THE LEE-PEACOCK FEUD
In the southwestern part of Fannin County, in
the northwestere part of Hunt, in the southeastern part of Grayson and
the northeastern part of Collin counties, there was an area
covered by thickets of various names. These thickets were known as Mustang
Thicket, Black Jack Thicket, Wildcat Thicket, Jernigan Thicket and some
times as the Big Thicket. As late as 1877 there was a dense
thicket about seven miles long and a maximum width of four miles south
of the present town of Leonard, into which few people had
penetrated and through which only one man had evergone. During the Civil
War these thickets were the rendezvous of army deserters, slackers, and
In the northern part of one of these thickets
whose southern boundary was the Fannln-Hunt county line, Daniel W. Lee
patented a track of land and there built his home and reared
At the beginning of the Civil War his son, Bob
Lee, joined the Confederate Army, and served in Tennessee and Louisiana.
Bob Lee was "tall, dark, and handsome.' He generally wore a black suit,
a black felt hat with the brim turned
up and a black plume in it. He held the rank of captain in the Confederate
At the end of the war, Captain Bob Lee returned home with better
a better horse and saddle than most Confederate soldiers and some
The Union League, an organization led by the
Freedmen's Bureau, carpet- baggers and scalawags, with Federal support,
had its North Texas headquarters
at Pilot Grove, about seven miles from the home of the Lee families.
of the Union League was Lewis Peacock, whose home was south of Pilot
on the Fannin-Grayson County line. He had arrived in Texas in 1856.
It was not long until the news of Bob Lee's return
was known everywhere in the Red River Valley. The Confederate veterans
were happy about it, for now they felt they had a leader.
To Peacock, Captain Bob Lee, the cavalryman, with his good clothes, his
plumed hat and gold coins, was too big for the "Corners" and would have
Peacock and other membern of the Union League
conceived the idea of extorting money from Bob Lee. They came
to his house one night and arrested
him and started to Sherman with him, but stopped in
Choctaw Creek bottoms.
They took Lee's watch and $200 in gold and he and his
father, Daniel W, Lee, were to sign a note for $2,000. Bob
Lee was released. The Lees refused to
pay the note. Suit was brought in Bonbam and the Lees
won the case.
The robbery in Choctaw Creek bottoms started
the Lee-Peacock War. During the latter part of 1867, all of
1868, and until June, 1869, the war raged. All told something like 50 men
would be killed. By the summer of 1868 the war had
gotten so hot that the Union League called for help from the Federal
ment. On August 27, 1868, General J. J. Reynolds issued
a notice of a reward
of $1,000 cash to be paid for the delivery of Bob Lee to the Post
at Austin, or Marshall, Texas.
Bob Lee did what many others had already done:
he built a hide-out in the brush, In late February, 1867,
Bob Lee was in Pilot Grove. In a local stere he
ran across Jim Maddox, a Union man suspected of being in the party
that had kidnapped Lee. Bob Lee offered Maddox a gun so they
could fight. Maddox declined Lee s offer, Later in the day
Lee was standing on the street and
Maddox slipped up behind him and shot him the the back
of the head. Lee was knocked unconscious. He was taken to Dr.
William H. Pierce, who treated him
in his home until he was able to go home. On February 24, 1867,
Dr. Pierce was called to his door and shot to death by Hugh Hudson,
a known Peacock man,
Hugh Hudson, according to a theory by Dr. W.
C. Holmes, who had taken over Dr, Pierce's practice, was killed at Saltillo,
a teamster's stop on the road to Jefferson. Dr, Holmes was called on to
identify a man said to be Hudson. The description met that of
One day early in the spring of 1868 Elijah Clark,
a Peacock man, called on Hester Anne Dixon to invite her to
go with him to a dance. She refused him. In
his frustration and disappointment, he ran out of the
house without bis gun which he had left on a table. He met
Hester Anne's brother, 16-year-old Billy Dixon,
a Lee man, Elijah grabbed Billy's gun and shot at him, Billy ran
in the house, grabbed Elijah s gun and ran out of the house and
shot Elijah off his horse, dead.
In less than a month, Billy Dixon met death on
the Jefferson Road. He was on the way to Jefferson with a
load of cotton when about 20 miles from home the wagon broke
down. His cousin, Charlie Dixon, was with him. They were re-
pairing the wagon when suddenly a dozen men appeared
and surrounded them. They told Billy to march ten paces with
hands up, Five paces, six, seven; a single bullet split the air and Billy
slumped in his tracks.
The Lee crowd was not inactive during this time.
At one point two of Peacock's
men forced the Lee women to feed them. The men were only able to
get a few hundred yards into the brush before their saddles were emptied
by shotgun blasts.
In mid-May, at the Nance farm there was a meeting
in which three men were killed, Peacock and some of his men were holding
a meeting at the Nance farm, Messengers had reported the meeting
to Bob Lee, in Wildcat Thicket. Lee and
a possee of his men made a raid on the horse lot, where the meeting
was being held. In the fight that ensued three Peacock men, Dow Nance,
John Baldock and Dan Sanders, were killed. There were no Lee
The $1,000 reward for Bob Lee, dead or alive,
was attracting bounty hunters to "The Corners." Three Kansas "Red Legs,"
dressed as citizens, laid plans to capture or kill Bob Lee for the reward.
It was in the early spring of 1869. The
Lees had reason to suspect the three Red Legs" were
ready to make their move and were ready for them.
When daylight came the scene appeared serene.
In the kitchen of Bob Lee's home Dorinda Pierce and Melinda Lee were chatting
about the day ahead at the Lee School where Dorinda taught, Suddenly the
serenity was shattered by the sound of shots. They rushed down the read
leading to Pilot Grove and found three dead men who were strangers.
The bodies of the three "Red Legs" laid all day where they had fallen.
Peacock's men were afraid to come and get the bodies
for burial. Later the two women buried them.
Lewis Peacock planned retaliation and revenge.
He asked for, and obtained, more troops. The troops, under Captain Charles
Campbell, had orders to settle
the feuding in Northeast Texas by capturing the leader
of the Southern sympathizers.
Lee's loyalty ring was broken by a neighbor and
erstwhile friend, Henry Boren. The Lees and Borens had come
to Texas together and the families had been friendly, yet Henry
was to betray the secret trails to Lee's hide-out in Wildcat Thicket.
On the morning of May 24, 1869, Bob Lee, dressed
in his black suit, boots
and black hat with plume, and with all his side arms,
announced that he was
riding to a neighbor's home not more than three miles away. If his
was to ride south to Mexico, he had waited too long.
His journey was short. Less than half a mile
from his home and before he reached the outside, he was caught by the flash
of Federal musket fire from the guns of Captain Campbell's 6th Infantry.
Between eight and fifteen shots were
fired and Bob Lee slid from his saddle without a word.
As an aftermath to Lee's death, Bill Boren, a
nephew of Henry's, rode up to his uncle's house the next morning, called
to his uncle to come out. Henry came out and was instantly killed by his
nephew:, who silently turned and rode away, Death to a Traitor was evidently
the opinion of some of the Borens.
After the death of Bob Lee in June 1869, his
followers scattered to other parts
of the state and the Peacock gang broke up, but a few of them stayed
together, Peacock was the ring leader of the force.
Dick Johnson, a Bob Lee lieutenant, had gone
out to West Texas to keep out
of trouble. Peacock and his gang had killed his three
half-brothers, Simp Dixon, Bob Dixon and Charlie Dixon. Charlie was killed
at Black Jack Grove, now called Cumby. Charlle and his father
had started the lumber mills near Winnsboro for lumber; Peacock and his
gang followed them to Black Jack Grove and shot Charlie to death. Dr. Dixon
brought the body of his son home in an ox wagon and buried
him. Dr, Dixon soon died and left three daughters. The Peacock
gang sent them word that they were going to burn them out
of house and home and they would
not have a rail left on their farm. The girls wrote to Dick Johnson
out in West Texas to come home and protect them. He came in a hurry and
the news soon reached Pilot Grove that Dick Johnson was back home.
When Peacock heard the news he was in the drug
store of Dr. Kuyrkendall in Pilot Grove. He remarked, "Some morning when
Dick gets up and comes to the door to get wood to, make a fire, I will
be laying for him and will get him. The remark was carried
to Dick Johnson without delay and this remark cost Peacock his life.
Joe Parker was another of the Lee crowd who was
still in the country, and he
and Dick Johnson were both anxious to have the honor of slaying
Peacock. About the first of July, 1871, one of them climbed a lone elm
tree on the prairie in sight
of Peacock's home and hid himself in the thick foliage;
one writer claims that
this watchman was Dick Johnson, while others claim
it was Joe Parker. It is un- important as to which of these was on watch
in the elm tree. The two were working in unison and with the same object.
Peacock was seen to approach his home and Johnson and Parker that night
made preparations to kill him the next morning. They put Peacock
s threat into action and waited until early next morning when Peacock came
to the door to get wood to make a fire. He was slain in his own yard.
Dick Iohnson was never arrested, and he and his
wife moved to Missouri,
where they lived for many years. He was seen in Fannin County in
1920 and was last heard of in Red River County, Texas, W. W. Sherrell