“Webster’s Dictionary” says a trustee is, “A person, usually one of a body of persons or group, appointed to administer the affairs of a company, administration, etc.” In Texas, a Prison Trustee is an inmate that performs certain functions outside of the inmates normal prison duties. A definite position of trust!
In January 1951, my Dad, John H. Bryan, went on, it turned out, an unusual quail hunt, on some very private property. The property in question was owned by the State of Texas, and on it was a State Prison Farm. My Dad’s Brother-in law, and my Uncle, was Rehabilitation Director for the prison system and he had arranged for my Dad to hunt birds there.
Another unusual item was that the State’s bloodhounds would hunt quail, and wouldn’t you know it, the Warden of the prison farm assigned a “special” Trustee, along with two dogs to accompany my Dad. The Trustee in question, the Warden’s favorite, was in for robbery and would soon be paroled. His prison job was training the dogs to track escapees and, for visiting dignitaries, he had also trained them to track quail.
Returning from the hunt with a nice mess of birds, my Dad said, “We had a great time today!” I questioned him, “What’s this “we” business? You went hunting by yourself.” He grinned and said, “Me and the Trustee. His dogs did such a good job that I let him shoot a couple of birds.” My Mom was horrified. She exclaimed, “Bryan, that’s the stupidest thing I ever heard. He could have shot you and been half way to Dallas before they missed him or you!” He grinned again and said, “Aw Honey, he’s getting out in three months, was really a nice young man and I’m sure he wouldn’t want to mess up his parole.”
The incident passed, but two weeks later the hunt was brought vividly back to our minds. The headlines of the afternoon newspaper, “The Houston Chronicle”, blared, “Trustee Escapes From Prison Farm.” Wouldn’t you know it, the dog trainer Trustee was the escapee. My Dad called the Warden of the prison farm, who was just as surprised as my Dad was by the event.
The Warden told my Dad the story (which wasn’t in the paper) of how the dog trainer Trustee just walked off and when the officers sent the dogs after him, he just told them to “kennel up” and they went back to their kennels. Three times the dogs were sent out and three times they returned. By then the officers figured he was long gone and he was!
Years later I asked my Uncle whatever happened to the dog trainer Trustee. He laughed and said that he was never found.
Maybe the State of Texas didn’t look for him too hard?