The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000 Page: 528
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
state archives to find the facts behind the legend, and numerous illustrations
add to the enjoyable reading experience.
Miller's scholarly work has contributed greatly to the body of knowledge con-
cerning Texas outlaw Sam Bass in a factual, analytical work that retains the
essence and appeal of a good story.
Houston JOHN C. FERGUSON
A Half Century of Violence in Texas: The Bloody Legacy of Pznk Higgins. By Bill
O'Neal. (Austin: Eakin Press, 1999. Pp. v+176. Acknowledgments, end-
notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 1-57168-30o4-6. $18.95, paper.)
"Pink" Higgins was the embodiment of the violence that permeated West
Texas in the last half of the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries.
Raised on the frontier (eighty-five miles east of loo degrees longitude west, the
geographic dividing line between east and west), Pink and his family had to
protect themselves against marauding Indians, "bandzdos," (p. 8) as well as live-
Absent law enforcement on the frontier, the ethic of Lampasas County,
Texas, the focus of the story, justified protection of property and person
through '"justifiable homicide" as part of frontier life. Coupled to this notion
of justice, Higgins embodied "the classic fighting Irishman" (p. 6).
Pink died of natural causes at the age of sixty-two but his legacy of violence
haunted those of his blood as well as those whom they married. It was as though
the sins of Pink were to curse his progeny. Long-lived feuds seem as much a part
of Texas history as Appalachia.
O'Neal traces law and order, such as it was, on the frontier from the federal
army's patrols prior to 1861 through attempts at law enforcement after the Civil
War. Well deserved respect is given to the Texas Rangers, especially their
Frontier Battalion under Maj. John B. Jones. Homage is paid Jones for his nego-
tiations to end the Horrell-Higgins feud.
Following the feud, Higgins's life as a rancher and a stock detective is chroni-
The violence and deaths that were visited upon his descendants and their
spouses and relatives gives the reader the notion of some invisible force visiting
tragedy on a family whose patriarch visited tragedy on those around him. This
book also treats us to a Texas custom of a sitting judge also acting as a defense
attorney in another courtroom.
According to O'Neal, the Irish, in addition to being combative as a group and
having an affinity for horses, are "natural storytellers" (p. 6). O'Neal must be
Irish for this is a great story. Numerous statements are documented, many are
not. Sincere historians are likely to question the veracity of quotes as well as
many "facts" not generally known without proper documentation.
O'Neal's statement of Gov. E. J. Davis's election as "obviously fraudulent," (p.
29) without documentation is inexcusable.
While many of the anecdotes, "Cool Hand Pink" (p. 6o), "Snake-bit" (p. 92),
and "Sheriffs" (p. 161) are interesting, they are the stuff of storytelling and
detract from the main theme as presented.
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000, periodical, 2000; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101220/m1/584/: accessed July 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.