Postoak Stories / Oil in the Family

Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. His passion is travel, and he seizes any opportunity to share his experiences in the most immersive way possible, whether at sea or on the land.

Jack County, Texas

Isham Hearne Steed
Jane Hardy Steed

The following story is from the book, History of Jack County, by Thomas F. Horton.

Statement of the Killing of John Russell (married) and Ab Russell, Brothers, at Postoak in Jack County, Texas, in November, 1880.

In the evening late prior to the night of the killing, four men came into the store kept by the Russell Brothers at that time, in Post Oak. These four men bought some provisions, mounted their horses and rode out a short distance from the little town and went into camp, unsaddled their horses and hoppled them out to grass. They then cooked their supper and ate. Just after dark these men came back and two other men with them, making six in all. These six men went into the store of the Russell Brothers and bought a full outfit of clothing for each man, including suits of clothing, boots and underwear. The six men then went out to their horses which were securely tied to the hitching rack out in front of the store, they then safely fastened these goods to their saddles on their horses. All six men then came back into the Russell Brothers' store and told the boys to walk out from behind the counter, they were going to kill them. Ab Russell walked out but John Russell did not and said to the men not to shoot there it would scare his wife. The Russells were living in a back room of the store, partitioned off by a curtain. One of the men walked to the curtain. It is not remembered whether the man spoke to the lady or not. It is related that the lady asked the man if they were going to kill her too; that the man then pointed his pistol upward and shot through the roof. Then they went to shooting, killed Ab Russell after he walked out from behind the counter; they shot John behind the counter, he attempted to hold up to the counter, one of the killers as he passed out reached over the counter and shot John Russell down. John Russell lived a while, perhaps till next day. After the shooting these six men mounted their horses and rode off, made good their get-away. They were never apprehended. It has always been a mystery as to the cause, except the robbery. The Russells came from Georgia. They were quiet, nice gentlemen, and inquiries from their old home disclosed that they were quite, law-abiding citizens, left no feuds behind to cause such an aftermath or anything to their discredit.

The Steeds and Russells were kin and reunited in Texas after the Civil War.

The following is from the book, Ninety-Four Years in Jack County, by Ida lasater Huckabay.


The long period of reconstruction was as severe in many ways as the war had been. The presidential plan was very reasonable. A.J. Hamilton was named provisional governor under this plan. In 1866 the Texans wrote a new constitution and were permitted to elect their own governor. The radicals became angry because of the ease with which reconstruction was being accomplished. A new plan of reconstruction known as the Congressional Plan, was then presented. This government set-up was very unsatisfactory to the Texans. Another constitution was written and E.J. Davis was elected governor. The administration of Governor Davis was not at all pleasing to the Texans. The people of Texas had regained the ballot by 1873, and in the election of that year Davis was defeated by Richard Coke, reconstruction was at an end. It had been a complete failure.

During all of these various changes of government and unrest among the people, Jack County suffered its disappointments along with the other counties.

The following letter gives the present generation insight to political unrest following the Civil War, and the racial problem as some viewed it.

Lineville, Ala.
Feb. 28, 1868

Mr. Isham H. Steed
Webster, Texas.

Dear Sir:

Your business matters left with me are just as you left them, not a single man has offered to pay and I fear there is no liklehood of their doing so. People seem determined not to pay any debt contracted before the war and our collecting law has been held up and we have nothing to force collections, save a man's honor and you are aware that virtue is exceedingly scarce in these days. I suppose it is hardly worth while to say anything about political conditions of our county, no doubt conditions are the same with you.

We have had quite exciting time here for the last three months trying to reconstruct and after all our trouble the thing has fallen thro. I need not tell you that I have no regret at its failure. I am and have even been a constitutional Union man, would like to see the Union restored as it was but am not anxious to see it restored and Africans to rule my State. I'd rather see the Military Government continued than see African Supremacy established.

Tom Adams was a member of the late convention and is a strong Radical but ours is a Conservative County in favor of a white man's Government. We have only about ninety (90) African votes or will have less in a short time as they are leaving and going to the valley and railroad. We have about 1,000 registered white votes, but only about 100 of them voted for the Constitution.

You had better come back here where you don't have chills and grasshoppers. You can make more raising corn than you can hauling hides in Texas.

Yours Fraternally,
L.M. Burny

This letter was sent by steamboat to Webster, Texas, (near Houston). Freighters then picked up the mail. This letter gives the present generation insight to political unrest following Civil War, and the racial problem as some viewed it.

Mr. Steed settled in Jack County about 1871 and established a mercantile business with Mr. Evans at Post Oak. He was also a successful cattleman.

Picture of Paul P. Steed
Paul P. Steed, Sr. (pictured right)

The following account by Paul P. Steed, Sr. is from the book, Ninety-Four Years in Jack County, by Ida Lasater Huckabay.

Beginning and continuing on from 1878 and depending on memory and such records as I have been able to obtain is the following narrative written:

"Backward, turn backward, oh, Time in your flight,
Make me a child again just for tonight."

Memory is treacherous and many oversights perhaps may be made. After Springdale, the next community of note as I remember was Post Oak. In the year 1878, in co-partnership with Mr. S.O. Callahan, we operated a tin-shop in Jacksboro-Mr. Callahan, the tinner, I the road man and peddled tin-ware among the farmers over Jack County. These farm houses were not very numerous at that time. In 1878 I camped one night at Post Oak. A Doctor Voluntine had a small general store there, a few residences were in and around the place. A little later came a Mr. Kirk who put in a good-sized stock of general merchandise and did considerable business. A Mr. White, Mr. Kirk's son-in-law, put in a nice stock of drugs; later came Steed and Evans who opened an elaborate stock of general merchandise; a Mr. Eli Catlin operated a blacksmith shop-he was quite an artisan and could make anything from a horse-shoe nail to a full-rigged well machinery ready for operation; a commodious school house; many handsome residences graced the town, peopled with a citizenship not excelled elsewhere. Of course churches were organized and services regularly held. Located about seventeen miles north of Jacksboro, in Jack County, on the main highway from Jacksboro to Henrietta, in the center of a rich body of farming land. Farmers were not slow in settling around about, and now a rural population of no mean proportion supports the town. A Mr. G.L. Harlan, the chief merchant, operates a general stock of merchandise, amply sufficient to accommodate the trade. Mr. J.W. Reynolds, as chief clerk, with additional clerks, the customers receive ready attention, -the scene of a busy small emporium; blacksmith shop, garages, etc. About two miles south of the town on the highway is a well-cared for cemetery where repose their dead-first settlers-Captain Steed, the patriarch, his son, Needham, M.A. Epps, Dr. Farber, Grandpa Gore, Jeff Brothers, G.W. West, E.P. Coston, Bob Horn, J.W. Lawrence, -Spangler, Dr. Richards, Jesse Smith, Dr. Burton, W.N. Cooper, Nath Moore, Jake Chester, T.D. Glazner, Henry Nelson, Dr. Younger-here memory fails.

Paul P. Steed
Clarendon College, 1913
Paul P. Steed
Center on Clarendon Football Team
1912 - 1913 Seasons

I.H. (Isham) Steed was my grandfather. They left Talladega, Alabama, just after the Civil War. They came by ox-wagon to Texas, stopping for a time at Pittsburg, Texas; then on to Gainesville, Texas, and finally came to Post Oak about 1870 or '71. Grandfather I.H. Steed had been some sort of an officer in the Confederate Army. They waited 6 weeks at the Mississippi River for their turn on the Ferry, so great was the migration to the West, and a new country. They had been well fixed in Alabama, and the war left them penniless, almost. The entire trip to Pittsburg took six months. My father was then a small boy, but old enough to remember. In Gainesville, Grandfather Steed engaged in freighting with oxen from Gainesville to Jefferson, Texas, which was the head of navigation for several years. They then moved to the vicinity of Post Oak, Texas. They acquired land and the cemetery there was taken out of grandfather's farm. He and Grandmother Steed, and several other Steeds including my father's first wife, are buried there in the center of the cemetery, under the largest cedar trees in the same. I often asked father why, after passing all the good lands in Texas, they finally located in Jack County, and, of all places, around Post Oak. The answer was simple: They were pioneers, and in the cattle business. Their two fundamental needs were wood and water. Post Oak vicinity offered an abundance of both.

Grandfather Steed did have charge of relief work during the big drouth. I have heard them talk of it, also of trouble with Indians. My father when he became around 18 years old took a herd of stock cattle and grazed them on the open range for three years, staying with them day after day. It was the sale of these cattle that put him in business. During the three years he ranged them as far west as about where Quanah now is located, and in between, drifting on the free range where the grass and water were best.

Upon selling out this string of cattle, he engaged in the mercantile business in Post Oak with a man named Evans, firm name of Steed & Evans. Evans ran the store, father engaged in the business of running and buying cattle. He first fenced the pasture just east of Post Oak, and it was this fence that was cut by the wire cutters, and is mentioned in various books, stories, and folklore of the day. The old fence can still be seen just north and east of the town, with the wires cut and repaired between every post clear around the four section pasture. All the neighbors came in and helped repair it the next day. Father always said that some of those who cut it, joined in repairing it. All his life he refused to tell me who did it. Yet he well knew, as did mother.

Just across the street from Steed & Evans in Post Oak, the Russell Bros. ran a general store, like father's-general merchandise, outfitting buffalo hunters, cowmen etc. They were both murdered by the Dalton Gang and are buried in the adjoining lot to grandfather in Post Oak Cemetery.

My mother taught in Jacksboro School as a substitute some six months one time, during the time that the Fort was being operated. A Dr. Pistol once practiced in Jacksboro, later moved to Seymour where he spent the rest of his life. Dr. J.D. Thweatt or (Theatt) was the doctor at my birth, which was April 28th, 1894, in Post Oak at the location just across the street from the Spangler home. The Spangler home was sold to them by my father just after his first wife died.

George Russell ran the gin, the first I believe in Post Oak.

Dr. Theatt or (Thweatt) above mentioned moved to Garza County and died there while I was County Attorney in that County.

Steed & Evans burned out when I was about two years of age. We moved to Baylor County and on to where Groom, Texas is now located, in 1903, and have been there ever since. We were there before the town or the railroad. We children still own the lands that father purchased from the State and from others. After about 35 years absence, I returned to Jack County and with Joe Cooper opened the Steed-Cooper field, also the Worsham-Steed field in Jack County. The first is now designated as the Steed field and the Worsham-Steed field (S.E. of Jacksboro on Flowers & Sewell) by the R.R. Commission of Texas. Myself and associates developed with about 30 wells, some eight or ten other leases in Jack County. My eldest son still operates them.

The Stars Fell On Henrietta Movie Poster

My grandfather was the first president of an American law class (Cumberland, Tennessee) born west of the Mississippi. He was appointed county attorney and was on a job serving a writ in Post, Texas where he met and fell in love with my grandmother. They married and he went to work for an oil company, moving to Wichita Falls to lease property.

Oil Boom in Wichita Falls Picture
Wichita Falls Central Stock Exchange Pictures
Pictures from the book, Early Texas Oil, by Walter Rundell, Jr.

My dad, Netum Steed (far right), returned from World War II to join his father in the oil business.

Newspaper Articles on Wildcatters

Newspaper Articles on Wildcatters

Newspaper Articles on Wildcatters

Newspaper Articles on Oil Import

Leader in the oil community, he served as president of the Texas Independent and Royalty Owners Association, often appearing in front of Congress in Washington, D.C.

He warned of the dangers to National Security of our dependence on foreign oil. He helped John Tower win Lyndon Johnson's senate seat, Texas' first elected Republican since Reconstruction.

Picture of John Tower and Netum Steed
Netum Steed (right) arriving in Washington D.C. with newly elected Senator John Tower
Related Links
Netum Steed Laboratory at Texas A&M
Steed Papers
Herd of Steeds
Join the discussion

Further reading

Recent Comments