The Downfall of Galveston's May Walker Burleson: Texas Society Marriage & Carolina Murder Scandal

The Downfall of Galveston's May Walker Burleson: Texas Society Marriage & Carolina Murder Scandal

by T. Felder Dorn


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Jennie May Walker Burleson was envied for having everything a woman of her time could want--the privileged upbringing, the dazzling good looks, the dashing war hero husband. She was admired for demonstrating that a woman could want more, from the front of the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession to the bottom of a Mesoamerican archaeological dig. But as she stood over the body of her husband's second wife, gun in hand, society's envy and admiration quickly hardened into pity and scorn. T. Felder Dorn examines the complicated trajectory of her life as socialite, suffragist and shooter.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781467139663
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date: 04/02/2018
Series: True Crime
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 916,128
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

T. Felder Dorn graduated from Duke University in 1954 with a BS in chemistry and was awarded a PhD in that discipline in 1958 by the University of Washington. He was a member of the chemistry faculty at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, in 1958-69 and then served four years on the program staff of the College Board in New York. From 1973 to 1991, he held administrative positions at Kean University in Union, New Jersey, serving as associate dean, dean and vice-president for academic affairs. His last ten years at Kean were spent as professor of chemistry. He retired in 2001. Felder Dorn and his wife, Sara Ruth, have resided in Millburn, New Jersey, since 1973. They have three children and three grandchildren. Dorn has previously published four books: Challenges on the Emmaus Road: Episcopal Bishops Confront Slavery, Civil War, and Emancipation (University of South Carolina Press, 2013); Death of a Policeman, Birth of a Baby: A Crime and Its Aftermath (Xlibris, 2012); The Guns of Meeting Street: A Southern Tragedy (University of South Carolina Press, 2001); and The Tompkins School, 1925-1953: A Community Institution (Attic Press, 1994).

Table of Contents

Preface 9

Acknowledgements 11

Prologue 13

1 Early Married Life: Service and Society

Captain and Mrs. Richard Coke Burleson 19

Suffragist: The 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession 26

Evaluation of Procession and Mrs. Burleson's Role 35

Continuing Suffrage Activity 36

Home Life and Social Activity, 1914-17 39

Richard Coke Burleson, Artillery Commander, 1916-20 41

Separate Ways 44

An Article on Air Power 47

Strong Recommendations and Important Assignment 48

Society, Civic Service and Archaeology 49

2 Marital Problems and Professional Difficulties

Troubled Waters Beneath a Calm Surface 57

A Reassignment Under Protest 63

A Marriage Deteriorates 64

The 1935 Incident in Boston and Its Immediate Consequences 65

Colonel Moody's Report: Other Issues 71

3 Protracted Divorce Proceedings

Overview 74

The Divorce Suit Announced 75

The November 1935 Trial 76

A Request for Intervention 78

The Spring 1936 Trial 80

The Verdict 91

Mental Health Issues 95

Petition for Continuance 98

Violent Hiatus 100

A Procedural Resolution 101

Mrs. Burlesons Perspective 102

Appeal to the Highest Level 103

Spring 1937 Term of Court 104

Petition for a Bill of Review, October 1937 106

Suit for Damages 109

4 Impact of the Divorce

A Death and a Marriage 110

Spring 1936: A Foreshadowing 111

Fall 1937-Spring 1939 112

A Change in Attitude 113

A Matter of Deeds 115

February 1940: Hopeful Attitude but Unrealistic Plans 119

5 Homicide

Texas to South Carolina 121

The Scene of the Crime 122

The Shooting 124

The Arrest 130

Funeral Services 130

The Early Questioning 132

Transfer to Sanitarium 136

The Inquest 138

South Carolina State Hospital for the Insane 140

Judge Wilson's Statement 140

Report from State Hospital and Next Legal Steps 142

6 The Trial

Overview 144

Proceedings Day-by-Day 145

Closing Arguments 167

The Verdict 170

The Sentence 171

7 Incarceration and Related Problems

A Rocky Beginning 172

Fiscal Difficulties 173

The Attorneys 175

The Witnesses 176

Removal of Debts 178

Prison Life 178

Release from Prison 179

8 Aftermath

Richard Coke Burleson 181

May Walker Burleson: Life After Prison 183

May Walker Burleson: A Reflection 186


Last Will and Testament of May Walker Burleson 189

Publicity about the Will 192

Challenges, Obstacles and Resolution 192

Fate of the Walker Home 196

Notes 197

Bibliography 217

About the Author 223

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