Next week I’m driving to Nacogdoches, TX., to film perhaps the final scene for Alligator-Horses. I’m filming an interview with Linda Nicklas, former director of the East Texas Research Center, about her research on the life of Richard P. Robinson, called Parmalee in Texas.
Robinson was charged and aquitted with the murder of Helen Jewett, a New York prostitute. It was a notorious event in New York and was the first tabloid murder fueled by the up-and-coming penny press.
Robinson, like Jewett, were both Alligator-Horses. Free souls liberated from family & church that defined & constrained Americans of an earlier generation. They were products of the 1830s, a wild and exuberant decade full of self-discovery & violence.
Jewett fell victim to an an axe & Robinson went to Texas, as did so many under the shadow of scandal.
Robinson changed his name to Parmalee (his mother’s maiden name) & settled in Nacogdoches, where he became fairly successful as a businessman and district clerk.He died in the 1850’s and, like Helen Jewett, lies in an unmarked grave.