Florida's Flaming Six Guns
Printed in Adventure Magazine,
Editors Note: It is with some trepidation that we post this article on our web page. This article is from "Adventure Magazine" a popular inexpensive pulp fiction magazine containing short adventure/fantasy stories sold at corner newsstands and stores. It is thus entirely fiction, written for reading entertainment rather than documenting actual events. The story is based on events that did occur around 1900 in Perry, Taylor County, Florida and the characters in this story are based on real person's using their real names as near as I can tell. Although fiction, the article may portray to some level of accuracy some of the conflicts and troubles of those difficult days. That is why we have elected to post this article. The reader however, is advised to take it contents with a large dose of common sense and reason before believing many parts of it. There is little doubt that there were serious conflicts between the Towles Lazy 20 and the Brannen Tree Links cattle ranches. It is true that George Brannen, John Brannen, Henry Horace and Thomas Brannen were formally arraigned on 3 April 1901 in Taylor County for the 1st degree murder of Oscar and Howard Keene, brothers. who were riders for the Towle's Lazy 20 Ranch. George and John Brannen and Henry Horace pleaded not guilty and it was noted that Tom Brannen was killed 3 October 1899. He was apparently killed by Sheriff Lipscomb and his posse who had gone to arrest him. The three remaining accused applied for a change of venue and the case was moved to Madison in Madison County, Florida where the trial was held in October, 1901. The jury could not reach a verdict and after a retrial where a verdict still could not be reached, the case against George and John Brannen and Henry Horace was dismissed. (Editors note by J. T. Burval )
Florida's Flaming Six Guns - A Fact Story
By Jack Murray
This story is based on actual events which occurred in the late 1800's and early 1900's.
Picture: His stomach slashed open by Parker's knife, Waters staggered backward and three times his .44 belched flaming lead.
The house where the "frolic" was being held stood in a clearing near the creek, surrounded by a dense growth of scrub oaks and palmettos. The home of Tom Mercer was larger than most in that remote section of the Florida cattle country, and in front of it stood two chinaberry trees. The floor of the front parlor had been cleared for dancing. It was there that the fiddles sang and the high-topped boots of the cowmen shuffled to the ancient hoe-down and jig of hammocks, which had never known a round dance. It was there that swaggering escorts swung the gay calico-clad girls "right and left" to the nasal chant of the caller.
In the plain, austere bedroom across the hall from the parlor, Jensie Lanier, nee Brandon, sat on the high four-poster bed fanning languidly as she coyly repulsed the advances of Bill Parker, who rode the Lazy 20 range for the Towles brothers. Although Jensie had married Tom Lanier-an improvident, shiftless fisherman, who has no part in this story-she was not disposed to allow her marriage vows to interfere with her pleasure, and despite the bad blood between the Brandons and the Towles, the inconsistant sister of the former, dispensed her favors impartially between the riders of the two rival outfits.
Parker looked up with a frown of annoyance as Dixon Waters, Perry storekeeper, came through the open door and, with a casual nod to the Towles rider, stood looking down with a quizzical smile at the girl sitting on the bed. "Hi-ya Jensie", he said. "Where'd you get the fan?" "Bill give it to me. Like it?" "Shore." Waters took the fan from the girl's unresisting fingers and began to fan himself slowly. "Shore hit's pretty." Then, tossing the fan contemptuously back to its owner, he passed on into the hall.
Parker's arm again encircled Jensie's ample waist and he drew her closer. "How 'bout a kiss honey?" he asked. "Come on", he urged, "ain't you going to be nice to me tonight?" "No- no Bill, quit. Not here." She pushed him back. "Why not?" Parker's low voice was hoarse and insistent as he attempted to push the girl back on the bed. "No! Where do you think you are, Bill Parker? Yo're half drunk!" As she fought to extricate herself from Parker's embrace the fan slipped out of her hand and fell behind the bed unheeded. "Turn me a-loose, Bill," she panted. Flushed with her efforts she squirmed from the rider's grasp and began to rearrange her ebon hair.
"Where's yore fan honey?" Parker asked after a minute or two. Jensie looked around over the rumpled bed. "Why, I guess Dixon kept it." "The hell he did! I'll see 'bout that," Parker replied as he strode into the front room in search of Waters. Not finding him there among the dancers, he passed on out into the tight trodden yard where a jug of cane liquor passed from hand to hand. Waters lounged near the edge of the group. "Dix," Parker asked angrily, "Where's that fan -Jensie's fan?" "Why Bill, I tossed hit back in her lap. I hain't got hit." "Yo're a damned liar, Dix. You have!" "Bill," Waters pronounced ominously, "I don't quarrel at other folkses' houses, an' I don't want any trouble with you here at Tom's. But," -he paused impressively-"tomorrow's sat'dy an' you'll be in town, an' all yo're friends'll be there. Tomorrow yo're a-goin to apologize for callin' me a liar." With these words, Waters turned his back and walked slowly back toward the house.
"O.K., Dix," Parker growled as he fingered the gun which protruded from the waistband of his trousers. "O.K., if that's the way you want hit, I'll be there."
And with this seemingly unimportant altercation, the events were set in motion which precipitated the bloodiest range war of Florida's turbulent cattle frontier.
Saturday morning broke cool and fair in Perry, the little Taylor County cow town nestling near the rim of the hammock which stretched back toward vast acres of virgin cypress and hardwood timber that had already attained a vigorous growth when Christ was crucified. In their vast, somber recesses, with the sunlight filtering through their branches fifty feet or more above, one hears no sound save the tremendous diapason of the stillness of the ages; here, more forcibly than elsewhere in the entire Peninsula, one is reminded of the littleness of man and the glory of his Creator. But on this historic Saturday morning, there was to be little to remind one of the divinity of the Almighty.
Soon after the turn of the century the Brandon brothers-Tom, Walter, and Marion- had established the Three Links spread, which extended West to the waters of Dead Man's Bay, early rendezvous of Blackbeard the Pirate. The Towles of San Pedro Bay and their holdings comprised many thousands of acres. It was the boast of Jim Towles, leader of the clan, that he could ride from the Madison County line to the Big Water [the Gulf of Mexico], West of the Fenholloway River, and claim every cow track he saw. The Brandon outfit was equally as powerful on the West of the Fenholloway, and each had warned the other to keep his stock on his own side of the river.
By 1907 these two brands were running thousands of head of prime beef cattle and each had from seventy-five to a hundred riders on their payroll, many of them gunmen imported from Oklahoma, South Dakota, and other western states. Perry, county seat of Taylor County, was then the center of the industry and had several miles of loading pens. While there was a duly appointed sheriff and chief deputy in the respective persons of Jud Head and Evan "Bunk" Rhodes, the law of the six-gun ruled the cow country much as it did in the earlier days of the old West.
In fact, the Florida range was but a smaller replica of the wide open spaces with everything but the lariat. Instead of the lasso or rope, the Florida cowboy is an expert in the use of the long lashed stock whip of the Vaquero of the Argentine.
There had long been ill feeling between the Towles and the Brandons, and Tom Brandon had warned Jim Towles to keep away from his sister, Jensie. Jim refused to heed the warning and Tom swore to kill him. There ensued a long period of rustling and misbranding of mavericks by both outfits, which men were killed, the brothers, Oscar and Houston Keene, Lazy 20 riders, and the Governor ordered Tom brought in for trial. The Brandons were then so powerful that they felt they could defy even the Governor of the State with impunity, so Tom refused to come in and no one cared to take on the job of bringing him in.
A large part of the cattle rustling at that time was done by homesteaders or squatters who were having a hard time making a living, and by cowboys desirous of making a few extra dollars for a spree. Typical of these later was John Connell, whose father ran the J-Bar-3 spread and who admitted in later years that at the age of sixteen, he and a youthful partner, Louis Harrell, rustled a carload of steers from his father's herd. When the boys tried to collect the sixteen-Hundred-dollar draft given in payment, the bank refused to honor it because they knew the boys owned no cattle. John called in his friend, Bill Parker, who laid down the ultimatum. "I never robbed a bank or killed a banker," he told the cashier, "but I'm a-goin across to the saloon. If them boys hain't over there in ten minutes with their money, I'm a-comin' back an' git hit, an' I may kill me a banker." In less than the alotted ten minutes, the boys had the money. A few weeks later John took unto himself a wife and used his share of the proceeds to furnish a cabin on J-Bar-3 land.
On that epic Saturday Morning in May, 1910, Bill Parker and his brother, Bob rode into Perry and tied their horses at the hitch-rack behind Powell Brother's Taylor County Saloon. Dixon Waters sighted them as they walked around to the street in front, and he instantly dropped the piece of pine upon which he had been whittling, stepped inside the door of his store and buckled on his guns.
Walking slowly up to Bill Parker who stood some twenty feet apart from his brother, Waters said, "Bill yo're not at another man's house today, an' yo're not a-setting alongside a female. You seem to have the idee that yo're a bad man. Last Sat'dy night you drilled Tom McKnight over a two-bit wench. Now if yo're such a bad bearcat show your claws." Parker did. He reached for the gun in his lefthand holster and at the same time, with a knife tightly clutched in his right, slashed Waters across the stomach, ripping his belly wide open. Waters staggered back and three times his .44 belched flaming lead into the breast of Bill Parker, who dropped lifeless to the wooden sidewalk without firing a single shot.
"Why, you dirty son," Bob Parker yelled, "you can't do that to no brother o' mine." His gun bucked and roared as he poured two blasts at Waters. Waters staggered with the impact of the bullets, one slug passing through his left arm and the other piercing the fleshy part of his leg. he fired once and Bob Parker fell face down beside his brother.
As Waters turned away, John Malcolm, another Towles rider, opened fire from across the street, his lead whistling past Waters' head. Turning his attention to this new assailant, Waters silenced Malcolm's guns with a single well-placed bullet through the heart. Reeling as he stepped back from the crimson pool in which he stood, he dropped his smoking gun and tried to hold together the gaping wound in his belly which the treacherous knife of Bill Parker had laid open. He staggered into Peacock's store, his breath coming in tortured gasps as he fell across the counter in a vain attempt to hold himself on his feet. Slowly he slumped to the floor, rolled over on his back and stared at the smoke-blackened ceiling with unseeing eyes.
Elzie Church of the Lazy 20 who had been talking to Bob Parker when the shooting began, seemed paralyzed with the swiftness with which hot lead had snuffed out the lives of three of his friends. With a hysterical shout, he roused himself to action. "Come on, all you damned Brandons," he yelled, discharging his gun in the air, "let's make hit unanimous!"
Henry Horace, rider for the Three Links, dashed out of the saloon and took up the challenge. As smoke and flaming lead belched from his guns, Church staggered back against the brick wall. He dropped his empty gun and dragged his left-hand gun from its holster. Turning it in the direction of the roaring guns of Horace, he took careful aim. Once, twice, his bullets sped true to the mark, the third tearing a hole in the rough boards of the sidewalk in front of him. They had blasted each other down and both were dead before they hit the planks.
By this time the battle was raging all up and down Perry's main street. Preston Cox, tax collector, stepped to the door of the Courthouse to see what was happening, and a chunk of flying lead slammed him back through the open door. Colonel Gornto ran to the door of his store to gaze in horrified amazement at the terrible havoc being wrought, his bloodless lips moving soundlessly in prayer. Lead splashed all around him. He spread his hands helplessly in silent supplication, his fine eyes blazing with divine fervor. A leaden missle turned him halfway around and he dropped in the doorway, his rumpled gray thatch slowly assuming the color of the gory pool in which it lay.
When at last the smoke of the battle had cleared, the street was deserted save for the dead and dying. Walter Brandon and Bunk Padgett, one of his riders, lay dead farther up the street, mute evidence of the efficiency of the guns of Deputy Sheriff Evan Rhodes, alias McGuire, imported from Red Top, Oklahoma, as a peace officer. All told, three Brandon, four of the Towles outfit, and two innocent bystanders were killed, and many of both factions sorely wounded.
When the dead and injured had been carted away, Jim Towles went to the Taylor County saloon and bought a thirty-gallon barrel of corn whiskey and rolled it to the East side of the courthouse square, which was acknowledged Lazy 20 territory. He up-ended the barrel, knocked the head in, and hung a tin cup beside a crudely lettered sign on which appeared the legend, "For Friends of the Lazy 20." Not to be outdone in hospitality, the Brandons placed a similar barrel of liquor on the West side of the square, labeled, "For Friends of the Brandons."
Sheriff Jud Head, who had taken no part in the gun battle, wired the Governor in Tallahassee, "If you don't send troops to preserve law and order a hundred will be killed before the week is out. Am resigning."
Governor Park Trammell, later elected to the Senate, wired Frank Lipscomb his appointment to fill the place vacated by Sheriff Head, and assured him that a company of soldiers would arrive at two-oclock the next day. He also instructed the new sheriff to go out and get Tom Brandon, "Dead or Alive."
After Tom Brandon had been outlawed for the killing of the Keene brothers, he sent to Georgia for Emmett Douglas to kill off the entire Padgett family because they were suspected of rustling Brandon beef. The Padgetts were said to be outlaws who came to Florida from Echols, Georgia, after the "Cracker State" got too hot to hold them. They brought a small herd of scrub cattle with them.
As the Padgett clan included some eight or ten families, and as Brandon had not specified any exceptions to his terse order to "get the whole damned bunch of 'em," Douglas set himself to figure out a plan whereby the job could be done with the greatest dispatch, and at the same time with as little personal risk as would be compatible with efficiency. Poison seemed to be the most logical method for a wholesale murder such as he planned, so on a certain moonless night he visited the wells of the Padgetts and dropped into each what he thought was a lethal dose of strychnine. He either miscalculated the dosage or perhaps the drug had deteriorated with age. In any event, the only harm it did was to make a few Padgetts quite ill; there were no fatalities recorded.
With the failure of his plan to poison the Georgia cattlemen, he decided to get them one at a time, even though it might take a little longer. "He'd shoot them where he found them, and leave them where he shot them." This plan was more effective, particularly in view of the fact that he always closely observed the primal law of self-preservation. Early one morning as Tom Padgett rode out to relieve Hardy, who had been watching a small herd out in the scrub, Douglas hid in the dense palmetto growth along the trail and shot him down as he came abreast of the hiding place. Douglas then slipped swiftly through the bush, crept as close as he dared to Hardy, who was dozing in the saddle waiting for his brother. A single shot from his 30-30 Winchester accounted for number two of the ill-fated family. He was doing allright thus far.
Several days elapsed before another Padgett crossed the sights of the Douglas rifle. Nowlie Padgett was hazing a bunch of yearlings out of the creek bottom when a bullet slammed into his pony's rump. With a squeal of pain the pony reared, pitching Nowlie over his head. The Padgett rider rose to his feet, drew his gun and blazed aimlessly in the general direction from which the mysterious shot had seemed to come. The volley from his revolver only served to point out to Douglas his exact location, and the next shot from the rifle of Tom Brandon's hired killer crashed through Nowlie's brain. Number three was accounted for. Douglas' self-satisfaction mounted, and with his growing confidence his sense of caution waned.
But all good things must come to an end. The grapevine of the African bush is no more effective than that of the Florida swamp country. The Padgetts knew full well who was responsible for the alarming decrease in their ranks, and so did Sheriff Lipscomb. So he appointed a man to bring Douglas in -a man he knew would not fail in his mission. J. Frank King, a surveyor, and one of the best rifle shots in the county, was a man of few words. He didn't elaborate upon the method he used to get Douglas; He merely brought his dead body back to Perry with a report that he was killed while resisting arrest.
By this time Tom Brandon was badly wanted, but still he made no attempt to leave the Three Links range. Sheriff Lipscomb deputized Frank King, "Beetree" Allen, trapper and bee-hunter, John Church, a brother of Elzie, and Noah Padgett to carry out the Governor's orders. The posse rode down on Nine Mile Creek and hid in the scrub oak near Tom Brandon's line camp cabin.
Early in the morning, after Tom's riders had left for the brush, Tom came out and sat on a wooden bench on the shady side of the cabin. Sheriff Lipscomb climbed a tree and killed Tom with a shot from his 30-30. The posse carried the body back to Perry and a hastily impaneled coroner's jury returned a verdict of "Came to his death by gunshot wounds at the hands of sheriff Lipscomb's posse while resisting arrest." He was buried near the Old Brandon homestead on Nine Mile Creek.
Sheriff Lipscomb had successfully completed his first official mission, and the town was under martial law, with soldiers encamped on a vacant lot opposite the jail yard, but even the Governor's soldiers were powerless to halt the reign of bloodshed in Taylor County.
That afternoon Bob Stripling, farmer and peace advocate, went to the Sheriff's office to remonstrate with him and to make a plea for the peaceful settlement of the disputes between the ranchers. "Frank," he said, "This bloodshed's got to stop. Bring some of these here trouble-makers to court an' send 'em to the pen'tentiary an' they'll quit this feudin'." "I'm a-doin' all I can Bob. I got Tom Brandon this mawnin' an' I'll get the rest of 'em before I'm through." "That's jest hit, Frank. Yo're as bad as the rest of 'em. Wusser. You climbed a tree an' kilt Tom Brandon, 'thout givin' him a chance. You know you did." "Bob," the sheriff said quietly, "You know that's a damn lie." "No, 'tain't,. You murdered him in cold blood. Yo're a killer." "Get out of my office," the sheriff ordered, his lips white and quivering. "Get out!" Stripling stood his ground. "Put me out, damn you! Put me out!"
The sheriff grappled with the intruder and a rough-and-tumble fist-fight ensued, with Lipscomb getting a little the best of the argument. "Wild Bill" Wilder, operator of a small general store directly opposite the jail, was sitting on a wooden packing case in front of his place of business. Wild Bill had the reputation of being a trouble-hunter and a bad man to cross. Seeing that Stripling was getting the worse of the fistic encounter, he rose slowly from his seat and kicked it back with his heels. As he reached inside the door for his gun belt, he told his wife, Maggie, "This has gone fur enough. I don't like the way Tom Brandon was kilt a damn bit." He started across the street toward the office where the sheriff and Stripling were still belaboring each other. "Com' back, Bill!" Maggie screamed. "Theres' been killin' enough. Please com' back," she entreated. "Don't start any more trouble." Bill never slackened his pace nor looked back. "This county's too damn small for me and Frank Lipscomb, an' I aim to stay," he flung grimly over his shoulder. When he reached the door he called to the sheriff, "Frank, turn Bob loose. I'm ready fer you!" The sheriff released Stripling and waved Bill back. "For God's sake, Bill," he pleaded, " go back! Don't get into this!" As he threw up his hands in a token of peace, Wilder's gun spat fire and one bullet tore through the sheriff's upraised hand, while another shattered his right elbow. Wilder walked closer and calmly drove another bullet through the helpless Lipscomb's heart.
Ramming fresh shells into his gun as he started back across the street, Wild Bill muttered to himself, "Well, I mite as well kill the other polecat while I'm about it."
He turned and went slowly up the street toward where Chief Deputy Rhodes was standing by the Louisiana Lunch Room. Rhodes saw Bill coming and knew that he was coming after him. He cupped his hands to his mouth and called, "Don't come up town, Bill. If you do, I'm goin' to kill you."
Rhodes walked around the corner and stepped through the side door into the restaurant, standing just inside the open door. He saw Bill as he turned the corner fifty feet away. Rhodes then sprang out on the sidewalk facing Wilder, at the same time drawing his .44 single-action Smith & Wesson. His first shot struck Bill in the stomach. Wilder's gun roared three times and all three bullets tore into the boardwalk at his feet. He fell upon his face and rolled over lifeless. Turning to bystanders, Rhodes said, "Boys, you know I had to do it. You all knowed Bill and knowed he was a dangerous man." No one replied and noting the hostile looks on the faces of the men around him, he said disgustedly, "This is one hell of a town! I'm a-goin' to ketch the first train out of it." Then he started for the depot a quarter of a mile away.
Jim Barbee, a Brandon rider, got his pony and cut around through the scrub ahead of Rhodes, picking up John Morgan and four other men as he went. The Oklahoma gunman had to pass a thick clump of head-high dog fennels on his way to the railroad, and as he came abreast of the high weeds, a volley of bullets riddled him.
Hearing shots, Dr Culpepper ran toward the mortally wounded deputy. His assailants had slipped away through the scrub which bordered the sandy road. He raised the dying man's head and asked, "What was the trouble Rhodes?" Rhodes replied, "I've been to Dodge City in its palmiest days, and I was in Red Top when Geronimo was on the warpath and the Wheelers and the Fishers ran the town, but this is one place that's hell on earth!" He coughed and grimaced with pain as a crimson stream gushed from the corner of his mouth. "I came here," he gasped, "to bring law and order and I died trying to walk the middle line."
Deputy Bud parker was appointed to fill Sheriff Lipscomb's place. He resigned sometime later, but after staying out of office for twenty-five years, was re-elected in 1940.
The day immediately following the deaths of Sheriff Lipscomb and Deputy Rhodes were the most peaceful that Taylor County had seen for many long years. The presence of the soldiers had a psychological effect on the cowmen and they stayed close to their home ranges until martial law was lifted. It was not long after the departure of the militia, however, that the ranchers renewed their regular quarrels and men began to die of lead poisoning with old-time regularity.
Evan Lambert, a half-breed Seminole Indian, had taken up a homestead a few miles from Perry, and Bob Padgett jumped his claim. Padgett built a cabin on Lambert's land and was on the roof one morning putting on the top of his chimney. Lambert hid in the adjacent scrub oaks and shot him off the roof with a rifle. A short time later Ollie Keene, a Brandon rider, ran the Indian down with dogs and killed him.
Beetree Allen was suspected by Jim Towles of being a Brandon spy, so as he was making the rounds of his traps one morning, he was waylaid and killed by Roy and Harrison Padgett who shot him from ambush.
Eventually the Brandons, the Towles and the Padgetts, as well as many of the other pioneers, killed each other off, died, or left the country, and as new ranchers came in and acquired land and timber, those who remained began to have a more wholesome respect for the law.
As an aftermath to the bloody range wars came the influx of homesteaders from the East and Middle West. Prior to 1911 the cattlemen were served by a branch of the Seaboard Air Line running to Perry from Monticello. The Atlantic Coast Line then built a road through the cattle country, and along with the railroad came a group of Eastern capitalists who operated as "Bold & Jennings." The Coast Line railroad advertised for homesteaders to come to Florida and take up land grants for 160 acres. To those who were not financially able to carry themselves for the six month until they could prove their grants, Bold & Jennings offered unlimited credit, taking as security a Mortgage on the homestead of the settler. They erected a huge store on San Pedro Bay, and the town which they built around it was called Charlton.
The disillusioned homesteaders found too late that the land upon which they had filed homestead papers was valueless except for grazing and the timber rights. Usually they stayed as long as the credit held out, or until they had proved their claims, then Bold & Jennings foreclosed the mortgages and gave them sufficient money to return home and the property became a part of the holdings of the company. Some few remained and went to work for the cattlemen.
After some 25,000 acres had been acquired in this manner, Bolds & Jennings bought an additional 15,000 acres of virgin cypress and hardwood timber on Pipestem Bay and San Pedro Bay for twenty-five cents an acre. Moving fifty miles southeastward then, they established Pascoe Station near the site of the later famous logging camp at Carbur, where they secured 23,000 additional acres of timber through foreclosures on homestead rights. Through these foreclosure proceedings the timberland cost them approximately two dollars an acre. Out of this great homestead racket grew Florida's cypress and hardwood industry, and today the largest cypress lumber mill in the world is located at Perry, a thriving little city with a normal population in excess of 2,000 people.
Florida now breeds the finest cattle to be found anywhere in the country, and her herds of cattle roam over more than eight million acres owned and controlled by the cattlemen of the state. Some of the larger outfits range as many as 50,000 cattle and herds of 25,000 are not uncommon. One of the largest ranches in Florida is the Horse Shoe Ranch with headquaters at Kicco. Their range in Polk, Highlands, and Okeechobee Counties covers a territory of approximately 450 square miles. Among the other large brands are the King Ranch near Arcadia, owned by Lykes Brothers of Tampa, and the Koons Brand at Punta Gorda.
Brooks-Scanlon Corporation of Foley, in Taylor County, ranges approximately twenty-five different brands, including the old Spade-Up-And-Down. This company also operates one of the largest pine mills in the South, as well as a great redwood mill at Bend, Oregon, and Pulp and paper mills at various points in the Northwest.
Among the old Taylor County pioneers who remain are Martin Towles, a son of Jim Towles, who runs the LE iron, Andy Poppell of the 15, Joe Raulerson of the R, and J. A. Faulkner, who now has the J-Bar-3, the OK and the RF. The J-Bar-3 originally established by Redbone Jim Johnson, was sold to John Connell in 1908, who disposed of it to Faulkner shortly before his death. The writer is indebted to John Connell Jr, the son of the J-Bar-3 owner, for this history of the cattle frontier.
Like the cattle barons of the Old West, the Florida cowman who ruled the range with a hand of iron have nearly all gone to their reward. Typical of their passing is the story of Marion Brandon, the last to bear the once powerful name which wrote its deeds in crimson letters upon the pages of Florida's cattle history.
Marion Brandon caught the next train out of Perry and has never been heard of since that day. With his passing the once proud name of Brandon has slowly faded from memory's dim misted glass, and the balance of power has passed into the able hands of a new breed of cowmen who transact their business across mahogany desks, far from the sound of the clattering hoofs of their great herds, and with its passing had also vanished the flaming six-guns of the frontier days.
Note: The shooting and
death of Thomas Brannen occurred on
October 3, 1899, and many of the events of this story occurred near that time
rather than in 1907-1908 as the story indicates.
Also, the Brandons in this story more commonly spell their name Brannen, rather
than Brandon. George Brannen, John
Brannan, Henry Horace, and Thomas Brannen were formally arraigned in Taylor
County in 1901, there were no convictions following the trial which took place
in Madison County.
(Transcribed by Sharon Wright in August, 1999)