Note: Texas born Adolphus "Cansellor," age 44, lived in Houston County, Texas with his wife Idella, age 34, and their large family. At home were Albert, 13, Duglass, 10, Wanfree, 9, Horace, 7, Era, 4, Barney, 2, and Essie, 11 months. All the children were born in Texas. 61 year-old Adolphus H. Cansler lived in Walker County, Texas with his wife Idella S., age 54, TN, daughter Edna, 18, and son Rollie, age 16. Born in Rusk County, Texas in August 1855, Adolphus Henry Cansler was the third of four children born to Marcus Cansler and Celia Loyd. In November 1885, Adolphus, age 30, married 20 year-old Idella Sanford Tarbutton in Wood County, Texas. They would have seven children together between 1886 and 1899. By all accounts, Adolphus was a rough man, not afraid to make enemies. The fate of his family would be marked by tragedy. His oldest son, Albert, vanished in 1900, at the age of 14. His third son, Winfrey, died in the terrible pneumonia epidemic of 1919. Adolphus lost his second son, Douglas, in France, during the First World War. Douglas was, evidently, the glue of the family and his death had serious ramifications for those back in Texas. Douglas left his mother $10,000 in an insurance policy. Idella used the money to buy a house and move away from Adolphus Cansler. Adolphus and Idella never divorced, but they they never lived together again. The family had lived in Walker County, Texas since about the turn of the century. Walker is about 60 miles north of Houston, with the small town of Huntsville as the county seat. The 1920's were marked by the violent deaths of Adolphus' three remaining boys. The "Cansler Boys" had earned a reputation for trouble, and they had little regard for the Prohibition laws which then governed Walker County. In May 1926, 28 year-old Barney Cansler was killed in a shootout with deputies T.R. Gaines and "Cap" Birmingham. According to the report filed in the Huntsville Item, Barney Cansler had just been released on bond, having been arrested, on a Saturday night, for being intoxicated and disturbing the peace. Upon his release, Barney threatened and cursed the officers. According to the policeman, Cansler drew his gun and shots were exchanged. Barney was hit and fell to the ground, but continued to fire. One shot pierced Gaines' "trouser leg." The officers hit Cansler again, this time a fatal shot just below the breast bone. In September of that same year, Deputy Birmingham would shoot and kill 34 year-old Horace Cansler in the middle of the afternoon, at the corner of Main and 11th Streets in Huntsville. The family story is that the Sheriff's department was completely corrupt at the time. Horace was unarmed and had been provoked by Birmingham into a "cussing match," before the deputy shot him. Horace was taken to the large state prison hospital in Huntsville, where the only doctor of the community was employed. According to legend, Horace Cansler was not attended to and he bleed to death on a prison table. As were the ways of the time, revenge was sharp and swift. In October 1926, the Huntsville Item reported that "Policeman Cap Birmingham was shot by a party from an automobile. A 12 guage shotgun with buck shot was used. Two shots from the shotgun were heard and five pistol shots." Birmingham was hit in the back nine times and died the next day. Rollie Cansler, the last remaining son, was arrested, after admitting the shooting to Sheriff L.L. Leonard. The paper reported that Birmingham "was a fearless officer and a believer in the strict enforcement of the laws. He had many friends and many enemies which he made in over a quarter of a century as a peace officer in Walker County." Rollie was convicted of manslaughter and served two years in prison. Upon his release, he moved to Cut and Shoot, Texas, in nearby Montgomery County. In the 1930's, Rollie Cansler was shot and killed, while eating supper at his dinner table. The unknown killer had fired through the window. No charges were ever filled, but the family suspects that his killing was related to the violence of 1926.
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