"Blood Road" and violent feuds

Saloons in downtown Orange in the 1800s and into the 1900s drew lumberjacks, mill workers, cowboys and shipyard workers. Violence in the streets was rampant and shootings and stabbings weren’t uncommon. Revenge on behalf of relatives or friends would end in a brawl or shootout since guns were at their fingertips. The urge to take it outside happened without notice and many would lose their lives.

One feud even involved the Texas Rangers. During some trouble in 1899, town leaders called for the Rangers to come help. On Dec. 21, 1899, Ranger T.L. Fuller shot and killed Oscar Poole. Official Ranger histories tell that Fuller shot in self-defense. But descendants of Poole even today say he was the victim and the Ranger was wrong.

On Oct. 15, 1900, Ranger Fuller was back in town for legal business with the shooting. Oscar Poole’s father was an Orange County judge at the time. While Fuller was in a barber shop on Fifth Street, Tom Poole, Oscar’s brother, went inside and shot and killed the ranger, according to archives.

It was not always ordinary citizens who would choose a violent path. Edgar Eskredge, who in 1935 was the minister of the First Baptist Church in Orange, shot and killed Orange Police Chief Ed O’Reilly outside a cafe at the corner of Fifth and Main streets. It has been reported, O’Reilly took the minister’s guns away after he got a group of people to raid at a nightclub in Bridge City which featured gambling and girls. The site of the shooting is now the corner of the Lutcher Theater parking lot.

Childers Road has also been called “Blood Road.” Crtics say it was only a can of red paint spilled onto the surface. But, believers report the blood eerily seeps up through the asphalt and covers the roadway.