About Burrell Green Whittington Reese
Colorado County Feud
The Colorado County Feud, a series of gun battles between members of the Townsend family of Columbus, started during the 1898 Colorado County sheriff's race. The election pitted incumbent sheriff Sam Reese against his one time deputy, Larkin Hope. Former state senator Mark Townsend, who directed a political machine that had backed the winning candidate in each of the last nine sheriff's elections, dropped his backing of Reese and endorsed Hope. The move seemingly assured Hope of victory. But on August 3, 1898, Hope was killed by an unknown assailant in downtown Columbus. Immediately, suspicion centered on Jim Coleman, a close friend of Sam Reese's sons, Walter and Herbert. Townsend picked a new candidate, Will Burford, and, with feeling running high against the Reeses, Burford won the election. Less than a year later, on March 16, 1899, Sam Reese was killed in a gun battle on the street near where Hope died. Will Clements, Marion Hope, and Mark Townsend were among those shooting. Stray bullets killed Charles Boehme, a bystander, and wounded a boy named Johnny Williams. Even though the best evidence suggests that Reese had provoked the fight in which he was killed, his sons vowed to get revenge. In five more gunfights-on May 17, 1899, January 15, 1900, July 31, 1900, June 30, 1906, and May 17, 1907-five more men were killed and several others wounded. The dead included Reese's brother Dick, Burford's son Arthur, Will Clements's brother Hiram, and Jim Coleman. Also dead was another innocent bystander, Dick Gant. No one was ever convicted of any of the murders. Those accused included Mark Townsend, Jim Townsend, Step Yates, Will Clements, Walter Reese, Joe Lessing, Frank Burford, and Marion Hope. The Townsends, Reeses, Burfords, Clementses, Hopes, and Lessings were all related to each other, either directly or through marriage.
The feud had a direct effect on the economic wellbeing of Columbus. Boehme, a farmer, had been in town buying supplies when shooting erupted and he was killed. His death persuaded many area farmers to buy their supplies elsewhere. The peaceful citizens of Columbus, trying to end the feuding, asked the city council to reestablish the office of city marshal, which had been abolished some years earlier. For financial reasons, they refused. On August 7, 1906, the citizenry voted to abolish the corporation of the city of Columbus and turn the administration of the town over to the county. The town remained unincorporated for twenty years.
Many of the other participants in the feud died violent, early deaths. Marion Hope was killed in an accident in Gonzales County in 1911. That same year, Will Clements was shot from ambush in Matagorda County by a man with whom he had had an altercation a few days earlier. Jim Townsend was also killed in 1911, in a gun battle with a saloon keeper in Louise. Herbert Reese was killed in 1912, when a gun he was cleaning in his Columbus home accidentally discharged. Walter Reese died as the result of injuries received in an automobile accident in El Paso in 1919.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Houston Post, March 17, 1899, January 17, August 1, 1900. John Walter and Lillian Estelle Reese, Flaming Feuds of Colorado County (Salado, Texas: Anson Jones Press, 1962). C. L. Sonnichsen, I'll Die Before I'll Run-The Story of the Great Feuds of Texas (New York: Harper, 1951; 2d. ed, New York: Devin-Adair, 1962). Bill Stein
The Reese–Townsend feud, also called the Colorado County Feud (1898 through 1907) was a politically motivated feud taking place in the closing days of the Old West, in Columbus, Texas, and other parts of Colorado County. Legendary Texas Ranger Captain Bill McDonald was dispatched to Columbus to restore order.
Background and violence
The feud was a culmination of several factors, but mostly resulted due to the local Sheriffs race that placed incumbent Sam Reese against former Deputy Larkin Hope. Former US Senator Mark Townsend, who had been the deciding factor for the past nine sheriffs due to his political connections, had pulled his support away from Sheriff Reese, throwing in behind Hope. This led to tensions between those in support of Reese, and the Townsend faction.
Townsend's support of Hope all but insured his victory. However, on August 3, 1898, Constable Larkin Hope was shot and killed by an unknown assailant in downtown Columbus. Jim Coleman, a close friend to Sheriff Reese's sons Walter and Herbert, was the initial suspect. Townsend immediately chose another candidate, Will Burford, who with Townsend's support won an easy victory, becoming the newly elected Sheriff of Colorado County.
However, the previous tensions were anything but over. On March 16, 1899, Mark Townsend, Will Clements, and Marion Hope, brother of the dead Larkin Hope, engaged Sam Reese and his supporters in a gunfight in downtown Columbus, during which Reese's supporters fled, resulting in Reese being shot and killed. Bystander Charles Boehme was also killed, and a boy named Johnny Williams was wounded. Although evidence and witness statements indicated that Reese provoked the gunfight, his sons vowed they would seek revenge. On May 17, 1899, January 15, 1900, July 31, 1900, June 30, 1906, and May 17, 1907, five more separate gunfights took place in Columbus, resulting in Dick Reese, brother to Sam, Sheriff Burford's son Arthur, Will Clements brother Hiram and Jim Coleman being killed. Dick Gant, another bystander, was also killed during one of the gunfights, and numerous bystanders and participants were wounded.  Feuds end, aftermath
The shooters during all those fights were Mark Townsend, Jim Townsend, Step Yates, Will Clements, Walter Reese, Joe Lessing, Frank Burford, and Marion Hope, which ironically were all related by either blood or marriage, despite their hatred of one another. The citizens appealed to the city council to re-establish the office of Town Marshal, abolished some years earlier. However, the council refused. Texas Rangers were dispatched, to include James Brooks, which effectively ended the violence in 1907.
Despite each being unrelated to the feud itself, two of the main participants did die in later gunbattles. Marion Hope died in a vehicle accident in 1911. That same year, Will Clements was shot from ambush in Matagorda County, Texas by a man with whom he had had an altercation a few days earlier. Jim Townsend was also killed in 1911, in a gun battle with a saloon keeper in Louise, Texas. Herbert Reese was killed in 1912, when a gun he was cleaning in his Columbus home accidentally discharged. Walter Reese died in an automobile accident in El Paso, Texas in 1919.