13 Slices
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8. The Ranger Force

Paul N. Spellman. University of North Texas Press ePub

8

THE RANGER FORCE

5’10” tall, 170 pounds, blue eyes, joined the Rangers on January 15, 1882, in Cotulla

As the twenty-seventh texas legislature convened for its 1901 session, Governor Sayers entered his “Message to Congress” into the records on January 10. Under the title of “The Adjutant General’s Department,” Sayers wrote this about the Rangers: “This body of men cannot be too highly commended for the manner in which they have discharged the many dangerous and delicate duties incident to their employment. They have been used only where necessary to repress lawlessness, to detect crime, and to arrest and bring to trial the more serious classes of offenders. Their services in this respect have been invaluable, and may be regarded as an absolute necessity to the State.”

Clearly, the exigency of the argument to disband or reorganize the Rangers was on the governor’s mind as he penned his report to the legislature. “Failure to provide properly for the continuance of this force,” Sayers continued, “would involve the assumption of a responsibility which no one at all acquainted with prevailing conditions should care to assume. It is earnestly recommended that the men be invested with such powers of arrest and detention as are conferred upon the officers.”1

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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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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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3. The Shoot-Outs

Paul N. Spellman. University of North Texas Press ePub

3

THE SHOOT-OUTS

Judge Parker remarked, “If there were more like them in this land of blood, it would be a better country.”

On May 26, 1886, Obediah Y. Love wrote the following letter to Montgomery A. Sandels, the district attorney for the federal court located in Ft. Smith, Arkansas: “Dear Sir, I as a personal friend of Albert St. John, who was murdered at Alex, Chickasaw Nation, Ind. Ty., under direction of Dept. U.S. Marshal Menohan ask that writs be issued for the murderers and they be arrested and carried to Ft. Smith for trial. Albert St. John was murdered at Alex on the 19th of this month by T. R. Knight, J. A. Brooks and two [sic] unknown men. The murder was cold blooded as the eye witnesses below will attest.” Stanford, Burke, Long, and Fulton’s names were scribbled across the bottom of the letter.1

Five days later the federal court brought charges of murder against Knight, Putz, and Brooks, who “feloniously, willfully, premeditatedly and of their malice aforethought killed and murdered Albert St. John.” A warrant was issued for their arrest, and in late July the three men appeared before the court in Ft. Smith and pled not guilty to the charges. They remained under house arrest into September, and were then discharged under their own recognizance and allowed to return to their jobs until the new court date was set for the following March.2

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