Texas Rangers Surrender

Texas Rangers SurrenderThe stories of the bravery of the Texas Rangers are legendary. However, there was one incident when a group of them were cowards.  It was when events made the Texas Rangers surrender.
 
About ninety miles east of El Paso, Texas, are salt beds where people went to gather this essential mineral, not only for food, but also for silver mining. In 1876, Charles Howard tried to get control of the salt beds by filing a land claim on them. The salt gathers living in the area didn’t like this. In a confrontation, Howard killed one of their leaders. This caused an uproar. Texas Ranger major John B. Jones was sent to investigate. Seeing the need for more help, he organized Company C of the Texas Rangers.  
 
To be fair, the men he recruited were toughs from Silver City, New Mexico, and the man he put in charge, John Tays, was no leader. Under normal circumstances, none of these men would have met the Texas Ranger standards. But, these weren’t normal circumstances. 
 
On December 12, Tays and the other Rangers entered San Elizario. As soon as they got there, the salt gathers knifed to death the local storeowner. The Rangers did nothing. The next morning a sniper shot their sergeant. With the Rangers under siege, they surrendered to the mob. 
 
The Rangers were locked up in a building and then the salt gathers killed anyone they thought was against them. After the killing was done the Rangers were released to return home the best way they could.
 
Within days military troops showed up, but by then all of the killers had fled south of the border.
 
Never before, nor since have the Texas Rangers stood by and watched crimes take place, or surrendered without a fight.    
 
 

Texas Ranger Frank Jones

Texas Ranger Captain Frank JonesBorn in Austin, Texas in 1856, Frank Jones joined the Texas Rangers at the age of 17. He saw his first action when he and two other Rangers were sent after some Mexican horse thieves. The horse thieves ambushed the Rangers. Frank’s two companions were immediately taken out, but Frank was able to kill two of the bandits and capture a third.
 
Frank was promoted to corporal and later to sergeant. Once again while chasing a large gang of cattle rustlers, Frank and his six Ranger companions were ambushed. Three of the Rangers were killed, and Frank and the other two Rangers were captured.
 
Now, it would have been much better for the rustlers if they had also killed Frank, for while the rustlers were congratulating themselves on their victory, Frank grabbed one of their rifles, and proceeded to kill all of them.
 
A few years later, now a captain, while traveling alone, Frank was again ambushed. This time by three desperadoes who shot him, and left him for dead. With a bad chest wound, Frank tracked the three men down on foot until he found their camp. He waited until dark; took one of their rifles; shot one and brought the other two back to stand trial.
 
Over the next few years Frank continued his confrontations and victories over outlaws. But on June 29, 1893 Frank went on his last mission. He and four other Rangers went after some cattle thieves on the Mexico border. This time they did the ambushing. But it didn’t turn out well for Frank. In the ensuing gunfight this man of many lives was finally killed.

Old West Book Review: Texas Ranger N.O. Reynolds

Texas Ranger N.O. ReynoldsParsons and Brice have chosen Texas Ranger (Nelson Orcelus) N.O. Reynolds not because he is well-known, but because he is deserving of recognition.  Reynolds was one of those brave, dedicated individuals who believed in justice, law and order.  He was willing to ride hard, shoot straight and suffer all of the hardships and dangers in a land filled with deadly intrigues.

Author Parsons has written numerous Western history books.  He was for seventeen years “The answer Man” for True West magazine, as well as editor for the Quarterly and Newsletter of the National Association for Outlaw and lawman History. (NOLA).

For writing this book, Parsons has partnered with native born Texan Donaly E. Brice, Senior Research Assistant of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.  Brice has authored a number of books depicting Texas history.

Carefully researched, well-written, the biography of N.O. Reynolds is fast-paced reading about a man who served with the Texas Rangers, Company E, Frontier Battalion in various ranks for nearly five years.  During that time only one man, Tim McCarty was killed in Reynold’s command.  “Citizens of Texas wanted lawmen with courage and efficiency,” and they certainly got that with N.O. Reynolds.  He seemed always in the middle of things when it came to a variety of feuds and gunslinger escapades.  The Horrell-Higgins feud, Comanche raids, the Hoo Doo War, the transporting of Texas man-killer John Wesley Hardin, night rides, unruly lynch mobs, shootouts, ambushes, tracking thieves and killers, and capturing the Sam Bass gang were all part of Reynolds’ Job which he handled with steadfast efficiency.

In 1879, after nearly five years of service in Company E, Reynolds resigned from the Ranger Service citing health issues.  He had been a Texas Ranger since 1874.  At this time he went into the liquor business and bought property and ran a bar for a while but in 1880 he accepted a job as commander of Company D with the Texas Rangers.  However, he stalled taking the job citing trouble selling his business, and the job was filled by somebody else.

in 1882 Reynolds, at age 35, married the 20-year old Irene T. Nevill, the younger sister of one of his sergeants.  The couple married at the bride’s home in Austin.  They would have two daughters, Emma Elizabeth and Lula Jenkins.  Lula Jenkins Reynolds Blunt died of appendicitis when still a young woman; her early death was a great tragedy for the family

In 1883 Reynolds became City Marshal of Lampasas, Texas.  Here he was still a businessman, his name carne up periodically in newspapers as locals tattled on him for selling liquor on Sundays.

In 1888 to 1890 he was elected sheriff of Lampasas County.  He dealt with murder, mayhem and fence cutters.  Ranchers cut fences in desperation allowing their cattle to roam for grass and water during a hard drought.  Murder followed as desperate cattleman struggled over open rangeland vs private property.

Eventually Reynolds would move to the Gulf Coast of Texas where he worked in the shoe business.  According to newspaper advertising, within ten years he was back again in the liquor business.  Reynolds’ final employment was work as a night foreman at the Yellow Pine Paper Mill in Orange, one hundred miles east of Houston.  He remained here until his retirement in old age.  Reynolds died of pneumonia March 1, 1922.  His wife died in 1947, and the two rest side by side in the Center Point Cemetery where thirty-two Texas Rangers are buried.

In 1987 the Kerr County Historical Commission with the Center Point Sesquicentennial Committee sponsored a marker dedication honoring these men.  In addition, in 1999 a Texas Ranger memorial service sponsored by the Former Texas Ranger Association of San Antonio was held here honoring these brave men who rode, fought, and lived in a different time. Get your copy of this book HERE.

The reviewer, Phyllis Morreale-de la Garza is the author of numerous books about the Old West, including the true crime Death For Dinner, The Benders of (Old) Kansas, published by Silk Label Books, P. 0. Box 700, Unionville, New York, 10988-0700 www.silklabelbooks.com.

*Courtesy of Chronicle of the Old West newspaper, for more click HERE.

51dRYUl3KSL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Texas Devils: Rangers and Regulars on the Lower Rio Grande, 1846-1861, by Michael L. Collins, University of Oklahoma Press, (405) 325-3200, $19.95, Paper. Photographs, Notes to the Chapters, Bibliography, Index.

This book is a carefully researched account of the turbulent times along the Lower Rio Grande in Texas from 1846-1861.  The author delves into these fifteen years filled with conflict between Anglo ranchers, homesteaders and businessmen at odds with the Hispanic people after the Mexican War.  New International boundaries pointed to trouble when people lost their old homelands and the Republic of Texas established a new government as well as new political rules.

The author creates a page-turner that reads in places like an exciting novel.  With measured cadence and vivid word descriptions, the warring factions are brought to life.  He explains how the Rangers were hired to defend the homeland, protect the new border and keep the peace.  Understandably, the Mexican people were mostly filled with resentment toward these armed posses riding across their old homeland.  Known by the Mexicans as Ids diablos Tejanos, or Texas Devils, these men patrolled the countryside often clashing with Mexican bandits and roving Comanches.  Here are details regarding the various battles, what happened, who lived and who died.  Often young Rangers were brutally murdered, their hacked remains left rolling in the sun.

In retaliation, the Rangers were known to exact their own brand of vengeance, and sometimes committed atrocities with equal savagery upon those they fought against.  The book aims to tell the Ranger story with fairness, dispelling some of the romanticized myths surrounding the early Ranger companies.

Important leaders of the Ranger units are given biographical coverage as to their places in history.  Some had political ambitions; some were mercenaries interested in land and plunder.  Still others, like Major Samuel Heintzelman and Col. Robert E. Lee were military gentlemen performing their duties in Texas with dignity, and who were destined to fight in terrible battlefields back east.

A clear and sentimental portrait is drawn here regarding Robert E. Lee who left his beloved Virginia plantation (now Arlington National Cemetery) in service to his country.  He knew the winds of war would call him home to face heart wrenching decisions that would linger to the end of his days.

Too, this Ranger story includes the well known Juan Cortina known on the border as the “Red Robber.”  The son of wealthy Mexicans who owned vast ranch lands, he became a champion for the Mexican cause after his mother lost most of their land to gringo lawyers and speculators after the Mexican War.  Filled with bitterness and revenge, he led his Mexican followers against the Texas Rangers.  Somewhat of a Robin Hood, he became an illusive adversary much loved by the Mexican people.

The author points out that injustice on both sides of the border conflict were experienced by many people.  In 1860 Civil War broke out in the United States, and Texas went with the Confederacy.  So much turmoil ensued due to that cause, the fighting on the Texas border settled down since there was a much larger conflict to deal with.  Meanwhile, old myths and fables die hard because we all need our heroes.  However, still to this day Anglos and Hispanics on the Lower Rio Grande have their reasons to mistrust one another.  Even after 150 years, there is still much work to be done.  Western history readers will reflect on what is written here long after turning the last page. You can grab Michael’s book HERE.

Editor’s Note:  The reviewer, Phyllis Morreale-de la Garza is the author of many books about the Old West including Hell Horse Winter of the Apache Kid, Silk Label Books, P.0. Box 700, Unionville, New York 10988 Ph. (845) 726-3434 www.silklabelbooks.com

*Courtesy of Chronicle of the Old West newspaper, for more click  HERE.

Myth, Memory and Massacre The Pearl River Capture of Cynthia Ann Parker

Students of Texas history are familiar with the story of Cynthia Ann Parker, the nine-year-old white girl taken captive by Comanches, May 19, 1836.  For the next 24 years, Cynthia Ann lived with her Comanche captors, bore at least four children and somehow survived the rigors of life among the Indians until her rescue in 1860 by a troop of Texas Rangers in a fight known as “The Battle of Pease River.”

By now Cynthia Ann had been assimilated into the tribe, had forgotten most if not all of the English language, resisted parting with her Comanche children, and had become a hardened, sun-burned woman with huge work-worn hands, chopped hair and haunted eyes.

Ripped from her family at age 9, having witnessed the brutal murders of her parents and friends, faced with abuse and humiliation in a Comanche camp, Cynthia Ann Parker became the most famous of the white captives in Texas. There were many hundreds of other white girls and women taken captive by marauding Comanches, too.  Most were raped, tortured and killed.  Others traded back to their families were covered with scars and facial mutilation.  But what made Cynthia Ann different is that one of her children grew up to become Quanah Parker, famous in his own right as a chief and important negotiator between Indians and Whites.

After her rescue, Cynthia Ann never did adjust completely to return to White society. She died of a broken heart in 1870 and is buried at Fort Sill, Oklahoma between two of her Comanche children.

If you are interested in the complete history of the life and times of Cynthia Ann Parker, you must look elsewhere because there are many books available on the subject.  This book, Myth, Memory and Massacre delves mainly into events regarding the accidental rescue of Cynthia Ann by the Rangers at Pease River.  When the Rangers attacked a Comanche hunting party, they had no idea Cynthia Ann Parker was living with this clan.  The Rangers nearly killed her as she ran away clutching her baby, but one of the men realized she had blue eyes and correctly guessed she was a White captive.  It took a while to figure out who she was.

From here the authors begin their discussion of who, why, where and how.  They carefully dissect events beginning with the initial raid upon the camp, pointing out this was a hunting camp filled with women and children who had been butchering and preparing buffalo meat for winter.  Most of the Indians killed were women and children.  The surprise rescue of the white woman is what caused such a sensation throughout Texas since nobody thought Cynthia Ann could still be alive.  The publicity gave some individuals riding with the Rangers the opportunity for self importance and political gain.  Their actions, motives and self-promotion are exposed with regard to their showing the battle of Pease River had been a great victory with many more Indians killed, and at least one war chief taken out of action, which was probably not true.

The authors have done a great deal of careful research and tedious fact- finding.  Their conclusions are meant to clear up, in their opinion, many falsehoods regarding the rescue of Cynthia Ann that after many years of telling and re-telling has become folklore.  The authors aim to show how the rescue of Cynthia Ann Parker was eventually used for political advantage, and finally how the analyzation of these events historically have been misleading.  For those interested in “the rest of the story” concerning Cynthia Ann Parker, this book might help close the final chapter. You can tell for yourself and grab this amazing book HERE.

Editor’s Note: The reviewer, Phyllis Morreale-de la Garza is the author of numerous books about the Old West including Hell Horse Winter of the Apache Kid, Silk Label Books, P.O. Box 700, Unionville, New York 10988 vvww.silklapelbooks.

*Courtesy of Chronicle of the Old West newspaper, for more click HERE.

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