begin an excavation for more bones. When the sun set, they went home but quickly the next morning, there they were to dig more. Surprisingly, no more bones were found. The skull was properly turned over to the constable.
Rumors flourished throughout the town and all of Hunt County. This was during the worst part of the Great Depression, so most people did not have jobs. One man confessed that he had carried the skull away from a local hospital a few years earlier. (You must remember that Greenville had multiple hospitals owned and operated privately by doctors until the 1960s.)
Searchers began to discuss seriously who’s head it was? Several bank robbers came to mind. Of course, there were numerous hangings in the vicinity as well as multiple other acts of violence. Yet, no more bones could be found.
A local newspaper reporter wrote an article for the Greenville Evening Banner of March 17. 1931, that contained a bounty of misinformation. The mystery was probably cleared up later when it was learned that it was the skull of a bank robber, which had been buried and dug up at least six time throughout Hunt County.
One possibility was a bank robbery in the late 1890s. A group of men, probably local, tied bandanas around their faces, walked into one of the banks on the square, carrying loaded pistols. The clerk handed over the money. The robbers retreated to the horse and mule barn on Jordon Street to mount their horses, and all but one of the men were seen leaving town. The search was on for the missing man, the horse and mule barn became the most suspicious place. Nothing was found except horses, mules, hay and muck; not one human being. Years later, a skeleton was found under all the hay and muck. Was that the robber, shot by his cohorts?
A bank robbery occurred in Merit about 1915. That time the two robbers blew up the safe with dynamite, rushed in to gather the cash, and fled in a car headed toward Farmersville. Maybe one of those robbers killed the other for the cash.
Sometime in the 1920s I think, a bank in Point was robbed. The clerk was shot fatally. That robbery/murder was never solved. However, it filled several pages of the newspapers. Then there is the robbery here in Greenville in the late 1980s when the robber carried an ice pick.
I would like to thank my friend John Armstrong for frequently sending copies of newspaper articles he has found. John was a pharmacist whose hobby was collecting and indexing newspaper articles. Now, retired John is a jewel for finding great stories. Thanks, so much John.
Taylor is chairman of the Hunt County Historical Commission. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.