Ten Texas Feuds
By Charles Leland "C.L." Sonnichsen (1901-1991)
$19.95 Paperback 978-0-8263-2299-9 June 2000
6 x 9 in. 264 pages
Published by University of New Mexico Press
Series: Historians of the Frontier and American West
For twenty years, grassroots historian C. L. Sonnichsen went door to door through the backcountry of east and south-central Texas to coax tales from reluctant informants and peruse county documents on the colorful feuds that bloodied the state's early history. From these human explosions emerged legendary gangs such as the Regulators, Moderators, Hoodoos, Heel Flies, and Boots. Personal vengeance righted intolerable wrongs and settled unbearable grievances. Sonnichsen notes, "The men who fought these battles were mostly pretty good people," but they harshly stamped their otherwise normal lives with bloody vengeance. Dale L. Walker, Sonnichsen's biographer, sketches the author's life, historical craft, and publishing and teaching career.
MISS SUE PINCKNEY
A heavy rain had fallen that afternoon. The trees were still dripping as the mellow April dusk gathered over Hempstead. Supper was just over in the little white house where Miss Sue Pinckney lived with her bachelor brother John. In 1905 John was serving his second term in the National Congress and they could have had a bigger dinner in a finer place, but Miss Sue loved her small home (she called it a "cottage") and was not about to live anywhere else.
"If you've finished, I'll clear away," she said to John and their brother Tom, who had come by for a meal and a visit. "I suppose you want to talk politics."
"What else is there to talk about," John replied, a smile on his rugged, mustached face, and he and Tom fell to discussing the events of the last few days.
The great campaign to run the saloon keepers out of their small East Texas town had ended in triumph, and they were feeling very good about it. They agreed that all that was needed now was a little help in enforcing the law, and Hempstead's desperate days would be a thing of the past.
"I don't think I'll go to the meeting tonight," Tom said. "I've listened to enough speeches."
"Well," his brother observed, "it's the last rally – just a wind-up; though there might be some argument about those resolutions for the Governor. A lot of people think they're too strong and may cause more hard feelings."
"I doubt it, but anyway they won't need us."
John considered for a minute. "Oh, come on, let's go," he said finally. "This will be the quietest meeting we have had. The Lipscombs are all out of town."
Their sister came in to see them off and the three of them paused at the door a minute to listen to the concert going on outside. All the frogs in Hempstead (prohibitionists, naturally) had come out after the rain and were shouting joyfully in every direction. "Did you hear Tompkins' story about the frogs?" John asked with a laugh. (Tompkins was his secretary.) "It seems this man owned a big swamp that was full of frogs, and he contracted to deliver two carloads of them for frog's legs. But when he went frog hunting, he couldn't find a single one. All noise, no frogs!"
For a moment Miss Sue watched them walk away, skirting the puddles and smiling over the deceptive nature of frogs. Then she closed the door.
It was the last happy moment of her life. Within the hour the wild melee still known in Hempstead as "The Courthouse Tragedy" had broken out and her brothers were carried home, dead or dying. Like many another Texas woman Miss Sue had lost everything she lived for in a swift blaze of gunfire, and the hopes and dreams of her sixty-two years lay about her in ruins.
Crushed as she was, she had to endure the further unbearable thought that her own strong will had helped to bring them all to this fatal hour. It was she who had roused her brothers to pull themselves up by their bootstraps – to live up to their birthright and attempt to rise in the _world. But for her they might all be alive and happy in the log cabin they had started from. The irony of it could not have been more bitter.
It did seem that from the beginning her family had been reserved for some special fate. She herself had always lived a life a little apart. Outwardly she was a quiet citizen of Hempstead – the once hardbitten little community which is still known, to the chagrin of its peaceful inhabitants, as Six-Shooter Junction. Inwardly she lived in a world created from her family traditions, the sentimental novels which she loved to read, and the dreams and ambitions which drove her to "make something" of herself and of her orphaned brothers.
Her fellow townsmen accepted the fact that she was different, though there was nothing in her manner or appearance to suggest it. She was delicate and slightly stooped. Her eyes were weak, and when she was working with her flowers she shaded them with a white sunbonnet. Her dress was always plain black. In every way she could think of she tried to be modest and retiring. But the difference was there.
For one thing she did not go out. Hempstead was a sociable town, and in 1905 everybody had taken up a domino game called "42." The partying and visiting went on at a great pace, but Miss Sue never played. She enjoyed having her friends come to see her, but she never returned their visits. She did not even go to church, though she was an earnest Christian. Nobody thought of criticizing her for such small foibles. She was Miss Sue Pinckney, and that was the way she was.
There was something else, however, which made her really extraordinary: Miss Sue Pinckney was an author; she had actually written a novel. Not only that – the book had been printed. Those who had seen it looked a bit baffled when asked for an opinion, but just the same it existed and could be read. It was called "Douglas: Tender and True". It bore the imprint of the Nixon-Jones Company of Saint Louis, and was bound in Miss Sue's favorite shade of purple. Naturally Hempstead looked at her with a little awe.
She may have written as many as five or six novels, but characteristically she delayed until she was fifty before attempting to get into print, and then waited fourteen years more before trying again. In 1906 her two final volumes were published, but they would probably have remained modestly buried beneath her voluminous scrapbooks had she not found herself in a desperate situation from which she wished to get as far away as she could – even to the other side of the world.
The professors at the state universities who lecture on The Facts and Backgrounds of American Literature have never heard of Miss Sue Pinckney and her novels, and it is probably just as well that they haven't. They would have no patience with her mannerisms and affectations and might even treat her with contempt.
Her characters have names like Muriel Dacre, Guy Walsingham, and Lady Maud Villiers. Her favorite subjects are the affairs of English lords, Italian countesses, and Southern aristocrats. She deals with love stronger than death and death more beautiful than life. Her men and women never eat a meal; they enjoy a "light repast," a "tray of dainties," or a "sumptuous collation." They never take a walk at dusk; they go for "an evening ramble." A group of ladies is not a group of ladies at all, but "a bright parterre of breathing flowers." In such a world one would never say "How queer!" He would exclaim in well-bred accents: "Strange, passing strange!"
We are too sophisticated to enjoy such flights as these, but it is well to remember that Miss Sue constructed her imaginary world without benefit of travel or association with people who knew what the real world was like. Could she have been born fifty years later, she would have made a career for herself and might have earned the respect of even the professors at the State University. But she began her life in 1843, and women did not do these things, particularly in the South, until after her time was past.
She was not too easy in her own mind about her writing. It meant appearing before the public, and that was cheapening. Her mother had convinced her that any girl who went to more than one dance in a month was "common," and perhaps writing for money was common too. She told herself that authorship was really the only outlet possible to a woman of any breeding. "Not that ladies should compete with gentlemen," one of her characters says. Hah, no, woman must fill a humbler, holier sphere – that of home. Yet it is her right to embark on the sea of literature."
From such passages in her books the pattern of Miss Sue's life and thought can be pretty clearly made out. She was a Southern Lady of the Old School with all the characteristic reticences, timidities, and taboos, as well as the characteristic courage and pride. She was so sure that her formula was right and so ready to sacrifice everything to it! It was supremely ironic that such a woman should find herself in the midst of a savage feud – supremely tragic that just when the world she dreamed of had become a reality, the cloud-capped towers and airy pinnacles should be swept away forever.
People like Miss Sue do not just happen. They are produced by long chains of circumstance. We can begin to understand her by looking at her father, Thomas Shubrick Pinckney of Charleston, South Carolina. Thomas made his first trip to Texas in 1836 to escape the consequences of a notorious duel in which he had been an unwilling participant. Later, when his family opposed his romantic marriage to a delicate, convent-bred girl from the North, he came to Texas to live, settling in a log cabin near Field's Store in what later became Waller County. His wife had to adjust herself to the most primitive kind of existence among the crudest kind of people, and his five children had little to look forward to but the same rugged life for themselves. The proud Pinckney traditions were for them part of a bright, unattainable dream.
Only for Sue did the dream become a reality when in 1848 at the age of five she went back to the Pinckney mansion in Charleston for her education. She knew comfort and even luxury, fed on the high history of her clan, and had a colored boy to carry her books.
She was thirteen when she returned to a family whose faces she did not recognize and whose ways were strange and uncouth. Of course she was homesick for Charleston, and her unhappiness made her family unhappy. Even her father was put out with her. "I wish that she was back there," he was heard to say. "I think she likes those people better than she likes us." Only John, two years her junior, petted her while she was readjusting herself, and she never got over being grateful to him for it."
She found refuge in reading and writing. The reading was what an adolescent girl in the 1850's would naturally pick up – tender tales of sacrifice, devotion and death, mostly by female authors. Ouida was her first choice (she had a complete set of Ouida), but passages in her novels show that she was almost as fond of St. Elmo and Beulah as she was of Under Two Flags. Among the poets she read Campbell, Byron, and "my favorite" Tennyson. When she wrote (and she was always scribbling) she let her starved imagination wander among rich, noble, and high-minded characters; she explored the agonies of unrequited love; and she lingered over the death bed of many a child who was "too precious a bud long to adorn her earthly home."
Only once did a small private door to paradise seem to be on the point of opening for her. That was when she fell in love with Groce Lawrence, a vigorous and earthy young man of her neighborhood, the complete antithesis of her story-book heroes. It was an honest attachment for both of them however, and Sue was deeply hurt when her father told Groce that he would rather see his daughter in her coffin than married to him. He said Groce drank too much and was a poor risk as a husband for a delicate, idealistic girl like her.
Groce urged her to go away with him and be married, but she would never have dreamed of defying her father. It was the supreme sin in the books she read, and it was against her nature besides. Later she admitted that it might have been better if she had run away, for her lover went off to fight in the War between the States and did not came back.
Her parents never heard her mention his name again, but in three of her stories she described an episode in the Battle of the Wilderness when Lee ordered Hood's Brigade to assault a position and prepared to lead the charge himself. A young Texas soldier, “an eager look in his dark eyes, a flush on his handsome face," took Lee's bridle rein and said: "General, you must not risk your life. We will take the position." The boy was killed. in the assault but "always will the name of that young Texas soldier, Groce Lawrence, live with the memories of the wilderness and shine, side by side, with that of Robert E. Lee"
She risked more than a lover in those battles. Her brother Robert was fourteen years old and John was sixteen when they marched away. No wonder Miss Sue pictured the Confederate soldier as a mere boy with an eager face and a manly desire to go home after the War and take care of his widowed mother. She was remembering that Lee himself arranged to have Robert transferred out of Hood's Brigade, remarking, "I did not know that I had babies in this army."
She never got over the loss of her sweetheart, and she never had another. It was perhaps fortunate that she had precious little time to think of herself. Misfortune followed misfortune in the years after the war. Her father became a hopeless invalid as a result of wounds received in that youthful duel in Charleston. Her mother died. She had to take over the responsibility for the whole family. Many women would have become hopeless drudges under these burdens, but not Sue Pinckney. She never gave up – never stopped looking for a way to break the mold which was hardening around her.
There was not much to work with. The community at Field's Store was isolated and brutal. There was no money, and no way to get any. Household tasks took up almost all her time. But she had her brothers – four of them, John and Tom and Tucker and Dick (whose right name was Robert). They were growing up to be rough, goodhearted, undistinguished country boys, no different from their neighbors, but they were her raw material and she went to work on them.
She talked to them about the Pinckney name and the Pinckney blood. They were as good as their kinfolks in Charleston, even if they were poor. Blood would tell. A Pinckney would always be somebody. Why not read law? A lawyer could rise high – make a fortune – enjoy high social position – go to Washington, perhaps.
Somehow she struck a spark in those boys, especially in John. He was working full time as a cotton weigher, but he began reading Coke and Blackstone sitting on a cotton bale between jobs. Tom read law too, though he was never as successful a lawyer as John. When their father died, John took his place as Justice of the Peace and a few years later, as his ambition rose, he moved to Hempstead, taking the whole family with him. In 1875 he was admitted to the bar, and Sister Sue felt a deep but quiet satisfaction. Without her urging he never would have done it.
Hempstead was a good lawyer's town, being full of trouble in those days. Its feuds and difficulties were discussed familiarly in barrooms, livery stables, and barber shops all over Texas. The good people of the place were always in a commotion because of the drinking, fighting and hell-raising of a minority of the population. A restaurant owner once blew a man's brains all over the ceiling for stating mildly that a piece of pie was rotten. It was said that a thirteen-year-old who couldn't drink a quart of whiskey and fire off a pistol was run out of town. A typical anecdote illustrating the course of events in Hempstead describes a citizen perched on the curb in front of the Three Brothers Saloon. A friend approaches him and asks for a chew of tobacco. "It's in my hip pocket," says the man on the curb. "You get it."
In Hempstead it was not safe to reach for the hip pocket under any circumstances.
The Pinckneys stepped into the middle: of all this blood and thunder. Dick Pinckney became a peace officer and for the next twenty years his career was full of hair-raising episodes. John hung out his shingle as a lawyer and in the course of time found himself on the outskirts of the worst of Hempstead's community feuds.
When Sheriff Tom McDade was reelected in 1884, supposedly by cornering the Negro vote, a majority of the white residents were fed up with him. One disgusted voter wrote a piece for the Hempstead Courier on the text, "How long, O Lord, how long?" In Hempstead, this article declared, a man could steal a pig and go to the penitentiary, but let him commit murder and he would not even be brought to trial. A sheriff who let such things go on must be either crooked or incompetent.
It was not known who composed this blast, but McDade's son-in-law Dick Chambers was deeply offended. On the street one day he boasted that if he could catch the author, he would make him eat the article. Standing nearby when Chambers made this remark was Steve Allchin, a farmer and cattle raiser who also ran a dray line and had brains enough to have done the writing.
"I'll father the article," Steve said.
Chambers took him seriously and shot him down, whereupon Allchin got up off the ground and killed Chambers.
A couple of months later the tables were turned when Jack McDade, the Sheriff’s nephew, and a friend named Dick Springfield caught Allchin off guard for a minute. They slipped up on him through an alley and started shooting before he was aware that there was any danger. He did his best to get to the Winchester on his saddle, but it was too late.
In the fall of 1888 this particular feud situation came to a close when Tom McDade, an ex-sheriff now, was assassinated in his own yard as he stepped outside one night to get his sick son a drink of water from the well.
After the Allchin killing McDade asked John Pinckney to defend the two boys, but John refused. Instead, he helped the prosecution so effectively that both of them got prison sentences. Miss Sue was very sorry about the whole thing, for the McDades and the Pinckneys had been good friends She even corresponded with Springfield while he was in the penitentiary and worked hard to promote a pardon for him.
The gleam of comfort which came to her out of all this trouble was the spread of John's fame as a prosecutor after the trial. When Governor Coke appointed him District Attorney in 1890, she was again a proud and happy woman.
Still she was not satisfied. Ten years later she saw another opportunity and urged John to run for County Judge. He was not interested – had no political ambitions, he said; anyway he did not know enough civil law. But he ran. And he was elected.
Then in 1903 Tom Ball resigned from the National Congress, thereby creating a vacancy which had to be filled by special election. The last thing in the world that would have occurred to John Pinckney was to run for that office. It occurred to Sister Sue, however. She had, in fact, been dreaming of just such an opportunity for years. John said he had never asked a man for his vote, and never would. But Miss Sue had no such inhibitions. She urged and pleaded and wrote endless streams of letters. Luckily, John's opposition came apart and the election simply fell into his lap, but he gave full credit to his sister. Without her urging, he said, he would never even have made the race.
And so it happened, when she was over sixty, that Miss Sue at last had her chance to see what the world was really like. John insisted that she go to Washington with him. The idea made her nervous, but not nervous enough to keep her at home. She saw the Smithsonian Institution and the White House and the Capitol Building. She attended the inaugural ball. She bought souvenirs for everybody back home in Hempstead.
For the first time she could exchange her world of beautiful dreams for a beautiful world of reality. Was she disappointed? She never did say. But it seems entirely possible that Washington seemed a little drab and commonplace in comparison with the European capitals in which she loved to set her stories.
Whatever joy she felt was not hers for long, for now the clouds of tragedy began to gather. The first blow came while she was away from home. In April, 1904, her brother Tucker Pinckney was killed by a gang of Negroes in the Sunnyside community where he had gone to buy a couple of cows. Tucker had not been much of a credit to his people and had associated himself with another young man of good family who had gone against his raising and taken up with the Negroes. The shooting broke out at a Negro funeral, and apparently the assassins, who fired from inside the church, was aiming at the other man and killed Tucker by mistake. A telegram called John and his sister home.
The news nearly prostrated Miss Sue. If it had not been for some of her Northern friends (toward whom she had been more than a little stand-offish up to that time) she could hardly have done what she needed to do. After that she never could hate the Yankees so wholeheartedly.
As if there were not bitterness enough in the county already, the murder of Tucker Pinckney widened the breach which divided the citizens. It was the "Courthouse Gang" – long in power and tolerant of corruption – against the old-line Democrats. The division went back twenty years and more to the days of the McDade-Allchin troubles. The "ins" were wily, resourceful, and unscrupulous. They cultivated the Negro voters and perhaps resorted in a pinch to methods even less tolerable. The Pinckney killing showed exactly where they stood.
Three Negroes, Abe Smith, Aaron Washington, and Jim Williams, were arrested for the crime, but their white friends in Hempstead were anxious that they should be put to as little inconvenience as possible. They were taken off to Houston and kept in jail for a while; then let out on bail. The names of seventeen men, both white and colored, appeared on their bonds. The white men were members of the Courthouse Gang. The prisoners were defended by Captain H. M. Brown, former District Attorney, and R. M. Hannay, former County Judge.
The Pinckneys and their friends burned with a deep and steady resentment against these men.
Such troubles have been lived down or worn out in every county in Texas, but in Hempstead things had to get worse before they could get better. Just at the wrong moment a new crisis arrived to generate more heat. The Demon Rum was under attack again, and the embattled Drys were determined to drive out the saloon keepers once and for all. The Courthouse Gang, which was as wet as the Gulf of Mexico, stood on the defense. John Pinckney, a prominent Dry, was up for re-election and joined in charge after charge right up to the enemy breastworks.
Miss Sue was with him every step of the way. John Pinckney was a plain man of few pretensions – no knight in shining armor himself but he felt, as she did, that the first duty of a Southern gentleman was the protection of women and children. When the Prohibition League was organized and the W.C.T.U. began appealing to the manhood of Waller County to save the helpless victims of drunken husbands and besotted fathers, Miss Sue Pinckney's favorite brother could not stand idly by.
He did put his foot down, however, when his sister told him she was about to take the extreme step of joining the W.C.T.U. "With the money I'm spending and the time I'm putting in," he said, "I don't see why my womenfolks should have to go before the public." So Miss Sue stayed home and wrote a fiercely declamatory essay, which still exists in one of her scrapbooks, on the evils of liquor. In her stories she had already included more than one scene in which young love and happy childhood were blighted by drunkenness.
God knows there was reason enough for Miss Sue's feelings. Since the beginning of settlement violence and whiskey had gone hand in hand. Even in the early days of statehood a strong wing of earnest citizens had stood for the regulation of the.liquor traffic, though they would not stand for much else. The first provision for local option goes back to 1854, and from 1876 until recent times Texas has gone into frequent convulsions on this issue. The northern counties always felt some obligation to make an honest man out of the unwilling drunkard, but by 1904 the central district, including Waller County, had caught fire. The women labored and pleaded and prayed. The Loyal Temperance Legion added the appeal of children's voices. And traveling exhorters worked their audiences into a fine frenzy.
Waller County was badly torn up by this contention. In 1903 the Drys had won a nominal victory, but the Courthouse Gang controlled the enforcement agencies and as a result conditions remained as before. There was as much rotten whiskey and synthetic gin as if the town had been wide open. The blind tigers down in the river bottoms sold potions which caused sickness and even death. And the town drunks rioted as scandalously as ever.. .
It was John Pinckney's stand on the liquor issue which sent him back to Congress for a second term. His opponent was Judge Holt of Houston, a very strong contender. Nobody supposed that the country lawyer would have a chance against the brilliant city politician, but Holt was Wet and Pinckney was Dry, and Pinckney won.
In his home county, however, the Courthouse Gang managed to stay in office. These men, including the ones who were helping the Negroes accused of slaying Tucker Pinckney, were uncompromisingly Wet and opposed to John Pinckney and all his works. There were loud cries of fraud from the Pinckney party after the election. John and Miss Sue went off to Washington for the second time, leaving behind them a community more deeply divided than ever.
They came back in the spring of 1905 to join their friends and supporters in preparing for a finish fight. April 20 was the day set for another prohibition election and the women were campaigning as never before. A powerful exhorter named Mrs. Zehner was holding tent meetings. She had only one lung, but it was a good one, and she held forth almost continuously – meetings at ten a.m., four p.m., and eight p.m., with a ladies' prayer meeting in the tent at three in the afternoon while the men gathered in the Methodist church.
Everybody went to the meetings – there was no place else to go – and some amusing stories are still told about the old drunks who rose in befuddled obedience when Mrs. Zehner started trumpeting: Show me the man who squanders his money on booze. . . ." The emotional tension which she created in the town was terrific. "I would wade up to my knees in blood for Prohibition!" one old lady declared. And she came near doing it, too.
On the day of the election the women gathered as close to the polls as the law allowed and prayed, sang and buttonholed. "Come over and help us, is the cry," was their theme song. Even the drinking men could not resist such assaults as these, and Waller County outlawed the saloons again.
The Drys were jubilant but wary. They knew from past experience that they could not trust their present officers to enforce the law, and the result was a petition, signed by two hundred voters and addressed to the Governor, asking that a detachment of Rangers be sent to take over. The petition was very plain-spoken about the county officials. Some of the Drys would not sign it for fear of inflaming the feelings of the community still further. It was decided. that the Prohibition League ought to hold one last meeting to discuss the petition, and the members were asked to assemble.
Hardly anybody thought there would be trouble. The election was over and the people had declared their will. It was time now to bury the hatchet and not bloody it any more. That was why John and Tom Pinckney almost decided not to go when meeting time came around on that moist and peaceful evening in April, 1905. But they went off through the scented dusk, listening to the frogs' evening hymn, and stepped through the courthouse door into eternity.
About two hundred people were assembled in the court room on the second floor. John Pinckney took his place on the rostrum with a number of leading Prohibitionists, including Mr. and Mrs. Tompkins. Old Captain Brown, who seemed a little the worse for liquor, was there on the front row talking to his neighbors against the petition and anxious to make a speech. Before the meeting was called to order by J. C. Petty, he did manage to say a few words. Afterward he got up and sat down several times, heckling and interrupting, while John Pinckney delivered a brief address. He was still at it when Mr. Tompkins rose to have his say. Tompkins would not pay any attention to him, so Brown seized him by the coat and used some language which Tompkins did not consider suitable. "My wife is here and you must cut that out," he protested. "Turn me loose!"
As Tompkins resumed his discourse, Brown pulled out a pistol and struck him on the head with it. Brown's son Roland was sitting on a table at the rear of the room when this happened, and he moved forward in an attempt to get his father away.
Then it was as if a match had been set to a powder barrel. The whole place blew up. Somebody fired a shot, and in an instant the floor around the rostrum was full of struggling, shooting men.
John E. Mills, a strong Dry who had recently moved in from an outlying community, was killed. Tom Pinckney was shot twice through the small of the back and died next morning. Captain Brown was also shot in the back, the bullet penetrating his heart and killing him instantly. John Pinckney was hit four times and died almost at once. Roland Brown got a flesh wound in the breast.
Two of the dead men, Mills and John Pinckney, were unarmed.
Could a massacre like that have been the result of spontaneous combustion? Some people today will tell you it was, but there are more who believe it was deliberately rigged up by the saloon keepers and the Wet politicians. A story was current at the time of the trouble that some undercover work was going on.
"It will probably never be known just how many people took part in the shooting," said the Houston Post. "The younger Brown went out of the court house after emptying his gun and a tall man who cannot now be placed was seen to hand him another gun and also to do some shooting. It is thought that some took a hand in the firing who escaped injury or detection."
The tall man has never been officially identified, but dozens of experts went over the ground after the fight, analyzed every shot, and calculated the angle of the bullets which had imbedded themselves in the walls and window casings. The conclusion arrived at by some of them was that men had been posted in the jury boxes in the towers at the corners of the court room which were reached by a flight of winding stairs and commanded every comer of the place. It may be that there was something to the story.
The roar of the guns echoed from end to end of the little town and the streets were almost instantly full of frantic women. Many a sad scene was enacted that night. Captain Brown's daughter Mary was rehearsing for her wedding, announced for the next day, when they told her that her father was dead.
It was worse at John Pinckney's house when they brought the brothers home to their sister Sue. John did not speak a word after he was hit. Tom was able to make a brief statement. "If I wanted to shoot a man," he said just before he died, "I wouldn't shoot him in the back."
For Miss Sue Pinckney the ruin was complete. Three brothers gone in eight months, including John, her special pride. Her mind must have wandered back to the log house at Field's Store – to Groce Lawrence and her early love – to the books and stories she had written and laid aside – to the beginnings of John's success with which she had had so much to do. Line by line and contour by contour she had forced the unwilling clay of their lives into a mold which should have brought them dignity and honor. And each step she had taken had brought them all closer to this. What bitterness must have been hers as she sat that night between a dead and a dying brother and wished herself back with her loved ones in the log cabin she had been so glad to leave.
Well, it was all over now – all but the last rites and eulogies which seemed so useless and empty. In Washington a session of the House was set aside to commemorate the old Confederate soldier who had taken a modest seat among the mighty. Half a dozen men, including a young Representative named John N. Garner, rose to give the dead man his due. A Congressional delegation appeared at the funeral and was lost in a concourse of mourners whose numbers showed the universal respect in which John Pinckney was held.
None of it was much help to Miss Sue. The dream of her life was dead, and her estate in Utopia had shrunk to a lot in the Hempstead cemetery.
One final blow was reserved for her. While she was in Austin attending the trial of Roland Brown (who was acquitted), who should appear but Mr. Neale the publisher! He wore a frock coat and a top hat and had a bundle of contracts under his arm. In her distress Miss Sue was an easy mark. Without consulting anybody she signed Mr. Neale's papers, hoping to make ten thousand dollars and take her shattered heart abroad. She paid him $2000 to print two more books, two thousand copies all told, and all she got out of the bargain was fifty copies of each of them when they were published in 1906. What happened to the other 1900 volumes (if they were printed at all) nobody knows. Only a few specimens of "In the Southland" and "Darcy Pinckney" got into circulation, and they are hard to find now.
On November 23, 1909, she died in Houston at the home of her niece, Mrs. George Scott, and she rests now in the Hempstead cemetery beside her brothers – as much a victim of the feuding spirit as if she had fallen in the "Courthouse Tragedy" with a bullet in her heart.