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Longstreet, Montgomery County: Rival to Tombstone, Arizona and Deadwood, Dakota Territory

Charles Marion Russell’s painting Smoke of a .45, courtesty Google Art Project.

Charles Marion Russell’s painting Smoke of a .45, courtesty Google Art Project.

Like shootouts involving Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday facing the Clanton gang at O.K. Corral and Wild Bill Hickock at Deadwood, Longstreet has a story to tell. Longstreet was once a thriving community in far Western Montgomery County featuring several saloons and a popular racetrack for horse races. Though all that remains is a precinct house retaining the name off FM 149, Longstreet harbors lingering echoes of a chilling cultural atmosphere.

Space permits only a sampling of life in Longstreet in the mid- to late-1800s. We will consequently center our focus on the family of Nathaniel Alston. For starters, around 1860 on a trip of some 20 miles east to Huntsville, Alston’s stepson, Kit Hall, making his usual stopover at a saloon, happened to be seated near some slave traders. His attention perked when he heard them discussing their impending trip to Longstreet. Listening further he discovered that they were carrying gold with which to do business.

Accordingly, Hall made his plans. Aware of the time and route of the traders, he prepared an ambush on the banks of a little stream. On accomplishing his goal of surprising and killing the traders and securing their gold, he became overconfident. Carelessly, he lay his victims’ bodies behind some nearby bushes while proceeding to show off his ill-gotten gains around the community.

Soon Hall realized his mistake. Buzzards flying over the spot where the bodies lay drew the attention of townsfolk, leading to a trial and a murder conviction. Just before his death by hanging off the stream by which he committed his awful deed, since called Kit Hall Branch, he revealed an intriguing story. Hall claimed to have stashed the gold in the hollow of a tree in nearby Lake Creek Bottom, while sitting his horse. Were the gold ever recovered, the news did not become public.

Unfortunately, the Kit Hall affair marked only the beginning of a legacy of tragedy for the Alston family. Like Kit Hall, the two daughters of Nathaniel Alston, Mattie and Billie, also suffered agony. First, they married brothers named Loggins and moved to Waller County where, in a shoot-out, both brothers met their demise. Returning to Longstreet, the sisters remarried, Billie to Jim Polk, Mattie to Dick May. Both husbands were ruffians, but May was the worst of the two. Among his dastardly deeds was the cold-blooded murder of one Mack Lewis along the nearby Grimes County line, this just after his brother-in-law, Jim Polk, formally charged him with abusive language.

For everyone there is a day of reckoning and Dick May met his after he “ran through the property” which Nathaniel Alston had left his heirs. May’s fatal mistake lay in seeking to confiscate the inheritance of his wife’s brother, Nathaniel Alston, Jr.  It was this event which
galvanized the scene replete with the drama of Earp, Holiday and the Clantons at O.K. Corral.

Nat Jr. and Dick May met near the race track with their pistols flashing in the sunlight and their women trembling in the shadows. All was still as a tomb until a dog’s bark ripped the silence startling the gunmen into action. This time Dick May’s luck ran out. Mattie was a widow once again.

Ah, Longstreet, Texas, what tales you could tell.


Author Robin Navarro Montgomery, Ph.D., is a member of the Montgomery and Walker County Historical Commissions, chair of the latter and author of numerous books and articles.

Contact him at zippoboo@aol.com.

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