The Horrell Wars
Feuding in Texas and New Mexico
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: University of North Texas Press
Series: A. C. Greene Series
Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication
Table of Contents
List of Figures
David Johnson has followed the trail of the Horrell-Higgins Feud with the tenacity of Pink Higgins tracking down one of the Horrell brothers. A veteran researcher of Texas blood feuds, Johnson checked every document, enlisted local historians, re-thought every accepted conclusion...
By feud standards, the Horrell-Higgins feud was a short lived affair spanning only a few months in the late 1870s. Unlike west Texas’ Johnson- Sims feud that occurred from 1916 to 1918, it occupies no unique place as Texas’ last feud. Nor was it a major conflict like the Sutton-Taylor War...
Chapter 1: “I Raised My Boys to Be Fighters”
During their lifetimes the Horrells were controversial amidst the violence that swirled around them in Texas and New Mexico. Contemporary John Nichols knew them recalling “They were not really quarrelsome, but clannish.”1 Texas Ranger James B. Gillett concurs. “They...
Chapter 2: “A Lame Texan Is Suspected of the Deed”
Perhaps the most controversial and tumultuous period in American history, Reconstruction followed hard in the wake of the South’s defeat as Federal forces flooded into the south. Until then Texas had seen limited conflict, but now citizens found themselves confronted by an...
Chapter 3: “The Lampasas Horror”
Trouble for the Horrells began two weeks into 1873. On January 12, 1873, Ben Horrell allegedly threatened the life of Judge William Pace.1 It was a prophetic omen. That same month Sheriff Shade Denson reported, “There are men here who disturb the citizens of the town at night, by...
Chapter 4: “The Ways of the Transgressor”
On March 20 the inquest jury named Tom, Mart, and Merritt Horrell, Ben Turner, Joe Bolden, Allen Whitcraft, James Grizzell, Jerry Scott, Bill Bowen, and Bill Gray as the killers of Williams and the other State Policemen. Scott was identified as “the man who fired the first shot and...
Chapter 5: “Begged for Mercy”
The Horrells’ settlement in Lincoln County was not unprecedented. By 1872 John S. Chisum and Robert K. Wylie had both driven herds into the region and settled down to stay. Other ranchers drove herds there as well, some as settlers, some in transit to other areas, among them...
Chapter 6: “Nothing Was to Come of It”
Ben Horrell was scarcely cold when two Mexicans were killed by unknown parties. The men appear to have been found on December 4 and were identified as Seferino (or Severiano) Trujillo and another Hispanic.1 Major Mason reported that the men “were murdered near...
Chapter 7: “Would Have Surrendered … at Any Time”
The Horrells were well aware that the animosities in Lincoln County would not permit them anything resembling a normal existence. Following the second attack on their ranch, the brothers approached Robert Casey and asked for permission to leave their women and children...
Chapter 8: “Didn’t Fire a Shot”
The retreat of the Horrells to Texas was not the finale of the Horrell War. “We fought them all the way to Fort Davis,” one source reported to C. L. Sonnichsen in 1957.1 From primary sources there are indications that it was a sobered, more mature group. During the previous year their...
Chapter 9: “The Latest Blossom of Lampasas Chivalry”
For the Horrells, January 1877 began with determining guardians for the children of John and Ben Horrell. For some reason, Samuel and Annie Horrell’s guardianship case was separate from that of their sister Nancy. The court ordered “all persons interested” and the children to...
Chapter 10: “A Shooting Picnic at Lampasas”
Peace lasted a week into June following the Rangers’ departure. On June 4 the courthouse was burglarized. The burglar or burglars knew exactly what they wanted. One news account notes that the door had been forced open. The perpetrators “entered the District Court room and carried...
Chapter 11: “Bloody Murder in Bosque”
The year 1878 opened calmly for the Horrells. Tom Bowen married Margaret Josie Dixon during January. On January 26 Sarah Ann Bass was ordered to file an inventory of the estate.1 At the same time Merritt’s children were ruled to be without a guardian under the law and an...
Chapter 12: “This Saturnalia of Blood”
Crabtree’s arrest for the murder and robbery of Vaughan was big news across the state. Quoting a dispatch from Meridian, Texas, dated August 26, the Galveston Daily News reported: “About the 26th of May last Mr. Vaughn, one of the best citizens of this county, engaged in merchandising...
Afterword: “A Shocking Murder”
Any hopes that 1879 would prove less violent than the previous year were swiftly dashed. Word arrived in Texas that George Doolittle had been killed in the Indian Territory by Bluford Cox.1 On February 13 it was reported that Mrs. Smith, wounded during the Stull murder, was...
On December 25, 1873, in response to the violence that took place in Lincoln during the early stages of the Horrell War, Major John S. Mason, 15th infantry, wrote to his superiors requesting instructions. The letter is a key document in understanding why the Horrells finally struck...
The Lampasas Dispatch of August 9, 1877, published Sergeant N. O. Reynolds’ account of the capture of the Horrell brothers. Written a week following the arrests, it serves to dispel some of the misinformation around the event...
The Horrell family was prone to using family names for their children so much that it could prove confusing to most people. To provide a quick reference to their children, the following lists the known descendants of the Horrell brothers and their sister...
Selected Works Consulted