Hoerster House

Built in 1906.

From Germany to German Texas

Cattle Country

"In Texas, cattle live for the sake of man, but in all other countries man lives for the sake of his cattle."
A German Traveler's Observation in 1848

A Boy Becomes a Cattleman

Abduction on the Frontier

Fritz's Younger Brother is Captured, 1859

Pictured: The original letter placed by Indian Agent, Christopher Carson, in the San Antonio Daily Herald in December 1859.
Credit: Portal to Texas History.
Pictured: San Antonio Daily Herald, December 17, 1859.
Credit: Portal to Texas History.

The Mason County Hoo Doo War, 1875-1876

Pictured: Drawing, Cattle Rustling, titled Cattle Raid on the Texas Border, 1874.
Credit: Library of Congress.

A Feud Between the Law and the Lawless

What Caused The Feud?

A Quickie History of the Mason Hoodoo War

Vote Hoerster for Brands Inspector!

Rampant cattle theft dominates the 1872 election.

Frustrated citizens in Mason County, mostly German, elected John Clark as Sheriff and Dan Hoerster, Fritz's other younger brother, as County Brands Inspector.

Not Just for Show

Before barbed wire was invented in 1874, cattle were hard to keep track of.

Brands were a way to track grazing cattle who easily crossed property lines, but an inspectors' task was easily thwarted by bandits who intentionally stampeded herds or hid them in the brushland.

Sheriff Clark Cracks Down on Cattle Rustling

Nine men are jailed for cattle theft. Four escape.

Unwilling to risk the rest escaping, a mostly German mob stormed the jail and hung the remaining men before the Sheriff's could break it up.

No Time for Trial By Jury

Tim Williamson is charged with cattle theft.

In May 1875, Deputy Sheriff John Worley was sent to escort Williamson from Castell to Mason to make bond on the charges, but they were ambushed outside Mason by disguised men and…

Williamson’s Death Goes Unanswered

A Texas Ranger swears revenge.

Former Texas Ranger, Scott Cooley, was raised by Williamson and his wife after being orphaned young. When no indictments followed the murder, Cooley began a vengeful killing campaign.

Reign of Terror

Germans and Anglo Texans swap bullets.

Cooley arrived in Mason wanting names, and in no time, he had a list of Williamson's killers. Within months, a dozen men were dead, including Deputy Sheriff Worley.

The Death of Daniel Hoerster

Fritz’s younger brother becomes a casualty of the feud.

Two of Cooley's gang were ambushed by 60 men led by Hoerster and Sheriff Clark. Three weeks later, Daniel Hoerster was shot dead off his horse in broad daylight on courthouse square.

Rangers to the Rescue?

The locals petition the Governor Coke for protection.

Forty Texas Rangers led by Major John B. Jones were sent. Major Jones immediately dispatched search parties for Cooley, however, he soon learned that Cooley still had loyal friends among the Rangers.

The Names Run Out

The feud ends without much ado.

Cooley stayed in hiding, while his accomplices fled the state. Some were arrested, but escaped. By 1876, Cooley had made it to Blanco County, but he died ignominiously that summer of brain fever.

Evidence is Burned

The Mason County Courthouse catches fire.

On the night of January 21, 1877, a fire of unknown origin occurred at the Mason County Courthouse. The building burned, and all records relating to the feud, including any sanctioned mischief…

A Brother Reflects

The Hoerster House, ca. 1920.
Credit: Mason County Historical Commission.