Brown, Reuben H. (1851–1875)

By: Chuck Parsons

Type: Biography

Published: November 1, 1994

Reuben H. Brown, city marshal of Cuero during the Sutton-Taylor Feud, son of Palestine T. and Miriam Brown, was born in Texas on November 28, 1851. His family was from Tennessee. The extent of his formal education may have been well above the average. He was described by historian Victor M. Rose as "liberally educated, and almost a perfect specimen of physical manhood." Brown grew up on his parents' farm and is listed in the 1870 census as a farm hand. The earliest newspaper account to mention him identifies him as city marshal of Cuero. In January 1874 he shot and killed James Gladney McVea in McGanan's Bar in Cuero.

In the early 1870s Brown was considered a leader of the Sutton-Tumlinson forces, who were waging a feud against the Taylor-Pridgen forces. Authorities were able to get members of both factions to sign a treaty of peace on August 12, 1873, and Brown was one of forty men who signed. But the document was broken not long after the signing. On March 11, 1874, William E. Sutton, leader of the Sutton forces, and his friend Gabriel Webster Slaughter, were killed by cousins William and James C. Taylor on the deck of the steamer Clinton at Indianola. A reward of $500 was offered for each of the Taylors. On April 3, 1874, Brown arrested William Taylor on the charge of murdering Sutton; for this Brown received the reward. The press treated the action as a major accomplishment, and Marshal Brown received wide recognition. For unspecified reasons he resigned his office on June 8, 1874.

During the destructive hurricane of September 15–17, 1875, which nearly destroyed Indianola (see HURRICANES), William Taylor escaped from jail. He sent word to Brown that he would kill him. On November 17, 1875, Reuben H. Brown was shot and killed while gambling in a Cuero saloon. First reports stated that five unknown men entered the saloon and fired at him, although a later account identified the man who fired first as Mason "Winchester Smith" Arnold. Although no one was ever brought to trial for the killing, it would seem that the cousins William and James C. Taylor had a hand in it. Brown died without having married. He was buried in the family cemetery seven miles south of Clinton. For many years the grave was lost, but it was relocated in 1990. Brown rests today in what is known as the Epperson Cemetery, on private land.

Cuero Weekly Star, January 23, April 8, 15, June 11, 1874. Victor Rose, The Texas Vendetta, or the Sutton-Taylor Feud (New York: Little, 1880; rpt., Houston: Frontier, 1956). C. L. Sonnichsen, I'll Die Before I Run–The Story of the Great Feuds of Texas (New York: Devin-Adair, 1962). Robert C. Sutton, Jr., The Sutton-Taylor Feud (Quanah, Texas: Nortex, 1974).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Chuck Parsons, “Brown, Reuben H.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994