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Last Updated: Tuesday, August 4, 2009

This file contains articles gleaned from area newspapers and for 1960's.

Submitted by Author's granddaughter

Shoot-out On Christmas Day

Luckett P. Bishop

Frontier Times July 1964 vol. 33. No.4, New Series No. 36

It was a day of violence- that Christmas of 1883 at McDade. Homes were

decorated with the traditional boughs of green-but the streets ran red with

blood. Luckett P Bishop

>From 1863 to 1883, lawlessness prevailed in Bastrop, Williamson and Lee

Counties in Texas, especially in the area where the three counties join.

Bastrop County points into Williamson and Lee like a Comanche Indian's

arrowhead. It was in and around this location that the Notch-Cutters plied

their trade.

My sole motive in relating this story is to correct existing published

versions of one of the bloodiest street-gun fights that ever occurred in

Texas. The odds were six to two.

It took place in McDade, in Bastrop County, about 10:30 on Christmas

morning, 1883. It was held in true Yegua Notch-Cutter's fashion-that of

heavy odds by obtaining fixed positions, all within Colt. 45 pistol range,

pre-arranged and executed according to plan.

Yet the plan failed! In this open street fight the two men they had marked

for death escaped without a single scratch. Some thirty-five to forty-five

shots were exchanged. When the gunsmoke had cleared away, two men lay dead

in the street, and four were wounded (one was to die the next day). My

father Thomas P Bishop, and his personal benefactor and true friend, George

Milton, had rung down the final curtain on outlawry in the McDade area.

Eighty years have passed and you might ask, "Why write this story?" Well,

as each Christmas season approaches, a new version is related. It is

always different.

Bishop and Milton children are still alive today, some in Bastrop, McDade,

San Antonio and Beaumont, Texas. These children know the true facts.

While we are proud people we do not glorify gunplay and bloodshed. Not a

single shot ever fired by Thomas P. Bishop or George Milton at any one of

the six men involved, prior to the final showdown. Since the McDade fight,

not a single shot has been fired at any of the families of those who were

involved. Et the sons of those who were killed and wounded and the sons of

the Bishops and Miltons have resided and still do reside in Bastrop County.

No feud has ever existed between the Bishops and Miltons and the Goodmans,

Hasleys, Stephens, and three Beatty brothers (Jack, Haywood and Asbury).

Then why the gunfight? This is a good question and of all the newspapers

that published the story, not a single one raised this point. It was not

asked at the trial.

It was said that a week before the showdown, Bishop and Asbury Beatty

almost had a gunfight, but friends averted it. The facts are, the writers

and reporters did not know the true story. They published information

taken from persons who did not know, or were not in McDade, Texas, that

Christmas morning when guns were being shot and hot lead was flying through

the air. Their reports were based mostly on hearsay.

The question always arises as to why life was so cheap in Texas. My

contention is that conditions-the environment and hardships with which the

early settlers of Texas and Bastrop County had to contend-were the primary

reasons. Our grandparents and great-grandparents paid a heavy toll of life

for the peace and security that we enjoy today. Our early settlers had

to learn the lesson of "survival", which is the first law of nature, be it

to man or beast.

Santa Anna never forgot the part played by the citizens of Bastrop in the

revolution against Mexico. Accordingly, in his pursuit of the Texas Army

he sent one column of troops to Bastrop to wreak vengeance on its

inhabitants. The town was partly burned and the women and children driven

away. This was a part of the "runaway scrape". The survivors never forgot

that while one hand guided the plow, the other might be forced to handle

the rifle and pistol to protect life and property.

In and around these hills starts Yegua Creek. Indians infested its

thickets. Records of the land grants made to families in June 1831, in the

Department of Brazos, Division of Mina, represent this area. Thee records

also reveal the names of many families who lost one or more members at the

hands of the Comanches. The average settler cleared the land as he built

his cabin. He was never out of reach of his rifle and pistol. His wife

and children always went along with the father. They could expect to have

to fight the Indians, who came on raiding parties from what is now Coryell

County, the Owl Creek country. They swept across the rolling prairies of

Williamson County, through the Yegua section into the Knobs section of

Bastrop County, into Old Mina (now Bastrop), and on to settlements as far

south as La Grange. They were intent on burning, murdering, scalping, and

stealing horses.