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In view of the foregoing considerations, I find no objection to the enactment of the measure. I am unable, however, to approve the amount of compensation proposed in the bill, as it appears to be somewhat excessive. With kind regards, Sincerely yours,


Attorney General.


Washington, May 23, 1939. Hon. AMBROSE J. KENNEDY, Chairman, Committee on Claims,

House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: Reference is made to your letter of April 14, 1939, previously acknowledged, enclosing copy of bill (H. Ř. 5571, 76th Cong., 1st sess.) for the relief of Minnie Lowery and Winell Lowery.

The bill provides for the payment of $15,000 to Minnie Lowery and her daughter, Winell Lowery, of Dallas, Tex., in full satisfaction of their claim against the United States for the death of Oscar L. Lowery, the husband of Minnie Lowery and father of Winell Lowery, "who was shot without cause by a Federal Prohibition agent at their farm near Tecumseh, Okla., July 4, 1929.” The files of the Department

show that W. W. Thomason, Federal prohibition agent, started from Shawnee, Okla., on the morning of July 4, 1929, to make an investigation about 10 miles south of Tecumseh, Okla. He traveled in a private automobile and was accompanied by Jeff D. Harris, Thomas H. Little, and John W. Williams, private citizens. At a point about 24 miles from Tecumseh, Agent Thomason stopped to examine a footpath leading into the woods across the highway from the farmhouse of James C. Harris. Thomas H. Little stayed in the car. Jeff D. Harris and John W. Williams followed Agent Thomason for a distance up the path.

Jeff D. Harris soon left the path and went over to the farmhouse, where he saw Mr. and Mrs. James C. Harris and Oscar L. Lowery, brother of Mrs. James C. Harris, sitting on the porch. He said to them: “We are prohibition officers and want to look over the place.”. Thinking that one of the men on the porch said, "all right,” he went to a "crib," or small barn, about 30 feet west of the farmhouse, but upon hearing a commotion back in the farmhouse, he started to return there. When he approached within 10 feet of the porch, he saw a shotgun barrel pointed at him from the inside doorway. He dodged but the shot struck him on the right side of the face. He ran into the house, but looking out of a door saw a gun leveled at him from outside the house near the porch. He started out of the house. At that time another shot struck him in the neck. He saw a man run around the corner of the house with a gun, and when this man was about 20 feet from the house he wheeled around with a gun in his hands, whereupon Jeff D. Harris shot him. The reports indicate that the man whom Jeff D. Harris shot at this time was Oscar L. Lowery.

James C. Harris had run from the house into the woods nearby, carrying with him a Winchester repeating shotgun. He turned and fired several shots toward the house.

Agent Thomason, upon hearing several gun shots, left the path in the woods and ran to the highway where he had left the automobile. After securing a rifle from the car he went to the farmhouse. About that time he observed James C. Harris shooting a gun in the direction of the house. The agent called upon him several times to drop the gun which he apparently did and started to return to the house. The agent then proceeded to the place where he thought James C. Harris had dropped the gun. It appears that Jeff D. Harris went to meet James C. Harris who was coming out of the woods. Jeff D. Harris said that just after he crossed a little creek he saw a man (James C. Harris) with a gun in “A shooting position” coming toward him and that he thereupon shot him.

Enclosed is a copy of a report submitted July 15, 1929, by Special Inspector Frank W. Lohn, giving the results of his investigation of the shooting of Oscar L. Lowery and James C. Harris. He states that as the result of his investigation it was developed that Jeff D. Harris, Thomas H. Little, and John W. Williams were not employed by the Government, as either prohibition agents or contract informers on July 4, 1929, but that they had accompanied Agent Thomason on that date upon the agent's request, and had frequently done so on other trips. Special Inspector Lohn states that it was also developed that Oscar L. Lowery and James C. Harris were mortally wounded by Jeff D. Harris, who was acting

upon his own initiative and without the direction of Agent Thomason. Enclosed also are copies of affidavits executed July 9, 1929, by John W. Williams, Thomas H. Little, Jeff D. Harris, and Federal Prohibition Agent Thomason.

An indictment was returned by the grand jury of Pottawatomie County, Okla., against Agent Thomason, Jeff D. Harris, Thomas H. Little, and John W. Williams, charging the murder of Oscar L. Lowery and James C. Harris. The case against Agent Thomason was removed to the United States district court where he was tried and acquitted. The case against the other defendants was not removed from the State court because they were not Federal officers or in the employ of the United States at the time James C. Harris and Oscar L. Lowery were killed. It is understood they were tried in the State court and that Jeff D. Harris, who admitted that he had killed Oscar L. Lowery and James C. Harris, was convicted.

It is clear that neither Federal Prohibition Agent Thomason nor any other Federal prohibition agent shot Oscar L. Lowery. It is also clear that Jeff D. Harris had no authority to act as an officer of the United States. In addition it is apparent that the killing of Oscar L. Lowery and James C. Harris was the result of an affray which was started by Lowery and James C. Harris. Their acts in shooting Jeff D. Harris were unprovoked and even if the latter had been an officer, under the circumstances no duty or obligation was cast upon the United States by reason of Lowery's death.

In view of the above, the Department is of opinion that the bill is not meritorious and recommends that it be not passed. Very truly yours,

John W. HANES,
Acting Secretary of the Treasury.

DALLAS, Tex., March 19, 1940. Hon. Hatton W. SUMNERS,

House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. SUMNERS: In relation to the bill H. R. 5571, I am sending the attached statement of funeral expenses for my husband, Oscar L. Lowery. I did pot have any hospital expenses or doctor bills to pay as he was taken to the city hospital.

My request was that he be carried to the A. C. H. Hospital in Shawnee, Okla., but the Federal officer, Thomason, rode in the ambulance with Virgil Cooper, ambulance driver, and directed Cooper to take him to the city hospital which was farther across town. I rode in a car and went on to the A. C. H. hospital and when I arrived there the hospital attendants informed me that no one had been brought there by that name. I have never understood why the Federal officer did not comply with my request. This information was given me by the ambulance driver when I went in to pay the bill and I questioned him as to why he did not comply with my request. Yours truly,


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SHAWNEE, Okla., July 6, 1931. To All To Whom These Presents May Come:

This is to advise that I was well acquainted with Oscar Lowery and James Harris who were killed at their home on the 4th of July 1929 by a Federal prohibition agent. I have made considerable investigation of this case and believe that I am largely familiar with the facts concerning this affair.

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Jeff D. Harris was convicted of the murder of Oscar Lowery. His conviction constituted manslaughter and he is now serving a term of 50 years in the penitentiary of this State.

Both of these young men, who served in the World War in behalf of their country, had the reputation of being honest, sober, industrious, and law-abiding farmers; so far as has ever been known they were never engaged in any kind of law violation. Lowery was wounded while in the service in France. He left a widow and one child, a little daughter 3 years of age. At this time the dependents are destitute, have been for a long time, living upon charity and the kindness of their friends and neighbors who learned to know and love them.

Without exception, the people of this community join in the request that the Government do its duty under these circumstances and make some reasonable provision for the support of this unfortunate widow and this unhappy little child. To say the least, and it is the least the Government could do, and that would be to prevent the starvation of the dependents of a useful citizen who offered his life in the defense of his country when he has been murdered by an agent of the Federal Government, who has apparently no respect for the law.

Trusting that this message will aid some in securing a just although belated relief for these unfortunates, I am, Very sincerely,


SHAWNEE, OKLA., July 6, 1931. To Whom It May Concern:

On July 4, 1929, Oscar Lowery and James Harris were killed at the home of James Harris in this county by Federal prohibition agents. I was county attorney of this county at that time and investigated the facts concerning the murder and prosecuted the case against Jeff D. Harris for the murder of Oscar Lowery; Harris was convicted of manslaughter and is now serving a 50-year sentence in the State penitentiary at McAlester, Okla.

Both of the deceased young men were sober, industrious, and law-abiding farmers and on the day of their deaths were not engaged in any kind of law violations; in fact, as far as I know, neither of them had ever at any time violated the law in any manner. They were both ex-soldiers, having served their country during the late World War, Lowery having been wounded in France.

Oscar Lowery left a widow and one child, a daughter 3 years of age. They were left destitute and since that time Mrs. Lowery has worked as best she can to support herself and child.

In my opinion she is deserving of help from the Government of the United States and should be granted a pension sufficient to support herself and to support and educate her little girl. Respectfully submitted.

RANDALL PITMAN, Former County Attorney of Pottawatomie County, Okla.


Pottawatomie County, 88: My name is Mrs. Lethe Long, and I am the wife of W. M. Long, and I have attended the Northview church and Sunday school during the past 5 years and was associated in the church and as neighbors with Oscar Lowrey and his family and James Harris and his family, and knew both of these men personally, and I have never known or heard it said that either one of them ever drank, and neither of them were ever suspected by anyone that I know of to have been engaged in the liquor business. Both of them were good, reliable, substantial citizens, and were good husbands and good fathers, and trying to make an honest living by farming and truck gardening.

LETHE LONG. Signed and sworn to before me this 11th day of July 1929. (SEAL)


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JUNE 5 (legislative day, May 28), 1940.-Ordered to be printed

Mr. Hughes, from the Committee on Claims, submitted the following


(To accompany H. R. 5303)

The Committee on Claims, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 5303) for the relief of Solomon Brown, having considered the same, report favorably thereon with the recommendation that the bill do pass with the following amendments:

On page 1, line 6, strike out the figures “$1,000” and insert“$50 per month in a sum not to exceed $1,000”.

On page 1, line 6, strike out "sum” and insert“sums”.

The facts are fully set forth in House Report No. 2229, Seventysixth Congress, third session, which is appended hereto and made a part of this report.

(H. Rept. No. 2229, 76th Cong., 3d sess.) The Committee on Claims, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 5303) for the relief of Solomon Brown, having considered the same, report favorably thereon with an amendment and recommend that the bill as amended do pass.

The amendment is as follows:

At the end of the bill add: “: Provided, That no part of the amount appropriated in this Act in excess of 10 per centum thereof shall be paid or delivered to or received by any agent or attorney on account of services rendered in connection with this claim, and the same shall be unlawful, any contract to the contrary notwithstanding. Any person violating the provisions of this Act shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be fined in any sum not exceeding $1,000.”

The purpose of the proposed legislation is to pay to Solomon Brown, of Walterboro, S. C., the sum of $1,000, in full settlement of all claims against the United States arising out of the permanent disability sustained by the said Solomon Brown, due to the amputation of his right hand, necessitated by severe injuries to such hand received on October 22, 1932, while he was at work in the laundry of the United States penitentiary at Atlanta, Ga.


On June 6, 1931, Solomon Brown, Negro, then aged 16, was sent to the United States penitentiary at Atlanta, Ga., to serve a 2-year sentence for violation of the National Motor Theft Act. He was assigned to work in the prison laundry as a flat-work ironer.

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