Search billions of records on

Go directly to         DeWitt County         Goliad County         Indianola


  With the coming of the Civil War in 1861, The Second United States Cavalry Regiment (Albert Sydney Johnston, Robert E. Lee, J. E. B. Stuart, John Bell Hood, William Joseph Hardee) was pulled out of Texas and away from the pre-war duty of frontier defense of Texas against Indians.
   Local Texas men rushed individually to the Confederate colors, and many of those were assigned to militia duty on the frontier. To protect that western boundary from the Comanches, the state had to rely on young boys, old men, and rejects from Confederate conscription.
   Subsequently, during Reconstruction 1865 to 1874, the United States army returned, and the new "State Police" shared responsibility for carrying out such frontier duties, though they had little success.
   Texas was overrun with bad men, with Indians ravaging the western frontier and with Mexican bandits pillaging and murdering along the Rio Grande and even north of the Nueces River.
   In 1873, Reconstruction ended in Texas with the election of Richard Coke over Radical Republican E. J. Davis.   As soon as the former Confederates were returned to power, the populace was eager to see an end to the violence and lawlessness which had been rampant since the end of the war.
   As the state Democrats returned to power, so did the Texas Rangers. The legislature authorized two Ranger groups to meet the emergency.
   Coke re-established the Texas Rangers in 1874, to reinforce local law enforcement in their previously ineffectual fight against cattle thieves and gangs.
   He also created a Special Force of Texas Rangers whose first duty was to end the Sutton-Taylor feud. This unit was under Capt. Leander H. McNelly.    In 1874 McNelly and his men helped curb lawlessness engendered by the deadly feud in DeWitt County.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

   Although citizens of Clinton in DeWitt County protested the use of the county courthouse for Confederate military and hospital purposes, DeWitt County was not a center of the conflict of war. Nevertheless, the ferries and roads were much used for shipping clothes and supplies to the Confederate forces, since DeWitt county lay on the important route from Indianola to San Antonio.
   During Reconstruction, the county was placed in the federal Fifth Military District and was occupied by the Fourth Corps, based at Victoria. From April 1866 until December 1868 an assistant commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau served at Clinton, to facilitate services to newly freed slaves.
   The feud, the bloodiest and longest in Texas history, is said to have run from December 1866 until December 1875. It is traditionally attributed to the bad feelings generated during Reconstruction, the carpet-bagger period.
    The Sutton faction represented the carpet-bagger State Police.
    The gunslinger John Wesley Hardin fought on the Taylor side. He was related to the Taylors by marriage.
    In addition to all the brothers, nephews, and cousins, each side recruited about 200 outside members.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

   During the war, Goliad County, like many Texas counties, formed an aid association to help the Confederate cause. The Cotton Road from East Texas to Goliad, and from Refugio to Matamoros, probably the route followed by Zachary Taylor's army during the Mexican War, took on increased importance as the Union blockade made an overland trade with Mexico a necessity for supplies.
   The barter system prevailed in Goliad county during the war, when incoming shipments of such goods as clothes, sugar, and spices dwindled to almost nothing.
   During Reconstruction, black Union occupation troops caused much resentment, but unlike neighboring Victoria County, Goliad County had no notorious incidents. The troops were gone by the spring of 1868.
   On July 27, 1870, the Goliad County courthouse mysteriously burned, prompting allegations of purposeful destruction of Reconstruction deed records.
   African-Americans in Goliad voted in the 1872 presidential election, when voting courtesy was aided by nineteen armed black cowhands.
   The county did see vigilante action and violence during the Sutton-Taylor Feud.
   Increased cattle rustling finally induced Governor Edmund J. Davis to send Jack Helm to Goliad County. Helm established a headquarters at Middletown (Weesatche) from which to quell the incidents.
   Read about the killing of Jack Helm in Albuquerque, Wilson County, Texas by clicking on  Helm  and then choose  Killed Jack Helm    

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

REUBEN H. BROWN 1851 - 1875
   Reuben H. Brown, the new leader of the Sutton group and city marshal of Cuero during the Sutton-Taylor Feud, was the son of Palestine T. and Miriam Brown, and was born in Texas on November 28, 1851. His family was from Tennessee. The extent of his formal education may have been well above the average. He was described by historian Victor M. Rose as "liberally educated, and almost a perfect specimen of physical manhood."
   Brown grew up on his parents' farm and is listed in the 1870 census as a farm hand. The earliest newspaper account to mention him identifies him as city marshal of Cuero. In January 1874 he shot and killed James Gladney McVea in McGanan's Bar in Cuero.
   In the early 1870s Brown was considered to be a leader of the Sutton-Tumlinson forces, who were waging a feud against the Taylor-Pridgen forces. Authorities were able to get members of both factions to sign a treaty of peace on August 12, 1873. Brown was one of forty men who signed, but the accord was broken not long after the signing.
   On March 11, 1874, William E. Sutton, leader of the Sutton forces, and his friend Gabriel Webster Slaughter, were killed by cousins William and James Creed Taylor on the deck of the steamer Clinton at the port of Indianola. A reward of $500 was offered for each of the Taylors. The Taylors may have been helped by John Wesley Hardin and his older brother Joseph Hardin.
   On April 3, 1874, Brown arrested William Taylor on the charge of murdering Sutton. For this Brown received the reward. The press treated the action as a major accomplishment, and Marshal Brown received wide recognition.
   He resigned his office on June 8, 1874, for unspecified reasons.
   During the destructive hurricane of September 15-17, 1875, which nearly destroyed Indianola, William Taylor escaped from jail. He sent word to Brown that he would kill him.
   On November 17, 1875, Reuben H. Brown was shot and killed while gambling in a Cuero saloon. First reports stated that five unknown men entered the saloon and fired at him. A later account identified the man who fired first as Mason "Winchester Smith" Arnold. Although no one was ever brought to trial for the killing, it would seem that the cousins William and James C. Taylor had a hand in it.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

   Creed Taylor said that the feud had its beginnings after Texas became a Free Republic, when an element of people rushed in having little or no regard for the law.
   They began harassing the old time community members, in some cases misappropriating their property and land and threatening them with bodily harm.
   In an attempt to defuse the situation, Creed, a Master Mason, suggested that members of each party gather at the Masonic Lodge and let the Masons act as mediators.
  The trouble did subside, until after the Civil War.
   Buck Taylor, Creed's nephew, was shot by William Sutton.  His sons Hays and Doboy got into trouble with the Union Officers.    Creed felt they did so in defending their honor against insult.
   Reconstruction was certainly not received with much regard by the high spirited Texans, and most historians agree that the tactics of the State Police and Regulators were in many cases questionable and in others, downright contrary to the law they had sworn to uphold.
   In addition to losing his two sons, losses from which he never recovered, Creed lost his brother Pitkin, his two sons-in-law, the Kelly boys and his nephew, Buck Taylor.
   Many more relatives and friends were lost.
  Much loss of life and grief occurred with the Sutton faction as well.   While it is hard for us to comprehend the feud in today's time frame, we should not now sit in judgement, or question the motives of those who truly felt their actions to be well justified.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Frontier Times Magazine, June 1925
The Taylor-Sutton Feud
By DeWitt Reddick,   The Longhorn Magazine,   1925
    Editor's Note:    Tennessee and Kentucky are renowned for their feuds, yet Texas, during the riotous days of its early life, was the scene of family and clan conflicts just as bitter and deadly as those of the Blue Ridge ranges.   In South and West Texas old cattlemen still glory in the telling of tales of the worst of these conflicts, one in which two old and influential families, the Taylors and the Suttons, were arrayed against each other, with the settlers in a major portion of the state siding actively with one or the other of the factions.
    There follows an article on this feud, taken from historical data compiled in the Texas Collection of the University Library.   This is a riveting account of those hostilities.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

   The first town and port facility on Lavaca Bay was laid out about 1845, and was called Indian Point. As the shipping business increased and the town spread to the south, a second town and port was built four miles to the SE on Powderhorn Bayou, and was named Powderhorn. In 1849, the name of this second port was changed to Indianola. Indian Point then came to be called Old Town.
    Indianola was the second busiest port in Texas, surpassed only by Galveston, during the 1850s through the 1870s. For two years in the 1870s, Indianola was Numero Uno in Texas.
    The first of the two great hurricanes that resulted in the demise of the port town of Indianola began on September 15, 1875, when Indianola was crammed with visitors attending a trial growing out of the Sutton-Taylor Feud. The hurricane blew in from the sea, carrying the water from Matagorda Bay deep into Indianola's streets.
   Two days later, when the storm had subsided, only eight buildings were left undamaged, and fatalities were estimated at between 150 and 300 persons.
   After being rebuilt on a lesser scale, Indianola was completely destroyed by a second hurricane that blew in on August 19, 1886, this time accompanied by a tidal wave, and then fire. This storm was considered to be worse than the first one, even though there was less town now. The townsite was abandoned in 1887.
   Indian Point or Old Town was located about a mile SE of what we in 1995 call Magnolia Beach.
   The port of Indianola is now submerged under the waters of Lavaca Bay, and is about 300 feet off the beach.

                             Back to the Top                                               Back to the Front Page

Sunday, 19-Feb-2006 19:02:49 MST