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11. Keeping the Peace in the Valley

Paul N. Spellman University of North Texas Press PDF

11

KEEPING THE PEACE IN

THE VALLEY

My private business being such that I could not do justice both to myself and the state, I tendered my resignation.

It must have been an interesting assignment for Captain

Brooks in the middle of the summer of 1904, ordered to Minera to halt a violent railroad strike. Twenty-two years earlier as a too-often drunken laborer, the Kentucky wanderer had spent the miserable part of a year working in those same coal mines, loading rail cars and helping with the transport to Cotulla and San Antonio. Perhaps the bourbon-induced fog of those early days prevented the Ranger captain from remembering any of those moments now; perhaps a sense of pride welled up within him for the successful career he had managed since.

Either way it made for interesting serendipity that Brooks would purchase “retirement property” the same month that he would return to the scene of the sordid days that propelled him into the Texas Rangers.

In between his many treks to Batson Prairie that summer, then,

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CHAPTER 8 Getting Gregorio

Paul N. Spellman University of North Texas Press PDF

CHAPTER 8

Getting Gregorio

NEARING HIS SEVENTIETH BIRTHDAY, ALEXANDER Gilmer stood with his hands on his hips, fists clenching, as he watched the fire consume his sawmill. The Irish born shipbuilder turned Texas lumber magnate stared in anger and disbelief at this, the fourth time his Orange County-based mill had gone up in flames. The other three times it had been accidental; this time it was deliberate. No more building here, he thought to himself. His next sawmill would be in

Lemonville a few miles away.

The Texas Rangers had arrived in Orange County a few days earlier when the race riots were determined to be beyond the control of the local authorities. In fact, it was roundly thought that local law enforcement was behind the violence. Roving gangs had controlled the countryside all summer, running off the Black families, beating up a number of them. In early August a mob had opened fire on a house, killing one of its residents and wounding several others.

Some of Company E arrived in Orange on August 18. Two days later Captain Rogers, in his first activity since the Laredo shootout and accompanied by Augie Old, arrested Jack Morris, Doug Harris, and Frank Weatherford for disturbing the peace and suspicion of involvement in the recent killing. The Rangers stayed in Orange

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Thirteen: U. S. Marshal, Western District

Paul N. Spellman University of North Texas Press ePub

CHAPTER 13

U. S. Marshal, Western District

After giving due credit to all loyal friends who stood by me so nobly and endorsed me so unqualifiedly, I nevertheless attribute my success to Almighty God, whose I am and whom I serve and to whom I solemnly pledged if He would favor me for said position, I would use the office for His glory, which pledge I now ratify, relying upon Him for His help and guidance. It is my desire that what additional influence I might have by reason of my office shall be used for Him.

This, the 3rd day of April, 1913, the day I assumed the responsibilities of the office.

J. H. Rogers, United States Marshal 1

In 1913 the Western District of Texas encompassed a massive amount of land—over 115,000 square miles in a narrow rectangle—and was divided into six subdistricts: Waco as the headquarters, Austin, San Antonio, El Paso, Del Rio, and the new Pecos office added on February 5. As one of his first duties in office Marshal John H. Rogers assigned Charley Burks as chief deputy, J. T. Thompson, J. D. Platt, and C. S. Rogers as his deputies, and added his former sergeant John Dibrell as well. Burks had a career in law enforcement but was plucked from the state House of Representatives in 1913 where he served as sergeant-at-arms. Fred Peck, James T. Johnson, Early Wilson, and Arley V. Knight would also serve under Rogers in the years that followed.2

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CHAPTER 5 Captain of the Rangers

Paul N. Spellman University of North Texas Press PDF

CHAPTER 5

Captain of the Rangers

ON MARCH 3, 1888, WORD CAME to the Ranger camp near San

Angelo that horses had been stolen up the river and the thieves identified as Bill Neil and Bill Davis. Private Rogers took half the company and headed northwest, picking up the thieves’ trail between the

Concho and Colorado valleys until they crossed into Mitchell County on March 6. Rogers met up with Mitchell County deputy sheriff Y. D.

McMurry, and the two men went north while the other Rangers headed out along another trail.

The next day as Rogers and McMurry ambled along a dusty trail, two men on horseback crossed from the nearby woods onto the road— it was the horse thieves. Neil grabbed for his pistol and had it out of the holster when Rogers’ first shot rang true, striking the man in the arm and forcing the gun to the ground. McMurry nearly made a fatal blunder as he turned to watch the first man fall from his horse, leaving Bill Davis an instant to draw his own weapon. However, a steely look from Rogers, gun pointed at Davis’s heart, encouraged the thief to rethink his position and he raised his hands skyward. The two men ended up in the Tom Green County jail.

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CHAPTER 7 The Streets of Laredo

Paul N. Spellman University of North Texas Press PDF

CHAPTER 7

The Streets of Laredo

AS CAPTAIN ROGERS STARED DOWN at the infant boy, he marveled at the wonder of new birth and beamed as a proud father. It was

January 5, the beginning of the new year 1898, a wonderful beginning at that. His and Hattie’s second son was healthy, even though born on this cold wintry day in the Rangers camp home outside of

Alice. Four-year-old Lucile and two-and-a-half year old Pleas would enjoy their little brother. His name? Only weeks before the Presbyterian Church had taken up another special offering for Reverend

Samuel N. Lapsley, a man of faith who had been called as the first

Presbyterian missionary to Africa. The Rogers’ had made a significant contribution to his expenses. It was Providential, the captain decided. They would name their new son Lapsley. His middle name,

Harris, extended the Rogers kin one more generation.

Yes, all in all a great start to the new year, a sign perhaps that it would be another relatively calm one as 1897 had been. That, however, was not to be.

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