a quick history question? What was the most famous and deadly feud
in the United States?
The Hatfields and McCoys? Nope.
The Johnson County War of Wyoming? Wrong again.
The Earp, Clanton and McLaury feud? You're still off base.
The deadliest feud happened in East
Texas between 1840 and 1844.
and Moderators War was the first and largest American feud in
numbers of participants and fatalities. No other nineteenth century
feud anywhere in the US produced as many casualties as the Regulators
But the East Texas feud
that ranged across Shelby,
Harrison and Panola
counties never quite captured the public's imagination as well as
the other famous conflicts.
Now, thanks to a new book,"War in East Texas: Regulators vs Moderators,"
author Bill O'Neal, the violent years of the Regulator and Moderators
has finally been examined and explored with the depth it deserves.
|At the peak of
the violence, the sheriff of Harrison
County was murdered. So was the founder of Marshall,
as well as a frontier district judge. And Texas Senator Robert Potter,
a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, was slain by Regulators
at his home on Caddo Lake.
Courts ceased to operate and anarchy reigned in Shelby
County, Panola District and Harrison
County. Only the personal intervention of President Sam
Houston and an invasion of Shelby
County by 600 members of the militia of the Republic of Texas
brought an end to the bloodshed.
O'Neal, an old friend, was the perfect author to tackle the country's
worst blood feud. His most recent book, "The Johnson County War,"
was named Book of the Year by the National Association of Outlaw and
Lawmen History for 2005.
War had its roots in the so-called Neutral Ground that existed
between Louisiana and Spain along the Sabine River. The area soon
became a haven for fugitives from justice.
| Even after the
Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819
established a boundary between Texas and Louisiana, the violence the
Neutral Ground had spawned persisted in East
Texas and by the time the Republic of Texas began dispersing land
grants, the area included land pirates, counterfeiters, murderers,
slave stealers, horse thieves, and violent thugs.
During the war, more than 30 men were killed in assassinations, lynchings,
ambushes, street fights and pitched battles.
For a copy of "War in East Texas," contact the East Texas Historical
Association in Nacogdoches, 936-468-2407. Proceeds from the book are
being donated to the Association.
October 15, 2006 Column
Distributed by the East Texas Historical Association. Bob Bowman of
Lufkin is a former president of the Association and the author of
more than 30 books about East Texas.)