The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 51, July 1947 - April, 1948 Page: 8
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
oaks, and Ed fired at one of the cutters with an old shotgun.
The two defenders took to their heels as shots were returned
by the intruders, who, however, made a quick retreat, stopping
two miles off to abandon to the wolves and wild hogs a horse
that had died from a wound caused by Ed Featherston's shot.
The rider, who had been snipping wire for pay, decided he had
had enough of fence-cutting.21
Bands of fence-cutters often gave themselves such names as
Owls, Javelinas, or Blue Devils.22 When their warnings against
restringing the wire were disregarded, they usually took it down
again and destroyed the posts. A Castroville farmer found on his
fence a card with a bullet hole through it and this threat: "If you
don't make gates, we will make them for you." In Hamilton
County fifteen men, after snipping the barbed wire from a pas-
ture, left a picture of a coffin and a note saying they were deter-
mined to have free grass and free water, even at the risk of their
In a similar instance, an Albany paper reported the nailing
of a coffin to one of the posts of a cut fence.28 Wire-cutters in
Live Oak County, after destroying a fence, took time to dig a
grave, dangle a rope in it, and leave a sign that said: "This will
be your end if you rebuild this fence." Some of the cutters
tried to justify their course in unsigned letters and doggerel sent
to local newspapers. At Brownwood nearly two scores of fence-
cutters brazenly took possession of the courthouse for one day.
Fence-cutting was reported in more than half the Texas coun-
ties. It was especially common in a wide belt extending north
and south through the center of the state. This was the frontier
where farmers and settled ranchmen were pushing the landless
cowmen westward. Local officers did little to halt the cutting;
at Victoria a pasture within three blocks of the courthouse was
cut in fourteen places one night. The Texas Rangers did better
but were not numerous enough to cover the trouble spots; at
Waelder, in Gonzales County, a few Rangers disarmed a large
21lGalveston News, January 15, 1884; Edward Baxter Featherston, A Pioneer
Speaks (Dallas, 1940), 73-89.
22Fort Worth Gazette, August 11, December o2, 1883; Albany Echo, August 18,
23Albany Star, December 2, 1883.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 51, July 1947 - April, 1948, periodical, 1948; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101119/m1/26/: accessed April 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.