Belvin Hall, built 1935, was the first dorm built on the Sam Houston State University Campus. Built as the girls’ dorm, it was financed by a $150,000 loan and grant by the Depression Era New Deal program called the PWA, Public Works Administration. Click on the photograph at right to see the construction and vehicles of the early 1930’s.
Belvin Hall was named for Caroline Belvin who was an alumnus of Sam Houston Normal Institute (the original name of SHSU), class of 1882, and SHNI professor of primary and interpretative reading from 1903-1916, and Dean of Women on the Sam Houston State Teachers campus from 1917 until her retirement in 1929.
Raymond Hamilton was a notorious outlaw and member of the Barrow Gang in the early 1930s. Born in Oklahoma and raised in Dallas, Hamilton later fell in with the infamous Bonnie and Clyde of the Barrow Gang. He was well-known for participating in the murder of Sheriff Eugene C. Moore in Stringtown, Oklahoma. But it was his escape from the Eastham prison farm in Texas that eventually put Hamilton in Old Sparky, the Texas Electric Chair.
In 1935, Raymond Hamilton was sentenced to death in Walker County, Texas for the murder of Major Crowson, a Texas prison official. Crowson was shot during Hamilton’s escape from the Eastham prison farm. Hamilton and Joe Palmer escaped with the help of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Hamilton claimed that Joe Palmer, another notorious Barrow Gang member killed Major Crowson. The jury determined that there was no way to distinguish which man had killed Crowson during the escape and sentenced both men to die in the electric chair. Above are the official court documents from Walker County on Hamilton’s death sentence.
Stop by SHSU Special Collections in the Newton Gresham Library if you are interested in more information on Raymond Hamilton and other famous Texas outlaws.
Thanks to Trent Shotwell, MLIS, Library Associate for Special Collections in the Thomason Room for contributing this week’s posting.