Friday, December 11, 2009

The Horrell-Higgins Feud

Today, Lampasas County Texas is a rather quiet and sleepy place, but there was a time when such was not the case. During the 1870’s, Lampasas County was on the frontier, and the scene of violence and murder, which ultimately culminated in the Horrell-Higgins feud.

The five Horrell brothers, a wild and lawless bunch, were involved in shootouts and killings in both Lampasas and New Mexico (where one brother was killed) before the famous feud even began. One shootout in particular, which involved the Horrell brothers, left four State Policemen dead in Jerry Scott’s Saloon in the city of Lampasas.

When the brothers started stealing cattle, however, they took on an enemy who sealed their fate. John Calhoun Pinckney Higgins, the man with the big mustache who everyone called, “Pink,” was born in Georgia, but grew up in Texas after his family moved west. Pink Higgins grew up tough, participating in the tracking down of Comanche warriors and weathering difficult cattle drives while still in his teens.

Although the Horrell and Higgins families were at one time friendly Lampasas County neighbors, the Horrell brothers and Pink Higgins eventually took different directions in life. As the Horrell brothers began rustling cattle, Pink Higgins pushed back on their criminal activity. It is said he shot a Horrell family employee for killing one of his animals, then shoved the dead man inside its carcass, and rode to town to report that a cow had given birth to a human.

As the cattle rustling continued, Pink walked into a saloon in Lampasas in January 1877, and gunned down and killed one of the Horrell brothers. Several months later, he ambushed two other Horrell brothers several miles east of Lampasas, and while not killing them, did wound both of them. And, some months after this incident, a gunfight between the Horrell brothers, and their cohorts, and Pink Higgins, and his friends, took place in the Lampasas town square, with even more deaths.

With the escalating violence, the Texas Rangers rode in and negotiated a “peace treaty,” of sorts, between the Horrell clan and Pink Higgins. While the Horrell-Higgins feud had seemingly come to an end, violence involving the Horrell brothers and Pink Higgins did not.

Of the five Horrell brothers, only three were still alive at the end of the feud. And two of the three, were not long for the world. After having been arrested for even more crimes, including murder, they were shot dead in their jail cells by a mob in Meridian, Texas, while awaiting trial. Although no proof has ever been uncovered, many people suspect Pink was involved.

Pink Higgins, who, for some reason, is not well-known in the annals of the “Old West,” was a prolific killer; with some saying he dispatched at least fourteen people. His last killing, took place in 1902, when he killed a rival in the Panhandle of Texas. After he shot the man, Higgins notified the county sheriff, but was told to go back and check to see if the man was indeed dead, and if not, make sure that he finished what he started. What a different world it was in Texas, back in those days.

Pink eventually died of a heart attack in 1913, but was outlived by the last survivor of the Horrell-Higgins feud, Sam Horrell, who died in California in 1936.


  1. Very interesting. I suspect being a man named "Pink" in the 1800's may have something to do with with him killing people.

    It also sounds like he enjoyed killing people.

  2. Hello from the Plains Region. This showed up on my google alert, so I thought I'd better check it out. What really caught my eye is that my maiden name is Glass. Hmmmm....relatives?

  3. I am somehow related to the Horrell family, on my grandmothers side. Trying to trace and find. Interesting reading.

  4. Thanks to all of you for your comments. They are very much appreciated. With respect to having kinfolk named "Glass" in Texas, most of my original family members (circa 1800s) were located in Iowa, but now, of course, we have spread across the country.