While searching through 100-year-old criminal records in Waco, Texas, I came across an indictment against “one Chicken.” Although it may sound like a case of a fowl running afoul of the law, it was a situation were officials filed charges against a perpetrator who was only known by his nickname: Chicken. Similarly, Erath County officials charged “One Cat-Faced Kid” with gaming within the city of Dublin in November 1891. Then in May of 1894 a charge of prostitution was filed against “One Cross-Eyed Woman.”
Chicken’s identity surfaces in another indictment in Waco. In January 1903 Jonathan Columbus Turnbow, alias Chicken, did “unlawfully keep and exhibit, for the purpose of gaming, a gaming table and bank.” In 1910 either he or one of his relatives, noted only as “Mr. Turnbow,” and a madam, Mary Doud, were subpoenaed as witnesses in the State of Texas vs. Mary Hayden in which the accused was charged with running a brothel in Waco.
Sometimes indictments reveal the true identities of these colorfully-named characters when arrests were made. The accused, if posting bond, had to sign his or her name. But not so in the cases of Erath County’s feline-faced boy or the cross-eyed hooker, both of whom apparently eluded capture.