November 8, 2019 - The Texas Rangers have been known for always getting their man over the years. However, they did lose a battle right here in East Texas. In 1887 a squad of four Rangers entered Scrappin’ Valley with warrants to arrest the leaders of the feud going on there for a number of years. However they were ambushed by the Connor boys and all the Rangers were killed.
So, where is Scrappin’ Valley, you ask. The northern edge of Scrappin’ Valley blends into the Sabine National Forest. It is located in northwest Newton county and southern Sabine county. It was settled in the early 1800s by the Weekses, Connors, Lowes, Fergusons, Smiths, and Easleys. These families treasured their independence and isolation and set their own rules. Scrappin’ was a way of life in the maintenance of territory and dominance.
An early feud was the Smith-Lowe-Connor feud which began with the killing of a Smith and a Lowe in 1883. It ended with Uncle Willis Connor and five of his six sons and one grandson dead. The remaining son was sent to the penitentiary.
Things were so bad in Scrappin’ Valley that a squad of Texas Rangers were sent into the valley to arrest the Connors. Among the squad were Texas Rangers Capt. Scott, Bill Moore, C. Brooks, and J. H. Rogers. They were promptly ambushed by the Connor boys. Moore was killed outright. Scott, Brooks, and Rogers were wounded, but managed to mount their horses and return to Hemphill. However they all died a few days later. In all, eleven men were killed, including the four rangers. A man named Carmichael was the only Ranger to survive the battle.
This bloody episode could very well have given Scrappin’ Valley its name, but tradition says that it was not named until around 1905. In 1932 four people were murdered in a feud between whiskey distillers. News of these murders did not reach the local sheriff until 1936.
Like moonshining, Scrappin’ Valley eventually dried up and people moved away. It became a hunting lodge and recreation area of more than 11,000 acres in the 1950s. The retreat was built by Temple Industries. It served as a place where company officials entertained important guests.
So, Scrappin’ Valley became a peaceful paradise for many to enjoy. However, this episode became the worse loss on record for the Texas Rangers. They eventually succeeded in their mission, but at a high cost. But, the creeks still run clear, and the old families still hunt and fish whenever and wherever they want.
- Francis E. Abernethy
- Joe F. Combs