By Kathleen Rice Adams
|The notorious Hatfield clan, 1897|
Yes, six and a half. Just hold your horses and I’ll explain.
Two of Texas’s feuds were deadlier than the quarrel between the Hatfields and McCoys, and most of them erupted over a bigger insult than laying claim to a wayward pig.
In ascending order of body count, the feuds were…
Early vs. Hasley, 1865-69Sam Hasley did not take it well when he returned from fighting for the Confederacy to discover his elderly father had been roughed up by a member of the Union occupation force sent to keep order in Texas during Reconstruction. Hasley vowed vengeance not only upon the culprit, John Early, but also on every other Federal in Bell County. He and the friends and family who gathered around him openly defied the authorities, leading the Early faction to accuse Hasley’s group of any crime of any kind anywhere in the vicinity. Yankee soldiers ambushed and killed one of the Hasley contingent in mid-1869, effectively disbanding the gang. One rogue member, however, pursued one of Early’s friends into Arkansas and killed him later that year. Sam Hasley went on to become a deputy sheriff. In 1889, drunk on duty, he was shot and killed by a deputy city marshal while resisting arrest in Temple, Texas. Body count: two.
Reese vs. Townsend, 1898-1907
|A plantation house in Columbus, Texas, ca. 1840|
Horrell vs. Higgins, 1874-1877
|Lampasas, Texas, ca. 1882|
Boyce vs. Sneed, 1911-1912
|1912 New York Times report|
about the Boyce-Sneed
disagreement. (Click to read.)
Sutton vs. Taylor, 1866-1877
|former Texas Ranger Creed Taylor, ca. 1880|
Lee vs. Peacock, 1866-1871
|Fighting Over a Stolen Herd, Frederic Remington, 1895|
And now for the one-half Texas feud…
Brooks vs. McFarland, 1896-1902Although most of the violence took place on Oklahoma land belonging the Creek Nation, a fatal attempt to rob a former Texas Ranger started the fight. After would-be robber Thomas Brooks was killed, family patriarch Willis Brooks accused neighbor Jim McFarland of planning the unsuccessful crime and then tipping off the Ranger. Not disposed to sit idly by and watch the family name besmirched, the McFarlands lined up behind Jim and faced off with the Brooks clan. Both sides vowed to shoot members of the other on sight. The conflict came to a head in a Spokogee, Oklahoma, gunfight in September 1902, when Willis Brooks and his son Clifton were killed along with a McFarland family ally. The survivors were arrested, but allowing them to make bail may have been a mistake: One month later, Jim McFarland died in an ambush at his home. McFarland’s death put an end to the feud.
Her short story “The Second-Best Ranger in Texas” won the coveted 2015 Peacemaker Award for Best Western Short Fiction. Her novel Prodigal Gun received a 2015 Peacemaker nomination for Best First Western Novel.
Visit her hideout on the web at KathleenRiceAdams.com.