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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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16. The Cornett-Whitley Gang Emerges

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

16

THE CORNETT-WHITLEY GANG EMERGES

“The fire was returned with interest.”

—Lampasas Leader, October 6, 1888

The typical felonies of the late nineteenth century were those of a century before and the same as the century following: arsonists deliberately set fires; burglars invaded homes and stores; women were raped; men and sometimes women murdered others; cattle and horses were stolen. The cutting of fences now became a new felony, adding to the range problems of the 1880s. One can learn of the frequency of such felonies by reading the Texas attorney general’s reports, a publication that apparently did not appear with any regularity until 1885. It is nigh impossible to make comparisons between the terms of Sheriff Reynolds and his predecessors not only because of missing records but also because the character of the frontier had changed. Men no longer concerned themselves—at least in Lampasas County—with Indian raiding parties stealing or killing livestock, taking women and children captives or simply killing settlers attempting to establish a home on the frontier. Now fears were more concerned with the doings of white men, stealing horses or cattle, fence cutting, or robbery. However, the 1885–1886 report can be compared with the available 1887–1888 and the 1889–1890 reports. The felonies reported were arson, burglary, embezzlement, forgery, murder, perjury, rape, robbery, theft, and others.

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2. Joining the Frontier Battalion

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

2

JOINING THE FRONTIER BATTALION

“[O]nly sound young men without families and with good horses will be received.”

—Adj. Gen. William Steele, May 6, 1874

Orcelus Reynolds was mustered out of the Union Army at Springfield, Illinois, in late January 1866. He then traveled 100 miles north to join his family in Coleta where he resided for three years. It must have been a happy reunion; many families suffered the loss of a son or father, or a brother, but the Reynolds family was whole once again. Unfortunately father Hiram Reynolds died in November of 1866, of unknown causes. With the head of household gone, there was little to hold the family together. The widow Reynolds and daughters Louisa, Ella, and Edla moved back to Granville Center, Pennsylvania. Emma remained in Illinois, but brother Orcelus relocated in Roscoe, St. Clair County, Missouri.1

Why Reynolds chose to move to Roscoe, some eighty miles southeast of Kansas City, is unknown. From 1869 to 1872 he did reside in Missouri, hence in later years it was easy for him to say he was “from Missouri.” St. Clair County was in the heart of the home country of the notorious Younger brothers—Cole, Jim, Bob, and John—whose fame as brigands would only be eclipsed by the James brothers with whom they would share notoriety. During Reynolds’ residence there he may have become acquainted with members of the Younger family, although he did not live there on March 17, 1874, when a gun battle between the Youngers and Pinkerton agents cost the lives of John Younger and two detectives. By then Reynolds had moved on but he certainly read of the battle as it received considerable newspaper coverage at the time.

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15. Dealing with Fence Cutters

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

15

DEALING WITH FENCE CUTTERS

“Hands up or we will shoot!”

—Sheriff Reynolds to the fence cutters, summer 1886.

The Sixteenth Legislature met in early 1879 and perhaps to no one’s surprise determined that it was again necessary to reduce the number of Rangers, due to financial uncertainty. Gillett recalled those sad days, especially how his commander, Lieutenant Reynolds, “was compelled to sit idly by and see his experienced rangers dwindle away before his eyes, and what he said about those shortsighted law-makers would not look well in print.”1

The oath prepared at Camp Contrary on January 1, 1879, to which all solemnly swore to “bear true faith and allegiance to the State of Texas” and to “serve her Honestly and faithfully, and defend her against all her enemies or opposers whatsoever” as well as to “observe and obey the orders of the Governor . . . and the orders of the Officers appointed over me” carried the names of only twenty-two men, a drastic reduction from the seventy-one men enrolled in Captain C. R. Perry’s Company D back in May of 1874.2

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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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