Six-Shooter Junction - 2

The little town of Hempstead earned the dubious title during its early years.

The Settlers:

They came from Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and other states, battle-hardened veterans of the American Revolutionary War and the subsequent War of 1812. The Mexican government, looking to increase its tax base, invited them into the vast wilderness that was Coahuila y Tejas. 1 They stipulated the immigrants be of good character, Catholic in faith and no slaves were allowed, but concessions were made, slaves a person already owned were permitted and the protestant churches and sparsely attended catholic missions were ignored. The area of Austin's Colony included land that is now contained in 19 Texas counties.

The region was a wonderfully fruitful place, teeming with fish and wildlife and fertile soil for agriculture. But there were inherent difficulties too. The current inhabitants of the region were not happy with the intruders and they especially hated the fences. They included the Apache, Caddo, Coahuiltecan, Comanche, Karankawa, Kiowa, Neches, Tonkawa, Waco and Wichita tribes. The damp climate, the rain and mild winters allowed the growth of diseases, allergens and pests. It supported hundreds of insect species and clouds of mosquitos were common and there was the occasional rat infestation. The most common maladies suffered by the inhabitants included colds, flu, scurvy, malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever, typhoid, pneumonia, tuberculosis, cholera and diphtheria. These were all present in the American Colonies, but there was access to doctors and medicines that were hard to come by in early Texas and various potions and salves were advertised in the newspapers.

The homes were isolated, often a mile or more apart, making them easy prey to people up to mischief. Most everyone had at least one cow and chickens or a hog. The means of transportation was the horse, and roads often had horse manure on them, which is why people didn't wear open-toed shoes in downtown Hempstead. The manure encouraged flies.

The climate was cooler, milder than today, the end of the Little Ice Age, the coolest period of the millenium, having occurred about 1816-1850. The term "Blue Norther" was coined in 1835 because of the terrible norther that roared into Texas and down into Mexico, preceded by the rapid approach of an ominous dark blue cloud, followed by strong, gusty winds and a precipitous drop in temperature. Some of Santa Anna's soldiers and horses died from the brutal cold as he marched north in early 1836 from Mexico City to confront the Texians who had defeated his brother-in-law, General Cos, and now occupied the Alamo, just as it did for men who had joined the Revolution and were traveling from Natchitoches, Louisiana down the Camino Real to San Antonio. (Davy Crockett and Daniel Cloud, who died in defense of the Alamo, were in this group.) 2 Records of the Siege of Bexar (Oct. - Dec. 1835) and the Battle of the Alamo three months later tell of the bitter cold and wet conditions. 3

Stephen F. Austin chose probably the most fertile part of Texas for his colony, river bottom land between the Brazos and Colorado rivers and extending to the Gulf of Mexico. The year before, 1819, had seen America's first depression, the Panic of 1819, 4 5 and inflation and economic hardship followed. Austin advertized in newspapers along the American western frontier, publicizing the abundant land – available for 12-1/2 cents per acre – a tenth the cost of public land in the United States. (Austin used the money to take care of the administrative costs of surveying and titling the land, as well as to provide safety for the settlers – the beginning of the Texas Rangers – and he carried the notes himself with the proviso the settler developed his land or forfeit it.) 6 The opportunity to receive land at that price was inviting to many and Coahuila-Texas experienced rapid growth. Settlers began arriving during 1821 and 1822, transforming this area from an unsettled wilderness into a sparcely settled rural community. It grew from the first 300 families to approximately 30,000 people by the time Texas declared its Independence from Mexico in 1835. 7 Austin extablished his colonial capital at San Felipe de Austin in 1823 near the site of McFarland's Ferry on the west side of the Brazos River where the Old San Antonio Road crossed. It was the social, economic, and political center of the Austin colony. In 1835 it became the provisional capital of the new Republic of Texas, but it was burned in 1836 to prevent its capture by Mexican troops. 8. Bellville began to be settled in 1838 and became the county seat of Austin County in 1846.

The Brazos River:

The Brazos River, life-blood of Austin's Colony, cut through the middle of the land Austin chose. The waters were full of fish and wildlife was attracted to the verdant lands on each side of it. But the river wasn't always a blessing. It was unpredictable, a treacherous and often impassable river cutting the Colony into two parts, east and west. Early settlers had to rely on finding shallow areas to ford the river. Ferries were quickly established, but they often fell victim to floods. There was no bridge across the river until 1869 when one was built at Waco.

The first settlements were San Felipe, located on the west bank of the Brazos River in 1824, served as the capitol of the colony and was the location of Austin's land office. Other towns founded during this period in Austin's Colony include Matagorda, Brazoria, Columbia, Independence, and Washington-on-the-Brazos. 9

The town of Bellville replaced San Felipe as county seat in 1846. It was about 17 miles north of San Felipe and 13 miles south of the town of Sempronious. Hempstead was on the other (east) side of the Brazos river. The arrival of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad in the winter of 1879-80 contributed to Bellville's increase in population from 300 to 522 people.

The citizens of Texas had fought to scrape out a living from the land. They were self-sufficient. They didn't want "help" from the government and they really didn't like the government telling them they had to release all the slaves. They had fought the elements, disease, Indians and other problems.

McDade & Cloud Families:

John Wurts Cloud arrived in Texas in early 1831. An Episcopal minister, he had to work around the restrictions against protestants. The McDade and Cloud families arrived shortly before and after the Texas Revolutionary War of 1836.

The McDades and Clouds traveled to Texas between 1836 and 1837, the women and children coming by boat from New Orleans and the men overland with the livestock from Alabama. The authors of the book "Youngblood-Armstrong & Allied Families" wrote: "James Cloud moved to Austin Co. Texas, going overland, by horseback. Other men in the Mt. Meigs neighborhood, went at the same time. Later, Jennie took their children and slaves by boat from Montgomery to New Orleans, and thence to Hempstead, which at that time was in Austin Co. now Waller Co." 10

The McDade and Cloud families left Mt. Meigs, Alabama and traveled to Texas, a distance of almost 700 miles. Traveling by horseback typically accomplished 35 miles per day, but the rate of travel would be slowed by time spent resting the horses, inclement weather, impassable waterways and harsh trail conditions. Herding cattle would further increase the time to make the trip. The time to travel by boat was addressed by a writer to the National Banner & Nashville Whig of September 5, 1829, stating that a boat with supplies from New Orleans would take four or five days. 11

Alexander McDade and his son James Wilkins McDade received 1st-class land grants, meaning they arrived before March 1836. Jeremiah Cloud received a 2nd class land grant, meaning he arrived after March 1836 and before October 1837. (It appears Jeremiah applied for land before his family arrived, for he only received 640 acres in Hamilton county, the amount a 2nd class grantee with no family would receive.) Neither Jeremiah Cloud or Alexander McDade settled on land they received through their grants, choosing to purchase land near Bellville and Hempstead. Jeremiah purchased land from the James Stephenson league and settled on Caney Creek, near Bellville, on the west side of the Brazos. 12 The McDades and Jeremiah's sons appear on the east side of the Brazos near Hempstead.

Jeremiah Cloud and Charles McDade were the same age, both born 1784 in Georgia and both serving in the War of 1812, the Battle of New Orleans under General Jackson. Charles didn't come to Texas, but his brother, Alexander Wilkins McDade did, and two of his daughters married Jeremiah's sons – Polly McDade married H. G. W. Cloud and Jennie McDade married James Cloud. (Both daughters died in Alabama, and H. G. W. and James remarried, moved to Texas and died in Hempstead.) Charles' youngest daughter, Frances, married Col. James F. Armstrong and the book by his descendants, Youngblood-Armstrong and Allied Families, provides a valuable historical resource for the family historian. 13

On the other side of the river was the plantation owned by Leonard W. Groce, son of an "Old 300" settler and probably the wealthiest citizen at that time. He is enumerated on the 1860 Austin county census next to Burwell B. "B. B." Lee and H.G. W. Cloud's cotton plantation was just the other side.

It was tough going, but they were used to hardships and knew how to provide for themselves. They fought the weather, Indians, hunger and sickness. 14 The climate in the Colony was perfect for mosquitos and the resulting yellow fever killed many almost every year. During the early years of settlement Indians were the greatest problem and danger faced by the colonists and it appears that the Karankawas were the most troublesome to the settlers of Austin's Colony. Many women and children were killed while left unguarded as the men were working. 15 They hunted wild game, fished and planted food crops. A typical first home was a small, one-room building without windows made of rough-sawn lumber. The McDades and Clouds were more affluent than most and came with their property and some had slaves. 1837 saw a hurricane come up the Gulf coast destroying the homes and boats along the coastline, followed every few years by others, bringing winds, rain and storm damage to the state. 16

Joseph and Napoleon Farr, half brothers, arrived later and married daughters of H. G. W. Cloud. Joe, the eldest, married Sarah Texanna Cloud and Napoleon B. Farr married her younger sister Bettie. Both families had three children born in Waller county. They would both fall to the Six Shooter Junction.


In 1845, Texas became the 28th state of the United States of America. This opened up more economic opportunity for the Texans and more protection from the Mexican government which wanted it back.

Stephen Allchin:

Stephen W. Allchin was born to Henry and Rebecca Allchin on a farm outside Pensacola, Florida. He was the third of six children, the first two being born in Alabama and the rest in Escambia county, Florida beginning with Steve's birth in 1849. His mother must have died, for his father married a second time in 1869 to Eliza Buckalew, the widow of Rufus Nims. The next year, 1870, at the home of her previous in-laws, Rufus Nims' parents, Henry stabbed his second wife to death before cutting his own throat. 17

Steve was 20 and not living with them at the time of the murder-suicide of his father and step-mother. He left Florida for Hempstead in the latter 1870's, saw an opportunity to start a dray business and was quite successful. He was a strong man, a hard worker, and his business grew to have several drays and smaller wagons upon which he transported cotton bales, produce, hogsheads, building materials and other items of commerce and he had several employees. There were always threats of robbery or assault, including from the occasional Indian attack, so Steve always carried a Winchester carbine across his lap in 44-40 caliber. The rifles of that day were rim-fire and used black powder, so they made lots of smoke and the .44 caliber bullet was deadly. Witnesses attested that the carbine was well-used with a worn, loose action. Allchin was known to be an excellent shot and often practiced with it and occasionally competed at shooting contests.

City of Hempstead founded:

The primary economic centers of Texas were on the east side of the Brazos river – e.g. the port cities of Galveston and Houston. The Houston and Texas Central Railway was scheduled to have a terminus on the east side of the river, across from Bellville, in order to facilitate shipment of cotton to the ports, so the town of Hempstead was officially organized there in 1856, being founded by James W. McDade and Dr. Richard Peebles.

The railroad brought both opportunity and trouble. The population of the town grew and transient workers frequented it. Saloons and other forms of entertainment came to town, some not so beneficial. Prosperity and commercialization inevitably bring problems, and this was especially true after the Civil War. Hempstead had no shortage of issues to get riled up over. The issue of slavery, intemperate women demanding the right to vote, and factions determined to prohibit working men the right to have a drink at the saloon. Violent settlement of disputes, often fueled by political and social disagreements involving the Ku Klux Klan, Radical Republicans, Greenbackers, Populists, and prohibitionists brought Hempstead the nickname "Six-Shooter Junction" 18 It was said that some train conductors, on approaching the Hempstead stop, would announce "Next stop Sixshooter Junction. Prepare to meet thy God".

Jeremiah Cloud died:

Jeremiah Cloud died at Caney Creek in 1861. His widow wanted H. G. W. to be administrator of the estate since he was good at records and bookkeeping, but he demurred, as he lived on the opposide of the Brazos river. She then had herself and her youngest son, F. M. Cloud, named as co-administrators. His will lists several slaves and their value, but the Emancipation Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln would set them free. (An interesting fact is that H. G. W. Cloud had lost his sight at age 21 but was a valued member of the community and the political scene and still managed to be tax assessor for Austin county which later became Waller county.)

Civil War:

In 1861, Abraham Lincoln became president on an anti-slavery platform, resulting in the secession of southern states. The reasons for secession varied, as most did not own slaves. The sentiment, in Texas at least, was that they were angered over the federal government's heavy-handed imposition into their lives. Hempstead, now in Waller county, had angry people of three different opinions – those favoring secession and war, if necessary; others willing to go along with the mandate; and a number wanting to stay out altogether. (There was a large German population, many of whom wanted to stay out of the war.) As with the rest of the country, tempers flared and war broke out, resulting in the bloody conflict we know as the Civil War, pitting neighbor against neighbor and even brother against brother.

Hempstead served as a Confederate supply and manufacturing center during the Civil War. It was the site of a Confederate military hospital; three Confederate camps were located in its vicinity. Camp Groce became second largest prisoner of War camp in the state receiving first Union prisoners in 1863. Alex McDade's sons James Wilkins and Thomas Sewell McDade, were both captains in the confederate army and both served as sheriff at one time or another. Thomas Sewell McDade was sheriff in Waller county almost 20 years.

In April 1862, Jos. H. Farr was wounded during the retreat of Gen. Sibley's 5th Texas Cavalry campaign in New Mexico, being shot in both arms, both broken, the right shoulder blade being torn away and the left arm partially paralyzed. His wounds bothered him the rest of his life.19 20

Joseph Henry Farr and his half brother Napoleon Bonaparte Farr were not early settlers of Waller county, but they both set up residences there and they married the Cloud sisters, daughters of old settler Henry George Washington Cloud.

Waller county was known throughout the state of Texas as a place of violence and questionable enforcement of the law, accusations of favoritism often being leveled against sheriff Thomas Sewell McDade. The divisions between the people were greatly increased by the Civil War and in the years following.

After Texas' secession from the Union, Joe Farr, T.S. McDade and James W.J. Cloud, all residents of Waller county, were among the many who joined the Confederacy.

Joe Farr joined General Sibley's Brigade in the summer of 1861. Sibley had received permission General Jefferson Davis to launch an expedition with the intention of capturing the New Mexico territory, Colorado and California for the Confederacy. They had numerous victories over the Federals but, in the mountains of New Mexico, they lost their rations to a raid and were forced into a disastrous retreat in the spring of 1862. Of some 2,500 men in the Brigade, almost one-third were lost. Joe Farr was severely wounded, being shot in both arms and, after arriving back in Texas, was held prisoner at Fort Clark in south Texas.

Joe Farr married Sarah Texanna Cloud, a daughter of Henry George Washington "H.G.W." Cloud in 1873 and they had three children. His disability precluded him from farming or ranching and he invested in the newspaper business and served variously as editor, owner and publisher of several newspapers in and around Waller county.

In 1881 he applied for a land certificate for 1,280 acres due to his disability sustained during the war. He wrote "Was wounded in New Mexico in the month of April 1862 in the town of Padeas. I was a member of the Sibley Brigade fifth Texas Cavalry Commanded by Thos Green, and was wounded through both arms, both being broken. The sholder (sic) blade of the right shoulder almost entirely torn away and the left arm and is now stiffened partially."

On May 5, 1886 Joe Farr was killed by his wife's brother, James W. J. Cloud. He was 48 years old and he and Sarah had been married 13 years and they had three children ages 11, 8 and 5.

Joe's brother, Napoleon Bonaparte Farr, was married to Sarah's younger sister, Elizabeth Cassey "Bettie" Cloud in 1879. Nap was a rancher who was killed in a dispute over a stock transaction May 8, 1894. He and Bettie had been married 15 years and also had three children, ages 12, 10 and 6.

Neither Sarah or Bettie remarried, and their children were probably too young to understand the circumstances of their fathers' deaths so there is no family oral history about them. No Farr descendant who knows anything about the deaths of Joe or Nap has been found, save one researcher who knew his ancestor had been killed, but who had the details wrong.

The circumstances surrounding the killings of the Farr brothers are unlikely to ever be fully understood, but the violence of the time certainly played a role. But why did Joe Farr's brother-in-law kill him? It's likely Farr was a hard and determined man, who we know was in constant pain and probably was impatient with a temper. Some think he may have been abusing his wife. J.W.J. Cloud, his wife's brother, was dying of tuberculosis at the time and he told the court that he shot Joe over a long-simmering family dispute. Apparently something serious set him off, for he was a respected citizen of Waller county and one of its justices of the peace. J.W.J. Cloud died of T.B. four months later. He also left three children, aged 12, 8 and 3.

Following the Civil War, the Confederate veterans had to sign oaths of loyalty to the union and federal troops were stationed around the state to keep order and governmental positions were filled with Union sympathizers and freedmen. 21 22

General George Armstrong Custer and his cavalry unit arrived in Texas as part of a large U.S. force sent to establish order and counter the threat posed by French-controlled Mexico. From August to October, 1865, Custer, his wife Elizabeth (Libbie), and several U.S. Cavalry units camped here on the Liendo plantation of Leonard W. Groce, heir of "Old 300" settler and cotton baron Jared Groce. The Custers enjoyed warm relations with the Groces and area Texans in part because of his insistence that federal troops treat Texans and their property with respect.

Anger over having a distant government force its will on them simmered just below the surface. Few of them owned slaves and those that did were the wealthy plantation owners of a different social order. Freeing the slaves and giving them the vote radically changed the political climate of the region. Those that sided with the Union (the republicans) and curried the black vote were hated The republicans were themselves divided into "republican" and "radical republican", the radicals wanting to force compliance with the Union and installing like-minded beauracrats at all levels of government. The environment was ripe for resistance and the Ku Klux Klan and other highly charged political organizations found fertile ground in east Texas. Neighbors on the street could be mortal enemies underneath. There were smoke-filled rooms where men of like persuasions would drink and complain and plot to right the wrongs and throw off the oppressive yoke of the Union sympathizers. Former confederates from other states came to Texas, which was less affected by the war, many bringing their now-freed slaves with them, which only added to the bitter atmosphere and freedmen became targets of violence – intimidation, burning of homes and churches, lynchings and efforts were made to disenfranchise them – e.g. destroying ballot boxes, harassment, threats, instituting poll taxes, etc.

Some of the freed slaves were educated and had established churches and schools for themselves before the war. They entered into politics after they were freed. Hempstead had a large black population, about 30%, and their vote swayed elections, angering some citizens. The Houston Tri-weekly Telegraph of September 1865 lists Austin county officers, including Newit Cloyd, sheriff and B. B. Lee tax assessor/collector. (J. H. Farr was a deputy under sheriff Cloyd.) 23

In 1867, the Bankruptcy Act provided opportunities for people in Texas to benefit from its numerous advantages. The next year, H. G. W. Cloud, his son James and sheriff Thomas Sewell McDade took advantage of the act and declared bankruptcy. 24 25

The Austin Colony, located on the Brazos and Colorado river bottoms and near the Gulf coast, experienced high humidity, frequent rain and milder winters than areas to the north or west. This meant loud night sounds of frogs croaking, cicadas, crickets, fireflies and myriad other insects. Perhaps the most pernicious was the mosquito. During the summer and fall, thick clouds of mosquitos could descend on any person or gathering. There was little done to control them as piles of rotting garbage, marshes and puddles abounded, providing them breeding grounds. The year 1867 saw a particularly bad epidemic of yellow fever in Hempstead. The first case was recognized August 16th. During the rest of August and the fall, many died and others fled to other parts attempting to avoid it, leaving the town virtually empty. The epidemic lasted until the first frost in late November. 26 27 James Wilkins McDade, founder of Hempstead and McDade Texas, died in October, perhaps due to yellow fever. It is estimated that 4,000 Texans died of the disease.

Christmas Party:

The day after Christmas 1868, plantation owner B. B. Lee and his wife threw a party at their spacious home, quite the shindig, with music and dancing lasting until dawn. It was said to have been attended by most of Hempstead. 28

Frontier Justice:

Four months after the Christmas party, on April 22nd 1868, B. B. Lee went into town and ended up at Wheeler's Saloon. Among the people there was newspaper publisher Joe Farr. Going into a drunken rant, Lee began cursing at Joe Farr. Joe asked him if it was directed at him, he said it was, so Farr drew his revolver, shot Lee four times, killing him, holstered his sidearm, walked outside, mounted his horse and rode home. No evidence has been found that Farr was ever arrested or charged with a crime. 29 30 31 The life insurance payouts for B. B. Lee and for sheriff McDade's brother was made in December. 32

In 1872, C. W. Newnam, who was married to Joe Farr's half sister Frances, began publication of the Hempstead Messenger in partnership with Farr. Joe Farr became publisher of the Texas Enterprise, Bonham, Texas and later the Bellville Beacon in conjunction with his brother-in-law C. W. Newnam. In 1876, Joe Farr was elected City Marshall and he and Newnam became owners of the Waller County Courier.

The Brazos river split Austin county into east and west sections. It was often impassable due to flooding and always requiring care to not get swept away in the current making transacting governmental business erratic. A proposal was made to create a new county on the east side of the river named for plantation owner L. W. Groce who had donated the land for Hempstead. McDade and Peebles, founders of Hempstead, were in favor of the new county and other factions opposed it – almost all politically aligned. Finally, in 1873, it was decided to separate the eastern portion of Austin county and name it Waller county.

The biennial report of the Texas Secretary of State in 1884, pp. 136-137, indicated L.W. Groce was Waller county treasurer, Thomas S. McDade was sheriff and tax collector and J.W.J. Cloud was Justice of the Peace, precinct 1. 33

The city of Waller Texas was established in 1884 about 9 miles east of Hempstead. The only resident at the time was Napoleon "Nap" Farr, brother of the now deceased Joe Farr and married to Bettie Cloud, sister to Joe's widow and to Joe's assassin, J.W.J. Cloud, all children of H. G. W. Cloud. Nap had a large ranch near the town site and was reported to have 500 head of cattle at the time.

An 1886 Daily Ledger article stated "Joe Nooner, a small boy, accidently shot himself through the leg last Thursday, with a pistol that he had in his pocket. Dr. Watson cut the ball out. Joe is doing well. It is well known that quite a number of boys carry pistols. Parents would do well to watch their boys." Further down is recorded: "Tuesday night there was lots of shooting just across the railroad from the freight depot". 34

A small rural town served mostly by farms and ranches doesn't offer much entertainment. Hempstead was that town. There were parties thrown from time to time, but hanging out at the saloon or sitting on the sidewalk downtown were the typical ways to while away time. There were parties, and Christmas was an opportunity to entertain. The town saw the occasional dance or fair, including the county fair, typically held as part of a May Day festival, and usually with shooting contests and horse races and games. The political rallies were a different sort of entertainment, illuminating the festering differences in the town.

Family Feud:

The symptoms of "consumption" typically include a painful, hard "graveyard cough" with blood in the sputum, fever, chills, weakness, and sweats and, in its end stages, swelling of the brain and uncharacteristic thoughts or actions. The disease wasted the body and left victims weak and disoriented with pale skin and melancholy spirits and was sometimes called the white plague.

Joseph Farr was married to Texanna Farr, sister of James W. J. Cloud who, at the time was justice of the peace in Waller county. He had been seriously wounded in the Civil War, having been shot in both arms, was in constant pain, and didn't tolerate anthing he thought a trifle. Jim was sick, out of sorts. He had been getting progressively worse for months, coughing up blood with severe headaches and muscle pain and recently, irrational thoughts. He was severely ill and not thinking clearly. Trouble had been simmering between Joe Farr and Jim Cloud for some time, possibly over political differences (Joe Farr was a progressive ahead of his time). One of the most popular and well-attended social gatherings was the May Day festival. This year, it was held on May 5th, 1886 and was well-attended with, some say, over 1,000 people present. About noon, Joe and Jim met, talked a bit, no one knows what was said, but Joe turned his back to Jim and began to walk away. That was all he could take and he shot his brother-in-law in the back and killed him. Major Boone was to speak an hour later, but much consternation followed news of the shooting and the crowd dispersed and went home. 35 36 37 J.W.J. Cloud was held without bail, but later found to have consumption and very ill, so he was released to his home, where he died September 17, 1886. 38 He left three children aged 3 to 12. His mortified widow took their children and went back to her family in Alabama.

Texanna (Cloud) Farr, widow of Joe Farr, enlisted the help of her sister-in-law's husband, C. W. Newnam, to keep the newspaper going, but it failed. In early 1887, Capt. E. P. Alsbury, who was active in Hempstead politics, purchased the press, type and equipment from Farr's widow and began publishing his own paper called the Hempstead Advance Guard, promising to "editorially advocate the theories of the great reformer Henry George". 39 But meddling in the affairs of others can be a dangerous business as will be seen.

Jeremiah Cloud's youngest son, Francis Marion "F. M." Cloud was separated from his wife and was allegedly making advances on Stonewall Jackson (S. J.) Kendricks' wife. The jealous husband shot and killed him the first of November 1887 at Sempronius in Austin county. 40 Kendricks was acquitted of the murder, but was later charged with bigamy.

Beginning of the Allchin-McDade Feud:

In April 1888 someone published an anonymous article in the Advance-Guard critical of sheriff McDade and his deputies. (The Hempstead Advance-Guard was published by E. P. Alsbury who quietly took exception to the crime in the city and was politically active.). The sheriff employed a number of his relatives to be deputies, e.g. Richard C. Chambers who was married to his daughter Margaret, a nephew, Jack McDade, Eck McDade and Tommy McDade. The author wrote critically of sheriff McDade and Chambers. Apparently there was the notion that justice was getting short change with the sheriff failing to charge some lawbreakers and manipulating juries to get others off and that his deputies were overstepping their boundaries.

Sheriff McDade and Chambers were angered by the anonymous article and asked Alsbury the name of the author and were rebuffed. Some accounts say Alsbury later relented and told them who wrote it, but others write that Chambers approached a group of people on the main street of Hempstead and complained angrily about the article, asking who could have written it and Steve Allchin said he would be glad to accept responsibility for it, whereupon Chambers drew his revolver and shot Allchin in the leg. Steve fell down and, with the 44-40 caliber Winchester carbine he always carried, shot and instantly killed Dick Chambers. Dr. L. W. Groce treated Steve at the site and he went home. 41 42 This occurred April 4, 1888.

Napoleon Farr killed:

The very next month, Nap Farr, brother of Joe Farr and a prominent rancher living near Waller, was shot and killed by James Carroll at the post office near the Waller rail depot. Carroll, also a rancher, was reading mail when confronted by Farr over a transaction involving some horses. An argument ensued and Farr knocked Carroll down. Carroll went for his revolver as Farr ran out the door but was shot in the back and killed. Both men had families and lived in the area. Nap was 39 years old and left 2 young children and his wife, Bettie Cloud Farr, daughter of H. G. W. Cloud, was pregnant with their 3rd child. 43

Stephen Allchin killed:

Community leaders wanted to tamp down the anger that simmered in the town. The two factions, that of sheriff McDade and that of Stephen Allchin were each counseled and they agreed to stay apart. Steve Allchin was reported to have armed guards around his house. Some reported they were his employees while another indicated they were hired by the county. Allchin agreed to keep his rifle in its scabbard and to not carry it around town, but he had been told that Dick Springfield and Jack McDade had vowed to kill him.

Scarcely a week and a half after the killing of Napoleon Farr, the Allchin-McDade feud took a gruesome and terrible turn as two of sheriff McDade's deputies shot and killed Steve Allchin May 19, 1888. Allchin was seated on his horse, talking to friends in the middle of the day and on the main street of Hempstead, with his Winchester across his lap when Dick Springfield and Jack McDade approached him from behind and opened fire with shotguns loaded with buckshot. Dick Chambers, who Allchin had killed a little over a month previous, was sheriff McDade's son-in-law. When he fell, they proceeded to shoot him again, blowing his face off and emptying their revolvers into him. 44 45 46

Stephen Allchin had married the widow Amanda C. Duck in 1876 who had an 8-year old daughter, Savannah Duck. She was 20 years old when her step-father was killed by sheriff McDade'd deputies. Four years later she married Joseph Blassingame Jr. Joe Blassingame Sr., had been sheriff in Austin county and was active in Waller county politics. Savannah and her mother harbored intense hatred toward the McDade clan because of the killing of Steve and apparently passed this hatred on to Joe Jr.

The cold-blooded killing created a strong reaction in Hempstead, with some talk of lynching. Since the killers were deputies and relatives of the sheriff, he called on the state military and relinquished custody of the prisoners to the rangers. 47 48 49

The preliminary trial of Richard "Dick" Springfield and Jack McDade bagan May 29, 1888, with tight security and rangers disarming sttendees. 50 On June 4th they were remanded to jail without bond. 51 On June 12 they were denied bail again52 53

Community outrage:

The initial confrontation between Dick Chambers and Steve Allchin occurred over an anonymous article published in Capt. Alsbury's Advance-Guard newspaper. Following on the horrific killing of Steve Allchin, a different approach, though still anonymous, was tried. Someone using the signature "Junius" had 250 circulars printed and deposited at the post office on July 4th, 1888. 54 The circulars detailed the numerous crimes over the last many years. The postmaster, concerned about their legality, sent to the U.S. attorney general for a ruling and was told to go ahead and distribute them. 55

Another revenge killing:

Napoleon Farr was killed by James Carroll, another rancher in the area. Joe Driscoll had been an employee and friend of Nap. He had no family in the area and was an Englishman and sailor and vowed revenge for the murder of his friend. On July 9, he shot and killed James Carroll while they were walking together to work. 56 Carroll, Driscoll and another man were walking together going to work when Driscoll shot Carroll in the back, killing him. He then stole a horse and saddle from a nearby home and fled. 57 A bulletin was posted seeking his arrest and giving his description. 58 The horse and saddle were recovered several days later 59 and 7 years later he was found in Tennessee and arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to 5 years in the penitentiary. 60


July 1888 saw precinct and county conventions. 61 In September 1888 the Republicans nominated their candidates on a split ticket: the Republican ticket and the Peoples' ticket. Among the Republicans were Thomas Sewell McDade for sheriff and Lewis W. McDade, a colored politician, for public weigher. On the opposing Peoples' ticket were E. P. Alsbury for sheriff and John Pinckney for county attorney. 62 (Recall that the anonymous article that ignited the confrontation wherein Dick Chambers was killed was published in Alsbury's Advance-Guard paper and John Pinckney is currently serving on the prosecution team against Dick Springfield and Jack McDade for the murder of Steve Allchin.)

A week after being nominated, McDade resigned as sheriff and withdrew from the race. The trial of his two deputies is about to begin and he decided he should avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest and step down. 63

A map of Hempstead admitted in evidence at the murder trial of Jack McDade.
A map of Hempstead admitted in evidence at the murder trial of Jack McDade.

Lewis McDade murdered:

On October 13, 1888 at 10 o'clock in the evening on the main street of Hempstead, Lewis McDade, the prominent colored Republican who was nominated for the office of cotton weigher, was ambushed, shot in the back, and killed. 64 A city-wide meeting was held condemning the act and a reward was offered for his capture. 65 66

ex-sheriff T. S. McDade murdered:

A little over a month later, November 26, 1888, ex-sheriff Thomas S. McDade was ambushed and killed as he stepped out his front door to get a drink of water for his oldest son who was dying of consumption. 67 Bloodhounds were brougnt in from Bryan and followed the scent trail and horse tracks to Mrs. Allchin's house, the widow of Stephen Allchin who had been killed by McDade's deputies six months previous.68 There they found Joe Blassingame Jr. Widow Allchin's daughter, Savanna Duck, was romantically involved with Blassingame Jr. and Joe was living with them. Joe's boots were muddy and matched the prints found at McDade's home. His double-barreled shotgun was examined. One barrel had been freshly fired and the buckshot from the unfired shell matched that which killed Thomas McDade exactly. 69 Joe Blassingame was arrested and charged with the murder of Thomas S. McDade. 70

The defense for Joe Blassingame argued that he had an alibi (he was home with his wife and mother-in-law), that the evidence was entirely circumstantial and they intimated that the stranger who had been seen in town the evening of the murder might have committed the crime. Though the evidence was subtantial and a clear motive was established, the prosecution did not convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt and Blassingame was acquitted October 5, 1889. 71

The trials of McDade & Springfield:

It could easily be argued that Stephen Allchin's killing of Dick Chambers was done in self-defense, but Jack McDade and Dick Springfield bushwacked Stephen Allchin before lady justice could do her work.

The "Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in The Court of Appeals of Texas" testimony indicated that McDade and Allchin were members of rival political clubs which were antagnostic to each other.
**Springfield was deputized shortly after Chambers was killed.**
Chambers was killed at the corner near Fritz Zeisner's store.
the Houston & Texas Central Railway freight depot was about two hundred yards distant from Zeisner's saloon and about three hundred yards distant from Wheeler's saloon. The platform at the said depot was elevated four or five feet above the ground.
The political club or organization that was opposing the re-election of Sheriff T. S. McDade had its headquarters and meeting place in the hall above Zeisner's store.
Zeisner saw the said Louis four or five minutes before he was killed, but he did not see and did not know who killed him.
Jack called sheriff McDade "uncle Tom"
Allchin hated the McDades -- he said he had no confidence whatever in the "seed, breed or generation of McDades,"

On his cross examination, the witness said that he did not understand the agreement to preclude Allchin from carrying his gun across his lap when on horseback, but it did preclude him from having it in his hands on the streets. The parties to that agreement were Allchin on one side and T. S. McDade, Jack McDade, Eck McDade, Tommy McDade and Dick Springfield on the other; T. S. McDade agreeing to be responsible for Dick Springfield. Allchin did not tell witness, on the day witness went to Austin, who the parties were that told him Jack McDade and Dick Springfield, under plans agreed upon, were to kill him, but did tell him that he got it too straight to doubt the fact.


John McPherson Pinckney, a lawyer in Hempstead, and part of the prosecution of McDade and Springfield, was to be the first speaker at a prohibition rally in front of the Waller county courthouse when another lawyer, Brown, pulled a revolver and began shooting, prompting others to begin shooting. John was shot in the back and killed. His brother, Tom Pinckney, and several others were also killed in the melee.


  1. Mexico. Nashville Whig, Wednesday, June 12, 1822, p. 3, col. 3. (Extract from the Report on the state of the nation, lately laid before the Mexican Congress by the Secretary of State.) transcription
  2. Daniel Cloud's letter (Enlistment document)
  3. The Siege of Bexar Descendants (Oct.-Dec. 1835)
  4. Panic of 1819: , Introduction America's economic expansion ended.
  5. The Panic of 1819: America's First Great Depression" The Economic Historian
  6. Important To Emigrants For Texas. Kentucky Gazette, (Lexington, KY), Saturday, May 18, 1833; p. 2, col. 3. transcription
  7. Austin's Colony Wallace L. McKeehan aka Don Guillermo Sons of DeWitt Colony Texas
  8. San Felipe de Austin, Texas Charles Christopher Jackson, Handbook of Texas Online.
  9. Austin's colony records. Texas Land Grant Records, The Texas General Land Office,
  10. Youngblood-Armstrong & Allied Families , p. 304 (Oct.-Dec. 1835) Frances Youngblood & Floelle Youngblood Bonner
  11. Regarding Austin's Colony. National Banner & Nashville Whig, (Nashville, TN), Saturday, September 5, 1829; p. 2, col. 3. transcription
  12. Family of Betty Smith Meischen:Information about James Stephenson Genforum & Family History Search.
  13. Youngblood-Armstrong & Allied Families . Frances Youngblood & Floelle Youngblood Bonner
  14. By A Gentleman From Texas. National Banner & Nashville Whig, (Nashville, TN), Saturday, July 29, 1826; p. 3, col. 2. (Hostile Comanche. Pawnee and Waco Indians.) transcription
  15. Austin County, Texas. (Hostile Karankawa Indians.)
  16. Hurricanes Roy Sylvan Dunn, Handbook of Texas Online.
  17. The Allchin Tragedy. Jacksonville Republican, Saturday, May 7, 1870, p. 2, col. 3. transcription
  18. Hempstead, Texas Carole E. Christian, Handbook of Texas Online.
  19. Sibley Campaign (NM 1861-1862) Alberts, Don E, Handbook of Texas Online
  20. Farr, Joseph H. Confederate Scrip Voucher, (Nashville, TN), Wednesday, Sept. 7, 1881; p. 3. Texas General Land Office transcription
  21. Texas During The Civil War Wortham Louis J. Texas Military Forces Museum
  22. Civil War and Reconstruction. Carl H. Moneyhon, Handbook of Texas Online
  23. Austin County Officers The Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph, (Houston, TX), Monday, September 4, 1865, p. 2, col. 2. North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  24. Bankruptcy : J.M. Cloud, T.S. McDade & G.W. Cloud. The Texas Countryman, (Hempstead, TX), Wednesday, July 8, 1868, p. 3, col. 2 & 3. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  25. In Bankruptcy - H.G.W. Cloud Galveston Daily News, Thursday, July 30, 1868, p. 2, col. 6. transcription
  26. Yellow Fever In Hempstead. The Texas Countryman, (Hempstead, TX), Wednesday, January 15, 1868, Vol. 7, No. 35, Ed. 1, p. 2, col. 3. (the fever rapidly spread among our inhabitants, carrying off many of our oldest and best citizens) University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  27. Yellow Fever in Hempstead, Texas Jacy Teston and Jeremy Skopal, East Texas History
  28. Party At B. B. Lee's The Texas Countryman, (Hempstead, TX), Saturday, January 4, 1868, Vol. 7, No. 34, Ed. 1, p. 3, col. 2. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  29. Fatal Shooting Affair The Texas Countryman), (Hempstead, TX), Wednesday, April 29, 1868, Vol. 7, No. 50, Ed. 1, p. 3, col. 2. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  30. Mr. B. B. Lee Was Shot And Killed By Mr. Joseph Farr Galveston Daily News, Saturday, May 2, 1868, p. 1, transcription
  31. Letter From Texas - B.B. Lee Murder, Etc. Memphis Evening Post, Wednesday, May 6, 1868, p. 1, col. 2-3. transcription
  32. Life Insurance Payout On Lives Of Jas. W. McDade And B. B. Lee. The Texas Countryman, Friday, December 25, 1868, p. 2, col. 4. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  33. Biennial report of the Secretary of State of the State of Texas, 1884.
  34. Boys Carry Pistols; Shooting Near Freight Depot. Daily Ledger, (Hempstead, TX), Vol. 1, No. 1, Ed. 1 Saturday, February 20, 1886, p 3, col 2, University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  35. Editor Farr Shot And Killed At Hempstead May-day Fete. Austin Daily Statesman, Thursday, May 6, 1886, p. 1, col. 5, transcription
  36. A Newspaper Man Killed By A Justice Of The Peace. San Antonio Daily Express, Thursday, May 6, 1886, p. 4, col. 4. transcription
  37. The Inquest On The Killing Of J.H. Farr Is Concluded Galveston Daily News, Saturday, May 8, 1886, p. 2, col. 3. (family discord) transcription
  38. Cloud Has Consumption, Bail Set. Brenham Weekly Banner, (Brenham, Tex.), Thursday, July 29, 1886, p. 2, col. 6, 2nd article from bottom. Chronicling America « Library Of Congress transcription
  39. The Advance Guard. Galveston Daily News, Thursday, February 3, 1887, p. 7, col. 6. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  40. F. M. Cloud Killed By Kendricks. The La Grange Journal, (La Grange, Tex.), Thursday, November 10, 1887, p. 2, col. 2. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas Historyy transcription
  41. Deputy Sheriff Richard C. Chambers Killed By Stephen W. Allchin Galveston Daily News, Thursday, April 5, 1888, p. 1, col. 4. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  42. The Hempstead Tragedy Fort Worth Daily Gazette, Friday, April 6, 1888, p. 5, col. 2. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  43. Further Particulars Of The Killing Of Napoleon B. Farr By James Carroll. Fort Worth Daily Gazette, Sunday, May 6, 1888, p. 4, col. 4. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  44. A Shooting Affray. Fort Worth Daily Gazette, Sunday, May 20, 1888, p. 4, col. 1-2. transcription
  45. Shot Off His Horse Galveston Daily News, Sunday, May 20, 1888, p. 2, transcription
  46. The Hempstead Troubles. The Austin American Statesman, Wednesday, May 23, 1888, p. 1, col. 5. transcription
  47. Soldiers At Hempstead To Be Relieved By Others Galveston Daily News, Wednesday, May 23, 1888, p. 1, col. 6. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  48. The Town Of Hempstead In The Hands Of Two Armed Mobs. The Times Democrat, Wednesday, May 23, 1888, p. 1, col. 2. transcription
  49. Affairs At Hempstead. Galveston Daily News, Saturday, May 26, 1888, p. 5, transcription
  50. Commenced At Hempstead. Galveston Daily News, Wednesday, May 30, 1888, p. 2, col. 4. transcription
  51. Dick Springfield And Jack McDade Sent To Jail Galveston Daily News, Thursday, June 5, 1888, p. 1, col. 2, transcription
  52. Dick Springfield And Jack McDade Are Refused Bail Galveston Daily News, Thursday, June 12, 1888, p. 1, transcription
  53. The Hempstead Homicide Galveston Daily News, Saturday, June 30, 1888, p. 6, col. 1-3. transcription
  54. Excitement At Hempstead (junius) Galveston Daily News, Friday, July 6, 1888, Vol. 47, No. 71, Ed. 1, p. 3, col. 2. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  55. Letter From Hempstead. (junius) Galveston Daily News, Friday, July 13, 1888, p. 6, col. 2. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  56. He Executed His Oath. Galveston Daily News, Tuesday, July 10, 1888, p. 1, col. 6. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  57. Terrible Murder. The Austin Weekly Statesman, Thursday, July 12, 1888, p. 9, col. 1. transcription
  58. Deliberate Assassination. Galveston Daily News, Tuesday, July 10, 1888, p. 10, col. 2. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  59. Horse Used By Driscoll. The Galveston Daily News, Tuesday, July 17, 1888, p. 1, col. 2. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  60. A Celebrated Murder Trial. Galveston Daily News, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 1895, p. 3, col. 6. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  61. Precinct & County Conventions. The Galveston Daily News, Sunday, July 29, 1888, p. 3, col. 3. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  62. Texas State Politics. Galveston Daily News, Sunday, Sep. 2, 1888, p. 4, transcription
  63. Sheriff McDade Resigns As Sheriff And Withdraws From The Race.. Galveston Daily News, Friday, Sep. 7, 1888, p. 1, University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  64. Assassination In Hempstead. Galveston Daily News, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 1888, p. 1, col. 2. transcription
  65. Assassination Of Lewis McDade. Austin Weekly Statesman, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 1888, p. 10, col. 2-3. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  66. Murder At Hempstead. Austin Weekly Statesman, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 1888, p. 9, col. 3. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  67. Brutal Assassination. Galveston Daily News, Tuesday, Nov 27, 1888, University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  68. Another Hempstead Murder. Brenham Daily Banner, Wednesday, November 28, 1888, p. 4, col. 2. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  69. Arrest Of The Alleged Assassin Of The Late Sheriff McDade. Austin American Statesman, November 28, 1888, p. 1, col. 1. transcription
  70. Who Shot M'dade? Fort Worth Daily Gazette, (Fort Worth, Tex.), Vol. 13, No. 148, Ed. 1, Wednesday, November 28, 1888, University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  71. McDade-blassingame Case. The Galveston Daily News, Sunday, October 6, 1889, p. 3, col. 3. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription

Newspaper articles may be read at Timeline of News Reports.