At 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25, the Friends of the Library will present award-winning Texas historian Bill O’Neal, who will speak about his book, The Johnson-Sims Feud: Romeo and Juliet, West Texas Style.
The Johnson-Sims conflict was the last old-fashioned blood feud in Texas, and two key events happened in Sweetwater. On Oct. 1, 1917, famed Texas Ranger Frank Hamer engaged in a furious shootout with assailants on the courthouse square. Five months later one of the assassins of Judge Cullen Higgins was found dead in his cell at the Nolan County Jail on the Sweetwater square, and a ruling of suicide was difficult to believe. The entire story is a Wild West soap opera, and Sweetwater was an important arena for this lethal drama.
Bill O’Neal is the author of more than 30 books, including several volumes about frontier feuds. His account of Wyoming’s Johnson County War won the 2005 Book of the Year Award of the National Association for Outlaw and Lawman History. He wrote a book about the first blood feud in Texas, The Regulator-Moderator War, and his biography of Pink Higgins covered the Horrell-Higgins Feud, while introducing him to the Johnson-Sims Feud. Other books have dealt with gunfighters and range wars.
Bill has appeared on TV documentaries about the Old West on The History Channel, TBS, The Discovery Channel, A&E, and CMT. He was selected by True West Magazine in 2007 as the Best Living Nonfiction Writer.
Bill is a member of The Western Writers of America and the West Texas Historical Association. He is a past president and fellow of the East Texas Historical Association. He has taught history for more than 30 years at Panola College in Carthage and his teaching awards include a Piper Professorship in 2000.
Following his program at the Library, Bill will be available to autograph books. Admission to the event is free, and the public is cordially invited.