Scyene, Dallas County, Texas

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(Updated August 19, 2002)




Break Up a Singing and are
Run In.

     In the days gone by, Scyene was acknowledged to have the gayest and most rollicking set of boys in the county, barring the Bear creek neighborhood, a few miles east of Pleasant View. Belle Star made Scyene her headquarters when she was down this way during her girlish days. It was probably Belle's gay, dashing style that first inspired the boys around Scyene to "be not like dumb driven cattle." And these rollicking ways were handed down for many years and the boys kept "old Rome howling" pretty regular up to about three or four years ago, when a religious wave struck that gay little burg. Since then, the boys have been very orderly, but it could not last.
     This summer, some boys, ranging in age from eighteen to twenty, went back to the good old way again. They have been in the habit now for several weeks of tanking up on Sundays and breaking up singings, held around at private residences Sunday nights.
     Last Sunday night, there was a singing at Mr. J. G. Pembleton's, near Scyene. The gang was on hand, full and funny, and proceeded to demoralize the singers, vomit over Mr. Pembleton's floor, etc.
     Monday, Mr. Pembleton came to town and preferred charges against Dan Pointer, Emory Payne, Bob Murphy, Charley Ellis and Tom Davis.
     Warrants were issued and Deputy Constable Ben Tanner went out and arrested the boys and brought them in.
     Yesterday, they were arraigned before Justice Lauderdale. They all pleaded guilty and were fined from $15 to $18 each. Their fathers were on hand and settled the bills with the court.

- October 9, 1891, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 7, col. 2.
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     A. F. Slater and wife to Geo. T. Crockett, 10 acres near Scyene, $150.

- November 25, 1891, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 1, col. 3.
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     Mr. B. F. Ayers of Scyene is in the city and paid the TIMES-HERALD a pleasant call. He said: "There is not a Clark man in my neighborhood. There are no Third party men to speak of and we want a western man for president. Our crops are in good condition, wheat is being harvested and the yield will be above the average."

- June 10, 1892, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 4, col. 5.
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What Prominent Farmers Say.

     Mr. Schuyler Marshall, of the firm of Marshal & Son, prominent farmers near Scyene, was in the city yesterday, and in conversation with a TIMES-HERALD reporter, said: "I see that your paper is agitating the subject of Dallas county making an exhibit at the State Fair this year. It is a good thing, and I hope will succeed. I am willing to contribute anything produced on our farm to the exhibit, and am willing to assist in preparing the exhibit. With the varied productions of our farms, gardens and forests, Dallas county should make an exhibit second to none."

- June 22, 1892, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 4, col. 2.
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     Towns are like individuals. They are born, they flourish, they fade and they die--that is, some towns do. Take old Scyene, as it is called to-day. It is on the road between Dallas and Mesquite, and is as tame and as commonplace as a country church yard. The Scyene of to-day is made up of one store and six or seven very unpretentious one-story two-room dwellings. The man with the paint brush hasn't visited the place for years. Scyene is quiet, but not gaudy, and there are few signs of life there in the heat of the day. It is in the heart of a magnificent farming country and the man with the hoe is very much in evidence. To the west, a distance of one-half mile, is the church where the people worship and the grave yard where they sleep when the battle of life is over. These farmers are temperate, thoughtful and church-going men as set in their ways the Puritans of early New England, and as wedded to their convictions as Col. William Jennings Bryan is to the cause of silver. What is left of Scyene is eminently respectable, but not stupid. Nothing can be stupid in the country where the wild flowers bloom, the mockingbirds and thrushes give continuous concerts and there is an absence of the ignoble strife of the maddening crowd, or words to that effect. Scyene is merely a reminiscence now, a shell of its former self. It is hoary and old and almost deserted.

     In the" good old days," that the pioneers lovingly refer to, Scyene was a sporty town--in fact, the warmest hamlet in Dallas county for miles and miles around. There were twelve or fifteen stores, a postoffice, saloons galore, a blacksmith shop, two small hotels and one small church on the hill, which overlooks the prettiest stretch of country the mind of man can paint. In the '60's, Scyene was a wild pioneer town and the rendezvous of the reckless riders of the Southwest. The war between the states had been terminated and thousands of rough riders from Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky and Alabama, who had refused to lay down their arms, came to Texas. Hundreds crossed the Rio Grande and fought under alien flags; hundreds of others sheathed their swords and turned from the pistol to the plow. Scyene did a thriving business with Jefferson and Shreveport. All goods were hauled in wagons overland, and there were two big wagon yards at Scyene. The town was the headquarters of free livers, free riders and free raiders. There were gambling houses, open day and night, and whisky was as free as water and "everybody drank it," according to a gentleman who grew up in Dallas county and participated in many a merry drinking bout within the noisy precincts of the "hot town on the hill."

     There were no prohibitionists in those days, and men wore pistols in their belts and knives in their boots. It was not considered a disgrace for a man to die with his boots on, instead of in bed like the early Christian fathers. From 1863 until 1873, a man looking for trouble was always accommodated in Scyene. Brawls were frequent, fights were everyday affairs and killings were numerous. "Raising hell" was the principal occupation of a crow of young bucks who made Scyene headquarters. Horse racing was indulged in, and horse races, whisky, pistols and fools made business good for the grave digger. Dallas was a lively hamlet in those days, but the police regulations were too rigid to please the fancy of the reckless riders of the range and their companions, who had drifted here from other states, devastated by the war. Merely to show their contempt of Dallas and its police force and police restraint, the wild and woolly sons of the prairie would visit Dallas at intervals, load up on fighting whisky and then attempt to "shoot up" the town. Shooting up the town was a harmless amusement in itself, but it made timid people nervous and nervous people timid. Mounted on spirited horses, the Scyene rough riders would favor the Dallas population with the real thing in the powder burning line and then put spurs to their steeds and ride away. Several hand-to-hand conflicts between the police officers and the wild men of the plains took place. Finally, there was a little blood-letting, two or three unostentatious funerals, and Dallas police regulations triumphed over border ruffianism. The gun and club of the policeman were more than a match for the pistol and lariat of the pioneer rough rider of the Southwest.

     On Christmas day, 1869, nearly thirty-four years ago, Col. Charles Nichols was shot to death at Scyene. Col. Nichols was a Missourian, a gallant soldier who had commanded a regiment in Gen. Joe Shelby's brigade. At the close of the war between the states, he came to Texas, as Confederates were outlawed by the fierce reconstructionists who were in power in Missouri. Col. Nichols was a brother of Hon. O. P. Bowser of this city. He was a farmer and was serving as a deputy sheriff at the time of his death. John Younger and John Porter were among the reckless young men who rendezvoused at Scyene, and they were the men who shot and killed Col. Nichols. John Younger was the eldest of the noted Younger boys. He was a fearless rider, a dead shot with a pistol, and in the guerrilla warfare on the Kansas-Missouri border, he had given his enemies cause to remember him until their dying day. His father had been put to death by Kansas red-legs, the torch had been applied to the old home and everything of value had been stolen. This made the Younger boys guerrillas during the war and outlaws after the war had been brought to a bloody close. Col. Nichols had a warrant for the arrest of John Younger. The charge against the bold Missourian was not of a serious nature, merely a misdemeanor. The officer found his man in a store at Scyene and, after pleasantly accosting Younger, told him that he had a warrant for his arrest.
     "It is too d---d bad to take a man away before he's had his breakfast, colonel," remarked John Younger.
     "Leave your pistol here, John, and go to breakfast. I will accompany you, remarked Col. Nichols, not dreaming that Younger would resist arrest.


     During the war, John Younger had formed the acquaintance of Col. Nichols in Missouri and Arkansas. Col. Nichols knew him as a scout and a guerrilla, a man devoted to the South and its cause, although a freelance and not attached to the regular army of the Confederacy. Col. Nichols did not anticipate a hostile encounter, according to those who are familiar with the facts in the case, but his time had come. Thrown off his guard by the jaunty and friendly greetings of the men, he was taken unawares, and three shots perforated his body before he could get his pistol in working order. The gallant officer fired one shot and then sank down upon the floor, his life blood oozing from three ghastly wounds. One ball from his pistol winged John Younger, passing through his left arm, just below the elbow and shattering the bone. This shooting took place in a two-story frame building, which is the lone survivor to-day of the business houses of the Scyene of other days. Col. Nichols was tenderly carried in the arms of strong men to a residence about 200 yards north of the store, which stands on the main road. Physicians were summoned, but their patient was past all human aid. He died three hours after the shooting.

     Col. Nichols was a popular man and his friends were legion. His summary taking off incensed the people of Dallas county, and the excitement was intense for a time. John Younger and his chum, John Porter, after the shooting, mounted their horses and rode away in the direction of the Indian Territory. Younger's wounded arm, which he carried in a sling, betrayed him. The fugitives were tracked across the Indian Territory by officers, and near the Missouri border, the trail was lost. Finally, the Texans abandoned the hunt and returned home. Younger and Porter had given them the slip and were supposed to have found a hiding place somewhere in Southwest Missouri. One day, news reached Dallas that John Younger was far beyond the vengeance outraged law. Captain Lull, a Pinkerton detective, had tracked him to his lair, near the little town of Osceola, Mo. It was a battle to the death, and there were no eyewitnesses. Younger was shot through the heart; Capt. Lull's jugular was severed and he bled to death. The relatives of Younger buried him in a little country churchyard near the banks of the Osage, and Allen Pinkerton had the body of one of his most valiant and trusted sleuths shipped to Chicago for interment. John Porter perished miserably in another state, and thus the killing Col. Nichols was avenged.

     The coming of the railroads to Dallas cast a damper upon Scyene and it went into a rapid decline. The man with the six-shooter began to encounter opposition. New settlers came from other states, and they brought with them a wholesome respect for the law. Public sentiment refused to tolerate the reign of the rowdy, and public officials, courts and prosecutors, developed great activity and there was an exodus of the turbulent spirits to the land of the setting sun. A representative of the Times Herald visited Scyene recently and surveyed the changes that time had wrought. Mr. Henry Garrett, who accompanied the representative of The Times Herald, snapshotted the old store building where Col. Nichols and John Younger and John Porter met on that Christmas morning more than thirty-three years ago. Mr. Garrett also secured an excellent snapshot of the pioneer building where Col. Nichols was taken after he had been shot down and where he died three hour afterwards at peace with the world and with a smile on his face. The weather-beaten frame store and the old log cabin are about all that remain of the wild border town that flourished in the never-to-be-forgotten pioneer days of the late '60's and early '70's.

- June 21, 1903, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 17, col. 1-4.
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