Tidbits of Shelby County History
Buck Snort

I shared an article earlier on the community of Buena Vista. Buck Snort and Buena Vista are the same community but called different names. Why the area was known by two different names is unknown? The information is taken reprinted from The Champion, May 26, 1915, written by Judge H.B. Short.

Buck Snort used to be a thriving and populous town in the western part of Shelby County, Texas near the Attoyac River. There was no railroad nearer than Shreveport. There were no telephones, automobiles, or good roads, and the primeval woods were full of wild turkeys, deer, bear,wildcat and many other kinds of game. Around Buck Snort the country was thickly populated by a hardy and industrious citizenship. The men worked five days a week in the field and spent Saturday at Buck Snort where they carried their corn to have it ground into meal or else carried their plow tools to the blacksmith shop for mending. But they were men of the old time, and true type of manhood. Their women folks – bless their dear hearts -were busy at home on weekdays spinning and weaving and knitting that the family might be comfortable and happy.

Barron D. Sapp, who was a great hunter, opened the first liquor establishment in Buck Snort, the stock of which consisted of one barrel only, but when he died was one of the richest men in the county. It is said of B.D. Sapp, who was six feet six inches tall and weighed two hundred and fifty pounds, and always lived an outdoor life, was the strongest man that ever was in Shelby County.

Another one of the old settlers was John B. Ross, who was sheriff of the county on two different occasions and who also lived in sight of the town square. Like B.D. Sapp, he had arisen from among the people and was barely able to write his name. He was a giant, too, and occasionally somewhat pugnacious in his disposition. One day he concluded to tackle B.D. Sapp, but Sapp, made short work of him. The only difference between these encounters was one was a friendly contest and the other was not. Ross used to say that Sapp was the only man he ever failed to overcome in the many contests in which he engaged.

There were never any lawyers living in Buena Vista/Buck Snort, the county site being located at Shelbyville, some twenty miles away, but it had doctors galore, among them were Drs. J.H. Pursley, the first physician in town, R.A. Young, W.P. Smith, J.L. King, R.W. Burns, John E. Hooper and J.B. Bussey, the latter being the only survivors. Dr. Young was an extremely genial man and very popular. In fact, it is said he cured his patients more by his genial treatment than by the use of drugs, though he was accounted a learned man. Dr. W.P. Smith was another popular physician who died in New Orleans in 1872 of yellow fever while taking a post-graduate course at Tulane University. He married a Bouland, another prominent family of Buena Vista, and his widow many years thereafter married Capt. Ballard and lives in Timpson.

Other prominent citizens were BornellousBogard, S.H. Sapp, a brother to B.D. Sapp, and Rollie Raines, a brother of Emory Raines. William Mayes, Charles B. Daggett, brother of E.M. Daggett, A.H. Johnson, and S.H. Runnels were all citizens of the area. H.H. Dillard, ReddinsSessums and Judge Turner helped to furnish the preaching for the community in the early days.

The “Buck Snort Clique” was a noted and powerful political organization and had greater power than any that ever existed in the county. This name was given them by their enemies in derision, though on account of their ability to elect their officers they really were respected. It has been said that whatever the Buck Snort Clique concluded to do in politics was always done, because they voted as one man, and their opponents, not having such as organization, could not do this.

Joe. M. Hairgrove was one of the leaders. He died about two years ago. He held the office of treasurer for a longer time than any other man in the county and while a good man, his success was mainly attributable to the power of the Buck Snort Clique.

R.C. Farmer was another member of this organization. He now lives near Tenaha with the family of F.L. Johnson, with whom he was associated in the closest of relations for many years. He is one of the most remarkable men in the county, as well as one of the best. Mr. Johnston having died in 1896, Mr. Farmer took charge of his affairs and continued to manage them until the former’s children grew up into manhood and womanhood. They regard him as a father and now tenderly care for him. Mr. Farmer in every community in which he lived has always been a Good Samaritan and has probably done much good for humanity in the county, even as much as Judge Parker, with whom he has been associated intimately since they were five years old, more than eighty years ago, both having been born in the same neighborhood near Logansport in Louisiana. But Buck Snort Clique finally met defeat in 1882, when its candidate was opposed for the office of clerk by Bob Parker, anoriginal members, who having moved from Buck Snort and having formed other alliances, as the Buck Snort Clique put up another member against them and received its death blow. About that time the railroad came, and this finished the dissolution of the famous “Buck Snort Clique.”

Judge Robert Turner was another one of these old settlers, who had lived at Shelbyville, like Matthew Brinson, and moved to Buena Vista, where he built a large hotel on the northeast corner of the square. There he entertained the public, engaging also in the sale of merchandise. He was also a Baptist preacher. He raised a large family of boys and girls and has a granddaughter now living in Shelby County, Mrs. Nannie Tatum, wife of Wiley Tatum and daughter of Maj. Moreba Leslie.

The school of Buck Snort was always a big institution for many years being the pride of the surrounding country. Capt. Ballard donated a large campus in front of his residence where a most pretentious school building was built, and where children of neighboring counties came to be educated, as well as those of the immediate community. Among the most ancient as well as the most prominent educators was Parson James H. Scates, who was a Baptist preacher, as well as an all-round good man and occupied a position in the community in many respects similar to that occupied by Capt. Ballard, both of these gentlemen acting as treasurer of the county at different times.

P.N. Bentley was another prominent educator. He was also a Baptist preacher and died by his own hand in a hotel in Center only a few years ago. A man by the name of Hamilton was associated as principal of Buena Vista school. His wife, whom Mr. Hamilton had educated and afterwards married was the prime factor of building up what was then the best school in Shelby County.

Uncle Dan Watkins, quite a character in his day and time, was one of the Methodist preachers. His visits to the community always created comments. He was a typical Methodist preacher and had no patience with the past time of the boys and girls. Dancing especially was, in his eyes, all evil, and as the young people of Buck Snort were great hands to dance, Uncle Dan never failed to hurl his anathemas against the dance in season and out of season, though he evidently meant well. He was an old Texan and used to wagon for a livelihood and acquired the reputation of being the best “cusser” on the road. He used to tell this with evident satisfaction as one of his experiences in life.

W. R. Maxwell was another preacher and teacher, filing the Baptist pulpit on Sundays and teaching in the weekdays. It is said that he was the most accomplished teacher the town ever had. One of his sonswas educated by his father while in Buena Vista.

(Note: Membership renewal fees of $25 are now due at the Shelby County Historical Society Museum. The volunteers of the museum urges everyone to support them though membership fees. If you would like a volunteer job at the museum, contact us by phone at 936-598-3613 or Vickie Martin at 936-332-4847.)