The Long Left Arm of the Law: “Disability? What Disability?”

George H. Craig was born in Scotland in 1850. His family moved to Massachusetts when George was two. Fascinated by the wild West, at age fourteen George ran away from home, working as a cabin boy on a ship sailing to Galveston. By age seventeen he was workin’ on the railroad—the Houston & Texas Central. In 1873 he was working as a fireman on a train that derailed. Craig was thrown into a ditch, his right arm mangled. A local doctor had only liquor to use as anesthetic as he amputated Craig’s arm.

craigh house on cherry

Craig was undaunted. His railroading days over, about 1883 he picked up a hammer with his remaining hand and built a home at 314 North Cherry Street where Radio Shack headquarters/TCC campus now stands. In this photo Craig’s first wife, Sarah, stands in the yard behind the picket fence. Craig lived in that house most of his adult life. (Craig family photo.)

chief's fathercraig 96 cd

craig 1900 censusCraig also picked up a badge and served twenty-seven years in the Fort Worth police department, beginning as a sanitation officer, then a chain gang guard, then a mounted police officer, bringing to justice rowdies who had twice as many arms.

craig commission

George Craig’s police commission from 1887, signed by Mayor Broiles. (Craig family photo.)

Oh, and on February 11, 1925 the old Scotsman, at age seventy-five, used his one arm to pick up his newborn son, Horace Craig. (More on baby Horace later.)

craig george standingCraig learned to shoot—with great accuracy—with his left hand. He was said to be able to hit a quarter at seventy-five paces. (Craig family photo.)

Craig also was a deadly shot with a padlock. One time one of his chain gang prisoners, after a long day of swinging a pick on city streets, returned to the jail determined never to do such hard labor ever again. The prisoner threw a blanket over guard Craig and bolted for the stairs and freedom. Craig quickly threw off the blanket, picked up a padlock with his left hand, aimed, threw, and hit the fleeing prisoner in the back of the head, stunning him. Craig drew his pistol and recaptured the prisoner.

1907 2Clips from the 1907 Telegram detail two arrests made by Craig.

craig check1914Craig’s $35 ($815 today) paycheck from 1914. Check shows the 1893 city hall. (Craig family photo.)

craig volunteers fd Craig also was a volunteer fireman. This photo of former volunteer firemen is from about 1920. Craig is fifth from the right. (Craig family photo.)

craig obit 1939The long left arm of the law died in 1939. Soon after he died, the house he had built on North Cherry Street was demolished to make way for the Ripley Arnold federal housing project. Clip is from the Dallas Morning News.

George Craig is buried in Oakwood Cemetery.

craig chief George Harris Craig is buried not far from the son who was born when George was seventy-five years old. Son Horace “Chief” Craig died in 2006 at age eighty-one.

On a personal note, in 1969 “Chief” Craig, who was as patient with cub reporters as his father had been firm with lawbreakers, was my first city editor at the Star-Telegram.

(Thanks to late Fort Worth police sergeant Dale Hinz for his help.)

 

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11 Responses to The Long Left Arm of the Law: “Disability? What Disability?”

  1. Ken Smith says:

    Mike, I love the picture of you in 1969, only two years after we graduated from Poly.

    • hometown says:

      And as I recall, Ken, fifty years later, you had something to do with my getting a foot in the door at the Star-Telegram.

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