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Lee-Peacock Feud - Civil War
Continues in Northeast Texas
of the best known of all the feuds in
was the Lee-Peacock Feud. Taking place in northeast
this was not simply a feud between families, but was a continuation of the war
that would last for four bloody years after the rest of the nation had laid down
feud played out in the Corners region of northeast
where Grayson, Fannin, Hunt, and Collin Counties converged in an area known as
the "Wildcat Thicket.” This thicket, covering many square miles, was so dense
with trees, tall grass, briar brush and thorn vines, that few people had even ventured into it until the
when it became a haven for army deserters and outlaws.
It was in the northern part of this thicket
that Daniel W. Lee had built his home and raised his son, Bob Lee, who would
become one of the leaders in the feud that was to come.
broke out, Bob Lee, though by that time married with three children, quickly
joined the Confederate Army, serving with the Ninth
Cavalry. Other young men in the area, including the Maddox brothers – John,
William and Francis; their cousin Jim Maddox, and several of the Boren boys,
also joined the Ninth.
Towards the end of the war, he began to hear
that his home ground had become troublesome, as the Union League, an
organization that worked for the protection of the blacks and Union
sympathizers, had set up its North
headquarters at Pilot Grove, just about seven miles away from the Lee family
At the helm of the Union League was a man
named Lewis Peacock, who had arrived in
in 1856 and lived just south of Pilot Grove. Though Union sympathizers were
mostly persecuted and made outcasts by the predominately Confederate residents
during the war, things began to change as Union forces began to put down the
Confederates toward the war’s end. By the end of the war the Union League had
grown stronger and afterwards, Federal Troops were sent to
to aid in reconstruction efforts.
By the time the
Confederate soldiers returned to their homes in northeast
the area was already rife with conflict. Whether they owned slaves or not, most
area residents resented the intrusion of Reconstruction ideals and new laws.
When Bob Lee returned home, he was seen as a natural leader for the "Civil War”
that was still being fought in northeast
To Peacock, however, he saw Lee as a threat
to his cause and to reconstruction itself. To circumvent this, the Union League
conceived of the idea to extort money from Lee. Peacock and his cohorts arrived
at Lee’s house one night and "arrested” him, allegedly for crimes that he had
committed during the
Lee would later say that he recognized the men as Lewis Peacock, James Maddox,
Bill Smith, Sam Bier, Hardy Dial, Doc Wilson, and Israel Boren. Stating to Lee
that he was to be taken into Sherman, they instead stopped in Choctaw Creek
bottoms, where they took Lee’s watch, a $20 gold coin, and forced him to sign a
promissory note for $2,000. The Lee’s; however, refused to pay the note, brining
suit in Bonham,
and winning the case. This was the start of an all out war, know as the
Both men gathered their friends and
sympathizers and from 1867 through June, 1869, a second "Civil War"
raged in northeast
with an estimated 50 men losing their lives. By the summer of 1868, it had
become so heated that the Union League requested help from the Federal
Government, to which General J.J. Reynolds posted a reward of $1,000 for the
capture of Bob Lee.
In late February, 1867, Bob Lee was in a
store in Pilot Grove when he ran across Jim Maddox, one of the men who had
kidnapped him. Confronting Maddox, Lee offered Maddox a gun so they could fight.
However; when Lee turned around to walk away, a bullet grazed his ear and head
and he fell to the ground unconscious. Lee was taken to Dr. William H. Pierce,
who treated him in his home.
A report went to Austin to the Headquarters
of the Fifth Military District under command of General John J. Reynolds, and
the following entry was made in his ledger:
"Murder and Assaults with Intent to Kill", listed as criminals were James Maddox
and John Vaught, listed as injured was Robert Lee. The charge: "Assault with
intent to murder." The result: "Set aside by the Military".
A few days later, on February 24, 1867,
while Lee was still, convalescing in Pierce's home, the doctor was shot to death
by Hugh Hudson, a known Peacock man. Lee swore to avenge the Pierce’s death and
as word spread to both sides of the conflict, neighbors in the thickets of Four
Corners began to arm themselves.
Hugh Hudson, the doctor’s killer was later
shot at Saltillo, a teamster's stop on the road to Jefferson. The feud had begun
in full force. In 1868, Lige Clark, Billy Dixon, Dow Nance, Dan Sanders, Elijah
Clark, and John Baldock were killed and many others wounded. Even Peacock
suffered a wound at the hands of Lee's followers.
On August 27, 1868, General J. J. Reynolds
issued the $1,000 reward for Bob Lee, dead or alive, an act that attracted
bounty hunters from all over the country to the "Four Corners.” Three of these
men, union sympathizers from Kansas, converged on the area in the early spring
of 1869 to try to capture Lee. Instead, all three were found dead in the road.
Bob Lee, in the meantime, had set up a hideout in the "Wildcat Thicket.”
General J. J. Reynolds responded by
dispatching the Fourth United States Cavalry to search for Lee and attempt to
settle the trouble in the area. As they began a search from house to house for
Lee, in which several gun battles ensued and several men were killed. In the
end, one of Bob Lee’s "supporters,” a man named Henry Boren, betrayed him to the
cavalry who shot down Lee on May 24, 1869. Later, Boren would be shot down by
his own nephew, Bill Boren, who was obviously a Lee supporter and felt that a
"traitor” had to be put to death. After he killed his uncle, Bill Boren left the
area and began to ride with John Wesley Hardin.
authorities had hoped, the killing of Lee began to dissolve the two heated
factions, as many of them scattered to other parts of the state. However, though
their numbers were decreased, the "war” would continue for two more years as
more men were killed in both the four-corners region and other parts of the
state. It wouldn’t be until Lewis Peacock himself was shot on June 13, 1871,
that the feud truly ended.
of America, updated October 2012
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