Monday, November 30, 2015

Regulator-Moderator War

"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 ( 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. 

Wiley College Choir
Recently I traveled to Marshall to present a program on the Regulator-Moderator War. The event was a luncheon fundraiser for the Harrison County Historical Association. I enjoyed talking with a number of old friends and former students. Marshall is the largest city within the Panola College district, and for 36 years I taught Marshall students on the Panola campus, at Marshall High School, and at Panola’s satellite campus in Marshall.

During our meal we were treated to an outstanding performance by the Wiley College Choir. Becky Palmer, Assistant Director for Education of the Harrison County Historical Association, welcomed everyone, handed out several door prizes, and provided me a most gracious introduction.

Becky had asked me to speak on the Regulator-Moderator War, which originated in newly-organized Harrison County late in 1840. I wrote a book on this subject, Regulators vs. Moderators, War in East Texas, which was published in 2006 in conjunction with the East Texas Historical Association. Texas was the site of more blood feuds than any other state or territory, enduring these conflicts for more than 70 years. The Regulator-Moderator War was the first blood feud in Texas, and the most murderous. Thirty-one men were killed during the Regulator-Moderator War, more than in any other blood feud in America. “Only” eight of the 31 victims were slain in Harrison County, but they included Robert Potter, who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence and who served the Republic as secretary of the navy and as senator. Although a controversial, contentious individual, Potter was the most prominent man killed in the Regulator-Moderator War. But Sheriff John B. Campbell also was gunned down, and so were Peter Whetstone, founder of Marshall, and Judge John Hansford, who was assassinated by a Regulator posse in front of his wife.
With Bill Offer

When the conflict climaxed in Shelby County in 1844, more than 100 Harrison County men rode in to reinforce the Regulators around Shelbyville. There also were Harrison County reinforcements for the Moderators. During the final maneuvers in Shelby County, there were approximately 200 Regulators aligned against 100 Moderators. President Sam Houston and 600 members of the Texas militia finally dispersed the Regulator and Moderator forces in 1844, although vendetta killings common to blood feuds occasionally occurred during the next few years. The program was well received, and I was interviewed on the spot by Fran Hurley of KMHT Radio in Marshall.

With members of the Panola College Texas history class
Two weeks later I was in a classroom on the Panola College campus lecturing on the Regulator-Moderator War. Bill Offer, chair of the history department and a retired Shreveport police captain, had invited me to talk to his Texas history class about the murderous feud that was fought in our back yard. I explained to the students that Shelby and Harrison counties were backwoods areas with small populations, while the region in between was so sparsely populated that it was classified as “Panola District.” It was a pleasure for me to address a Panola College Texas history class.

Receiving a T-shirt from Callie Wright, President of the
Panola College History Club
With Carson Joines
The next week I was back on campus to provide a program for the Carthage Rotary Club. All three of our service clubs – Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis – now hold their meetings in the new Panola College Student Services Building, with meals prepared by the dining staff. I was asked to speak by longtime former mayor Carson Joines, a Beaumont native and army veteran who came to Carthage in 1948 as a charter student of Panola County Junior College. Carson had a football scholarship for the original Panola Ponies, and he settled permanently in Carthage. I was pleased to meet with Carson and the other men and women of the Rotary Club. It was Friday, November 20, so I talked about the background of Thanksgiving, featuring the Texas Thanksgiving held near El Paso del Norte in 1598 – 23 years before the first Pilgrim Thanksgiving of 1621!

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