And Now You Know: Car batteries, murders start the New Year

Published 10:41 am Monday, July 23, 2018

By Mike Louviere

In the first few days of 1923, The Orange Leader had a wide variation in reporting news and local interest stories. The stories were about two murders discovered a few days apart, a golf tournament, and the newest technologic improvements in automobile batteries.

The Sabine Battery Company was the dealer for the Willard Threaded Rubber Battery.

The battery came in two sizes. The SJ was an over sized battery that was said to give the “Highest quality and greatest economy in months and miles of interrupted service per dollar.”

The SR was the full-size battery it was touted to “Give the advantage of low first cost without sacrifice of quality”.

Threaded rubber was the newest innovation in insulation for the plates inside the battery. Thread rubber had thousands of pieces of thread imbedded in the rubber sheets that were placed between the plates. Thread gave porosity to the rubber which allowed the liquid in the battery to move freely to react with the plates.

The original insulating plates were made of wood. Wood would wear down and cause the battery to need to be reinsulated at some point. The wood would wear down before the life of the battery ended causing extra expense.

J.O. Sims, the vice president of First National Bank won the highest honors in the Pinehurst Country Club Bogey Tournament. Sims’ score was a 90 with a five handicap, making for a 95-scratch score.

R.H. Palmer won Second Place with a scratch score of 92.

The Phoenix Furniture Company with locations in Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Orange was having a sale on Victor Records in the 10 and 12-inch sizes. The prices were 75 cents and $1.50. The subjects were: Addresses by the President, popular concert, operatic, melodious instrumentals, light vocal selections, dance records, and some special issues from December.

S.W. Smith, a truck farmer who farmed 40 acres near Vidor, brought into Orange a 10-pound purple topped turnip, early beets that weighed three pounds each, and a bunch of Chinese mustard that had 25 stalks growing from a single root.

J.T. Rice, an employee of A.C. MacFarlane, was arrested for reckless driving on the Beaumont-Orange Concrete Road. Rice ran into a car driven by Mrs. Will Fountain who lives of 14th Street. The accident occurred about 2 ½ miles out of Orange. No one was injured but both cars were heavily damaged. Rice was being held in jail awaiting charges to be filed.

The body of S. F. Fuller, a logging camp employee and trapper was found in the river just north of Orange. Fuller had suffered a severe head wound.

The following day a second murdered trapper. Tom East, about 65 years of age was found dead in his cabin near Prewitt’s Bluff. East had “squatted” on the river for several years. It appeared he had been dead about six weeks. The body was laying on the dirt floor of the cabin covered with quilts, sacks, and general debris. It did not appear that any personal effects were missing, Sheriff J.W. Helton said this violent death at Prewitt’s Bluff was about 20 miles upriver from where Fuller’s body had been found.

Judge J.J. Ball conducted an inquest at the cabin where East’s death took place. An indenture was found in the skull leading Ball to believe East had been struck on the head by a blunt instrument. The cabin door had been locked with a padlock from the outside. East’s shotgun was missing, and no money was found in the cabin, leading authorities to believe robbery was the motive.

Doug Stakes, the county tax collector, reported that the supply of 3,000 license plates had been sold out. Stakes said more had been ordered and that “autoists” would have until February 1 to buy new plates. The county’s supply of plates had quickly been sold. There were 3,100 vehicles registered in Orange County by the end of 1922.

“And now you know”