Some people have remarked that its interesting that we bought the “Brady House” when my youngest sister is named Brady. Hey, if we could buy a Kendall House, Ana House, Laura House, Emily House, Carrie House, Sarah House, etc…we totally would. But, in this case, the Brady in question was Judge John Brady, an Austin judge with quite the sordid legacy. The biography below came from Phoebe Allen, in her report for the Austin Historic Landmark Commission:
JUDGE JOHN W. BRADY (1876-1943) was one of five children born in Austin to James and Agnes Brady. His father was a grocer, born in Ireland, and his mother was English. Brady received a law degree from UT in 1896. He married Nellie Burns Brady (1876-1945) on June 18, 1901.
Brady began his career in a law partnership with E.B. Robertson of Fort Worth. Later (by 1906), as County Attorney of Travis County, Brady was the driving force behind the dissolution of the Standard Oil Company’s monopoly in Texas. The state of Texas awarded him $90,000.00 for the effort. He also worked as special counsel for Governor “Ma” Ferguson. Subsequently he became the assistant attorney general, served as an attorney for the State Banking Board, and was appointed Justice of the 3rd Court of Civil Appeals in Austin (1918-1923), but was defeated for election in 1923.
There is a less glamorous chapter in John Brady’s life, which had its roots in his 1923 defeat. At the age of 60, Brady had a young paramour for whom he secured a job at the state capitol. Lehlia Highsmith, age 28, was a stenographer for the Supreme Court Commission of Appeals. She “was found in the company of other men” and was stabbed to death on November 9, 1929, in front of her boarding house. Brady was incarcerated the next day.
His wife testified that since Brady’s defeat in the re-election, her husband had been on a downward spiral of drinking and infidelity. Brady’s good friend and neighbor, Dr. Goodall Wooten, testified that Brady was an alcoholic. Brady pleaded temporary insanity caused by chronic drinking and was tried twice – the first trial in Austin resulted in a deadlocked jury; the second trial was in Dallas, where he was convicted of murder without malice and sentenced to prison for three years, though he served less than two years, from January 28, 1931, to July 1932, having whittled off more than a year with credits for his work as a penitentiary school teacher among other jobs.
Brady’s wife stood steadfastly by her husband through the ordeal, and he returned to her at 1601 Pearl after prison and engaged in legal research until his death on December 17, 1943. Mrs. Brady died August 30, 1945. Both are buried at Mt. Calvary cemetery, which is associated with St. Mary’s Cathedral.
According to George P. Shelley, “After Brady returned from prison, the Bradys had difficulty paying their property taxes. Two Buckley women, who lived on the corner of 19th and Lavaca, had a rich brother in the oil business in Mexico. The brother was the father of William Buckley. The Bradys and Buckleys were Catholics, and the Buckley women, who were friends of Mrs. Brady, paid her taxes. Brady had one or both legs amputated, probably due to diabetes. After the Judge died, Mrs. Brady gave her house to the nuns at Seton hospital and was under their care at Seton.”
Fascinating, no? We’re just quite happy the murder didn’t happen on the grounds of the house.