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9. Simply cannot Control Himself

Bob Alexander University of North Texas Press ePub

ASSUREDLY THE GRIM REAPER HAD NOT BEEN ASLEEP during that first month of eighteen-hundred and ninety-two: Not in the Big Bend Country, Company D's territory. Subsequent to slick undercover work, Diamond Dick St. Leon, the former-Ranger, had infiltrated and ingratiated himself with a nasty gang of Mexican ore thieves at Shafter. Surreptitiously, after talking with Diamond Dick, Corporal John Hughes and Private Lon Oden knew where to take a tactically advantageous position on that twelfth night of January. St. Leon would be acting as the rear guard for the gang's pack-train of stolen ore, treasure being shipped under the cover of darkness from Shafter to the Rio Grande—and across. Unbeknownst to Matilde Carrasco, José Villeto, and Quinlino Chaves they would never see or feel the warmth of Big Bend Country sunshine again. The ambush—law enforcement interdiction—had been blueprinted with buckshot perfectly. Whether or not the challenge to throw up hands and surrender was hurled before or after the Rangers’ shotgun blasts is somewhat irrelevant now, certainly not of any concern for Villeto and Chaves—they were sledgehammer dead. During the initial gunfire Carrasco had been wounded and might have survived had he not opted to fight a little longer. Apparently it had not even dawned on the cleverly duped Matilde that Diamond Dick was really not his friend. So, almost effortlessly when Carrasco repositioned himself to pop a few caps at the two suitably concealed Texas Rangers: “St. Leon rose up and shot him between the eyes.”1

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11. In Arrest when he Died

Bob Alexander University of North Texas Press ePub

THE PREVIOUS YEAR MAY HAVE BEEN PUT TO BED, but 1894 El Paso was wide awake, one of those emblematic towns of the popularized Wild West era that never slept. And if she did need to nap for a minute or two—or readjust unmentionables—well, Ciudad Juárez was across the river. Though there were many nice folks residing there, industriously earning wholesome livelihoods and occasionally attending performances at the opera house or variety theaters, or churchy socials, or even lacing up roller-skates at one of several rinks, other amusements were tolerable. Far and wide throughout the nineteenth-century Southwest—the lively city was not necessarily known by her proper name, but as already cited, Hell Paso, the Monte Carlo of the West. One scribe said the place was wide-open, “tough as an old boot, mean as a sore-headed bear.”1

Aside from laying down a bet, were one so inclined laying down a whore was effortless, too. A business transaction—nothing more, nothing less—it was. Good for the patron, the prostitute, and the madam and the city who was taking her cut by winking and turning her head, all the time collecting fines—de facto licensing fees—from the daughters of joy.2 Even the city's attorney would lament that the practice was “radically wrong in principle and right has been sacrificed to profit.”3 And one of those ladies of the night with a plunging neckline and plunging her indomitable spirit into America's dreamscape model of capitalism was Mathilde Weiler, aka Miss Tillie Howard, a Wisconsin native—maybe—who had scrimped and saved, investing her $2,200 in cash for a fancily appointed parlor house at 307 South Utah Street, in the very heart of El Paso's Tenderloin District—or the Reservation—as whore house row had then been euphemistically christened.4

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10. Undaunted Courage and Fine Generalship

Bob Alexander University of North Texas Press ePub

SPRINGTIME OF 1893 HAD CLOSED finding U.S. Deputy Marshal/Special Ranger Baz Outlaw sitting in a reasonably good position career-wise. Certainly, despite the intermittent drunken and messy imbroglios of the past, maybe his word about foregoing taking a drink would stand good. Unquestionably, several Big Bend Country folks thought he was yet the man to turn to in a crisis. John Humphries, the storeowner previously advancing Baz cash in lieu of Captain Frank Jones forwarding Outlaw's quarterly pay vouchers, apparently had forgotten and/or forgiven—or it never had amounted to too much in the first place. Subsequent to some intricate consultations of a serious nature, John Humphries carried the message. Civilian Humphries wrote to Baz Outlaw enjoining him to exercise his authority as a federal officer: Proclaiming to the deputy marshal that the “Mescal business” at the Chispa Coal Mines must be stopped. The novice would-be lawmen had concocted what they believed was an ingenious plan. As it was spelled out to the Deputy U.S. Marshal, they would furnish him—loan him—a Winchester, horse, and saddle for the job.1 Then he could

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7. Couldn't Leave Liquor Alone

Bob Alexander University of North Texas Press ePub

CORPORAL JOHN R. HUGHES seemed to have had the state of affairs along the Rio Grande pegged tight—and right—noting there had been “so much lawlessness at & near Presidio” that he thought it best to maintain a camp there for at least a month's duration. Past that timeframe, well, he was decidedly sure that it wasn't such a good idea “to stay long in one place, especially in Presidio as the mexicans [sic] can watch us pass out & in the town.”1 Particularly Corporal Hughes updated his war-chiefs, Sergeant Outlaw and Captain Jones, regarding real time reality: The presence of his detachment at Presidio had driven “six or eight” fugitives across the river into Ojinaga, where they were giving local lawmen the slip. For near a month, employing his best law-enforcing efforts Corporal Hughes and his men had been trying to “decoy” the wanted men into crossing the river and capturing them in the Lone Star State, rather than effecting a midnight extradition—kidnapping—in the State of Chihuahua. Thus far the corporal had been unsuccessful, but hope springs eternal for Rangers, too.2

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6. Worth Two or Three Ordinary Men

Bob Alexander University of North Texas Press ePub

THE ATTRACTIONS OF WORK OR DEARTH OF WORK in Mexico had lost their luster for John R. Hughes. Some time on that first day of December 1889 and somewhere in Uvalde County he raised his hand swearing an oath to the State of Texas and was once more a Ranger, a private in Company D.1 Little did he realize it then but he had walked into a brewing administrative firestorm, divergent opinions about the rights and wrongs of cross-deputation. Though John Hughes and Baz Outlaw, at the time, would have had no comprehension about how such high-level disgruntlement would impinge on their lives—ultimately it would.

Paul Fricke, United States Marshal for the Western District of Texas, following the precedent of his predecessor, had continued the sagacious policy of deputizing particular Rangers. In this instance the controversy was swirling around his appointment of Sergeant Charley Fusselman. Captain Frank Jones—reading his interpretation of the law—thought the practice inappropriate. He asked that Charley Fusselman tender his resignation as a Deputy U.S. Marshal if, indeed, he wished to remain drawing pay from the Lone Star State:

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