Reeves County
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George Robertson Reeves
George Robertson Reeves (1826-1882), legislator and soldier, was born on January 3, 1826, in Hickman County, Tennessee, the fifth child of William Steel and Nancy (Totty) Reeves. The family moved to Crawford County, Arkansas, where, on October 31, 1844 Reeves married Jane Moore. The couple eventually had twelve children. In 1846, he moved to Grayson County, Texas, where eventually he held several county offices. The community that developed around Fort Johnston in Grayson County was called Georgetown in Reeve's honor. He represented the county in the Texas legislature from 1856 to 1858. When the Civil War started,he raised a company for William C. Young's Eleventh Cavalry and later became colonel in command. The unit fought in Indian Territory and at Pea Ridge under Benjamin McCulloch, and at Corinth, Murfreesboro, Chattanooga, Chickamauga, Knoxville, and Tunnel Hill as part of Ross's Texas Brigade. Confederate Camp Reeves, in Grayson County, was named for Reeves. Reeves again served the legislature in 1870, 1875, 1879, and 1881-1882. In his last term, he was speaker of the House. Reeves County, Texas, is named for him. The George R. Reeves Masonic Lodge, in Pottsboro, where he was once Master, is also named in his honor. After being bitten by a rabid dog, Reeves died of hydrophobia on September 5,1882, and is buried in the Georgetown cemetery.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Tom Bomar, Glimpses of Grayson County from the Early Days. (Sherman, Texas, 1894)
Robert Clay Allison
ALLISON, ROBERT CLAY (1840-1887). Clay Allison, gunfighter, the fourth of nine children of John and Nancy (Lemmond) Allison, was born on a farm near Waynesboro, Tennessee, on September 2, 1840. His father, a Presbyterian minister who was also engaged in the cattle and sheep business, died when Clay was five. When the Civil War broke out, Allison joined the Confederate Army. In January 1862 he was discharged for emotional instability resulting from a head injury as a child, but in September he reenlisted and finished the war as a scout for Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. He was a prisoner of war from May 4 to 10, 1865, in Alabama.
After the war Allison moved to the Brazos River country in Texas. At a Red River crossing near Denison he severely pummeled ferryman Zachary Colbert in a fist fight. This incident reportedly started a feud between Allison and the Colbert family that led to the killing of the ferryman's desperado nephew, "Chunk" Colbert, by Allison in New Mexico on January 7, 1874.
Allison soon signed on as a cowhand with Oliver Loving and Charles Goodnightq and was probably among the eighteen herders on the 1866 drive that blazed the Goodnight-Loving Trail. In 1867-69 Allison rode for M. L. Dalton and was trail boss for a partnership between his brother-in-law L. G. Coleman and Irvin W. Lacy. During this time he befriended the John H. Matthews family in Raton and accidentally shot himself in the right foot while he and some companions stampeded a herd of army mules as a prank. In 1870 Coleman and Lacy moved to a spread in Colfax County, New Mexico. Allison drove their herd to the new ranch for a payment of 300 cattle, with which he started his own ranch near Cimarron. Eventually he built it into a lucrative operation.
He is alleged to have had a knife duel with a man named Johnson in a freshly dug grave in 1870. On October 7 of that year he led a mob that broke into the jail in Elizabethtown, near Cimarron, and lynched an accused murderer named Charles Kennedy. Allison was a heavy drinker and became involved in several brawls and shooting sprees. On October 30, 1875, he led a mob that seized and lynched Cruz Vega, who was suspected of murdering a Methodist circuit rider. Two days later Allison killed gunman Pancho Griego, a friend of Vega, in a confrontation at the St. James Hotel in Cimarron. In January 1876 a drunken Allison wrecked the office of the Cimarron News & Press because of a scathing editorial. He allegedly later returned to the newspaper office and paid $200 for damages. In December of that year Clay and his brother John were involved in a dance-hall gunfight at Las Animas, Colorado, in which a deputy sheriff was killed. For this Allison was arrested and charged with manslaughter, but the charges were later dismissed on grounds of self-defense. Allison was arrested as an accessory to the murder of three black soldiers the following spring, but evidence was sketchy and he was soon acquitted. In 1878 he sold his New Mexico ranch and established himself in Hays City, Kansas, as a cattle broker.
In September 1878 Allison and his men supposedly terrorized Dodge City and made Bartholomew (Bat) Masterson and other lawmen flee in fear. Later, Wyatt Earp was said to have pressured Allison into leaving. Though Dodge City peace officers may have questioned him about the shooting of a cowboy named George Hoy, there is no evidence of any serious altercation.
By 1880 Clay and John Allison had settled on Gageby Creek, near its junction with the Washita River, in Hemphill County, Texas, next door to their in-laws, the L. G. Colemans. Clay registered an ACE brand for his cattle. On March 28, 1881, he married Dora McCullough. The couple had two daughters. Though Allison served as a juror in Mobeetie, and though age and marriage had slowed him down some, his reputation as the "Wolf of the Washita" was kept alive by reports of his unusual antics. Once he was said to have ridden nude through the streets of Mobeetie. In the summer of 1886 a dentist from Cheyenne, Wyoming, drilled the wrong one of Allison's teeth, and Allison got even by pulling out one of the dentist's teeth.
In December 1886 he bought a ranch near Pecos and became involved in area politics. On July 3, 1887, while hauling supplies to his ranch from Pecos he was thrown from his heavily loaded wagon and fatally injured when run over by its rear wheel. He was buried in the Pecos Cemetery the next day. On August 28, 1975, in a special ceremony, his remains were reinterred in Pecos Park, just west of the Pecos Museum.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Carl W. Bretham, Great Gunfighters of the West (San Antonio: Naylor, 1962). Norman Cleveland, Colfax County's Chronic Murder Mystery (Santa Fe: Rydal, 1977). J. Frank Dobie, "Clay Allison of the Washita," Frontier Times, February 1943. Chuck Parsons, Clay Allison: Portrait of a Shootist (Seagraves, Texas: Pioneer, 1983). Richard C. Sandoval, "Clay Allison's Cimarron," New Mexico Magazine, March-April 1974. F. Stanley [Stanley F. L. Crocchiola], Clay Allison (Denver: World, 1953).
C. L. Sonnichsen
Madison Lafayette Todd