Six Shooter Junction

These pages reflect on-going research about the place known as "Six-Shooter Junction" — 19th century Waller county, Texas and its county seat, Hempstead, Texas and the multiple killings that occurred there during that period.

In the latter half of the nineteenth century, the little east Texas town of Hempstead earned the label "Six-Shooter Junction".  Only thirty years previous, Texas had been a largely uninhabited wilderness occupied primarily by Indians and wildlife.  Mexico invited foreign nationals to occupy the vast, unpopulated area of the states of Coahuila and Texas beginning with the agreement with Moses Austin in 1820 and then, following his death in 1821, his son Stephen F. Austin.  The land grant given to Austin was a massive expanse of rich, fertile forests and praires spanning the Colorado and Brazos Rivers, down to the Gulf of Mexico.  Fifteen years later, in 1836, the citizens of Texas, fighting to restore the Mexican constitution of 1824, finally declared its independence from Mexico and the Republic of Texas was formed.  In 1845, Texas was accepted into the United States of America.

(The research here focuses on the chaos in the city of Hempstead and surrounding Austin and Waller counties, primarily the killings and, secondarily, on the part the Cloud, Farr, McDade and Newnam families played in those disturbances.)

Jeremiah Cloud and Charles A. McDade had lived in South Carolina and fought together in the War of 1812 and some of their children married.  The Creek Indians had taken sides with the British during that conflict and they were penalized by having large parts of Georgia and Alabama taken from them.  Following the end of the Creek Indian War,1 2 they were penalized for their alliance with the British by having to cede millions of acres to the United States, areas that are now part of Georgia and Alabama.  Many settlers surged into the new territory and occupied the land once restricted only to the Creek Nation, including the Cloud and McDade families who shared business and familial interests.  A few years later, Stephen F. Austin's advertisements and salesmen began to circulate throughout the United States encouraging people to come to the newly opened Mexican territory of Coahuila-Texas.  The United States was experiencing its first great depression 3 and the promises of large amounts of fertile land at very low prices and plentiful game and fish appealed to many in the U.S.  Some of the Cloud and McDade families chose to venture into the new frontier.  They came from Mt. Meigs, Alabama and settled in Stephen F. Austin's Colony.  They didn't all arrive at the same time, but Jeremiah Cloud settled on Caney Creek on the west side of the Brazos and the McDades and Jeremiah's son, H.G.W. Cloud, settled on the east side.

At that time, San Felipe de Austin was the provincial capital of Texas, but it was burned in 1836 during Texas' war of independence and it never regained its importance in the new Republic.  Ten years later, Bellville was chosen to be the county seat.  Both San Felipe de Austin and Bellville were on the west side of the Brazos, and residents on the east side often could not cross the river during flood stage to go to the courhouse.

Hempstead was organized on the east side of the Brazos river in 1856, by James Wilkins McDade and his partner, Dr. Richard Peebles, in anticipation of the arrival of the Houston & Texas Central Railroad 4 5 from Houston.  McDade's older sister had married H.G.W. Cloud and another sister, Jennie McDade, married James Cloud, both sons of pioneer Jeremiah Cloud and his brother, Thomas Sewell McDade, became the Waller county sheriff.

The influx of workers and businesses and the violence that accompanied it contributed to the area being dubbed "Six-Shooter Junction".  The unrest following the Civil War and the fact that over half of the residents of the area were blacks, most of them freed slaves, combined with the political divisions added to the violence of the area.

The central point of this violence, the city of Hempstead, was in Austin County, but floods and bad roads made travel to Bellville to conduct business difficult and sometimes hazardous.  In 1873, Austin county was split along the Brazos river with Austin county on the west side and the new Waller county on the east side.  Hempstead became the county seat of Waller county.6  Seven years later, at the 1880 census, Waller county had over 9,000 residents and Hempstead was a busy railroad hub that had grown to 1,651 residents.

The economy of the south had been severely damaged by the Civil War and the effects were particularly hard on the agriculture and ranching interests of Waller county.  The arrival of the railroad brought some relief, allowing easier transportation and quicker access to supplies from distant places and easier shipment of cotton and cattle, but it also brought new people, all of them wanting to earn a living, and some of them were hot tempered and quick to take an offense, creating an incubator for violence.

  The city had become a busy hub of activity as people traveled from the surrounding area to receive and ship items and to buy tickets to travel on the train and new businesses opened in Hempstead to serve the increase in visitors to the city.  The hardships they faced along with often intense political and economic divisions and the influx of non-residents, including unscrupulous hustlers, caused friction in the area with predictable violent results.  The Hempstead and Waller county region bore the embarassing nickname of Six-Shooter Junction for almost fifty years, culminating with the killing of congressman John Pinckney, his brother Tom and others inside the county courthouse in 1905.7


Featured Articles:

Allchin-McDade Feud.

Seduction, Betrayal, Retribution.
The true story of Kate McDade & Clifton Vernon Floyd

Marriage of Irene Farr & N.A. Cuny.

19th Century Hempstead Newspapers.

Additional Research Material:

List of Deaths & other Disturbances.

The People.

Cloud-Farr Articles.

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(received from Waller County Historical Museum & modified)

Newspapers:

Bibliography.


Resources:

Additional Resources:

resource topic image transcription
Stirpes, Vol. 6, No. 3, Sept. 1966, p 104 letters from Mrs. Woodson Francis Tottenham
Stirpes, Vol. 6, No. 3, Sept. 1966, p 105 (letters cont.)
Sarah Pier's diary
Stirpes, Vol. 6, No. 3, Sept. 1966, p 106 Sarah Pier's diary
Stirpes, Vol. 6, No. 3, Sept. 1966, p 107 Sarah Pier's diary cont.
Stirpes, Vol. 6, No. 3, Sept. 1966, p 108 Sarah Pier's diary cont.
Stirpes, Vol. 6, No. 3, Sept. 1966, p 109 Mrs. Lucy Pier's diary
McDade notes from Sarah Pier's diary
Stirpes, Vol. 6, No. 3, Sept. 1966, p 110 McDade notes from Sarah Pier's diary cont.

Footnotes

  1. Creek War. 1818-1814, Encyclopedia Britannica
  2. Summer 1814: The Treaty of Ft. Jackson Ends the Creek War U.S. National Park Service.
  3. Summer 1814: The Treaty of Ft. Jackson Ends the Creek War (ibid) U.S. National Park Service.
  4. The New Town Of Hempstead. The Weekly Telegraph, (Houston, TX), Wednesday, February 4, 1857, p. 1, col. 4. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  5. Hempstead - For The Civilian. Civilian and Gazette. Weekly, (Galveston, TX), Tuesday, May 19, 1857, p. 1, col. 5. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription
  6. Waller County, TX Christian, Carole E. & Leffler, John, Handbook of Texas Online
  7. Congressman John M. Pinckney Shot Dead The Austin Statesman, (Austin, TX), Tuesday, April 25, 1905, p. 1, col. 3-5. University Of North Texas Libraries, The Portal To Texas History transcription

Newspaper articles may be read at Timeline of News Reports.