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9. One Dublin Taken, One Dublin Escapes

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

9

ONE DUBLIN TAKEN, ONE DUBLIN ESCAPES

“Get out . . . don’t you see the Rangers have got me?”

—Dell Dublin to his brother Richard, November 21, 1877

On August 23, 1877, Dallas detective and Ranger Jack Duncan and Texas Ranger John B. Armstrong, with several Florida officials, captured John Wesley Hardin, the Texas man-killer wanted for more than a score of murders. Hardin, now with a reward of $4,000 for his taking, had enjoyed eight years of lawlessness since his first killing in 1868, eluding members of the Texas State Police, county sheriffs, detectives, bounty hunters, and Rangers for years. Occasionally he had been captured but always managed to escape, sometimes shooting his way to freedom. In mid-1874, after the killing of Brown County deputy sheriff and former Texas Ranger Charles M. Webb,1 Hardin felt the increasing pressure of the law and fled to Florida where relatives of his wife lived. As “John H. Swain,” Hardin may have lived out a quiet life if Armstrong and Duncan had not plotted his successful capture. In resisting the lawmen one of Hardin’s companions was killed, but he was taken back to Texas alive.

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1. Continuing the Warrior Tradition

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

1

CONTINUING THE WARRIOR TRADITION

“Private in Company B, 147th Illinois Volunteer Infantry.”

—Orcelus Reynolds

Moonlight rays fell on the sentinel’s Winchester, creating glimmers of light in the camp of the sleeping men. A young Texas Ranger paced the ground nervously, realizing the urgency of his guard. He had to protect the horses and the other Rangers, but he also had to prevent the mobs from taking the prisoner . . . and more importantly prevent him from escaping. John Wesley Hardin was the prisoner guarded so closely, the man-killer for whose capture Rangers John Armstrong and Jack Duncan earned a reward of $4,000. Hardin had been the most wanted man in Texas, but now he was a prisoner in the camp of Lieutenant N. O. Reynolds. It was abundant glory for the Rangers, but what if Hardin should escape? What if he was mobbed by friends of his victims? Who would pay for the carelessness?

Texas Ranger Lt. N. O. Reynolds, known as the “Intrepid” by fellow Ranger James Buchanan Gillett and history, is not among the better known of the nineteenth-century lawmen. No other biographies have appeared before, and the few articles discussing his most noted exploits reveal him only in the reflected light of the outlaws he pursued and captured. During his lifetime, however, especially during the 1870s and 1880s, he was widely recognized as an intrepid lawman. He had risen steadily on the ladder of law enforcement, beginning as a jail guard, then serving as a sergeant in the Frontier Battalion of the Texas Rangers, then rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commanding of Company E. Later he was city marshal of Lampasas and then sheriff of Lampasas County. His experiences were extensive, and during his career he earned the respect of countless Texans, the lawless and the law-abiding alike.

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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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Appendix A. The Gentlemen in White Hats—The Men of Company E, Frontier Battalion

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

APPENDIX A

THE GENTLEMEN IN WHITE HATS

The Men of Company E, Frontier Battalion

Final resting place of Reynolds’ brother-in-law, Charles L. Nevill. The grave is near the opening of City Cemetery # 4, San Antonio. Photo by Parsons.

Claude Leroy Douglas authored three books dealing with Texas history, two of which dealt with the Texas Rangers and Texas feuds. The first was The Gentlemen in White Hats, Dramatic Episodes in the History of the Texas Rangers, published in 1934, and we acknowledge borrowing that title for this section. Famous Texas Feuds, published in 1936, ushered in the Texas Rangers during such dramatic incidents as the Mason County War and the Horrell-Higgins Feud. Although the men of Reynolds’ day had no official uniform and wore whatever headgear they chose, they did at times ride fast and fight hard; the mystique of the Texas Ranger almost demanded that he wear a white hat as the symbol of his being the “good guy.” The outlaw and desperado wore the black hat in the collective mind of those of us who grew up with Saturday afternoon western “oaters” and black and white television. The Texas Ranger invariably rode the white horse as well.

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10. A Killing in Scabtown

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

10

A KILLING IN SCABTOWN

“[Lieutenant Reynolds] of the rangers fears the consequences of his bloody work.”

—Widow Ida Miller, March 21, 1878

By 1878, Menard County, once on the very edge of the frontier, was considered settled. The county had been organized in 1871 and in the following year a courthouse was erected in Menardville (now Menard). Former Frontier Battalion member William W. Lewis, who had joined Captain Perry’s Company D at the same time Reynolds had back in 1874, operated a saloon there. Lewis’ saloon, according to the San Antonio Daily Express traveling reporter Hans Mickle, displayed a large canvass sign depicting an imaginative steamboat going up the Salt River in which Lewis was a “distinguished passenger.” The most prominent buildings were the two-story rock courthouse and Mr. Becker’s store.1

The community of Menardville had organized around a military post established in 1852, which was named after Captain Henry McKavett, killed at the battle of Monterrey during the Mexican War. Fort McKavett originally boasted five companies of the 8th Infantry stationed there to protect incoming settlers and to push the frontier further west. By 1859 the Indian menace was considered minimal and the post was abandoned. Then during the Civil War with many able-bodied men serving in the eastern theaters Indian activity increased in the area. In 1868 the fort was re-established; at its peak in the 1870s four hundred troops were stationed there, including units from the 1st, 10th, 16th, and 22nd Infantry along with “Buffalo Soldiers” of the 24th Infantry and 9th and 10th Cavalry. A variety of civilian establishments were there to provide services to the troops. After the Civil War, substantial homes were built and according to correspondent Mickle, there was “the air of comfort and convenience” everywhere.

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