Prior to the end of the Civil War, the right to bear arms in Texas was absolute.  However, fear of armed freedmen brought the first legislation limiting the unrestrained possession of weapons.  In 1871, the Texas legislature passed “An Act to Regulate the Keeping and Bearing of Deadly Weapons” (Law of April 12, 1871, ch. 34, § 1, 1871 Tex. Gen. Laws 25, 6 H).  Section 1 stated, in part:

Any person carrying on or about his person, saddle, or in his saddle-bags, any pistol, dirk, dagger, sling-shot, sword-cane, spear, brass knuckles, bowie knife, or any other kind of knife, manufactured or sold, for the purpose of offense or defense, unless he has reasonable grounds for fearing an unlawful attack on his person, and that such ground of attack shall be immediate and pressing; or unless having or carrying the same on or about his person for the lawful defense of the State, as a militiaman in actual service, or as a peace officer or policeman, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor …. Provided, that this section shall not be so construed as to prohibit any person from keeping or having arms on his or her own premises, or at his or her own place of business, nor to prohibit of their official duties, nor to prohibit persons traveling in the State from keeping or carrying arms with their baggage.

Apparently, the citizens of Fayette County ignored the prohibitions.  The February 16, 1888 issue of The La Grange Journal chronicled the violence: “On Sunday, two customers got into an argument at Matula’s store on the Bluff.  When a deputy sheriff attempted to intervene, the two pressed him to the wall and cut at him with knives.  A fight ensued while one attempted to disarm the deputy, who had drawn his firearm in self-defense.  The weapon discharged into the thigh of one of the assaulting parties, Henry Pribyl, severing a femoral artery and killing him.”

The next incident was on Thursday when Ammannsville residents, Maurice Lueders and Hans Kahlden, got into a fight.  Lueders shot Kahlden about three inches above the right nipple.  The injury was not fatal.  The shooting was ruled self-defense. The Journal’s editor remarked: “Shooting and killing it would seem are liable to become epidemic, judging from what occurred the past week.  There are too many persons in the county who have the privilege of wearing six-shooters.  Their number should be curtailed.”

However, the shootings continued unabated.  The March 1, 1888 Journal reported that the previous Saturday a group of three men attempted to assassinate George Harris by shooting him several times in the torso with turkey shot when he opened his door.

That same night an argument erupted between Tom Edwards and Willis Julleks during a dance.  Edwards shot Julleks with a pistol, the ball entering his chin and ranging around his jaw before lodging under the skin at the back of his head.  Julleks lived to tell the tale. Others were not as lucky!

Halbrook, Stephen P. “The Right to Bear Arms in Texas: The Intent of the Framers of the Bills of Rights” downloaded from on January 16, 2017.
The La Grange Journal, February 16, 1888.
The La Grange Journal, March 1, 1888.



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