James Huckins

James Huckins was an early Texas minister. He was born in New Hampshire in 1807. When he was only six years old, both his parents died of an undisclosed illness, leaving James and and a younger sister as orphans. James was taken in by a family but the relationship did not last too long. While still a youth, Huckins felt a calling to be a Christian minister of the Gospel. He surrendered to the ministry, after which he was “thrown out of” his foster home before being taken in by other Christian friends. He received his education on the east coast, studying at a Baptist preparatory school, Brown University and Andover Theological Seminary.

After his graduation in 1832, Huckins married the former Rhoda Carver Barton and the couple began to raise their family. James was ordained as a Baptist minister and served in several churches in Massachusetts and Maine. Around 1838, he accepted a position to serve as agent for the American Baptist Home Mission Society.

In the 1830s, a group of people including Judge James R. Jenkins, Reverend Anderson Buffington and H. R. Cartwell of Washington County, Texas were directed to contact various Baptist mission boards to solicit a request for them to send missionaries to Texas. Accounts of that period point out that Texas was still a republic and that the requests were sent to organizations in the “United States.” One of the first missionaries was James Huckins who was sent to the Galveston area in 1840. Huckins set out first by himself and sailed on a steamer called the Neptune from New Orleans to Galveston. His family was to join him later. One account says that he considered not getting off the boat and returning to his home, but fortunately, he disembarked.

There he helped to organize the First Baptist Church of Galveston in January, 1840. He remained in the area for a number of years and is noted for having also helped to organize the Union Baptist Association and First Baptist Church of Houston in 1841. Huckins is also credited with helping to organize the Texas Baptist Home Mission Society and the Texas Baptist Educational Society. At some point, his relationship with the Northern Baptists was severed over the issue of slavery.

Huckins wrote a letter to his mentor and friend Dr. Jesse Mercer in February, 1840. In his letter, he told of the early days of Galveston. He described the island as being thirty miles long and two to four miles wide. Huckins said that the city had six hundred residences at that time, all but one of which were constructed within the last three years. The population at that time was about three thousand. Ships of various kinds lined the wharves and business was flourishing, even by then. Galveston already had a Presbyterian Church and Huckins sought out fellow Baptists living there for the purpose of organizing a congregation of Baptists. Huckins went on to describe the first immersion baptism in his letter to Mercer.(1)

The church in Galveston began with nine members, including Mr. and Mrs. Gail Borden, Jr. Mrs. Borden was the former Penelope Mercer, a niece of Dr. Jesse Mercer. Thomas H. Borden, a brother of Gail Borden, was also one of the early church members. The group met wherever locations could be secured, including school houses, court rooms and Lyceum Hall. Built by the First Evangelical Lutheran Church and completed in 1845, Lyceum Hall still stands today at 2401 Winnie Street in Galveston. The historic structure has survived the various hurricanes and tropical storms that have struck the area, including the 1900 Galveston Hurricane. It is currently used as a reception/meeting/wedding venue.

First Baptist Church of Galveston is also said to have given rise to a traditionally Black congregation known as the Avenue L Missionary Baptist Church. It has a long and well documented history. Its date of origin is also considered to be 1840 and its early membership is believed to have been comprised of slaves, former slaves and their families. Its original church building was completely destroyed by the 1900 Galveston Hurricane. It is one of the oldest Black congregations in Texas and is still in existence today. It has been a benefit to the community and its membership for over 180 years.

Huckins is also named as assisting R. E. B. Baylor and William Tryon, once a fellow missionary, to obtain the charter for Baylor University. Huckins served as a trustee of the newly formed university for about five years and is considered a co-founder of the school. Huckins also served as agent for the school, soliciting operating funds for its use. Huckins was aware of the need to honor donor restrictions, if any, and for the university to exercise fiduciary responsibility over the funds that were donated.(2)

Of Huckins and his service to Baylor, this tribute has been written: “Dr. Huckins was a fine scholar, an eloquent preacher, a happy extemporaneous speaker and a man of tireless energy. He possessed much personal magnetism, dauntless courage, and was very resolute in purpose. All these qualities fitted him for the position of general financial agent of the school, above almost any man, whose services could have been secured.”(2)

In 1845, Huckins left Galveston on a trip that took him about one year to solicit funds for a Baptist church building. He left in July of that year and returned in July 1846. He was able to raise $2,633. The congregation used these funds to build a building at 22nd and I which was completed in September of 1847.(1)

In the mid 1850s, Galveston suffered though a yellow fever epidemic and Huckins is noted for having ministered to the sick and dying in the area on behalf of Texas Baptists and the Howard Association, a benevolent organization.

Huckins and his family left Texas in 1859 to accept a pastorate at the Wentworth Street Baptist Church in Charleston, South Carolina. He served there until his death. With the outset of the Civil War, he began to minister to the Confederate sick and wounded from the conflict. In 1863, he became a chaplain in the Confederate Army. Huckins is said to have written about various battles in the war, including the Confederate assault and capture of Fort Sumter and the battle for Fort McGuire. He also is said to have provided information and news of their dead and wounded to the families of those he came in contact with. Huckins tirelessly served the sick and wounded and as the war progressed, their numbers increased. He began to lose his eyesight and his overall own personal health began to fail. Huckins died on August 8, 1863 after a number of all night efforts. He is buried in Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, South Carolina. His wife Rhoda died ten years later and is buried in Galveston’s Trinity Episcopal Cemetery along with two of their daughters, Caroline and Sarah.

Sources: Unless otherwise indicated, much of the source material for this article was generously provided by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary of Fort Worth, Texas. We express our deep gratitude to Southwestern Seminary for sharing this information with us.

(1) “A Texas Baptist History Sourcebook: A Companion to McBeth’s Texas Baptists,” Joseph E. Early, Jr., 1984.

(2) “The Life and Writings of Rufus C. Burleson: Containing a Biography of Dr. Burleson by Harry Haynes; Funeral Occasion, with Sermons, Etc; Selected “chapel Talks;” Dr. Burleson as a Preacher, with Selected Sermons,” Rufus Columbus Burleson, Harry Haynes, Georgia Jenkins Burleson, 1901.

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Booger Red

Booger Red was the nickname given to Samuel T. Privett (1864 – 1924). Privett was a well known bronc rider in his day. A newspaper clipping from the Whitewright Sun of September 26, 1946 refers to a five page article by Tom Mulvaney called “Booger Red’s Last Ride” in a 1944 issue of the Southwest Review about the old cowboy.

The newspaper article begins by describing a day 1924 at what was then known as the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show. The rodeo was under way and numerous riders had been had been thrown when someone in the crowd yelled “Give us Booger Red!” The old cowboy happened to be in the arena and was carried down to the chutes, after which he mounted and rode a bronc that had just thrown a rider earlier. According to the story, Booger Red rode the horse to the cheers of the crowd.

The newspaper article went on to give some background on the cowboy. He had been born on a ranch in Texas and began riding heifers when he was 10. He had red hair and got his other nickname from an incident a few years later. Around Christmas in 1877, Red and a pal had filled a hollow tree stump with gunpowder, planning to set it off. The powder ignited prematurely, injuring Red. Another boy remarked that Red was a “booger” referring to his being badly injured, “all boogered up,” but surviving the accident and the nickname stuck. He is said to have borne the facial scars from the accident for the rest of his life.

His parents were Samuel D. and Sarah Hill Privett. The article said that both his parents had passed away by the time he was fifteen. At this point, their dates of death and burial places are unknown, but Red began to support himself by working horses, exhibiting a talent for breaking wild broncs. The article added that he once got a job breaking horses for the Government. He was short in stature, standing only five feet four inches tall and the one who hired him offered him a choice between taking a monthly salary or getting one dollar for each horse he broke. His first day on the job, he broke 83 horses and was put on a salary the following day.

He was said to never have used alcohol nor gambled, except to wager on his own ability to ride a horse. The article said that he once won a $10 bet that he could sit backwards on a bronc and still ride it. His ability was described as sticking to the back of a horse “like a cuckleburr on a sheep” or “like a tick on a longhorn.”

He married the former Mollie Webb in 1895 in Bronte, Coke County, Texas. For a while, the couple lived in the San Angelo area where they owned and operated a wagon yard and horse trading post. During their married life the couple had a number of children, some of whom followed in their footsteps.

For many years, Red rode a horse named Montana Gyp, which he owned for over twenty years. Not surprisingly, Red acquired the horse after a wager. A man from Montana had brought a wild horse to where Red was appearing. The legend continues that not only did Red ride the horse, he used his winnings to buy the bronc from the man. The horse stayed wild to the end, but according to his family, Red was never thrown by Gyp.

During that period, he did some riding in Wild West shows and even started his own show called “Booger Red’s Wild West Show” in which Mollie and some of their children appeared. His show went on the road and a typical place they might set up and perform was the town’s baseball field. Mollie was known to be an expert rider on her own. Red was said to have allowed kids attend for free if they would promise to pay him back the next time the show came to town. They would travel from town to town and at its peak, the entourage included some thirty-two wagons, twenty-two bucking horses and a number of other performers in addition to the family. The show ran for roughly twenty years beginning around 1901.

Image credit: Baxter Daily Citizen, Baxter Springs, Kansas, October 20, 1919

Several of their children rode in the show. A daughter, Ella Privett Linton went on to be a performer on her own. Her husband Hank was once a performer in the show. He showed a great talent for the lariat and was said to be able to twirl as many as three ropes at a time. In true cowboy fashion, they were said to have been married on horseback outside a Baptist church in Texas. The couple went on to have a performance career of their own until they retired to live in Kansas.

Red continued to ride bucking broncs and win wagers on his ability to ride them. It was estimated in the article that he might have ridden as many as 25,000 broncs in his lifetime. Other accounts set the number as high as 40,000. After he sold his own show to the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch out of Oklahoma, he continued to appear in other shows and circuses including, the article said, the Al G. Barnes troupe, Hagenbeck-Wallace and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. He and other family members also appeared in various fairs and exhibitions over the years.

Hearing or reading a story repeated many times is of course no guarantee that it is the gospel truth, but Red is mentioned as being the person who discovered bulldogger Bill Pickett.

Red and Mollie finally settled down to live on a ranch near Miami, Oklahoma in 1917 where they would live until Red’s death from Bright’s Disease, a kidney ailment, in 1924, the year of his appearance at the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show. Even though he may have been ill at the time, he still rode the bronc. He died soon after that event, at the age of fifty-nine. Red is buried in the Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery in Miami, Ottawa County, Oklahoma. Mollie survived him another twenty-five years and is buried at Fairview Cemetery, San Angelo, Tom Green County, Texas.

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Lee-Peacock Feud

The Civil War officially ended on April 9, 1865 with the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, Virginia, but certain groups and individuals in the United States continued to commit hostilities beyond that date. One such conflict became known as the Lee-Peacock Feud in Texas, and it occurred roughly where Fannin, Grayson, Collins, and Hunt counties converge.

Allies of the Lee family had once included the Borens. Daniel Lee was one of the senior members of the Lee family and Robert J. “Bob” Lee was his son. Before the war, the Boren and Lee families appear to have been friends. Henry Boren was one of the older members of the Boren family during this period. When the war broke out some years earlier, Bob Lee joined the Confederate Army, enlisting in the 9th Texas Cavalry, whereas the Borens were generally considered to be Unionists. This essentially ended the friendship of many in the Lee and Boren families.

Following the official end of the war, the Union League established itself in Pilot Grove, in North Texas. The Texas State Library describes the Union League as follows, “The Union League, organized in 1863 in the North to support the policies of President Lincoln, established its first local council in Texas in 1865. A secret organization, it was primarily a political association. Members were to support only Republicans for public office. The League also mobilized African-American voters. Many African-American legislators were at one time associated with the League. …. Due to in-fighting and to increasing suppression after Democrat Governor Coke’s election in 1873, the League faded as a viable political force.” The leader of the association in Pilot Grove was Lewis Peacock, who had come to Texas in 1856 and the headquarters of the organization was roughly seven miles from the home of the Lee family.

Unlike some Confederate veterans, Bob Lee had returned from the war with the appearance of wealth, an aura of success and something of a loyal local following. His wartime rank had been captain. There was also a local legend that the Lee family had accumulated a fortune in gold and brought it with them from Virginia when they originally came to North Texas. The rumors of a fortune and possible buried treasure may have played a part in the feud. No treasure has ever been found, but the stories have persisted for more than 100 years.

According to old newspaper articles, the Peacock group took an interest in Lee and decided to make him a target. Dressed in blue uniforms, though they were not Army soldiers, Peacock and some associates once came to Lee’s house, “arrested” him and headed towards Sherman with him, reportedly to see to it that that he was tried for “war crimes.” They stopped at a place called Choctaw Creek bottoms and took his watch, $200 in gold and prepared a document whereby the Lees would pay a $2,000 ransom for him to be freed. As part of the agreement, Lee was also to leave the area. Lee was eventually released but the $2,000 was never paid. Lee later identified at least three of his captors as Lewis Peacock, Israel Boren and one other man named Madison. Lee was said to have brought a civil suit in Fannin County against his captors. though the litigation may have not ever gone to trial given the post-war Reconstruction legal system.

The Peacock faction continued their harassment and pursuit of Lee for the next couple of years, 1867 to 1869. In 1867 they were able to persuade Army General J. J. Reynolds to issue a $1,000 reward for Lee’s delivery to the Post Commanders of either Austin or Marshall, Texas. Lee was able to evade his opponents for a while but one day in February, 1867 he was allegedly shot from behind by a Peacock follower named Maddox at Pilot Grove, a community formerly known as Lick Skillet. Lee was treated by a Dr. William Pearce who was later shot and killed by an alleged Peacock associate. Fatal skirmishes continued between Lee and Peacock followers and also included individuals looking to collect on the $1,000 government reward. At least three bounty hunters were killed pursuing Bob Lee. The Peacock faction was unsuccessful in capturing Lee until May, 1869 when on a suspected tip from one of the Borens, Lee was shot and killed by Federal troops while he was hiding in a place known as Wildcat Thicket. A nephew of Henry Boren but loyal to Lee is suspected of later having retaliated by going to the Boren home and killing his uncle.

There are many more side stories to this feud that involve other Texas families. Casualties are said to have numbered over 50 fatalities. After Lee was killed, there was more loss of life, but the conflict seems to have begun to subside with Lee’s death and Peacock’s death before finally ending with the political changes that marked the end of the Reconstruction era.

Around 1966, a historical marker was placed in Pilot Grove to commemorate the conflict. The text of the marker is as follows: “Founded in early 1850s. On Bonham-McKinney Stage Line. Called Lick Skillet; renamed, 1858, for J. P. Dumas’ Ranch. Site of Lee-Peacock feud, 1865-1871, between ex-Confederate Capt. Bob Lee with his gold and Union supporter Lewis Peacock. Although Lee was killed in 1865, his followers carried on the fight until Peacock was shot.” (Image and text credit: http://www.waymarking.com)

Ordinarily, Texas historical markers tend to be fairly accurate. One difference in this one is the year given for Bob Lee’s death. It is shown as 1865, which is at variance with later information that tends to support that his death occurred in 1869.

Lewis Peacock (1824 or 1829 to 1871) was shot and killed at his home in 1871. He is buried in Old Pilot Grove Cemetery in Grayson County. Bob Lee (1835 to 1871) is buried in Lee Cemetery in Hunt County. Henry Boren (1828 to 1869) is buried in Old Richards Cemetery in Collin County. Israel Boren (1817 to 1895) is also buried in Old Richards Cemetery in Collin County.

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W. E. King, Publisher and Editor

William Elisha King was the publisher of the Dallas Express, an African American newspaper that existed for many years out of Dallas, Texas. Mr. King was a pioneer in this field and the Dallas Express is considered to be the first publication of note to serve the African American community of Texas.

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Sergeant Reckless

About five miles south of the Fort Worth Stockyards in the Cultural District is a statue that was placed in the Alice Walton Cowgirl Park in 2019. The park is adjacent to the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and is named for Walton, a longtime benefactor of the Hall of Fame. One of the newest additions to the area is a statue of a horse bearing a load on its back, carrying it up a hill. This was a statue of the American warhorse named Sergeant Reckless who distinguished herself in the Korean Conflict in the 1950s.

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