Although most of the violence took place on Oklahoma land belonging the Creek Nation, an attempt to rob a former Texas Ranger started the fight. After the former Ranger killed would-be robber Thomas Brooks, family patriarch Willis Brooks accused neighbor Jim McFarland of planning the unsuccessful crime and then tipping off the Ranger.
Not disposed to sit idly by and watch the family name besmirched, the McFarlands lined up behind Jim and faced off with the Brooks clan. Both sides vowed to shoot members of the other on sight.
The conflict came to a head in a Spokogee, Oklahoma, gunfight in September 1902, when Willis Brooks and his son Clifton were killed along with a McFarland family ally. The survivors were arrested, but allowing them to make bail may have been a mistake: One month later, Jim McFarland died in an ambush at his home.
McFarland’s death put an end to the feud.
Image: Days on the Range (“Hands Up!”) by Frederic Remington, ca. 1900