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Houston, Missouri
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Houston, Missouri

Houston is a city in Texas County, Missouri, United States. The population was 1,992 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Texas County.



Houston is located at (37.323390, -91.959775). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , all of it land. Houston is the second largest city in Texas County, behind Cabool.


As of the census of 2000, there were 1,992 people, 904 households, and 536 families residing in the city. The population density was 559.8 people per square mile (216.0/km ). There were 1,042 housing units at an average density of 292.8 per square mile (113.0/km ). The racial makeup of the city was 96.13% White, 0.20% African American, 0.80% Native American, 0.30% Asian, 0.35% from other races, and 2.21% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.46% of the population.

There were 904 households out of which 25.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.6% were married couples living together, 12.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.6% were non-families. 37.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 22.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.07 and the average family size was 2.67.

In the city the population was spread out with 20.7% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 22.2% from 25 to 44, 22.3% from 45 to 64, and 27.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females there were 73.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 69.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $20,886, and the median income for a family was $28,798. Males had a median income of $26,371 versus $17,500 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,977. About 20.6% of families and 26.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.9% of those under age 18 and 19.8% of those age 65 or over.


Houston's Last Hanging: The Jodie Hamilton Murders

On Friday, October 12, 1906, a murder occurred just outside Houston which would become part of Houston's history and a piece of local folklore. The event involved a man by the name of Joseph Hamilton (known locally as Jodie) and a sharecropper named Carney Parsons. Jodie had grown up in the Ozarks but had moved with his family to Kansas as a youth. He returned to the area in 1906 and began working for Parsons. The scuffle which would end in the death of Parsons, his wife, and children began with a trade agreement over a stolen saddle. Parsons offered to trade Hamilton twenty-five dollars cash and a single-barreled shotgun for the saddle. Hamilton agreed but later began to feel as though he had been cheated in the deal.[1]

Parsons then loaded up his family in a wagon and headed for Miller County where he had purchased some farmland. Hamilton, growing more and more furious over the deal, headed out to catch up with them less than an hour after their departure. Parsons and Hamilton had an argument resulting in Parsons heading on toward Miller County. Hamilton waited and then determined to catch up with them again. At the second meeting, Hamilton fired the shotgun he had traded for at Carney Parsons, striking him in the right knee. The gun broke into three pieces. Hamilton then took the barrel portion of the gun and struck Carney Parsons in the head. Carney's wife Minnie then tried to wrest the barrel from Hamilton and Hamilton struck her as well. Hamilton then killed two of the Parson's three sons, Frankie and Jesse, by striking them on the head with the barrel and then cutting their throats with a knife Carney had produced in the scuffle. Hamilton then returned to Minnie, who had not yet died, and struck her with an ax after covering her head with a blanket. Hamilton then dealt the final death blow to the remaining infant son of Carney and Minnie with a swing of the gun barrel.[1]

After concealing the wagon, Hamilton took one of the Parsons' mules and fit it with the saddle he had traded to Parsons and headed back into town. He then went to the home of his fiancee, Mae Thompson, and they departed to attend a revival. That night, Jodie returned alone to the crime scene with borrowed animals and pulled the wagon, containing the bodies of his victims, to the Piney River. He dumped the bodies into the river and headed back to town, planning to leave for Cabool the next day and board a train to Kansas.[1]

Fishermen discovered the bodies of Jesse and the infant Edward floating in the river on Saturday morning. Authorities immediately suspected Hamilton because of the mule he had been seen riding into town. Having determined that Hamilton had departed for Cabool, ex-Sheriff James Cantrell phoned the Cabool general store and asked they try to detain Hamilton until they could arrive to arrest him. The store owner managed to get Hamilton to stay for coffee until Cantrell arrived. Hamilton quickly confessed to the murders and assisted authorities in finding the other three bodies.[1]

Mobs immediately began to form around the Texas County jail in Houston where Hamilton was being held. Fearing mob violence, Hamilton was moved to Carthage until his trial on October 23. On Monday, November 12, Hamilton was tried for murder. Though he admitted to the crime, Jodie attempted to plead insanity due to a kick received from a mule as a child. Doctors examined Jodie and found him to be sane. He was sentenced to be executed on December 21. At 11:02 am in Houston, Jodie's execution was attempted but was unsuccessful. The rope had failed. Two minutes later, after tying another noose on the same rope, Jodie was hanged again. His death was pronounced at 11:15. Jodie was buried outside of Raymondville.[1]


  1. a b c d e Duff, Michael and Barry Forman. "Hanged By the Neck Until Dead...Dead...Dead." Accessed via Springfield-Greene County Library website

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