The Sutton-Taylor feud, referred to as Texas’s bloodiest, kicked off following the U.S. Civil War and didn’t draw to a close, in court, until the 1890s. On one side of the trouble were William Sutton and his associates, who included law enforcement officials, and on the other side were brothers and former Confederates Creed and Pitkin Taylor, along with their relatives and such friends as the outlaw John Wesley Hardin. Like a number of other feuds, it’s unclear exactly what caused this one, although there’s speculation it was sparked by such events as the murder of two Union soldiers by a member of the Taylor clan, and the fatal shooting by law enforcement of Taylor relatives suspected of being horse thieves. The fighting went on from the late 1860s well into the 1870s and left an unknown number of men dead on each side, including William Sutton and Pitkin Taylor. The last court case related to the feud was resolved in the 1890s.
In 1911, a Texas woman, Lena Snyder Sneed, told her husband, John Beal Sneed, she planned to leave him for another man, Al Boyce Jr. After hearing his wife’s confession, Beal Sneed had her committed to a sanitarium. With the Boyce’s help, Lena soon escaped the institution and the pair fled to Canada, where they were arrested. Lena eventually was sent back to her husband, while Boyce’s father, Albert Sr., a former manager of the massive XIT Ranch, helped to get the kidnapping charges against his son dropped. In January 1912, Beal Sneed shot and killed Boyce’s father in a Ft. Worth hotel lobby. The high-profile court case ended in a mistrial after the jury was deadlocked in favor of acquittal. That March, Beal Sneed’s father was gunned down, and Beal Sneed believed the killer was linked to the Boyces. In September, Beal Sneed fatally shot Al Boyce Jr. outside a church in Amarillo. Sneed went on to be acquitted in the slayings of both Boyces. (Asked by the press why Beal Sneed was acquitted of killing Albert Jr., a juror said, “because this is Texas” where a man is allowed to “safeguard the honor of his home.”) In 1922, Beal Sneed was sentenced to two years in prison for bribing a juror in a lawsuit. When he got out, he shot a man who had killed his son-in-law. Beal Sneed’s victim survived, and later tried to murder Beal Sneed (who went on to be acquitted of shooting the man). Beal Sneed and Lena remained married, and in the Lone Star State, until his death in 1960.
Family feuds involving charges of cattle theft weren’t limited to the Old West. In 1870, a violent battle broke out in Florida between the Barbers and Mizells after David Mizell was fatally shot on the Osceola County land of cattleman Moses Barber, who had ordered the other man to stay off his property. By the start of the U.S. Civil War, when Florida was the Confederate army’s main purveyor of beef, Barber’s family owned one of the state’s biggest cattle operations, according to the Florida Historical Society. Following the war, Barber, who opposed the Reconstruction government, wouldn’t pay his taxes, so Mizell, the local sheriff, whose family also were ranchers, confiscated some of his cattle as compensation. Afterward, Barber announced the sheriff would be gunned down if he set foot on Barber’s land again—which was what happened in 1870 when Mizell ventured onto Barber’s property in an attempt to collect a debt for another rancher. Mizell’s death launched a spate of revenge killings and years of bad blood between the two families.