“I molded a bullet for your daddy, and I’ll mold one for you too!” Bruce Pitzer was shocked to hear this line, 45 years ago while still in high school. He and his family sat enthralled listening to his grand-uncle A.J. Guedry‘s account of the infamous feud between the Guedry and Booth families of East Texas back in the 1800s. A.J. Guedry was a published historian and genealogist who had traveled from East Texas down to San Patricio County to relate the tale. He had spent years researching The Guedry Family histories and public records, tracing their lineage back to Arcadia, Canada in the 1600s.
Pitzer could not believe the amazing history of his mother’s family, The Guedrys of East Texas. The Guedrys were the principal characters in a deadly trail of vengeance known as the Guedry-Booth feud. A.J. even cited the famous Texas folklorist J. Frank Dobie, who wrote a brief passage of the feud in his collection of stories, “Flavor of Texas.” Pitzer soon discovered his third-great grandfather, Ursin Guedry, was murdered by John Booth.
That night, Pitzer swore he would someday honor his grand-uncle by writing the tale of his ancestors’ early history in Texas. “Forty-five years later, this pandemic forced me to revisit the manuscript I began years ago. I knew this was the time to finally finish telling my grand-uncle’s tale of the times and lives of my ancestors and the part they played in Texas history.
The result is “Big Thicket”, a Texas saga of romance, love, greed, revenge, and murder that sweeps across the Lone Star state. Click to Order on Amazon
“Big Thicket”‘s astonishing tale unfolds against the sweeping backdrop of Texas history. It brings the Booth-Guedry feud to life against larger events in Texas history like the War of Independence, as well as glimpses of the Republic and the Civil War.
A.J. Guedry’s copious notes began by describing the Guedry and Booth families as friends. The Guedrys had settled along the Sabine River after Texas became a Republic, next door to the Booths. After Mr. Booth died, Ursin Guedry agreed to be appointed guarantor of the Booth Estate to help save the widow Betsy Booth from ruin. However, Booth had three grown sons who were none too happy with the arrangement. The Booth boys were enraged further when they heard that Guedry was having a secret affair with their widowed mother. Bad blood was born.
When three of the Booth brothers finally confronted Ursin Guedry with their frustrations, an argument ensued. Ursin shot and killed two of them, leaving the youngest brother, John Booth, to vow, “I’ll kill you when you least expect it!”
Ursin was acquitted of the murders but haunted for years by John Booth’s violent threat. He’d carry his shotgun with him everywhere he went. Ten years after Ursin Guedry murdered his brothers, John Booth was ready for his revenge. He and his wife Sarah now lived down in San Patricio County in South Texas. Sarah needled and prodded Booth to take his revenge. She helped him plan Ursin Guedry’s murder by planting a horse in every town between San Patricio and Hardin County in East Texas. Booth rode his self-created pony express nonstop for 600 miles, shot Ursin Guedry dead, and was back home in less than five days. A feat unheard of in 1861.
The Civil War erupted and John Booth remained a free man by enlisting in the Confederate Army. He returned home to San Patricio with a limp and in poor health. Meanwhile, the Guedry family had always known who shot Ursin. John Booth was arrested and brought to Kountze, Texas where he was tried for Ursin Guedry’s murder. But Booth and his wife had planned the murder well. They had proof that Booth was in San Patricio County at the time of Ursin’s death. The jury believed no one could ride a horse 600 miles in such a short time and acquitted him. John Booth got away with murder!
Years later, Gistan Guedry, Ursin’s youngest son, who had returned from war suffering from PTSD, married John Booth’s infamous ex-wife, Sarah, causing his family shock and horror. Sarah was a femme fatale if there ever was one. Neighbors say they heard Sarah screaming at Gistan, “I molded the bullet for your daddy, and I’ll mold one for you too!” Soon after, Gistan would ride 300 miles west to Runge, Texas, to kill John Booth and avenge the death of his father, Ursin. The scene ends in tragedy for both families. The Guedrys had finally seen justice, but the senseless and violent feud would scar both families for generations.
A native Texan, Bruce Pitzer studied fine art at Sam Houston State University, then theater/playwriting at the University of Texas in Austin. After a decade in New York City, where he was involved with theater, acting, and writing, Pitzer moved to Los Angeles where he now writes for the film and television industry. An avid painter, Mr. Pitzer enjoys creating fine art between writing projects.