by | Jan 23, 2021 | Tales of the West | 0 comments


William E. “Billy” Sutton (1846-1874) – A native of south Texas, Sutton served in the Confederate army in the Civil War and afterwards moved his family to Clinton, Texas, where he ranched and soon came into conflict with the Taylor Clan. He also served as a Deputy Sheriff and on March 25, 1868, he shot and killed Charley Taylor, when he tried to arrest him for horse theft. Later that year, on Christmas Eve, Sutton killed another of the clan — Buck Taylor, as well as  another man named Dick Chisholm in a saloon in Clinton, Texas, after they argued regarding the sale of some horses. These killings spawned the Sutton-Taylor feud, one of the longest and bloodiest feuds in Texas history. Making matters worse for the Taylor faction was when Sutton was appointed to the State Police Force, under Captain Jack Helm. The Police Force, along with Union soldiers, was tasked with enforcing “Reconstruction,” much to the chagrin of many a Southern sympathizer. Sutton led a band of “Regulators” that at times, numbered as many as 200 men, which included such frontier characters as cattle baron Shanghai Pierce, Indian fighter Joe Tumlinson, and tough-as-nails lawman, Jack Helm. For six years, Sutton led the Regulators in terrorizing the region, killing dozens of men, until finally Sutton was shot down by Jim and Billy Taylor on March 11, 1874. When Sutton had tried to make his escape, by boarding a New Orleans-bound steamer out of Indianola, the Taylor boys opened fire on him, dropping him to the deck in front of his horrified wife.


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