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6. Rangers Against the Confederacy

Chuck Parsons and Donaly E. Brice University of North Texas Press ePub

6

RANGERS AGAINST THE CONFEDERACY

“I find that Kimble County is a thiafs [sic] stronghold. [T]he two Llanos and all tributaries are lined with them.”

—Private H. B. Waddill, Company C, February 27, 1877

The beginning months of 1877 must have seemed terribly uneventful for Reynolds and the boys of Company A, stationed at Camp Hubbard in Frio County—named after Gov. Richard B. Hubbard, who had succeeded to the governorship upon the resignation of Richard Coke—as scout followed scout in the same general area with very little probability for action. On December 27, 1876, Captain Coldwell sent Reynolds with a nine-man squad up the Sabinal River, reaching Sabinal post office, some sixty miles west of San Antonio, the next day. They remained there for three days and then went to the small settlement of D’Hanis, a stage stop on the road between San Antonio and the Rio Grande. They remained there but one day and although they were unaware of it at the time a party of Indians had just passed through the country; when the Rangers learned of their presence it was too late to follow the trail. The squad returned to camp on the evening of January 2, having marched a total of eighty-two miles.1

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7. A Single Shot Ends a Feud

Chuck Parsons and Donaly E. Brice University of North Texas Press ePub

7

A SINGLE SHOT ENDS A FEUD

“[The Horrells were] the most dangerous band of men that ever lived.”

—James Buchanan Gillett, 1921

There was virtually no time for the Rangers to rest after their work in Kimble County. On April 29 Reynolds left camp to arrest J. E. Burt and Jack Jones. He scouted from the head of Copperas Creek on the Llano River to Fort McKavett and Menard but failed to find them. By May 4 he was back in camp with no prisoners, but rode out the next day hoping to locate a party of Indians reported to be on Celery or Scalp Creek in Menard County. Reynolds and his ten-man squad went as far as the head of Brady Creek in McCulloch County where they found the trail but were unable to track them down. After a march of ninety miles there was nothing to do but return to camp, now at Kickapoo Springs, reaching there on the seventh.1

Two days later Major Jones headed for Coleman County in pursuit of cattle thieves. During that sixty-mile scout they met with some success, capturing J. H. Curtis and Pete Cassimer. Cassimer had escaped from the Burnet County jail. Curtis was one of three men wanted for the murder of Lewis Stone in Kimble County on August 9, 1876. J. H. Curtis, William M. Curtis, and Samuel Williams were all charged with the murder two days later. J. H. was easily recognizable: he was about forty-five years old and had been shot in the mouth. William M. was about twenty-five years old, “spair made” and of light complexion. Sam Williams was also about twenty-five years old, heavily built and of dark complexion. A reward of $250 for each of them had been offered on September 5, 1876.2 Major Jones was keenly aware of the reward and reminded Brown County Sheriff R. B. Willson to be sure to give Reynolds a receipt for Curtis specific enough so that his description would result in the reward being paid.3 Reynolds did receive the $250 reward after delivering Curtis to the Brown County jail in Brownwood. Cassimer was delivered there as well.4 Other fugitives believed to be in the area and who were still high on the Rangers’ wanted lists included rustler Caleb Hall, Lewis “Luke” Cathey,5 charged with a murder in Kimble County on April 16, 1877, Richard Dublin, charged with murder and cattle theft in Kimble County, and Mac Potter. They were frequently not only the subject of Reynolds’ scouts but other Ranger patrols as well.

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3. Removal of Cattle from their Accustomed Range

Chuck Parsons and Donaly E. Brice University of North Texas Press ePub

3

REMOVAL OF CATTLE FROM THEIR ACCUSTOMED RANGE

“I sent Sergeant N. O. Reynolds . . . to quell the intended riot.”

—Captain C. R. Perry, October 24, 1874.

Governor Coke received many reports of Indian sightings in the months prior to the organization of the Frontier Battalion. The settlers were pleased at the prospect of the protection of Rangers when they saw Captain Perry establishing his first permanent camp at Celery Springs, six miles northwest of Menardville (now Menard) in Menard County. He was to operate generally north to the Colorado River and south to the mouth of Bear Creek on the North Llano River.

Captain Perry and the men of Company D experienced numerous engagements with hostiles during 1874 although the company saw no action during the month of June. Daniel Webster Roberts, now promoted to the rank of 2nd lieutenant after George Freeman declined the appointment,1 was absent from camp with a squad from June 14 to 19. He returned after a 120-mile march on the South Llano and its tributaries but reported finding no recent sign of Indian activity. During the same period Lt. William H. Ledbetter and a squad were scouting on Brady Creek; after a march of 118 miles they gave up on finding any recent Indian sign.2

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13. A Sheriff vs A Ranger

Chuck Parsons and Donaly E. Brice University of North Texas Press ePub

13

A SHERIFF VS A RANGER

“[T]hey are a different set of rangers to what Waller’s men were. Besides I believe they would of stood by me until the last hour in the day.”

—John Wesley Hardin to Jane Hardin, October 1878

Certainly any action following the defeat of the notorious Sam Bass gang, even if Reynolds had missed the big street fight, would be anticlimactic. He had fought against Indians, had delivered John Wesley Hardin safely to and from jail during his trial, had captured the Horrell party, had safely delivered Thomas G. T. Kendall to Austin, rescuing him from the hands of the San Saba mob, and now his men had captured Sam Bass. By July 26 he and his command were back in San Saba. George Herold requested a discharge on July 31, stating a need to visit his sick father in San Antonio. Herold later worked in far West Texas fighting Apaches, and then joined the El Paso police force.1

The month of August 1878 was occupied with scouting, dealing with problems in San Saba County, and guarding the Lampasas County jail. Sergeant Nevill and a squad of four men were there as well to assist the sheriff as needed due to the crowds swelling the population during the county fair. Nevill made numerous arrests between August 5 and 11, three of them for indecent exposure: James and Henry Fry and John Blackwell. He also arrested John Z. Bean and an unidentified man for assault and battery. Curiously some five years later Bean would be a candidate for the position of Lampasas City Marshal, running against N. O. Reynolds. Bean received only eleven votes. Two fugitives not found were Joe Henry and George Hoy, both accused of stealing cattle and horses.2

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11. Protecting the Man Killer

Chuck Parsons and Donaly E. Brice University of North Texas Press ePub

11

PROTECTING THE MAN KILLER

“I was carefully guarded by Lieut. N. O. Reynolds. . . . But I knew the power of the mob, the spirit that possessed them, and knew that my life hung on a thread.”

—John Wesley Hardin, April 22, 1878

Two events in March of 1878 had to cause some frustration for the commander of Company E, Frontier Battalion. On March 4, in Austin, Reynolds arrested a black man, whom he believed to be Mitch Cotton, wanted for a killing in Limestone County. There had been a gunfight during the elections in Groesbeck, the county seat, on September 30, 1871. At the time contemporary reports issued from Groesbeck indicated that gamblers D. C. Applewhite and Dan Gallagher entered a saloon to have a drink when Cotton observed the former displaying a derringer. As to who fired first after Cotton’s initial demand for the weapon—Attorney J. S. Thurmond stated that Cotton fired first—should have been irrelevant. Applewhite wounded Cotton in the left arm before he was shot and then died. Almost immediately a riot erupted, the town of Groesbeck becoming “almost instantly a carnival of raving, debauched and blood-thirsty men.” Many white citizens “took possession of the town, threatening to exterminate the negroes and white Republicans.” Governor E. J. Davis declared martial law before the crisis was over.1

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