CUT N SHOOT, TX - A Town Named For a Church Brawl

This story begins, as most stories about violence in Texas do, with a church. Actually, that's not true; most stories about violence in Texas begin with beer.

In the early 1900's, citizens of a small community in Texas about 40 miles north of Houston got together and built a small church/school house. The group was a mixture of Baptists, hard-core Baptists, and Methodists, and they agreed that all denominations could preach at the church. Except Mormons and Apostolics, of course.

Inevitably, along came an Apostolic preacher by the name of Stamps. Preacher Stamps was already none too popular with some of the citizens - rumor had it that he was a little too friendly with some of the wives of the community, and there had been talk that he occasionally visited saloons and went dancing. In many versions of the story, it was Stamps' attempt to preach at the church that invoked the stand-off; other versions also tie in conflicting land claims and arguments about how the church's new steeple was to be buildЕ but one way or another, on a sunny July day in 1912, two angry sides wound up facing of outside a church in eastern Texas, with knives and shotguns wrapped up in quilts.

Shouts and threats followed, guns were drawn and aimed, and in the madness of it all one little boy became frightened and was overheard to say "I'm going to cut around the corner and shoot through the bushes." It was sort of like the beginning of a scene from Reservoir Dogs, if Reservoir Dogs was filmed in Texas in 1912 and Harvey Keitel was an eight-year old boy.

Unlike a Tarantino movie, however, in this story no one wound up shot, or with their head lopped off with a samurai sword. Finally, one of the groups agreed to move off and do its preaching in the nearby brush. The next day, leaders of both sides of the argument were tried and fined for assault, disturbing the peace, and using obscene language, and disputes between the two sides went on for over a year.

At one of the trials, a witness was asked to describe where the fracas had taken place and, since the area was yet unnamed, answered, "I suppose you would call it the place where they had the cuttin' and shootin' scrape."

The name stuck.

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