LAW AND LAWLESSNESS ON THE
W. C. HOLDEN
On July 25, 1879, a mass meeting was in progress in Albany,
county seat of Shackelford County, Texas. After two hours
of speech-making the following resolution was approved:
"Resolved, That it is the sense of this meeting that
it would be improper and impolitic to petition the
governor to proclaim Shackelford County no longer a
frontier county, and to enforce the statute against the
carrying of side arms in said county."'
The vote was 46 in favor and none against the resolution.
The ballot represented the opinion of the stable, law-respecting
element of the region. Shackelford County had her share of
shady characters, but they were not at the meeting. Why then,
we may ask, was the mass meeting unanimously of the opinion
that the time had not come when law-abiding citizens could
lay aside their guns? The answer is to be found in the files
of a number of frontier newspapers. Frontier editors of the
70's and 80's were a hardy race with reckless disdain for libel
laws. The picture they give us of the period is vivid, colorful,
and fairly accurate.
Editor Robson of the Frontier Echo, after taking cognizance
of the reputation Texas had at the time of being "a paradise
for evil-doers," attempted to explain what he thought were the
reasons for the indictment:
"Texas . . . is comparatively young and sparsely
settled, and her sons were raised to pastoral pursuits
which exposed them to frequent raids by hostile In-
dians and thieving Mexicans. This necessitated the
carrying of weapons. This practice has made our peo-
ple familiar with the use of deadly weapons. The law
'Fort Griffin Echo, July 26, 1879.
t 188 ]
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 44, July 1940 - April, 1941. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146052/. Accessed December 17, 2014.