13 Slices
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4. The Garza War

Paul N. Spellman. University of North Texas Press ePub

4

THE GARZA WAR

We entered the room, covered the robbers with our six guns and arrested them.

Guilty!

Based on the affidavits, memoirs, and trial testimony of the three defendants it is clear they believed themselves to be innocent of this crime: each in his own way had presumed he was doing his duty, following the law, and assisting in the lawful arrest of Albert St. John. What a shock it must surely have been when they heard the foreman read the verdict.

Judge Parker may have been just as shocked as the three defendants. On July 28 Parker issued the sentence and had the three men locked up in the Ft. Smith jail, although they spent the next three weeks essentially under house arrest. Late in August the federal judge called the men back into his court and announced his suspension of their sentences effective immediately.1 Lt. Knight returned to his Ft. Sill assignment, Henry Putz returned home to Dallas, and James Brooks headed back to Company F. Everyone believed the incident was now over and done. But not so.

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13. Falfurrias, Brooks County

Paul N. Spellman. University of North Texas Press ePub

13

FALFURRIAS, BROOKS COUNTY

For some reason kind Providence has been good to me for which I am truly thankful.

Judge James A. Brooks, who preferred to be called “captain” for the rest of his life despite three decades on the bench, worked diligently to make the county named after him a viable entity. He presided by virtue of his office over the county commissioner’s court and as ex-officio superintendent of the public school system that he helped create. He oversaw the initial laying out of the county roads and the bridges, and in 1912 steered the county citizens through a deadly smallpox epidemic. On a monthly salary of $150 plus $600 annually as school superintendent, Brooks led the groundwork that established the new county.

A courthouse was built in 1914 on the Falfurrias town square and the captain was honored at the festivities for his efforts to bring that project to fruition. The original plans for a courthouse had been shelved when most of voting Precinct Four was carved away into the new Jim Hogg County, and a construction bond issue of $68,000 did not pass until February 1914. Construction began in the spring and was completed on October 29, when two cornerstones were laid under the watchful eye of the county judge; meanwhile, court sat in session in the Donaho building near the square. On November 5 schools in Falfurrias were closed, the citizenry gathered behind the high school band as they paraded around the new edifice, and a brief ceremony took place prior to a community picnic served on the school grounds.1

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2. A Texas Ranger

Paul N. Spellman. University of North Texas Press ePub

2

A TEXAS RANGER

Capt. Scott encouraged me to be a real worthwhile Texas Ranger under all circumstances.

San Antonio was a bustling town in 1880, filled with every opportunity imaginable, and every temptation, for an impressionable twenty-four-year-old cowboy just stepping off the train. Whatever Jim Brooks hoped would happen for him there, however, never materialized. His later memoirs pointedly omit nearly all of the events of the next three years of his life, except the confessions of an old man that the most famous distilled product from his Bourbon County home now became his lifelong partner. In one recollection Brooks simply wrote: “I located in San Antonio, [and] after a number of trips looking over South Texas, and a few business adventures most of which failed, one took me to Cotulla, La Salle County, several times.”

But another memoir, scribbled on a desk calendar when Brooks was in his eighties, gives more insight into one of those “failed ventures.” After spending a few days in San Antonio, first at the old Southern Hotel, and then at “Miss Porter’s boardinghouse,” Brooks came back in contact with William Bartlett, the Kansas cattleman, and befriended Jerry Burnett’s son Sam, who had established himself in the Wichita Falls area (and who lent his name to the town of Burkburnett years later), as well as the Maltsbergers, father and son, of La Salle County.1

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5. Prizefight in El Paso

Paul N. Spellman. University of North Texas Press ePub

5

PRIZEFIGHT IN EL PASO

We’re here to protect life and property. We are not taking sides in this dispute.

On March 22, 1892, Ranger pvt. E. E. Doaty of company E was gunned down by fleeing Garcista rebels, renewing with full force the hunt for the last of these border ruffians. Captain Brooks joined McNeel’s force as they combed the Valley. On the twenty-sixth, Private Musgrave happened onto a camp and found himself quickly outnumbered. He managed to escape and return to his company; the bandits had vanished when Company F moved in the next day.1

Two brothers, José and Pancho Ramirez, had been accused of the killing of Army Corporal Edstrom the previous December, and Brooks and Rogers came upon their trail late in March in Encinal County. Separating to cover more territory, Rogers and a volunteer named Lee Hall surprised the two brothers in their camp; in the shoot-out that followed, José was killed. Two days later, Brooks tracked and arrested Pancho Ramirez, returning him to the Starr County jail where the warrant had been issued.2

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1. Old Kentucky Home

Paul N. Spellman. University of North Texas Press ePub

1

OLD KENTUCKY HOME

My father having gone to his final rest, my mother was left in the midst of that great struggle with six daughters and two little boys.

John Strode Brooks stood at the corner post of his new property, surveying a portion of the 247 acres of Kentucky bluegrass he had recently purchased. A tributary of Houston Creek flowed easily along its rocky bed through the eastern acreage. A stand of maple trees promised maple syrup the next season, a rolling field just past the grove looked favorable for summer corn, and an apple orchard would complete the annual harvest.

The pike road that connected tiny Paris to the growing town of Lexington drew one line for his land, a small road that wound northward along the Fayette-Bourbon county border marked another. New neighbors included Aaron and Mary Smedley, John Giltner just across the pike road, Frank and Nancy Willmott, Joshua and Rachel Corbin to the north, and the James Baggs family on the southern boundary. The main house would go there, he pointed up the pike, and the slave quarters in the hollow not far from the corral and barns.

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