The State Historian of Texas, Bill O’Neal of Carthage, will lead a three-hour history conference Saturday titled "Gunfights and Blood Feuds of Old East Texas." O’Neal has written numerous books on frontier violence and he finds that there’s broad appeal, from the Regulator-Moderator War to the murderous bank robbery in Longview by the Dalton Gang. He wants conference goers to learn how the dust finally settled.
“I hope they’ll realize that there was an awful lot of this style of frontier violence in East Texas, and that ultimately we overcame it," O'Neal said. "The bloodiest of all of the feuds was right here. The worst of the gunfighters was from East Texas. When the Dalton Gang came in and tried to rob the Longview bank, the citizens rose up.”
O’Neal also will tell the story of the 1878 shooting of famed actor Maurice Barrymore – the great grandfather of the modern day actress Drew Barrymore.
“He got himself killed in Marshall, Texas, back in the wild and wooly days. This attracted headlines not only nationwide but as far away as Paris, France," O'Neal said.
The conference also will feature the author of the most recent biography of East Texas gunfighter John Wesley Hardin titled “A Lawless Breed: John Wesley Hardin, Texas Reconstruction, and Violence in the Wild West.” Chuck Parsons is the author of many books on outlaws and lawmen.
O'Neal and Parsons will speak to fellow gunfighter enthusiasts in the ballroom at Panola College’s student center on Saturday, June 29, from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The conference is free and open to the public.