Tidbits of Shelby County History
Citizens of Buck Snort

In an earlier article of Tidbits, I wrote about the community of Buena Vista and its early history. This week I will feature a few of the citizens that settled the western part of Shelby County. Buena Vista was also known as Buck Snort. Information was taken from the Champion Newspaper date May 26, 1915. The information was shared in more detail recently by Larry Hume. 

Bucksnort used to be a thriving and populous town near the Attoyac river in the western part of Shelby County, Texas. There were no telephones, automobiles or good roads, and the primeval woods were full of wild turkeys, deer, bear, wildcat, and many other kinds of game to attract the attention and time of the old settlers and sportsman. The area was populated by hardy and industrious citizens. The men worked five days a week in the field and spent Saturday at Buck Snort, where they carried their corn to have it ground into meal, or else carried their plow tools to the blacksmith shop for mending. There they spent the day meeting friends, running horse races, taking an occasional drink, and mayhap, pulling off a fight or so by way of enlivening the time.

On such man of the period was Barron D. Sapp, who was a great hunter, opened the first liquor establishment in Buck Snort, the stock of which consisted of one barrel only, but from this small beginning he finally died one of the richest men in the county, leaving several sons and daughters. It is said of B.D. Sapp, who was six feet six inches tall and weighed two hundred and fifty pounds, and always lived an outdoor life, that he was the strongest man that was ever in Shelby County. His son, Sam D. Sapp, who is a prominent citizen, living about where Timpson is located, bantered his father once upon a time, for a wrestle, after the old man had become somewhat enfeebled from age. A crowd had gathered upon this occasion to see this famous combat between father and son. The old man had reluctantly agreed to take part in the match, telling his boy, however, who was a giant himself, that he did not want to disgrace the boy by throwing him in the presence of all the neighbors. The young Sapp insisted, and the old man yielded. There would be only one round. Before they had more than got fairly hold of each other, the boy felt himself going through the air and finally landed on his back twenty feet away, where he remained for some moments unable to get up. That was the last time Sam ever proposed to his father to have anything more to do with hm in that line.

Another one of the old settlers was John B. Ross, who was sheriff of the county on two different occasions and who also lived in sight of the town square. Like B.D. Sap, he had arisen from among the people and was barely able to write his name. He was a giant, too, and occasionally somewhat pugnacious in his disposition.  He concluded to tackle B.D. Sapp, but the old man, Sapp, man short work of him. The only difference between the encounters was on was a friendly contest and the other was not. Ross used to say Sapp was the only man he ever failed to overcome in the any contests in which he had engaged.

Judge Robert Turner was another one of these old settlers, who had lived at Shelbyville, like Matthew Brinson, and moved to Buena Vista, where he built a large hotel on the northeast corner of the square. There he entertained the public, engaging also in the sale of merchandise He was also a Baptist preacher. He raised a large family of boys and girls.

Another was Judge R.L. Parker, commonly called “Bob” Parker, who is now living in Center, the oldest man in the county and the most robust in the county, and probably, in the state.  In 1860 he was elected clerk of the county court, defeating up to that time the most popular man in the county, and since that time he has held every office in the county.  He has the most remarkable memory of anyone who ever lived and remembers the personal history of every old citizen in the county. He is a good man and has always been the poor man’s friend. He was born just across the Sabine River near Logansport, and came over to Shelby County when a boy, where he lived with E.M. Daggett, another old citizen, who lived here before the war and went to Ft. Worth, where he died immensely rich.

A.W. Brown, who was another one of these old settlers, was a sheriff of the county for twelve years, as well as a good Confederate soldier, being a member of Captain D.M. Short’s company, which was first company organized in this part of the state One of his daughters resides in Center, being the wife of Mr. John Mills. She is quite a talented woman, excelling in painting.

The Brinson family are quite numerous and have intermarried with many of the older settlers, among whom was the McLamore, Booth, Graves, Johnson, and Cozart families. A. McLamore married one of his daughters, Z. Booth one, M.T. Johnson one, R.R. Grave one and Hiram Cozart another. McLamore was county judge of Shelby County at one time and his son, John T. McLamore tax collector. The Brinson farm near Shelbyville, covered 1500 acres and has been the subject of more litigation than any other tract of land in Texas. The first suit was filed in 1841 and the last one in 1912. The supreme county rendered a judgement settling the last litigation on this estate recently. (Note: The following information was found on the Strongfamilytreeestablished by Melinda McLemore and Tom Strong, in 2006.

Matthew Brinson was born in 1789 in Onslow County, North Carolina. He died in 1861 in Shelby County, Texas. Matthew left his brothers in Georgia and moved to Autauga County, Alabama where he resided, until his migration to Texas in the late 1830's. He was said to have moved to Texas as a widower, bringing with him two young children and two unmarred daughters. He was also said to have servedin the U.S. Mexican War. He settled first in Shelbyville on a farm consisting of approximately 1500 acres. This piece of land was the subject of much litigation.

Frances Clements Lapps noted "Matthew moved from Shelbyville to the town of Buena Vista and is likely buried in an unmarked grave on the Berryman Johnson Cemetery in Rusk County, Texas.)

John W. Turner, a son of Judge Turner, was one of the famous merchants in Buena Vista.  He was so popular and so successful that when Captain James W. Ballard opened a business, he bought out John Turner, including his good will.  He paid considerable money for his promise in writing never to open a business in Buck Snort again.  Turner went to Ft. Worth and died there.  Captain Ballard died in Buena Vista in 1898, fifty years after he first located in Buena Vista.

John C. Morrison, another old settler of Buck Snort came to Texas from Alabama in 1839 with O. M. Roberts.  O. M. Roberts later became the Governor and supreme judge.  Uncle Dan Watkins, quite a character in his day and time was one of the Methodist preachers.  His visits to the community always created comments.  He was a typical Methodist preacher and had no patience with the past times of the boys and girls.  Dancing especially was, in his eyes, all evil and the young people of Buck Snort were great hands to dance.  Uncle Dan never failed to hurl his dislike against the dance in season and out of season.   He was an old Texan and used to wagon for a livelihood and acquired a reputation of being the best "cusser" on the road.  W. R. Maxwell was another preacher and teacher.  He filled the Baptist church on Sundays and teaching on the weekdays.   It is said that he was the most accomplished teacher the town has ever had.

Richard Yarbrough was another prominent man and early settler.  He and John King and John C. Morrison opened one of the first mercantile establishments.  Dr. J. H. Pursley was the first physician in town.  Other prominent persons of the town were:  Cornellous Bogard, S. H. Sapp, a brother of B. D. Sapp and Rollie Raines a brother of Emory Raines, for whom Raines County and the town of Emory in Raines County were named.  Also, lived there was William Mayes, Charles B. Daggett a brother of E. M. Daggett, A. H. Johnson, James S. Richards, John H. Richards, and C. H. Richards, James Bouland, S. H. Runnels H. H. Dillard, ReddinsSessums,William E. Gaynor, Stephen King, Nathan Timms.  Nathan Timms married a sister of Frank Bowden and was father of Amos Timms, who was a shoemaker.

Moses F. Roberts, commonly called "Dog Roberts", because of the great number of dogs he kept about him, was a member of the 7th legislature and lied in Buena Vista.  His son, Elijah was clerk of the county, preceding Dick Roberts, who was a nephew of Governor Roberts.

James S. Richards was the largest landowner in the county.  He had a passion for buying slaves and bought several after the war closed, under the idea that slavery would be restored.  It is said that he never allowed the fire to go out of his fireplace for fifty years.  He was a great smoker, and a tiny box of matches would last him a year.  He kept many slaves around him, and having no children, he looked after their welfare and cared for them.  At his death his left large acres of land, which Judge H. B. Short divided among his brothers and sisters and their descendants without recourse of courts.