"Lone Star Historian 2" is a blog about the travels and activities of the State Historian of Texas during his second year. Bill O'Neal was appointed to a two-year term by Gov. Rick Perry on August 22, 2012, at an impressive ceremony in the State Capitol. Bill is headquartered at Panola College (www.panola.edu) in Carthage, where he has taught since 1970. For more than 20 years Bill conducted the state's first Traveling Texas History class, a three-hour credit course which featured a 2,100-mile itinerary. In 2000 he was awarded a Piper Professorship, and in 2012 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wild West Historical Association. Bill has published over 40 books, almost half about Texas history subjects, and in 2007 he was named Best Living Non-Fiction Writer by True West Magazine. In 2013 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by his alma mater, Texas A&M University - Commerce.
|From a visit in the mid-1950s: in front, Mike O'Neal and Andy.|
L to R: W.C. O'Neal, Bill, Uncle Mark (with Stetson), Judy,
Jessie O'Neal, Buddy Feild, Aunt LaVerne, Stan Feild
|Ranch house, built in 1910, after the 19th century house burned|
I was in my late teens when Aunt LaVerne told me the story of an 1889 ranch shootout between an ill-tempered cowboy and Uncle Mark’s grandfather, Andy Feild. The out-of-work cowboy wore a gun rig, but he persuaded Andy to hire him as a sheepherder. Within a few days it became obvious that the cowboy was neglecting his duties. After the second time a neighbor complained that Feild sheep were grazing his pasture, Andy fired the cowboy. Feild added that he could stay the night in his shed room off the kitchen, but must leave the ranch following breakfast. The discharged hand took the news with ominous silence.
|Aerial view showing outbuildings and at right, |
brick house which replaced the 1910 home
The next morning Feild was dressing when his wife came to tell him of sounds, like the clicking of a revolver, that she had heard from the shed room while she was preparing the morning meal. Feild pulled out a .41-caliber revolver he rarely wore, stuck it in his waistband, then went to the pen to mend harness before breakfast. His nine-year-old son Albert (Uncle Mark’s future father) tagged along. The disgruntled cowboy wolfed down his food, then rode his horse to the pen. He dismounted and tossed his reins over the low fence.
“You son-of-a-bitch,” he spat out, “you’ve fired your last man!”
He jerked out his handgun and snapped off a shot. The slug missed, and Feild whirled around, gun in hand. Feild charged, firing rapidly, and hit the cowboy in the elbow and chest. The man fled on foot, already in shock from his wounds and surprised that Feild was armed. Feild triggered another bullet which caught him between the eyes and hurled him to the ground.
|The .41 Colt used in the 1889 killing|
|Andy and his son Tom|
|Inside the house, Andy is standing beside the old wall|
phone that was in the hall of the 1910 house.
|With Andy in front of one of the barns|