Texas Feuds: Reese vs. Townsend, 1898-1907

The Reeses and the Townsends got crossways over politics.

U.S. Senator Mark Townsend, the Boss Tweed of Columbus, Texas, withdrew his support from incumbent sheriff Sam Reese and threw his considerable political clout behind Reese’s former deputy, Larkin Hope, instead. When Hope ended up on the wrong end of a broad daylight assassination in downtown Columbus, Reese was the most likely suspect, though no evidence surfaced.

Townsend’s handpicked replacement still defeated Reese in the election.

Perturbed by the unanticipated turn of events, Reese picked a gunfight with a Townsend supporter, thereby moving out of politics and into a casket. The former sheriff’s family vowed to avenge him, provoking five shootouts in Columbus over the following six years. Four combatants died, including Sam Reese’s brother, Dick.

Body count: six.

(Image: A plantation house in Columbus, Texas, ca. 1840)

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