The Texas Rule Of The "No-Duty-To-Retreat" Doctrine

in #history4 months ago

While Frank is out on the range tracking cattle rustlers things are heating up between Gladys's family, the Johnsons, and her ex's family, the Sims.


Howdy folks and greetings from the Great Plains of North Texas!

We're in a series about one of the top Texas Ranger lawmen to ever wear the badge, the great Frank Hamer, who was brought out of retirement to take down Bonnie and Clyde.


In the last post we talked about what a basket case Gladys's marriage was, the filing of their divorce and the court battle that was started because of their two girls.

In her defense, I think she was much more mature and stable by the time Frank met her at age 25. Plus he had a calming affect on people and I'm sure he had that affect on her in a big way.

Today's story

The legal battle had begun with both parties trying to get the case moved to their respective counties. Both families were wealthy with high-powered lawyers. Court was held in both counties and was a legal mess which was very confusing.

I won't get into all that but everytime there was a court procedure the Sheriff would have Texas Rangers come in for security plus extra deputies, marshals, and any available law enforcement.

It was a powder keg waiting to go off

That's because the place was bristling with guns. Friends and family members of each clan would show up armed with shotguns, rifles and pistols. Guns were not allowed in the actual courthouse though.

But they were ready to fight at the slightest provocation.

The family feud had already begun because insults had been made and threats to take the children had been made. Today I want to explain why this situation was so deadly in the Western culture at the time.

The "No-duty-to-retreat" doctrine of the West and South

It's hard to believe these days but back then in the Deep South and in the Western territories honor was valued more than human life.

For instance, if someone was insulted and the insulted person pulled out a gun and shot him dead, that was acceptable. Even if the insulter was unarmed.

This became law

The person doing the shooting would not be convicted of murder by a West Texas jury. This belief system became so entrenched that it became part of the law.

Lawyers and legal scholars referred to it as the Texas Rule. (Northerners were baffled. Canadians thought we were mad).

Texas culture was actually a violent mix of the Code of the Wild West and the No Retreat doctrine of the Deep South. And a nightmare for Sheriff's trying to keep the peace.

It's the reason for so many feuds and Texas had more family feuds than any state. The most famous feud was in W. Virginia between the Hatfields and McCoys but Texas had more of them.


Sorry for the long explanation of the cultural situation but this gives everyone an understanding of the mindset of the characters of my story back then.


PS- In yesterday's post I found a crazy vending machine which sold lighted cigarettes for a penny! Here's two more that would go well with it:

How about a Beer vending machine?


Or even a whiskey vending ID's required!


I wonder where they put these?? lol.
Thanks for reading folks, God bless you all!





A wild scary time in the those days with everyone packing a gun and not much law to keep order.

The vending machines are unique. With cannabis being legal here in Canada, a vending machine for weed might pop up. 😂

lol! howdy redheadpei! I just told someone this morning that with all the Weed legalization we would probably be seeing joint vending machines! We're following you guys on that trend.

!giphy up in smoke

giphy is supported by witness untersatz!

Haha that cartoon is not related to weed. 😂

It's a great one though, lol.

@janton - very interesting, I'm glad this showed up in my feed. Now I'll have to go back and get caught up. The rule of Texas law is crazy! Just shoot somebody and then say they insulted you!
@tipU curate

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lol! It DOES sound crazy to us these days doesn't it? Totally insane. If we did that today no one would be left standing! lol. Thanks so much for commenting!

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Excellent post, @janton. I just love how you bring history to life! That is kind of nuts about honor being more important than life, but it sure rings true. There was definitely a mindset in that time and place that is hard to imagine today, in most (but not all) cultures. And yes I would love a beer dispenser. Wine would be lovely too!

lol. I actually have a photo of a wine vending machine too. I guess they were placed where there weren't kids around..maybe. Or they just weren't thinking. With Weed being legalized everywhere I suppose we'll see Joint vending machines now!

I agree about the culture of the past. I like many things about the Cowboy Code but that goes too far. If that was in place today everyone would be dead!

Hi janton, honour was such a big thing in history everywhere. In England for example there were lots of duels in the 17th, 18th centuries (probably earlier) because of honour.

Self-serve alcohol these days might mean the end of pubs and hotels, lol.

Howdy angiemitchell! You are so right about the honor thing, I always thought duels were insane! I think the alcohol from the machines was pretty poor quality but now days I'm sure they could do better, maybe they'll make a come back!

Hahaha maybe, but they would have to meet the liquor license regulations and how would they police underage drinking?

I agree, those machines couldn't have lasted very long unless they were in areas where kids never were.

Guns, insults, and testosterone are an explosive mix.
Alcohol vending machines! I have never heard of those.

Howdy Melinda! How has your day gone? You are so right about the explosive mixture!

I wonder how long those alcohol vending machines were in operation? I'd think it'd be hard to keep minors from getting it, but I don't know where they put them in.

It's been a good day here, Quiet. Just the way I like it! 🌞 The biggest excitement was that the new battery came for my scooter. I had purchased one in July, but there was something wrong with it and it will no longer accept a charge. It's a $200 battery, so I was happy they stood behind it.
I'm off to bed. Hope your day was good. !Tip

Howdy Melinda! It was a great day especially since I checked under the Jeep for any drips from the new oil pan I installed and there weren't any so I don't have to do that again, it was a hassle. lol.

but yes, the weather here now is perfect, in the 70's and sunny, perfect weather to work outside. I'm glad they replaced that battery. Something was seriously defective for it not to recharge being brand new!

You drive a Jeep? How did I not know that. I bought my first one in 1993 and put 200,000 miles on it before giving it to my son and buying a new one in 2001. I finally had to give it up a few years back when it became too difficult for me to get in and out of and I bought this HHR that is just the right height. I loved my Jeeps!

Oh that is so cool! We do too. We've driven them for decades, we're on our 3rd or maybe 4th one. In the winters in Akron we had to be able to get into neighborhoods and driveways that never got plowed so those Jeeps kept us in business.

Mrs. J drives a Toyota now and I have the Jeep here, it's a Compass, as a backup vehicle and for me to use although I rarely go anywhere. But for anyone living in a Northern state the 4 wheel drives sure are handy and many times essential!

I don't think you can normally get 200,000 miles out of an American made car! You must have taken great care of it.

Mine were the traditional body style Cherokees. My son put quite a few miles on it before it died, too. It had always been kept in the garage and I remember being surprised at how quickly it rusted when it sat outdoors. I bought the 2001 because that was the last year they were making that body style and I put 180000 on it before I sold it to a college kid who was thrilled to get it. It did get good care.

Well you got excellent mileage out of those. I really like the Cherokees too. We started out with an old boxier style, can't remember what it was called, then went to the Liberty, then another model that I don't know the name of, then the Compass and they've all been very good for us. Very few mechanical issues.

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thanks so much for the tip tipu and @melinda010100!

Now that beer vending machine is one I could take a liking to!

Lol! Me too, I can see that coming in very handy, you don't even have to open a bottle. I don't know how you keep the kids away from it though!

Hi, @janton!

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A cigarette lighting machine, a beer vending machine, a whiskey vending machine... No wonder they call it the good all days.

lol! good one sir Vincent! Especially if you were a minor, you could still get everything without an ID!

Wow! As a Brit, I stand with the Canadians! :)

lol! Well I agree and stand with you guys, I think it was total insanity! Like those foolish duels that men used to have, I thought those were crazy and suicidal too. I'd rather just swallow my pride instead of getting killed!
Thanks so much for the comment sir!

History comes alive through you @janton. Thank you for all you do. Blessings always 🙏

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Thanks so much for the kind words clitadias and I hope you are fully recovered from that sickness, what was it, the flu?

Yes sir, fully recovered, up n about😊😃You are ever so kind 🙏💐

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So good to hear! I know, when I tell that to Mrs. J. she just rolls her eyes for some reason! lol.

Awww, she'll come around soon.🥰

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I don't know if I want her to, she keeps me in check! lol.

Sweet 💐

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Maybe we will have soon Cannabis vending machine.........would that be something, lol.

Anyway, Texas is crazy even now I bet, but not as bad as back then. But Italians were like that too especially Sicilians! LOL!

Very true. And even today if you insult a gang member they kill you for it.

Yes, I was telling someone else that I'm waiting on vending machines that sell joints, that has to be coming.

Oh you did??? LOL!!! I really hope it's not going to come to that, lol.

Exactly, mafia and gangs today live by same laws.............but I know that only from TV, lol.

Ah, feuds. It reminds me of that olf record "Fussin' and Fightin' and Feudin'."

Beer vending machines...

In the summer of 1999, I went with a group of fellow students to Spain. I had just graduated from high school at the time, and it was the first time I was out of the country. [Long story shortened] Our last stop was Barcelona and they had can vending machines with soda AND beer in them. A five-year-old could have bought a beer!

Also, the person stocking it fubbed it up and the Coke button had San Miguel's beer. It was so bad, I couldn't drink it... lol

lol! man, you got some great stories sir fotosdenada! You actually got beer from a vending machine, and it sucked. lol. I bet that was some cheap stuff.

I listened to that song by Dorothy Shay, the Park Ave Hillbilly. That was great, it's been years since I've heard an old song sung with an orchestra like that and the words were hilarious.