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
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
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