Angelina County to memorialize sheriff killed in the line of duty in 1866

Published: Jun. 27, 2013 at 1:04 AM CDT
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LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - This weekend Angelina County officials will commemorate a former sheriff who died in the line of duty more than 147 years ago.

Just after the civil war ended, a new sheriff took office in Angelina County and while tensions were still high, a feud was heating up in East Texas

It's like a scene straight out of an old western movie, a Texas sheriff is shot and killed during a shootout on the courthouse square.

Sheriff William "Bill" McMullen was 47-years-old, in 1866, when he died trying to uphold the law and his family found a way to honor his memory and his service.

"My 3rd great grandfather was William "Bill" Read McMullen," said a descendant of McMullen Mary Jo Gorden.

Gorden says Bill and his family traveled to Texas in 1858 looking for work.

"They all came from Tennessee to East Texas and they came here because they were master carpenters and they had heart that Homer was a booming town and they could get work here," said Gorden. "Not long after they came to Texas the war broke out and Angelina County was one of the few counties that did not vote to secede from the union."

After the Civil War came to a close, McMullen was elected sheriff but the end of war didn't mean the end of the opinions about the war.

"Homer and Angelina County at that time was apparently a really wild and wily place and there were really high feelings about the two sides of the war."

And on May 5th 1866, during a feud called "The Gilley War" to the locals, Sheriff McMullen was called to action.

"Someone came and knocked on his door and said there's a shoot out on the courthouse square, we need you to come," said Gorden. "It was like in a western movie. They were shooting out the windows of hotels and back and forth at each other and lots of fun fighting going on in the downtown. And so he tried to stop it but in the process of that he was shot and killed and when they saw they had killed the sheriff, they all high-tailed it out of town. Some of them never came back."

McMullen is believed to be one of the first sheriff's in Angelina County and the first in the county to die in the line of duty and now his name is forever memorialized here at the fallen peace officers monument at the county courthouse

Angelina County Sheriff Greg Sanches, "We always want to remember all law enforcement that do that and this will be a good time to remember Mr. McMullen as well as the other officers on that memorial."

Sheriff Sanches, County Judge Wes Suiter and McMullen's family will honor him at an unveiling ceremony this Saturday at 2:00 p.m. outside the courthouse.

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