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A. Story of Fvorttier Refovm 



Author of "Th: Naat— His Period and 
His Pictures," etc., etc. 

With Introductory Letter by Theodore Roosevelt 

'* No man in the wrong can stand up 
against a fellow that's in the right 
and keeps on a-comin'." 

Bill McDonald's Crbbd. 


Made by J. J. Little & Ives Co. 

New Yoek, 1909 

OomnaHT, IWO. bt 




Foreword: A letter from Theodore Roosevelt . . ,11 

I. — Introducing "Captain Bill" 13 

II. — An Old-Time Mississippi Childhood 

The kind of education for a young Ranger. Presence of 
mind early manifested ...... 16 

III. — Emigration and Adventure 

A boy at the head of a household. Meeting the "Devil 
and his wife." An early reform 21 

IV. — The Making of a Texan 

Reconstruction and " treason . " " Dave ' ' Culberson to the 
rescue. Education, marriage and politics ... 26 

V. — The Beginning op Reform 

Subduing a bad man. First official appointment. A 
deputy who did things. " Bill ' ' McDonald and " Jim ' ' Hogg 33 

VI. — Into the Wilderness 

A New Business in a New Land. A " Sand-lapper " shows 

his "sand" 43 

VII. — Commercial Ventures and Adventures 

Bill McDonald's method of collecting a bill ; and his method 

of handling bad men . . . . . . .48 

VIII. — Reforming the Wilderness 

The kind of men to be reformed. Early reforms in Quanah. 
Bad men meet their match ...... 55 

IX. — Getting Even with the Brooken Gang 

The Brooken Gang don't wait for callers. One hundred 
and twenty-seven years' sentence for an outlaw . . 65 

X. — New Tactics in No-Man's Land 

A man with a buck-board. Holding up a bad gang single- 
handed ......... 69 

XI. — Redeeming No-Man's Land 

Bill McDonald and Lon Burson gather in the bad men. 
" No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that's 
in the right and keeps on a-comin' " . . . .78 

6 Contents 

XII. — Some op the Difficulties of Reform 

" Frontier " law and practice. Caught in a Norther in 
No-Man's Land . . . . . . . .87 

XIII. — Captain Bill as a Tree-Man 

The lost drove of Lazarus. A pilgrim on a "paint-hoss." 

A new way of getting information in the " Strip" . . 95 

XIV. — The Day for " Deliveries " 

The tree-man turns officer, and single-handed wipes out a 
bad gang ......... 106 

XV. — Cleaning Up the Strip 

Deputy Bill gets "stood off," but makes good. Bill Cook 
and "Skeeter," "A hell of a court to plead guilty in!" . 115 

XVI. — Texas Ranger Service and Its Origin 

The massacre of Fort Parker; Cynthia Ann Parker's capture. 
Rangers and what they are for. Their characteristics 
and their requirements . . . . . .126 

XVII. — Captain of Company B, Ranger Force 

Capture of Dan and Bob Campbell. Recommendations for 
a Ranger Captain. Governor " Jim " Hogg appoints his old 
friend on the strength of them . . . . .136 

XVIII. — An Exciting Indian Campaign 

First service as Ranger Captain. Biggest Indian scare on 
record ......... 145 

XIX. — A Bit of Farming and Politics 

Captain Bill and his goats. The "car-shed" convention 149 

XX. — Taming the Pan-handle 

The difference between cowboys and "bad men." How 
Captain Bill made cow-stealing unpopular . . .154 

XXI. — The Battle with Matthews 

What happened to a man who had decided to kill Bill 
McDonald 165 

XXII. — What Happened to Beckham 

An outlaw raid and a Ranger battle. Joe Beckham ends 

his career ......... 176 



XXIII. — A Medal for Speed 

Captain Bill outruns a criminal and wins a gold medal . 179 

XXIV. — Captain Bill in Mexico 

Mexican thieves try to hold up Captain Bill and get a sur- 
prise. Mexican police make the same attempt with the 
same result. President Diaz tries to enlist him . . 182 

XXV. — A New Style in the Pan-handle 

Charles A, Culberson pays a tribute to Ranger marksman- 
ship. Captain Bill in a "plug" hat . . . .189 

XXVI. — Preventing a Prize-Fight 

The Fitzsimmons-Maher fight that didn't come off at El 
Paso, and why. Captain Bill "takes up" for a Chinaman 194 

XXVII. — The Wichita Falls Bank Robbery and Murder 
Kid Lewis and his gang take advantage of the absence of 
the Rangers. They make a bad calculation and come 
to grief. Good examples of Bill McDonald's single-handed 
work, and nerve ....... 199 

XXVIII. — Captain Bill as a Peace-maker 

He attends certain strikes and riots alone with satisfactory 
results. Goes to Thurber and disperses a mob . .214 

XXIX. — The Buzzard's Water-Hole Gang 

The Murder Society of San Saba and what happened to it 
after the Rangers arrived . . . .221 

XXX. — Quieting a Texas Feud 

The Reece-Townsend trouble, and how the factions were 
once dismissed by Captain Bill McDonald . . . 243 

XXXI. — The Trans-Cedar Mystery 

The lynching of the Humphreys and what happened to the 
lynchers ......... 250 

XXXII. — Other Mobs and Riots 

Rangers at Orange and at Port Arthur. Five against four 
hundred 260 

XXXIII.— Other Work in East Texas 

Districts which even a Ranger finds hopeless. The Touch- 
stone murder. The confession of Ab Angle . . . 265 

8 Contents 

XXXIV. — A Wolf-Hunt with the President 

Captain Bill sees the President through Texas and accom- 
panies him on the "best time of his life." Quanah Parker 
tells stories to the hunters ..... 273 

XXXV. — The Conditt Murder Mystery 

A terrible crime at Edna, Texas. Monk Gibson's arrest 
and escape. The greatest man-hunt in history . . . 290 

^XXXVI. — The Death of Rhoda McDonald 

The end of a noble woman's life. Her letter of good-by 304 

XXXVII. — The Conditt Mystery Solved 

Captain Bill as a "sleuth." The tell-tale handprint. A 
Ranger captain's theories established .... 308 

XXXVIII. — The Brownsville Episode: An Event of Na- 
tional Importance 
The Twenty-fifth Infantry's midnight raid . . 315 

XXXIX. — Captain Bill on the Scene 

The situation at Brownsville. Rangers McDonald and 
McCauley defy the U. S. army. Captain Bill holds a 
court of inquiry ........ 323 

XL. — What Finally Happened at Brownsville 

How State officials failed to support the men who quieted 
disorder and located crime . . . . . .341 

XLI. — The Battle on the Rio Grande 

Assassination of Judge Stanley Welch. A Rio Grande 

election. Captain Bill ordered to the scene. An ambush; 

a surprise, and an inquest. Captain Bill's last battle. 357 

XLII. — The End of Rangering and a New Appointment 

State Revenue Agent of Texas. The "Full Rendition" 
Bill enforced. A great battle for Tax Reform, and a blood- 
less triumph ........ 373 

XLIII. — Conclusion 

Captain Bill McDonald of Texas — what he has been and 
what he is to-day 388 


Portrait op Capt. Bill McDonald . . . Frontispiece 

Facsimile of Letter from Theodore Roosevelt . . .11 

Introducing Reform in the Wilderness . . . .46 

Beginning a Campaign in No-man's Land . . . .75 

The Capture of Dan and Bob Campbell . . . .138 

The Battle with Matthews at Quanah . . . .173 

Quelling a Lynching Mob at Wichita Falls . , .211 

In Camp with Theodore Roosevelt 283 

Captain Bill's Last Battle . . . . . . 367 

The white housc 


December 19, 1908. 

My dear Captain: 

I am glad you are to publish your memorials. I shall 
alv;ays look back with pleasure to our wolf hunt in Oklahoma. 
Yours has been a most interesting life. You are one of the 
few men now living; who served in that warfare ajjainst crime 
and on behalf of order, which has well nigh passed away with 
the old frontier conditions which called it into being. For 
a number of years you wore deputy sheriff, or deputy marshal, 
or representative of the cattle men's associations employed 
by them to put a stop to cattle stealing and robbery under 
arms, and you served for twenty years in that unique body, 
the Texas Rangers. It is a career v/hich henceforth it will 
be difficult to parallel. 

With all cood wishos, believe me. 
Sincerely yours. 

Captain W. J. McDonald, 
New Amsterdam Hotel', 
Kcw York, N.Y. 



A Letter from Theodore Roosevelt to Captain 

The White House, 

December 19, 1908. 
My deak Captain: I am glad you are to publish 
your memorials. I shall always look back with 
pleasure to our wolf -hunt in Oklahoma. Yours has 
been a most interesting life. You are one of the few 
men now living who served in that warfare against 
crime and on behalf of order, which has well-nigh 
passed away with the old frontier conditions which 
called it into being. For a number of years you 
were deputy sheriff, or deputy marshal, or repre- 
sentative of the cattlemen's associations, employed 
by them to put a stop to cattle stealing and robbery 
under arms, and you served for twenty years in that 
unique body, the Texas Rangers. It is a career 
which henceforth it will be difficult to parallel. 
With all good wishes, believe me, 
Sincerely yours, 

Theodoke Roosevelt. 


Introducing ** Captain Bill '' 

Captain Bill McDonald is a name that in Texas 
and the districts lying adjacent thereto makes the 
pulse of a good citizen, and the feet of an outlaw, 
move quicker. Its owner is a man of fifty-six, drawn 
out long and lean like a buckskin thong, with the 
endurance and constitution of the same. 

In repose, Captain Bill is mild of manner; his 
speech is a gentle vernacular, his eyes are like the 
summer sky. I have never seen him in action, but 
I am told that then his voice becomes sharp and 
imperative, that his eyes turn into points of gray 
which pierce the offender through. 

Two other features bespeak this man's character 
and career : his ears and his nose — the former, alert 
and extended — the ears of the wild creature, the 
hunter; the latter of that stately Roman architec- 
ture which goes with conquest, because it signifies 
courage, resolution and the peerless gift of com- 

14 Captain Bill McDonald 

His nerves are of that quiet and steady sort whicli 
belong to a tombstone and he does not disturb them 
with tobacco or stimulants of any kind — ^not even 
with tea and coffee. In explanation, he once said: 

'^ Well, you see, sometimes I have to be about 
two-fifths of a second quicker than the other fellow, 
♦ and a little quiver, then, might be fatal." 

Incidentally, it may be added that Captain Bill 
— they love to call him that in Texas — is ranked as 
the best all-round rapid-fire marksman in the State, 
and for the '* other fellow " to begin shooting is 
believed to be equivalent to suicide. Add to these 
various attributes a heart in which tenderness, strict 
honesty and an overwhelming regard for duty 
prevail, and you have in full. Captain William Jesse 
McDonald, formerly Deputy Sheriff, Deputy U. S. 
Marshal and Banger Captain, now State Eevenue 
Agent of Texas. 

It is the story of this man that we shall undertake 
to tell. During his twenty-five years or more of 
service in the field, he reduced those once lawless 
districts known as the Pan-handle, No-man's Land, 
and, incidentally, Texas at large to a condition of 
such proper behavior that nowhere in this country 
is life and property safer than in the very localities 
where only a few years ago the cow-thief and the 
train-robber reigned supreme. Their species have 
become scarce and ^ * hard to catch ' ' there now, and 
the skittish officials who used to shield them have 
been trained to ** stand hitched.'' The story of a 

Introducing " Captain Bill " 15 

reform like that is worth the telling, for it is the 
unwritten history of a territory so vast that if 
moved to the Atlantic seaboard it would extend 
from New York to Chicago, from Lake Erie to the 
Gulf of Mexico — its area equal to that of France 
and England combined, with Wales, Belgium, the 
Netherlands and Switzerland thrown in, for good 
measure' Furthermore, it is the story of a man 
who, in making that history, faced death almost 
daily, often under those supreme conditions when 
the slightest hesitancy — the twitch of a muscle or 
the bat of an eyelid — a *^ little quiver,'' as he put 
it — ^would have been fatal ; it is the story of a man 
who time and again charged into the last retreat of 
armed and desperate murderers and brought them 
out hand-cuffed, the living ones, of course; it is 
the story of a man who, according to Major Block- 
som, in his report of the Brownsville troubles in 
1906, would * ' Charge hell with a bucket of water. ' ' 
In a word, it is the story of a man who has done 
things, who is still doing them, and whose kind is 
passing away forever. 


An Old Time Mississippi Childhood 

the kind of an education for a young ranger, 
presence of mind early manifested 

In those days when the Mississippi planter was 
only something less than a feudal baron, with slaves 
and wide domain and vested rights ; with horses, 
hounds and the long chase after fox and good red 
deer; with horn and flagon and high home wassail 
in the hall — in those days was born William Jesse 
McDonald, September 28th, 1852. His father, 
Enoch McDonald, was the planter of the feudal 
type — fearless, fond of the chase, the owner of wide 
acres and half a hundred slaves — ^while his grand- 
father, of the clan McDonald on its native heath, 
was a step nearer in the backward line to some old 
laird who led his men in roistering hunt or bloody 
fray amid the green hills and in dim glens of Scot- 

That was good blood, and from his mother, who 
was a Durham — Eunice Durham — the little chap 
that was one day to be a leader on his own account, 
inherited as a clear a strain. The feudal hall in 
Mississippi, however, was a big old plantation 

An Old Time Mississippi Childhood 17 

house, built of hewn logs and riven boards, with 
woods and cotton-fields on every hand; with cabins 
for the slaves and outbuildings of every sort. That 
was in Kemper County, over near the Alabama line, 
with DeKalb, the county-seat, about twenty miles 

It was a peculiar childhood that little '* Bill 
Jess " McDonald had. It was full of such things 
as the home-coming of the hunters with a deer or a 
fox — sometimes (and these were grand occasions) 
even with a bear. Then there were wonderful ball- 
games played by the Bogue Chita and Mucklilutia 
Indians ; exciting shooting-matches and horse races ; 
long fishing and swimming days with companions 
black and white, and the ever recurring chase, with 
the bloodhounds, of some runaway slave. There 
was not much book-schooling in a semi-barbaric 
childhood such as that. There was a school-house, 
of course, which was used for a church and gather- 
ings of any sort, and sometimes the children had 
lessons there. But the Kemper County teaching of 
that day was mainly to ride well, to shoot at sight, 
and to act quickly in the face of danger. That was 
the proper education for the boy who was one day 
to make the Texas Pan-handle and No-man's land 
his hunting ground, with men for his quarry. 

Presence of mind he had as a gift, and it was 
early manifested. There was a lake not far away 
where fishing and swimming went on almost con- 
tinuously during the summer days, and sometimes 

18 Captain Bill McDonald 

the small swimmers would muddy the water near 
the shore and then catch the fish in their hands. 
They were doing this one day when Bill Jess was 
heard to announce excitedly: 

<< IVe got him, boys! IVe got him! You can't 
beat mine ! ' ' at the same instant swinging his catch 
high for them to see. 

That was a correct statement. They couldn't beat 
his catch and they didn't want to. What they 
wanted to do was to get out of his neighborhood 
without any unnecessary delay, for the thing he 
held up to view was an immense deadly moccasin, 
grasped with both hands by the neck, the rest of it 
curling instantly around the lower arm. His hold 
was so tight and so near its head that the snake 
could not bite him, but the problem was to turn it 
loose. His friends were all ashore and at a safe 
distance. He did not lose his head, however, but 
wading ashore himself he invited them one after 
another to unwind that snake. Nobody cared for 
the job and he told them in turn and collectively 
what he thought of them. Then he offered the honor 
to a litle slave boy on attractive terms. 

** Alec," he said, ** ef you-all don't come an' un- 
wind this heah snake, I'll beat you-all to death an' 
cut off yo' ears an' skin you alive and give yo' 
carcass to the buzzards. ' ' 

Those were the days when a little slave-boy could 
not resist an earnest entreaty of that sort from the 
son of the household, and Jim came forward, his 

An Old Time Mississippi Childhood 19 

face gray with gratitude, and taking hold gingerly- 
he unwound a yard or so of water-moccasin from 
Bill Jess, who, with the last coil, flung his prize to 
the ground, where it was quickly killed, it being well- 
nigh choked to death already. 

But even the great gift of presence of mind will 
sometimes balk at unfamiliar dangers. It was about 
this time that the Civil War broke out, and Enoch 
McDonald enlisted a company to defend the South- 
ern cause. The little boy left behind was heart- 
broken. His father was his hero, and when by and 
by the news came that the soldiers were encamped 
at Meridian — a railway station about fifty miles 
distant — the lad made up his mind to join them. 
He set out alone afoot and being used to finding 
his way in unfamiliar places he made the journey 
with no great difficulty, eating and sleeping where 
opportunity afforded. He arrived at Meridian one 
morning, and began to look over the ground and to 
make a few inquiries as to his father's headquarters. 
There was a busy place, where a lot of supplies were 
being unloaded from what appeared to be little 
houses on wheels. They were freight cars, but Bill 
Jess didn't know it. He had never seen a railroad 
before, and he followed along the track with increas- 
ing interest till he reached the engine, which he 
thought must be the most wonderful and beautiful 
thing ever created. Then suddenly it let off steam, 
the bell rang and the air was split by a screaming 
whistle. It was too sudden and too strange for his 

20 Captain Bill McDonald 

gift to work. The son of all the McDonald's and of 
a gallant soldier set out for the horizon, never 
pausing until halted by the sentry of his father's 

He was permitted to enter, and was directed to 
the drill ground, where his father, who had been 
promoted' for bravery to the rank of Major, was 
superintending certain maneuvers. The little boy 
in his eagerness ran directly into the midst of 
things, and Major McDonald, suddenly seeing him, 
was startled into the conclusion that some dire 
calamity had befallen his family and only Bill Jess 
had escaped to tell the tale. Half sliding, half fall- 
ing he dropped from his horse to learn the truth. 
Then gratefully he lifted the lad up behind him and 
continued the drill. Eunice McDonald was only a 
day or two behind Bill Jess, for her instinct told 
her where the boy had gone. They remained a few 
days in camp and then bade their soldier good-bye. 
They never saw him again, for he was killed at the 
battle of Corinth, October 3d, 1862, charging a 
breastworks at the head of his regiment, his face to 
the enemy, as a soldier should die.* The boy. Bill 
Jess, ten years old, went after his father's effects, 
which included two horses, both wounded. These 
he brought home, but his soldier father had been 
buried on the field, where he fell. 

* Col. Rogers of Texas was killed in the same charge ; Major McDon- 
ald and Col. Rogers fell side by side, within a few feet of the works. 


Emigration and Adventure 

a boy at the head of a household. 

devil and his wife.'' an early reform 

The boy of ten was now the head of the household. 
He had his mother and sister, and most of the 
negroes still remained ; but he was the * * man of the 
house ' ' and was mature before his time. Except in 
the matter of strength, he was a man's equal — ^he 
could do whatever a man could do. Already he was 
a crack shot, and at the age of twelve he hunted 
deer, and killed them, alone. Long before, even dur- 
ing his father's first absence, he had followed run- 
away slaves with the bloodhounds and without other 
assistance had captured them and marched them 
back to the plantation. It was not a child's work, 
and we may not approve of it to-day, but we must 
confess that it constituted a special training for the 
part he was to play in after years. 

The war ended at last, and with it the McDonald 
fortune. Slaves and cotton were gone. Only a rem- 
nant of land, then worthless, remained. Eunice 
McDonald, widowed, with two children — her home 
left desolate by the ravages of war — knew not which 
way to turn. A bachelor brother with his face set 

22 Captain Bill McDonald 

Texasward offered to make a home for her in the 
new land. She accepted the offer, and in 1866 they 
reached east Texas and settled in Eusk County, 
near Henderson, the county-seat. Here the brother 
and sister made an effort to retrieve their broken 
fortunes, with moderate success. All the family 
worked hard, and young McDonald, now in his 
fifteenth year and really a man in achievements, 
did a man's part on the farm, attending school a 
portion of the year. His uncle permitted him to 
earn some money for himself by cutting wood and 
hauling it to the village, and a part of this money he 
laid away. Such leisure as he had, he spent in fol- 
lowing the hounds, and presently, even as a boy, 
became famous for his marksmanship. Coon hunt- 
ing was perhaps his favorite diversion, and fre- 
quently with his dogs he threaded the dark woods all 
night, alone. 

But he had not as yet achieved that perfect fear- 
lessness which distinguished him in later years, and 
there is still another instance recorded where his 
presence of mind failed to work. This latter is a 
curious circumstance, indeed, and should be inves- 
tigated, perhaps, by the Society of Psychical Re- 

He had been out on one of his long night tramps 
and was very tired next evening when his work was 
done. Coming in, he threw himself down on a lounge 
in the hallway and was soon sound asleep. By and 
by his mother came along and wakened him. 

Emigration and Adventure 23 

''It's bed-time, Bill Jess," she said. 

He got up, walked out toward the gate, and she 
supposed he was awake. When he really awoke, he 
was a mile from there, leaning on the gate of one 
Jasper Smith, the father of two young ladies whom 
Bill Jess was in the habit of visiting. Eealizing 
where he was, and what might happen to him if dis- 
covered just there, he set out for home down the 
wide public road, when suddenly a little way ahead 
he saw two objects perched on the top of the rail 
fence. At first he thought they were two men, and 
was not disturbed; then all at once they had left 
the top of that fence and in the wink of an eye, lit 
in the road directly in front of him. 

'* It was the devil and his wife," McDonald de- 
clared. ' ' They had horns and tails, exactly like all 
the pictures of the devil I ever saw. Of course it 
might have been the devil and his brother; anyway 
they belonged to that family. I got by those things. 
I didn't debate a minute, but went home as fast as 
my legs could carry me, emptying my pockets as I 
ran, which I had always heard the darkeys say 
would keep off witches. There was a short way 
home by the grave-yard, but I didn't take it. I kept 
to the big road, and when I did get home, I didn't 
wait to go around to the door, but went right in the 
open window where my mother was. She said that 
I had imagined everything, but I hadn't. There was 
no imagination about it." 

Curiously enough, soon after this happened a 

24 Captain Bill McDonald 

little flock of school-children passing near the same 
rail fence in daylight, saw something that scared 
them so badly that some of them fainted. But by 
this time Bill Jess had gathered himself, and taking 
his gun he loaded it heavily and went devil hunting. 
However, without success. 

In spite of this slight lapse, young McDonald 
probably considered himself a man, now. We have 
seen that he was already calling on the young ladies, 
and in the locality where he lived an ability to drink 
whiskey was regarded as another manly achieve- 
ment. There was a small still-house located not far 
from his home, and he got into the habit of visiting 
it and of tasting the output. One day he tasted too 
much and did not return either in good season or 
condition. When his mother prepared to administer 
punishment, he pulled away from her and stated 
that he would not take a whipping. But Eunice 
McDonald was not one to condone such rebellion. 
She put away the rod and bided her time. One night 
when Bill Jess was fast asleep she wrapped and 
pinned him securely in a sheet and laid on such a 
thrashing as gave him a permanent distaste both 
for liquor and disobedience. 

At another time it was attentions paid to a young 
lady that got him into difficulties. The young lady 
was the sister of his school teacher, and the latter 
did not approve of anything resembling attachment 
between the two. One day the young wooer wrote 
a letter in school, ajad passing it down the line it 

Emigration and Adventure 25 

unluckily fell under the eye of the teacher, who 
captured and read it, forthwith. 

** 1*11 settle with you at recess, sir," he said, nail- 
ing Bill Jess to the seat with his eye. 

Bill Jess didn^t care to have him settle. He was 
willing to let the account run right along, and to 
knock off the interest. He decided not to wait. 
The teacher had his back to the board, working out 
something hard, when Bill Jess went away. He 
didn^t rush wildly. He didn^t even run — not exactly 
— ^but he lost no time, tip-toeing out of there. 
Neither did he go home. He'd gone home once in 
disgrace, and he remembered what had happened. 
Eunice McDonald's combination of sheet and horse- 
whip offered no fresh inducements in that direction. 
He walked twenty miles to a saw-mill and got a job. 
Then, by and by, everything blew over; everybody 
was sorry, and he returned home to forgiveness and 
safety. A cyclone hit the school-house for some 
reason or other about this time and demolished it. 
Bill Jess being raked out of the debris undamaged 
in any particular. Perhaps this was vindication. 


The Making of a Texan 

beconstruction and ** treason." ^* dave " culber- 

But though still a boy in years, being not more 
than sixteen, his youth really came to an end now. 
It was the period of Keconstruction in the South — 
a time of obnoxious enforcements on the one hand, 
and rebellious bitterness on the other, with general 
lawlessness in the back settlements. The military 
dominated the towns and there were continuous mis- 
understandings between the still resentful con- 
quered and the aggressive and sometimes insolent 
conquerors. Young McDonald, with the memory of 
his hero father, shot dead while leading his regiment 
against these men in blue, was in no frame of mind 
to submit to any indignity, real or fancied, at their 
hands. It happened just at this time that one 
Colonel Greene, a relative of the McDonalds, was 
murdered by negroes, who, being arrested, con- 
fessed the killing, stating that they had mistaken 
Greene for a mule-buyer supposed to have a large 
sum of money. The men were lodged in jail, but it 
was believed that under the ^ ^ carpet-bag ' ' military 

The Making of a Texan 27 

law then prevailing they would escape punishment. 
In later years, young McDonald was to become one 
of the most strenuous defenders of official procedure 
— one of the bitterest opponents of lynch-law the 
State of Texas has ever known; but he was hot- 
blooded in 'sixty-eight, and the situation was not 
one to develop moral principles. When, therefore, 
a mob formed and took the negroes out of jail and 
hanged them, there is no record of Bill Jesse having 
distinguished himself in their defense as he cer- 
tainly would have done in later years. Indeed, it is 
likely that if he did not help pull a rope that night 
it was only because the rope was fully occupied with 
other willing hands. 

Of course the military descended on Henderson 
and set in to discipline it for this concerted lawless- 
ness. The townspeople as a whole, and the relatives 
of Colonel Greene in particular, resented this occu- 
pation. Charley Greene, a brother of the murdered 
man, in company with Bill Jess, presently got into 
trouble with some soldiers who were deporting 
themselves in a manner considered offensive, and 
the result was a running fight with the military in 
the lead. The soldiers made for their quarters in 
the court-house. It would have been proper to leave 
them alone, then — to retire flushed with victory, as 
the books say, and satisfied. But Greene could not 
rest. He persuaded Bill Jess to stay with him, and 
they rode up and down in front of the court-house, 
occasionally taking a shot at the windows, to punctu- 

28 Captain Bill McDonald 

ate their challenge to warfare. Finally Greene 
decided that they could charge the court-house and 
capture it. He primed himself with liquor for the 
onset, and refused to heed his companion's advice 
to abandon the campaign. The two ascended the 
court-house stairs, at last, with pistols cocked. 
Greene had one in each hand and, with them, shoved 
open the double doors at the head of the stairs. 
That was another mistake. The soldiers were * ' lay- 
ing for him ' ' just inside, and in an instant later his 
arms were pinioned, and he was a prisoner. The 
doors swung to, then, and Bill Jess stood outside, 
wondering whether he ought to charge to the rescue, 
wait there and be captured, or retire in good order. 
With that gift of logic and rare presence of mind 
which would one day make him famous, he decided 
to get out of there. He had a plan for organizing 
a rescue party, and did in fact get a crowd together, 
but in the meantime, under cover of rain and dark- 
ness, the soldiers had taken their prisoner from 
Henderson and he was well on the way to Jefferson, 
where there was a stockade. No attempt was made 
at the time to arrest young McDonald, though 
soldiers frequently loitered about his home premises, 
and with these he had many collisions, usually com- 
ing off victorious. He was strong, wiry and fear- 
less, and he had then, as always, that piercing eye 
and a manner of going straight at things without 
flutter or hesitation. 

Still, he was laying up trouble for himself, for 

The Making of a Texan 29 

Greene's court-martial was coming off, and Bill 
Jess, who went over to see if he could be of any 
assistance, was promptly arrested while nosing 
about the stockade, and landed with his relative on 
the inside. This was a serious matter. The boy 
realized that it was, as soon as the gates closed be- 
hind him. He realized it still more forcibly when a 
few days later he and Greene were led into the 
court-house for military trial, and he took a look at 
the men who were to prosecute him for aiding in 
the crime of treason. Nor was he reassured when 
one of the lawyers present announced that he would 
** defend that boy's case.'' For there was nothing 
inspiring about this champion's appearance. No- 
thing about him except his generosity seemed worth 
while. He wore ill-fitting homespun clothes, smoked 
a common clay pipe and his long hair straggled 
down over his forehead. His shirt collar was care- 
lessly unbuttoned, and his trousers, too short for 
him, revealed common home-knit yarn socks. More- 
over, his eyes were half-closed and he had a general 
air of sleepy indifference which did not disappear 
until it came his turn to take part in the proceedings. 
Then suddenly the sleepy eyes became alive, the 
shaggy hair was tossed back, the clay pipe was laid 
on the table, and Dave Culberson, afterward known 
as an eminent lawyer and statesman, arose and 
made such a plea in behalf of the boy whose father 
had died at Corinth, and whose mother and sister 
relied on him to-day for protection, that only one 

30 Captain Bill McDonald 

verdict remained in the minds of his hearers when 
he closed. Bill Jess was acquitted, but his relative, 
Charley Greene, was less fortunate. He remained 
in a Northern prison several years before he was 
finally released. Dave Culberson afterward repre- 
sented his district in Congress, and the boy he de- 
fended eventually served the son, Charles A. Culber- 
son — then Governor — now, in 1909, United States 
Senator from Texas. 

It is likely that this bit of experience with hot- 
headed lawlessness, and the result thereof, proved 
of immense value to young McDonald. From that 
time forward we find him a peace-maker, a queller 
of disturbances, a separator of combatants, even at 
great personal risk. He had never been a seeker 
after trouble and he seemed now to develop a 
natural talent for preserving the peace. Wherever 
guns are drawn, and they were drawn pretty fre- 
quently and upon small provocation in that day and 
locality, he stepped in without hesitation and the 
would-be slayers were disarmed by what seemed a 
veritable sleight-of-hand. In 1871, when he was nine- 
teen years old, he decided to follow a commercial 
life, and with the money saved from the sale of the 
wood he had cut and hauled, he took a course in 
Soule 's Commercial College, at New Orleans, gradu- 
ating in 1872. Penmanship came easy to him, and 
upon his return to Henderson he taught a writing 
class. Within the year he was able to establish a 
small store in connection with the ferry at Brown's 

The Making of a Texan 31 

Bluff on the Sabine River, between Henderson and 
Longview. Here, with his ferry assistant he kept 
bachelor ^s hall, not the most congenial existence, 
perhaps, for one with his natural leaning toward 
female society. At all events, he gave it up, by and 
by, and after a brief sojourn in Longview esta- 
blished himself in Wood County, at Mineola, then 
a newly established and busy railway terminus. 
This was in 1875, and his venture was a success. 
Soon he was considered the leading grocer of the 

It was during this period that McDonald made the 
acquaintance of James S. Hogg, who in later life, 
as Governor of Texas, was to confer his most useful 
official appointment — that of Ranger Captain, thus 
enabling him to do much of the work which has 
identified his name with the State 's constructive his- 
tory. Hogg, then a young man, was Justice of the 
Peace at the county-seat, Quitman, a few miles 
distant from Mineola, and was also conducting a 
paper there. He bought his groceries of McDonald, 
and the account ran along in a go-as-you-please sort 
of a way. They were good friends, and courted to- 
gether, and it was through Hogg that young Mc- 
Donald met Miss Rhoda Isabel Carter, a young 
woman with fine nerve and force of character — ^just 
the girl for a Texas regulator's wife. And such, in 
due season, she was to become, for he married her 
in January, 1876. His friendship for Hogg con- 
tinued for some time after that, but came to a 

32 Captain Bill McDonald 

sudden end, one day, when Hogg, who had been 
elected County Attorney, with characteristic con- 
scientiousness prosecuted McDonald and others for 
carrying concealed weapons — McDonald's posses- 
sion of such a weapon having been revealed through 
his aiding in the capture of a gang of boisterous 
disturbers of the peace. McDonald rose and de- 
fended his own case, declaring he had quit business 
to do his duty as a good citizen, and that he would 
stay in jail the balance of his days before he would 
pay a fine. 

With his usual frank fearlessness he said some 
hard things to Hogg in the presence of the court, 
and though discharged, the two were estranged for 
a considerable period. Then a truce was patched 
up, but only for a time. Both were sharply in- 
terested in politics and on opposing sides in the con- 
gressional convention. They were near coming to 
blows over their differences, and were only separated 
by the intervention of friends. It is not pleasant 
to record this of these two worthy men, but after all 
they were only human beings, and young, and then 
the sequel makes it still further worth while. 


The Beginning of Eeform 

subduing a bad man. first official appointment. 
a deputy who did things. 

But now came Bill McDonald's first official ap- 
pointment and service. Living just outside of 
Mineola was a man named Golden, alias George 
Gordon, of hard character, and the owner of several 
bulldogs, similarly endowed. Man and dogs be- 
came a menace to travel in that neighborhood, as 
they lived near a public road and were allowed at 
large. The man was particularly quarrelsome and 
ugly and was said to have killed several more or less 
inoffensive persons. He always carried arms — the 
customary pistol, and a bowie knife — the latter worn 
in a scabbard ^ ' down his back. * * He was an expert 
at throwing this weapon, and altogether a terror to 
the community. Bill McDonald would naturally 
resent the domination of a man like Gordon, and 
when one day the latter came to town with one of 
his unruly bulldogs, and the dog set upon and in- 
jured McDonald's prized pointer, there was trouble, 
active and immediate. McDonald's reputation as a 

34 Captain Bill McDonald 

good man to let alone was already established at 
Mineola. He was known as a capable marksman — 
fearless, resolute and very sudden. When, there- 
fore, he produced a six-shooter for the avowed pur- 
pose of killing the bulldog, its master, who, like 
every bully by trade, was a coward at heart, in- 
terceded humbly for the dog's life, promising to take 
the animal home and leave him there. McDonald 
agreed to the arrangement, but for the benefit of the 
community at large he promptly applied to Sheriff 
Pete Dowell for a commission as deputy, in order 
that in future he might restrain officially the ob- 
noxious Gordon and others of his kind. The com- 
mission was promptly conferred, and thus Bill Jess 
McDonald, quietly and without any special manifest, 
stepped into the ranks of Texas official regulators, 
where, in one capacity or another, he was to serve 
so long and well. 

But, however quiet his enlistment, his service was 
to be of another sort. Those were not quiet days, 
and the officer who set out to enforce the law was 
apt to become a busy person. Gordon very soon ap- 
peared again in Mineola, and after investing in a 
good deal of bad whisky, went on the war-path, 
flourishing a six-shooter and giving out the informa- 
tion that nobody could arrest him. He was in the 
very midst of a ipilitant harangue when Deputy Mc- 
Donald suddenly appeared on the scene, and before 
Gordon could gather himself, he was, by some magic 
* * twist of the wrist, ' ' disarmed, arrested and on the 

The Beginning of Reform 35 

way to the calaboose. He demurred and resisted, but 
slept that night behind lock and bars. Next morning 
he refused breakfast and demanded release. Deputy 
McDonald left him in a mixed condition of reflection 
and profanity, returning at noon to find him sober, 
subdued and hungry. Upon promise of good be- 
havior for the future, he was taken before a justice, 
where he pled guilty and paid a fine. Then he took 
his place as the first example of a long line of 
wonderful cures set down to Captain Bill Mc- 
Donald's credit, to-day; for he gave little trouble 
after that and remained mostly in retirement, to be 
set upon, at last, by his own dogs, who inflicted 
terrible wounds. His death soon afterward was 
thought to be the result of this attack. 

But the Gordon experience was mild enough, after 
all, compared with the many which followed, and is 
only set down because it marks the beginning of a 
career. Indeed, an episode of larger proportions was 
already under way. In the timber lying adjacent 
to Mineola, some three hundred tie-cutters were en- 
camped, supplying cross-ties for the I. & G. N. road. 
They were a drinking, lawless lot, and on Saturday 
nights the Mineola streets were filled with riot and 
disorder. The city marshal, George Beeves, and 
Deputy McDonald had on several occasions made 
arrests and such enforcement of the law had been 
regarded by the tie-gang as an affront to all. They 
sent word to the officers, at last, that they would be 
on hand in full force, on the following Saturday, and 

36 Captain Bill McDonald 

that the calaboose might as well go out of com- 
mission, so far as they were concerned. 

Saturday night came, and according to promise the 
tie-cutters were on the street, numerous and noisy. 
McDonald and Eeeves were among them, keeping a 
general lookout for trouble, not always together. 
The saloons were full, presently, and the men getting 
constantly more noisy and quarrelsome. Seeing a 
commotion at the rear of a cheap hotel where a num- 
ber of the men had gathered, McDonald went over 
there, and found Eeeves surrounded. Without hesi- 
tation he shoved a way through, with his pistol, 
until he stood by Eeeves 's side. Eeeves had ar- 
rested a man, and a general riot was imminent. 
The prisoner was very drunk and disorderly and 
demanding that he be allowed to go to his room 
before accompanying the officer. Of course the 
whole intention was to precipitate a general fight, 
during which the officers were to be pummeled and 
battered to a jelly. Catching the drift of matters, 
McDonald said: 

* * All right, take him to his room, if he 's got one. 
I'll take care of this crowd." 

There was something in the business-like con- 
fidence of that statement which impressed the crowd. 
And then he had such a handy way of holding a 
six-shooter. Nobody quite wanted to die first, and 
Eeeves started for the back entrance of the hotel 
with his man. As they entered the door the fellow 
reeled against the casing and fell to the ground. 

The Beginning of Reform 37 

Then a general stampede started, for it was called 
out that Reeves had struck him. McDonald said : 

'' Stop you fellers ! The fool fell down. I'll shoot 
the first man that interferes! " 

That was another discouraging statement from a 
man who had a habit of keeping his word. It 
seemed to the crowd that an officer like that didn't 
play fair. He didn't argue at all. Somebody was 
likely to get hurt, if they didn't get that gun away 
from him. Movements to this end were started here 
and there, but they didn't get near enough to the 
chief actor to be effective. Finally when Reeves and 
his prisoner set out for the calaboose, the crowd 
moved in that direction, timing their steps to a 
chorus of threats and profanity. Reeves and Mc- 
Donald made no reply until they arrived at the lock- 
up; then, the disturbers being there handy, the 
officers began gathering them in, a dozen at a time. 
It was a genuine surprise-party for the tie-men. 
They were too much astonished for any concerted 
movement, and when invited at the points of those 
guns to step inside and make themselves at home, 
they did not have the bad taste to refuse. 

** Step in, gentlemen; always room for one more," 
might have been the form of the invitation, but it 
wasn't. It was a Bill McDonald invitation and it 
was full of compliments and promises that burnt 
holes wherever they hit anything. The calaboose 
was full in a brief time and a box-car on a near-by 
switch was used as an annex. By the time it was 

38 Captain Bill McDonald 

full, there were no more disturbers. The outer 
edges had melted away. The woods were full of 
them. The turbulent tie-men of Texas were sober 
and sensible by Monday morning and allowed to go, 
under promise of good behavior, and upon payment 
of adequate fines. 

Mineola suddenly became a moral town. Amuse- 
ments of the old sort languished. Drunk or sober, 
it was humiliating to flourish a gun, only to be sud- 
denly disarmed and marched to the calaboose by a 
man who acted as if he thought he was gun-proof. 
It was hard to understand — it was supernatural. It 
was better to go to the next town to flourish the gun. 

But by this time Deputy Bill Jess was not satis- 
fied with the quiet life. He had found his proper 
vocation — that of active enforcement of the law — 
and he was moved to pursue it in remoter places. A 
certain desperate outlaw, a white man by the name 
of Jim Bean, had committed crimes in Smith 
County, whence he had escaped to Kansas. There 
he had killed a city marshal and returned once more 
to Smith County, which adjoins Wood on the south. 
The officers of Smith County had surprised Jim 
Bean and his brother Ed, at a small station where 
they had gone to rob some freight cars, but the two 
men had handled their revolvers so desperately that 
they had been allowed to escape, and pursuit of them 
had been abandoned. 

This was the kind of game that Deputy Bill al- 
ways enjoyed hunting. It was worth while. He 

The Beginning of Reform 39 

made frequent still-hunts along the Sabine River, 
the dividing line between Wood and Smith, hoping 
to locate his quarry on the side of his jurisdiction. 
Perhaps the men knew of these excursions and re- 
mained safely, as they believed, on the other side. 
At last, however, the temptation to cross the line 
became too strong for a hunter like Bill Jess. The 
impulse of the Ranger was already upon him. He 
crossed the Sabine River into Smith, with his Win- 
chester on his saddle, and became an official poacher. 
The river bottom was overgrown in places with tall 
cane-brake, and he had reason to believe that the 
Beans were hiding, and storing their loot, in the 
dense growth. He had heard a rumor, too, that a 
certain family of swamp-dwellers (negroes) were 
in league with the men, and, reflecting on the matter, 
he concluded to visit this house, both for the purpose 
of investigation, and to borrow a shot-gun, which 
he thought might be more useful, in a man-chase 
through a thick cane-brake swamp, than his rifle. 
Arriving at the suspected house, he told in his 
mildest manner a tale of a wounded deer not far 
away, and borrowed a shot-gun, as well as the in- 
formation that the men and dogs of the place were 
in the brakes. He now began a careful still-hunt 
for his game, and presently came full upon Jim Bean, 
who was on a horse, with a shot-gun, guarding some 
stolen hogs. Bean was a great burly creature, more 
animal than man, from having lived and slept so 
long in the woods and brakes. He had been shot at 

40 Captain Bill McDonald 

many times, and had been desperately wounded, but 
such was his natural vitality, and so hardened was 
he by exposure that it seemed impossible to kill him. 
Before Bean could move, now. Deputy McDonald 
had him covered and commanded him to get off his 
horse or he would shoot him dead. Bean obeyed 
and McDonald threw his own leg over his saddle 
and slid to the ground, still covering Bean with his 
gun. Suddenly Bean made a dash for a large tree, 
turning to shoot just as he reached this cover. 
McDonald was too quick, however, and let go with 
two loads of buckshot, which struck Bean in several 
places, knocking him down. He then made off in the 
direction of a slough, toward thick hiding. The 
shot-gun was a muzzle loader and before McDonald 
could get it charged again he heard somebody com- 
ing through the brush. It was Ed Bean and some 
negroes. He was ready for them by the time they 
came in sight, and throwing his gun to position he 
commanded them to halt. Instead of doing so they 
turned and disappeared in the direction from which 
they had come. McDonald now mounted his horse 
and started in pursuit of the wounded Jim Bean. 
He found where he had crossed the slough, and 
presently came to the desperado's gun, which had 
been thrown away in his hurry. Blood-stains made 
the trail easy to follow. Soon a powder-horn and 
then a pair of boots lay in the path of flight. Mc- 
Donald followed six miles to a cabin occupied by 
negroes. Bean was not in the cabin, but barefoot 

The Beginning of Reform 41 

prints led into the woods. The man-hunter followed 
them and finally overtook their owner. It was not 
Bean. The officer had been tricked — Bean had 
escaped while his pursuer had been following this 
false lead. It was dark, now, and further search 
was hopeless. Next morning the outlaws had van- 
ished from the country. They never returned and 
were heard of no more until some time after, when 
news came from Wise County that both the Bean 
brothers had been killed, resisting arrest. 

While this episode did not turn out altogether 
successfully, inasmuch as the game got away, it had 
a better result in that it effected a complete recon- 
ciliation between McDonald and his old, and what 
was to be his lifetime friend, James S. Hogg. Cer- 
tain jealous officials were bent upon making trouble 
for the young deputy for overstepping his authority 
by working outside of his own county, and especially 
for shooting a man in attempting an illegal arrest. 
McDonald held that the conditions justified his act, 
and was going to make his fight on that ground. 
But it never came to a fight, for when the matter 
was brought to the notice of the grand jury, Hogg, 
by this time District Attorney, went before that 
body, and regardless of the old animosity between 
McDonald and himself, and of the fact that they 
were not yet on speaking terms, declared that if the 
jury found an indictment against the deputy for 
so worthy an undertaking as that which, irregular 
or not, had resulted in ridding the country of a gang 

42 Captain Bill McDonald 

of outlaws, he would nolle pros the case— in other 
words, he would refuse to prosecute. 

When McDonald heard of this, he went to his old 
friend at once. 

** Jim,'' he said, *' you're a gentleman, and I 
know I want to act right. Let's not be enemies 
any more." And they never were. 

Ten years later, Jim Hogg, as Governor of Texas, 
would make it possible for Bill McDonald to bring 
down criminals in any county of that mighty State. 
But this is further along in our story. 


Into the "Wilderness 

a new business in a new land, 
shows his sand 

Hard times came on in Mineola. Eailroad build- 
ing was at an end ; crops failed ; men who had bought 
goods on long credit could not pay. *' Bill " Mc- 
Donald, as he was now usually called, had been one 
to carry long lines of credit for his customers, and 
he was hurt accordingly. He gave up business, at 
last, and in 1883 invested in cattle whatever remained 
to him, and set his steps further westward where 
there was free grass. He headed toward Wichita 
County, which was almost an unknown land in that 
day, driving his cattle before him, his young wife at 
his side, both eager to begin a new life in a new land. 

To drive cattle across the wild Texas prairies, 
twenty-five years ago, was an experience worth 
while. There were no fences, no boundaries and few 
roads. Settlers were far between. The climate in 
any season was likely to be mild; the air was pure 
and stimulating; society, such as it was, had not 
many conventions. 

Yet, few and fundamental as were the conditions, 
they were of a sort to develop sudden situations, and 

44 Captain Bill McDonald 

one had to be ready to face them fairly and firmly 
or write himself down as unfit for the wild free 
life of the range. The grass was free, but there 
were always those who wanted to form a trust of its 
vast areas and make trespassers of the smaller men. 
McDonald had scarcely located his herd and pitched 
his tent when two of these magnates notified him 
that he had better move. It was a bluff, of course, 
and the man who had been deputy sheriff for half 
a dozen years and purified a bad community was the 
wrong man to use it on. He asked in that quiet way 
of his, to let him have a look at their titles, and when 
they could not produce them, he added that he 
thought he'd stay where he was. They began to 
tell him of some of the things that were likely to 
happen if he did that, but he did not seem impressed 
by the information. He repeated that he would stay 
where he was, and that anyone who did not wish to 
be in his neighborhood had his permission to move 
on, to other free grass. Perhaps they looked him 
over a bit more carefully, then, and noticed the pecu- 
liarity of his nose and of his eyes, and the handy 
and casual way he had of picking off the heads of 
rattlesnakes and such things, with a six-shooter, 
while he talked. At all events they did not refer to 
the matter again and even cultivated his friendship. 
In a neighborhood where cattle thieves were begin- 
ning to be troublesome a man like that would be 
handy to have around. They were to have an ex- 
ample presently of his willingness and ability to 

Into the Wilderness 45 

defend the rights of ownershii^ — a small example, 
but convincing. 

It was no easy matter to keep a herd intact in 
those days. In a land of free grass, where the cost 
of cattle was chiefly the expense of herding, it was 
not likely that the moral title to the cattle them- 
selves would be very highly regarded, especially 
where brands had been obliterated, or where a few 
strays mingled with a larger herd. The outlaw pure 
and simple was bad enough, but to the newcomer 
with a small bunch of ** cows " (cattle, regardless 
of gender), the vast roaming herd, guarded by a 
veritable army of punchers whose respect for any 
law was small enough, was an even greater menace. 
McDonald knew of these conditions, and when, soon 
after his arrival, some of his cattle strayed away, 
he set out to inspect the surrounding herds. After 
riding some distance he came upon a large drove, 
evidently on its way to market. It was about noon 
and the men were ** rounding-in " for dinner. Mc- 
Donald started to address a herder, when the man 
turned abruptly and started off. McDonald im- 
mediately began looking through the cattle, where- 
upon the herder wheeled. 

** What do you want in there? '* he asked roughly. 

** I was looking for hobbled horses,'' was the easy 
reply. The puncher made some surly comment and 
rode away. 

McDonald, presently satisfied that his stray cattle 
were not with that portion of the drove, continued 

46 Captain Bill McDonald 

his search further along and came up with the 
^* chuck- wagon " where dinner was being prepared. 
Cow-men are hospitable and the foreman invited 
him to dismount and join them. He did so, and a 
little later the surly puncher came in, giving the 
camp guest anything but a friendly look. In the 
course of the meal the visitor was asked where he 
was from. 

*' Mineola/' he said, *' Wood County.'' The surly 
herder spoke up. 

** These d — d sand-lappers (east-Texans) are get- 
ting too thick out here." 

McDonald set down his cofPee. 

'* The d — d skunks and prairie dogs are already 
too thick,'' he said. 

An instant later the puncher had out his pistol, 
but the sand-lapper was still quicker. The puncher 
was covered before he could bring his weapon to 
bear. McDonald said: 

** Turn it loose! Drop it! " 

The herder still clutched the weapon which he was 
afraid to raise. The sand-lapper stepped nearer to 
him, and with a sudden movement rapped him 
smartly on the head with the heavy barrel of his 
six-shooter. It was a thing that as a deputy he had 
done often, and it was always effective. The 
puncher dropped his gun. One of his comrades 
sprang to his assistance, but was covered and dis- 
armed with amazing suddenness. The foreman in- 
terfered, now, and the beginner of the disturbance 


" He was disarmed with amazing suddenness." 

Into the Wilderness 47 

was led away to a brook to have his head bathed 
and bandaged ; whereupon the sand-lapper quietly 
finished his dinner, thanked his host, continued the 
search for his missing stock, and when he had found 
them, set out for home. Meeting a group of 
punchers among which was his surly friend with a 
now bandaged head, he expected further trouble. 
Nothing happened. The sand-lapper and his missing 
cows had the right of way. 


Commercial Ventures and Adventures 
BILL Mcdonald's method of collecting a bill; and 


The inclination to commercial enterprise still sur- 
vived. At the end of a year McDonald sold his 
cattle and invested in the lumber business at Wichita 
Falls — another railway terminus, dropped down in 
the prairie, with a population of about two thou- 
sand, at that time. A little later he established a 
branch business at Harrold when the railway reached 
that point. Two big lumber yards were already es- 
tablished at Wichita Falls, and the competition was 
strenuous. It was a brief experience for McDonald, 
for he presently yearned for the freer life of the 
range, and soon abandoned commerce, once more, 
for cattle — this time for good. Yet the experience 
was not without valuable return, inasmuch as it es- 
tablished for him in Wichita Falls, quickly and per- 
manently, a reputation of a useful kind in a country 
where law and order are likely to be of an elemental, 
go-as-you-please sort. It happened in this wise : 

There was a merchant in Baylor County, Texas, 
to whom Lumberman McDonald sold a good bill, on 
time. The account ran along, until one day the 

Commercial Ventures and Adventures 49 

county judge of Baylor, one Melvin, dropped in and 
stated that he had called to settle the amount for 
his neighbor. He gave his own check for it and 
McDonald supposed the matter had ended. A few 
days later the bank returned Melvin 's check as 
worthless. Evidently the quiet unobtrusive life 
which Bill Jess had been living as a lumber mer- 
chant had given the impression that he was an in- 
offensive person who would pocket a loss rather 
than make trouble, especially with a county judge, 
who added to his official prestige the reputation of 
being a very bad man from **far up Bitter Creek.'' 
However, this impression was a mistake. McDonald 
ascertained that his customer had really sent the 
money by Melvin, to pay his bill, and considered 
what he ought to do. Morally, perhaps legally, he 
could have demanded payment a second time, on the 
ground that the said customer, being acquainted 
with Melvin, should have selected a more reliable 
messenger. But that was not the Bill McDonald 
way. What he did was to write to Melvin, demand- 
ing an explanation ; adding in pretty positive terms 
that he expected immediate settlement. No reply 
came and a second and a third letter followed, each 
getting more definite as to phrase. Then one day 
Melvin and certain henchmen from Baylor appeared 
on the streets of Wichita Falls. McDonald who had 
heard of their arrival, suddenly confronted Melvin 
and delivered himself in whatever terms and em- 
phasis as he had on hand at the moment. Melvin 

50 Captain Bill McDonald 

withdrew, gathered his clans and laid for McDonald 
in a saloon where the latter had to pass. Though 
previously warned of the ambush, McDonald did 
pass, with the result that next morning Melvin 
settled his bill in full, paid for a glass door that he 
had broken, and a fine and costs amounting to sixty- 
five dollars, for carrying concealed weapons. What 
really happened to Melvin is best told in Bill Jess 's 
own testimony when that same morning he had, 
himself, been summoned to answer a charge for 
carrying concealed weapons, disturbing the peace, 
and for assault — said action being the result of 
Melvin 's judicial pull. Arriving at the court-room 
the prosecuting attorney asked McDonald if he had 
a lawyer. 

** No,'' he said, '* I don't need anybody to defend 
me for knocking that scoundrel over. I'll attend to 
my own case, whatever is necessary. ' ' 

The attorney then stated the charge to the court. 
Bill Jess waited until he was through and then asked 
permission to speak. 

** Your honor," he said, rising, ** I'm a busy man 
with no time to be fooling around this way with men 
who give bogus checks and steal horses and such 
like, but if your honor will spare about a minute 
I'll tell the court what happened." He then gave 
a history of the lumber transaction, and added the 
sequel, as follows: 

* ' When I wrote him as strong a letter as I could 
frame up, and as would go through the mail, he 

Commercial Ventures and Adventures 51 

came down with a crowd of what he thought was 
fighting men, and I met him and tried like a gentle- 
man to persuade him to settle up and to convince 
him what a dad-blamed rascal he was; which he 
pled guilty to, and didn't deny. Then he gathers 
his feeble bunch of fighters together, arms them up 
with six-shooters and corrals them in Bill Holly's 
saloon, that I had to pass, going home. I met 
Johnny Hammond who tried to persuade me not to 
take that street — said those fellows were up there 
and I'd better go in some other direction. I said 
I wasn't in the habit of going out of my way for 
such cattle, and proceeded on up the street. When 
I got in front of Bill Holly's, Melvin and his war- 
riors stepped out. Melvin wanted an explanation 
of my former remarks, and I gave it to him and 
added some more which I would not like to mention 
in the presence of the court. Then he pulled out a 
big white-handled forty-five six-shooter, but being 
a little slow with it, I grabbed it by the barrel and 
hit him with my fist two or three times, which kind 
of jarred him loose from his gun. Then I gave him 
a rap on the head with it and knocked him through 
Bill Holly's glass-front door, into the saloon. His 
pals pulled their guns, but I covered them with the 
one I took away from Melvin and they nearly broke 
the furniture to pieces getting out of there. I didn 't 
see any more of any of them until next morning. 
Then I looked up the bunch and got a check in 
full, with interest, from Melvin, and made him pay 

52 Captain Bill McDonald 

Bill Holly ^ve dollars for his glass door. So far 
as carrying a gun is concerned, I had one, and I got 
another from this fellow here who had pulled it on 
me. I took it away from him and hit him with it, 
and I have the same here in my possession now, to 
turn over to the Court. ' ' 

Bill Jess reached down somewhere and drawing 
forth the big white handled six-shooter, laid it down 
in front of the court. Then suddenly turning upon 
Melvin who was present, he looked him straight 

** Melvin, is not all I have told the Court true? *' 
he demanded. 

Melvin found himself unable to tell anything but 
the truth, just then. 

" Yes, sir,'' he said, quite meekly. 

McDonald was discharged and Melvin paid a 
fine as before noted. Following this incident came 
another which solidified Bill McDonald's reputation 
for nerve, in Wichita Falls. Bill Holly, the afore- 
mentioned — whose name in another part of the State 
had been Buck Holly, which he forgot when he left 
East Texas, after getting into a mix-up, during 
which the other man died — one day absorbed an 
overdose of his own stock-in-trade and set forth to 
shoot up the town. He went afoot and let go at 
things generally, emptying the streets and bringing 
business to a standstill. The city marshal was 
organizing a posse to take him, and summoned 
McDonald, when McDonald said : 

Commercial Ventures and Adventures 53 

" Give me the key to the calaboose, and the* 
won't be no need of a posse." 

He took the key in one hand and a six-shooter in 
the other; marched up to where Holly was prac- 
ticing on front-doors and hardware signs; struck 
the gun close up under the nose of the disturber, 
and with his quick magic, disarmed him and set out 
with him for the lockup. Holly begged and pleaded 
and was finally locked in a room in the hotel. He 
broke a window before morning and promptly paid 
for it by McDonald's request. He made a fairly 
quiet citizen during the remainder of McDonald's 
stay in Wichita Falls. 

Removing to Hardeman County was the only 
thing that saved Bill McDonald from being drafted 
into official service where he was. Law abiding citi- 
zens with his gifts are scarce enough anywhere, and 
they were needed in the cattle districts of Texas. 
There was not much law in those parts, none at all 
outside of the towns. In the countries bordering 
on Indian Territory and up through the Pan-handle 
a man had to ** stand pat " whatever his hand, and 
hold his own by strength of arm and quickness of 
trigger. Cow thieves and cut-throats abounded. 
Officials often worked in accord with them, or were 
afraid to prosecute. The man who would neither 
co-operate with outlaws nor condone their offences 
was already on the ground and would presently be 
in the field. It was a wide field and a fruitful one 
and the harvest was ripe for the gathering. 

54 Captain Bill McDonald 

Hardeman County was a tongh locality in the 
early eighties. It had lately been organized, and 
the settlers were cow-men, cow-boys and gamblers 
— lawless enough, themselves — and another element, 
which pretended to be these things, but in reality 
consisted of outlaws, pure and simple. The latter 
lived chiefly off of the herds, driving off horses and 
cattle and hiding them in remote and inaccessible 
places. Often cattle were butchered; their hides, 
which were marked with brand and ear-marks were 
destroyed to avoid identification, and the meat was 
sold. Men who did these things were known well 
enough, but went unapprehended for the reasons 
named. In certain sections of the Territory itself 
and in No-man's Land (a piece of disputed ground 
lying to the north of the Pan-handle, now a part of 
Oklahoma) matters were even worse. In these 
places there was hardly a semblance of law. Cer- 
tainly the need of active reform — of an official cru- 
sader, without fear and above reproach — was both 
wide and vociferous. 


Eeforming the Wilderness 

the kind op men to be reformed. early reforms 
in quanah. bad men meet their match 

It was in 1885 that Bill McDonald disposed of his 
lumber interests in Wichita Falls and at Harrold, 
reinvested in cattle and set out once more for the 
still farther west. He had filed on some school-land 
on Wanderer's Creek in Hardeman County, about 
four miles from where the town of Quanah now 
stands, and in the heart of what was then the wilder- 
ness. Somewhat previous to this, McDonald, whose 
reputation as a man of nerve had traveled to Har- 
rold, was one night called upon by Ranger Lieu- 
tenant Sam Piatt to assist in handling a gang of 
outlaws, known as the Brooken Band, that infested 
the neighborhood. The Brookens had ridden into 
Harrold and were running things in pretty much 
their own way. Piatt and McDonald promptly 
bore down upon them and a running fight ensued 
as the Brookens retreated. About one hundred 
shots were fired altogether, but it was dark and the 
range was too great for accuracy. Nothing was ac- 
complished, but the event marked the beginning of 
a warfare between Bill McDonald and a band of 

56 Captain Bill McDonald 

cut-throats, the end of which would be history. It 
was soon after this first skirmish that McDonald 
sold out his lumber business and set out for his 
Hardeman County ranch. As on his former migra- 
tion he drove his cattle to the new land, and after 
the first hard day's drive, camped at nightfall in 
a pleasant spot where grass was plentiful and 
water handy. It seemed a good place, and man and 
beast gladly halted for food and rest. 

But next morning there was trouble. When prep- 
arations for an early start were under headway, 
it was suddenly discovered that four of the best 
horses and a fine Newfoundland dog were missing. 
Investigation of the surrounding country was made, 
and two of the horses were found astray, evidently 
having broken loose from their captors. It was fur- 
ther discovered that the Brooken Band had a ren- 
dezvous in what was known as the Cedar-brakes, a 
stretch of rough country, densely covered with 
scrubby cedar, located about twelve miles to the 
south westward. McDonald naturally felt that it 
was again his *^ move '^ in the Brooken game, but 
it did not seem expedient to stop the journey with 
the herd and undertake the move, just then, so bid- 
ing his time he pushed on, to his land on Wanderer 's 
Creek, where he established his ranch, fenced his 
property, built a habitation for himself and the wife 
who was always ready to follow him into the wilder- 
ness; then he rode over to Margaret, at that time 
the county-seat, and asked Sheriff Jim Alley— a 

Reforming the Wilderness 67 

good man with his hands over full — to appoint him 
deputy that he might begin the work which clearly- 
must be done in that country before it could become 
a proper habitation for law abiding citizens. The 
commission was readily granted, and from that ap- 
pointment dates *' that tired feeling '' which the bad 
men of Texas began to have when they heard the 
sound of Bill McDonald's name. 

Another word as to the kind of men with which 
an officer in those days had to deal. They were not 
ordinary malefactors, but choice selections from 
the world at large. ** What was your name before 
you came to Texas? '' was a common inquiry in 
those earlier days, and it was often added that a 
man could go to Texas when he couldn't go any- 
where else. It was such a big State, with so many 
remote fastnesses, so many easy escapes across the 
borders. It was the natural last resort of men who 
could not live elsewhere with safety or profit. There 
is a story of a man arrested in Texas in those days 
for some misdemeanor, who was advised by hie 
lawyer to leave the State without delay. 

** But where shall I go? " asked the troubled of- 
fender, * * I 'm in Texas, now, ' ' 

They were the men who had borne other names 
before they came to Texas and who were * * in Texas, 
now,'' because they could not live elsewhere and 
keep off of the scaffold, that Bill McDonald under- 
took to exterminate. He was willing to undertake 
the task single handed, if necessary, and in reality 

58 Captain Bill McDonald 

did much of his work in that manner, as we shall 

With his commission in his pocket Bill Jess was 
not long in getting down to his favorite employ- 
ment, that of man-hunting. He began quietly, for 
he wanted to identify some of the men nearer at 
hand who were in one way and another connected 
with the Cedar-brakes gang. Bill Brooken, a no- 
torious outlaw, was the head of the band, and his 
brother Bood was one of its chief members. The 
Brookens were wanted not only for cattle stealing, 
but for train-robbing and murder, as well. A cer- 
tain Bull Turner was one of their victims. Turner 
was said to have been one of the Brooken gang at 
an earlier time, but had abandoned that way of life 
and made an effort to become a decent citizen. The 
gang believed he had given information, and some- 
what later when he was driving across the country 
with a prominent stockman — a Hebrew named 
Lazarus — the Brookens and half a dozen of their 
followers suddenly dashed out of a roadside con- 
cealment and began firing. Turner was instantly 
killed, and Lazarus fell over the dash-board in a 
wild effort to get behind something. The frightened 
horses, one of them wounded in the foot, ran madly 
all the way to town with Lazarus still clinging to 
the whiffletrees. He received no injury, but ac- 
quired a scare which was permanent. 

With the assistance of Sheriff Alley — also short 
a horse, through the industries of the Brooken gang 

Reforming the Wilderness 59 

— and one Pat Wol forth, who was acquainted with 
certain of the silent partners of the outlaws and 
stood ready to give information, several arrests 
were made, presently, and trouble filled the air. 

Threatening letters now began to come to the new 
deputy, warning him against further procedure — 
promising him death and torture of many varieties 
if he did not suspend operations. Such letters al- 
ways stimulated Bill McDonald to renewed enter- 
prise. He redoubled his efforts and brought in 
offenders of various kinds almost daily. Cattle 
stealers began to migrate to other counties. Their 
friends and beneficiaries grew nervous. 

Meantime, the railroad had reached Hardeman 
and the town of Quanah — named for Chief Quanah 
Parker, son of the historic Cynthia Ann Parker — 
had sprung up. It was the typical tough place and 
certain bad men still at large came there to proclaim 
vengeance and to ** lay '' for the men who were 
making them trouble. Among these disturbers was 
one John Davidson of Wilbarger County, on the 
borders of which the Cedar-brakes gang was located. 
Davidson was reputed to have killed several men 
and was believed to be an accessory of the Brooken 
Band, but was thus far not positively identified, and 
remained unapprehended. He did not hesitate, how- 
ever, to boast of his always being armed and ready 
for men like Bill McDonald, and especially for Pat 
Wolforth who was getting good friends and neigh- 
bors into trouble. 

60 Captain Bill McDonald 

Davidson appeared presently on the streets of 
Qnanah, flourishing his firearms and making his 
boasts. McDonald suddenly arrived on the scene, 
and without any parley whatever stepped quickly 
up to Davidson and disarmed him so suddenly that 
the terror of Wilbarger stood dazed, and did not 
recover himself until he was half way to the office 
of justice, where he paid a fine. It was an unusual 
proceeding. It was unprecedented. The customary 
thing was a noisy warfare of words, followed by a 
general shooting, with the bad man in possession 
when the smoke had cleared away. This new method 
was prosaic. Davidson couldn't understand it at all. 
He tried it again the next week, with the same 
result. He kept on trying it, and each time settled 
for his amusement with a fine. Why he did not kill 
somebody he couldn't understand. He never seemed 
to get in action before Bill McDonald had his gun 
and was marching him to the ** Captain's Ofiice." 
Finally he got himself appointed Deputy Sheriff of 
Wilbarger and- came triumphantly to Quanah, with 
his commission, which he believed would entitle him 
to carry arms. Met suddenly, as usual, by McDonald 
and promptly disarmed, he flourished his commis- 

'' That's all right. Bill McDonald, but I'm fixed 
for you this time. Give me back that gun. ' ' 

McDonald said: 

*' Your commission won't do you much good up 
here. If Sheriff Barker wants to appoint a man 

Reforming the Wilderness 61 

that throws in with thieves, all right. But in Harde- 
man County we don't have to recognize him.'' 

There was never such a stubborn man, Davidson 
decided, as that fool deputy. Bill McDonald. He 
decided to wait until McDonald should be absent, 
and then have it out with Wolf orth. When the time 
came, Davidson brought a gang along with him and 
they followed Wolforth about with pestering re- 
marks, until their victim suddenly grew tired of the 
annoyance, and opened fire. This was unexpected 
and the gang retired for reorganization. Then some 
rangers, quartered at Quanah, appeared on the 
scene, and Wolforth was put under arrest. He was 
taken before a justice, who fixed his bond at a thou- 
sand dollars, which he was unable to raise, because 
of the dread in which Davidson and his crowd were 
held. It was just about this moment that Deputy 
McDonald returned, and the Kangers delivered 
Wolforth into his hands. 

'' What's the matter, Pat? '' McDonald asked. 

His co-worker explained how he had fired on the 
Davidson gang, though without damage to anybody. 

* ' And they put you under a thousand dollar bond 
for it? '' commented Deputy Bill. 

'' Yes.'' 

** Well, they ought t6 have made it a good deal 
heavier for your not being a better shot. Never 
mind, I'll fill your bond all right," and this Mc- 
Donald did, immediately. 

The Davidson crowd was still in town, and far 

62 Captain Bill McDonald 

from satisfied. Davidson felt that he had support 
enough now to tackle even that hard-headed Mc- 
Donald, and he enlisted a big butcher named 
Williams to stir up the mess. The gang armed 
themselves with long butcher knives from Williams' 
shop and started out to hunt up their victim. They 
located him in a saloon where troubles of various 
kinds were likely to originate and the presence of 
an officer was desirable. Big Bill Williams, the 
butcher, entered first and coming near to McDonald, 
slightly bumped against him. Not wishing trouble, 
McDonald walked away, followed by Williams who 
bumped against him again. Deputy Bill then walked 
to the other side of the room, which was unoccupied, 
and when Williams and his crowd started to follow, 
he warned them not to come any closer. At this a 
number of cow-men who were present saw the 
trouble and stepped in, and Williams and his crowd 
worked toward the door. Outside, the disturbers 
gave vent to their animosity for McDonald in violent 
language and opprobrious names. Suddenly Mc- 
Donald himself stepped out among them and seeing 
a piece of scantling about four feet long lying by 
the door, he seized it and as Williams started to- 
ward him he gave the big butcher a lick across the 
face with it that flattened his features and put a 
habitual crook in his nose. The crowd thought Wil- 
liams was killed and his supporters began to get out 
of the way of the scantling. But McDonald dropped 
it and had out his guns in a moment. 

Reforming the Wilderness 63 

** Halt! '* he said, ** every one of you. Hold up 
there I * ' Then to the Rangers who at that moment 
appeared on the scene, ** Search those men for 
weapons. ' ^ 

Search Tvas made and the long butcher knives, in- 
tended for McDonald, came to light. A knife of the 
same kind was found on Williams. 

** Now get a doctor quick,'' commanded Mc- 
Donald, ** that fellow looks like he's pretty badly 

A doctor was found and Williams was removed. 
McDonald's wife, then stopping at a nearby hotel, 
had been an interested, not to say excited, spectator 
of the proceedings, and now called down a few 
words of encouragement and approval. Somewhat 
later, word was brought to Deputy Bill that what 
was left of the Davidson and Williams crowd had 
collected in Tip McDowell's saloon, where a brother 
of Williams tended bar, and these were declaring 
war to the death. McDonald promptly went down 
there and entered, with a revolver in each hand. 
The crowd of would-be assassins, about a dozen or 
so, took one look and made a break for the back 
window, climbing over chairs, counters and billiard 
tables — some of them almost tearing the bar down 
in an effort to get behind it. Deputy Bill held 
enough of them with the persuasion of his two six- 
shooters to give them some useful information in 
the matter of running a town like Quanah and the 
surrounding country, as long as he was in office. 

64 Captain Bill McDonald 

** You thieves that have been trying to run over 
this country, and stealing cattle and shooting the 
town up," he said, *' from now on are going to stop 
it. And you fellows like Bill Williams that are 
selling stolen beef, are going to stop that, too. If 
any one of you sells a pound of beef hereafter with- 
out showing me the hide and the brand-marks, you'll 
go behind the bars and I'll put you there.'' 

There was something about the tone of that brief 
address that made it sink in, and from that time 
forward when beef was brought to Quanah the hide 
came with it, and they would wake up Deputy Bill 
McDonald to show it to him as early as three o'clock 
in the morning. 

As for Davidson, he now became an oflficer of the 
law, in reality. Satisfied, no doubt, that the Cedar- 
brakes gang was doomed, he came to McDonald and 
offered to guide him to the den of the Brookens if 
McDonald would cause to be dismissed certain in- 
dictments which had been lodged against him. Mc- 
Donald consulted Sheriff Barker of Wilbarger and 
the arrangement was made. Davidson then ascer- 
tained when his former business associates would 
be at their headquarters in the brakes, and the raid 
was planned accordingly. 


Getting even with the Brooken Gang 




The brakes of the Big Wichita made an ideal 
cover for outlaws engaged in the industry of steal- 
ing cattle and horses. There were plenty of grass 
and water there and the ground was so densely 
covered with scrub cedar as to afford any number 
of hiding places. Moreover, there were deep gulches 
and canyons that made travel dangerous to those not 
familiar with the region. The place was remote 
and not often molested. 

Everything being arranged, the raiders set out — 
Sheriff Barker of Wilbarger, in charge — the party 
including two Rangers from Quanah. On drawing 
near the locality, Barker proposed that all but two 
men should halt, several hundred yards from the 
stronghold — a dug-out occupied by the gang when 
at home. To this. Deputy Bill strenuously objected. 
He wanted to charge forthwith, believing always in 
a surprise attack. Barker, however, being in his 
own county, was in command and was for more 
gradual tactics. He added that McDonald's big 
white hat would attract attention before they could 

66 Captain Bill McDonald 

get near enough to charge. Two men were therefore 
sent to reconnoiter and report. The rest lay in hid- 
ing. Presently peering through the trees they saw 
two other men ride up to the dug-out and go in. 
Deputy Bill was all excitment. 

a There they are now/* he said, ** let's get down 
there and get them.'' 

Again he was overruled. In a few minutes a num- 
ber of men issued from the dug-out, mounted horses 
and rode away. The first two had been scouts, and 
had given warning. At the same moment Barker's 
two men came running back with the information 
that the Brookens were getting away. 

** Of course they're getting away," said Mc- 
Donald. '* Do you suppose they are going to wait 
and hold an afternoon tea when we arrive! " 

Accompanied by one of the Eangers, he started 
in pursuit of the outlaws, but it was impossible to 
follow far in that dense unfamiliar place. Eeturri- 
ing to the dug-out they were rejoiced to find Sheriff 
Alley's horse, so something was accomplished, 
though the expedition as a whole had failed, through 

McDonald now resolved to hunt on his own hook. 
As deputy sheriff, he was restricted to his own 
county, but this handicap was speedily removed, 
through Eanger Captain S. A. McMurray, who had 
him appointed by Governor L. S. Eoss as special 
ranger, with sheriff's rights in any county in the 

Getting Even tvith the Brooken Gang 67 

His authority was to be still further extended, 
very soon. One day he received a letter from Cap- 
tain George A. Knight of Dallas, Texas, U. S. 
Marshal of the Northern District of Texas, asking 
him to come to Dallas and be made U. S. Deputy 
Marshal, with authority to operate in Southern 
Indian Territory and No-man's land, where a man 
like him was sorely needed. McDonald went down 
without delay and reported at Knight's office. 

** I have heard about you and your work up in 
Hardeman," said Captain Knight, ** and I want you 
for a deputy. But first tell me what are your 
politics? '* 

McDonald did not hesitate. Knight was a Re- 

** Captain Knight," he said, ** I am the damn- 
dest, hell-roaringest, allfiredest Democrat you ever 
saw. If politics has anything to do with this ap- 
pointment I'd just as well go back." 

** "Well," said Knight, ** you're pretty emphatic, 
but I guess you'll do. Your kind of politics seem 
to suit your job pretty well." 

It was only a little while after this that Bill Mc- 
Donald was also made Deputy U. S. Marshal of the 
southern district of Kansas, which enabled him to 
work in the remaining portion of the Territory, and 
now, with his four offices — two Deputy U. S. Mar- 
shalships. Deputy Sheriff of Hardeman County, and 
that of Special Ranger — he was qualified to under- 
take at any time any sort of a man-hunt in any 

68 Captain Bill McDonald 

territory likely to invite his services. He went after 
the Brooken gang forthwith, but this time they did 
not wait for him. His fame was already in their 

He followed them like a hound on the trail. He 
never recovered his two horses and his Newfound- 
land dog, but he broke up the gang, utterly. He 
brought in Bood Brooken at last and got him sen- 
tenced for five years. Bill Brooken himself escaped 
to Mexico, was captured there, brought back and 
sentenced for one hundred and twenty-seven years. 
He has a good deal of that time still to serve. 

The life work of the boy who long ago had begun 
it by hunting slaves in the swamps of Mississippi 
was well started, now; his name as a thief -catcher 
was beginning to be known, and honored, and feared. 
Yet his more active days — his more valuable days 
to the community at large — still lay all ahead, and 
of these we shall undertake to telL 


New Tactics in No-man's Land 

a man with a buck-board. holding up a bad gang 

Something which resembled a sense of security 
began to manifest itself in Hardeman and the sur- 
rounding counties. There were still cattle thieves 
— plenty of them — but with their rendezvous in the 
immediate neighborhood broken up, their work be- 
came less deliberate. They harbored now further 
away — in the remoter places of the Pan-handle, in 
the Cherokee Strip and in the fastnesses of No-man's 
Land. From these strong-holds they made their 
raids, which though more sporadic and less devas- 
tating were still a vast nuisance, particularly along 
the border counties, where the outlaws could run 
over at night, raid a herd none too well guarded, and 
have the stolen cattle hidden in some gully or 
canyon or brake in their own lawless land by morn- 

No-man's Land waS a favorite retreat for cattle 
thieves. It was that strip of public land which was 
set down on the map as a part of Indian Territory, 
but really belonged to nobody at all. Different ones 
of the surrounding States claimed it, and the out- 

70 Captain Bill McDonald 

laws owned it, by possession and force of arms. 
There was no law there and few law abiding citizens. 
"What there were, were hard to find, and they didn't 
want officers to stop with them for fear of the 
enmity of the thieves, who were so greatly in the 
majority. It was a fine, sightly land — with good 
♦ grass and plenty of water — level land, some of it, 
though there was rough country there too — with 
good places for outlaws to hide. Here they built 
their dug-outs or cabins, established their households 
and herded their stolen stock. Some of the cattle 
they butchered, peddling the meat in Kansas or the 
Pan-handle. Some of the beef they had the nerve 
and assurance to drive to market — even to ship — 
openly, to Kansas City or Chicago. 

It was necessary that No-man's Land should be 
reclaimed, and it was partly for this purpose that 
U. S. Marshal George A. Knight had commissioned 
Bill McDonald his deputy. Thus far all statutory 
law had been disregarded in No-man's Land — all 
officers had been defied. When, as had happened 
now and then, an officer had made his way into that 
wilderness, he either lost his life, or had his revolver 
and whisky and tobacco taken away from him and 
was booted back across the border. It had been 
demonstrated that Bill McDonald had a convincing 
way with his words and movements, and that he had 
a nose for locating cow thieves. Furthermore, it 
was believed that he would not be likely to submit 
to any liberties taken with his six-shooter and to- 

New Tactics in No-man's Land 71 

bacco, or to indignities of any sort. So, when the 
Brookens and other established ** dealers of the 
range '' had been evicted from Hardeman and ad- 
joining counties, it fell to Bill McDonald to begin 
the No-man's Land crusade. 

He was working over in the Pan-handle in 1887 
when he learned of a horse that had been stolen 
somewhere below, and he set out in pursuit of the 
thief. Such trail as he could find led straight for 
No-man's Land and he knew that he was bound at 
last for that lawless locality where U. S. deputy 
marshals were favorite victims. 

He was alone, but this fact did not disturb him. 
He had always preferred to hunt in that way. There 
was less chance of frightening the game. When he 
reached Hutchinson County, which is in the second 
tier from the north Texas line, he stopped at Turkey 
Track Ranch and borrowed a buck-board in which 
to bring home his catch. It was still seventy-five 
miles to the No-man's Land line, but buck-boards 
were few in the Pan-handle in those days and this 
was likely to be the last chance to get one. It is 
possible that Turkey Track Ranch said good-by to 
that buck-board when he drove away, for while they 
had heard of Bill McDonald, they also knew of the 
usual fate of the U. S. deputy marshals who, with or 
without a buck-board, set out on an invasion of No- 
man's Land. 

It was a long lonesome drive across Hutchinson 
and Hansford Counties, and up through No-man's 

72 Captain Bill McDonald 

Land, to the waters of Beaver Creek. The trail was 
not very difficult here, for the thief probably did 
not expect to be followed — certainly not farther than 
the border line, and had made little effort to cover 
his track. It was toward the end of the second or 
third day, at last, that the trail became very fresh, 
and the man in the buck-board came to a halt and 
set out on foot to locate his game. As silently and 
cautiously as an Indian he crept through the brush 
until he reached a place where peering through he 
located, some distance away on the river bank, a 
camp consisting of four men and the same number 
of horses. His man had found comrades, that was 
evident, and it was likely they would join in his 
defense. McDonald lay in the brush, watching them, 
as long as it was light and then crept closer, trying 
to identify the horse he was after, and which of the 
men had him in charge. He had no intention of 
beginning operations that night, for he had long 
since made up his mind that the proper time for a 
surprise attack is in the early morning. Men have 
not gathered themselves, then, and have not been 
awake long enough to be fearless, and quick of 
thought and action. His purpose now was to know 
his ground exactly, so that with daylight he could 
act with a clear understanding. 

He was obliged to wait until daylight before he 
could be sure of his ground ; then, awake and watch- 
ing, he saw the different men go to look after their 
horses. He located a bay horse that answered to 

New Tactics in No-man\s Land 73 

the description of the stolen animal, and identified 
the man who had him in charge. He crept back to 
his buck-board now, got in and drove up leisurely 
to the outlaw camp, looking as inoffensive and guile- 
less as any other fly with a horse and buck-board, 
driving straight into the spider's den. 

* * Good-morning, boys, ' ' he said pleasantly, ^ * you- 
all look mighty comfortable with that fire going. I 
lost my way and laid out last night. Mebbe you-all 
can tell me something about the trails around here. 
There don't seem to be none that I can find." 

They invited him cordially to get down and warm 
himself and said they would show him the trail. 
McDonald stepped out and walked over to the fire, 
still talking about the country and the weather, 
working over close to the man he wanted. The 
deputy wore a short overcoat, and he had a pair of 
hand-cuffs in the left side-pocket. He got just in 
front of his man at last and reached out his right 
hand as if to shake hands with him. Instinctively 
the man extended his own right hand and at that 
instant McDonald's left with the open hand-cuffs 
was out like a flash — there was a quick snap, a sud- 
den movement — a slight-of-hand movement it was — 
then another quick snap and the horse thief, dazed 
and half stupefied stood gazing down at the manacles 
on his wrists, while Bill McDonald, a gun in each 
hand, quietly regarded the other three members of 
the camp. 

The captive was first to break the silence. 

74 Captain Bill McDonald 

** Boys," he said, ** what does this mean? " 

One of the men turned to McDonald. 

" Yes,'' he said, ** what does this mean? Who 
are you and what are you going to do with that 
man? " 

** I'm Deputy U. S. Marshal McDonald, of Texas,'' 
was the cheerful reply, * * and I 'm going to take this 
man with me and put him in jail." 

'' What for? " 

** For stealing that bay horse out there." 

The outlaw advanced a step. 

** And you'll just about play hell doing it! " he 

*' All right, I am ready to start the game right 
now," said McDonald. 

The men whispered a little among themselves. 
Their saddles were off to one side and their Win- 
chesters lay across them, all there together. They 
wore six-shooters also, but they realized who their 
man was, now, and they were careful to make no 
movement toward them. Presently one of the men 
said : 

** You say you are going to put that fellow in 
jail? " 

*' That's what I'm going to do." 

*^ Well, now let's see about that." 

The men were starting in as if to make an argu- 
ment. One of the party began working a little in 
the direction of the guns. The idea was to distract 
the officer 's attention for a moment and get the drop 

"Three pairs of hands went up." 

New Tactics in No-man* s Land 75 

on him. It was a good game, but it failed to work 
in this instance. McDonald brought his guns exactly 
to bear on the men in front of him. 

** Throw up your hands ! 'Mie commanded, ** every 
one of you quick! Throw them up, you scoun- 
drels! '' 

Three pairs of hands went up.. That command 
from Bill McDonald has almost never been dis- 
obeyed. Perhaps it is the tone of the voice that 
makes it convincing. Perhaps it is the curious look 
in those needle-pointed eyes of his; perhaps it is 
something more than these — something psychologi- 
cally imperative. Whatever it is, it has filled the 
air of Texas with hands, from Red River to the Rio 

** Now, face the other way! '' was the next com- 

The men faced about, their hands still high above 
their heads. With one six-shooter still on them, 
McDonald went up behind each man and disarmed 
him, sticking the revolvers in his own belt. Then 
he went over and took the cartridges out of the 
Winchesters. He now marched his men to where 
the horses were hitched, secured the stolen one and 
tied him to the buck-board. Then he ordered his 
prisoner to get in and proceeded to shackle him to 
the slats of the vehicle. The other three men, mean- 
time, were kept in a group, a rod or so ahead in the 
direction of Texas. 

* * Now, march for Texas, you devils ! ' ' McDonald 

76 Captain Bill McDonald 

said, when he was seated beside his prisoner. The 
procession started, the men complaining that they 
had done nothing, and that he had no right to take 
them back, even if he were authorized to take the 
other man. 

Deputy Bill said : 

** You fellows have been in the habit over here 
of resisting and killing officers, or driving them out, 
and doing as you please. I just want to show you 
how easy it is to take your kind. Come, move right 
along there, now. I don't know what you've done, 
but you probably stole all those horses back yon- 

The men now began to beg for their horses, com- 
plaining that the animals left behind would stay 
there and starve. McDonald really had no intention 
of taking them all the way back with him. He had 
no warrants for them, and besides he did not care 
to march and camp with that number unless neces- 
sary. His purpose was to get them far enough away 
so that they would not be likely to try to overtake 
him and catch him asleep when he should halt for 
the night. He made no concessions however, until 
they were well along toward the Texas line. Then 
he said: 

* * Now, if you fellows think you can behave your- 
selves and want to go back and tend to your horses, 
I may let you go back on that account. But you can 
make up your minds, and you can tell your friends 
about it, that I'm not afraid of any of you, and I'm 

New Tactics in No-man's Land 77 

going to clear you dam'd thieves out of this country. 
I'm going to show you that there's one man you 
won't kill nor run out. Now, will you do what I tell 
you? " 

The men protested that they were good citizens, 
and that if he would let them off they would under- 
take missionary work in the cause of law and order. 
He let them go, then, and handed back their unloaded 
arms, promising them another fate, if he ever 
caught them in mischief. He watched them dis- 
appear behind the first rise; then, whipping up, he 
made the best time he could for Turkey Track 
Eanch, where he rested a day, delivered the bor- 
rowed buck-board, taking his prisoner next morning 
to jail. 


Eedeeming No-man's Land 
bill mcdonald and lon bukson gather in the bad 




It was natural that other work in No-man's Land 
should follow this first experiment. It having been 
demonstrated that Bill McDonald could go into that 
infested place and not only come out alive, but bring 
back his man, other and more extensive contracts 
were laid out for him. There were several bad 
gangs there to be broken up before legitimate settlers 
could live there, and it was decided that McDonald 
was the man for the job. 

McDonald on his part was ready for the under- 
taking, it being of a sort which he found always most 
congenial. Deciding that it was a good thing to have 
a reliable partner in the handling of a gang, he 
selected for his associate another deputy marshal — 
one Lon Burson of Henrietta — a quiet athletic fellow 
with plenty of grit and endurance. 

* * I could always rely upon Lon, ' ' McDonald said, 
in speaking of that period, long after; *^ I believed 
I knew just what he would do, every time, and he 
never failed me." It may be added that Burson on 

Redeeming tJo-man*s Land 7d 

his part had complete faith in McDonald, and that 
their ideas of conducting a campaign were in exact 

They began on what was thought to be one of the 
worst gangs, a band of nine who had established on 
Beaver Creek~a general headquarters from which 
they conducted a miscellaneous business in crime — 
stealing cattle and horses, robbing trains and shoot- 
ing down bank officials when occasion offered, fre- 
quently crossing over into adjoining States for that 

McDonald had laid out the plan of attack, which 
was to arrive on the scene at his favorite early 
hour — daybreak — and then to do no parleying or 
long distance firing, but to charge at once and storm 
the works. His theory was — and is to-day — that the 
criminal cannot stand up against the man who is not 
afraid of him and does not hesitate. 

'* If you wilt or falter he will kill you,'' he has 
often said, * * but if you go straight at him and never 
give him time to get to cover, or to think, he will 
weaken ninety-nine times in a hundred. No man in 
the wrong can stand up against a fellow that's in the 
right and keeps on a-comin'. I made up my mind to 
that long ago, and IVe never made a mistake yet." 

Here in homely vernacular is expressed a mighty 
truth. Crime is always coward and cannot stand 
against the conviction of right. Error cannot sur- 
vive in the face of truth that does not falter and 
** keeps on a-comin'." 

80 Captain Bill McDonald 

McDonald and Burson proceeded in the saddle to 
Higgins, in Lipscomb County — a station on the 
Santa Fe Eailroad, and their last base of supplies. 
Here they chartered a big three-seated hack in which 
to bring back their prisoners, should their raid 
prove successful. They put their own horses to this 
vehicle, loaded their saddles in behind and continued 
their journey. 

It was toward evening when they arrived in the 
neighborhood of the outlaw den and camped in a 
secluded place, to wait for morning. The house 
stood in the edge of the prairie, near Beaver Creek 
and was easy of access. It was made of logs and 
seemed to be a deserted ranch place, probably built 
by some adventurous person who had long since 
departed for a locality where there was more law, 
even if less grass. 

One of the band — an early riser — had just gone 
out to round up the horses when the two deputies, 
mounted, made their approach, next morning. He 
discovered them when they were about four hun- 
dred yards away and made for the house, McDonald 
and Burson following at full speed. The outlaw was 
a little in advance, and his eight companions were 
out in front with their Winchesters when the officers 
bore down on them. 

* ' Go round the house, Lon, and come in from be- 
hind. 1^11 'tend to them on this side/' said Mc- 
Donald as they dashed up. 

This maneuver was immediately put into action 

Redeeming No-man* s Land 81 

and in less than a minute later the deputies were on 
the spot, their game between them. In another in- 
stant both deputies had slid from their horses and 
were in the midst of the confused, half awake out- 

*^ Drop them guns! Drop 'em, and put up your 
hands! ** commanded McDonald — ^his own gun and 
Burson's leveled. 

There was not even an attempt at resistance. The 
bandits were simply dazed, overwhelmed by the 
suddenness and vigor of the onslaught. Heretofore, 
attacks — always made by a posse — had begun with 
scouting and skirmish and ended with a running 
fight, usually at long range. The plan of two mere 
deputies coming straight upon them and demanding 
sudden and complete surrender was wholly new. 
As before remarked, there was something about it 
terribly convincing — almost supernatural. 

McDonald kept the men covered, now, while Bur- 
son secured their weapons. Then, hand-cuffed and 
shackled, they were marched to the big hack, crowded 
into it and driven fifty miles to Higgins ; thence by 
rail to the United States Commissioner at Wichita 

McDonald, as usual, was sociable enough with his 
prisoners, once secure,, and delivered to them his 
customary homily, as they drove along. 

** I just want to show you fellows, up here, how 
easy it is to take you,*' he said affably. ** You-all 
have got the notion that you can run this country 

82 Captain Bill McDonald 

your own way, and that there ain't any officers that 
can come up here and make you behave. Now, you- 
all are mightily mistaken. I'm going to put every 
one of you fellows in jail and a lot more like you. 
You know well enough it ain't right to act like you- 
all have been doing — driving off other men's cattle 
and robbing trains and shooting men that you had 
the drop on. You might know you'd get into trouble. 
The United States has made laws against such busi- 
ness as that, and them laws cover this country the 
same as anywhere else and every one of your kind 
up in here is going to find it out." 

The gang was landed safely in "Wichita Falls. 
Some of them were eventually convicted; the rest 
either became better citizens or sought quieter ter- 
ritory for their industries. The cleaning up of No- 
man's Land had begun. 

The work of active reform was not allowed to 
languish. News of the first successful raid traveled 
quickly, and State Senator Temple Houston — son 
of Governor Sam Houston — notified McDonald that 
the Sheriff of Hansford County was in need of assis- 
tance to cope with a bad gang which had a ren- 
dezvous just across the border from Hansford, in 
No-man's Land. These bandits had been carrying 
on the usual business of horse and cattle stealing 
and general highway robbery. Unlike some of the 
officials, the sheriff of Hansford, though not noted 
for reckless bravery, was in no way in league with 
the thieves and desired only their extermination. 

Redeeming No-man's Land 83 

His jurisdiction, however, extended no farther than 
the Texas line, and thus far no State or federal 
officer had rendered any assistance. As a result, 
the band, becoming very bold, had pitched their camp 
just over the line, and had defied arrest, declaring 
they would shoot the first man that stepped across. 

When Bill McDonald got the word from Senator 
Houston, he immediately sent over for Lon Burson 
and then proceeded to Canadian, Hemhill County, 
where Houston lived. Here they learned more fully 
what work was cut out for them, and presently con- 
tinued their journey over into Hansford, where, 
from the sheriff, they secured the names of the of- 
fenders, as far as possible, and a partial list of their 
misdeeds. Complaints were now filed against six 
men, the usual commodious hack was secured ; also, 
a light buggy for possible side excursions, and Mc- 
Donald and Burson, accompanied by the sheriff as 
a guide, drove through the gray of early morning, 
to the line which divided Hansford County from No- 
man's Land. 

Arriving at the border, the sheriff pointed out 
where the robber den — a log building — was located, 
not more than eight hundred yards beyond. Then 
he said he would wait there until they got back. 

** Come right along with us,'* said McDonald, 
** we need you to identify the men.'' 

But the officer said ** No," that the men knew him, 
and it might alarm them if they saw him coming. 
Besides, he had no authority over there. 

84 Captain Bill McDonald 

"■ Never mind that,'' urged McDonald, '' I'll risk 
the consequences, and I'll make you one of a 
deputy's posse, which fixes your authority all 

But the sheriff still said '* No," that he didn't 
care for any more authority than he had — that any- 
thing new in that line might make him proud. He 
said he thought he would enjoy sitting there in the 
hack where he would have a good view of what hap- 
pened to them when they tackled that outfit. 

McDonald and Burson, therefore, set out in the 
light buggy, driving leisurely across the intervening 
space. Arriving near the log-house, they discovered 
that five men were up, and sitting sleepily on the 
ground in front of their cabin, their Winchesters 
leaning against the wall behind them. Evidently 
they did not look for any attack, and even when 
they saw the approaching buggy, their wits were not 
sufficiently collected to suspect that these might be 
officers ; nor could they realize that any two men in 
a buggy would drive over to attempt their cajpture. 
In another instant they were covered. 

' ^ Get up from there and throw up your hands ! ' ' 
was the word of greeting they received. *^ And 
don't try to touch them guns. The first man that 
tries it I'll kill him." 

The five men rose — it was polite to do so — also, 
they refrained from offering any discourtesy in the 
matter of the guns. McDonald now called the roll 
of the names he wanted, and curious as it may seem, 

Redeeming No-man* s Land 85 

each man answered to his name. One man of the 
six wanted, being missing, the officers proceeded to 
hand-cuff and shackle the five captured men, and 
marched them back to the hack, where the sheriff of 
Hansford was waiting. 

Of course the sheriff didn't believe it was true. 
He had had such dreams before and thought he 
would wake up, presently, at home, in bed. When 
he convinced himself at last that he was not asleep, 
he offered to aid in the search for the sixth man. He 
was well acquainted with the Territory trails, and 
McDonald decided to send Burson to Hansford with 
the hack-load and to proceed with the buggy and the 
sheriff after Number Six of the gang who, it ap- 
peared, had a place of his own some twenty miles 

Number Six was out looking after his cattle — 
about thirty in number — the result of industry — 
when McDonald and the sheriff of Hansford arrived, 
and not expecting official guests, was unprepared. 
He had, in fact, '* no more gun than a rabbit," as 
Deputy Bill said afterward, and his capture was 
child's play. That night the gang complete set out 
for Wichita Falls, to be tried later in the United 
States Court at Dallas. 

Raids followed each other rapidly. One gang of 
cattle thieves after another was gathered in, and 
took up the march for Dallas and trial. Outlawing 
in No-man 's Land became an unpopular occupation. 
Men of more legitimate enterprise began to wonder 

86 Captain Bill McDonald 

if the time was not coming, by and by, when they 
could do business on or within the borders of that 
territory without the protection of a company of 
soldiers. The fame of Bill McDonald was on every 
man's tongue, and those who had not seen him, es- 
pecially the outlaws still at large, usually conceived 
him to be a very terrible person : large, bushy, heavy 
of voice and fierce of mien. Yet he was just the op- 
posite of all these things. He was slender, quiet, 
blue-eyed, and gentle of voice — only, he had that gift 
of command — that look, and that manner of speech 
with law-breakers which they did not disobey. The 
time came presently in No-man's Land when his 
name alone and a rumor that he was coming was suf- 
ficient to cause a gang to contemplate emigration. 
Perhaps they believed he bore a charmed life, and 
it was useless to resist him. If so, they were hardly 
to be blamed for such a conviction. 


Some op the Difficulties of Kefoem 

** frontier '' law and practice. caught in a 
norther in no-man 's land 

It is neither necessary nor possible to give a full 
history of all the raids that during the brief period 
of little more than a year broke up organized law- 
lessness in that stray corner of the nation and re- 
deemed an abandoned land. The general plan was 
the same in all. The early morning hour ; the hack 
and the Winchester; the surprise attack, and the 
pleasant drive home with the guests duly hand- 
cuffed and shackled ; these were features common to 
each episode. Though conducted against desperate 
men, it was a bloodless warfare. Nobody was killed 
— scarcely a gun was fired. Bill McDonald's career 
was not to be always like that. There was to be 
shooting enough and blood-letting too, but the No- 
man's Land campaign was peculiar in the absence 
of these customary attributes of border warfare. 

Yet there are one or two aspects of the happen- 
ings of that period which may not be overlooked 
here. As before suggested, the administrators of 
the law were not always to be relied upon. Some of 
them were actually in league with the law-breakers; 

88 Captain Bill McDonald 

others were honest enough, but afraid of them. But 
there was still another sort, who being both honest 
and courageous lacked information. Sometimes this 
resulted in curious complications which were annoy- 
ing and discouraging to an officer. Often, the results 
were rather humorous in their nature. The follow- 
ing is an illustration of frontier jurisprudence. 

McDonald had heard of a cow thief in No-man's 
Land who was working on his own hook — a sporadic 
case, as one might say — and went over to arrest him. 
He descended upon him in an unexpected moment, 
and though the outlaw strenuously protested that it 
being Sunday the law of arrest did not hold good, 
Deputy Bill conveyed him across the border and 
down into Koberts County where the cattle had been 
stolen and where there was a justice of the peace — ^it 
being hardly worth while to take a single prisoner to 
"Wichita Falls. McDonald's idea was that the justice 
would have authority to bind his prisoner over until 
such time as the grand jury of that district should 
meet and indict him in regular form. 

Now, Eoberts County was a wild desolate place in 
those days. There was no town anywhere about, 
and few people. There had been no previous call 
for administration of the law of any sort, and up 
to that time no case had come before this justice 
of the peace. On the arrival of McDonald with his 
prisoner, his honor convened court with a sort of 
a helpless look. His office was merely a title, so far 
as he was concerned, and the wide realm of the law 

Some of the Difficulties of Reform 89 

was to him an unexplored country. He had a copy 
of the ** Kevised Statutes,'^ however, which he now 
took down and examined, perhaps for the first time. 
With McDonald ^s help he found the section which 
related to cattle stealing, and the penalty. Kegular 
procedure, with indictments and trial by jury were 
as nothing to him. He only knew that he had been 
elected to his office, and that his duty was to ad- 
minister the law as laid down. He read the law as 
pointed out, and assumed a judicial severity. 

** You own up that you stole them cattle? *' he 
said to the prisoner. 

The prisoner nodded. 

** Then as justice of the peace of this county I 
hereby send you to the penitentiary for ten years. * ' 

McDonald gasped. 

** Judge,'* he said, *^ I don't believe that's quite 
regular. ' ' 

'' Why; ain't that the law? " 

** Well, yes, but you see he's entitled to trial, an' 
mebbe it would be just as well to bind him over 
under a good heavy bond, and if he can't raise it 
send him to jail over in Canadian until the grand 
jury meets. Of course I only mention that as being 
the usual way of doing things. ' ' 

The justice looked a little disappointed. 

** Why, yes, of course, if you want it that way," 
he said, ^* but the man's guilty and I thought you'd 
like to put the thing through as quick and easy as 
possible, and save expense. Oh, well, any way to 

90 Captain Bill McDonald 

suit you. I'll make Ms bond heavy enough, any- 
way." He paused to think, perhaps trying to im- 
agine a sum large enough for a man who had plead 
guilty to the heinous crime of cattle stealing. ** I'll 
put him under a heavy bond — a good heavy bond — 
I'll make it three hundred dollars ! " 

It will be seen that an official who was given to 
inspirations such as these could become a trial, even 
with the best intentions in the world ; and there were 
others who added arrogance to their ignorance, and 
connivance at crime. Nor were the raids into No- 
man's Land altogether pleasure excursions even 
though Deputies Bill McDonald and Lon Burson, 
with their headlong tactics and general disregard 
of death, had things pretty much their own way 
when it came to the final show-down. There were 
long wearying journeys in a trailless land and long 
night vigils when bone and muscle and nerve were 
racked and the whole body cried out for sleep. The 
onset might be swift and reckless, once begun, but 
the preparation for that moment was cautious and 
slow and often beset with difficulties. The few dwel- 
lers in No-man's Land really desirous of getting 
rid of the outlaws, were afraid to reveal their 
anxiety, to give anything resembling information, 
or even to offer shelter to the officers. They knew 
that to manifest any interest on the side of law and 
order would incur the enmity of the gangs and bring 
down reprisal swift and bloody. McDonald and 

Some of the Difficulties of Reform 91 

Burson realized this, and, however severe the con- 
ditions of weather and weariness, faced theiii, rather 
than impose any risk upon men whose only offense 
was to dwell among very bad neighbors. 

At one time the deputies were after a gang of five 
men, wanted for murder and theft, and were driving 
from Higgins into No-man's Land, with hack and 
team, their saddles loaded in behind, as usual. It 
was late in, the year, now, and suddenly in the swift 
Texas fashion a norther came down, with piercing 
wind and fine driving snow. If the reader has never 
seen a Texas norther, or a Dakota blizzard, he will 
hardly understand their predicament. The wind 
leaps up in a wild gale almost in an instant ; the air 
from being balmy takes on a sudden bitterness that 
wrings the body and numbs the heart and pinches 
the very soul. Then the snow comes, fine and blind- 
ing — sharp and hard as glass. No living being was 
ever created that could survive long in the face of 
a storm like that. Cattle know when a norther is 
coming and find shelter in canyons, or gather into 
thick bunches in the open, their heads to the center. 
Birds speed away to the south, ahead of it, or find 
shelter in hollows and crannies until the demon has 
passed by. A storm like that always means death. 
The Texas norther and the Dakota blizzard have 
strewn the prairies with bones. 

McDonald and Burson in the face of such a tem- 
pest tried to press on, hoping to find a shelter of 

92 Captain Bill McDonald 

some sort — anything that would break the terrible 
wind. But everywhere was only the wide prairie, 
level as the sea and lost now in the swirling drift. 
Night was coming on rapidly, and unless a place for 
camp was found soon, their case would be hopeless, 
indeed. It seemed to them that they had drifted 
for hours, battling against the norther — though it 
probably was less than one hour — when they came 
upon some stacks of prairie hay, which indicated 
the habitation of men. Without seeking further, 
they made for the shelter of the stacks, burrowed 
themselves and their horses into them, allowing the 
latter to feed liberally from the hay. There they 
remained all night and until the afternoon of the 
next day, the men without food. The storm abated 
then, and the officers undiscouraged, pressed on, 
reaching the outlaw camp late in the afternoon, in- 
stead of at their favorite morning hour. 

The surprise was quite as complete, however, for 
the last thing that those bandits expected was that 
two officers should suddenly appear out of that white 
devastation to take them to jail. They were too 
much astonished to attempt resistance and were on 
their way to Wichita Falls that night, following the 
road which earlier in the year so many of their kind 
had taken. 

Indeed it was this capture at the end of 1888 that 
marked about the close of the heaviest work in that 
particular section. The year's crusade had demon- 
strated that No-man's Land was not big enough to 

Some of the Difficulties of Reform 93 

hold a band of cow thieves and two deputies like 
Bill McDonald and Lon Burson at the same time. It 
was no encouragement to a band of hard-working 
outlaws, just as they had got their plant established 
and things well under way to be suddenly pounced 
down upon and put out of business by two men who 
had no regard for the customary rules of fighting, 
but just rushed right in with a lot of impertinent 
orders and an assortment of hand-cuffs and always 
had a big hack ready to start at a moment's notice 
for Wichita Falls. 

** What is the use? '* one of the freebooters is 
said to have complained, ** A fellow no more than 
gets started when these dam' fools come in and upset 
everything. ' ' 

What was the use? Such of the No-man's Land 
fraternity as still remained unhung and out of jail 
set out for other fields of labor. Some of them 
located in the more barren districts of New Mexico 
and Arizona. Some of them settled in the further 
places of what was then known as the Cherokee 
Strip, where they joined with congenial spirits in 
that territory, and pretending to be engaged in 
agriculture — for they were in a more settled country 
— Indian country — continued their old business at 
the new stand. These we shall meet again presently, 
for if they had said good-by to Bill McDonald, he 
had not said good-by to them. It would require new 
tactics to deal with the new conditions — to identify 
the outlaw in the pretended agriculturist, and to get 

94 Captain Bill McDonald 

evidence for his conviction. It would require the 
development of another talent in Bill McDonald's 
make-up, and that talent was ready for cultivation, 
as we shall see. 


Captain Bill as a Tkee-man 



Meanwhile, the ranch on Wanderer's Creek had 
suffered. Compelled to be absent most of the time, 
McDonald was unable to give his herd personal pro- 
tection, and now and again bunches of his cattle 
were driven off by outlaws from across the border. 
His brave wife, facing the problem of the wilderness 
with only a few hired helpers, did her best, but was 
not always able to prevent these raids. The thieves 
would seem to have taken especial delight in watch- 
ing for the times when Deputy Bill was absent and 
then descending on his herds, mainly for the booty, 
no doubt, but also by way of retaliation. It was a 
dangerous thing for them to do, and though they 
were certain to pay for it in the end; the double 
temptation of profit and revenge was not to be 

But while the ranch did not prosper, its owner 
was in no immediate danger of bankruptcy. "With 
his success in breaking up the gangs in Hardeman 
and adjoining counties, and in No-man's Land, Mc' 

96 Captain Bill McDonald 

Donald's fame had grown amazingly. As a thief - 
taker he was regarded as a past-master. That an 
outlaw could neither intimidate nor elude him, and 
that when he was feeling well he could whip any 
number of them single-handed, before breakfast, 
was the current belief. The Cattle-men's Associa- 
tion — a combination of law abiding ranchmen, one 
of the strongest organizations ever known — invited 
his special attention to their herds and contributed 
a monthly acknowledgement of one hundred and 
fifty dollars, which with his numerous fees made his 
income an ample one — often as large as five hundred 
dollars a month — sometimes double this amount. 

Among the members of the association was Sam 
Lazarus, who was with Bull Turner when he was 
shot by the Brookens, and who came into town on 
the whiffletrees, undamaged, but a good deal shaken 
up as to nerves. Soon after McDonald's arrange- 
ment with the cattlemen, Lazarus was sending a 
herd of perhaps a thousand head into Kansas, driv- 
ing them across the Territory. Pat Wolf orth, whose 
name may also be recalled in connection with the 
Brookens, was in charge of this herd, and when just 
beyond the Territory line, in a very lonely district, 
met with misfortune. One evening near nightfall 
the cattle suddenly became frightened, doubtless 
through some device of the outlaws, and Wolforth 
and his men found it impossible to control them. A 
general stampede followed and Lazarus 's cattle 
were scattered over the prairies and through the 

Captain Bill as a Tree-man 97 

fastnesses of the Strip — a prey to the spoilers lying 
in wait on every hand. It was a heavy disaster and 
there seemed little hope of much in the way of re- 
covery. The spring round-up might gather in a 
few stragglers, but for the most part the herds of 
Lazarus were believed to be beyond all hope of 

Bill McDonald took no such view of the situation. 
With Pat Wol forth he immediately visited the scene 
of the stampede, and began looking for cattle with 
the ** Diamond-tail *' brand, such being the symbol 
of the Lazarus herd. It was a ticklish undertaking. 
Some of the cattle had been butchered, and these of 
course were lost. Others had been absorbed by the 
herds of men who though not regularly engaged in 
cow stealing were in nowise particular as to whose 
cows they got and welcomed anything that browsed 
unguarded on the range. Still others had been col- 
lected in '^ pockets *' — small gullies or canyons — 
where they were retired from general circulation, 
guarded, as a rule, by one or two ostensible cow- 

McDonald began by prevailing upon the honest 
ranchmen in that section to join at once in a general 
round-up by which means a great number of cattle 
could be collected and distributed to their rightful 
owners. The result was fairly satisfactory and a good 
many of Lazarus 's cattle were recovered, though 
not always without disputes and a display of fire- 
arms, especially where the brands had been grown 

98 Captain Bill McDonald 

over by the long winter-coat of hair. Such cases 
were settled first and tried afterward. In other 
words, McDonald and Wolforth possessed them- 
selves of the cattle and then at their leisure ' ^ picked 
the brand,'' which is the range idiom for picking 
the hair from around the brand with a pocket-knife, 
so the brand may be seen. If the brand proved to 
be other than that of the Lazarus herd, the cattle 
were turned over to their true owners. When the 
round-up was over the cow-hunters took up the 
search in other directions. 

It mattered little to McDonald and Wolforth 
where they found the Diamond-tail brand — they 
took the cattle, peaceably if possible, forcibly if 
necessary. They conducted the campaign with an 
enthusiasm and vigor which did not invite argument. 
Large herds they searched without ceremony and if 
any cattle of their brand were found, they were * * cut 
out " with few formalities and with scant courtesy. 
When they came upon bunches of the Diamond-tail 
brand in secluded places, they did not pause to 
present any credentials except their Winchesters 
which they carried always ready for instant action, 
and set out at once with the cattle ; also, sometimes, 
with the astonished cowboys as well. It was a sud- 
den and energetic procedure and resulted in the re- 
covery of the greater number of the lost drove of 

It resulted further in a definite plan by Bill Mc- 
Donald for the discouragement of cattle stealing in 

Captain Bill as a Tree-man 99 

the Territory, and for the capture of the most 
actively engaged in that industry. As set down in 
a foregoing chapter, the outlaws in the Cherokee 
Strip were not likely to be congregated in a single 
rendezvous, as had been the case in No-man's Land, 
but were scattered as individual squatters through 
neighborhoods more or less friendly to their busi- 
ness, or at least not bold enough openly to oppose it. 
Indeed, the back country was very sparsely settled, 
and the Indians and half-breed whites and negroes 
were not especially interested in law and order, even 
where they were not directly concerned in opposing 
these things. Along the rivers — the Cimmaron, the 
Canadian, the Washita and the North Fork of the 
Eed River, the country was rugged, and the hiding 
places for plunder were good. The prairies were 
nice and level with fine land and plentiful grass. 
White men had no legal right of residence there, 
except where they were intermarried with the 
Indians, and those who acquired citizenship in this 
manner were not likely to be any more desirable 
than those others whose occupation was itself an 
infringement on the law. 

* ' Did they raise anything there. Bill ? ' ' McDonald 
was asked in discussing the conditions, long after- 

** Just raised hell!*' the old Ranger answered 

Nearly all, however, made a pretense of agricul- 
tural employments; for after all, the country, un- 

100 Captain Bill McDonald 

like No-man's Land, was really under a regular form 
of government; legitimate settlement was consider- 
able, and there was a semblance, at least, of law and 
order. Also, there were towns of considerable size, 
and railroads — the latter affording liberal returns 
now and then when some train was waited upon in 
a lonely place and the express messengers, mail 
agents and passengers were invited at the point of 
six-shooters to contribute to a highway development 
fund. The writer of these chapters was himself a 
resident of Kansas during this earlier period, and 
he recalls now what an uninteresting month it was 
when an M. K. & T. or Santa Fe or Eock Island 
train did not come up out of the Territory with 
passengers telegraphing home for money and the 
express and mail cars full of bullet holes. 

Bill McDonald decided to break up this sort of 
thing, and set about it in a way suggested by his own 
peculiar genius. It was necessary first to identify 
the men who were really concerned in these various 
employments, for in a country where all were * ^ set- 
tlers, '^ even if unofficial ones, it was not worth while 
working at hap-hazard and bothering men whose 
only offense might be that of squatting. Investiga- 
tion must be conducted openly and yet in a way to 
avoid suspicion. His gentle manner and seemingly 
inoffensive personality suited him for just such an 
undertaking, and he prepared and ** made up '' 
carefully for the part. 

Eeturning to Quanah and Wanderer's Creek, he 

Captain Bill as a Tree-man 101 

bought a ** paint horse '' (a spotted pony) ; an old 
tenderfoot saddle, such as a plainsman would never 
use, and a book with pretty pictures of fruit in it 
— a regular nurseryman's plate-book — the kind of 
a book fruit-tree salesmen always carry. Then 
dressed as unlike an officer, or a cow-man, or a 
Texan as possible, with these properties he set out 
— to all appearances a genial, garrulous, easy-going 
tree-man, inviting orders and confidences — willing 
to sit around all day and whittle and swap knives 
and yarns, and to express any kind of interest or 
sympathy necessary to encourage a man to tell his 
business ventures and those of his neighbors. 

It was a pleasant excursion, enough. No fruit- 
tree man had been through that section before — 
none ever had dared, or perhaps thought it worth 
while, to go. McDonald's excursion proved that 
profit awaited the seller of trees who should first 
make that wilderness his territory. He had expected 
not much in the way of sales, for he did not imagine 
that men engaged in driving off and slaughtering 
other men's cattle, and in waylaying trains and rob- 
bing banks would have any special taste for horticul- 
ture. This was an error of judgment. Most of these 
bad men had been fairly good boys at home at some 
time in the past, and the sight of those luminous 
plates presenting fruit of extravagant size and 
coloring, made their mouths fairly water at the 
thought of its cultivation by the doorway of their 
own dug-outs or sod houses or log cabins. They 

102 Captain Bill McDonald 

turned the pages lovingly, and lingered over tlie 
wonderful plums and pears and peaches, and as they 
turned they talked and somehow almost without 
realizing it they told a great many things about 
themselves and neighbors which no well-trained and 
properly constructed outlaw should tell, even to a 
sympathetic and simple-hearted fruit-tree man who 
wrote down the orders and listened and chuckled at 
some of the yarns, while he encouraged further con- 

He would drift around presently to his customer's 
former place of residence, and to the reason for his 
leaving. It was easy enough for an alert tree-man 
to detect a lack of complete frankness in the replies, 
especially, if the reason had ^' something about a 
cow or horse '' in it, that being the usual first ad- 
mission that the isolation of the Strip had been 
found congenial for other reasons than those con- 
nected with its soil and climate. The tree-man did 
not hesitate to give a generous return for any such 
confidences, inventing on the spot some of his own 
for the purpose. The number and character of 
crimes he confessed to having been accused of in the 
States would be worth recording in this history if 
they could be remembered now. But, alas, like other 
gay bubbles, they were blown only to charm for the 
moment, and once vanished cannot be recalled. The 
tree-man would then fall to abusing laws in general 
and the men who enforced them, and end by declar- 
ing that he was mightily in love with that particular 

Captain Bill as a Tree-man 103 

section and would stay where there was little or no 
chance of meeting any of those obnoxious officials, 
if the boys would consider him one of them and all 
stand together in time of trouble. Talk like this 
would open the door for anything. The rest of the 
interview was likely to run something as follows : 

Picture : Two men seated on a log, or down on the 
grass cowboy style, in front of a dug-out; one the 
slim, mild-looking tree-man; the other a burly 
person, very dirty, hairy and unkempt, bent over 
a large book of gay pictures which the tree-man 
leans forward to explain. Nearby, two horses are 
grazing, the ** paint-hoss '' with the old tenderfoot 
saddle and saddle-bags ; the other a very good look- 
ing animal, often saddled and bridled for prompt 

** By gum," nods the big burly individual, staring 
at a picture of such peaches as grow only in para- 
dise, ** eating peaches like them would be like holdin' 
up the Santa Fe express.'' 

** That's what," assents the salesman gayly, 
** regular picnic all the time. I s'pose you fellers 
in here have money to throw at the birds after that 
kind of a job." 

** Well, not so much after all. Too many have to 
have a piece out of it. Everybody wants to help. 
It has to be a pretty big basket of money to cut in 
two more'n twice and leave enough to pay." 

The salesman shows a sympathetic interest. 

** Of course," he agrees, ** it's too bad to spoil a 

104 Captain Bill McDonald 

good bunch of money by making little piles of it. I 
guess you have to have a good many though for a 
job like that." 

*^ No, two can do it, an' there ain't no need of 
more'n three. One to take care of the engineer, 
another to pull down on the passengers and the other 
man to go through 'em. It's plum easy. They give 
up like sinners at a camp-meetin', and the messen- 
gers and mail fellers come down pretty easy, too. 
If they don't we put a few shots through their cars 
and that fetches 'em. ' ' 

** But you had to kill the messenger in that Rock 
Island job, last fall." 

** Well, I wasn't in that mess — that was another 
outfit. Them boys are huntin' trouble and '11 find it 
some day, good an' plenty. "When I put a job 
through, the' ain't nobody going to get killed unless 
they commit reg'lar suicide. You ought to come 
down here an' go in with me. You've got a per- 
suadin' way about you that would make a man give 
up anything he had and thank you for takin' it. It 
'ud pay yeh better, I reckon, than ridin' a paint- 
hoss over the country, peddlin' trees. That reminds 
me — you c'n give me six o' them peaches, an' a 
few o' them pears an' plums an' a couple o' cherry- 
trees and some grape-vines — the big yaller ones — 
Niagaries, I think you said they was. ' ' 

And this was the drift of more than one conversa- 
tion between the Cherokee agriculturists and the 
genial tree-man who certainly did have a ** per- 

Captain Bill as a Tree-tnan 105 

suadin* way '* in making a man give up anything 
he had, in the way of information. No one could 
dream that this inoffensive mild-eyed pilgrim on a 
paint-hoss could ever make trouble in that wilder- 
ness of lawless living and of desperate men. 

So for several weeks the tree-man on his paint- 
horse with his old tenderfoot saddle and his picture- 
book loitered up through the Strip and on over into 
the Territory, on the surface taking orders for 
spring delivery, and beneath it all locating the dif- 
ferent communities of offenders; the individuals of 
the same; stolen cattle and horses, and securing 
data of particular crimes. He ended his canvass at 
Guthrie, a busy frontier point on the Santa Fe, with 
twenty-five hundred dollars worth of orders for trees 
— trees which might be bearing to this day if the 
spring deliveries had been made as planned. 


The Day foe '* Deliveeies " 

the teee-man tukns officee and single-handed 
wipes out a bad gang 

But McDonald was ready now for deliveries of a 
different sort — deliveries of the purchasers them- 
selves, into the hands of the law. As a preliminary 
step he swore out warrants for eight men — the chief 
operators in a very bad community located along 
a small creek between Guthrie and Kingfisher — about 
fifteen miles west of the latter. He then went with 
his warrants to a deputy marshal at Guthrie and 
invited his co-operation in making the arrests. The 
Guthrie deputy looked at him with curiosity, won- 
dering perhaps if this circuit-riding Texas person 
was in his right mind. Clearly the fame of Bill 
McDonald had not yet penetrated into darkest Okla- 
homa. Then, when he had looked over Bill Jess's 
credentials, and perhaps felt his pulse, he said: 

^ * If you can get a company of soldiers to go along 
I might undertake that job with you. You don't 
know that Sand Creek crowd — I do. No two men 
nor ten men could go up against that outfit and get 
back alive. Bring a company of regulars over here, 
if you want to undertake that campaign. ' ' 

The Bay for '' Deliveries '' 107 

McDonald argued, and related what he had done 
in No-man's Land, but to no purpose. A sudden 
charge might work, over there, the deputy said, 
where the gangs were bunched, and were surprised 
before they were awake enough to fight. But it was 
different over here. The bad men were scattered a 
mile or so apart and while you might get the drop 
on one, there 'd be a lot more left to get the drop on 
you, and you'd be full of lead before sunrise. No- 
siree, nothing less than soldiers, and plenty of them, 
would do that job. 

McDonald went about the town trying to enlist 
volunteers. He realized that a scattered gang would 
require time to corral, and that its members would 
be likely to be awake and busy, before he got them 
all in. He did not want a company of soldiers, for 
such a force would scare the gang and accomplish 
nothing; but he did want a few quick fearless men 
for this work. Finally he wired U. S. Marshal 
Walker at Topeka, Kansas, to come on first train. 
Walker came, and McDonald explained the situation. 

*^ IVe got these men located, and warrants for 
their arrest,'* he said, ** and now I can't get your 
deputies or anybody else to give me a hand on the 
job. It ain't just the sort of a thing I want to do 
alone, for we ought to get to several of these men's 
houses simultaneous like, an' I thought you might 
be able to persuade these boys to come along." 

'' Certainly," said Walker, '' that's all right— 
they don't know who you are. I'm satisfied from 

108 Captain Bill McDonald 

what U. S. Marshal Knight, of Dallas, has written 
me that you know what you want to do, and how to 
go at it. I'll get the men together and explain the 
situation. ' ' 

They collected about a dozen deputies and posse- 
men, and Walker explained as agreed. It was no 
use. The men declared that no small force could go 
into the Sand Creek neighborhood and come out 
alive, and nothing short of a squad of trained 
soldiers would be of any use. McDonald looked them 
over scornfully. Then he turned to Walker, 

* * If I had as sorry a lot of men as that, ' * he said, 
''I'd discharge them on the spot. I'll go out there 
alone, if I can get a man with nerve enough to drive 
a hack, and I'll bring back a load of criminals, too." 

This was regarded as a bluff. Walker returned 
to Topeka, and Bill McDonald's fruit-tree expedi- 
tion began to look like a failure. McDonald, how- 
ever, was not the sort of a person to whom the words 
*' bluff " and '' failure " were likely to apply. He 
discovered a man presently who agreed to drive a 
hack, provided he would be asked to do no fighting, 
and would be allowed to remain out of range. 

'' If you ever get 'em to the hack and tied, I'll 
haul 'em, ' ' he said, but it was clear that he expected 
to haul home a dead deputy marshal, instead. 

They set out long before day-break, next morning, 
with a big three-seater — McDonald with an extra 
horse — and drove to the home of what was con- 
sidered the most desperate of the Sand Creek gang 

The Day for '' Deliveries '' 109 

— a very hard looking customer who lived with his 
wife in a dug-out in a small clearing. When they 
had arrived within about two hundred yards of the 
place, the driver declared that he was satisfied with 
his position and did not think it necessary by the 
terms of his contract to go any closer. It was full 
early, barely daybreak, and everything was very 
still. McDonald lost no time, therefore, for a whinny 
of the horses might rouse the occupants of the 
dug-out, and with his Winchester cocked stepped 
across the little clearing and without ceremony 
pushed open the door. As he did so a woman 
stepped directly in front of him, calling out a warn- 
ing to some one behind her. In the dimness of the 
place McDonald saw a man on a bed in the corner 
reaching for a gun which lay on the mattress near 
him. It was no time for manners. With a quick 
sweep of his gun the officer pushed the woman aside 
and covered the man on the bed, before he could 
bring his weapon to bear. 

** Drop it,'' he said. *' Drop it or you're a dead 
man! " 

There was no mistaking the sincerity of that 
order. The mild fruit-tree peddler, was merged 
completely into the resolute officer with eyes of steel 
and a crisp voice that uttered words of unmistakable 
meaning. The gun fell upon the bed. McDonald 
stepped forward and slipping hand-cuffs on his 
prisoner, ordered him to start for the hack and to 
make no suspicious movements. Arriving at the 


110 Captain Bill McDonald 

awaiting vehicle he invited him to step in and be 

^^ First delivery, '* he said to the astonished 
driver. ** We'll go on now and make the rest.'* 

The next hut was perhaps a mile further along, 
and the sun was getting up when they arrived. As 
they approached, they saw the occupant standing in 
the doorway. He saw them about the same time, 
and suspected trouble. His horse was hitched to a 
mesquite tree, and making for it he mounted and 
fled. McDonald was mounted also and gave chase. 
The race continued for perhaps half a mile when 
the officer realized that his man had the better horse 
and would presently get into the brakes and escape. 
He dismounted quickly, therefore, and taking care- 
ful aim began to shoot at the ground near the flying 
horse in such a manner that the bullet striking the 
earth would go singing by, very close to the ears 
of the fugitive. He had long since discovered that a 
bullet singing in that way, close to a man's ears has 
an impressive and convincing sound. A man hear- 
ing a bullet sing by like that would be willing to bet 
any reasonable sum that the next one would hit him, 
especially when the command, ^^ Halt! or I'll get 
you, next time, ' ' came with it. With the second shot 
the disturbed rider brought his horse up suddenly, 
dismounted and made motions of surrender. Mc- 
Donald signaled him to approach, still keeping him 
covered. He came up in good order, and was 
marched toward the hack, the driver of which 

The Day for '' Deliveries " 111 

headed in that direction, now that the danger was 

It was thought that the sound of the shooting 
might have aroused the neighborhood by this time, 
and the thief-hunters worked more cautiously. 
There was no need, however. Gun-fire was of too 
frequent occurrence to create alarm in that locality, 
and the sense of immunity from the law had become 
too chronic to be lightly disturbed. The desperadoes 
had been left unmolested so long that they had be- 
come established in their security and careless of 
intrusion. Two men were at breakfast at the next 
place, and deputy Bill's Winchester covered them 
before they fairly realized that they had a morning 
visitor. These two were hand-cuffed together and 
marched to the hack. The driver by this time had 
picked up a good deal of courage and remained only 
a few yards behind. As for the outlaws, they were 
inclined to be sociable, and with the true Western 
American spirit discerned a certain humor in the 

** Hello, Jim, you been buying fruit trees too? '' 
was the greeting of one of the men already loaded 
as the hand-cuffed pair came in. ** What did you 
get, peaches or pears? '' 

** You go to hell, will you? You'll get a tree with 
a rope on it before you get out of this mess. ' ' 

^* That's all right — you must have bought sour 
grapes, I reckon, the way you talk. ' ' 

** No, his got frost-bit. They'll be all right in the 

112 Captain Bill McDonald 

spring. My apples got a little case of dry-rot, too. 
I wonder how Buck Dillon ^11 like them blue plums o ' 

McDonald, always good-natured with his pris- 
oners, joined in the bantering. 

^^ I^m delivering, * ' he said, '' I brought in a nice 
pair, this time, ' ^ as he loaded his double capture into 
the hack. Truly no situation can entirely destroy 
the breezy Western point of view. 

The next house lay across quite a stretch of 
prairie and the hack and its contents were discovered 
before the approach was near enough for effec- 
tive action. McDonald on horseback immediately 
charged, but the outlaw suspected the nature of his 
visitor and mounting his horse raced away, empty- 
ing his six-shooter at his pursuer. Eiding, and 
shooting backward disturbed his aim and his bul- 
lets flew wild. McDonald also began shooting, to 
bring him to a halt, not to kill. As the outlaw un- 
cased his Winchester, however, the officer decided 
that it was time to bring matters to a focus. Drop- 
ping to the ground he knelt and set some bullets 
singing close to the ear of the fugitive. At first this 
only had the effect of making him sink his spurs 
into the pony, but at the third crack of the gun and 
just as Deputy Bill was taking careful aim for a 
shot that would be likely to save the cost of prosecu- 
tion the rider dropped his gun back into the scab- 
bard, and leaped to the ground. 

" Well, you've got me,'' he called as he came up. 

The Day for " Deliveries " 113 

** Hello, Joe, what you been buyin'? Prickly 
pears I reckon,** was the greeting from the hack as 
he came nearer — the latter half of the remark due 
to a trickle of blood on the man's ear where the last 
bullet had sung its warning song a trifle too close. 

** Must a struck a stone and glanced a little,*' 
commented Bill Jess as he looked at it. ** I aim to 
make *em miss just about three inches. They sing 
nicer when they don't really hit. That either 
glanced off of a stone or else it's mighty sorry shoot- 
ing. Dad-slap it, that sorter makes me ashamed of 
myself. Oh, well, get in an' make yourself com- 
fortable. I want to get along. ' ' 

The boy who had been ^^ born with a gun in his 
hand " as we say, and could pick cherries with a rifle 
was humiliated by anything that resembled bad 
marksmanship. Still, it was good enough under the 
circumstances, and was justified by the result. 

That was a busy day. His favorite hour for work- 
ing (day-break) was over, now, but matters were 
going too well to knock off on that account. There 
were at least three more of this gang, and he would 
get as many as he could. 

He got them all in fact, and one extra — a bad man 
who happened to be visiting his brother at a bad 
time. The houses being a good way apart, and the 
work being done rapidly and with such system and 
neatness, the alarm had no time to spread. Deputy 
Bill knew the exact location of each house and of 
course used more caution in making the approaches 

114 Captain Bill McDonald 

as the day advanced. He stalked his game like the 
true hunter that he was, creeping up unnoticed un- 
til he had it covered, keeping the hack well out of 
view, though by this time the driver had lost all 
concern, except that of eagerness to see the fun, and 
was disappointed as were the captured fruit-tree 
buyers when kept out of view. 

The hack went into Kingfisher next morning with 
every seat full and the driver sitting on the knees 
of two prisoners. The Sand Creek gang — one of the 
toughest gangs in the Territory — in the space of a 
single day and by a single man had been retired from 
active business. 

From Kingfisher, their captor wired U. S. Marshal 
Walker at Topeka that he had his men and would 
proceed with them to Wichita, Kansas, as soon as 
he had rested a little. Within a few days the men 
were being distributed to the various points where 
they were wanted for an assortment of crimes. 
When McDonald and his driver returned to Guthrie, 
the men he had invited to assist had a downcast 
look. They had heard the news of the Sand Creek 
gang. They had heard also from Mr. Walker. Their 
excuses were many and various, and to a man they 
offered to join the next expedition. 

** No,'* said Bill Jess, drily, ** you fellows are a 
little too slow. My deliveries in this section are all 
made. * ' 


Cleaning up the Strip 

deputy bill gets *' stood off,'' but makes good. 

bill cook and ** skeeter.*' ** a hell of 

a court to plead guilty in '' 

The Cherokee Strip campaign was not allowed 
to languish. An outlaw community about twenty- 
five miles north of Kingfisher, and seven miles west 
of Hennessey, on Turkey Creek, was raided next. 
In the course of his tree selling, McDonald had fallen 
in with a man who was peddling stolen beef. He 
had learned that this man was operating for the 
Turkey Creek gang, and that the beef he was selling 
was really the property of the Cherokee Strip Live- 
stock Association, which, it may be mentioned, at 
that time had a lease on the Cherokee grazing lands 
for which they paid an annual rental of one hundred 
thousand dollars. 

McDonald now went over to Kingfisher and estab- 
lished headquarters; took the beef peddler to 
Wichita, Kansas, put him in jail, and got on friendly 
terms with him. Then he gave his prisoner some 
good fatherly advice about bad company and the 
usual rewards of becoming the tool of lawless men. 
The result was a general confession and turning 

116 Captain Bill McDonald 

of State's evidence. The peddler of beef lodged in- 
formation as to the identity of his employers; the 
exact nature of their business; the hiding place 
of their stolen cattle, and the locality of a deep 
water-hole where they had sunk the hides in order 
to get rid of the brands and earmarks. McDonald 
returned to Kingfisher, next morning, swore out 
warrants for the men named, and with a deputy 
marshal, who declared himself willing to go, set out 
for Turkey Creek. They went in a hack as usual 
and arrived before daylight at the house of one 
Charlie Tex, where they thought it likely they might 
find most of the men wanted. When they entered, 
however, they found only a man in bed, who declared 
he had just arrived in that country; that there was 
nobody at home, and that he knew nothing of the 
owner's whereabouts. They took him along, how- 
ever, and proceeded to another house not far away, 
but found it also empty. The officers now concluded 
that the men had in some manner got wind of their 
coming and were hiding in the bottoms. They fol- 
lowed a way down the creek, breaking through to the 
prairie again, not far from the Tex house. As they 
did so they noticed the man with them apparently 
trying to signal in that direction. Then they became 
aware that several men with Winchesters were 
walking leisurely along the top of the grassy hill, 
either unaware of the presence of the officers, or in- 
different to it. 
McDonald and his associate, satisfied that these 

Cleaning up the Strip 117 

were the men wanted, set out up the hill, briskly. 
Their companion discouraged this movement, insist- 
ing that they would all certainly be killed if they 
molested that crowd. They continued to advance, 
however, and presently the men with the Winches- 
ters, without appearing to have noticed the deputies, 
dropped leisurely back behind the hill-top. Mc- 
Donald now started running, straight up the hill, 
while his brother deputy set out in a sort of diagonal 
flank movement around it. In a moment or two he 
had apparently reached a place where he could see 
the retreating men, for he called out : 

** Hey, Mack, they're right over the hill. They'll 
get you sure.'' 

McDonald was too interested to stop, now. He 
raced to the top of the rise, his gun presented, ready 
for shooting, expecting to see the flash of guns as 
he broke the sky-line. Instead, he saw the men run- 
ning for Tex's dug-out, and noticed that still another 
fellow was already there, pacing about, like a picket, 
with a gun. 

McDonald did not take time to guess at their 
plans, but kept straight after them, supposing his 
companion-in-law was following. The men did not 
pause when they reached the house, but made for a 
half-built log stable, which formed a sort of pen, and 
leaping into it put their guns through the spaces 
between the logs and yelled at McDonald to stop, 
swearing they would kill him if he came any further. 

A brave man is not necessarily a rash man, and 

118 Captain Bill McDonald 

to establish bravery it is not necessary to throw one- 
self in front of a moving train or to charge alone a 
half-finished log stable full of outlaws who poke 
their Winchesters through the cracks at you and 
call you names. McDonald discovered now that his 
partner was not with him, or anywhere in the neigh- 
borhood, and he concluded to stop and negotiate. 
One might get an outlaw or two through the cracks, 
but on the whole it didn't seem the part of wisdom 
to play the game in that way. 

He checked his speed when he was about sixty 
yards from the fort, though he continued to advance 
in a leisurely walk, talking persuasively meantime. 

'* Now you fellers better have some sense,'' he 
said. ^' You're going up against the United States 
law, and even if you killed me it wouldn 't make any 
difference. I've got a posse coming that would be 
right down on you anyhow. Besides you'd have the 
United States army after you, and they'd take you 
and hang you for murder. I only want two out of 
your bunch anyway, this time; that's all I got war- 
rants for, and maybe none of you are the right ones. 
You'd better come out and let me look you over." 

The men swore they would do nothing of the sort, 
and if he came a step further they would kill him. 

McDonald slackened his pace a bit — some nervous 
man's gun might go oif by accident. He could talk 
very well from where he was. 

** Oh, pshaw! " he said. ** You fellers wouldn't 
kill a kitten. Six of you men behind breastworks 

Cleaning up the Strip 119 

to get away from one. Come out where I can look 
at you. What kind of men are you, anyway? *' 

** Whereas your partner? '* called the outlaws. 

** You see him, way up yonder, don't you? " Bill 
Jess said quaintly — ** on that hill. I haven't got a 
rope on him; I couldn't bring him along unless he'd 
come. You-all are actin' mighty sorry the way 
you're doin'. Come out of there now, and quit this 

The outlaws repeated their refusal and their 
warning that if he came another step they would 
shoot him dead. McDonald took out his watch. 

** "Well, boys," he said, ** if you want to make 
a fight you might as well get at it. It's time for 
my men to be here. Your partner I got yesterday 
said you'd likely try to start something, so I come 
fixed for such fellows as you. Come, let's see what 
you can do. ' ' 

McDonald waved his hand as if signaling to his 
companion half a mile in the rear and made a start 
toward the log fort. Before he had taken two steps, 
out of it piled the six outlaws and broke ** lickety 
brindle " for the creek bottom, like a bunch of 
frightened steers. McDonald ran after them and 
saw them leap on their horses that they had tethered 
in the bushes and go tearing down the creek, without 
stopping to look behind. Evidently they did not 
doubt for a moment that the deputy had a posse, 
waiting nearby, for they would not be likely to be- 
lieve that he had dared to face them alone unless 

120 Captain Bill McDonald 

assistance was close at hand. Deputy Bill, on his 
part was not sorry to see them go, for they had him 
at a serious disadvantage, and his only backing had 

His companion was at the hack when he returned. 
The one man they had taken in charge had disap- 
peared. Bill Jess made a few choice remarks and 
they set out for Kingfisher by way of Hennessey. 

The following night as McDonald came out of a 
drug-store in Kingfisher, several shots were fired at 
him from the darkness. He pulled his six-shooter 
immediately and emptied it at the flash of the guns, 
running toward them as he did so. He heard re- 
treating footsteps, but did not follow, as he dis- 
covered that he had left his cartridge belt in the 

He was satisfied that the attack had been made 
by some of the Turkey Creek gang of the day before, 
trying to get rid of him, and resolved to delay no 
further in putting them out of business. He enlisted 
a man whom he knew, one Charley Meyers, and two 
other young men anxious for adventure, and next 
morning struck the trail which led, as they expected, 
in the direction of Turkey Creek. They followed 
it rapidly and toward evening came upon their 
game. There was no parleying this time. McDonald 
headed his force and they charged with a rush. 
Three of the men threw down their arms and sur- 
rendered — the others fired some scattering shots as 
they ran, and they must have kept on running, for 

Cleaning up the Strip 121 

they troubled that country no more. The Turkey 
and Sand Creek gangs no longer existed.* 

It was while McDonald was at Kingfisher that he 
came in contact with Bill Cook and one *^ Skeeter,** 
both of whom were later to become notorious in 
matters connected with the looting of banks and 
trains. The deputy was making some purchases in 
a store one evening when Cook attempted to ride his 
horse in the front door. McDonald grabbed the 
animal's bridle and set him back on his haunches, 
and before Cook could draw his gun — had him 
covered and under arrest. Immediately Cook's 
^* side-partner,'' Skeeter, came up swearing ven- 
geance, and was also suddenly disarmed and landed 
in jail. The incident closed there, but a sort of 
sequel was to come along a good many years later, 
as we shall see presently. 

Meanwhile the work of ** delivery " by the erst- 
while tree-man was not delayed. Following the 
backward track he gathered up one undesirable citi- 
zen after another, until by the end of the season he 
had established official relations with no less than 

* Somewhat later when McDonald's work, as Ranger Captain, was 
confined to Texas, another gang did rendezvous in this section — the 
gang headed by the Dalton boys (formerly deputy marshals) ; and for 
a period terrorized the surrounding country. Their crimes were daring 
and bloody and their end was sudden and violent. They were shot, 
one after another by a brave and accurate liveryman as they came out 
of a bank they had been looting, in daylight, in Coffeyville, Kansas. 
According to Bill Dalton two of the Daltons were United States deputy 
marshals and lived near Hennessey at the time McDonald was selling 
trees in that section. 

122 Captain Bill McDonald 

fifty of his former customers, and the rest had con- 
cluded not to wait. The story of the work of tliat 
year alone would fill a volume if fully told, but the 
telling is not necessary. Having planned a campaign 
along special lines it is only needful to give one or 
two examples of Bill McDonald ^s work to see what 
the rest would be in that particular field. Each 
field of labor was different and called for different 
treatment — requiring as much genius to conceive 
the method as bravery and presence of mind to carry 
it out. We have now seen what he accomplished in 
reclaiming a land so lost that it was called No-man's 
Land, and in cleaning up a strip of country infested 
by desperadoes supposed to be invincible. We have 
seen that he could do these things with thoroughness 
and despatch and with little bloodshed. The old 
manner of going in with a big posse and engaging in 
a general fight in which men were killed on both 
sides and nothing of value accomplished he had ren- 
dered obsolete. Men politically and personally op- 
posed to Bill McDonald have referred to him in print 
and in spoken word as bloodthirsty, and a des- 
perado. Certainly the reader who has followed 
these chapters thus far will find it hard to agree 
with such opinions. That he was fearless almost to 
the point of rashness we may believe, but that he 
ever wantonly shed blood, or, with all his oppor- 
tunities, deliberately took human life will be harder 
to demonstrate. 

** I never was a killer/' he said once. ** Some 

Cleaning up the Strip 123 

fellows seem to want to kill, every chance they get, 
and in a business like mine there's plenty of chances. 
But I never did want to kill a man, and I never did 
it when there was any other way to take care of his 

It may not be out of place here to refer to the 
method of disarming men which McDonald used. 
The author has been asked how this sudden and 
efficient action was performed. His reply is that it 
is just about as hard to explain as those sleight-of- 
hand tricks which depend on deftness and exactness 
of motion — the result of a natural ability combined 
with long practice. Bill McDonald was born ** as 
quick as a cat," and disarming became his special 
sleight-of-hand trick. He could locate a man's 
weapon and could daze and disarm him with a sud- 
den movement that even he himself could not convey 
in words, and it was this performance that saved 
the lives of many men, good and bad, and often- 
times his own. 

It was some six years after the Kingfisher in- 
cident that McDonald was to renew relations with 
the * * Cook-Skeeter ' ' outfit. He had become Ranger 
Captain meantime and was engaged in some work 
in North Texas when he heard of a suspicious gang, 
heavily armed, camped in a vacant house in the 
neighborhood of Bellevue, in Clay County. Unable 
to go himself, he sent his sergeant, J. L. Sullivan, 
his nephew, W. J. McCauley and another ranger 
named Bob McClure, to investigate. Before the 

124 Captain Bill McDonald 

Rangers reached the house a picket discovered them 
and set out to give warning to his associates. The 
Eangers overtook and captured him, but by this 
time they had been discovered by the occupants of 
the shanty who began firing through the cracks in 
the walls. 

The Rangers promptly returned the fire and 
charged, shooting as they came on. The fire became 
very hot, but McCauley, who had many of the char- 
acteristics of his ** Uncle Bill,'' kicked in the door, 
though the bullets were coming through it from the 
other side. The outlaws now took refuge in the loft 
and began shooting down through the floor, the 
Rangers shooting straight up from below. The 
Rangers would seem to have had the best luck in 
this blind warfare for one of the men above was 
wounded; another had his gun shot from his hand, 
and a third had his hat shot through. One of them 
came to the opening, presently, and offered his six- 
shooter as a sign of surrender. Four were captured, 
including the aforenamed ^ ^ Skeeter, ' ' but Bill Cook, 
though a member of the gang, was absent at the time, 
and escaped. The captured men were taken to 
Wichita Falls and one of them, a young fellow 
named Turner, turned State 's evidence, through Mc- 
Donald's persuasive probing, and detailed their plan 
for robbing the Fort Worth and Denver, next day, 
giving a list of their crimes. Skeeter and the others 
were taken to the United States courts at Fort Smith 
for trial, and pleaded guilty. Skeeter was given 

Cleaning up the Strip 125 

thirty years and upon hearing the verdict made his 
now famous remark : 

* * Well, this is a hell of a court for a man to plead 
guilty in.'' 


Texas Eangee Service and its Origin 
the massacre of fort parker. 



The early history of Texas was written in blood 
and fire. Her counties preserve the names of her 
martyrs. Parker, Coleman, Crockett, Fannin, 
Travis, Bowie and a hundred others have the map 
for their monument; their names are given daily 
utterance by those for whom their deeds have little 

In the beginning, after the Indian tribes — ^friendly 
at first — ^became hostile, the warfare was almost 
solely with the savages. For a full half century 
every settler who built his campfire on the frontier 
did so at the risk of his property and his scalp. 
Those who established homes and settlements must 
have been a daring race indeed, for raids upon 
horses and herds were always imminent and mas- 
sacres were as regular as the seasons. 

We have already mentioned in these chapters the 
name of Chief Quanah Parker (still living) for 
whom the town of Quanah, Texas, was named. 
Quanah Parker's mother was Cynthia Ann Parker, 

Texas Banger Service and its Origin 127 

a little white girl captured by the Tehaucano In- 
dians, during a raid on what was known as the 
Austin Colony, in 1836. A brief story of that raid 
will serve as an example of a thousand others of a 
similar sort. The Austin Colony settled in what 
in now Grimes County,* and consisted of something 
more than a score of persons, including women and 
children. The Indians who dwelt in the neighbor- 
hood seemed friendly enough until a small party of 
unknown settlers came along and attempted to steal 
their horses. Immediate trouble was the result and 
the loss of Tehaucano friendship for the entire 
settlement. When the reader considers what fol- 
lows, I believe I shall be forgiven for hoping that 
those newcomers who stirred up the first trouble 
received the sort of a reward which only an Indian 
would know how to confer. 

As the Austin Colony consisted chiefly of the 
Parker family, a rude fortification which they 
erected was called Fort Parker, a name that to-day 
still suggests something of shuddering horror to 
those who have heard its history. 

It was a fair May morning when that history was 
made. The early risers noticed that a body of rest- 
less Indians had collected within about four hun- 
dred yards of the fort. . A white flag was hoisted by 
the savages to signify their peaceable intentions, 

* The scene of the Parker Massacre is located by some authorities, in 
Limestone County, somewhat further north. Accounts of the event 
itself also differ. The details here given are from "Texas Rangers" by 
A. J. Sowell, and are said to have been supplied by eye-witnesses. 

128 Captain Bill McDonald 

and a warrior approached as if for conference. 
Benjamin Parker, commander of the fort, went out 
to meet him. He came back presently with the word 
that he believed the Indians intended to fight. He 
returned, however, to the hostile camp, where he 
was at once set upon and literally chopped to pieces 
by the savages, who then with wild yells and blood- 
curdling war-whoops charged on the fort. Some of 
the inmates had already left the stockade. Others 
were trying to escape, John Parker and wife and a 
Mrs. Kellogg were overtaken a mile away. Parker 
was killed and scalped, his wife was speared and Mrs. 
Kellogg was made captive. Other members of the 
colony were butchered right and left, and mutilated 
in the barbarous fashion which seems to give an 
Indian joy. Silas Parker was brutally killed and 
his two children, one of whom was the little girl, 
Cynthia Ann, were carried away. A Mrs. Plummer 
— daughter of Eev. James W. Parker — attempted 
to escape, carrying her little son in her arms. A 
huge painted savage, begrimed with dust and blood 
overtook her, felled her with a hoe, and seizing her 
by the hair dragged her, still clinging to her child, 
back amid the butchery and torture of her friends. 
She and the others who were living were beaten 
with clubs and lashed with rawhide thongs. That 
night such of the captives as remained alive, and 
these included three children, were flung face down 
in the dust, their hands bound behind their backs 
while the Indians, waving bloody scalps and shriek- 

Texas Ranger Service and its Origin 129 

ing, danced about them and beat them with their 
bows until the prisoners were strangling with their 
own blood. Later, they took the infant child of Mrs. 
Plummer and slowly choked it before her eyes. 
When it was not quite dead they flung it again and 
again into the air and let it fall on the stones and 
earth. Then they tied a rope around its neck and 
threw its naked body into the hedges of prickly 
pear, from which they would jerk it fiercely with 
demoniacal yells. Finally they fastened the rope at- 
tached to its neck to the pommel of a saddle and rode 
round and round in a circle until the body of the 
child was literally in shreds. The poor fragments 
were then thrown into the mother *s lap. For some 
reason, the little girl, Cynthia Ann Parker, received 
better treatment, and lived. She grew up an Indian, 
forgot her own race and tongue, married a chief and 
became the mother of another chief, Quanah, sur- 
named Parker, to-day a friend of the white race. 

It was the massacre of Fort Parker and events 
of a similar nature that resulted in the organization 
of the Texas Rangers. The Rangers were at first a 
semi-official body, locally enlisted and commanded, 
with regulations and duties not very clearly defined. 
Their purpose, however, was not in doubt. It was 
to defend life and property, and their chief quali- 
fications were to be able to ride and shoot and stand 
up against the warfare of bloodthirsty savages. 

* * Exterminate the Indians ' ' became a watchword 
in those days, and the warfare that ensued and con- 

130 Captain Bill McDonald 

tinued for forty years, can be compared with nothing 
in history unless it be with the fierce feuds of the 
ancient Scottish clans. 

Early in 1836 Texas fought for and gained her 
independence, the only State in the Union to achieve 
such a triumph. On the following year the Texas 
congress recognized the Eanger movement and au- 
thorized several persons to raise Eanger companies 
to scour the country and annihilate marauding 
bands. Indians and low class Mexicans ('^ greas- 
ers '') often consorted, and the work, desperate 
and bloody, continued along the ever widening and 
westering frontier up to within a period easily re- 
membered to-day by men not beyond middle age. 
Many names of those early Eangers have been 
preserved in Texas annals and in local song and 
traditions, and it would take many volumes to re- 
count their deeds. Jack Hays, James and Eesin 
Bowie, '' Big-foot '' Wallace, Kit Ackland, Tom 
Green * ^ Mustang ' ' Grey, of whom the song says : 

" At the age of sixteen 

He joined that jolly band 
And marched from San Antonio 
Out to the Rio Grand," 

these and a hundred others are names that thrilled 
the Texan of that elder day and they are still re- 
peated and linked with tales of wild warfare and 
endurance that are hardly surpassed in the world's 
history of battle. A. J. Sowell, himself a Eanger 
in the early seventies, when Indian outbreaks were 

Texas Ranger Service and its Origin 131 

still frequent and disastrous, speaking of the Ranger 
equipment says : 

* * We had to furnish our own horses, clothing and 
six-shooters. The State furnished us carbines, 
cartridges, provisions, etc., and we got fifty dollars 
a month. '^* 

It will be seen from the foregoing how different 
the Ranger service and regulations were from those 
of either the federal or state troops. Unlike the 
army they wore no uniform, and they provided, for 
the most part, their own equipment. They differed 
from State and county officials in that they were 
confined to no county or portion of the State, but 
could ** range '* wherever their service was needed 
and with little or no direction from headquarters 
until their mission was accomplished. It will be 
clearly seen that men constituting such a band must 
be not only brave, and quick and accurate with fire- 
arms, but must be men of good character and high, 
firm principle as well. It is the moral qualification 
more than any other that has given the Ranger 
organization its efficiency and power. A force, how- 
ever small, composed of men who can shoot straight 
and are brave, and who believe in the right, is well- 
nigh invincible. The Rangers, originally organized 
for a great and sacred purpose, the defense of 
homes, went forth like knights inspired by lofty 
motives and high resolves, and during whatever 
change that has come in the aspect of their duties 

* "Texas Rangers," by A. J. Sowell, of Seguin, Tex., 1884. 

132 Captain BUI McDonald 

the tradition of honor seems to have been preserved. 
Indeed they have been from the beginning not un- 
like the knights of old who rode forth without fear 
and without reproach to destroy evil and to redress 

Speaking further of Eanger equipment Sowell 
says : 

' ^ In the first place he wants a good horse ; strong 
saddle, double-girted; a good carbine (this was be- 
fore the day of Winchesters) ; pistol and plenty of 
ammunition. He generally wears rough clothing, 
either of buckskin or strong durable cloth and a 
broad-brimmed hat of the Mexican style ; thick over- 
shirt, top boots * and spurs, and a jacket or short 
coat so that he can use himself with ease in the 

And the author adds: 

*' A genuine Texas Eanger will endure cold, 
hunger and fatigue, almost without a murmur, and 
will stand by a friend and comrade in the hour of 
danger and divide anything he has got from a 
blanket to his last crumb of tobacco. ' ' 

So much for the Eanger and his origin. As the 
years went by and the Indian was conquered or 
driven away, the Eanger 's work changed, but his 
personality remained the same. The Eanger of 

* The Ranger's boots like those of the cowboy are made with high heels 
to prevent his foot from slipping through the stirrup Both the Ranger 
and the cowboy ride with the stirrup in the middle of the foot, it being 
safer and also less fatiguing on a long ride, sometimes a distance of a 
hundred miles between daylight and dark. 

Texas Ranger Service and its Origin 133 

seventy years ago is the Ranger of to-day — only, 
his duties have altered. Long before the conquest 
of the savages a new element of disorder had en- 
tered the field. The desperado who had stirred up 
the first Indian troubles had survived and increased, 
to plunder his own race. The new and sparsely 
settled land invited every element of lawlessness and 
every refugee of crime. Local authorities would 
not or could not contend with them. It was for the 
Rangers, now much reduced in numbers, to solve the 
problem of destroying the disturber in their midst 
as they had driven the savage enemy from their 
frontiers. They were made peace officers, and be- 
came a mounted constabulary, their duties being to 
quell disorders, to prevent crime and to bring crimi- 
nals to justice. It was new work — less romantic 
than the wild Indian warfare of the frontier; work 
full of new dangers and what was still worse it was 
work which instead of inviting the encouragement 
and enthusiasm of a community, was of a sort to 
incur its displeasure, for the desperadoes of a neigh- 
borhood were either the heroes or the terrors of it, 
and in either case to molest them was likely to prove 
unpopular. So it was, during this new order of 
things, that the Ranger service had to contend not 
only with the offenders but sometimes with the very 
people whom they were hoping to protect. This 
made the work hard and discouraging, as work al- 
ways is hard and discouraging when it is done amid 
enemies who wear the guise of friends. How well 

134 Captain Bill McDonald 

they have succeeded is told in the official reports. 
W. H. Mabry, Adjutant General of Texas in 1896, 
says in his report for that year, referring to the 
Rangers : 

* * This branch of the service has been very active 
and has done incalculable good in policing the 
sparsely settled sections of the State where the local 
officers, from the very nature of the conditions, could 
not afford adequate protection. Including the mean- 
derings of the Rio Grande we have about 3,000 miles 
of frontier line. Part of this borders on a foreign 
country, with different customs, law and language. 
Only a river fordable at most any point intervenes. 
But for the Ranger force, specially equipped for 
continued rapid movements, this border line would 
be the rendezvous for criminals of nearly every 
description and class.'' 

General Mabry then sets down the fact that the 
Ranger service has increased the State revenues by 
something like four hundred thousand dollars for 
the year through the protection of leased frontier 
State lands which otherwise could not be inhabited 
and would yield no return in either rental or taxes. 

In concluding he adds : * * It is true that the frontier 
force does not and could not cover all this territory, 
but the fact that they exist and are scouting over 
every foot they can travel prevents organized bands 
from being established along this border line. . . . 
They are circumscribed by no county limits; can 
easily and rapidly move from one section to another 

Texas Ranger Service and its Origin 135 

and criminals do not care to invite their pursuit. 
Specially equipped for continued rapid motion, 
they take up the trail and follow it with a persistency 
of the sleuth hound, until the criminal is either run 
out of the country, captured or killed. 

*^ In every train robbery which has occurred in 
Texas, the robbers have been either captured or 
killed, whenever it was possible to carry the Kangers 
to the scene, so they could take the trail. The broad 
expanse of sparsely settled territory in this State 
would offer easy opportunity for such crimes, if it 
were not for the protection given by our mobile and 
active Eanger force." 


** Captain of Company B, Eanger Force " 





It will be seen from the foregoing, and from the 
chapters already published of these memoirs, that 
a man like Bill McDonald would be well qualified 
for Eanger service. Already he had been appointed 
a special Eanger in Company B., commanded by 
Captain S. A. McMurray, but his duties as U. S. 
Deputy Marshal, in No-man's Land and in the 
Cherokee Strip, had been his chief work. Neverthe- 
less, he had, on occasion, engaged in bandit-hunting 
in his own State, during this period, either alone or 
in company with other officials, usually with good 
results. An instance of this kind was the capture of 
Dan and Bob Campbell which occurred about the 
time of his concluding the Cherokee Strip campaign. 

With his wife, McDonald was on the way from 
Quanah to Fort Worth, when, at a switch now known 
as Iowa Park, they met a special, standing on a side- 
track, waiting for them to pass. It was the sort of 
train that is made up for an urgent purpose, con- 
sisting only of an engine and a single car, and Mc- 

'' Captain of Company B, Ranger Force " 137 

Donald recognized upon it the sheriff of Wichita 
Falls, also the marshal and others of a posse, evi- 
dently out for action. Upon inquiry, he learned that 
the Campbell boys, two well-known desperadoes of 
that time, were believed to be somewhere in the 
neighborhood, preparing to waylay a train. A 
good reward had been offered for the Campbells and 
the sheriff and his men were considerably moved. 
McDonald asked if they would like his assistance, 
and being assured that they would, sent word back 
to his wife by the conductor of the down train that 
he was going to catch some bad men, and boarding 
the special already impatient to start, took the back 
track toward Burke, a small station where the out- 
laws had been seen. Wlien they reached there, it 
was McDonald's wish to procure horses and begin 
the search at that point, but the sheriff and his posse 
thought better to proceed to Harrold, some twenty 
miles further along, in which direction it was sup- 
posed the bandits had traveled. 

Leaving word at Burke that they were to be noti- 
fied in case of any fresh discoveries, the ofi&cers 
again boarded the special, and upon arriving at Har- 
rold found a telegram that the outlaws had been seen 
entering a thicket not far from Burke. Horses, and 
a freight car in which to load them, were immediately 
secured, and the train was backed to Burke. Here 
the officials separated, the sheriff directing Mc- 
Donald and the guide who had located the burglars, 
with a man selected from the posse, to go in one 

138 Captain Bill McDonald 

direction, while the sheriff with the remainder of the 
posse, took another course; the general plan being 
to round in on the thicket where the outlaws were 
supposed to be concealed. Arriving near the place. 
Deputy McDonald and the two men with him dis- 
covered two horses hitched in the brush — un- 
doubtedly the mounts of the two Campbells. It was 
certain now that the quarry was near by, and the 
three men waited a little for the sheriff and his party 
to come up. It became evident, however, that their 
tactics were of a different sort. The posse was scat- 
tering out as if they were deer-hunting, taking 
stands at various distant and semi-distant points, 
evidently expecting McDonald and his companions to 
go in and start up the game. McDonald noticed now 
that his guide was not armed, and was therefore of 
no further service. Turning to his other com- 
panion, he said: 

*' I don't like this kind of performance. I'm in 
favor of charging straight in on them.'' 

His companion seemed to agree to this plan, and 
without further word Deputy Bill put spurs to his 
horse, charged straight into the thicket, and sud- 
denly found himself almost on top of Dan and Bob 
Campbell. Without a breath of hesitation, he leaped 
to the ground, leveled at the former, who was al- 
ready in the act of shooting, and commanded him to 
drop his gun. The order was obeyed; but Bob 
Campbell, who would seem to have been asleep, 
reached for his six-shooter, and though commanded 

He charged straight into the thicket, and suddenly found himself almost on top of them. 

" Captain of Company B, Ranger .Force " 139 

not to touch it upon penalty of death, paid small at- 
tention to that order. He did not attempt to fire 
the weapon, but lay there on the ground with it 
raised, defying his would-be captor with language 
that was both violent and uncomplimentary. Mc- 
Donald now suddenly realized that he was alone; 
that his companion had failed to join in the charge. 
Bob Campbell realized this too, and became mo- 
mentarily more defiant. Then, all at once, help ar- 
rived. A dentist who had joined the sheriff ^s posse, 
had observed Deputy McDonald's single-handed 
charge, and now came bravely to his assistance. The 
Campbells both surrendered, then, for the posse was 
not far behind. They were taken to Wichita Falls, 
where the sheriff promptly claimed credit for the 
capture — also, the reward. Later, the Campbells 
broke jail, but were eventually recaptured, and 
served a long sentence. 

Events of this sort kept Bill McDonald's name 
fresh in the Texas mind, and made him seem pecu-. 
liarly eligible for regular service. The resignation 
of Captain S. A. McMurray, who had long and 
bravely commanded Company B became his op- 
portunity, and he hurried to Austin to try for that 

His old friend, James Hogg, was now governor of 
the State. Since the settlement of their differences 
so long before, there had been no discord of any 
kind, and each had admired the other 's career, proud 
to remember the friendship. Arriving at the capital, 

140 Captain Bill McDonald . 

McDonald was shown into the governor's room. 
Greeting him, he said : 

* * Well, I hardly know what to call you, since you 
got to be governor. I don't know whether to call 
you * Jim ' or * Mister.' I'll have to call you 
* Governor, ' I guess, as I want to get a place. ' ' 

They shook hands cordially. Governor Hogg said : 

'' What is it. Bill? What can I do for you! " 

<< Why," said McDonald, '' I came down to get 
to be Eanger Captain — to take McMurray's place 
in Company B." 

Hogg looked at him reprovingly. 

<< Why didn't you let me know sooner? " he said. 
a There are two other applications for the place; 
both from good men, with long petitions and fine 
endorsements. ' ' 

The applicant for position forgot his old friend's 

<■' Why, Jim," he said, *' I never thought of it 
until a day or two ago. I didn't have time to get 
endorsements, but I can get 'em, if you want them. 
I have been working mostly in No-man's Land and 
the Territory lately, but have done work in Texas 
too, and I can get about any kind of endorsement 
you want." 

Hogg laughed. He had a robust sense of humor. 

** By gatlins! " he said, using his favorite ex- 
pression. *^ That's all right, Bill, you have already 
got the best endorsement I ever saw. ' ' 

McDonald looked puzzled. 

" Captain of Company By Ranger Force '' 141 

^* I don't understand,'* he said, ** I didn't know 
anybody knew I wanted a place. ' ' 

^* All the same, you have got the endorsements," 
insisted Hogg. 

He turned to his desk, and got out a bundle of 

*^ Look over these," he said. ** You probably 
know some of the writers." 

McDonald took the letters, and read them one 
after another. They were from well-known crimi- 
nals, their lawyers, their friends and their associates. 
They had been received by Hogg while he was at- 
torney-general, and each was a protest and a 
complaint against McDonald, declaring him to be 
a ruthless and tyrannical official, whose chief recrea- 
tion was hounding good citizens for the sake of 
revenge or glory, enforcing laws that were not on 
the statute books, adding that it was not unusual for 
him to put the said citizen in jail, or in box-cars, 
declaring further that he sometimes hitched them 
to posts with chains, and that he was a menace to 
legitimate settlement and society in general. 

McDonald looked over some of these documents, 
and grinned. 

** That's so, Jim," he said, ** I do put 'em in 
box-cars when there ain't a jail; the way I used to 
do back in Mineola — you recollect, when the jail was 
full — and I lariat 'em out with a chain and a post 
when there ain't a box-car handy; but I don't reckon 
they're innocent." 

142 Captain Bill McDonald 

Hogg nodded. 

'' By gatlins! Those endorsements are good 
enough for me,'' he said. ^* They carry the flavor 
of conviction, I appoint yon Eanger Captain on the 
strength of them.'' 

McDonald returned to Quanah with his appoint- 
ment as captain of ^' Company B, Frontier Bat- 
talion." The headquarters of the company were 
then at Amarillo, in the southern part of Potter 
County, near the Eandall County line. This was al- 
most the exact center of the Pan-handle, and in a 
locality sparsely settled, untamed, and lawless. 

Since the early days of ** Banging " there had 
been not much change in Eanger regulations and 
equipment. The character of the work, however, 
had changed and the force had been reduced in num- 
bers. Company B now consisted of only eight mem- 
bers all told. These were supposed to range over 
all that vast section known as the Pan-handle, and 
were subject to orders that might take them to any 
other portion of the State where their assistance was 
needed. The Eangers were peace-officers, their duty 
being to assist the local officers, rather than to take 
the initiative and predominate.* In the Pan-handle, 
however, and in many other portions of the State, 
the Eangers were obliged to lead, for the reason 
that the local officers were either incapable, indif- 
ferent, or incriminated, as we have already seen. 

* This came into dispute somewhat later and the Twenty-seventh 
Legislature passed an Act confirming what had always been their 

'' Captain of Company B, Ranger Force " 143 

The Ranger camp at Amarillo — besides the eight 
men mentioned — consisted of tents, furnished by the 
State, a wagon and mule team, a hack, and two pack- 
mules. Each Eanger furnished his own horse and 
arms ; the State paid for food and ammunition, also 
for transportation when necessary. In Company B 
were enrolled Sergeants J. M. Brittain and W. J. 
Sullivan ; Privates Jolm and Tom Piatt, Jim Green, 
John Bracken and John Bishop; also somewhat 
later, W. J. McCauley — McDonald's nephew — a dar- 
ing youth — then about eighteen years old, but a 
natural plainsman, dashing and fearless; an ideal 

Expeditions were always made with horses. When 
the distance was far, the horses and pack-mules were 
shipped to the nearest railway-point, sometimes by 
special train; an engine and car being secured for 
such excursions. This train would stop at any point 
required; the horses and pack-mules were jumped 
from the door of the car to the ground — sometimes 
a distance of several feet — and when the point of 
attack was close by, this wild little army would 
sweep across the prairie or through the bushes ; the 
pack-mules, loaded with cooking utensils and tin- 
ware, often clattering ahead — riderless, but seeming 
to know by instinct where to go — braying, with tail in 
air, constituting an advance guard of reform. It 
would seem that such a charge might have given the 
alarm and frightened every outlaw within a radius 
of several miles; but as a matter of fact, these 

144 Captain Bill McDonald 

charges were generally planned and undertaken with 
great secrecy, and the sudden clamor of such an 
approach was likely to create an amazement which 
did not subside to the point of action before the time 
for escape had slipped by. Speaking of it after- 
wards, Captain McDonald said: 

* ^ That infernal racket seemed to jar the nerve of 
a criminal, for I never knew a pack-mule charge 
where the men we wanted seemed to have either 
spunk enough to put up a good fight or sense enough 
to get away/^ 


An Exciting Indian Campaign 


It was in January, 1891, that Bill McDonald re- 
ceived his appointment as Ranger Captain, and his 
first official service was not long delayed. He ar- 
rived at Amarillo about midnight, and was received 
with congratulations, for the news had traveled 
ahead of him. He was tired, however, and the hour 
was late, so he presently slipped away to bed. He 
had hardly fallen asleep when he was rudely awak- 
ened and handed a telegram which stated that the 
Indians had made a raid across the border, and were 
killing and robbing in Hall County, near Salisbury. 

Captain McDonald read the telegram and laughed. 
There had been no Indian troubles in Texas for a 
number of years. AVhite renegades there were in 
plenty, but Indian outbreaks had long since ceased. 

** I guess the boys are trying to have some fun 
with me on my first night,'' he said, and turned in 
once more to sleep. But a few minutes later an- 
other telegram came; and another; this time from 
the superintendent of the railroad company — a Mr. 
Good, whom McDonald knew as a man not given to 
practical joking. 

146 Captain Bill McDonald 

The Ranger Captain dressed himself, hurried over 
to the telegraph office and got the operator there to 
talk over the wire to the operator where the scare 
had originated. He learned that it seemed to be 
genuine, and that everybody was leaving the neigh- 
borhood. The operator at Salisbury ended his in- 
formation with '^ Good-by, I'm going now myself. '^ 

Captain Bill still could not believe it a genuine 
Indian incursion. Hall County was in the second 
tier from the Territory line, and the Indians would 
have had to cross Childress County to get to it. He 
did not believe that they would undertake to do this, 
or that they could have accomplished it without 
previous alarms. Still, it was his duty to inves- 
tigate. He got a special train; loaded in men, 
horses and pack-mules, and set out on a hunt for 
Indians. It was about a hundred miles to Salisbury, 
and they reached there early in the day. Not a 
soul was in sight anywhere. The inhabitants were 
hidden, some in dug-outs, some in haystacks, some 
in the tall grass. Here and there, as the train pulled 
in, McDonald saw a head stick out from a sod house 
far out on the prairie, then suddenly disappear, like 
a prairie-dog dropping into his hole. He set out to 
interview some of these wary settlers, and learned 
that the Indian alarm had been given by a man — a 
new settler just arrived in the country — who had 
ridden his horse to death and lost one of his children 
— ^having left him far behind somewhere — in his wild 
eagerness to escape the savages who, he declared, 

An Exciting Indian Campaign 147 

were burning and scalping not far away. Captain 
Bill found this man, and after a little talk with him 
was convinced that what he had seen was nothing 
more nor less than some cowboys on a round-up, 
disporting themselves around their camp-fire at 
night, as cowboys will— dancing and capering in the 
mad manner of young plainsmen whose ideas of 
amusement are elemental, and whose opportunities 
for social diversions are few. The man and the 
neighborhood, however, remained unconvinced, so 
it was decided to visit the scene of the disturbance. 
Horses, men and pack-mules unloaded themselves 
from the freight car, and went racing over the 
prairie ; the pack-mules, as usual, plunging and bray- 
ing with tail in air, their tinware clattering in a 
manner calculated to put a whole tribe of Indians 
into a panic and send them capering across the 
eastern horizon into their own domain. But there 
were no Indians. It was as Captain Bill had 
thought ; a gang of cowboys, the evening before, had 
rounded up some cattle; killed a beef; carried it to 
their camp near by, where they had built a great 
fire and roasted it, doing a wild war-dance of celebra- 
tion, and shooting off their six-shooters in their 
prodigal expression of joy. Viewed from a little dis- 
tance, through a sort of mirage condition which had 
exaggerated the whole effect, the scene to the new- 
comers was a horrifying picture of savages about 
a burning home, with the inhabitants fleeing for their 

148 Captain Bill McDonald 

The man who had just moved in had stampeded 
for his own safety and started a general alarm, 
which did not subside even when the cowboys them- 
selves came in and testified to the truth. The panic 
spread throughout that section of the country and 
other reports of Indian outbreaks were circulated, 
becoming magnified until it was believed that the 
Indians had broken out, and were making a general 
raid on the Pan-handle. The inhabitants of one 
town, south of Amarillo, threw up breastworks, got 
behind them, and put out pickets in preparation for 
the arrival of the Indians. Every man seen loping 
across the prairie was reported as an Indian; and 
all this happened as late as 1891, when there had 
been no Indian outbreaks for years, and when there 
was scarcely a possibility of anything of the sort. 
It was a big joke, of course, afterward, but it seemed 
no joke at the time, and it was Bill McDonald ^s 
initiation as Captain of Company B. 


A Bit of Farming and Politics 


There were to be plenty of real alarms soon 
enough, with plenty of desperately hard work. Be- 
fore taking up this part of the story, however, it 
may not be out of place to dwell briefly on certain 
other labors and interests incident to this period in 
Captain McDonald's career. 

The ranch on Wanderer's Creek, conducted for 
the most part by his plucky wife, remained one of 
his possessions and in time became not unprofitable. 
McDonald was one of the first to break land in that 
section and when he put in a sowing of wheat it 
was thought that he had gone daft. But the fol- 
lowing year when the plowed land turned off a crop 
of from twenty to thirty bushels to the acre, those 
who had been first to scoff were likewise the earliest 
to imitate. 

Captain Bill now became chief promoter in a plan 
for the irrigation of this fruitful soil — the water to 
be obtained by damming Wanderer's Creek. Sev- 
eral years later, two men of influence and substance, 
Cecil Lyon and Joseph Eice, gave able support to 
this project with the result that thousands of acres 

150 Captain Bill McDonald 

of grazing land became fertile farms — the cowman's 
domain passing into the hands of tillers of the soil. 
The town of Quanah reflected the steady agricul- 
tural increase, and what had been an antelope range 
when McDonald and his wife first drove their herds 
to that region, became a bustling city — in due time 
law-abiding — with a population steadily increasing 
to this day. 

The mention of the McDonald herds opens a way 
here for recording an incident connected with the 
stocking of the Wanderer's Creek range. McDonald 
and his wife had decided that they would raise goats 
as a sort of by-product and began business in this 
line by introducing a flock of considerable size. 
However, it was a mistake. The goats were a great 
nuisance. They would be feeding quietly on the 
range, when suddenly, without warning, they would 
be seized with an impulse for violent exercise, and 
would break away and go racing over the prairie 
for seven or eight miles, to the brakes of the Pease 
River, where it was very mountainous and hilly — 
altogether in accord with a goat's idea of landscape. 
All the horses on the range were in danger of being 
run to death chasing goats, getting them together 
and bringing them back to the range. Finally it got 
to be a regular occupation, when there was nothing 
else to do, to head for the Pease Eiver and chase 
goats. One of the men came in one morning when 
Captain Bill happened to be at home, and asked : 

'' Well, Cap, what shall I do to-day! " 

A Bit of Farming and Politics 151 

** Oh, I don't know. Go chase goats, I reckon/' 

'' All right; but if you want me to do that, you'll 
have to get you some goats. I rode all my horses 
down a couple o' days ago, hunting for them in the 
brakes, and there ain't a goat to be found within 
forty miles. 

** D n the goats," said Captain Bill, ** I don't 

care much for goats, anyhow." 

There had been about two hundred of them, and 
for several years afterward, hunters from other 
States in these wilds used to bring down ' * mountain 
sheep " and ** antelope," which bore strong resem- 
blance to the flocks which had once been Captain 

It was not long after McDonald's appointment as 
Ranger Captain that the State political campaign 
came on. He had never lost his interest in politics 
since the first awakening in the old Mineola days, 
when he and Jim Hogg had been ranged against 
each other, ready to shed blood for their candi- 
dates. Now, Hogg was governor and a candidate 
for reelection, with Bill McDonald ready to show 
what he could do in the way of gratitude for favors 
past and present. The convention for the nomina- 
tion of the State officials was to be held at Houston, 
and there was a good deal of excitement, as the 
opposition was likely to be strong, with nominations 
closely contested. McDonald resolved to be on hand 
and ready for any condition or emergency. Arriv- 
ing in Houston he learned upon investigation that 

152 Captain Bill McDonald 

the supporters of Hogg's opponent, George Clark 
of Waco, had laid a plan to pack the convention with 
Clark's friends; to occupy it so fully in fact, that it 
would be impossible for the regular delegates to get 
seats. This would make it necessary for them to 
meet elsewhere, and would cause them to be re- 
garded as bolters from the regular convention. 
Upon satisfying himself that this was to be the pro- 
gram. Captain McDonald promptly went to his 
old friend and other leaders, and proposed to take 
charge of matters. As Captain of the Eangers, he 
was under the Governor's orders, and with Hogg's 
sanction he could use his own methods for preserv- 
ing the peace and for the prevention of scrambling 
and riot. 

The convention was to be held in the * ^ car-shed, ' ' 
a very large building, which had been seated for 
the purpose. It had a wide entrance to admit cars, 
and it could easily have been filled and crowded by 
a mob. Captain Bill's plan was to put a good 
capable fence across this wide opening, leaving a 
narrow passageway for a gate, which would be com- 
pletely guarded. No one unable to show credentials 
as a delegate would be permitted to enter until the 
delegates were in and seated. 

Governor Hogg approved of the idea and issued 
an order accordingly. There was no delay in carry- 
ing it out. Captain Bill got some men together, 
worked all night, and by sunrise the wide gateway 
of the car-shed had beeji narrowed down to the little 

A Bit of Farming and Politics 153 

wicket-gate of official admission. It was a complete 
surprise to the opposition. The gang that had ar- 
ranged to rush and pack the convention, regarded 
the barrier and the men delegated to defend it, with 
amazement and profanity. They began with epi- 
thets, and these they followed with more tangible 
missiles, such as umbrellas, old shoes, and hand- 
bags. In another part of the State they might have 
attempted the use of more effective ammunition. As 
it was, they were obliged to confine themselves to 
protests more spectacular than effectual. The 
regular delegates filed in and were seated. Then 
the crowds were permitted to enter in the usual way, 
whereupon another convention was immediately 
organized in the same hall, with another chairman 
on the same platform, and for a time two conven- 
tions were running side by side. 

Captain McDonald was finally called to the plat- 
form to preserve order. There was a lively scene. 
The Eanger was kept busy keeping the two factions 
separate, taking away their knives, a few pistols, 
canes, umbrellas and such other weapons and mis- 
siles as they attempted to bring into action. The 
final result was that both Clark and Hogg were 
nominated, at the same time, in the same convention, 
and by the same political party, though the Clark 
followers were styled ** Anti-Democrats '* and 

Hogg was re-elected in due time, by a good ma- 
jority. The episode passed into history as the 
** Car-shed '^ Convention. 


Taming the Pan-handle 

the difference between cowboys and 

how captain bill made cow-stealing 

The Texas Pan-handle is that portion of the State 
which lies directly south of what was No-man's 
Land, extending from parallels 100 to 103, east and 
west. Its shape suggests its name, and its name 
suggests limitless areas of waving grass ; vast roving 
herds; cowboys and ponies — both of the unbridled 
variety; bad men whose chief business was to start 
graveyards, and the glad primeval lawlessness that 
prevails when worlds are new. 

Not so many years ago the Pan-handle was dis- 
tinctly a world apart, and a new one. With No- 
man's Land on the north, Indian Territory on the 
east and New Mexico on the west, civilization could 
come only from the south, and it did not come very 
fast. Indeed there was still plenty of territory to 
the southward to be subdued — two or three tiers of 
counties in fact — before the Pan-handle would be 
reached. So, it was a place apart — an isolated 
fertile land, justifying the assertion of a tramp that 
he had lost a hundred thousand dollars there in one 
year by not having cattle to eat up the grass. 

The cattle came in due time, fighting back the 

Taming the Pan-handle 155 

Apache and the Comanche, protected by Rangers 
from Ft. Griffin, accompanied by stockmen of every 
nation, cowboys of every grade and criminals of 
every breed. That was a wild epoch — chaotic and 
picturesque — a time of individual administration 
and untempered justice. 

It was also a time of mighty domain. Ranches 
there were as big as some kingdoms. One, the X. 
I. T., covered a good portion of the northern part of 
the Pan-handle. Another, the Matador, spread it- 
self into five counties. When settlement became 
thicker — when there were ranch-houses not more 
than twenty-five to thirty miles apart — official allot- 
ment of the lands was made. Then there was a 
grand gobble. The big stockmen fenced everything 
with little regard for boundaries and less for the 

With such examples as these in high places, it is 
not strange that a general indifference for legal 
rights and possessions prevailed. Next to cattle rais- 
ing, cattle-stealing was the chief industry. The cow- 
boy proper was not concerned in such work. He was 
likely to be a clean-handed, straightforward, even 
if reckless, individual, honest according to his lights. 
True, loyalty to his employer might render him a 
trifle indifferent as to brands and marks when 
strays mixed with the herd, but it was the employer 
and not the cowboy who profited by such laxity. 
The cowboy was a retainer who would fight for his 
ranch, would die for it when circumstances seemed 

156 Captain Bill McDonald 

to require such a sacrifice, and the increase of the 
ranch herd by any means short of actual raid and 
theft was a custom which bore no relation to dis- 
repute. But individually the cowboy was likely to 
be the soul of honor and good-nature, troublesome 
only on holidays when he was moved to ride into the 
nearest settlement, drink up all the whisky he could 
buy, and then, with six-shooter drawn, go careering 
up and down the streets, shooting in random direc- 
tions, explaining meantime with noisy and repeti- 
tious adjectives, that he was a bad man — a very bad 
man from very far up the Creek. 

On such inspired occasions he would sometimes 
exclaim : 

' ^ Hide out little ones ! Dad 's come home drunk ! ' ' 
after which he would let go a round of ammunition 
and the inhabitants of that neighborhood, regard- 
less of size, would proceed to hide out, as ad- 
monished. Sometimes a whole group of cowboys 
would engage in this pastime, whereupon the rest 
of the town disappeared and sat in cellars or flat- 
tened themselves under beds until the cyclone passed 
by. _ 

It was in such manner that the cowboy found 
relaxations and social joy. He was not a bad man, 
in spite of his declaration. He was not really hunt- 
ing for trouble and would be the last to kill, without 

* " The Kansas City Journal " recently printed the following cowboy 
song, with comments, offering it as a side-light on cowboy life and char- 
acter. The Journal said : 

"The night guards of cattle or horse herds were wont to sing to their 

Taming the Pan-handle 157 

The truly bad man was of entirely different make- 
up. Always posing, and sometimes accepted, as a 

charges as they slowly rode round and round them, keeping watch. If 
the cattle stampeded, and were then brought together again and began 
moving in a circle, which the punchers called 'milling,' and on all occa- 
sions of fear or uneasiness among the stock, the boys sang to them, and 
it had a quieting effect. These night riders were perfect horsemen and 
seasoned to the trail and range. Their hours were endless; the calls 
upon them for endurance were almost beyond human strength. Picture 
a night on a lonely prairie, wild, disconcerting, hoarse elements, a 
stampede among half-wild cattle, and it is not hard to know the task 
that the cowboy confronted. It is something fine to think that in such 
hours of danger the cattle could be * crooned ' back to normal quiet. 
Out of such occasions were the cowboy songs born." Then follow the 
words of 

The Dim and Narrow Wat. 

" Last night as I lay on the prairie. 
Looking up at the stars in the sky, 
I wondered if ever a cowboy 
Would go to that sweet by and by; 
I wondered if ever a cowboy 
Would go to that sweet by and by. 

The trail to that fair mystic region 

Is narrow and dim so they say. 

While the broad road that leads to perdition 

Is posted and blazed all the way; 

While the broad road that leads to perdition 

Is posted and blazed all the way. 

They say there will be a grand round-up, 
Where cowboys like cattle must stand. 
To be cut out by riders of judgment, 
Who are posted and know every brand; 
To be cut out by riders of judgment. 
Who are posted and know every brand. 

Perhaps there will be a stray cowboy, 
Unbranded by anyone nigh, 
Who'll be cut out by riders of judgment 
And shipped to the sweet by and by; 
Who'll be cut out by riders of judgment 
And shipped to the sweet by and by." 

158 Captain Bill McDonald . 

man of valor, lie was in nearly every case merely 
a boaster and a coward. He would kill when he got 
the drop on his man, and he built his reputation upon 
such murders. He passed as a cowboy, when he was 
merely a cow-thief; as a hero, when he was only an 
assassin. Driven into a corner he would fight, but 
his favorite method was to slay from ambush. It 
was seldom that his reckless disregard for human 
life included his own. 

The Pan-handle was full of bad men in the early 
nineties. Most of them had graduated from other 
schools of crime and found here a last resort. Some 
of them — a good many of them — ^had obtained official 
positions and were outlaws and deputies by turns, 
or worked conjunctively as both. As a rule they 
were in one way and another associated with a gang. 

Local authorities, even when conscientious, were 
poorly equipped to cope with such an element, and 
it was for Company B, Eanger Force, consisting of 
eight men with quarters at Amarillo, Captain W. 
J. McDonald commanding, to police this vast wilder- 
ness, and to capture and convert, or otherwise tame, 
its undesirable citizens. 

Some of them would not wait to be captured ; some, 
of course, could not be tamed alive. Others, and 
these were not a few, would be able to wield official 
influence through which they would escape convic- 
tion, regardless of the evidence. 

Soon after McDonald's appointment he was noti- 
fied of a marauding band that across in Hutchinson 

Taming the Pan-handle 159 

County were committing the usual crimes. They had 
burned the hay belonging to a ranchman on Turkey 
Creek — several hundred tons in quantity — they had 
cut his wire fences; they had killed cows for their 
calves, butchered beef cattle, cut out brands — in a 
word they had conducted the business of cattle- 
stealing and general depredation on a large scale. 

Taking a portion of his force, Captain McDonald 
went over to investigate. There seemed to be a good 
deal of mystery concerning the identity of the of- 
fenders; but a mystery of that sort does not stand 
a very good chance when it is operated upon by a 
man with eyes like those of Captain Bill and with a 
nose and pair of ears of his peculiar pattern. In a 
short time he had identified one member of the band 
in a young man prominently connected in that sec- 
tion. This young fellow — a dupe, no doubt, of pro- 
fessional cow-thieves, whose glittering reputation as 
bad men had dazzled him — was the son of an able 
and reputable lawyer, a member of the State legis- 
lature. The son, supposed to be a cowboy, had be- 
come in reality an outlaw. 

Captain McDonald took him in charge one day, 
questioned him and secured sufficient evidence to file 
a complaint. The prisoner was turned over to the 
sheriff of Hutchinson County, and Captain Bill 
pursued his investigation. He located a bunch of 
stolen calves, herded in the brakes of the Canadian 
River, guarded by another member of the gang. He 
brought a man who had lost a number of milk cows 

160 Captain Bill McDonald 

and calves to identify the calves; no very difficult 
matter, for the man declared that he knew them as 
well as he knew his own children. The cows had 
been killed for their calves — and the latter had been 
*' hobbled and necked/' After locating the calves, 
Captain McDonald investigated the canyons and 
after several days found the cows that had been 
shot and killed. One after another the missing 
bunches of cattle were located, and the members of 
the band were brought in, and lodged in jail. The 
case against them was clear. They were found with 
the stolen property; some of them did not even 
attempt to make denial. Their examining trial was 
held at Plemons, the county seat of Hutchinson 
County, and the settlers gathered from far and near 
for the event. The trial was held in a big barn of 
a court house, and the prisoners were bound over 
to the district court. The Eangers were preparing 
to take them to Pan-handle City, where there were 
safer and more commodious quarters, when the 
sheriff — who had already distinguished himself by 
setting free the prominent young outlaw first cap- 
tured — appeared and demanded the prisoners, on 
the ground that being sheriff of that county, they 
could not be removed without his consent. The 
Kanger Captain promptly informed him that, sheriff 
or no sheriff, he had shown his disqualifications for 
office, and that these prisoners would be taken to 
more secure quarters than he seemed willing to 
provide. The officer departed, and presently mus- 

Taming the Pan-handle 161 

tered a crowd, armed with Winchesters. Then he 
appeared once more before Captain Bill, produced 
the law which under proper conditions might have 
supported him in his demand, and again declared 
that he would have those prisoners, or that there 
would be bloodshed and several Kanger funerals. 
Captain Bill promptly called his men together. 

* * We are not going to stand any foolishness, ' ^ he 
said. *^ If an attempt is made to take these pris- 
oners, cut down on any one who takes a hand in it. 
Come, let 's move on now, and get these men in jail. ' ' 

The crowd that had gathered expected battle, 
then and there, but nothing of the kind took 
place. The sheriff's armed bluff had been called. 
Later, he obtained a writ of habeas corpus, but it 
was not effective for the reason that the men had 
been committed under bond. At all events it was 
not effective so long as McDonald and his Rangers 
were in charge of the jail. 

It was now evident that conviction of these of- 
fenders was not to be expected in that county. Most 
of them had official influence of one kind or another. 
In fact, there appeared to be nobody except those 
whose property had suffered who seemed concerned 
in bringing these bandits to justice. 

With such overwhelming evidence McDonald was 
determined, if possible,, to secure their punishment. 
He kept them in jail several months and eventually 
was instrumental in getting their cases distributed 
and sent to other counties for trial. Even so, they 

162 Captain Bill McDonald 

managed to evade the law. Through influence of one 
kind or another, and the cooperation of officials — 
former associates, perhaps, in the business of crime 
— their cases were one by one dismissed. 

In spite of this miscarriage of justice, the general 
effect of McDonald's vigorous prosecution was 
wholesome. The members of that band either left 
for the far isolations, or decided to reform. The 
case is given, one of many such, as an example of 
what the honest official had to contend with in the 
early Pan-handle days. Sometimes, indeed, justice 
was even more openly and briskly side-tracked. 
Once, when Captain Bill had caught a notorious 
cattle-thief, red-handed; brought him to trial and 
secured his conviction by jury ; the judge, instead of 
passing sentence, took the law wholly into his own 
hands, and administered it in a manner rather 
startling for its unexpectedness and originality. He 
delivered an elaborate oration, which no one in the 
court room comprehended in any large degree — ^him- 
self included, perhaps — and then read a lengthy 
decision concerning captures made upon the high 
seas ; closing with his own decision to the effect that 
the clause covered this particular case as perfectly 
as if it had been made for it, and that the entire 
proceedings were irregular, irrelevant, without war- 
rant and without effect; concluding his amazing 
declaration with the statement that the prisoner was 

Taming the Pan-handle 163 

Cases like these would have discouraged and dis- 
gruntled a man of less resolution and character than 
Bill McDonald. To him such things meant only 
renewed determination. Strong in the knowledge 
that unless he happened to be killed he would eventu- 
ally make criminals scarce, and corrupt or weak- 
kneed officials unpopular in that section, he gave 
neither rest nor respite to those who broke the law 
in the field, or to those who warped and disfigured 
it in the courts. Individually and in groups he 
brought the bad men in and filled the jails with them, 
and the box-cars, and when neither was handy he 
lariated them out, set a guard, and rode off after 
more. When he failed to convict in one court he 
tried another, and when he found an honest official 
he kept him busy. In a recent letter written by Col. 
W. B. Camp of San Antonio, to Edward M. House, 
one of the best known citizens of Texas, the writer 

'* When he (Captain McDonald) was captain of 
the Eangers in Texas, and doing his most effective 
work, I was District Attorney of the Thirty-fifth 
Judicial District, in the Pan-handle, and I learned to 
love, respect and admire this fearless officer, who al- 
ways placed duty before his own life. In those days 
on the frontier of Texas, it was almost worth a 
man's life to uphold the majesty of the law, and the 
five years of such experience I had in doing so 
teaches me the value of such men as Captain Bill 

164 Captain Bill McDonald 

McDonald. History should hand down his name for 
the coming generations by the side of the heroes of 
the Alamo and San Jacinto/' * 

* That Captain McDonald and his little force had the entire supervision 
of that vast district is shown by Adjutant-General Maby's report for 
1896. See Appendix A. 


The Battle with Matthews 


It was strange, indeed, that McDonald did not 
** happen to get killed ** in those busy days of the 
early nineties. One of the favorite vows of tough 
** pan-handlers " was to shoot Bill McDonald on 
sight. But the reader will remember that there was a 
suddenness and vigor about Bill McDonald's manner 
and method that was very bad for a vow like that 
when the moment for its execution arrived. Still, 
there were those who tried to make good, and one of 
these, duly assisted, came near being successful. He 
would have succeeded, no doubt, if he had had time. 

This man's name was John Pierce Matthews, 
which became simply John Pierce after its owner 
had got the drop on a steamboat captain one day in 
Louisiana and shot him dead. He took the new 
name with him to the Pan-handle, where in due time 
he got the drop on another man, somewhere up in 
the northern tier of counties, with the same result. 
This was a good while before he came down to Chil- 
dress County and got to be sheriff, but there were 
those who had not forgotten, and among them was 

166 Captain Bill McDonald 

Captain Bill McDonald, then stopping at Wichita 
Falls. Matthews, or Pierce, as he was called, fre- 
quently came down to the Falls for a spree, and on 
one such visit made application to join a secret 
society. McDonald was a prominent member of that 
society and Matthews did not get in. This stirred 
the animosity of Matthews, and he began to clean 
his six-shooter daily and to practise sudden and ac- 
curate firing, which he knew would be necessary in 
case of a show-down. 

By and by there was a sheriff ^s convention at 
Houston, and on a boat excursion between Houston 
and Galveston, Matthews spoke disrespectfully to 
Governor Hogg, who was on board. McDonald, who 
was also present, promptly called Matthews to ac- 
count, and a general settlement might have been 
reached then and there had well-meaning, but mis- 
guided friends of both parties not interfered, and 
spoiled a very pretty sheriff 's-picnic newspaper 
story. As it was, Matthews kept on oiling his pistol 
and practising, meantime enlisting the sympathy of 
friends, to whom he confided that some day when he 
had a little leisure he was going to look up Bill Mc- 
Donald and kill him, suggesting that they be present 
and take a hand; they being of the sort naturally 
interested in such an enterprise. 

Matthews also had another enemy, one Joe Beck- 
ham, sheriff of Motley County, an officer of his own 
kind, who presently got as short as possible in his 
accounts, absconded, and set out for Indian Ter- 

The Battle with Mattheivs 167 

ritory. Matthew had no right to go outside of his 
own county after a fugitive, and no business in this 
matter, any way, as he wanted Beckham only for a 
misdemeanor, whereas he was charged in his own 
county with felony. But Matthews had an itch for 
Beckham on his own account, so he picked up an- 
other enemy of Beckham, named Cook, a citizen of 
Motley with an ambition for Beckham's office, and 
the two came with peaceful attitude and fair words 
to Quanah where Captain Bill was then stopping, 
requesting the loan of a Ranger to go over into the 
Territory after the defaulting officer. McDonald 
refused, but said he would send a man as far as the 
Territory line — Ranger authority not extending 
beyond that border. He did send one Ranger Mc- 
Clure, who being strongly persuaded, overstepped, 
at the same instant, his authority and the State line ; 
captured Beckham, whom he lost through a writ of 
habeas corpus ; fell into a plot devised by Matthews 
and Cook to get rid of him, and was finally brought 
back to Quanah by Captain Bill, who drove a hundred 
miles on a bad night to get him out of the mess ; after 
which McClure was a wiser and better Ranger. 

Beckham, meanwhile, had fallen a victim to re- 
morse, or more likely had been promised immunity, 
and now hurried over to Quanah and gave himself 
up again to Ranger McClure, Captain Bill being 
absent from Quanah at the time. Beckham asked 
to be taken to Matador, county seat of Motley, for 
trial, and begged McClure to see him through Chil- 

168 Captain Bill McDonald 

dress, where he expected to be killed by Matthews 
and Cook. 

McClure assured Beckham that he would see him 
safely to Matador, and they set out by rail for 
Childress, at which point they would take a team for, 
the Motley county seat. 

Matthews was on hand at Childress. He de- 
manded Beckham of McClure, who refused to 
deliver his prisoner. Matthews then started to 
organize a posse to take Beckham. Word of this 
came to McClure who promptly gave his prisoner a 
revolver and told him to help defend himself. 
Matthews and his crowd now tried to enlist the co- 
operation of Sheriff Cunningham of Abilene who, 
as soon as he understood the situation, resigned 
from the Matthews force and offered to assist the 
McClure contingent. McClure thanked him, but said 
he guessed he^d go along to Matador, now, with his 
prisoner, as the team was waiting. Captain Bill was 
in Matador when Eanger and prisoner arrived, and 
Beckham was jailed without further difficulty. Cook 
got appointed sheriff, by the Commissioners' Court, 
but the District Judge refused to accept him and 
selected a man named Moses for the job, whereupon 
Cook refused to resign and Captain Bill was sent 
over to turn him out, which he did with promptness 
and vigor. On his way back to Quanah, waiting for 
a train in Childress, Matthews appeared and de- 
manded that McDonald dismiss Eanger McClure on 
general charges connected with the Beckham epi- 

The Battle with Matthews 169 

sode. McDonald mildly but firmly refused and spoke 
his mind pretty freely on the subject. All of which 
added fuel to the old resentment which Matthews 
nursed and nourished in his bosom for Captain Bill. 

If Matthews wanted to commit suicide he began 
preparing for it, now, in the right way. He gave it 
out openly that he was going to wander over to 
Quanah some day and kill Bill McDonald, just as a 
matter of pastime, and he sent word to the same 
effect by any of Captain Bill 's friends that he found 
going that way. Perhaps he thought these messages 
of impending death would unnerve the Eanger Cap- 
tain and interfere with his sleep. That was bad 
judgment. Bill McDonald needed only the anticipa- 
tion of a little pistol practice like that to make him 
sleep like an angel child. 

** I didn't talk as loud as he did — ^nor as much,'* 
Captain Bill said afterward. ** I reckon he thought 
I was afraid of him. ' ' 

Matthews had really cut the work out for himself, 
however, and had enlisted help for the occasion. He 
was satisfied with his target practice and the con- 
dition of his firearms, and he had taken to wearing 
a plug of tobacco or a Bible or something solid like 
that in the coat-pocket just over his heart, about 
where one of Bill McDonald's bullets would be apt 
to strike, provided the Ranger happened to get a 
bead on him, though he had planned against that, 

It was in December, 1895, at last that Matthews 

170 Captain Bill McDonald 

and his pals came down to Quanah for the declared 
purpose of killing a Ranger Captain. It was a cold, 
dreary day and they visited one saloon after an- 
other, getting a supply of courage for the job and 
explaining what they were going to do. Then they 
took to following McDonald, always in a group, evi- 
dently waiting the proper opportunity, confident 
enough that McDonald would not take the offensive. 
Finally, however, they pressed him so close that he 
suddenly turned and told them to quit following him 
or trouble would ensue. Perhaps it did not seem a 
good place to do the job — there being no sort of pro- 
tection ; perhaps there was something disquieting in 
the manner of Captain BilPs warning. They drop- 
ped away, for the time, and McDonald gave the 
matter no further thought. Men threatening to kill 
him was an item on every day's program. 

It was nearly dusk of that bleak day, and Mc- 
Donald was in the railway station, sending an official 
telegram to his men at Amarillo, when an old man 
named Crutcher, whom McDonald knew, came in 
with the word that Matthews wanted to see him and 
fix up matters without any more trouble. 

Captain Bill regarded Crutcher keenly ; evidently 
he was sincere enough. 

* ' John says he wants to see you and fix up every- 
thing right," repeated the old man persuasively. 

Captain Bill finished writing his telegram and sent 
it. Then turning to Old Man Crutcher he said in his 
slow mild way : 

The Battle with Matthews 171 

** Well, that all sounds mighty good to me. I 
never want any trouble that I can help. Come on, 
let 's go find him. ' ' 

They left the depot on the side toward the town, 
and as they did so they saw the sheriff of Hardeman 
County, whose name was Dick Coffer, with Matthews 
and two of the latter *s friends, coming to meet them. 
Sheriff Coffer was a step ahead of Matthews when 
they started across the street. Old Man Crutcher in 
a friendly way put his arm through McDonald's as 
they advanced. When they were but four or five feet 
between the groups, all stopped and there was a little 

Then McDonald said : 

'' Well? " 

And Matthews answered, keeping Coffer just a 
trifle in advance : 

'' Well, what is it, Bill? '' 

Captain Bill began quietly. 

** I understand,'' he said, ^* that you Tiave been 
saying some pretty hard things about me, and that 
you-all are going to wipe up the earth with me. Is 
that so? " 

Matthews edged a trifle nearer to Coffer. 

** No," he said, '' I didn't say that, but by God 
I'll tell you what I did say," at the same moment 
pointing his left index finger in McDonald's face, 
while his right hand slipped in the direction of his 
hip pocket. 

Captain Bill saw the movement and his own hand 

172 Captain Bill McDonald 

dropped into his side overcoat pocket where in 
winter he carried a part of his armament. Mat- 
thews' practice in drawing, for some reason failed 
to benefit him. His gun seemed to hang a little in 
the scabbard. A second later he had jerked it free 
and stepping behind Coffer fired at Captain Bill 
over the sheriff's right shoulder. But the slight 
hitch spoiled his aim, perhaps, for the bullet missed, 
passing through McDonald's overcoat collar, though 
the range was so short that the powder burned his 

The game could now be considered open. Captain 
Bill with a quick movement that was between a skip 
and a step, got around Coffer and let go two shots 
in quick succession, at Matthews. But the latter 's 
breast-piece was a success. Both of McDonald's bul- 
lets struck within the space of a fifty-cent piece, just 
above Matthews' heart, penetrated a thick plug of 
Star Navy, found a heavy note-book behind it and 

With a thought process which may be regarded as 
cool for such a moment. Captain Bill realized that 
for some reason he could not kill Matthews by shoot- 
ing him on that side, and shifted his aim. Matthews, 
meantime, had again dodged behind Coffer, who now 
dropped flat to the ground, where it was quieter. 
Captain Bill was bending forward at the time, try- 
ing to get a shot around Coffer, and as the latter 
dropped, Matthews fired, the bullet striking Mc- 
Donald in the left shoulder, ranging down through 

He started to cock his gun, when he received another ball in his right shoulder. 

The Battle with Matthews 173 

his lung to the small of his back, traveling two-thirds 
the length of his body for lodgment. 

The Ranger was knocked backward, but did not 
fall. Matthews quickly fired again, but McDonald 
was near enough now to knock the gun aside with his 
own, and the ball passed through his hat-brim. Aim- 
ing at Matthews* other shoulder, McDonald let go 
his third shot and Matthews fell. 

Meantime the two deputy assassins had opened 
fire, and one of them had sent two bullets through 
McDonald *s left arm. To these he gave no atten- 
tion until Matthews dropped. Wheeling now he 
started to cock his gun, when he received another 
ball, this time in his right shoulder, along which it 
traveled to his neck, thence around the wind-pipe to 
the left side. His fingers were paralyzed by this 
wound and he made an effort to cock his gun with 
his teeth ; but there was no further need, for with the 
collapse of Matthews his co-murderers fled wildly 
to cover, behind the depot, nearly upsetting A box- 
car in their hurry, as a spectator remarked. 

Captain Bill walked a few steps to the side-walk. 
There was a post there, and holding to this he eased 
himself to a sitting position. A man ran up to him. 

" Cap, how about it? '' 

'' Well, I think I'm a dead rabbit." 

They gathered him up and took him to a drug- 
store, and they took Matthews to a drug-store across 
the street. By and by they carried Captain Bill 
home and a doctor came to hunt for the bullets. 

174 Captain Bill McDonald 

'^ Don't fool around with that one in my neck, 
Doc," Captain Bill said. '' Go after the one in the 
small of my back, and let out the blood. There's a 
bucket of it sloshin' around in there." 

The doctor obeyed orders. It was proper to 
gratify a dying man. 

*' Now, Doc," the Eanger Captain said when the 
operation was over, and the surplus cargo had been 
removed, ** now, I'll get well," and Ehoda Mc- 
Donald, his nervy wife, who had arrived on the scene, 
echoed this belief. 

'' If Bill Jess says he'll get well, he'll do it! " 
she declared. 

But this was a minority opinion, and that night 
when it was rumored that Captain Bill would not 
pull through, there were threats that in case he 
didn't, the two men who had trained with Matthews 
would be strung up without further notice. Some 
word of this was brought to Captain Bill, perhaps 
as a message of comfort. 

** Don't you do it, boys," he said. ** I'm going to * 
get well, and even if I don't, I want the law to take 
its course. I'm opposed to lynching." 

Matthews died in a few days. He was removed to 
Childress and died there. Before his death he sent 
word to McDonald. 

** You acted the man all through," was his mes- 
sage. ''I'm only sorry that I can't see you and 
apologize. ' ' 

'' Tell him that I'm doing all right," was the 

The Battle with Matthews 175 

answer returned, '^^ and that I hope he'll get well.'* 
The mending of Captain Bill was a slow process. 
For about two months he was laid up, and then with 
his wife he sojourned for a time at a sanitarium. 
After that, he was up once more, pale and stooped 
but ready and eager for action. In time he was 
apparently as fit as ever; though, in truth, the 
physical repairing was never quite complete. 

What Happened to Beckham 


Meantime the cause of the final and fatal dif- 
ference between Matthews and McDonald — Joe 
Beckham, former sheriff of Motley — was out on 
bond, disporting himself in picturesque fashion. He 
got a change of venue, and when his case came up 
in Baylor County, Cook — his old rival and now his 
successor, by election — started over to testify; 
whereupon Beckham met the train and promptly shot 
Cook dead as he struck the platform. Beckham then 
mounted a fast horse and cantered away into the Ter- 
ritory, where he joined in organizing a new gang 
made up of old offenders, with a view to doing a 
wholesale general business in crime. In this gang 
were Eed Buck, and Hill Loftus, both justly cele- 
brated; also Kid Lewis — later hung. They estab- 
lished headquarters in a neighborhood thought to be 
comparatively safe, since Bill McDonald *s work had 
been confined to Texas, and opened business with 
every prospect of reaping the natural reward of 
perseverance and industry. 

They began by making a general raid on what is 

What Happened to Beckham 111 

now Electra, Texas, where they cleaned out some 
stores and knocked a storekeeper on the head ; after 
which, they looted a country store and post office, 
kept by one Al Bailey, then rode away in the direc- 
tion of their Territory headquarters. 

Company B, Kanger Service, was promptly noti- 
fied, and Captain McDonald, not yet able to under- 
take a hard chase, sent his nephew McCauley with 
Jack Harwell and two other Rangers to join the 
sheriff of Wilbarger County at Electra, in the 
pursuit. The Rangers quickly struck the trail and 
had followed forty miles toward the Territory at a 
hard gait when they spied a dug-out, not far ahead. 
At the same moment they met an ostensible cowboy 
— a ** line-rider,'* he said, on his rounds. The dug- 
out, he told them, was his, and that they would find 
something to eat there. 

The party hurried on in the hope of food and 
warmth, for with the coming of evening it had grown 
very cold, and snow was beginning to fall. They 
were a little surprised to see a light in the dug-out, 
but pushed on toward it, when suddenly a volley of 
shots rang out from that cover, and three horses 
dropped dead. Not one of the riders was injured, 
and they promptly returned the fire. Then followed 
a regular exchange of shots which kept up to some 
extent all that bitter cold; snowy night. When morn- 
ing came, only McCauley and Harwell of the Ranger 
Force remained in action, the others having been 
driven by the cold and storm to find shelter. 

178 Captain Bill McDonald 

The dug-out was silent enough, now, but McCauley 
and Harwell, nearly dead from exposure, were in no 
condition to charge it, alone. They were without 
horses, and set out for Waggoner's ranch twenty- 
five miles away, afoot. Eed Eiver lay between, and 
when they arrived there the prospect of wading that 
icy current was miserable enough. Nevertheless, 
they did it, arriving at Waggoner's ranch, frost- 
bitten and almost dead of hunger. The others had 
reached there several hours earlier. 

When all were in condition again, they returned 
to investigate the dug-out. The place was deserted. 
Eed Buck (wounded, as they learned later) with Hill 
Loftus, had been able to get away; also. Kid Lewis, 
for whom a telephone pole was already waiting at 
Wichita Falls. 

Joe Beckham lay stretched upon the floor, dead. 


A Medal for Speed 



We are not through with the Pan-handle, but we 
will relate here an incident which belongs outside of 
that district, though within the period. It seemed 
always a part of Bill Jess McDonald's peculiar for- 
tunes that wherever he went he found work suited 
to his hand. 

He had been in Fort Worth on official business, in 
this instance, and boarded the north-bound train 
just as it was pulling out of the station. As he did 
so, he noticed two disreputable-looking characters 
crowding against a well-dressed old gentleman, and 
an instant later heard the latter exclaim, '* I have 
been robbed ! * ' At the same moment the two toughs 
started to leap from the car-steps. 

Captain Bill's presence of mind responded 
promptly. His six-shooter was out with small delay, 
and seizing one of the men, he called to the other to 
halt. The man detained made an attempt to strike 
his captor, who promptly ** bent '' his gun over his 
head — mildly at first, then with force, bringing the 
offender to his knees. The Ranger Captain now 
pulled the bell-cord; brought the train to a stand- 

180 Captain Bill McDonald 

still; turned his prisoner over to a policeman who 
had appeared on the scene, and set out in pursuit of 
the other thief, who by this time had obtained a 
healthy start. 

Captain Bill is built like a greyhound, with long 
hind legs, and a prow designed for splitting the wind. 
The thief was active, and making good time, but he 
was no match for a Eanger of that architecture. 
The distance between them closed up rapidly, and 
after a race of over a mile the fugitive, having 
reached what was known as ** Niggertown, ' ' dived 
into one of the houses, causing a regular stampede 
among the inhabitants. Men, women, and a rabble of 
little pickaninnies fell out in every direction. Cap- 
tain Bill, now close behind, added to the excitement 
as he plunged in, only to find the room vacant. A 
quilt, however, hung across a second doorway, and 
stepping over to it, his six-shooter ready for emer- 
gency, he drew the hanging quickly aside. As he did 
so, he was confronted by a man standing on a chair, 
holding in his hand a bottle filled with some trans- 
parent liquid, which he was in the act of throwing. 
The crack of McDonald's revolver was followed by 
such a sudden collapse of the would-be vitriol- 
thrower, that the Eanger Captain thought he had 
wounded him seriously, though his intention had been 
merely to disable the arm in action. Investigation 
showed, however, that the thief was only frightened ; 
that the ball had grazed his arm, also his ear, cutting 
a hole through the rim of his hat. 

A Medal for Speed 181 

Securing the vitriol as evidence, Captain Bill 
marched his man back to where he had left thief 
Number One, only to find that the inexperienced 
policeman had allowed him to escape. He did not 
trust him with his second capture, but personally 
saw him safely locked up, and then set out for home 
by the next train. 

Not long after, a package arrived one day in 
Amarillo, and upon being opened, it was found to 
contain a handsome gold medal, contributed by a 
prominent jeweler and others of Fort Worth. 

This decoration was engraved with Captain Mc- 
Donald's name and official title; and an accompany- 
ing letter stated that it was awarded as a token of 
appreciation of his efforts in bringing criminals to 
justice, and as a premium for his superior swiftness 
of foot on a mile and a quarter track. 


Captain Bill in Mexico 

mexican thieves try to hold up captain bill and 

get a sueprise. mexican police make the 

same attempt with the same result. 

president diaz tries to 

enlist him 

The First National Bank of Quanah failed in 1893, 
and one of the head officials, wanted for embezzle- 
ment and forgery, made his escape to Mexico, where 
he was arrested. Governor Hogg immediately made 
requisition for him, and Captain McDonald was 
detailed to bring him back across the line. Accom- 
panied by one of the bank directors, McDonald set 
out for Mexico, only to find that his man had been 
set free, and was then making his way to remoter 
hiding. It was no difficult matter, however, to trace 
him, and the Eanger Captain presently overhauled 
him and put him in jail, there to await certain red- 
tape formalities incident to the deliberate Mexican 
official methods. 

Having a good deal of time on his hands, Captain 
Bill spent it in sight-seeing. It was interesting 
enough, but he could not understand why he used up 

Captain Bill in Mexico 183 

so many handkerchiefs. They seemed to disappear 
from his pockets in some magic way, and no matter 
how many he set out with, he presently found his 
supply entirely exhausted. He realized at last that 
this curious condition was not due altogether to ac- 
cident, nor to carelessness on his own part. Laying 
in a fresh stock of handkerchiefs, he strolled warily 
along, seemingly unconscious of those who loitered 
near him, apparently absorbed in sight-seeing. 
Presently, from the corner of his eye, he noticed a 
Mexican passing near him make a quick movement 
with his hand, and caught a glimpse of white passing 
from his pocket to that of the Mexican. His sudden 
grab so startled this industrious person that he did 
not even attempt flight. Captain Bill thereupon 
promptly recovered his handkerchief, which he found 
had been lifted with a slender wire hook; an effec- 
tive implement in busy and skilful hands. Without 
any further preliminaries, he set out for the jail 
with his prisoner, but meeting an American acquaint- 
ance to whom he explained the situation, he was 
advised to proceed no further with the case. 

* * If you take him there, they will lock you up with 
him,'* he said. 

** Well, I guess they won%'' said McDonald. 

'* They certainly will,'' insisted his friend. ** The 
law here is to confine, the witness with the prisoner, 
and there is no telling when you'll get out." 

Captain Bill reconsidered, whirled his prisoner 
around, gave him an impetuous kick or two, and 

184 Captain Bill McDonald 

some advice, which perhaps reached his comprehen- 
sion, though in an unknown tongue. 

The man fled ; it is not known whether he took the 
advice or not. 

Captain Bill's adventures in Mexico were not 
over. A few nights later he visited a large casino 
where gambling was conducted openly, and mildly 
diverted himself by taking a hand at bucking the 
national game, monte. He played in luck, and the 
stakes became high. His winnings grew to a con- 
siderable sum, and there were greedy eyes in the 
group who watched his play. "When he left the place, 
at last, and descended the stairway, he noticed that 
two men seemed to be following him. As he reached 
the dim hallway below, he stopped; they stopped 

Captain Bill was pleased. This was a game he 
preferred even to monte, he had played it so much 
oftener. He stepped out into the middle of the 
street, where he would have a clear field of observa- 
tion, and set out leisurely, as if he had not noticed 
anything wrong. The men following gained upon 
him, one dropping a little in the rear, the other work- 
ing his way to the front. As they reached a dark 
locality, the man in front began to drop back a little, 
evidently getting ready to close in, while the one 
behind stepped up a little more lively, until he was 
about on a line with Captain Bill, who now noticed 
him throw back his serape as if to free his arm for 
action. No longer in doubt as to what they meant 

Captain Bill in Mexico 185 

to do, the Captain brought out his ** forty-five '* 
with a swing that landed the barrel of it with full 
force on the head of the man in front. Wheeling, he 
covered the other, who, seeing his companion drop 
with a thud, promptly fled, the Eanger Captain close 
behind. They raced down the dim street, and the 
Mexican, trying to keep his eye on his pursuer and 
turn a comer at the same time, ran into a stone wall 
and nearly knocked his head off. 

Captain Bill was satisfied with the game as it 
stood, and set out for his hotel. He was not to 
arrive there, however, without further complications. 
The commotion, of the foot-race had aroused a squad 
of police — a poor lot, in greasy white uniforms — and 
these bore down upon him now with a good deal of 
excited talk and gesticulation, none of which he 
understood. Apparently they thought he was a 
bloodthirsty person, who was in the habit of knock- 
ing men over the head with his gun and chasing 
others into stone walls, for amusement. He ex- 
plained in the best Texan he could muster that the 
men had been trying to rob him, but it was no use. 
They insisted by signs that he must come with them. 
When he shook his head in refusal, they began 
reaching for their long revolvers, which they wore 
in clumsy holsters. 

Captain Bill knew this game, also. He had played 
it in No-man \s Land, in the Cherokee Strip, and he 
was still playing it in the Pan-handle. It was his 
favorite and daily occupation. Before their guns 

186 Captain Bill McDonald 

were half way to any effective position, lie had them 
covered, and in tones that are universally under- 
stood, even when they convey words of strange 
meaning, he warned them to desist. 

Men are in the habit of obeying Bill McDonald 
^ under such conditions. The Mexican police obeyed 
him, and when he indicated that they were to march 
in front of him, they did so in a formation at once 
' orderly and well-maintained. He directed them to- 
ward the Hotel Guadaola, where he was stopping. 
Arriving there, he explained to the guard, who 
understood English, what had happened, and in- 
structed him to convey the information to the police, 
with his thanks for their courteous and prompt at- 
tention, and a request that they should meet him at 
the office of President Diaz at ten o 'clock the follow- 
ing morning. The guard undertook to do this, and 
the police went away, dazed and muttering. 

They were on hand next morning at the Presi- 
dent 's office when Captain Bill arrived. During his 
sojourn in the city, McDonald had come in contact 
a number of times with President Diaz, and a pleas- 
ant friendship had sprung up between them. Diaz, 
who has an excellent knowledge of English, heard 
the Captain's explanation now with a good deal of 
amusement, and after dismissing his policemen with 
some paternal advice, he presented Captain Bill with 
a pass which gave him the freedom of any portion 
of the city at any hour and under all circumstances. 

The friendship between Diaz and Captain Bill 

Captain Bill in Mexico 187 

ripened into something like intimacy now, and a few 
days later, the Mexican President, in discussing the 
nation's troubles with Guatemala, invited the Ranger 
Captain's opinion of the situation, and of the force 
in the field. 

*MVell,-Mr. President," said Captain Bill, '' 1 
don't think much of your Mexican soldiers, but I 
could take a squad of Texas Rangers and go down 
to Guatemala and clean up that outfit down there, 
capture their finances and bring their Government 
to terms in twenty-four hours. ' ' 

The Mexican President 's eyes showed his approval 
of this scheme. 

* * I think a good deal of your Texan rurales, ' ' he 
said, * * but they have killed a lot of our people, too. ' ' 

Captain Bill nodded. 

* * Only the kind that needed killing, ' ' he said. 

* * Very likely, ' ' assented Diaz ; then added, a mo- 
ment later, 

* * Captain, I propose that you enlist with us for 
the purpose you mentioned just now, and bring over 
five hundred of your Texas cowboys to assist in the 
undertaking. ' ' 

Diaz waxed enthusiastic over this idea, and Cap- 
tain Bill was not unwilling to enter into the scheme. 
The matter went so far as to get into the news- 
papers, but at that point it came to a sudden end. 
Governor Hogg and Adjutant-General W. S. Mabry 
— a fine soldier, who later died in the Cuban war — 
did not propose to have their Ranger Captain go oflf 

188 Captain Bill McDonald 

on any such filibustering expeditions, and promptly 
nipped the whole matter in the bud. 

Captain Bill stayed for a considerable time in the 
Mexican capital, for his companion, the bank official, 
fell very ill, and the Captain turned nurse to pull 
him through. He very soon became a well-known 
figure in the city, being often pointed out as the man 
who had taken a squad of police in charge ; who was 
going to bring his Rangers down to whip the Guate- 
malans, and whose skill with the six-shooter was 
nothing short of miraculous. This last belief was in 
some manner sustained one day when he visited a 
shooting gallery in company with an American den- 
tist, who had taken pleasure in showing him the 
sights of the quaint old town. 

'* Captain, suppose you shoot at those targets as 
rapidly as you can, and see how many you '11 miss, ' ' 
he said, when they were inside. 

Without hesitation, McDonald drew his revolver 
and opened a perfect fusilade, hitting a target at 
each shot. Two Mexicans who were practising in 
the gallery made a wild break for the open air and 
safety. Soldiers and police came running in excite- 
ment and confusion to discover the cause. It was all 
over by this time, and the officers, seeing only Cap- 
tain Bill and the dentist, stood gaping, waiting an 

* ^ It is nothing, ' ' said the dentist, in Spanish ; ^ ^ my 
friend the Captain was only practising a little to 
keep his hand in." 


A New Style in the Pan-handle 



*^ PLUG *' HAT 

It was during the Pan-handle period that Charles 
A. Culberson — son of the Dave Culberson who 
nearly thirty years before had cleared the boy, Bill 
Jess McDonald, from a charge of treason — was 
Attorney-General for the State of Texas. Captain 
Bill was at Quanah, one day, when he received notice 
from Culberson that the latter was anxious to locate 
the 100th meridian, preliminary to beginning a suit 
against the United States to test the claim made by 
Texas for Greer County — now a portion of Okla- 
homa. The Attorney General invited Captain Bill 
to accompany him as guide and body guard, know- 
ing him to be familiar with the district and capable 
of taking care of such an expedition. 

They left the railroad at Vernon, "Wilbarger 
County, proceeded in a buck-board to Doan's Store 
on the Eed Eiver, and crossed over into Greer 
County. It was a pleasant drive across the prairies, 
and Captain Bill who felt in good practice beguiled 
the time by bringing down prairie dogs, running 
rabbits, sailing hawks and the like, using his six- 
shooter with one hand and his Winchester with the 

190 Captain Bill McDonald 

other, riding along as they were, without stopping. 
To Culberson, this performance was amazing 

^ ^ Captain, ' ' he said, ^ ^ that beats anything I ever 
saw. Why, I believe you could throw a nickle up 
in the air and hit it before it touched the ground." 

McDonald smiled in his quiet way. 

'^ Do you think so! '' he said. ** Well, I reckon I 
might, but I wouldn't want to waste a nickel that 
way. ' ' 

Captain Bill then gave a few exhibitions of what 
he really could do in the way of shooting, and Cul- 
berson declared without hesitation that there was 
not such another marksman in the State of Texas. 
The Attorney General was enjoying himself im- 

They camped that night, and next morning were 
continuing their journey toward Mangum, the county 
seat of Greer, when they began to meet men and 
women on horseback, evidently getting out of that 
section of the country without much waste of time. 
Captain Bill inquired the reason of this exodus and 
was told that a cowboy had killed an Indian over on 
the North Fork of the Red, and that the Indians were 
getting on their war-paint, preparatory to making a 
raid — Comanches and Kiowas. 

** General,'' said Captain Bill, *^ I'll have to look 
into this thing. You can go on to Mangum with the 
team and I '11 get me a horse and go over and take a 
hand in the trouble." 

A New Style in the Pan-handle 191 

** Not at all," said Culberson, ** youVe under- 
taken to see me through this trip and I'm not going 
to let you desert now, Indians or no Indians. ' ' 

** But I've got to, General. This is a pleasure 
trip, and that's business. Them devils are goin' to 
start something over there and it's my duty as " 
Eanger to investigate it." 

Culberson laughed. 

** Now, Captain," he said, ** you know very well 
that all you want is to get over there where there's 
a chance to give a shooting exhibition. You've got 
tired of hawks and prairie dogs and want to try your 
hand on Indians. ' ' 

A new arrival just then furnished the information 
that the offending cowboy had been jailed at Man- 
gum, and that the Indians were likely to storm the 
jail. This settled the matter, for Ranger duty and 
inclination now lay in the same direction. McDonald 
and Culberson drove as rapidly as possible toward 
Mangum, then about fifty miles away, changing * 
horses once on the hard journey. The town was well- 
nigh deserted, as nearly everyone who could get a 
gun had gone to the scene of the killing. Captain 
Bill therefore established himself as guard of the 
jail where the cowboy was confined, and waited 
results. Nothing of consequence happened. The 
country quieted down, Culberson and Captain Bill 
presently returned to Quanah. 

But a few days later when the Attorney General 
had arrived in Austin, Captain Bill received a pack- 

192 Captain Bill McDonald 

age by express, prepaid. On opening it he was 
stupefied to find that it contained a ** plug '' hat 
of very fine quality. It was the first silk hat in the 
Pan-handle, where the soft wide-rimmed cowboy 
Stetson predominated, and it took more courage to 
wear it than to face an assault with intent to kill. 

But Captain Bill was game. He was a '* brother- 
in-law to the church '' as he said — ^his wife being a 
member — and the following Sunday he put on the 
silk hat and accompanied her to meeting. 

Their seat was up near the front, only a step from 
the pulpit — a good thing for the minister, otherwise 
nobody would have looked in his direction. As it 
was, all eyes were aimed toward Captain Bill and 
his hat. The congregation had seen him come in 
with it in his hand, and they could still observe the 
wonder, for it would not do to put so fine a piece 
of property on the floor, while to set it toppling on 
his lap would be to court disaster. It seemed neces- 
sary therefore to hold it in his hand, raised a little, 
and at a distance from his body, in order that by no 
chance movement the marvelous gloss of it should 
be , marred. The people of Quanah who attended 
church that day were glad to be there. They are 
still glad. They do not remember the sermon they 
heard, but they do remember that hat. Even the 
minister wandered from his text in his contempla- 
tion of that splendid exhibition. Those of Quanah 
who remained away from service on that memorable 
Sunday have never entirely recovered from their 

A New Style in the Pan-handle 193 

regret. For it was their only opportunity ever to 
see Captain Bill in a plug hat. When services were 
over, the congregation crowded about for a nearer 
view. Cowboys stood up on the backs of the pews 
to look over the shoulders of those in front of them. 
Homesick women who remembered such things back 
east, shed tears. Many wanted to touch the precious 
thing — to stroke its silken surface, and among these 
were little children who insisted on rubbing the fur 
the wrong way. 

Captain Bill got out at last and headed for home. 
Once there, the gift of the Attorney General was 
reverently damned and laid away. Somewhere in 
a secret stronghold, deep buried from mortal eye, 
it exists to this hour. 


Pkeventing a Peize-fight 




Culberson became Governor in the course of 
time, and remembering Captain BilPs peculiar 
talents was wont to rely upon him for special work 
in any portion of the State where nerve, determina- 
tion and prompt, accurate marksmanship were likely 
to be of value. 

During February, 1896, a national sporting event 
— a ring contest between Bob Fitzsimmons and Pete 
Maher — was advertised to take place at El Paso, a 
busy city dropped down on the extreme western 
point of the Texas desert, on the banks of the Bio 
Grande. Governor Culberson, speaking for himself 
as well as for the better class of citizens in his State, 
announced that so long as he was in office, Texas 
would not go on record as a prize-fighting common- 
wealth, and that the fight would not take place. 
Thereupon there came a crisis. Certain interested 
citizens of El Paso had made up a purse of ten 
thousand dollars to bring this event to the '* Paris 
of Texas '' and these and their friends were filled 

Preventing a Prize-fight 195 

with indignation. Dan Stuart, prominent in Texas 
sporting matters and promoter of this particular 
event, issued a proclamation which bore not only 
the announcement that the fight would take place 
as advertised, but a picture of Dan himself. Also, 
it was declared that there was no law in Texas 
which would prevent prize-fighting, and the prep- 
arations for this particular event continued ; where- 
upon Governor Culberson promptly called a special 
session of the legislature to pass a law which would 
be effective, and Adjutant-General Mabry ordered 
the State Ranger Service to assemble at El Paso to 
see that this law was enforced — it having been 
widely reported that Bat Masterson with a hundred 
fighting men would be present to see that the fight 
came off. Then, when it was rumored that the con- 
test would take place in either Old or New Mexico 
— the boundaries of both being near El Paso — Presi- 
dent Cleveland ordered the United States Marshal 
of New Mexico to proceed to the vicinity of El Paso 
and guard the isolated districts of that territory, 
while the Governor of Chihuahua took measures to 
discourage the enterprise in that State. 

Things began to look pretty squally for the sport- 
ing fraternity, both in El Paso and at large, and 
they were mad clear through. The city council 
assembled and passed a denunciatory measure, con- 
demning the Governor for asking for Rangers; the 
Adjutant-General for sending them, and the Rangers 
for being present. 

196 Captain Bill McDonald 

It was no use. The Eangers went quietly about 
the streets, paying no attention to unfriendly looks 
and open threats as they passed along. Efforts 
were made by the principals and their friends to 
elude the Eangers, but with no other result than that 
a Eanger was appointed as a special body-guard to 
each of the pugilists, while a third, Captain Mc- 
Donald, became the temporary associate of Dan 
Stuart. They had nothing particular to do — these 
Eangers — except to be companionable, and pleasant, 
and to stay with their men. Wherever Stuart and 
Maher and Fitzsimmons went their official attend- 
ants went with them, and even if not always welcome 
they were entertained with sufficient courtesy, for 
the person of a Eanger is sacred — besides, he is re- 
puted to be quick and fatal. 

Such sport became monotonous. The pugilists 
and their friends gave up the El Paso idea, and, 
still accompanied by the Eangers, took the train for 
Langtry, a point where the Southern Pacific Eailway 
touches the Eio Grande. The State of Coahuila lay 
across the river, and Langtry itself was at that 
period the proper gateway to a pugilists ' paradise, 
its law being administered by one Eoy Bean, 
justice of the peace and saloon-keeper, whose sign 


It is said that Bean's drinks were about on a 

Preventing a Prize-fight 197 

par with his law, and that the latter was adminis- 
tered with a gun. He tried court cases, granted 
divorces, and handed down decisions without the 
trammel of a jury or other assistance. Once when 
a citizen killed a Chinaman in his place, Bean con- 
sulted the statutes, and finding nothing in reference 
to the murder of a Chinaman in his saloon, dis- 
charged the prisoner as having committed no of- 
fense. At another time, when a man walking across 
a high bridge over the Pecos had fallen and broken 
his neck, and the matter was brought before Bean, 
the dispenser of ^* Law West of the Pecos,'' dis- 
covered that the pockets of the unfortunate con- 
tained a six-shooter and forty-one dollars in money ; 
whereupon he fined the dead man twenty-five dol- 
lars and costs for carrying a concealed weapon, and 
appropriated the forty-one dollars and the six- 
shooter, in settlement. A whole chapter could be 
written about Bean and his official service, but this 
is not the place for it. It is the place, however, for 
another incident concerning a Chinaman — a case in 
which, though tried west of the Pecos, the China- 
man's rights were sustained. 

The train bound for Langtry with the pugilistic 
party and Rangers aboard stopped at Sanderson, a 
small wayside station in the desert, for lunch. 
Everybody was hungry and hurried over to a 
Chinese restaurant for something to eat, and the 
Chinese waiters scurried about to serve them. They 
were doing their best, but it was not easy to satisfy 

198 Captain Bill McDonald 

everybody at once. Next to Captain McDonald sat 
Bat Masterson. Bat has since given up all his reck- 
less ways and become a good citizen, but at that time 
he was training with the unreformed and not feel- 
ing very well, anyhow. It seemed to Bat that a 
Chinese waiter was not getting around as promptly 
with food as he might and he set in to admonish 
him. The Chinaman replied to the effect that he 
was doing his best, whereat Masterson decided to 
correct him with a table-castor. Captain Bill had 
been sitting quietly, saying nothing ; but as Master- 
son raised the castor the Eanger Captain clutched 
his arm. 

*^ Don't you hit that man! *' he said. 

Masterson wheeled. 

** Maybe you'd like to take it up! '* 

Captain Bill regarded him steadily for an instant. 

*^ I done took it up! '' was his quiet answer. 

The castor was put down. Masterson reflected 
silently while he waited for his food. Perhaps that 
was the beginning of his reform. 

Arriving at Langtry, Stuart, Fitzsimmons and 
Maher were escorted to the Eio Grande, where, 
with all their fraternity, they crossed over to Mexi- 
can soil and the fight was pulled off in good order. 
It was a good fight, as fights go, and Fitzsimmons 
won with a knock-out landed on Maher 's jaw; but 
it did not take place on Texas soil.* 

* For official details of the situation at El Paso, etc., see Appendix A, 
Adjutant-General W. H. Mabry's report. 


The Wichita Falls Bank Robbeky and Murdeb 

kid lewis and his gang take advantage op the 

absence of the rangers. he makes a bad 

calculation and comes to grief 

The absence of Captain Bill and his Rangers from 
the Pan-handle, was construed by Kid Lewis as an 
invitation to rob a bank. He selected the City Na- 
tional of Wichita Falls for his purpose and with a 
partner named Crawford rode up to that institu- 
tion one day about noon, and entering, demanded 
the bank funds. Cashier Frank Dorsey failing to 
comply with that demand, was shot dead; H. H. 
Langford, bookkeeper, was wounded, and the Vice- 
President of the bank escaped by having in his left 
breast-pocket a small case of surgical instruments. 
This deflected the ball which otherwise would have 
entered his heart. 

The robbers then secured whatever money was in 
sight — about six hundred dollars in gold and silver 
— ran out the back door, mounted their waiting 
horses and galloped away. The citizens were by 
this time alarmed and a number set out in pursuit, 
full speed. There was a running fight, during which 
Lewis* horse was shot, but an instant later he was 

200 Captain Bill McDonald 

clear of it, and leaping behind Crawford the two 
went plunging away double until they met an old 
man driving into town with a single horse. This 
they appropriated forthwith, leaving their pursuers 
a good way behind. Still further on, they crossed 
Holiday Creek and came to a field where a man 
was plowing. They now abandoned their blown 
horses and at the point of a gun took his heavy 
Clydesdale team and once more dashed away, mak- 
ing for the Wichita Eiver. Their pursuers gained 
on the clumsy animals and fired several more shots 
at the fugitives, then decided to return and organize 
a posse, which they raised in short order. This 
posse followed the track of Lewis and Crawford 
beyond the Wichita Eiver, to a place where the rob- 
bers had taken to the thick brush overgrowing the 
river bottom. Here the trail was lost. 

Captain McDonald, returning from the Fitzsim- 
mons-Maher contest, via Fort Worth, had got as 
far as Bellvue in the adjoining county when he was 
met by a telegram, containing the news of what had 
happened that morning at Wichita Falls. He im- 
mediately wired the authorities at the Falls to have 
horses in readiness for himself and men. 

The Eangers reached the city about two in the 
afternoon and mounting the horses, already waiting, 
dashed away in the direction the robbers had taken. 
With him, Captain Bill had Eangers McCauley, Har- 
well, Sullivan, Queen, and McClure — the tried, 
picked men whom Lewis and Crawford had been 

Wichita Falls Bank Robbery and Murder 201 

most anxious to avoid. The horses were picked, 
too, for speed and endurance and went at a wild 
headlong gait — almost too headlong for safety. A 
small creek that had become a bed of mud lay across 
the road and Captain Bill *s horse, stumbling on the 
brink, sent him head first into the soft mixture, 
which literally daubed him from head to foot before 
he could get on his feet. His men thought for a 
moment that he was killed, but he rose spluttering 
and swearing, wholly unhurt, though fearfully dis- 
figured, and with no time to remove his disguise. 
Instantly mounting, he galloped on, a sight to be- 
hold, the others respectfully restraining any ten- 
dency to mirth. 

Presently they met the local posse coming back. 
The posse had given up the chase, but was able to 
furnish information. Captain Bill and his Kangers 
learned where the robbers had disappeared, and 
pressed on in that direction, the posse following. 

It was now getting toward evening and would 
soon be dusk. It was desirable to make an end of 
matters by daylight, if possible, and the Rangers 
wasted no time. They picked their way rapidly into 
the thick undergrowth of the bottoms, and suddenly 
in a bend of the river discovered the Clydesdale 
horses tied close to the bank. Their riders were 
believed to be close by, and the Rangers expected 
to be fired upon at any moment. Without waiting 
for any such reception they charged in the direction 
of the horses, with no other result than that Ranger 

202 Captain Bill McDonald 

Sullivan broke a stirrup, fell, and with a fractured 
rib, retired from action. 

Lewis and Crawford bad abandoned the horses, 
and their trail led down the river bank. The 
Eangers also left their horses at this point, for it 
was hard going. McDonald now took Queen and 
Harwell, one on either side of him, their guns in 
readiness while he gave his attention to the trail. 
The light was getting very dim where they were, 
but Captain Bill is a natural trailer and followed 
the tracks without difficulty. Here and there they 
found stray articles which the men had dropped in 
their flight. Finally the tracks led to the river where 
it was evident the bandits had crossed. 

It was February and the water was very cold. 
Captain Bill had not yet recovered from the terrible 
bullet wounds received in the fight with Matthews, 
two months before, and was bent and debilitated, 
but he did not falter. With Queen and Harwell 
he plunged in and waded the icy water, chin deep, 
to the other side. Twice more the trail led to the 
river and crossed, and twice more McDonald and his 
men waded that bitter current, holding their fire- 
arms above their heads, their bodies literally numb 
with cold. It was a severe experience, but as Captain 
Bill said afterwards, it removed a good deal of his 

McDonald now made up his mind that the rob- 
bers would be likely to cross a road that had been 
cut through the bottoms, and head toward the Ter- 

Wichita Falls Bank Rohhery and Murder 203 

ritory, which they were evidently trying to reach, 
believing the Rangers would not follow them across 
the line. He called to one of his men — Ranger Mc- 
Clure, who appeared just then, a little distance away 
— to get all the force he could and guard that road, 
while he, McDonald, with Queen and Harwell, would 
continue to beat the brush and search carefully 
through the bottoms. At that moment Lewis and 
Crawford were near enough to hear this order, and 
the realization that it was Bill McDonald and his 
Rangers who were on the trail gave them a sudden 
and more severe chill than the icy water they had 

They had been heading for the Territory, as Mc- 
Donald suspected, but decided to change their course 
toward a creek that ran parallel with the river. On 
their way to it they were obliged to cross an open 
field, and though by this time it was night — between 
nine and ten o'clock — a full moon had risen and 
they were discovered by the men guarding the road, 
and fired upon. They returned the fire as they ran, 
but no damage was done on either side. Meantime, 
McDonald and his two companions, nearly perish- 
ing with wet and cold, having come upon a house 
in their search, had stopped to try for a cup of hot 
coffee. At the sound of the shots they rushed out. 
A horse was hitched at the door and Captain Bill 
leaped into the saddle and hurried in the direction 
of the alarm. As he approached, he saw in the 
moonlight a crowd — the local posse — gathered on 

204 Captain Bill McDonald 

the little hill overlooking the wheatfield where the 
robbers had crossed. The Eanger Captain fully ex- 
pected to find the captured or dead bandits in that 
crowd, and called out as he came up: 

** Boys, where are they? Where are the rob- 
bers? '' 

They pointed in the direction of some brush about 
a quarter of a mile away. 

*' They went into that creek bottom, over yonder. '^ 

'* Well, then, what in the devil are you all doing 
up here? '* 

Somebody answered: 

*' You must think we're dam' fools to go in there 
after those fellows. Of course we didn't go in there, 
and don't intend to." 

'' Well," said Captain Bill, *' I'm going, and if 
any of you fellows want to go, come ahead, but I 
don't want any man that don't go willingly." 

Eanger McCauley had ridden up. 

'* You can't get away from me, Uncle Bill," he 

The two loped off in the direction of the thicket, 
but presently found their way barred by a wire 
fence. Leaving their horses they made a circuit 
around the enclosure and soon struck what seemed 
to be a road, leading into the bottom. Hurrying 
along they came upon Eanger McClure, who had 
been in charge of the posse when the shooting had 
occurred, and had set out alone to locate the rob- 

Wichita Falls Bank Robbery and Murder 205 

*^ Hello, Bob, where are they? '' asked Captain 
Bill, as he and McCauley came up. 

** Right over there, Cap. They ran in the brush, 
over by yonder big tree.*' 

*' Well, boys, we Ve got to get them. We'll charge 
in there. '* 

They pushed rapidly into the bushes without fur- 
ther parley — McDonald heading for the tree, Mc- 
Cauley and McClure spreading out to the right. 

Captain Bill made straight for the big tree 
pointed out by McClure, his gun ready for quick 
service. It was a still, moonlit place, but brushy and 
full of shadows, and not easy going. The crack of 
Winchesters might be expected at any moment. 

Suddenly the Captain found himself confronted 
by a creek, and looking across saw two men with 
guns, squatting in the weeds. They appeared to be 
on the point of raising their guns to fire, but with 
McDonald's appearance and his sharp command, 
** Hold up there! '' made from behind his own 
leveled Winchester, they were unable to complete 
the action. Their guns dropped into their laps — 
they seemed stupefied. 

* * Throw up your hands I ' ' was the next order. 

The hands went up. 

** Get up from there I " 

One of the men found his voice. 

** We can't, Captain, our guns are lying across 
our laps, cocked. They'll go off if we get up.'* 

** Get up or I'll turn you over! " 

206 Captain Bill McDonald 

They rose hastily, their guns sliding to the 

'* Back off there, now, and face the other way.'' 

They obeyed like soldiers on drill. 

Captain Bill stepped into the creek, about three 
feet deep, and waded across. He noticed a bag, 
doubtless containing the stolen money, and observed 
that the robbers had laid their cartridges out on a 
log for convenient use. At that moment McCauley 
and McClure came hurrying up, apparently ready 
to shoot. 

** Hold up boys! It's all right," said McDonald, 
'' IVe got 'em! " 

McCauley and McClure waded across and assisted 
in searching the prisoners. A purse of gold waS' 
found in one of the men's pockets; the sack on the 
ground contained silver. 

** Now, let's get out of this," said McDonald, 
* * and get where it 's warm. ' ' 

** You're not going to make us wade that cold 
creek, are you " said Lewis, shivering. 

*^ Look here," said Captain Bill. '' If you don't 
get across there and pretty quick, too, I'll duck you, 
head first. You've made me wade water up to my 
neck, all the afternoon." 

They all crossed, then — the fifth time in the cold 
water that day for McDonald — and made their way 
to where he and McCauley had left their horses. 
Here they got a rope and bound the prisoners, their 
arms behind them. Captain Bill then called to the 

Wichita Falls Bank Robbery and Murder 207 

posse, still waiting in the road a quarter of a mile 
away listening for the sound of the shots that would 
probably bring down Rangers. 

'* Come on, boys,*' he yelled, ** we've got emi *' 

So they came ** lickety brindle,'' but presently 

'* Captain, are you sure you got 'em? *' 

'* Yes, I've got 'em, and got 'em tied. Come on 
— there 's no danger, now ! ' ' 

The crowd tore through the brush to get over 
there, and some of them began abusing the captured 
men, declaring they had murdered the best man in 
Wichita Falls, and furnishing a graphic outline of 
what would happen to them, in consequence. What 
they said was all true enough, maybe, but the saying 
of it seemed in rather poor taste to Captain Bill. 

** Look here," he said, ** these men are my pris- 
oners, now; you let them alone." 

He marched Lewis and Crawford over to Mart 
Boger's ranch, where all got some hot coffee and 
something to eat. Boger also supplied a wagon in 
which to haul the prisoners. 

It was McDonald's first intention to take the men 
to Henrietta, for safe keeping, but against his judg- 
ment he was persuaded to take them to Wichita 
Falls. He gave orders, however, that none of the 
crowd should leave, as he did not wish the news 
of the capture to travel ahead of them — realizing 
that a mob of citizens would be likely to gather. 

On the way to the Falls the Rangers fell into con- 

208 Captain Bill McDonald 

versation with Lewis; and McCauley and Harwell 
discussed with him the fight that he and Hill Loftus 
and the others had made, that night in the dug-out 
when Joe Beckham had been killed. Lewis explained 
how he and Eed Buck and Loftus had managed to 
slip away without being seen. Then McDonald 
said : 

** Boys, how was it you didn't shoot me a while 
ago, when you saw me coming through the bushes? 
You-all had your guns cocked and ready — and you 
knew you 'd be hung, anyway, if you got caught. You 
saw me first — why didn't you shoot? '* 

*' Cap," said Lewis, ** we thought you were out 
of the country and wouldn't get back before we 
could get to the Territory. When we heard you 
giving orders and knew who it was, we lost our 
nerve, and when we saw you, we somehow got 

When the procession had arrived within a mile or 
two of the Falls, Captain McDonald, realizing that 
some one had doubtless slipped away and carried 
the news, sent one of his men to have the jail door 
open in order that there might be no delay in enter- 
ing. His suspicion was correct, for the news had 
traveled, and though it was then about two o'clock in 
the morning, several hundred men were congregated 
about the jail when the Eangers with their prisoners 
arrived. Captain Bill rode ahead and opened the 
way with his gun. 

*' Give room, here, men! " he commanded, and 
the way opened. 

Wichita Falls Bank Robbery and Murder 209 

Lewis and Crawford were marched into the jail 
— Rangers McCauley and Queen being left to guard 
the door. The prisoners were taken to cells, care- 
fully searched, and locked in. Captain McDonald 
then descended to disperse the crowd, which had 
grown noisy and ugly in its demands for the pris- 
oners, and was apparently making ready to attack 
the jail. Captain Bill addressed this assembly. 

** Boys,'' he said, ^* I reckon you-all are my 
friends, and if you are, you'll go home now and go 
to bed. My Rangers and I captured these men and 
they are our prisoners. We've got them locked up, 
and they'll have a fair trial. You men didn't cap- 
ture them, and you have nothing to do with them. 
They're unarmed now, and can't defend themselves, 
but if you make an attack on this jail I'll give the 
prisoners their guns, and we'll lick this crowd. I 
command you to disperse immediately. If you don 't, 
we'll begin business right now." 

The mob dispersed. Some of the leaders wanted 
to call Captain Bill away to discuss matters, but he 
would have none of it, and cleared the grounds. 
Then in spite of his wet, cold, weary condition, and 
the terrible wounds received less than three months 
before, he stayed with his men, on guard, till morn- 
ing. Then a message was brought to him that Hill 
Loftus had been concerned in the robbery and that 
he was hiding in a dug-out near town. 

Knowing that Loftus and Lewis trained together. 
Captain McDonald did not discredit this report, or 

210 Captain. Bill McDonald 

suspect that it was part of a ruse to get Mm away 
from the jail. He ordered a horse from the stable 
at once and made ready to start. 

'' Aren't you going to take your men with you? '' 
asked the men who had brought the word. 

"• No," said Captain Bill. ** I want them to stay 

** But Loftus is a bad man, and will have the 
advantage of you, being in the dug-out." 

** That's all right — I can take care of him; but I 
do want somebody to come and show me the place. ' ' 

A man volunteered to do this, and rode with Cap- 
tain Bill to a dug-out some distance away, in the 
edge of the town. The place was empty, but an- 
other man appeared just then who claimed to have 
seen Loftus leave, a little while before, taking a 
northerly direction. 

Still unsuspecting. Captain Bill set out at full 
speed, but after riding three miles and seeing no 
sign of Loftus, or his trail, he rode back to Wichita 
Falls. At the edge of the town he was met by his 
nephew, Henry McCauley, with the news that every- 
body who could get a gun had marched on the jail, 
and that no doubt Lewis and Crawford were already 

Captain Bill did not wait for another word. A 
mob of several hundred men had gathered about the 
jail, wild with excitement, determined to have Lewis 
and Crawford and to lynch them, forthwith. Sud- 
denly this multitude saw Captain Bill bearing down 

" Boys, have you still got the prisoners?" 

Wichita Falls Bank Robbery and Murder 211 

on them — his Winchester in position for business 
and fury in his eye. 

" Boys," he called to his Rangers, as he dashed 
up, '* have you still got the prisoners? " 

** Yes,'* they called back, ** they're still in the 
jail I'' 

Captain Bill wheeled on the mob. 

** Nowl " he shouted, ** damn your sorry souls! 
march out of here and get away from this jail, every 
one of you, or I'll fill this yard with dead men! *' 

He had his Winchester leveled as he spoke and 
those who considered themselves in range made a 
wild, hasty effort to get into some safer locality. 
Captain Bill swung the point of his gun a little so it 
covered a good many in its orbit, and nobody knew 
when it might go off. They knew if it did go off 
it would hit whatever spot he selected, and nobody 
wanted to own that spot. The crowd moved — some 
of it hurried a good deal — and Captain Bill helped 
things along with language. He escorted the mob 
well into town. 

The Ranger Captain now prepared to move the 
prisoners to Fort Worth, but was notified by the 
District Judge that this could not be done — that any 
attempt to do so would result in general trouble with 
the citizens of Wichita Falls. McDonald protested 
that the citizens had already shown that they were 
unable to take care of the prisoners in a legal way. 
The judge said : 

^^ I will appoint twenty-five men to guard the 

212 Captain Bill McDonald 

** You mean you will appoint twenty-five men to 
keep me from taking Lewis and Crawford away/' 
McDonald said: 

* ' No, only to help you guard them. ' ' 

* * But if you have a guard of twenty-five men you 
don't need the Eangers." 

The judge argued for the moral support of the 
Eangers. McDonald informed him that it was im- 
possible for his force to remain in Wichita Falls, 
guarding prisoners; that other work was waiting 
for them; that there was already a requisition for 
them at Quanah; that furthermore they had been 
away from their headquarters for two weeks, be- 
sides being wet and cold and worn out from ex- 
posure and want of sleep. 

'* Let the others go. Captain, and you stay,'' urged 
the judge. 

** Judge," said Captain Bill, '* you know I'm all 
shot up, and it's the first time I've rode any, and 
what with yesterday, and last night, and to-day I'm 
about used up, and likely to be sick. Now, if you 
can take care of those prisoners with your guard, 
all right. If you think you can't, I'll take 'em to 
Fort Worth, where they'll be safe. But I'm going 
to get out of here to-night, unless you get an order 
from Governor Culberson for me to stay. It ain't 
far to the telegraph office, only about thirty steps — 
you can go and wire him, if you want to. If he says 
for me to stay, I will, of course. But otherwise I'm 
going. I've done my whole duty, now. When I get 

Wichita Falls Bank Robbery and Murder 213 

prisoners in jail, and guarded, my duty ends. Your 
guard of twenty-five men with your local officers can 
hold that jail if they want to. I could hold it alone. '' 

No order came to the Eangers from Governor 
Culberson, and they left that afternoon, when the 
local guard had been duly installed. That night the 
mob once more marched on the jail, and in spite of 
the armed guard and the sheriff, deputies and con- 
stables, Lewis and Crawford were taken from their 
cells and hung to telephones poles, close to the bank 
where they had committed their crime. 

Citizens of Wichita Falls complained to Governor 
Culberson that Captain McDonald and his Eangers 
had gone away, leaving the prisoners to the mercy 
of the mob. Culberson wired to McDonald, and re- 
ceiving the facts in reply, commended him through- 

A reward of two thousand dollars for the capture 
of Lewis and Crawford was paid by the two banks 
of Wichita Falls. The local posse divided it into 
thirty-two equal parts, in which they generously 
permitted the Rangers to share. 


Captain Bill as a Peacemaker 

he attends certaiit strikes and riots alone with 

satisfactory results. goes to thurber 

and disperses a mob 

During the years that ended the old century and 
began the new — from about 1896 to 1902, or later — 
there occurred in Texas a series of strike and mob 
disorders of various kinds. To quiet troubles of 
this sort is the special province of the Eanger Ser- 
vice, and as the Pan-handle became more tractable 
— more range-broken, as one may say — Captain Bill 
McDonald and his little force were summoned to 
points far and near to put down disturbance and to 
check agitation. 

It was not long after the bank murder at Wichita 
Falls, and the capture of Lewis and Crawford, that 
Captain McDonald was summoned there again, this 
time to investigate a strike on the Port Worth and 
Denver Eailroad. Things were in bad shape at the 
Falls. Trains were not allowed to run, engines were 
not permitted to move. Kiot and bloodshed were 

Captain Bill did not think it necessary to take his 
men. He went up to Wichita Falls alone, and learn- 
ing where the main body of the strikers were assem- 

Captain Bill as a Peacemaker 215 

bled, went over there. They had gathered in a hall, 
and were holding a secret meeting when he arrived. 
The Captain knocked on the door. A doorkeeper 
came, but refused admission. 

* * I am Captain McDonald, of the Eangers, ' ' said 
McDonald quietly, '* and I'm here to talk to you 
men and see what the trouble is. You're all here * 
now, and I think I'll talk to you together." 

The doorkeeper went away and reported, and 
presently returned. 

** Where are your Eangers? '' he asked. 

** I didn't bring any. I don't need any. I'm a 
pretty good single-handed talker, myself." 

There was another consultation inside, and the 
door opened. Captain Bill went in with a friendly 
greeting for everybody, given in his genial natural 
way. Then he got up where he could see his audi- 

** Boys," he said, in his slow, friendly way, ** I 
understand you-all are acting mighty sorry over 
here, interfering with business and making out like ' 
you're going to tear up things generally. Now, you 
know me, and you know that I don't want anything 
that ain't right, and if a man behaves himself I'll 
try to get him what's right, if I can. I suppose you 
think you have a grievance and perhaps you have, 
but you'll never get it settled this way, and it's my 
business, as you-all know, not to have this sort of 
work going on. You have a perfect right to quit 
work, but you haven't any right to keep other men 

216 Captain Bill McDonald 

from working, or to injure people's business or to 
break up property. Nothing good can come out of 
such doings. I didn't bring any of my men along, 
because I didn't believe I'd need 'em, and I don't 
think so now, but of course if this thing goes on, 
I'll have to bring 'em, and then it will be too late to 
talk all friendly here together as we 're talking now. 

^* I'm well acquainted with President Good of this 
road, and I know you can't get anything this way; 
and if you take my advice you'll go back to work 
and tell him your troubles afterward. Now, boys, 
that's all I've got to say, and I reckon if you listen 
to it you'll come out a good deal better than if you 
listen to one or two men that for some reason of 
their own are trying to stir up a lot of trouble, and 
will be in jail before night, as like as not. ' ' 

Captain Bill went down on the street and the 
crowd soon followed. A good many came to him 
and expressed willingness to go to work. Here and 
there he talked to a little group in his friendly, 
earnest way. The strike at Wichita Falls was over. 

From Wichita Falls McDonald went over to 
Fort Worth, where there was similar trouble, but 
learned that a more serious situation existed at the 
Thurber coal-mines, in Erath County. The miners 
were of many nationalities — ignorant and brutish — 
and they were swayed by anarchical leaders. The 
Eanger Captain was urged to take his men to Thur- 
ber, but decided to go alone. 

Arriving at Thurber, he hunted up the mine offi- 

Captain Bill as a Peacemaker 217 

cials, for consultation. Colonel Hunter, President 
of the mines, looked at Captain Bill — bent over 
from his wounds and battered up from illness and 
exposure — and shook his head. 

** You should have brought your men,'' he said. 
** You can't do anything with a gang like ours, 
alone. ' ' 

^* Well, Colonel, I'm using my men in other 
places. I'll look around a little and do what I can, 
anyway. ' ' 

Loitering about the town, he discovered that a 
number of kegs of beer were going out to a high hill, 
beyond the outskirts — headquarters of the striking 
miners. He learned that there was to be a sort of 
mass meeting there that night, when the leaders and 
chief agitators would be on hand. He decided to be 

It was well after dark when he set out, and a 
good crowd had assembled when he reached the 
place. It was out on a mountain where the timber 
had been cut off, about half a mile from Thurber, 
and there was no light except from a misty moon. 
At one place there was a big log, used by the 
speakers to stand on, and about this the crowd and 
the beer-kegs were gathered. Captain Bill, unnoticed, 
blended with the outer edges. 

It was near eleven o'clock, and a speaker had 
come to the conclusion that the crowd was in the 
proper condition to take some good radical advice 
— which might be followed by prompt action — so 

218 Captain Bill McDonald 

he proceeded to give it. He told them how they had 
been mistreated and what they should do. They 
were to begin by blowing up the mines and the 
superintendent's office, and he told them which mine 
to blow up first. Then he told them what they were 
to do to ^' Old Hunter," and it was clear from the 
faces and the muttering of the listeners that they 
were ready to do these things. 

Captain Bill worked his way through the crowd 
until he was close to the speaker's log. When the 
agitator reached what seemed a good stopping place, 
the Eanger Captain suddenly stepped up beside 
him. The speaker stopped dead still, in his surprise. 
It was Captain Bill's turn. 

'' Men," he said, '' this rascal that has been talk- 
ing to you is an enemy to you and to the country. 
He's trying to get you to commit murder, and to 
get you sent to the penitentiary, or hung. You can 
quit work, but you can't kill people and destroy 
property, not in this State. These walking delegates 
and leaders that are telling you to do these things 
are just a sorry lot of damned scoundrels, and I'm 
going to put them where they belong, and where 
they're trying to get you. I'm Captain of Company 
B, Eanger Service, and I'm here alone, but I'll have 
my men here, if I need them, and I'll hang just such 
fellows as this man — " 

Captain Bill turned to indicate his selected victim, 
but he was no longer there. He had melted into the 
crowd, and was seen no more. . A man from the 

Captain Bill as a Peacemaker 219 

assembly came up and urged the Ranger Captain to 
desist — warning him that there were desperate men 
there, and that he would be killed. 

*^ Don't mind me/' Captain Bill proceeded, 
** that's been tried on me more than once without 
much success. You see I'm here yet — spared, I 
reckon, to give you some good advice. Now, you 
men had better take it and give up these meetings, 
and if you've got to jump onto anybody, jump onto 
the fellows that's trying to get you into trouble. 
Good-night! " 

Captain Bill walked back to Thurber and next 
morning a messenger came to his room to tell him 
that there was a big crowd outside, hunting for him. 
He rose and dressed, and taking his Winchester 
went out to see what was going on. When he ap- 
peared he was waited on by some miners who wanted 
him to talk a little more to the men. He was told 
that a number of them had decided to go to work 
and wanted to know what kind of protection they 
would have. Captain Bill assured them of protec- 
tion and fair treatment. Then he asked where their 
leaders had gone — the men who had been urging 
them to do murder. But they could not tell. Those 
ill-advisers had vanished over night. Within a brief 
time the men were 'nearly all back at work, doing 
better than ever before. 

At other points McDonald or his Rangers quieted 
the strikers and prevented trouble of various kinds. 
Usually Captain Bill went alone. It was his favorite 

220 Captain Bill McDonald 

way of handling mob disorders, as we have seen. 
It is told of him in Dallas how once he came to that 
city in response to a dispatch for a company of 
Eangers, this time to put down an impending prize- 

'^ Where are the others? " asked the disap- 
pointed Mayor, who met him at the depot. 

* * Hell ! aint I enough 1 ' ' was the response, 
** there's only one prize-fight! '' 


The Buzzard's Water Hole Gang 

the murder society of san saba and what hap- 
pened to it after the rangers arrived 

But the San Saba affair was a different matter. 
It was in 1897 that certain citizens of San Saba 
County petitioned the Governor to send Rangers to 
investigate the numerous murders which had been 
committed in that locality — the number of assassina- 
tions then aggregating forty-three within a period 
of ten years. 

In fact, San Saba and the country lying adjacent 
was absolutely controlled at that time by what was 
nothing less than a murder society. San Saba 
County, situated about the center of the State, lies 
on the border of the great south-west wilderness, 
and is crossed by no railroad. In an earlier day a 
sort of Vigilance Committee or mob had been or- 
ganized to deal with lawless characters, but in the 
course of time the usual thing happened and the 
committee itself became the chief menace of the 
community. Whatever worthy members it had 
originally claimed, either dropped out or were ** re- 
moved, '* and were replaced by men who had a 
private grudge against a neighbor; or desired his 
property; or were fond of murder on general prin- 

222 Captain Bill McDonald 

ciples. In time this deadly organization became not 
only a social but a political factor, and as such had 
gathered into its gruesome membership — active and 
honorary — county officials ranging from the deputy 
constabulary to occupants of the judicial bench. 
Indeed, it seemed that a majority of the citizens of 
San Saba were associated together for the purpose 
^of getting rid — either by assassination or intimida- 
tion — of the worthier element of the community. 

This society of death was well organized. It had 
an active membership of about three hundred, with 
obligations rigid and severe. Their meeting place 
was a small natural pool of water, almost sur- 
rounded by hills. It bore the curiously appropriate 
name of '' Buzzard's Water Hole," and here the 
Worthy Order of Assassins assembled once a month, 
usually during full moon, to transact general busi- 
ness and to formulate plans for the removal of of- 
fending or superfluous friends. Sentinels were 
posted during such gatherings, and there were pass- 
words and signs. These were forms preserved 
from the original organization; hardly necessary 
now it would seem, since the majority of the inhabi- 
tants were in sympathy with the mob, while those 
who were not could hardly have been dragged to 
that ghastly spot. They preserved other things — 
they kept up the semblance of being inspired by lofty 
motives, and they maintained the forms that go with 
religious undertakings; wherefore, being duly as- 
sembled to plot murder, they still opened their meet- 
ings with prayer! 

The Buzzard's Water Hole Gang 223 

After which, the real business came up for transac- 
tion. Members in good standing would make known 
their desires, setting forth reasons why citizens in 
various walks of life were better dead, and the cases 
were considered, and the decrees passed accordingly. 
Sometimes when a man's offense was only that he 
owned a piece of desirable real estate, a resolution 
was passed that a committee of fifty should wait on 
that citizen and give him from three to five days to 
emigrate, this to be supplemented by a second com- 
mittee of one whose duty it would be to call next day 
and make the said undesirable citizen a modest, not 
to say decent, offer for his holdings. It was not in 
human nature to resist a temptation like that. The 
man would be likely to go. He would accept that 
offer, whatever it was, and he would get out of there 
before night. The organization acquired a good 
deal of choice property by this plan. When an elec- 
tion was coming on, the society decided who was to 
be chosen for office, and who for assassination, and 
committees were likewise appointed to see that all 
was duly performed. It was a remarkable society, 
when you come to think about it — a good deal like 
Tammany Hall, only more fatal. 

To break up the Buzzard's Water Hole roost, and 
to discourage its practices in and around San Saba, 
was the job cut out for Bill McDonald and his 
Rangers during the summer and fall of 1897. 

Captain McDonald began the work by sending 
over three of his men — John Sullivan, Dud Barker 

224 Captain Bill McDonald 

and Edgar Neil — to investigate. There was plenty 
of trail and the Kangers ran onto it everywhere. 
It wound in and out in a hundred directions, and 
gathered in a regular knot around the seat of justice. 
Perhaps there were town and county officials who 
were not in the toils of the deadly membership, but 
if so they were not discoverable. Sullivan promptly 
got into trouble with the sheriff by re- jailing a man 
whom he found outside, holding a reception with his 
friends, when the State had paid a reward for his 
capture. Sullivan and the sheriff both drew guns, 
but were kept apart, and the District Judge, who 
seemed to have been a sort of honorary ^^ Buzzard," 
holding his office by virtue of society favor, under- 
took to get rid of Sullivan by sending him a long way 
off, after some witness supposed to be wanted; 
though why they should want any witness, in a court 
like that, would be hard to guess. 

Captain Bill himself now came down to look over 
the field. He had his hands full from the start. 
When he arrived, Eangers Barker and Neil were 
patrolling the town with guns, while a number of 
citizens similarly armed were collected about the 

'' Hello, Dud," he said, *' are you-all going to 
war? " 

'' Looks like it. Cap," returned Barker. 

Captain Bill looked over at the armed citizens, 
and raised his voice loud enought for them to hear. 

'' Well, Dud, if that's the best they can do," he 
said, '' we can lick 'em. can't we? " 

The Buzzard's Water Hole Gang 225 

*' Yes, sir, if you say so, Cap/^ 

The armed citizens showed a reluctance in the 
matter of hostilities and began to edge away. Mc- 
Donald now got his mail and reviewed the situation, 
for prior to his coming he had scarcely known what 
the trouble in San Saba was all about. By and by 
he went to his hotel. It was about ten o ^clock and he 
was sitting out in front, when he saw flashes and 
heard shots across the public square. The mob was 
shooting up the town for his benefit. Captain Bill 
seized his gun and went up there. The main dis- 
turbance seemed to be in and about a saloon. The 
Eanger Captain pushed into the place alone, com- 
pelled every man of the assembly to put up his hands 
and allow himself to be disarmed. He then re- 
quired them to appear for examination, next morn- 
ing. They did appear, and were discharged, of 
course, but, nevertheless, it was evident that a man 
who would not be scared and who was not afraid to 
do things, was among them. Members of the society 
felt a chill of uneasiness. Worthy citizens, hereto- 
fore silent through fear of their lives and property, 
began to take heart. 

McDonald now interviewed the sheriff and county 
officials in general and delivered his opinion of them, 
individually and collectively, concluding with the 
statement that he would bring Sullivan back as soon 
as a message and steam would get him. The sheriff 
replied that Sullivan and he could not stay in the 
same town. 

*' Then move,'' said Captain Bill. ^' The county 

226 Captain Bill McDonald 

will be rid of one damned rascal. It will be rid of 
more before I get through here/' 

Captain Bill went to Austin, himself, after Sul- 
livan, so that there might be no mistake about his 
coming. He presented the case to Governor Cul- 
berson and got his sanction, then sent word to his 
men at San Saba to meet them, and he arrived with 
Sullivan, promptly on time. He had expected that 
there would be a demonstration by the sheriff and 
his friends, instead of which the streets of the little 
town were deserted. Perhaps the sheriff and his 
party had given out that war was imminent and this 
was the result. 

It was clear now that to obtain evidence and con- 
victions under such conditions as they prevailed in 
San Saba was going to be a long, slow job. "With 
officials incriminated and good citizens intimidated; 
with witnesses ready to come forward and swear 
) anything in defense of the murderers, knowing they 
would be upheld in their perjury, the securing of 
good testimony and subsequent justice would be dif- 

The Eangers went into camp in a picturesque spot 
on the banks of the San Saba River, a mile from 
town; pitched their tents under the shelter of some 
immense pecan trees; arranged their *^ chuck 
boards,'' staked their horses and made themselves 
generally comfortable. Then they posted sentinels 
(for a fusillade from the society was likely to come 
at any time), and settled down to business. Evi- 

The Buzzard's Water Hole Gang 227 

dently they had come to stay. The society post- 
poned its meetings. 

Captain Bill now began doing quiet detective 
work, a labor for which he has a natural aptitude; 
anybody can see from the shape of his ears and 
nose, and from the ferret look of his eyes that this 
would be so. Good citizens took further courage and 
came to the camp with information. The Eanger 
Captain looked over the field and undertook a case 
particularly coldblooded and desperate. 

A man named Brown, one of the society's early 
victims, had been hanged by that mob some ten or 
twelve years before, and his son Jim, though he had 
never attempted to avenge his father's death, had 
fallen under the ban. Jim Brown never even made 
any threats, but he must have been regarded as a 
menace, for one Sunday night while riding from 
church with his wife and her brother, he was shot 
dead from ambush; his wife, whose horse became 
frightened and ran within range, also receiving a 
painful wound. 

Captain Bill secured information which convinced 
him that one Bill Ogle had been the chief instigator 
in this crime, and that the father and brother of 
Brown's wife were likewise members of the society 
and concerned in the plot. He learned, in fact, that 
the plan had been for Mrs. Brown's brother to ride 
with her, and for her father, Jeff McCarthy, to 
carry her baby by a different route to keep it out of 
danger. The brother, Jim McCarthy, was to stay 

228 Captain Bill McDonald 

close to his sister, to look after her horse and keep 
her out of harm's way while her husband was being 
murdered. It was due to the fact that Jim Mc- 
Carthy did not perform his work well, that the sister 
was wounded. McDonald in due course uncovered 
the whole dastardly plot. 

The murderers now realized that trouble was in 
store for them. Some of the men began quietly to 
leave the country. Others consulted together in 
secluded places and plotted to ^ ^ kill Bill McDonald. ' ' 
Sympathizing citizens encouraged this movement, 
and anonymous warnings — always the first resort 
of frightened criminals — began to arrive in the 
Kanger camp. Captain Bill paid no attention to such 
communications; he was used to them. He went 
on gathering and solidifying his evidence, prepara- 
tory to the arrest of Ogle and such of his associates 
as the proofs would warrant. Ogle, the ^^ tiger '* 
of the society, as he was considered, McDonald had 
not yet seen, for the reason that the tiger did not 
live in the town, and for some cause had lately 
avoided those precincts. He arrived, however, in 
due season. Perhaps the brotherhood let him know 
that it was time he was taking a hand in the game. 

Captain McDonald, one hot afternoon, was talking 
to an acquaintance on the streets of San Saba, when 
he noticed a stout surly-looking man, with the vil- 
lage constable, not far away. Now and then they 
looked and nodded in his direction and presently an 
uncomplimentary name drifted to his ear. 

The Buzzard's Water Hole Gang 229 

** Who is that fellow talking to that sorry con- 
stable? '* he asked. 

His companion lowered his voice to a discreet 

'' That is Bill Ogle,'' he said, '' the worst man of 
the murder mob. ' ' 

Captain Bill looked pleased. 

* * Good-by, ' ' he nodded, * * I want to see Bill Ogle. ' ' 

He stepped briskly in the direction of the two men 
who, seeing him approach, separated and loafed off 
in different directions. Captain Bill overhauled the 

*^ See here,'' he said composedly, ** I heard you 
call me a name a while ago when you were talking 
to that murderer, Bill Ogle, who is going down the 
street yonder. Now, an officer that throws in with 
a murder mob, ain't worth what it would cost to try, 
and hang, and if I hear any more names out of you 
I'll save this country the expense of one rope, 
anyway. ' ' 

The constable attempted to mutter some denial. 
Captain Bill left him abruptly with only a parting 
word of advice and set off down the street after 
Ogle. Ogle had crossed the street and passed 
through the court-house to a hardware store on the 
other side — where a number of his friends had col- 

** Don't go over there. Captain," cautioned his 
friend, ^* you'll be killed, sure." 

** Well, I'll go over and see," Captain Bill replied 

230 Captain Bill McDonald 

quaintly, continuing straight toward the mob store. 

As he entered there was a little stir, then silence. 
Evidently those present had not expected that he 
would walk straight among them. Here he was — 
they could kill him and put an end to all this trouble 
in short order. But somehow they didn't do it. 
There seemed no good moment to begin. Captain 
Bill walked over and faced Ogle. 

^ * Come outside, ' * he said quietly, * ' I want to talk 
to you. ' ' 

Ogle hesitated. 

** What do you want to say? '' he asked sullenly. 

Captain Bill laid his hand on Ogle's shoulder. 

^^ I want to say some things that you might not 
want your friends to hear,'' he said — and a quaver 
in his voice then would have been death — ^^ Come 
outside! " t 

He applied a firm pressure to Ogle's shoulder and 
steered him for the door. The others, as silent as 
death, made no move. They did not offer to inter- 
fere — they did not attempt to shoot. They simply 
looked on, wondering. 

Outside, Captain Bill led Ogle to the middle of the 
street. It was blazing hot and the sand burned 
through his boots, but he could talk to Ogle out there 
and keep an eye on the others, too. 

* ^ Now, Bill Ogle, ' ' he said, in his deliberate calm 
way — ^ ^ I know all about you. I know how you and 
your outfit murdered Jim Brown — just how you 
planned it, and how you did it. I've got all the 

The Buzzard's Water Hole Gang 231 

proof and I 'm going to hang you if there is any law 
in this country to hang a man for a foul murder like 
that. That^s what I'm here for, and I am not afraid 
of you, nor of any of the men over there in that store 
that heli)ed you do your killing. You are all a lot 
of cowardly murderers that only shoot defenseless 
men from ambush, and I'm going to stay here until 
I break up your gang if I have to put you every one 
on the gallows or behind the bars, and I'm going to 
begin with you. ' ' 

As Captain Bill talked the sweat began to pour off 
of Ogle and his knees seemed to weaken. Presently 
they could no longer support his stout body and he 
sat heavily down in the hot sand, trying weakly to 
make some defense. 

** Get up," said Captain Bill, ** haven't you got 
your gun? " 

'* No, sir, Captain, I haven't." 

** Well, you'd better get one if you're going to go 
hunting for me. And there's the m^n over there 
who helped you kill Jim Brown, and your Greaser- 
lookin' constable and your sorry sheriff. Get your 
whole crowd together, and get ready and then I'll 
gather in the whole bunch. Go on, now, and see what 
you can do. " 

'* Yes, sir. Captain." 

Ogle made several attempts to get on his feet, 
finally succeeded, and went back to his friends. Cap- 
tain Bill immediately set about getting out a war- 
rant for his arrest, but after some delay, found he 

232 Captain Bill McDonald 

could not get the papers until next morning. Ogle, 
meantime, had been to his friend, the District Judge, 
who now appeared before the Eanger Captain with 
the statement that Ogle, whom he believed to be a 
square man, had said he wanted to leave the country 
for fear McDonald would kill him; McDonald, he 
said, having the reputation of being a killer and a 
^ bad man generally. 

** Yes, Judge,'' said Captain Bill, ^^ that's the 
proper reputation to give me, so that some of your 
crowd of murderers can assassinate me and your 
court can deliver a verdict that I was a bad citizen 
and ought to have been killed sooner, the way you 've 
done about all the rest of the forty-three that have 
been murdered and no one tried for it in this section. 
Now, I intend to see that he don't leave this country, 
unless he leaves it in shackles. He committed this 
murder, and I can prove it. I've got one of the 
members of the mob as a witness." 

^^ You will stir up old trouble and get things in 
worse shape than ever, ' ' protested the judge. 

^^ If I can't get things in better shape, I'll lay 
down my hand," said McDonald. 

A little later, on the street, Captain Bill saw Ogle 
approaching. He was armed this time — with a big 
watermelon. He approached humbly. 

*^ Captain," he said, *^ you've done me a great 
wrong, and I want you to accept this watermelon." 

Captain Bill did not know whether to laugh or to 
swear. Presently he said : 

The Buzzard's Water Hole Gang 233 

'* You scoundrel! I suppose that thing is poi- 
soned. I believe I'll make you eat it, rind and all.*' 

Ogle backed away with his melon and presently 
set out for home. Fearing now that he would escape 
before the warrant could be issued, Captain Mc- 
Donald instructed Rangers McCauley, Barker, Neil 
and Bell, members of his camp, to keep watch, and 
if Ogle attempted to leave the county to hold him 
until he (McDonald) could arrive with the proper 
papers. These were obtained next morning, about 
ten 'clock, and Captain Bill starting out with them, 
met his Rangers with Ogle, who had, in fact, at- 
tempted to escape. He was taken to jail and a strong 
guard was set. 

Consternation now prevailed among the society 
and its friends ; in the cowboy term they were * * mill- 
ing.'* Members of the mob were to turn State's 
evidence ; one Josh McCormick, who had been made 
a member by compulsion — ^having run into one of 
their meetings — had been brought from an adjoin- 
ing county and would testify; a grand jury com- 
posed of exemplary citizens had been secured. 

And that was not all. Captain Bill one day went 
to the District Judge, ostensibly for advice. 

** Judge," he said, *^ I want some legal informa- 

The judge was attentive, and took him to a quiet 

** Now, Judge," said Captain Bill, ** you know 
that the Buzzard Water Hole mob holds its meetings 

234 Captain Bill McDonald 

over there once a month, and the monthly meeting 
is about due. You know that they meet there to 
decide to kill somebody or to run him out of the 
country and take his property, and that they've al- 
ready done such deviltry as that here for years/' 

The judge assented uneasily. 

'* Well, then," continued the Eanger Captain, ^^ I 
want to know if it will be all right for me to charge 
in there on that meeting with my RangjBrs and kill 
any of them that might make any resistance, and 
round up the rest and drive them into town and put 
them in jail — just drive them afoot like a lot of 
cattle and let their horses be sent for, later; would 
that be all right. Judge? '' 

The District Judge was a good deal disturbed. 

*' No, Captain,'' he said, ** I don't think you'd 
better undertake that, I should advise against such 
a move." 

** Well, Judge," said Captain Bill, *' that's exactly 
what I propose to do. I'll take chances on the 
results and I'll bring in the prettiest bunch of mur- 
derers you'll find anywhere. Good-day, Judge, and 
thank you for the advice." 

However, this program was not carried out — not 
in full. There was no material with which to make 
it complete. Within a brief time from his talk 
with the District Judge, Captain Bill's purpose was 
known to every member of the mob. It was a time 
to take to tall timber and high trees. The society 
adjourned sine die. 

The Buzzard's Water Hole Gang 235 

The Eangers did, however, visit the Buzzard's 
Water Hole at the time when the mob meeting was 
due. Not a soul was to be found anywhere. Then 
knowing certain members of the gang, and having 
learned the society signals, Captain Bill and his 
men went riding over the country from house to 

house, halting outside to call * * Hello ! Hello ! 

Hello! " which was a signal call between members 
of the society. In reply to each such call a door 
opened and a man came out quickly, only to find 
the Rangers, who inquired if he were going to attend 
the meeting at Buzzard's Water Hole; whereupon, 
as Captain Bill put it later, ** they like to died," 
and vigorously pretended ignorance of the meaning 
of the * * Hello ' ' signal. Next morning the Rangers 
were back in San Saba, and when the news came in 
that they had been around calling on mob members 
there was not only anxiety, but mystery, for some 
of these members of the society lived a distance of 
twenty-five miles away. But a fifty or seventy-five 
mile ride in a night on an errand of that kind was 
merely a little diversion, to a Ranger. 

The grand jury's work was difficult. It found in- 
dictments against many of the assassins, but the 
district judge made an effort to annul most of these 
actions on one ground and another, and to trump up 
charges against the Rangers. McDonald finally 
gave this official a lecture which he probably remem- 
bers yet, if he is alive. About the same time one of 
the gang leveled a Winchester at Ranger Barker, 

236 Captain Bill McDonald 

wlio with Ms revolver shot him five times before he 
could pull the trigger, and was promptly cleared— 
all of which had a wholesome effect on the community 
as a whole. 

With the arrest of Ogle, the anonymous letters 
became very terrible indeed. Captain Bill had 
brought his wife to the San Saba camp for the 
winter, and one morning appeared before her with 
one of these letters in his hand. 

'* Well, IVe got to leave San Saba,*' he said. 

'* Why,'' she asked. '* Has the Governor ordered 
you away? " 

" No, the Governor hasn't, but read this." 

He handed her the letter which informed him that 
if he did not leave San Saba in two days he would 
be filled so full of lead that it would require a freight 
train to haul him to the graveyard. Ehoda Mc- 
Donald read the communication through. Then she 

'* Bill Jess, if you leave here on account of a 
thing like that, Pll leave you.^^ 

*' Well," said Captain Bill, sorrowfully, ^* I seem 
to be in a mighty bad fix. If I stay, I'll be filled with 
bullets, and if I go, I'll lose my wife. I s'pose I'll 
have to stay." 

The examining trial of Bill Ogle was an event 
in San Saba. Josh McCormick was chief witness 
for the State, and was a badly scared man, in spite 
of the fact that the Eangers had taken him to their 
camp and guaranteed him protection from the mem- 

The Buzzard's Water Hole Gang 237 

bers of the Buzzard's Water Hole crowd. Other 
witnesses on both sides were frightened enough, for 
nobody knew what might happen before this thing 
ended. It was the program of the mob forces, of 
which Ogle and his lawyers were the acting prin- 
cipals, to impeach the State's witnesses and thus 
break down their evidence before the court, as was 
their custom. Unfortunately for them they selected 
as one of their perjurers old Jeff McCarthy, father 
of Brown's wife, himself accessory to the crime for 
which Ogle was being tried. Captain Bill knew of 
McCarthy's relation to the affair, though the evi- 
dence had not been sufficient for his indictment. 
Furthermore, Captain Bill believed that the old man, 
like McCormick, whose uncle he was, had been forced 
into the band, and had acted under compulsion 

McCormick was placed on the stand, and told 
what he knew about the society and its crimes in 
general, and about the killing of Jim Brown in par- 
ticular. His absolute knowledge did not extend to 
the connection of the two McCarthy's with the kill- 
ing, and they were not mentioned in his evidence. 
"When he left the stand, a number of nervous wit- 
nesses were called by the other side to swear that 
they would not believe him on oath. Finally old 
Jeff McCarthy was. reached. He was frightened 
and trembling and in a wretched state altogether. 
Captain Bill watched him closely while he was mak- 
ing his statement concerning the worthless character 

238 Captain Bill McDonald 

of his nephew, McCormick, and the old man shifted 
and twisted to evade those eyes that were piercing 
his very soul. Now and then the Eanger Captain 
leaned toward him and lifted his finger like the index 
of fate, prompting the District Attorney mean- 
time as to what questions to put to the witness. The 
old man became more and more confused and miser- 
able, and when at last he was excused he tottered 
from the stand. He lingered about the place, how- 
ever, seemingly unable to leave, and by and by, when 
court adjourned for the day, McDonald found him 
just outside the door, with others of his kind. 

*^ Jeff,'' Captain Bill said in his calm drawl, '* you 
did not tell the truth on the stand ; you know every 
word you said was a lie." 

Old Jeff McCarthy gasped, tried to get his words, 
gasped again and failed. 

^^ I don't blame you so much," Captain Bill went 
on, ^ ^ for you were afraid this mob would kill you if 
you didn't testify according to orders — now, wasn't 
you? " 

Again the wretched old man made an effort to 
reply, but he was past speech. 

Captain Bill's finger was pinning him fast. 

*^ They frightened you and made you join their 
gang, didn't they? And now you would like to get 
out, but you don't know how — ain't that so? " 

The old man was on the verge of utter collapse. 
He backed off and slunk away. After that Old 
Jeff haunted the Eanger Camp and finally when he 

The Buzzard's Water Hole Gang 239 

could stand it no longer made full confession to 
Captain Bill of his connection with the mob, reveal- 
ing the mob's secrets, its signs and passwords, the 
names of its members and its gruesome oath. 

*^ They will kill me,'' he said, ^' but I don't care. 
I'm happier now than I've been for years ! " 

** I don't reckon they'll try that," said Captain 
Bill. *^ That thing's about over, around here." 

They formed a guard, and escorted the old man 
home, for he was full of fear. 

When the court of examination adjourned. Ogle 
was held without bail. Through the efforts of Dis- 
trict Attorney Lynden it was decided to transfer 
Ogle's case to Llano County for final trial, Lynden 
making his fight for this change on the grounds that 
no fair trial could be obtained in the San Saba court. 

In Llano County, Ogle 's case was fairly tried, and 
he received a life sentence. Two accessories to the 
killing of Brown, were arrested, but just then war 
was declared with Spain; the Kangers were hastily 
ordered off to protect the Rio Grande frontier, where 
a Mexican incursion was expected, and without 
Captain Bill to keep up the vigorous action, and a 
sharp oversight on the witness stand, convictions 
were not obtainable. 

However, the San Saba campaign was a success. 
The society that murdered men for spite, or gain, 
or pastime, no longer existed. When the next elec- 
tion of county officials came around the old lot was 
wiped out clean, and men of character and probity 

240 Captain Bill McDonald 

came into power. The roads that led to the Bad 
Lands were kept dusty with the emigration of men 
who had formerly gathered at Buzzard's Water 
Hole, and in their stead came those who would give 
to San Saba nobler enterprise and worthier fame. 
Eight Eangers were among the new blood that came 
to rehabilitate San Saba County. That long winter 
of '97-98 had not been altogether spent in chasing 
criminals. These eight had found wives, or rumors 
of wives ; in due time they were all married, and with 
eight established resident Eangers, how could any 
county help becoming as serene and safe as a Sun- 
day-school 1 Eanger Edgar Neil was elected sheriff ; 
Ollie Perry was chosen constable ; Dud Barker, Ed. 
Donnelly, Forest Edwards and Bob McClure also 
settled in San Saba, and caused Company B to go 
recruiting for Eangers. 

Bill Ogle is still in the Penitentiary at Huntsville, 
Texas. As late as May, 1908, he wrote to Captain 
McDonald as follows : 

'' Huntsville, Texas, 5/21/08. 
'' Capt. W. J. McDonald, 

** Austin, Texas. 
** Dear Sir: 

*^ It has come to my ears from some of my friends, 
who have recently visited Austin in my behalf, that 
you are bitterly opposed to my being released from 
the Penitentiary. I regret very much that you are 
taking this stand against me. My friends also told 
me that one of your reasons of being in opposition 
to my release was, that you had fears of your own 
life, should I be pardoned. 

The Buzzard's Water Hole Gang 241 

** Capt. McDonald, I want to assure you that I 
have no feeling of bitterness against you, and you 
may rest assured, that I would never harm you in 
the least or try to injure you in any way, should I 
regain my liberty. I feel that in doing what you 
did, you were doing your duty as an officer. 

** My conduct in the Penitentiary ought to be a 
guarantee to you of my intention to lead a correct 
life, when I get out, and I feel, that if you will in- 
vestigate my standing here, and find out what the 
officers here think about me, you will be convinced 
of this. 

* * I trust that you will reconsider this matter, and 
soften your heart in my case, and you may rest as- 
sured, that I will appreciate anything you will do 
for me as long as life shall last. 

** I would be pleased to hear from you, and I hope 
that you will give me some little encouragement. 

* * Thanking you in advance for anything you may 
say or do for me, I am, 

*' Yours respectfully, 

'' Will Ogle.'' 

Captain McDonald's reply to Ogle's letter was, in 
part, as follows: 

** Austin, Texas, June 4, 1908. 
'' Mr. Bill Ogle, 

** Huntsville, Penitentiary. 
'' Dear Sir: 

** Your letter of the 21st inst. received, and con- 
tents duly and carefully noted. 

** I note what you say in regard to what your 
friends say about my opposing your pardon, claim- 
ing that in case of your release I had fears of my 

242 Captain Bill McDonald 

own life. Now, Bill, . . . my advice to you is to 
make a clear truthful statement, giving all the facts 
connected with numerous murders committed by this 
mob, and thereby secure your liberty. 

^' You know Pm not in the Ranger service now, 
and it makes no difference to me who is released, and 
I so notified the Board of Pardons. 

*^ You say you have no feeling of bitterness 
against me, and that you would not attempt to harm 
me. You can rest assured that I have no fears in 
that line. I only did my duty as an ofificer, as you 
say I did, and I have no animosity against you ; and 
would not have gone before the Board of Pardons, 
had I not been sent for. 

^* I understand your conduct has been all right 
while in jail, and in the Penitentiary, and I am sorry 
that your conduct wasn't better before you got into 
that mob, because you know that was an awful thing. 
Now, don't you? 

^ ^ You asked me to consider this matter, and that 
you will appreciate it as long as life shall last. I 
certainly will not utter any protest, unless the 
Governor asks me what I know about it, and I'll 
then tell the truth about it. 

<« Very respectfully, 

W. J. McDoi^ALD." 

"What Captain Bill had said before the Board of 
Pardons was : 

*' I don't know the gentleman that is presenting 
this petition and making this talk to you, but I do 
know the names of a good many of those signers, 
and I know Bill Ogle is guilty of this murder, and I 
know that a good many of these other fellows ought 
to be where Bill is now. ' ' 


Quieting a Texas Feud 

the reece-townsend trouble, and how the factions 
were once dismissed by captain mc donald 

As the old century drew near its end, a wave of 
disorder and crime that amounted to an inundation 
swept over the eastern and south-eastern portion of 
Texas. Murders, lynchings, mobs and rumors of 
mobs, were reported daily. The Pan-handle, even 
in its palmiest days, had been a Young Men's Chris- 
tian Association as compared with the older, more 
thickly settled portions of the State. In the Pan- 
handle, crime was likely to be of a primitive, ele- 
mental kind — the sort of crime that flourished in the 
old, old days when the Patriarchs pastured their 
flocks on a hundred hills and protected them with a 

In the long-settled districts to the eastward, crime 
had ripened, as it were, and manifested itself in 
more finished forms. Feuds had developed, and 
race prejudice. Communities had been established 
which found it necessary to hang their only respect- 
able citizens in order to preserve peace. In other 
places old ladies, supposed to have a few hundred 
dollars, were murdered by relatives who could not 
wait for them to die. These are the things that come 

244 Captain Bill McDonald 

only with long settlement, and where certain human 
impulses have been carefully bred and nourished. 

The Eeece-Townsend feud in Colorado County 
gave the State no end of trouble. The Eeece and 
Townsend families killed one another in the regula- 
tion way, when good opportunities offered. They 
had a fashion of gathering in the streets of Colum- 
bus, the county seat, for their demonstrations, and 
sometimes on a field-day like that they killed mem- 
bers of other families, by mistake. But errors of 
this sort were not allowed to interfere with the cen- 
tral idea of the feud; they apologized and went on 
killing one another, just the same. 

It was when a boy who belonged to neither faction 
was shot and killed, at one of these reunions, that 
Captain Bill McDonald and his Eangers were 
ordered to Columbus to put down what seemed 
about to become a general war. 

Captain Bill failed to receive the order in time to 
get his men the same day, but did not wait. He 
wired two to follow him on first train and set out 
for Columbus alone. Arriving on the streets of 
Columbus he saw detachments of armed men gath- 
ered here and there — the streets being otherwise 
deserted. He set out at once for the home of Dis- 
trict Judge Kennon to whom he had been ordered 
to report. After the exchange of greetings, Mc- 
Donald said : 

** We haven't much time, Judge, from appear- 

Quieting a Texas Feud 245 

ances. I saw a lot of armed men as I came along, 
and it looks like we're going to have war.'' 

** You are right,'* Judge Kennon said, ** we are 
expecting it any minute. Where are your men, and 
how many have you ? ' ' 

** None, Judge. I came alone, but I expect two 
in the morning." 

** In the morning! ^Hiy, man, by that time the 
fight will be over! And what can you do with two 
men here? Nothing less than twenty-five or thirty 
will help this case." 

* ^ Judge, ' ' said Captain Bill, in his deliberate way, 
** I believe I can stop this thing if you will come 
down to the court-house with me. Anyhow, it's my 
duty to try; and we'd better be getting over there, 
now. Judge, for this ain't going to wait long. If we 
can't stop it we can see a mighty good fight, any- 
how. ' ' 

They set out together. The court-house in Colum- 
bus stands in the middle of a big square, with a 
street on each of its four sides. On one corner of 
the square, was gathered the Reece faction, and near 
another corner the Townsend crowd had assembled. 
Both were fully armed. They were making no active 
demonstrations as yet, but were evidently organiz- 
ing for business. It was a still, sunny summer day, 
and both crowds were in easy calling distance of the 

** Now, Judge," said Captain Bill, when they had 

246 Captain Bill McDonald 

arrived at the court-house, * * who is your sheriff, and 
where is he. ' ' 

** His name is Burford, J. C. Burford, and he's 
over there with the Townsend crowd. He belongs to 
that faction/' 

Captain Bill stepped to the window and called in 
the strong official manner of a witness summons: 
*^ J. C. Burford," repeated three times. 

There was a movement in the Townsend crowd 
and a man crossed over and ascended the court-house 
stair. McDonald introduced himself, as the sheriff 
entered, and added: 

''' Now, Mr. Burford, why don't you stop this row? 
Looks as if we 're going to have a killing match here, 
right away. ' ' 

^^ Captain, I can't. I'm powerless to do anything 
with these men. If I undertake to disarm them, it 
will start a fight that nobody can stop. ' ' 

** Well, Burford, if you'll do as I tell you, I'll stop 
it in thirty minutes or I'll resign my job as Eanger. ' ' 

** All right. Captain, I'll do whatever you say," 
assented Burford. 

' '■ Then call your crowd over here. I want to talk 
to them." 

Sheriff Burford stepped to the window and signed 
to the Townsend faction. They trooped over and 
ascended the court-house stair, carrying their guns. 

* ^ Mr. Burford, ' ' said McDonald, ' ' which are your 
regular deputies here ? ' ' 

The sheriff indicated his three deputy officers. 

Quieting a Texas Feud 247 

Captain Bill motioned them to stand apart from the 

*' Now, Sheriff, '* he said, '* disarm the rest of 
these men.'' 

The officer looked a little bewildered. 

** I don't know about that/' he began. 

* * Didn 't you agree to do what I ordered ? ' ' Then, 
to Kennon— ^^ Didn't he, Judge? " 

The judge nodded. The sheriff still hesitated. 

** Never mind," said McDonald, ^* I'll do it my- 
self. Here, boys," he went on in his mild friendly 
drawl, ** come in here and stack your guns in 
this wardrobe. It's a good safe place for them. 
They won't be likely to go off and hurt anybody, 
in there." 

What was it about the manner of the man that 
made men obey? Those aroused, bloodthirsty 
Texans, full of an old deep hatred and the spirit of 
revenge, marched in and put away their guns at his 
direction, with scarcely a word of dissent. 

* * I don 't blame you-all for having your guns until 
now," Captain Bill went on, as he locked the ward- 
robe and took the key. ** But we want to stop this 
war if we can. It ain't good for the population. 
Now, I'll just go over and look after the other 
crowd. ' ' 

He went out of the court-house, and crossed the 
street to where the Reece crowd was gathered. He 
carried his Winchester and the faction watched him 
curiously as he approached. 

248 Captain Bill McDonald 

** I guess you boys are going to war, ain't you? '* 
he said cheerfully as he came nearer. 

Nobody replied, and Captain Bill came up close. 

'* Boys,'' he said, ** your guns are all right, up till 
now, but the Governor has sent me down here to stop 
this trouble, and I want you-all to help me." 

'^ How can we help you? " asked one of the Eeece 

^* Like them boys did over yonder, just now — ^by 
giving up your guns. Then by going quietly home. ' ' 

There was a little murmur of dissent and one big 
husky fellow said : 

'* Well, you'll play hell getting my gun! " 

In less than an instant, a Winchester was under 
his nose and Captain Bill was crisply saying : 

** I will, hey? Well I'll just put you in jail, any- 
way, to show you how easy it is to do that. ' ' 

The big fellow gave a great jump and nearly fell 
over with surprise and fright. His gun dropped as 
if it had been hot. The leader of the Eeece faction 
spoke up quickly. 

*' Boys, he is right," he said. ** The Governor 
sent him here, and he's obeying orders. He has no 
interest in one side or the other." 

McDonald marched the Eeeces over to a store, 
nearby, where they laid down their guns, and the 
clerk was ordered to take charge of them. The big 
man under arrest promised all manner of things if 
Captain Bill would let him go. He was set free, with 
a warning. Peace now seemed to be restored, and 

Quieting a Texas Feud 249 

in the general gratitude of the community, refresh- 
ments and invitations were tendered to Captain Bill 
from both sides. He decided, however, to remain on 
duty during the rest of the day and night. His two 
men arrived next morning, but everything was still 
quiet, and there appeared no sign of a renewal of 
hostilities. The Reece-Townsend trouble, for the 
time, at least, was over.* 

* Report of Adjutant-General Thomas Scurry of Texas (1899): 
" During the month of March, 1899, Captam McDonald and two men 
were ordered to Columbus, Colorado County, for the purpose of pre- 
venting trouble between the Townsend and Reece factions. Captain 
McDonald went alone, his men not being able to reach him in time, and 
his courage and cool behavior prevented a conflict between the two fac- 
tions." For fuller official details of this and other work of that period, 
see Appendix B. 


The Teans-cedae Mysteky 

the lynching of the humpheeys and what hap- 
pened to the lynchees 

Captain McDonald was still at Columbus when he 
received a telegram ordering him to report at once 
to Assistant Attorney General Morris and the local 
officials at Athens, Henderson County, Texas, for 
the purpose of investigating the lynching of three 
respectable citizens — a father and two sons, named 
Humphrey — in a timbered tract between Trinity 
Eiver and Cedar Creek, known as the Trans-cedar 

Henderson County is in East Texas, and the 
Trans-cedar Bottoms constitute just the locality and 
neighborhood for a murder of the Humphrey kind. 
Shut-in, thickly timbered and lonely — ^it is a place 
for low morals to become lower with each generation 
— for scant intellect to become scantier — for dark- 
ened minds to become darker and more impervious 
to pity, indeed to any human impulse except crime. 

The Humphreys had not fitted an environment 
like that. They were honest, sturdy men — fearless 
and open in their dealings. They were a menace to 
a gang who made moonshine whisky, stole whatever 

The Trans-cedar Mystery 251 

they could lay hands on and would swear a man's 
life away for a lean hog. It was necessary for the 
welfare of the neighborhood that the Humphreys 
be disposed of, and they were taken by a mob one 
night and hanged — three of them to one tree — they 
having been placed upon horses and the horses 
driven from under them. Then, when the ropes had 
proven too long, and the feet of the three Humphreys 
had touched the ground, the mob had bent back the 
legs of the victims at the knee and tied the feet up- 
ward to the hands, so that the Humphreys might 
swing clear. 

Bill McDonald knew something of the Trans- 
cedar country, and the character of its settlement, 
for, as we have seen in a former chapter, he had 
passed his youth and his early manhood at Hender- 
son and at Mineola, both within seventy-five miles 
of that very district. He set out alone by first train, 
and arriving at Athens, learned the details of the 
ghastly crime which already, through the tele- 
graphed reports, had stirred the entire State. He 
learned that the lynching had taken place about 
twenty-five miles from Athens, near a little post- 
office named Aley, and he hurried to that place, with- 
out delay, taking with him one Guy Green, an Athens 
lawyer, familiar with the neighborhood. With 
Green, the Ranger went straight to the scene of the 
murder and made an examination of the tracks and 
various clues that remained. Two days had passed 
since the crime, and many of the signs had been 

252 Captain Bill McDonald 

obliterated. Still there were enough for a man with 
the faculties of Captain Bill. He identified no less 
than four trails — one, as he decided, made by five 
horses; another by three; a third by two, and a 
fourth the track of a single horse. The trails wound 
in and out, crossed and recrossed, and were evi- 
dently made with the idea of balking pursuit. Cap- 
tain McDonald did not consider them especially 
difficult, and having satisfied himself that they could 
be followed, he went on to Aley, for it was near 

At Aley he joined Assistant Attorney General Ned 
Morris; District Attorney Jerry Crook; Tom Bell, 
sheriff of Bell County, and Ben. E. Cabell, sheriff 
of Dallas County, who had come over to aid the 
investigation. He was assured that the work was 
going to be hard — that the greater portion of the in- 
habitants were either in sympathy with the lynchers 
or were so much in terror of them that it would be 
almost impossible to get direct evidence. Captain 
Bill looked thoughtful as he listened. 

** Well,'' he said, ^^ I'm going to stay here till I 
get it, and I'm going after it just like I was going 
for a doctor. You can give it out that I mean busi- 
ness and that nobody need to be afraid to testify. 
I '11 take care of them. ' ' 

He discussed the case with the officials and learned 
that one Joe Wilkerson was suspected as having 
been connected with the murder — it being well- 
known that Wilkerson had pursued the Humphreys 

The Trans-cedar Mystery 253 

and bemeaned them ; finally accusing them of steal- 
ing hogs, and swearing to some meat which the 
Humphreys had earned by digging wells. In the 
evidence it had developed that the Wilkerson hogs, 
though mortgaged by him, had in reality been sold, 
and that he had thus attempted to evade the con- 
sequences of this illegal act by saddling the Hum- 
phreys with a still heavier crime. The Humphreys 
had not been convicted, but Wilkerson had never 
ceased to vilify them. Later, one of the Humphrey 
boys, George, had been set upon by some of the Wil- 
kerson crowd and in defending himself had killed, 
with a knife, one of his assailants. The courts — 
there were honest courts in Athens — ^had cleared 
him, but in the Trans-cedar tribunal he had been 
doomed. These facts constituted about all the foun- 
dation of known motive upon which McDonald would 
have to build his evidence. It was while he was dis- 
cussing these things with the attorneys on the night 
of his arrival that a man rode up to the gate just 
outside and called his name. Captain Bill rose, but 
the others protested, declaring that it might be a plot 
to shoot him in the dark. However, he went, six- 
shooter in hand, and sticking it in the face of the 
caller, demanded his business. The man protested 
that he meant no harm, but had come from one Buck 
Holley, who lived two. miles down the road and said 
he knew Captain McDonald and wanted to see him. 
The Ranger Captain reflected a minute. 
** I don't know any Buck Holley/' he said. ** I 

254 Captain Bill McDonald 

knew a scoundrel by the name of Bill Holley some 
years ago up in the Pan-handle, and if that is who it 
is I don't want to see him. I judge you fellows have 
got a gang down the road there to shoot me from 
ambush. Who are you, anyway? '' 

The man said his name was Monasco ; that he was 
staying at Holley 's and that he had a brother named 
Bill Monasco, in Amarillo. 

*^ I know Bill Monasco," McDonald said, ^^ and 
he has a brother that was sent to the penitentiary. 
Is that you? " 

The visitor acknowledged that he was the man — 
that he had been recently released. 

'' Well,'' said McDonald, '' that's about the kind 
of a crowd that I would expect to find Bill Holley 
running with, and you can tell this Buck Holley, as 
you call him, that I suspect him of being connected 
with this mob, and that I used to make him stand 
hitched in the Pan-handle, and that I'm going to do 
the same here. ' ' 

Monasco said '* good-night," and Captain Mc- 
Donald never saw him again. Somewhat later, when 
he met Bill Holley on the streets of Athens, he said : 

** Look here. Bill, I'm afraid your partner, Mon- 
asco, didn't tell you the message I sent the night I 
came. I said I didn't know Buck Holley, but that 
I knew a sorry bulldozing scoundrel by the name of 
Bill Holley, and that 1 supposed he was down the 
road there to take a shot at me from ambush. You 
weren't in this lynching mob, I reckon, but they're 

The Trans-cedar Mystery 255 

your friends, and you'd help 'em if you could. Now, 
Bill, youVe been courting a funeral a good while, 
and if you try any of your nonsense here, you'll win 

He searched Holley for weapons and relieved him 
of a big pocket-knife, the bully protesting that he 
was no longer a bad man. Captain Bill learned, 
however, that he had recently whipped his wife, 
taken her clothes and driven her away from home, 
and later had attempted to kill her father for in- 
terfering in her behalf. 

The Ranger Captain was out early the morning 
after his arrival in Aley, and on the trail. The 
tracks of the five horses were followed to the houses 
of Joe Wilkerson and his tenant, and to the homes 
of John and Arthur Greenhaw. In Wilkerson 's lot 
the officers found part of a well-rope, the remainder 
of which had been cut away. It matched precisely 
with the rope used to hang the Humphreys — the 
freshly cut ends being the same on both. The 
Wilkersons and one of the Greenhaws were taken 
into custody forthwith, and other arrests followed, 
as the criminals were tracked home. 

But it was hard to get evidence. A few who were 
anxious to testify, hesitated through fear. Others, 
subpoenaed and examined, were evidently in sym- 
pathy with the mob and withheld their knowledge 
accordingly. Captain Bill had been reinforced by 
Private Olds from Company C, and now began sys- 
tematic investigation. He established his court of 

256 Captain Bill McDonald 

inquiry under a brush arbor — a framework of poles, 
with brush a-top to keep out the sun — and there for 
two months held high inquisition. It was a curious, 
exclusive court. The Eanger Captain gave it out 
that he would invite such attendance as he needed, 
and that mere spectators would kindly remain away. 
His wishes were heeded. 

Little by little evidence collected. Men willing 
to testify gained confidence from Captain Bill's 
assurance of protection and told what they knew. 
Men unwilling to testify found themselves unable to 
hide their facts where they could not be reached 
by the keen persuasive probing of the man with 
those ferret eyes, that quiet voice and those alert 
extended ears. The testimony brought out the 
facts the Humphreys had known of an illicit still 
run by two men — one Polk "Weeks and a man named 
Johns. Also that they had known of John Greenhaw 
stealing cattle and hogs, and that John Greenhaw 
had once drawn a gun on the elder Humphrey, who 
had taken it away from him, unloaded and returned 
it, instead of killing him with it and rendering the 
community a service. These things, added to the 
other provocations already named, had made the 
Humphreys sufiiciently unpopular in a neighborhood 
like the Trans-cedar bottoms to warrant their being 
hung to a limb, trussed up to swing clear of the 

In the course of time, practically every resident 
of that district had been before the brush-arbor 

The Trans-cedar Mystery 257 

court of inquiry, and if a shorthand report had been 
taken of that testimony it would have furnished 
material for many a character study and tale of 

Guilty knowledge of the crime actually killed a man 
named Eli Sparks, whose conscience tortured him day 
and night to the point of giving testimony, yet whose 
fears upon the witness stand caused him to withhold 
the truth. He was a large red-faced man, evidently 
greatly excited when questioned, and concealing 
more than he told. Soon after his first examination 
he met Captain McDonald and offered to testify 
again, saying that he had been too frightened to tell 
the truth, the first time, but thought he could do 
better, now. The Ranger Captain scrutinized him 
keenly and made the prophecy that Eli Sparks would 
not live thirty days, unless he got rid of the load on 
his conscience. He died in just half that time ; not, 
however, until he had fully confessed a complete 
knowledge of the details of preparation for the 
crime, and how once he had gone with the mob when 
they had intended hanging the Humphreys, but for 
some reason had postponed the event. The poor 
wretch did not go the second time, but his guilt 
nevertheless dragged him to the grave. 

Another who came to the brush-arbor inquiry was 
a banker who testified that the Humphreys had re- 
ceived their just deserts for the reason that they 
were thieves and should have been hung long before. 

" How did you come to escape, then? ^' asked Mc- 

258 Captain Bill McDonald 

Donald. * * I understand that you were once indicted 
for cattle-stealing yourself, and that you actually 
got the cattle. Is that so ? ' ' 

Under severe pressure the witness admitted that 
there had been such a charge and that the cattle had 
by some means got into his possession. He got 
away at last and disappeared out of the case en- 
tirely, though he had been active up to that point. 

The efforts of the men believed to be concerned 
as principals in the crime, to establish their in- 
nocence, were sometimes wary, sometimes crudely 
absurd, and always fruitless. The mesh of fact that 
was weaving and linking itself about them became 
daily more tightly woven, more impossible to tear 
away. Knowing themselves closely watched, they 
dared not attempt flight. To do so would be to con- 
fess guilty and capture would be well-nigh certain. 
Like Ahab, having compassed the death of a neigh- 
bor, they ^* lay in sackcloth and went softly. *' 
Finally it came to pass that three of these ^^ chil- 
dren of Belial " turned State's evidence — that is, 
they confessed fully, sacrificing their comrades, 
under the law, to save themselves. Eleven men, in- 
eluding these three, were brought to trial. 

Yet, conviction was not easy, in spite of the direct 
character of the evidence. The accused men em- 
ployed lawyers who were ready to balk at no methods 
that would save their clients, and there were plenty 
of witnesses willing to testify as instructed. Efforts 
were also made to influence and coerce the State's 

The Trans-cedar Mystery 259 

witnesses, and McDonald found it necessary to 
threaten certain counsel for the defense with subor- 
nation proceedings, before he could get the way 
clear for action. Even then it was thought advisable 
to transfer the cases to Palestine, in the adjoining 
county, for trial — sentiment in the neighborhood of 
Athens being regarded as too favorable to the ac- 
cused. In the final trial John and Arthur Greenhaw 
and Polk Weeks, who were not only murderers, but 
cowardly traitors, were given their freedom in ex- 
change for their evidence that sent their eight 
associates to the Penitentiary for life. 

Polk Weeks, in giving his evidence, appeared much 
disturbed, but confessed how he had climbed the tree 
and tied the ropes, and tied them too long, making 
it necessary for the legs of the Humphreys to be 
bent upwards, to clear the ground. John Greenhaw 
corroborated this, but grinned as he told it, remem- 
bering how amusing it had been. He did not live 
to enjoy his freedom, for he was shot soon after his 
discharge by a son of one of the murdered Hum- 
phreys — young Willie Humphrey, who was never 
punished for that righteous act.* 

* Extract from a letter relating to the Humphrey case, written by- 
Assistant Attorney General N. B. Morris to Adjutant-General Thos. 
Scurry; included in the latter's Annual Report for 1899-1900. 

" You will remember that at the request of the sheriff, county attor- 
ney, and other local authorities of that county, Captain McDonald and 
Private Old were sent to assist them and myself in the investigation of 
that horrible murder which was then enshrouded in a mystery that it 
seemed almost impossible to uncover. Before the Rangers reached us 
the people in the neighborhood seemed afraid to talk. They said they 


Othek Mobs and Eiots 

bangers at orange and at port arthur. five 
against four hundred 

A RIOT at Orange, Texas, followed the Trans- 
cedar episode. Orange is a lumber town on the 
Sabine River in the extreme south-east portion of 
Texas, and many negroes are employed in the saw- 
mills. A white mob composed of the tougher ele- 
ment in and about the city had organized, with the 
purpose of driving the negroes away. The negroes 
received anonymous warnings, and as they did not go 
immediately, were assaulted. Some twenty or more 
of the mob, one dark night, surrounded a house 
where a number of the colored men were assembled 
and opened fire, killing one man and wounding sev- 
eral others. Ranger Captain Rogers of Company 
E, with his men, was ordered to Orange, but soon 

would be murdered, too, if they took a hand in working up the case. 
About the first thing that Captain McDonald did was to assure the people 
that he and his associates had come to stay until every murderer was ar- 
rested and convicted, and that those who assisted him would be pro- 
tected. They beheved him, and in consequence thereof, soon began to 
talk and feel that the law would be vindicated, and I am glad to say that 
it was. The work of the Rangers in this one case is worth more to the 
State, in my opinion, than your department will cost during your admin- 
istration. In fact such service cannot be valued in dollars and cents." * 
* For further official details of this and other work of that period, see Appendix B. 

Other Mobs and Riots 261 

after his arrival, while making an arrest among des- 
perate characters, was disabled through injury to an 
old wound. Captain McDonald then came down from 
Athens with Rangers Fuller, Jones, Old, McCauley, 
Saxon and Bell. They lost no time in taking a firm 
grip on the situation and landed twenty-one of the 
offenders in jail, with evidence sufficient to convict. 
But it was a hard profitless work. Whatever the 
citizens might want, Orange officially did not care 
for law and order. A gang controlled the law of the 
community, and the order took care of itself. 
Private Fuller found it necessary to kill one man 
who interfered with an arrest and attempted to use 
a knife. Later, Fuller was summoned to Orange, 
ostensibly to answer to the charge of illegal arrest, 
but in reality for purposes of revenge. Captain 
McDonald protested to the Governor that it was 
simply an excuse to get Fuller over there to kill 

It turned out accordingly: Fuller was washing 
his face in a barber shop when the dead man's 
brother slipped up behind and shot him through the 
head with a Winchester, killing him instantly. The 
assassin was made chief deputy sheriff, as a reward, 
and in due time was himself killed by the city 
marshal, who, in turn, was killed by the dead man's 
family; which process of extermination has prob- 
ably continued to this day, and perhaps Orange has 
improved accordingly. There was room for im- 
provement. The cases against the twenty-one men 

262 Captain Bill McDonald 

arrested by Captain Bill and his Rangers were all 
dismissed, as soon as the Rangers got out of town.* 

Port Arthur, also on the Sabine River, below 
Orange, is a city of oil refineries, and is a port of 
entry, as its name implies, its outlet being through 
Sabine Pass. In March, 1902, trouble broke out 
there between the longshoremen and the operators 
of the refineries. As a result the longshoremen 
struck, and when the operators introduced Mexican 
laborers, the strikers, numbering about four hun- 
dred, drove them away and issued a manifesto, de- 
claring that no more Mexicans need apply. 

It was at this stage of the proceedings that Cap- 
tain Bill was ordered by Adjutant-General Scurry 
to take several men and be on hand when the next 
Mexicans arrived. He took four — Privates Grude 
Brittain, Jim Keeton, John Blanton and Blaze 
Delling — picked men — and arrived on the ground a 
day in advance of the next hundred Mexicans, then 
on the way. 

The Rangers proceeded immediately to the re- 
fineries, which are located several miles from the 
city, and saw nothing of the longshoremen that day. 
It was likely they would be on hand next morning 
when the Mexicans would arrive. Threats had been 
made that these Mexicans would not be allowed to 
leave the train for the refineries, and that if any 
such attempt was made, blood would flow. 

* For official particulars concerning this incident and other work of 
that period, see Appendix B. 

Other Mobs and Riots 263 

When the train pulled in next morning Captain 
Bill and his men were on hand, fully expecting 
trouble. Everything was quiet, and the Mexicans 
were marched by the Rangers to the refineries and 
went immediately to work. Then, there still being 
no sign of interference, Captain Bill said : 

** Well, boys, let's go down in town now and see 
what's become of the mob." 

The mob was not hard to find. It had assembled 
on the street and was a good deal excited. Men 
were talking, and gesticulating, and denouncing, in 
words noisy and violent. As Captain Bill and his 
men drew up, a voice loud enough for them to hear 

'^ There are them damned Eangers, now.'' 

The little company of five continued to advance 
until within easy talking distance; then McDonald 

* * What are you men doing here, gathered in a 
crowd this way, on the street? " 

A longshoreman asked: 

** Are you the Eangers? " 

*' That's what we are," said Captain Bill. 

** Come down to protect the Mexicans, I guess." 

** That's what the Adjutant-General sent us for," 
returned Captain Bill pleasantly. 

** Well, we're not going to let them work." 

'* They're already working," smiled Captain Bill. 

* ' How many men did you bring with you 1 ' ' asked 
the leader of the rioters. 

264 Captain Bill McDonald 

'' Enough to whip this crowd, if a fight is what 
you^re looking for," Captain Bill answered — still 

'' Where are they? '' 

*' Here," said Captain Bill, indicating his brigade 
of four — ^five with himself. 

* * Hell ! ' ' said the leader of the longshoremen, 
*' there are four hundred of us." 

*' Well, that makes it just about even," drawled 
Captain Bill, more pleasant than ever, * * if you think 
you want to fight, get at it ! " 

The leader of the strikers looked at the little army 
thoughtfully. Then he turned to the others. 

'' Boys," he said, ^^ I think these Eangers are all 
right. Let's all have a drink! " 

The Eangers politely declined this invitation, but 
continued on friendly terms with the strikers. There 
was no further trouble, and a few days later Cap- 
tain McDonald and one of his men left Port Arthur. 
The remainder of his force stayed a few weeks 
longer, but the war was over. 


Other Work in East Texas 
districts which even a ranger finds hopeless. the 


It was only a short distance — as distances go in 
Texas (only a hundred miles or so, in a south- 
easterly direction) — from the Trans-cedar country, 
made celebrated by the Humphrey lynching, to cer- 
tain sections of Walker, Houston, Madison and 
Trinity counties, where similar social conditions 
have developed. 

In KittrelPs Cut-off, for instance, and around 
Groveton, there has developed a special talent for 
assassination. Men walking along the road in day- 
light are sometimes shot from behind. When it is 
night-fall the assassin may lie in wait by the road- 
side. If he gets the wrong man by mistake, it is no 
difference — it keeps him in practice. Sometimes the 
victim is called to his door at night and shot down 
from the dark. These are a few of the methods for 
removing individuals not favorably regarded by the 
active set, and many other forms of murder are 
adopted or invented for particular cases. Even 
Captain Bill McDonald found these districts hope- 
less as fields for reform, he said. 

266 Captain Bill McDonald 

** If a whole community has no nse for law and 
order it's not worth while to try to enforce such 
things. YouVe got to stand over a place like that 
with a gun to make it behave, and when you catch 
a man, no matter what the evidence is against him, 
* they'll turn him loose. In Groveton, for instance, 
when I was there they had only two law-respecting 
officers — the district clerk and the county attorney, 
* and the county attorney they killed. Good citizens 
were so completely in the minority that they were 
helpless. Kittrell 's Cut-off was probably one of the 
most lawless places you could find anywhere, though 
it was named after a judge. It's a strip cut off 
of Houston and Trinity counties and added to 
Walker, and its name is the only thing about it that 
ever had anything to do with the law. Many mur- 
ders have been committed there and no one ever 
convicted for them, so far as I know." 

Captain Bill was ordered to investigate a Kit- 
trell's Cut-off murder during December, 1903. A 
man had been assassinated from ambush, in the 
fashion of that section, and such attempts as had been 
made by the local authorities to uncover the mur- 
derers had been without result. But such murders 
had become so common there that the few respect- 
able citizens of the locality had decided to appeal to 
Governor Lanham for aid, and their plea asked es- 
pecially for Captain McDonald. 

McDonald went down; looked over the ground 
and sent for one of his men. Blaze Delling, to assist 

Other Work in East Texas 267 

in handling the situation — the community being 
simply infested with men of low, desperate natures. 
Already the Ranger Captain had taken up the trail 
and had arrested three men, and these were brought 
for trial. 

What was the use? Before the final trial, the 
three principal witnesses suddenly sickened and 
died ; the District Attorney found himself without a 
case ; the prisoners were discharged. 

It was about this time that County Attorney H. 
L. Robb (himself a victim later), asked that Captain 
McDonald be sent to Groveton in Trinity County to 
unravel the mystery surrounding the murder of an 
old lady, committed about a year before. Captain 
Bill went reluctantly, for he was tired of that section 
and cared not much for a ** cold '^ trail at best. 

On arrival at Groveton, he learned the facts so 
far as known. A feeble old lady named Touchstone, 
living alone, had been murdered for a stocking full 
of money supposed to be hidden somewhere on the 
premises. She had only a life interest in the money, 
anyway, but the heirs to her trifling hoard of prob- 
ably not more than a few hundred dollars, had been 
impatient and had frequently demanded their 
shares. They were a devilish brood, but the old 
lady did not seem to fear them and carried a stout 
stick for defense. She had been found murdered, 
one afternoon, her throat cut, and her body left 
lying in the dooryard, where it had been mangled 
by hogs. Naturally the relatives were suspected, 

268 Captain Bill McDonald 

but thus far no evidence had been found against 

There was evidence enough, however, for a man 
who had eyes trained to follow clues and to dis- 
tinguish signs. In a comparatively brief time, Cap- 
tain McDonald felt warranted in causing the arrest 
of one Ab Angle, and several others. Angle had 
^ married a granddaughter of the murdered woman 
and all were relatives. In the course of time, Angle's 
heart failed him and he confessed the crime in full. 
In his sworn statement, he said : 

*^ We all talked the matter over about going and 
robbing Mary Jane (Mrs. Touchstone) and Hill 
Hutto said: * Let's have an understanding.' George 
Angle, Wash and Joe Tullis, Hill Hutto and Mrs. 
Tullis and myself (all relatives) were to meet over 
at Mary Jane's to see where she kept the money, and 
to get it. That was our intention — to get the money 
on Saturday night. Hill Hutto was to be there when 
we got there. It was just dark when we got started, 
and we went through the fields in an easterly direc- 
tion, in a trail through the woods. 

^' The understanding was that Joe Tullis and I 
were to do the watching, and Joe was on one end of 
the gallery and I was on the other end — he being 
told to watch the east end of the road, and I to 
watch the west end. Hill Hutto was to be there, 
talking to Mary Jane, while George Angle and Mrs. 
Tullis were to go in at the front, and Wash was to 
go in at the back of the house. She (Mrs. Touch- 
stone) had some meal spread out on the floor to dry. 
She was sitting down — I do not know on what — talk- 
ing to Hill. 

other Work in East Texas 269 

** Mrs. Tullis said, * Mary Jane, we have come to 
see whether you have that money yet, or not. ' Mary 
Jane started to get up, but Hill Hutto, George 
Angle, Wash Tullis and Mrs. Tullis grabbed her 
and carried her out on the gallery and told me and 
Joe to watch the road, good, and we told her (Mrs. 
Tullis) we would, as far as we could see. She (Mrs. 
Touchstone) started to holler, but Wash put a hand- 
kerchief over her mouth. He had a white handker- 
chief in his right coat-pocket. . . /' 

The confession then relates how they put out the 
fire (fearing its light) by throwing a bucket of water 
on it and how they jerked off a bonnet which the old 
lady had on. It proceeds : 

'* They (her precious relatives) carried her to the 
edge of the gallery and asked her to say where the 
money was, and she said she did not have any, and 
they pushed her off, and as they pushed her off, Hill 
Hutto struck her with a stick. ' ' 

It was at this point probably that they cut their 
victim's throat — a detail which Angle's confession 
does not mention — through delicacy, perhaps. He 

* * They went out and examined her, going through 
her clothes carefully, in search for her possessions. 
Hill Hutto, Wash Tullis, George Angle and Mrs. 
Tullis did the examining, and tliey got one-half and 
one-quarter of a dollar. George Angle and Wash 
Tullis spent the money. Hill Hutto, Wash Tullis, 
George Angle and Mrs. Tullis looked over the house 
and went through the trunks and the bed. If they 

270 Captain Bill McDonald 

got any money, I do not know of it. They came out 
of the house and looked under the house to see if 
they could find any dirt dug up, or any fresh signs, 
but they could not find any, and we went out at the 
west end of the gallery, and climbed over the fence 
and took the trail through the fields and Hill went 
the back way. . . /' 

Many half -burnt matches were found under the 
* house by Rangers McDonald and Belling to confirm 
this statement. The confession proceeds : 

*' The stick and the bucket were thrown out near 
where she was. The stick was her walking-stick 
and the bucket the one Wash put the fire out with. 
Hill threw the stick out, and Wash threw out the 
bucket. Hill said he would leave the bucket out 
there and the people would think she just went out 
to slop the hogs and fell out. It was understood that 
night by all six of us that Wash and George would 
come back and get the hogs in there, and that they 
would dig a hole on the left of the gate as you go in. ' ' 

He details how Wash Tullis and George Angle 
changed their shirts before breakfast — for the re- 
moval of ghastly evidence, of course — and how after 
breakfast they changed their trousers. He relates 
how the hogs were to be ^ ^ tolled into the yard, ' ^ and 

^^ The understanding was that we were to find her 
by the buzzards, but Jim Ray found her before the 
time. ' ' 

Now, it would be natural to suppose that a con- 
fession like that would hang the confessor and his 

Other Work in East Texas 271 

confederates as high as Haman. It did nothing of 
the sort. Angle's relatives prevailed upon him to 
retract his confession, and under the law, as ad- 
ministered in that district, they were all discharged 
except Angle himself who was sentenced for three 
years for having committed perjury hy swearing to 
a confession which he subsequently declared a lie! 

It is hardly to be wondered at that men like Bill 
McDonald should lose interest in a neighborhood 
where conditions like these exist. What use is it 
to track and bring home criminals only to see them 
go free, perhaps vowing vengeance against their 
captors. A detective was assassinated in Groveton, 
and Eanger Dunaway, on invitation of Attorney 
Eobb, went over to look into the matter. On their 
way to the court-house both Eobb and Dunaway 
were fired upon from the window of a law office. 
Dunaway was severely wounded, and Eobb, fatally 
injured, lived but a short time. 

It would be monotonous to detail the instances of 
crime and of the captures made in the neighborhood 
of Groveton, Madisonville and neighboring com- 
munities; to record the careful and brave work of 
Captain McDonald and his Eangers which led only 
to failure in the end, through the lack of public and 
official co-operation. When the men who administer 
the law, and a controlling number of the citizens, 
do not want justice, then perhaps it is just as well 
that law abiding citizens should move away and let 
the rest murder one another to their hearts ' content. 

272 Captain Bill McDonald 

A father and son waylaid and killed an old man 
named Tummins in Madison County, and were ar- 
rested single-handed by Captain Bill. The two were 
discharged on the plea of self defense. 

A young man by the name of Hunter Gibbs was 
entrapped and assassinated near Madisonville, and 
his murderers were traced home and arrested by Mc- 
Donald and his Rangers. They were eventually 

A man named Wright Terry (this was in Grove- 
ton) after killing an officer and a doctor and nearly 
killing a drummer, was brought to book by Captain 
Bill, and might have gone free like the others if he 
hadn't good-naturedly agreed to plead guilty and 
take a life sentence rather than discommode his 
friends. But enough, let us turn to pleasanter 

* For certain details of the Touchstone episode and other work of 
this period, see Captain McDonald's report for two years ending August 
31, 1904, Appendix C. 


A Wolf-hunt with the Pbesident 





It was early in April, 1905, that Governor Lan- 
ham summoned Captain McDonald and informed 
him that a wolf-hunt had been arranged for Presi- 
dent Roosevelt, by these two big ranchmen, Tom 
Waggoner and Burke Burnett, somewhere in their 
pastures up in Comanche County, Oklahoma, and 
that he, McDonald, was to accompany the President 
as a special body-guard, particularly through the 
State of Texas. 

Captain Bill looked unhappy. 

** Governor,'' he said, ** you know I'm a hell- 
roarin' democrat, and don't care much for re- 
publican presidents in general and this one in par- 
ticular. I'd rather you picked another man for the 

** All the same. Captain, we've picked you, and 
you'll have to serve, "said Lanham. 

Captain Bill saluted. 

** Just as you say. Governor," he said, ** only if 

274 ' Captain Bill McDonald 

Vd done the picking I'd picked a man that wanted 
the job. There's enough of 'em." 

Captain Bill proceeded to Fort Worth to join the 
President's party. Col. Cecil Lyon introduced the 
Eanger Captain to President Roosevelt, and Burke 
Burnett, also present, said : 

^* Now, Captain, you've got a very precious charge 
— the President of the United States. He's in your 
hands, don't let anything happen; don't let anybody 
assassinate him. ' ' 

Captain Bill smiled, in his quaint fashion. 

*' Burke," he said, pleasantly, '* if anybody gets 
killed on this trip I'll be the man charged with it, 
and the President of the United States won't be the 
victim, either." 

Without delay the President and party took the 
Fort Worth and Denver train toward the Pan- 
handle. Once inside, out of the throng and under 
way President Roosevelt with his accustomed good- 
nature and friendly fellowship promptly struck up 
a conversation with his Master of Affairs. 

*' Look here," he said, ^^ you were introduced to 
me as Captain McDonald: you're not Captain Bill 
McDonald of the Rangers, are you! " 

Captain Bill nodded. 

'* That's my name, Mr. President, " he said, '* I've 
been captain of a company of Rangers for a long 
time. ' ' 

** Is it possible? Well, I've heard a good deal 
about you." 

A Wolf-hunt with the President 275 

Theodore Roosevelt has been accused of a good 
many things, but no one ever accused him of not 
being able to make friends, or to keep them. 

Captain Bill smiled, as who wouldn't. 

'' Why, Mr. President, '^ he said, '' I didn't think 
you'd ever heard about the Eangers." 

The President's teeth shone in an expansive ap- 

** Yes, indeed I have, and I've heard all about you. 
I remember very well when you captured Kid Lewis 
and his partner, Crawford, up here at Wichita Falls, 
and kept the crowd from lynching them as long as 
you stayed there." 

After that, conversation was easy, and Captain 
Bill's opinion of his distinguished guest improved 
steadily. They discussed hunting, marksmanship, 
the Rough Riders, the capture of bad men and all 
the subjects of the strenuous life of the frontier. 

With the President had come a body-guard of four 
secret-service men, whose chief duty at this time 
was to protect him from the crowds who pressed 
upon him here and there when the train halted and 
he went out, as he did .when there was time, to greet 
the people and perhaps make a brief address. Cap- 
tain Bill noticed that the secret-service men did not 
seem quite equal to these occasions. Perhaps they 
were not accustomed to handling the range-bred 
enthusiasm of that elemental region. When the 
presidential party pulled into Wichita Falls the plat- 
form was thronged. The crowds made a rush as 

276 Captain Bill McDonald 

the train came to a standstill — trying to climb over 
one another, it would seem — to get near the Presi- 
dent. The secret-service men were helpless — they 
pushed and protested, but accomplished little. Cap- 
tain Bill stepped out on the platform. Hardly a 
man in that crowd but recognized that lean weather- 
beaten face, and that white hat. A good many re- 
membered that picture from a night and a morning 
nine years before when, at their jail, a lone Sanger 
Captain had risen up in wrath and ruled the mob. 
Some there remembered Bill McDonald a good deal 
longer than that — for twenty years or more, when 
he had found that place a lawless settlement on an 
untamed frontier and brought order out of human 
chaos and put a governor on the wheels of law. 
When he spoke, now, they listened. 

'^ Get out of the way, boys! Stay down there, 
you fellows; don't crowd up here! '' he said, and a 
sudden impulse of order was the result. 

Now and then he added a word of caution, but it 
was hardly needed. Captain Bill knew his crowd, 
and the crowd knew Captain Bill. The President 
observed and marveled. At Vernon there was an- 
other crowd — rollicking and noisy — and again the 
Eanger Captain held the disorder in hand. When 
the train started once more President Eoosevelt said 
to his body-guard of four : 

^^ Boys, you ought to take a few pointers from 
Captain McDonald in handling a crowd,'' and the 
'* Boys " agreed to do it, knowing all the time, as 

A Wolf-hunt with the President 277 

everybody there knew, that it would need Captain 
Bill's twenty years' special acquaintance with that 
crowd to achieve his results. 

At Vernon they took a train for Frederick — a 
little station in Comanche County, from which place 
they would ride a distance of twenty-five miles to 
the camping place, located on a creek called the Deep 
Red. At Frederick the President relieved his 
special guard of four, and sent them back to Fort 
Worth to wait his return. 

It was on April 8th that they arrived at Frederick 
where a good share of the hunting party, and an 
enthusiastic crowd had gathered to welcome them. 
The hunting party set out immediately for the camp, 
arriving about nightfall. 

Whoever chose the camping place made a good 
selection. The Deep Red — a branch of Red River — 
is a fine running stream, with plenty of timber and 
good grass. From all about the howling of their 
game — the small gray wolves, or coyotes, which in- 
fest that country. The surroundings were ideal. 

There were about fifteen in the hunting party, 
which included their hosts, Tom Waggoner and 
Burke Burnett; also young Tom Burnett, who was 
in charge of the horses — himself a daring horseman 
— Lieut.-General S. M. B. Young (known to the In- 
dians as ** War Bonnet ") ; Lieutenant Fortescue 
(formerly of the Rough Riders) ; Dr. Alexander 
Lambert of New York; Col. Cecil Lyon of Texas; 
Sloan Simpson, Postmaster of Dallas ; John R. Aber- 

278 Captain Bill McDonald 

nethy of Tesca, Oklahoma (later, by the President's 
appointment, United States Marshal) ; certain ranch- 
men and cowboys — by no means forgetting Chief 
Qnanah Parker, of whom we have heard before in 
these chapters, now specially invited by the Presi- 
dent's request. Chief Quanah was then about sixty 
— tall, straight as an arrow and a fine rider. 

It was a pretty extensive camp, altogether. There 
were a hundred horses and a *' chuck " wagon — 
a regular *' cow outfit "; — a buggy for Burke Bur- 
nett and General Young; two hacks, one of which 
belonged to Chief Quanah, and other vehicles. Then 
there was a pack of forty greyhounds, some stag- 
hounds, and about a half-dozen long-eared deer or 
fox-hounds, for special work. 

The excitement and joy of the tents and blazing 
campfires, and the howling of the wolves, made 
everybody eager for morning and an early start. So 
when supper was over and the guard set for the 
night, the Great National Hunter and his friends 
and protectors lay down to rest, the campfires still 
throwing a wide circle of light, on the fading edges 
of which the coyotes gathered and looking up howled 
their anguish to the stars. 

It was a little more than daylight, next morning, 
a bright cool morning, when the hunting party was 
up and away. The hunters were mounted, all except 
General Young and Burke Burnett, who were in the 
habit of following the chase in their buggy. The 
dogs to be used for the morning run mingled with 

A Wolf-hunt with the President 279 

the riders, the others being confined in the chuck 
wagon in a large cage, to be kept fresh, and used in 
the afternoon, when the first detachment should be 
run down. At the head of the party rode Tom Bur- 
nett and ^* Bony '* Moore and behind these came 
President Roosevelt of the United States, and Cap- 
tain Bill McDonald of Texas. 

It was no trouble to find a wolf in that locality. 
One was soon started up and the hounds were away, 
with the party of horsemen and Burke Burnett's 
buggy following pell-mell in a general helter-skelter, 
for which the President set the pace. As the Ranger 
Captain saw the Chief Executive of the nation go 
careering over ditches and washouts and through 
prairie-dog cities, his admiration grew literally by 
leaps and bounds. He wished, however, he hadn't 
promised to bring the President home intact. Bill 
^f cDonald was considered something of a rider, him- 
self, but he was not entirely happy in this Tam 
O'Shanter performance. Still he stayed in the 

** It looked mighty scary to me,'* he said after- 
ward, *^ but I wouldn't quit. The others followed, 
but some of them would go slower." 

It was great excitement, great sport and great 
fun — a wild race across the prairie — a final bringing 
of the wolf to bay with the ** worry " and ** death " 
by the dogs, and general rejoicing by all. 

But when the next wolf — or it may have been the 
third one — was cornered there was a genuine ex- 

280 Captain Bill McDonald 

hibition. It was not killed by the dogs, it was taken 
alive, by one man. John Abernethy was that man, 
and he took that wolf with his hands. This was the 
manner of it. Whenever the dogs ran npon the 
wolf, the wolf would turn and snap savagely, and if 
those teeth of his happened to touch any part of the 
dog they left. their mark, and sometimes that part 
of the dog remained with the wolf. This made the 
dogs careful — and shy. 

But Abernethy was not careful — at least he was 
not shy. He ran up close to that cornered wolf and 
fell upon him, and when the wolf snapped at him, 
just as he had snapped at those dogs, Abernethy 
by a quick movement of his hand caught the wolf 
by the lower jaw and held him fast, and in such a 
way, that jerk and writhe and twist as he might he 
could not get free. Then Abernethy, who was about 
thirty years old and a muscular man, quick of move- 
ment and fearless, holding fast to the wolf ^s jaw, 
carried that wolf to his horse, mounted and rode 
away, still carrying his captive, alive. 

Well, of course. President Roosevelt admired that 
beyond any feature of the expedition. He had 
Abernethy do it again and again, and Abernethy 
never made a failure. Sometimes he tied the wolf ^s 
jaws together with a handkerchief; just held him 
and tied him in a deft workman-like way and made 
off with him hanging on his saddle. It looked easy 
enough, to see Abernethy seize the wolf, and pres- 
ently a young fellow in the group of hunters decided 

A Wolf-hunt with the President 281 

that it was easy. But when he tried it, he only got 
a knife-like slit across his hand and abandoned the 
contract. Then the President wanted to try it, him- 
self, as of course he would, but there are some things 
which even a President cannot be permitted to at- 

However, he was not to be kept altogether out of 
danger, and in the characteristic incident which fol- 
lows, those who will, may, perhaps, find some alle- 
gorical significance. 

As the party rode along — this was during a quiet 
recess between wolves — they came upon a big rattle- 
snake, about five feet long, and thicker than a man 's 
wrist, coiled up, on a prairie-dog hill. When the 
President saw it, he got down from his horse and 
taking his quirt (a small rawhide ridingwhip about 
two feet long) he went up to the big rattler and 
struck him. The snake was coiled, and sprang, but 
Roosevelt stepped aside and quickly struck him again 
and again, then stamped his head into the earth. 
There were plenty of rattlesnakes around there, for 
the country was one great prairie-dog colony, and 
when they came upon another, the President, like 
Abernethy, repeated his special performance. The 
others did not like it — it looked too risky — and that 
night when the President was not in the vicinity, 
Cecil Lyon and Captain McDonald quietly removed 
the quirt which had been left hanging on the Presi- 
dential saddle, and said nothing of the matter at all. 
But the President was a good deal disturbed when 

282 Captain Bill McDonald 

he wanted to use the quirt next day, and wondered 
and grumbled about it, until finally Captain Bill con- 
fessed the fact and reasons of its disappearance. 

" We were afraid you'd get snake-bit, Mr. Presi- 
dent, '' he said, ^^ and we're having too much fun 
to have it stopped by an accident like that. ' ' 

Theodore Eoosevelt saw the joke and laughed. 
Then he led them away on a race that if not as 
dangerous as coquetting with rattlesnakes was at 
least more boisterously exciting. 

They got four or five wolves that first day and 
the next, most of them also taken alive by Aber- 
nethy, and these they carried to camp and lariated 
out. It was a good start for a menagerie, and they 
added to it daily. 

It was on the second day that Chief Quanah's 
family arrived — his favorite wife, Too-nicey, and 
the two others whose names are not remembered, 
but may have been Some-nicey and Quite-nice- 
enough, together with a small boy and a papoose; 
and these in their hack followed the hunt with the 
others. It was a genuine jubilee when a coyote was 
started up and was followed by that boisterous com- 
pany; the buggy of ** War Bonnet," and Burnett 
hitting only the high places; Too-nicey and her 
matrimonial alliance bouncing along in the hack, 
with the dog- wagon, wildly excited — a regular canine 
explosion — bringing up the rear. Then, what ex- 
citement when the wolf was finally run down and 
killed or captured; what rejoicing by everybody — 

'They gathered about the big fire, cowboy fashion." 

A Wolf-hunt ivitK the President 283 

including Too-nicey, Quite-nicey, and Pretty-nicey, 
or whatever their names might be. 

But now it developed that the three Nicey's could 
serve a good purpose on a hunt like that as well as 
for mere decoration. They had eyes — marvelous 
eyes — that could see a wolf far across the prairie 
when the eyes of white men could not distinguish 
even a sign. There was no need of a glass when the 
wives of Quanah sat in their hack and scanned the 
horizon. Certainly that was an unusual hunting 
party, and very likely a unique experience, for all 

But perhaps the best part of the hunting was the 
evening, after all. Then it was that they gathered 
about the big fire, cowboy fashion, with Chief 
Quanah Parker in their midst, talking to them — 
repeating the traditions of his father and his tribe 
— the tale of his mother's capture, the story of his 
own life and battles — his views and his religion of 
later years. 

* In a former chapter we have told of the massacre 
of Fort Parker and the capture of the little girl, 
Cynthia Ann Parker, who was adopted by the tribe, 
married a chief, and in time became Chief Quanah 's 
mother. Gathered about the campfire on Deep Bed 
Creek, in a wide circle of loneliness, with ** Tom " 
Burnett, who understands the Indian language 
** better than the Indians themselves,'' acting as in- 
terpreter and the President of the United States 
listening, the son of that little captured girl told 

284 Captain Bill McDonald 

that story, now, and lie supplemented it witli the 
story of his father — a sequel that will not be out of 
place here. 

The tribe had loved the little captive white girl, 
the story runs, and the little girl had learned to love 
her captors. She had learned their speech and for- 
got her own; then, by and by when she was no 
^ longer a little girl, a great chief named Nacona had 
wooed her and made her his wife. Nacona was a 
mighty warrior and made frequent raids on the 
white settlements and carried off much property — 
cattle and horses. 

But finally his last raid came. Captain Sul. Boss 
(later Governor Boss), stationed at Fort Griffin 
with a troup of Eangers — sixty trained Indian 
fighters — was watching for an opportunity to fall 
upon Nacona, unawares. The opportunity came 
when Nacona, with his braves and many of their 
squaws and children, were camped one day at the 
mouth of Talking John Creek in Hardeman County. 
There was good hunting on Talking John Creek, and 
Nacona and his braves, fresh from a raid on the 
white settlements below, had stopped there for a 
few days to rest and recuperate before taking up 
the final homeward march. They felt secure and 
had no thought that Eangers were anywhere in the 

Then suddenly there was a clatter of horses^ feet, 
a crack of carbines, and Captain Boss with his sixty 
fighting devils were upon them. There was no time 

A Wolf-hunt with the President 285 

for preparation. Most of the Indians fled wildly, 
leaving their squaws and their captured plunder. 
Nacona's wife, who had been the little captured 
Parker girl, was in the camp with him; also their 
two children, Quanah, and his little sister, Prairie 

With the first charge of the Eangers, Nacona 
seized his rifle, leaped upon his horse and rushed 
after his braves, in the hope of gathering them for 
battle. That his wife and children would not be 
harmed by the white men he knew. He knew also, 
that the case was desperate, and he realized this 
more fully when he found that his braves were hope- 
lessly scattered, and in full flight. 

Nacona prepared to meet his death. The mounted 
Eangers were already close upon him and he would 
die like the great chief that he was. Beneath a large 
mesquite tree he dismounted and seating himself 
began chanting the death song. Captain Ross and a 
detachment of Rangers rode up. Nacona still 
chanted on. Then suddenly it may have occurred 
to him that they meant to take him alive. They 
would imprison him, perhaps hang him. He would 
die fighting. 

Rousing as from a dream, he ceased his chant and 
throwing his rifle to his shoulder, fired. The bullet 
missed, but it brought a quick answering shot from 
a Ranger at Captain Ross 's side, and the chief drop- 
ped forward, his face in the grass. 

So died Nacona, bravely, as a chief should die, 

286 Captain Bill McDonald 

and was buried where he fell. In time his grave 
became a landmark. And Nacona's wife, who had 
been Cynthia Ann Parker — ^no longer of the white 
race, but an Indian in language and habits and af- 
filiations — was brought by her new captors, once 
more to dwell among her own kind, bringing with 
her the boy Quanah, and his little sister, Prairie 
Flower. The mother was never satisfied with civili- 
zation and always longed to return to the tribe. 
Little Prairie Flower — ^homesick and delicate — pined 
away and soon followed Nacona to the Spirit Land. 
The boy Quanah was sent back to his father's 
people, for he was a chief in his own right. In time 
he became a great leader of the Comanche Tribe, 
and, unlike his father, a friend of his mother's race. 
He surrounded himself with the comforts and many 
of the luxuries of white men; his home to-day is 
truly a white man's home, with handsome furnish- 
ings, a piano and pictures ; his voice has been heard 
in the white man's councils, and a white man's city 
was named in his honor. But the language of white 
men he has never learned.* 

Altogether that wolf hunt was a great success. 
Seventeen wolves completed the result of the five 
days of hunting, most of them taken alive and lari- 
ated out around the camp — a lively and musical col- 
lection that delighted all parties concerned, except 

*The story as told by Chief Quanah not having been preserved, 
most of the details here given are drawn from an article by Fred. 

A Wolf-hunt with the President 287 

possibly the wolves themselves. As for President 
Roosevelt he enjoyed this vigorous isolated vaca- 
tion continuously. But it was not easy to preserve 
the isolation of that camp. Every day visitors came 
riding or driving across the country, from some- 
where, to seek an audience with the nation's Chief 
Executive. There were men who wanted office for 
themselves ; men who wanted office for other people ; 
men who wanted every sort of Presidential assist- 
ance under the sun; men who came merely out of 
curiosity and for the purpose of relating how they 
had visited ' * Teddy ' ' in his hunting camp and taken 
a hand in the sport. A guard of soldiers from Fort 
Sill was supposed to picket the reservation, but 
would-be visitors eluded the men and somehow got 
through the lines. They did not get past Captain 
Bill, who met them and serenely but surely turned 
them back. If they had business, Washington was 
the place to transact it, he said. The President was 
here only for pleasure. Some went willingly enough 
— others protested, but all went. The President's 
days in the field, and those rare evenings about the 
campfire were not to be marred by business or any 
mere social diversions. 

And when it was all over Theodore Roosevelt, in 
his enthusiasm pronounced it all *^ Bully! *' and re- 
peated it, and said he had never had a better time in 
his life, which was probably a correct statement. 

And when they all rode back to Frederick he led 
the way again, and they set out with a whoop and 

288 Captain Bill McDonald 

a run and yell, regular cowboy style, and as they 
came into town where there was a great crowd wait- 
ing, the people went fairly wild, as of course they 
would. Then the President had to talk to the crowd 
again — he had said a few words on his arrival — and 
tell them what a good time he had had, and what a 
great country this was in general, and that part in 
particular, and how much he thanked them for letting 
him come there, and how he was going on to 
Colorado for a bear hunt, but how he never expected 
to have any better time than he had had right there 
in Comanche, on the Deep Eed wolf -hunt with Tom 
Waggoner and Burke Burnett, and Bill McDonald 
and John Abernethy, and Quanah Parker and Too- 
nicey, Some-nicey and Plenty-nice-enough — 

No, he didn't say all that either, but he said the 
right thing for the occasion, just as he always does, 
and especially on an occasion like that, where he is 
happy and full of life and the wild freedom of the 
open. And every man within sound of his voice was 
his friend forever, from that moment, regardless of 
his politics, and no man of all there, was a warmer 
admirer and friend than Captain Bill McDonald of 
Texas, who was a '* hell-roaring " democrat and 
hadn't wanted to go. 

He did not accompany the President to Colorado, 
though the arrangement would have just suited both 
sides. But after all, he was a Eanger, and there 
was other kind of game — game on which it is always 
open season — waiting to be brought home. He ac- 

A Wolf-hunt with the President 289 

companied the President's party a distance on their 
journey; then he said: 

'' Well, Mr. President, I'm getting out of my 
jurisdiction. I guess I'll leave you, now." 

* * But Captain, you are coming to see me in Wash- 
ington, some day," said the President as he grasped 
his hand. 

** I don't know, Mr. President. I don't know how 
to put on a plug hat and one of these spike-tailed 
coats, and pigeon-toed shoes. ' ' 

** Well, don't try. Come exactly as you are, and 
there are a few of those spike-tailed fellows around 
the Capitol that I'll let you take a shot at. Now 
remember, you're coming — just as you are! " 


The Conditt Murder Mystery 
a terrible crime at edna, texas. 


It was during the latter part of 1905 and the 
spring of 1906 that Eanger Captain McDonald was 
engaged in unraveling a mystery which gave oppor- 
tunity for the employment of his natural talent for 
detective work, combined with the skill and ex- 
perience acquired during a long period of following 
criminals and uncovering crime. 

On September 28th, 1905, two miles from the little 
town of Edna, Jackson County, Texas, during the 
temporary absence of J. F. Conditt — employed in 
rice harvest, seven miles distant — ^his wife and four 
young children, ranging in ages from a baby boy 
of three to a littl^ girl of twelve, were murdered in 
broad daylight — their bodies left as they had fallen 
in and about the premises. The murders were com- 
mitted in the most brutal and bloody way, with 
knife, adz, and such household tool and implement 
as came to hand. Three of the murdered children 
were boys. The little girl of twelve had been vio- 
lated. Only an infant of a few months had been left 

The Conditt Murder Mystery 291 

alive. The story of that ghastly crime — its motive ; 
its commission; its detection and the punishment 
of its perpetrators — can only be epitomized here, 
for its details would fill a volume and belong only 
in the official records ; neither are they yet complete. 
We shall attempt, therefore, no more than the out- 
lines, with such particulars as will show the scope 
and the importance of Captain McDonald's work in 
solving a mystery and fixing the guilt, not only with- 
out the assistance of those most interested, but in 
the face of their bitter opposition. 

The Conditt family had but recently moved to 
Edna. They were working people, respectable but 
poor, and had taken a house formerly occupied by 
negroes. This in itself was an offense to their im- 
mediate neighborhood — a negro settlement — and 
when Mr. Conditt repaired his fences and thereby 
shut off from public use a windmill where the 
negroes had been accustomed to go for water, his 
offense in their eyes became a crime. They did not 
want him there and resolved to get rid of him. How 
many or how few were concerned, directly and in- 
directly, in the conspiracy to drive out or destroy 
the white family that had settled among them, will 
perhaps never be known. That negroes seldom be- 
tray one another, and that a negro conspiracy is the 
most difficult of all plots to illuminate, are facts only 
too well established by our recently recorded his- 
tory. The Conditt murder plot furnishes an un- 
usual example of this peculiar African phase. 

292 Captain Bill McDonald 

The negroes were sullen, at first, in their manner 
toward the Conditts. Then one of them — a certain 
Felix Powell — spoke insultingly to Mildred Conditt, 
the little girl of twelve. Then came September 28th 
— nine o 'clock in the morning — the day and hour of 

It was one o'clock in the afternoon before the 
crime became known. Monk Gibson, a colored boy 
of sixteen who had been plowing for Mr. Conditt 
in a field about two hundred yards from the house, 
carried the news. He ran to the house of a white 
man named John Gibson, some distance away, and 
reported that he had just seen Mrs. Conditt being 
chased around the house by two men. John Gibson 
went on a run to the Conditt premises; found no 
trace of the two men, but did find the murdered 
family, a house like a slaughter pen, and in the midst 
of this horror, a wailing infant. Gibson, the white 
man, hurried the colored boy off to bring Mr. Con- 
ditt from the rice field, and set out to spread the 
alarm. In a brief time the country was aflame. 
Monk Gibson, returning with Mr. Conditt, was put 
under arrest, and it was now found that he was 
smeared and splashed with blood. He explained the 
stains by saying that his nose had bled and that he 
had hurt himself creeping through a wire fence, but 
there were no indications of his nose having bled, 
and he could show only the merest scratch of a 
wound. That he was concerned in the crime was 
never doubted, but only the unreasoning then believed 

The Conditt Murder Mystery 293 

he had committed it alone. Questioned, he told con- 
flicting stories, finally stating that men whom he did 
not know had dragged him to the house, compelled 
him to view their work, splashed him with blood and 
set him free. 

Of course these statements were not believed. 
The whole country round about Edna, now terribly 
aroused, was determined to have the truth. If Monk 
Gibson was alone in the crime, and there were many 
who soon reached this conclusion, his punishment 
would not wait the slow process of the law. If he 
were one of several, he must reveal the names of his 
associates. He was put through the severest ordeal 
of examination, but he would utter nothing more 
than the confused contradictory stories already told. 
Every method was tried to extort information, yet 
he only repeated his conflicting stories and refused 
to tell names. 

It was now pretty generally assumed that he had 
nothing to tell and that he alone had committed the 
crime. A lynching mob was forming, and a report 
came from Bay City that two hundred men had 
chartered a special train for Edna and were coming 
to destroy the boy murderer that night. Sheriff Egg 
of Edna and his deputies resolved to remove the 
prisoner to a place of safety, and quietly arranged 
their plan. As soon as it was dark they had 
swift horses taken to the back of the jail, one for 
Gibson and others for the officers who would ac- 
company him. Then quietly they got him out 

294 Captain Bill McDonald 

through a back window; mounted him, unfettered, 
between two officers, and slipped away toward 
Hallettsville, where it was believed he would be 

They never reached Hallettsville. While gallop- 
ing at full speed along an open road they came to a 
curve. The officers had no thought that Gibson 
would try to escape, and he was riding free. But at 
the curve, Gibson did not turn. He kept straight on, 
drove his animal over a fence and disappeared in 
the thick darkness. When the officers recovered 
themselves and made their way into the field, they 
found the horse he had been riding, but their pris- 
oner had vanished. They came back to Edna crest- 
fallen and discredited. The people at first declared 
that the deputies had put Gibson in hiding. Then, 
only half convinced, and fiercely angry, they joined 
in what was, perhaps, the greatest man hunt ever 
known in Texas. Every available horse and gun 
was secured — every available man was presently in 
the saddle. 

But this was only a beginning. Within a brief 
time fresh car-loads of horses were shipped to Edna ; 
ranchmen sent their cowboys; every pack of blood- 
hounds in south Texas was mustered into the ser- 
vice; commissary camps were established; leaders 
were appointed for the various bands; business 
was suspended, the country became one vast en- 
campment and all for the purpose of running 
down a single boy of sixteen who had slipped 

The Conditt Murder Mystery 295 

away from the deputies and was believed to be 
hiding in the swamps. In the midst of all this, 
Governor Lanham ordered Adjutant-General Hulen 
with four companies of State troops to invest the 
place; whereupon Edna became a military camp in 

Captain McDonald was working in another part 
of the State when he first saw the reports of the 
Conditt murder. His headquarters being now at 
Alice, the scene of the crime was in his territory, and 
before many days he was notified by General Hulen 
to report at Edna with men and blood-hounds to 
join in the search. Arriving at the front he found 
such a turmoil of excitement and animosity and 
trouble of many kinds as is not often gathered in 
any one place. Men and groups of men, each more 
distracted than the other, were rushing hither and 
yon on a hundred fruitless and mainly imaginary 
errands. Nobody was really doing anything ; every- 
body was blaming everybody else; everybody was 
mad at the soldiers, mad at the arriving Rangers, 
mad at each other ; and meantime Monk Gibson was 
still at large. 

Captain McDonald looked over the ground, as 
quietly as they would let him, and gave it out as his 
conclusion that no one man could have committed 
all that crime in open daylight, let alone a boy of 
sixteen. The sentiment was almost wholly the other 
way by this time, and the Eanger Captain's opinion 
was bitterly opposed from the start. What the 

296 Captain Bill McDonald . 

people wanted was a victim. If they could capture 
Monk Gibson they would have a victim, and they 
did not want any complication that would interfere 
with this elementary proposition and the summary 
idea of justice which lay behind it. The presence 
of military and especially of Eangers was a men- 
ace, and for Bill McDonald to try to confuse mat- 
ters with his detective theories, which might re- 
sult in Gibson going clear, even if captured, would 
not be lightly borne. He was given to understand 
that the people of Edna knew what they wanted, 
and when they wanted Eangers they would invite 

Captain Bill, however, followed his own ideas. 
He felt sure that Gibson was only one of several 
that had perpetrated the crime, and was doubtless 
a tool of older men. Moreover there were bloody 
hand-prints, left by one or more of the Conditt mur- 
derers, and these he could not believe had been made 
by the hand of a boy of sixteen, small for his years 
as Monk Gibson was declared to be. He further 
believed that Gibson was somewhere in hiding near 
his home, for by long experience he had learned 
that the hunted negro will always go home, regard- 
less of risk. 

Meantime, Monk Gibson's parents were in jail, 
and their premises had been searched more than 
once. Other negroes had been arrested on suspicion, 
only to be discharged for lack of any tangible evi- 
dence. Captain McDonald went his own way, hold- 

The Conditt Murder Mystery 297 

ing to the theory that the negro boy would be found 
in the neighborhood of his own home. His two 
blood-hounds, Trouble and Rock, he took there re- 
peatedly to try to pick up the trail, yet always with- 
out success. He believed the boy would come home 
for food, and to the nearby windmill for water. 
The barn near his father 's house was searched daily, 
and while for some reason Captain Bill did not 
attend to this detail himself he was assured each 
time that the search had been thorough. 

Yet Monk Gibson was hiding in that barn all the 
time. There were some unthreshed oats in the barn, 
and he had found a place where he could work him- 
self under the straw, leaving no trace on the outside. 
Sometimes at night he had crept out to a pig-pen for 
water, and had picked some ears of corn in a nearby 
patch. One morning when he could stand it no 
longer he came out and called to a negro named 
Warren Powell, whose brother, Felix Powell, al- 
ready mentioned, was to play an important part in 
this tragic drama. Warren Powell immediately took 
charge of the boy. Monk, tied him and notified the 
officers. General Hulen, Captain McDonald, Sheriff 
Egg and others responded quickly, and putting the 
boy in a buggy made a wild gallop for the jail, by a 
circuitous route, to avoid the crowds. He was 
landed safely inside, tossed from man to man be- 
tween a line of bayonets, and when the infuriated 
populace gathered they were driven back by a cordon 
of armed officials. 

298 Captain Bill McDonald 

Captain McDonald now got himself disliked in 
more ways than one. For one thing he persisted 
in his theory that Monk Gibson alone could not have 
committed the crime ; for another, he urged that Gib- 
son be taken to a safer, quieter place for protection. 
Furthermore he would not permit them to obtain 
testimony from the prisoner by torture. Approach- 
ing the jail one night he heard screams of agony. En- 
tering, he found an assembly of examiners in Monk 
Gibson's cell, with Gibson tied up by the thumbs, 
the boy screaming, but refusing to tell anything 
more than the conflicting incoherent stories told at 

** Take that boy down,'' said Captain Bill. 
'* Don't you know that anything you get out of a 
witness by torture is not evidence enough for a mob, 
let alone a court of law! " 

Meantime, the Eanger Captain had been picking 
up threads of evidence of his own. For one thing 
he had observed that two negroes — Felix Powell, al- 
ready mentioned, and one Henry Howard — had 
taken a curiously* intense interest in all the inves- 
tigations — seemingly fascinated by every movement 
of the officers, especially of the Eangers. He 
noticed, too, that certain other negroes of the settle- 
ment were acting in a manner which to one with a 
special knowledge of their characteristics, appeared 
suspicious. He made carefully guarded inquiries, 
and learned that while Powell and Howard claimed 
to have been working for a man named John Young 

The Conditt Murder Mystery 299 

all day on the day of the murder, they had in reality 
worked for Young only during the afternoon. When 
he spoke to them about it their answers were con- 
tradictory. Finally Powell acknowledged that he 
had not worked for Young during the forenoon, and 
could give no satisfactory account of his where- 
abouts for the morning. It was generally believed, 
at first, that the murder had been committed about 
one o 'clock — the time of the alarm by Monk Gibson 
— but the condition of the bodies when found made 
it evident that the crime had occurred much earlier — 
Captain McDonald believed as early as nine o 'clock. 
McDonald finally questioned Powell directly, and 
believed he detected guilt in his every look and 
word. Powell denied knowing Monk Gibson at 
all, though the two had been raised in the same 
neighborhood. Gibson on the other hand had 
already acknowledged that he knew Powell, and 
had always known him. Finally Captain Bill 
said : 

* ' Well, Felix, I think I will put you in jail awhile 
to refresh your memory. ' ' 

The suspected man nearly collapsed at this and 
protested his innocence. Searched, a knife was 
found on him, which had a rusty, inoffensive look 
on the outside and according to its owner was very 
dull and used only for cutting tobacco. But when 
this knife was opened it was found to be of razor- 
like sharpness, and when a match was passed 
through the jaws and blade recesses, the end of 

300 Captain Bill McDonald 

the matcli brouglit up blood! Two of the Con- 
ditt children had died of ghastly knife wounds. 
Captain McDonald believed that this knife had 
made them. 

Evidently he was alone In that belief. The arrest 
of Powell was condemned generally as a diversion, 
to aid in clearing Gibson — it being widely declared 
that such was the Eanger Captain's purpose. To 
this, however, he paid not much attention — his one 
desire being to get as much evidence as possible and 
bring the guilty to justice. He did not feel war- 
ranted in arresting Howard and the others at this 
time, though fully believing them concerned as ac- 
cessories, if not as principals, in the plot to kill. That 
Monk Gibson had not been alone in the crime he 
was quite positive. The prints of the bloody hand- 
mark sawed out of the Conditt house could not be 
made to fit Gibson's hand by any stretch or adjust- 
ment of that member. Neither did it look as if it 
would fit Powell's hand, though the actual fitting 
was not then tried, for Powell was wary, and must 
be entrapped into a test that would require such 
nicety of adjustment. But there had been one 
more suspicious circumstance. A shirt had been 
found tucked away under a bridge over a creek 
where it had been washed, though it still bore 
evidence of blood stains. Captain McDonald ap- 
proached Powell with the shirt in a small bundle 
under his arm. ^ * That is not my shirt ! ' ' declared 

The Conditt Murder Mystery 301 

Powell quickly, before a word had been said, and 
before it was possible to tell what the folded gar- 
ment was. 

Yet the grand jury then in session refused to listen 
to McDonald ^s evidence, or to indict any one but 
Gibson, who was charged by that body with the 
entire crime. 

By this time the soldiers had gone back to Austin 
and only the Rangers and local officers were in 
charge of the jail. When the indictment was found. 
Captain McDonald demanded that the prisoner be 
removed to San Antonio for safety and the District 
Judge consented to the removal. Threats that such 
a removal would not be permitted were plenty 
enough, but the Rangers, without announcement or 
manifestation of any sort, made ready, and when 
the train was about due quietly and swiftly hurried 
him to the station and put him aboard. He landed 
in San Antonio safely and for the time the Conditt 
case was quiescent. Felix Powell was turned out of 
jail as soon as the Rangers were gone, evidently as 
an affront to McDonald, and to show the com- 
munity's disbelief in his theories as well as their 
general disapproval of his efforts. McDonald with 
plenty of other work crying to be done was not eager 
to continue a thankless task, though it was work of 
a kind he loved. That winter, when Gibson's trial 
was coming on in San Antonio, he urged the prosecu- 
tors to try him as one of several and not as the one 
alone, who had committed the crime. They would 

302 Captain Bill McDonald 

not listen to him, and they would not let him 
testify, declaring that his theories and so-called 
evidence would spoil their case. They tried Monk 
Gibson for the entire killing and a rational jury 
naturally failed to convict, though Felix Powell and 
Henry Howard were brought from Edna as wit- 
nesses and did their best to aid the prosecution. 
The jury was divided and Monk was taken back to 

It was not until the spring of 1906 that Captain 
McDonald was again actively concerned in the Con- 
ditt case. Early in the season, while attending the 
Stockmen ^s Convention at Dallas, he met prominent 
men from the South Texas districts and reviewed 
with them the story of the crime and the progress 
that had been made, or rather had not been made, 
in convicting the guilty. He stated freely his 
theories concerning Powell, Howard and other 
negroes and went over the details of his evi- 

The stockmen began by opposing Captain BilPs 
theories and ended by joining in a movement to have 
the State continue the investigation at Edna under 
his direction. They employed a young lawyer named 
Crawford to bring the matter before the Governor, 
who agreed to reopen the investigation, but sug- 
gested that it be done by another man than Mc- 
Donald for the reason that the citizens of Edna were 
prejudiced against the Eanger. The stockmen's 
answer to this was, that unless McDonald could be 

The Conditt Murder Mystery 303 

sent they would have nothing further to do with the 

The Governor agreed, then, and Captain Bill 
made ready to go to Edna and remain there until 
he should succeed in establishing his theory or be 
ready to acknowledge himself baffled. 


The Death of Ehoda McDonald 
the end of a noble woman 's life. her letter of 


It is at this point that we must pause to record a 
circumstance which seems totally out of place in 
the midst of an episode of this kind, but which, be- 
cause of its association with events, cannot be else- 
where set down. Yet, after all, why should not the 
end of a noble life be written here, when that life 
had been always a part of the active service of him 
whose career we have been following — the life of an 
unfaltering hero of the home who never said 
** stay '' but *' go," no matter what the danger; 
who even at the very end sent him back to his duty, 
and died alone. 

Ehoda McDonald had not been a robust woman 
for a number of years. Those early frontier days 
on Wanderer's Creek had been hard, and must have 
told on her in the long run, as well as all the anxious 
nights and days that had filled up the years of a 
Sanger's wife. 

At Alice, though manifestly in poor health, she 
still maintained a home, doing such light housekeep- 
ing as her strength permitted. Her interest in her 

The Death of Rhoda McDonald 305 

husband's work was as active as ever; she knew 
every detail of the situation at Edna as reported by 
the press, and when in May, 1906, he was ordered 
there for further investigation, she bade him go, 
despite reluctance on his part, for she believed that 
he alone could bring to punishment the perpetrators 
of that terrible crime. They arranged that in his 
absence she should go to a sanatorium in San 
Antonio, and try to regain strength; and in ac- 
cordance with this plan she closed the little house- 
hold at Alice, and at San Antonio went under a 
doctor's care. When Captain McDonald had been 
in Edna a short time, he was notified that an opera- 
tion would be necessary to save her life. He hurried 
to San Antonio and found her cheerful, though evi- 
dently aware of her danger. Her talk, however, was 
all of his work and the prospects of his further 
progress. When the ordeal was over and the physi- 
cians declared that her chances for recovery were 
very good, she would not let him stay to verify this 
opinion, but hurried him back to his work. 

** I want you to find the men that murdered that 
poor woman and those little innocent children,'' she 
said, * ' and you must not waste your time here with 

So he went back, and for a few days encouraging 
letters came from doctors and attendants. Then 
came a telegram which said: *' Conditions not so 
favorable; come." 

She was dead when he got there, but she had left 

306 Captain BiU McDonald 

a letter of good-by. That letter is a classic. As an 
epitome of a simple, noble, unselfish life — calm and 
fearless in the face of the supreme mystery — it 
seems without a flaw. 

* * My Dear Husband : 

** When your eyes look on these lines I will have 
crossed the Great Divide, and these wishes of mine 
I am sure you will fulfil. Enclosed is a note from 
Lee (my brother), which matures next spring. I 
managed to save it from my means, or some of it, 
two years ago, and Lee has been so good to keep 
it at interest, which I have added to the original 
amount, until it has reached the amount of the note. 

^^ Please send Sister, your sister, $25.00 and give 
Euth $25.00. She has to work very hard. Allow 
Lee this year's interest for his kindness and trouble. 
I want Eula (your niece) to have the brooch you 
gave me; Dot (your niece) my fur and the small 
diamond ear-bob. Give Mollie (my sister) the other 
diamond ear-bob. Give Jim my books, which are 
at Quanah, and my cameo ring. I want Euth to 
have my watch and the breast pin that was our 
mother's. Give Helen White my engagement ring 
— the little one with the small diamonds. In the 
little bag is $15.00 that belongs to the Lord. Be sure 
to give it to the ' Salvation Army People,' to feed 
the poor and hungry. 

** My clothes, turn over to Mollie and Euth and 
what they don't want tell them to give to the poor. 
Of course, the diamond ring will be yours. 

** I want you to keep my Bible and read it, be- 
cause you will derive more comfort from it than all 
else besides. My prayers for you have always been 

The Death of Rhoda McDonald 307 

mingled with those for myself, and I hope they have 
not been in vain. 

* ^ Please see that my grave has plenty of trees, so 
that the birds may build their nests in them. Give 
Ruth my black silk dress, which is at Wichita Falls. 
Get Ruth or Mollie to help you find the things. 

** I am sorry for every cross word or look that I 
ever gave you, but feel sure you will not hold them 
against me. 

'' With lots of love— Good-by. 

'' Rhoda." 

He took her to Greenville, Texas, for burial, for 
they had no settled home, while in Greenville there 
were relatives. Then he returned to Edna to carry 
out the mission which in her last spoken words to 
him she had bade him fulfil. 


The Conditt Mysteky Solved 

THE tell-tale HAND- 
PRINT. A eanger captain's theoeies 


Captain McDonald realized that his task in Edna 
was to be a hard one — made harder by the fact that 
the citizens of Edna still bitterly opposed his in- 
vestigation ; still believed that his chief purpose was 
to cheat them of Monk Gibson's life. There was 
one important exception to this opposition. Sheriff 
Egg of Edna, though with little faith in the Eanger 
Captain 's theories, volunteered to help test them and 
his assistance was valuable. 

Another favorable condition for his work was, 
that certain of the suspected negroes had fallen out 
among themselves, and he presently discovereii that 
there were strange insinuations and implied charges 
drifting about the settlement which might mean 
much, or nothing at all. Felix Powell had been ar- 
rested for knocking down his sister-in-law, Warren 
Powell's wife, and was working out his time on the 
road when Captain McDonald returned to Edna. 
The Eanger Captain gave the disturbed elements a 
little judicious stirring and they fomented. 

The Conditt Mystery Solved 309 

*^ If I told all I know about that nigger, he'd 
hang for murder, '^ Irene Powell blurted out. De- 
tective McDonald smiled quietly, but did not use 
undue haste. He had Felix Powell removed from 
the public highways and once more put in jail. Then 
quietly he went to the negroes and made it easy 
and even enticing for them to talk. He knew the 
negro character very well — its weaknesses and its 
animosities, and these he played on — gently, very 
gently, at first, but effectively. Little by little he 
learned that Felix had already been accused of the 
crime by those of his own color — some of whom 
were said to know the facts. He learned that Felix 
had been greatly exercised over the arrival of the 
first blood-hounds. 

'* They'll trail a man to town,'' he had said, ^^ but 
they can't follow a man that has oil on his shoes." 

All night he had lain awake, listening for the bay 
of the hounds. Once he had sat bolt upright in bed. 

"" Here they come! " he had exclaimed to a man 
who was staying with him. Soon after, he said : * ^ I 
could put my hand on the man that committed that 
murder. ' ' And again : ' ' There 's one woman knows, 
and she may tell. As for Monk, he's told so 
many lies, the white people won't believe him, any- 
way. ' ' 

Two little children named Reed, looking at the 
bleeding legs of some tied chickens, said to each 
other that the bloody string reminded them of the 
clothes their mother had washed for Felix Powell. 

310 Captain Bill McDonald 

This was repeated and whispered, and one of 
Powell's acquaintances charged him with the crime. 

*^ They'll hang you for it, Felix,'' he said. 

* * When they do, a lot of white folks will go to hell 
with me," was the reply. 

All these things came in due course to Captain 
Bill, and by and by an affidavit for murder was pre- 
♦ pared and Powell was formally accused of the crime. 
When he knew of this he became furious and at- 
tacked McDonald in his cell and had to be over- 
powered and chained. Later, in a fit of rage, he 
snapped these chains and tore the shackles from his 
limbs. Then a heavier chain was put on him and he 
was padlocked to the floor. 

Besides Felix Powell, charges were brought 
against Henry Howard and four women believed to 
be concerned in the killing — directly or as acces- 
sories to it, either before or after the fact. One of 
these — Augusta Diggs — on the second day of the ex- 
amining trial, confessed her knowledge of the crime. 
She confirmed Captain Bill's belief that the murder 
of the Conditts had taken place in the morning and 
declared that Powell had come to her with the story 
of how he and Monk Gibson had killed the Con- 
ditts, bringing his bloody clothes for her to wash. 
She had refused and he had taken them elsewhere — 
to Bethel Reed. Other witnesses, willingly or un- 
willingly, gave further damaging evidence. Listeners 
began to wonder if there wasn't something in all 
these accusations besides a mere negro feud — to sus- 

The Conditt Mystery Solved 311 

pect that perhaps Bill McDonald might be able to 
establish his theories, after all. 

But it is likely they would still have doubted and 
the case would have come to naught, had there not 
been one more link in Captain Bill's chain of cir- 
cumstance. He had been closely observing Felix 
Powell's right hand when he could do so without 
attracting the prisoner's attention, and mentally 
comparing it with the bloody print sawed from the 
Conditt house. The print was a peculiar one; it 
showed an oblong spot for the thumb ; a longer one 
for the forefinger; then two somewhat shorter ones 
for the middle and third finger, with a mere dot for 
the little finger. It was as if the hand had been 
maimed by accident, and the fingers cut away. Cap- 
tain Bill at first had made a sketch of the print, 
which he could surreptitiously compare with the 
hand of Powell, when opportunity offered. The 
comparison puzzled him. Powell's little finger 
might make the dot, for it had been deformed by a 
bone felon and had a crooked bone at the end. But 
his other fingers were normal, and it was hard to 
imagine they had made that bloody impress. Still, 
the Eanger detective did not give up. He wanted 
to see the hand and the print together, or to see 
actual prints of the hand, by the side of tell-tale 
evidence left on the Conditt walls. Finally, one day, 
he got Felix Powell, whose diversions were few 
enough, interested in an experiment of camphor- 
smoked paper upon which almost photographic re- 

312 Captain Bill McDonald 

productions of any yielding object could be made. 
The negro was attracted by the results and willingly 
enough made the impress of his open hand. Cap- 
tain Bill felt a qualm of disappointment. Only the 
dot for the stub of a little finger compared at all 
with the print left by the murderer. Then suddenly 
he had an inspiration. He put an object the size of 
a closed knife into Felix's hand, and told him to 
make a print with his fingers closed. The shadow 
of the gallows stretched out toward Felix Powell in 
that instant, but he did not know it. He pressed his 
hand to the paper, and as he lifted it Bill Mc- 
Donald's heart gave a fierce bound of triumph. The 
likeness to the print of blood was exact. As Cap- 
tain Bill said afterward, ^^ I saw that Felix PowelPs 
hand with a knife in it, would fit the print left on 
the Conditt walls, to a gnat 's heel. ' ' Something of 
what was in his captor's mind must have filtered 
into the skull of Felix Powell, then, for he became 
wary and frightened, and when Captain Bill urged 
him to make other prints he moved his hand each 
time and blurred them. He was anxious, too, to 
know what use was going to be made of the ones al- 
ready taken. When later he learned what had been 
done with them, and that his hand was identical with 
a bloody print found on the Conditt premises, he 
broke out in a rage. 

" Aren't there any other hand like that in the 
world? " he cried. 

There could be none. The tests of measurement 

The Conditt Mystery Solved 313 

and the similarity of line had been applied. They 
tallied exactly. They convinced Sheriff Egg com- 
pletely — they convinced the most skeptical in Edna. 
When that examining trial ended, Captain Bill Mc- 
Donald, Ranger and detective, from being a man 
whose presence was resented and whose theories 
were despised, became suddenly to the people of 
Edna a mighty criminal sleuth ; a veritable Sherlock 
Holmes; a hero whose name was on every tongue. 
Outside of Edna, Texas had suspected this before, 
but now Edna took the lead in singing his praises, 
and every paper in the State joined in the chorus. 

It is not within the purpose of this book to follow 
here the case of the Conditt murderers through the 
courts. The evidence as finally accumulated was 
voluminous and damning so far as Felix Powell and 
Monk Gibson were concerned. That Monk Gibson 
was a tool of Powell (and perhaps of others) was 
most likely, for it was proven that Powell had been 
seen walking around and around the field with him 
as he plowed, early on the morning of the murder, 
and the big track and the smaller one had been 
found there, side by side. That Powell had enticed 
the negro boy to join in the crime, we may easily 
believe, and that Monk Gibson had joined in that 
fearful tragedy cannot be doubted, and he had 
plowed on until one o'clock with those dead bodies 
lying there close by, thus giving his confederate, or 
confederates, a chance to establish an alibi, probably 
in accordance with a preconcerted plan. 

314 Captain Bill McDonald 

Both Powell and Gibson paid the extreme penalty 
of their crime. Powell went to the gallows at 
Victoria, Texas, on the 2d of April, 1907. Monk 
Gibson was hanged at Cuero, Texas, a year later, in 
June. Neither made any confession that was of legal 
value, though Gibson, a few minutes before his ex- 
ecution, gave to Captain McDonald a rambling state- 
ment in which he involved others besides Powell. 

The cases of Henry Howard and of the women ar- 
rested as accessories to the plot and its execution, 
had not been disposed of when this was written. 
Howard was then under indictment as principal and 
accessory on evidence supplied by McDonald. 
Whether that evidence is found sufficient to convict 
will only be decided by the juries of the future. 


The Brownsville Episode 

xn event op national importance. the twenty- 

The year 1906 was Captain Bill McDonald's last 
and most important year in the Ranger service. He 
was still concerned in the work at Edna when there 
occurred not far away an event in which certain 
negro characteristics were even more strikingly 
manifested — an event which was presently to grow 
into an episode of national importance. 

On the night of August 13, 1906, armed men, in 
number from ten to twenty, believed to be colored 
soldiers of the Twenty-fifth Infantry, quartered at 
Brownsville, Texas, appeared about midnight upon 
the streets and ^* shot up the town,'' firing reck- 
lessly into many buildings, killing one man, severely 
wounding another and endangering the lives of 
many citizens. Official investigation failed to 
identify the offenders, and three months later. Presi- 
dent Roosevelt assuming that the offense was never- 
theless committed by certain members of the 
Twenty-fifth Infantry, with guilty knowledge on the 
part of their comrades, dismissed the entire com- 
mand, ^* without honor," on the ground that the 
three companies, numbering one himdred and 

316 Captain BUI McDonald 

seventy men, had banded in a * * conspiracy of silence 
for the purpose of shielding those who took part in 
the original conspiracy of murder.'' 

Captain William J. McDonald, then of the State 
Eangers, was prominently identified with the early 
investigation of this unusual episode, and the story 
of his court of inquiry, with its revelations, and of 
his remarkable experiences following the same, has 
become history. 

Brownsville, Texas, is a city of less than ten thou- 
sand population, situated on the north bank of the 
Eio Grande, in the extreme southern portion of the 
State. It has long been a military point — its gar- 
rison. Fort Brown, being situated but a little way 
from the business center. Opposite Brownsville, on 
the Mexican side of the river, lies Matamoras. 

Late in the summer of 1906, three negro com- 
panies — B, C, and D, of the Twenty-fifth Infantry, 
Major C. W. Penrose commanding, were ordered to 
Brownsville, and quartered at Fort Brown. They 
arrived July 28th, in bad humor. There was a 
military encampment of State troops at Austin, and 
they had not been permitted to participate in the 
maneuvers — drills, sham battles and the like — in 
progress there. They had been told that the Texas 
boys did not care to drill with them — that if they 
went to Austin and took part in the sham battles, 
blank cartridges might be discarded for real ones 
by the white troops. Of course this was idle talk, 
but they repeated it and nursed their resentment. 

The Brownsville Episode 317 

becoming noisy and braggart, as ignorant men, 
whether white or negro, will. On the way they had 
torn down the signs, ** For Negroes," placed by law, 
in the South, in the cars intended for colored pas- 
sengers, and had boasted to the conductor that * ' all 
women in Brownsville would look alike to them, 
whether white, negro or Mexican. * ' 

They were not long in beginning their demon- 
strations. They set in drinking immediately upon 
their arrival, and their anger grew when they found 
they were not permitted to drink at the bar with 
white men, increasing still further in violence when 
one or more of the saloons set up a separate bar 
for their accommodation. They became loud and 
insolent on the street; crowded white women from 
the walks, and made themselves generally offensive 
and hateful. 

Brownsville as a community did not openly resent 
these indignities, but individuals did. A Mr. Tate, 
an inspector of customs, whose wife was run over 
and rudely jostled by a negro soldier, administered 
summary correction with the butt of his revolver. 
In another case an ex-ranger named Bates applied 
like treatment for similar offense. A third instance 
is recorded of a negro soldier who, returning drunk 
from Matamoras — a favorite excursion point — was 
ordered to move on -by a Mr. Baker, another in- 
spector of customs, and upon becoming more ob- 
noxious was eventually pushed into the mud. But 
public feeling reached the boiling-iDoint when a Mrs. 

318 Captain Bill McDonald 

Evans — a lady of refinement — upon dismounting 
from her horse was seized by the hair and dragged 
violently to the ground by a tall negro soldier. She 
clung to the bridle of the frightened animal, that 
reared and plunged and finally tore her free from 
her assailant, who then ran away. As a result of 
this assault, patrols were put on and soldiers ' passes 
canceled. This doubtless added to the ire of the 
negroes, and whatever purpose of retaliation they 
may have had would appear to have assumed 
definite form. The catastrophe was not delayed. 

Monday, August 13, was a rather quiet day, owing 
to the new restrictions, and a majority of the citi- 
zens perhaps believed that their troubles with the 
military were over. But there were others who 
claimed to have heard muttered threats, and these, 
as evening drew on, were anxious and watchful. It 
was about midnight that a bar-keeper named Natus 
was serving a final round of drinks to a few belated 
customers, white men, in a saloon where a bar had 
been erected for the accommodation of negro 
soldiers. The men lingering about the bar were 
talking quietly, and it is certain that they had been 
discussing the possibility of an outbreak from the 
garrison. Suddenly they were startled by a suc- 
cession of shots, loud voices and general commotion 
from the direction of the fort. One of the group 
cried out : 

* ^ That must be the niggers coming, now ! ' ' 

A fusillade followed, coming nearer. The bar- 

The Brownsville Episode '319 

keeper, Natus, sprang to the front doors, flung them 
shut, and fastened them. An instant later, he ran 
into the back yard to prevent entrance in that quar- 
ter. He was not in time. Before he could close the 
gate, he received a volley, and dropped dead. 

The mob of murderers passed on, pouring their 
fire into houses where men, women and little children 
were asleep. Their course was up an alley, leading 
from the fort through the town. Already, before 
killing Natus, they had fired on a house in which 
were two women and five children — one of the shots 
putting out a lamp. Ten shots had passed through 
this house, all aimed about four and a half feet above 
the floor, evidently intended to kill. They had next 
met the chief of the police, fired upon him, killing his 
horse and shattering his arm. Next came the Miller 
Hotel, where they fired at guests in the windows, 
breaking the glass and filling the casements with bul- 
lets. They shot at whatever they saw moving, and 
wherever they saw a light. In a house where a wo- 
man and two children were asleep, two bullets passed 
through the mosquito bar that covered their bed. 
For two blocks and a half the assault on the defense- 
less street continued, then suddenly the assassins 
disappeared in the direction of the fort — the mid- 
night raid was over. In ten minutes had been writ- 
ten a unique chapter in the history of the American 
Army — a chapter that would be told, and retold, and 
debated and deformed until its volumes would fill a 

320 Captain Bill McDonald 

And now from the garrison came shouts and the 
sound of bugle — a general call to arms. The town, 
already in a turmoil, fell into a panic of fear and 
disorder. A renewal of the attack was expected at 
any moment. It was believed that a general mas- 
sacre would take place. Men armed themselves with 
whatever they could lay hands on ; women and chil- 
dren hid themselves and waited in terror and trem- 

Morning came without further assault. Daylight 
showed the shattered glass, the bullet holes in the 
weather-boards and window casings, and, on the 
street, empty shells, cartridges and clips — of govern- 
ment rifles. At one place in the mud lay a soldier 
cap. The night had been too dark and the town too 
poorly lighted to identify the individuals of the mob, 
but the evidence as to its origin seemed unmis- 

A citizen committee to deal with the situation was 
quickly formed. Telegraphic reports of the out- 
break, with urgent demands for immediate action 
and for the removal of the negro troops, were sent 
to Governor Lanham, General Hulen, Senators 
Bailey and Culberson and to the President of the 
United States. No immediate relief seemed forth- 
coming from any source. Governor Lanham waited 
for Washington, Washington waited for an inves- 
tigation. The public at large took but a small in- 
terest in the whole affair — the metropolitan dailies 
according it but the barest mention in obscure 

The Brownsville Episode 321 

corners. It would be a big matter to them some day. 
It was a big matter to Brownsville already. 

** We cannot convince our women and children 
that another outbreak may not occur at any time. 
Their condition is deplorable. They will scarcely 
venture out of their homes and only feel secure 
there by our maintaining a heavy guard and patrol 
of armed citizens every night. We know the ac- 
cidental discharge of a fire-arm, any overt act of an 
excited citizen — and our citizens are fearfully ex- 
cited — would precipitate upon us the whole negro 
force at Fort Brown.'* . . . This from a tele- 
gram sent to President Roosevelt on August 18, five 
days after the raid. Brownsville was in a sad plight 

Three days more brought no relief from any 
source. At the fort, the soldiers were kept under 
arms, perhaps fearing a general attack from the 
citizens, while on their part the citizens expected a 
general outbreak of the troops, at any moment. The 
officers in command were supposed to be conducting 
an investigation, and when it was given out that the 
midnight attack could not have come from the gar- 
rison, but had probably been made by a gang of 
Mexicans from across the river; when it was fur- 
ther stated that the garrison had been attacked, and 
the shots said to have been fired from there during 
the raid, had been fired in defense ; such statements 
only meant, to the citizens of Brownsville, that 
Major Penrose and his officers were going to protect 

322 Captain Bill McDonald 

their troops, or had been intimidated by them. 
Eumors of another outbreak continued. Women 
barely slept. Men began to move their families 
away. Two rangers of Captain McDonald ^s com- 
mand — Blaze Delling and Sam McKenzie — came 
over from a subordinate ranger camp at Harlingen, 
twenty-five miles distant, and these undertook to 
collect evidence, and aided in patroling the town. 
Other appeals for help had brought no result. Tele- 
grams for relief were answered non-committally, or 
not at all. When Captain McDonald himself, with 
the other two members of his little company — 
Sergeant W. J. McCauley and C. T. Ryan — arrived 
on the evening of the twenty-first, Brownsville, 
resentful and despairing, hailed the veteran regu- 
lator with open arms. 


Captain Bill on the Scene 

the situation at brownsville. rangers mcdonald 

and mc cauley defy the u. s. army. 

captain bill holds a court 

of inquiry 

Captain McDonald had been serving as Sergeant- 
at-Arms for the Democratic State Convention at Dal- 
las when the Brownsville attack occurred. Browns- 
ville was in his district and he had expected to be or- 
dered there at once, but was counseled by Governor 
Lanham to remain in Dallas until Adjutant-General 
Hulen, of the State troops, then maneuvering at 
Austin, should be advised to act. On the morning 
after the outbreak. General Hulen had been im- 
plored by the mayor and citizens of Brownsville to 
come to their relief, and Captain McDonald sup- 
posed that Hulen would promptly respond, with 
troops from the Austin encampment. A few days 
later, when the convention ended, the Eanger Cap- 
tain hurried to Austin and found that no action of 
any kind was in progress, or contemplated. The 
State troops were still at Camp Mabry, maneuver- 
ing, and firing blank cartridges. Captain Bill went 
out there. 

324 Captain Bill McDonald 

*^ Give me some of the men that are over there 
bombarding the hills, and I'll go down and settle 
that Brownsville business/' he said. 

General Hulen replied that he had no authority to 
investigate any action of Federal troops; to do so 
would be to invite a charge to treason. 

* * Treason ! ' ' said Captain Bill, * ' Why, them 
hellions have violated the laws of the State, shoot- 
ing into people 's houses and committing murder. I 
don't care what else they are, they're criminals. 
It's my sworn duty to investigate such business as 
that, and I'm going to do it, if I have to go there 
alone! " And Captain Bill might have added, ^' If 
this be treason, make the most of it." 

Certainly he did not consider that he needed other 
authority to hunt down criminals than that invested 
in him as Captain of Company B, Eanger Force. 
The Commonwealth of Texas and its laws had been 
for a quarter of a century — first, last and all the 
time — ^his chief consideration. To him, Texas was 
the biggest thing under the sky. Without further 
discussion, now, he proceeded immediately to his 
headquarters at Alice, picked up McCauley and 
Eyan, and hurried to Brownsville. At Corpus 
Christi, District Judge Stanley Welch, who had an 
office at Brownsville, boarded the train. He greeted 
Captain McDonald and his Eangers with enthusiasm, 
and spoke feelingly of the fact that nothing had 
been done by either State or Federal authorities. 
He assured the Eangers that they had full power 

Captain Bill on the Scene 325 

to take such steps and to use such means as were 
necessary to identify and punish the offenders. 

It was about six o 'clock in the evening of Tuesday, 
August 21, that Captain Bill and his little force of 
two reached Brownsville. The Captain immediately 
paid a visit to Mayor Combe, and to Chairman of 
the Citizens' Committee Kelley. He learned that a 
Major Blocksom, under orders from Washington, 
had arrived at the fort, to join Major Penrose in 
his investigations, but that neither these officers nor 
the Citizens' Committee had made any progress to- 
ward the identification of the criminals. Members 
of the committee further informed the Captain that 
in spite of some existing prejudice among the towns- 
people. Major Penrose was an estimable gentleman, 
doing all in his power to bring the offenders to 
justice. He had stated, they said, that he would get 
to the bottom of the mystery if it took him ten years 
to do it. 

* * Ten years ! ' ' said Captain Bill. * * What does 
he need all that time for? He could do it in ten 
minutes, if he wanted to and tried. He knows his 
men, and he could find out who was absent during 
the shooting. And he knows just about who would 
be likely to get into a gang like that. I'll find them 
out, myself, and I won't be ten years about it — nor 
ten days, neither." ' 

They applauded Captain Bill, then, and added him 
to the Citizens' Committee. They knew the sort of 
thing he had done, time and again, and that he was 

326 Captain Bill McDonald 

not given to vain boastings. Also, they denonnced 
their chief State officials and the country generally 
for indifference and inaction. 

Captain McDonald now looked up his two men, 
Delling and McKenzie, to learn what they had done. 
They had done a good deal in a quiet way. They 
had discovered Mexicans living near the post who 
claimed to have seen shots fired from there, before 
and during the raid, and to have followed the track 
of the raiders by the flash of their guns. Further, 
the Rangers had learned that a squad of soldiers, 
with Captain Lyon of Company C, had visited the 
jail immediately after the shooting-up of the town, 
claiming that citizens had fired on the post, and 
making a demand for Captain Macklin (white) and 
Corporal Miller (colored), of Company B. Captain 
Lyon had not explained why he expected to find 
these officers in jail, perhaps leaving it to be as- 
sumed that they had taken refuge there during the 
attack mentioned. Delling and McKenzie also had 
located two ex-soldiers (negroes) supposed to have 
been out with the mob — at least, it seemed certain 
that they had inside knowledge of the matter. One 
of these ex-soldiers kept a saloon a distance from 
the center of the town, and the Eangers had ascer- 
tained that on the evening of the raid this saloon 
had closed earlier than usual, a suspicious circum- 
stance. McDonald and his men worked most of the 
night, continuing these investigations. They located 
one of the ex-soldiers and lodged him in jail, where 

Captain Bill on the Scene 327 

Captain Bill put him through a sort of *' third 
degree " examination. Later he looked up the pris- 
oner's wife and questioned her. By morning he had 
learned enough to warrant him in beginning an in- 
vestigation in the fort itself. 

With his sergeant, W. J. McCauley, '* one of the 
bravest and best/' he was on his way to the fort 
next morning, when he was stopped by members of 
the Citizens' Committee. 

*' You can never go into that fort and come out 
alive," they said. 

'' Why not? " 

** Because those men are all under arms, and ex- 
cited. Unless you can show an order from Major 
Penrose they will shoot you down, sure." 

** Well, I'm sorry, but I'm not going to get any 
order from Penrose. Them niggers have violated 
the laws of the State, and it's my duty to investigate 
the crime. I never yet had to have an order to go 
any place my duty called me. I'm going into that 
fort, and the only pass I want I've got right here." 

The Captain carried an automatic shot-gun that 
would go off about half a dozen times a second, and 
his sergeant bore a Winchester repeating rifle, also 
automatic in its action. These lay in position for 
easy and immediate use. The two men had been 
together in many conflicts, and had faced death too 
often to waver now. McKenzie, Delling and Ryan 
had been left behind so that in event of a fight at 
the entrance, and another outbreak, the town would 

328 Captain Bill McDonald 

not be without protection. The committee stepped 
aside, and McDonald and McCauley proceeded to 
the garrison. At the entrance they were suddenly 
confronted by a file of about twenty soldiers, with 
rifles leveled. 


Captain Bill and his sergeant never even hesi- 
tated. With their own arms in position for instant 
action they marched steadily into the muzzles of those 
leveled guns — the Captain, meantime, admonishing 
the men behind them. 

*^ You niggers, hold up there! YouVe already 
got into trouble with them old guns of yours. I'm 
Captain McDonald, of the State Rangers, and I'm 
down here to investigate a foul murder you scoun- 
drels have committed. I'll show you niggers some- 
thing you've never been use' to. Put up them 
guns! '' 

And the guns went up, with the quick, concerted 
movement of a drill. There was something in that 
total disregard of danger — in that tone and manner 
and in those eyes, now gray and hard and penetrat- 
ing — that inspired awe and obedience. Captain Bill 
gave them no time to reflect. 

'' Now, Where's Major Penrose? " he said. 

The negroes became respectful, even deferential. 
One of them said: ** Yes, suh, cap'n — ^yes, suh. 
Major Penrose is right over in his house — second 
building, suh." 

** One of you niggers come and show him to me." 

Captain Bill on the Scene 329 

Captain Bill, it may be remembered, does not 
mince his words. A white man who has committed 
a crime is, to him, always a ** scoundrel,'* or worse, 
openly. A black offender, to him, is not a negro, or 
a colored man, but a ** nigger,'' usually with pic- 
torial adjectives. 

One of the men now hastily escorted the Eanger 
Captain and his sergeant to Major Penrose's head- 
quarters. Major Blocksom, who already, perhaps, 
had seen enough to warrant his subsequent char- 
acterization of Captain Bill's willingness to ** charge 
hell with a bucket of water," was on hand; also, 
District Attorney Kleiber. As the Captain entered, 
he said: 

^ * I am Captain McDonald, of the State Eangers. 
I am here to investigate a very foul murder, which 
these men of yours have committed." 

Major Penrose, rising, said : 

** Come into my office." 

They went in, followed by the others. Captain 
McDonald seated himself at the end of the table, 
with Sergeant McCauley at his left and Major Pen- 
rose at his right. Attorney Kleiber and Major 
Blocksom sat below, on either side. The court of 
inquiry was open. There were no preliminaries. 

** Major Penrose," Captain Bill began, ** I have 
come here to see what you can tell me about this 
murder that has been committed in Brownsville." 

Penrose replied readily, and with apparent frank- 

330 Captain Bill McDonald 

* * I can tell you absolutely nothing. I cannot find 
out a thing from my men." 

Captain Bill faced him steadily. 

** Well, it seems very strange to me," he said, 
* * that you cannot find out anything about your own 
men. IVe been in charge of men for twenty years, 
and IVe never had any that I couldn't find out any- 
thing I wanted to know from, if they knew it." 

Major Penrose looked a trifle depressed. 

'* Here in a little camp of less than two hundred 
men," Captain Bill went on, ^^ fifteen or twenty of 
them break out and shoot into people's houses and 
commit murder and then come back to quarters. 
And yet you can't detect any of the criminals. How 
about the officer of the day and the guard in charge 
of the guns and ammunition? Don't they know 
anything? " 

Major Penrose shifted a little. 

** The colored officers probably know whatever 
there is to know about this matter," he said, ^^ but 
I have no way of getting it out of them. ' ' 

* * Well then, I have, ' ' declared Captain Bill. 

** Very well," assented Penrose, ** I wish you 
would do it." 

The Eanger Captain became suddenly a fox — his 
ears alert, his nose sharp, his eyes needle-pointed. 

** What niggers were out that night? " he asked. 

** Only two were out that night, and all answered 
to roll-call, at eight and eleven o'clock." 

** You are sure only two were out that night? " 

Captain Bill on the Scene 331 

** Perfectly sure/' 

'* How about Corporal Miller and Sergeant Jack- 
son? " 

** Corporal Miller was here, I know, because I saw 
him. Captain Macklin also saw him and talked with 

'* Where was Captain Macklin, at the time? '' 

** He was officer of the day, and in charge that 
evening. ' ' 

'' Send and get Captain Macklin; I want to talk 
to him. ' ' 

Captain Macklin of Company B arrived, wearing 
a sort of uneasy bravado, which did not improve 
under Captain Bill's keen scrutiny. 

** How many of your men. Captain Macklin, had 
passes on the evening of August 13th? '' was the 
first question. 

** Only two,'' replied Macklin, giving two names 
not down on Captain McDonald 's list of suspects. 

** Where were the others? " 

** They were all in the barracks and answered to 
eight o'clock and eleven o'clock roll-call." 

** What happened after that time? " 

'* I don't know. I went to my quarters soon after 
eleven o'clock and turned in a little before twelve. 
I was asleep when I heard somebody knock on my 
door. I got up and found it was about ten minutes 
after midnight. I didn't know what the knock was 
for, so I smoked a couple of pipes and drank a bottle 
of beer and went back to bed. I got up again at 

332 Captain Bill McDonald 

three o^clock, when everything was in commotion." 

** Now, Maeklin, your quarters are just back of 
Company B's barracks; it was a hot night and the 
windows were open, and according to your own 
story you were awake just when all this shooting 
and racket and the call to arms came off. How does 
it come you didn 't hear it ? ' ' 

Captain Maeklin looked rather discomposed. 

** Well, I was only awake a little while, and of 
course I was pretty sleepy. ' ' 

** You were awake enough to smoke two pipes and 
drink a bottle of beer? " 

'' Yes." 

*' And you couldn't have done it in a minute." 

'' Well, no." 

*' And yet you say you didn't hear a thing of what 
was going on outside? " 

* ' Well, of course, I suppose I did hear noises, but 
I didn't think them anything unusual." 

^ * Nothing unusual about shooting and bugle blow- 
ing and a general call to arms? " 

** I didn't say that I heard those. Of course I 
didn 't hear them. ' ' 

** How did it happen, Maeklin, that Captain Lyon 
and some men, after the raid that night, went to the 
jail to find you? " 

*^ They didn't do it. I never heard of it, at all." 

'* Where was Corporal Miller that night? " 

Captain Maeklin was clearly relieved to get away 
from the story of his own personal movements on 
the night of that fateful 13th. 

Captain Bill on the Scene 333 

** Corporal Miller was in the barracks. He was 
present at both roll-calls.'' 

** Very well, send for Corporal Miller. Send and 
get that Miller nigger and let me talk to him.'' 

Corporal Miller came promptly. He carried his 
gun and wore the air of a major general. His man- 
ner was distinctly defiant and insolent. Nobody 
said anything for a moment, but Captain Bill's 
X-ray eyes were boring him through. Miller grew 
uneasy, shifted his feet and seemed to be shriveling. 
Major Blocksom said : 

** Corporal, Captain McDonald wants to ask you 
some questions. Set your gim down over there." 

Miller obeyed rather sullenly, and came to atten- 

** Miller," said Captain Bill, ** where were you on 
the night this murder was committed? " 

The tone and directness of the question dazed the 
man. He did not immediately find words. The 
Captain repeated: 

** I want you to tell me. Miller, where you were 
when this murder was committed, on the night of 
August the 13th." 

If Corporal Miller had any other story to tell, 
he had forgotten it. 

*^ I was down town," he said. 

** How long had you been down there? " 

** All the evening, ever since dark." 

** Where were you before that? " 

* * I was over in Matamoras. I came back to Mack 

334 Captain Bill McDonald 

Hamilton's house (Hamilton was the ex-soldier 
already in jail), and sat talking to his wife. Then I 
went up town. When the shooting happened, I was 
down the other side the beef market, at a saloon. ' ' 

Captain BilPs eyes gleamed a little. All of this 
was in direct contradiction to the testimony of 
Major Penrose and Captain Macklin. 

^' Now, Miller, '' he said, ^^ you couldn't have been 
anywhere you say, because you were here at eight 
o'clock and eleven o'clock, and answered to roll- 

It was impossible for the man to reason, just then. 
He only realized that his statement was being con- 
tradicted, and that he was on the defensive. 

* * I reckon I know where I was ! " he said sullenly. 

Captain Bill was seemingly aroused. 
** You scoundrel, don't you give me any of your 
back talk ! You answer my questions, sir ! " 

At this point Major Penrose interposed a query 
as to the whereabouts of Miller at some previous 
time — during a shooting affair that had occurred 
ten years before. Captain Bill promptly checked 
this diversion. He said : 

** Hold on there, Penrose, we don't care for that 
now. I'm investigating what happened last week. 
You-all failed to find out anything. I'm finding out 
something. When I get through with Miller you can 
ask him about ninety-six ot seventy-six, if you want 
to." Then, to Miller: '' What did you do after the 
shooting? " 

Captain Bill on the Scene 335 

The man's reply became a mixture of incongrui- 
ties. He had stayed at the saloon, he said, until all 
was quiet, about one o'clock. Then he had come up 
to the Post, to defend it, having heard that it had 
been attacked by citizens. Captain Lyon had a squad 
of forty-five men out looking for Captain Macklin 
at the jail. He, Miller, had taken a gun from a gun- 
rack that had been broken open, and joined the 
search. He didn't know why Captain Lyon had ex- 
pected to find Captain Macklin in jail. 

Corporal Miller was excused and other negroes 
summoned and examined. Their stories were con- 
fused, contradictory and full of guilt. Finally a 
soldier appeared, whose name, C. W. Askew, cor- 
responded with the initials written in the cap, found 
in the street the morning after the raid. 

Askew came in with the usual * * sassy ' ' look, 
faced Captain Bill, wilted, and lost his memory. He 
had previously lost his hearing, it would seem, for 
like Captain Macklin, he had heard nothing of the 
shooting, or the confusion, until the call to arms, 
when he had hurried to a rack that was broken open 
and got the first gun he came to. 

** Let me see your cap," said Captain McDonald. 

Askew handed it over. 

The cap was a new one. Inside were the initials, 
*' C. W. A." freshly written and corresponding ex- 
actly with those in the cap found on the street. 

Captain Bill handed it back. 

** Where is your old one? " he said. 

336 Captain Bill McDonald 

** IVe got two or three old ones.'' 

^^ I want to see them; get them and bring them 
here. ' ' 

Askew started for his caps and Captain Macklin 
went with him. They returned, presently, with two 
old caps, in size 7% and 7%, respectively. Askew 's 
new cap and the one found in the mud were both 
number 7's. Captain Bill look them over, then 
turned to Askew. 

'^ Don't you generally write your name in your 
caps? " he asked. 

'* Yes, sir, most generally. Anyhow, I do some- 

* * Did you write your initials in this new cap 1 Is 
the handwriting yours ? ' ' 

'' Yes, sir." 

** That will do. You can go, now." 

C. W. Askew of Company B, Twenty-seventh In- 
fantry, withdrew, and Captain Bill was alone with 
his board of inquiry. For some moments he re- 
garded the two officers with silent scorn. Then, to 
Major Penrose, he said : 

*^ When I came here you told me you couldn't 
find out anything. I've been here a half an hour 
and I've found out enough, with what I got last 
night, to warrant me in charging a bunch of your 
men with murder. How do you explain that? " 

Major Penrose's face showed that he was un- 
happy. He said : 

*' You have had more experience in such matters, 
and understand better how to go at it than I do. " 

Captain Bill on the Scene 337 

** Yes, I have only asked for the facts — that's all. 
I didn't try to get anybody to tell me a lie. I've 
found that a whole bunch of these niggers was out 
that you and your captain said was in. You-all are 
trying to cover up this matter, and it makes you just 
as sorry and guilty as these niggers, making you 
accessories to the crime." 

In employing the word *^ sorry " here. Captain 
Bill meant ^^ mean " and ** paltry," but any one 
could see that the word applied equally well in its 
other uses. 

^' You are sorrier than these niggers," he went 
on, '* because you, as their officers, and as men of 
the United States Army, ought to be first to hunt 
out the guilty ones, instead of trying to hide them. 
As for Macklin there I think he was out with the 
niggers, and when he didn 't come home with them — 
he having got scared and hid out, I reckon — they 
thought he'd got caught and put in jail." * 

Captain Bill turned to District Attorney Kleiber. 

* " Captain Lyon claimed he could not find Captain Macklin any- 
where and went to the jail and other places looking for him. . . . 
Some of Lyon's men after leaving the jail met five white gentlemen and 
threatened to shoot hell out of them and called them * d — d white s — 
o — b — .' I have their names (meaning the names of the gentlemen), 
and some of them claim they could identify the soldiers that used this 
epithet. . . . Lyon and his crowd then went to where the murder 
was committed and found a policeman with a gun, and one of them 
said: 'There is a s — of a b — now with a gun.' The whole crowd of 
forty-five men cocked their guns on him and would have taken his gim, 
but he was one that was not afraid of them and talked back to the 
black devils, and of course they let him alone." 

From Captain McDonald's report to Governor Lanham and Adjutant-' 
General Hulen. 

338 Captain Bill McDonald 

' * I want to make a complaint, ' ' he said, ^ ' against 
these men here for being accessories to this murder 
by trying to cover it up. If this kind of thing is 
going on in the army, it's time the country found it 

Neither Major Penrose nor Captain Macklin 
made any coherent defense to these charges, and 
Captain McDonald, with his sergeant, left the Post. 
The Rangers spent the rest of the day in completing 
the evidence against the thirteen suspects — one ex- 
soldier and twelve privates of Company B. It did 
not appear that members of the other two com- 
panies had taken part in the raid, though there was 
plenty of evidence to show that many of them had 
full knowledge of the afPair and of the parties con- 
cerned. District Judge Welch issued the warrants, 
declaring the evidence amply sufficient, and heartily 
approving Captain McDonald's action throughout 
— District Attorney Kleiber assenting. They agreed 
that the statutes clearly gave the Ranger Captain 
the right to arrest and hold any offender against 
the State law, whether in federal or civil employ. 
The cases of Officers Penrose and Macklin, however, 
they decided to leave to military tribunals. 

On the following morning, Thursday, August 23d, 
armed with the warrants. Captain McDonald and 
Sergeant McCauley again appeared at the entrance 
of Fort Brown. Evidently the garrison had re- 
covered its poise a little over-night, and was again 
defiant, for once more a file of men with guns stood 

Captain Bill on the Scene 339 

there to bar admission. Among this guard were 
Corporal Miller, Sergeant Jackson and most of the 
other suspects. As the Rangers approached, the U. 
S. rifles once more came to a level accompanied, as 
before by the peremptory word, 

'' Halt! '' 

Captain Bill, looking along the barrel of his auto- 
matic shot-gun, was inclined to be almost polite. 

** What do you damned niggers want, this time? '* 
he said. 

** You must get an order from Major Penrose to 
come in here to-day, ' ' was the answer. 

** You niggers put up them guns! YouVe al- 
ready committed one murder! ^' was Captain Bill's 
single comment as with Sergeant McCauley he 
pushed straight ahead. Both Rangers entered with 
their own guns leveled, and would have opened fire 
instantly had there been the slightest movement on 
the part of the guard. But whatever their orders, 
the negroes gave way and made no further resist- 

The Rangers presently found Major Penrose and 
showed him a warrant for twelve of his men. The 
officer appeared to have cheered up a bit. He ran 
down the list with quite a business-like air. 

** YouVe got six or eight of the right men," he 
said, ** but the others were not in if 

** Oh, then you do know that some of your men 
are guilty — and who they are," commented Captain 
Bill. <* Well, pick *em out. Which ones are they! " 

340 Captain Bill McDonald 

Penrose hesitated. 

*^ I mean that you have six or eight of the right 
kind of men,'' he qualified. 

* '■ All right, then pick out the ones that are not the 
right kind of men.'' 

But the major would not or could not undertake 
to do this. McDonald then said : 

** Now, I'll tell you what I want you to do with 
these men. I don't want to put them in the jail; the 
sheriff is no good, and it would take too many of my 
men to guard them. I want you to put them in the 
guard-house here and hold them on this warrant 
until I get through investigating. Will you do that 
much! " 

Penrose first refused, but Major Blocksom, who 
was present, said that this was a fair proposition, 
and the major agreed to do it. The men were placed 
under guard and there seemed a reasonable chance 
that the whole matter would be sifted by the courts 
and that the guilty would be punished. The Eangers 
left the garrison to continue their inquiries about 
town, in the pursuit of further evidence, well satis- 
fied with their progress thus far, and greeted every- 
where with the congratulations of thankful citizens. 


What Finally Happened at Brownsville 

how state officers failed to support the men who 
quieted disorder and located crime 

But, meantime, something was going on. Tele- 
grams were racing to and fro between Fort Brown 
and Washington, and in the course of the day Cap- 
tain McDonald noticed that Major Penrose and his 
officers were paying visits to prominent Brownsville 
attorneys. A whisper came to him that the three 
comijanies were to be moved — the prisoners with the 
others. Noticing that the major and his com- 
panions went into the office of James B. Wells — a 
prominent lawyer, formerly judge of the district — 
the Eanger Captain and one of his men followed 
them. Immediately upon the entrance of the 
Eangers, the conference, such as it was broke up. 
Evidently something was on foot, but Captain Mc- 
Donald, strong in his faith in the law as expounded 
to him by Judge Welch and Attorney Kleiber ; also, 
in the co-operation of these officials, expected nothing 
more serious than the removal of the remainder of 
the troops. An order for such removal was, in fact, 
received on that day — August 23d. 

342 Captain Bill McDonald 

It was on Friday, the 24th, that matters reached 
a climax. Early that morning Judge Wells — 
*^ Jim '^ Wells, as he was familiarly called — ^met 
Captain McDonald with some news. (The two were 
of old acquaintance.) Wells said: 

** They are going to take your prisoners away, 
Bill, and you can 't help yourself. ' ' 

^^ The hell I can't! I'd like to see them take my 
niggers away from me, and me with warrants for 
them, issued on the authority of the judge and at- 
torney of this district. Where 'd you get your in- 
formation? '' 

Wells replied that it had come through the tele- 
graph operator, and that the order was to move the 
prisoners with the balance of the troops. Captain 
Bill did not fully credit this news, but he set out 
at once for the office of Judge Welch, who had 
issued the warrants. In front of the clerk's office 
he met Welch; also. District Attorney Kleiber and 
Major Blocksom. Captain Bill suspected that Major 
Blocksom was in league with Penrose to get the 
prisoners away, and he did not much like the ap- 
pearance of the three there together. With his 
usual frankness he stated what was in his mind, 
adding the information just received from Judge 
Wells. He was assured by Judge Welch that no 
movement looking to the removal of the prisoners 
was in progress, and by Major Blocksom that Major 
Penrose's agreement to hold the prisoners subject 
to his (McDonald's) orders would be carried out. 

What Finally Happened at Brownsville 343 

Still, the captain was not entirely satisfied. For 
some reason there appeared to be a change in the 
official atmosphere of Brownsville since his arrival. 
When the city was in despair, he had been welcomed 
with open arms and accorded all authority. Now 
that he had entered the dreaded stronghold, in de- 
fiance of loaded muskets, and placed the very crimi- 
nals behind them under arrest ; now that nobody was 
any longer afraid of an outbreak, and women and 
children could sleep at night, there seemed a dis- 
position to ignore his work and his authority. He 
could not believe that in their anxiety to be rid of 
the negro troops, the citizens of Brownsville would 
willingly surrender men who had committed murder 
in the streets, and trust to the meager chance of the 
offenders getting justice in a military investigation, 
a sample of which the city had already seen. It was 
his purpose not to allow the accused men to leave 
the jurisdiction of the county until a complete in- 
vestigation could be made. He was satisfied that 
Major Penrose and his associates were fighting that 
investigation, and he suspected that they had by 
some means obtained the co-operation of the local 

While considering what to do next, Captain Bill 
became aware that a company of negro troops had 
already left the Fort and were marching to the rail- 
way station. Promptly mustering his Rangers he 
accompanied the soldiers, making sure, meantime, 
that they had none of his prisoners among them. 

344 Captain Bill McDonald 

As a precaution against being taken unawares, he 
then notified the railway officials that the special 
train made up for the removal of the troops would 
not be permitted to leave Brownsville until he was 
satisfied that it had none of his prisoners aboard. 
It did not occur to Captain Bill that there was any 
suggestion of humor in the fact that he was ranging 
himself, with his little company, against what is 
usually regarded as a strong combination — a rail- 
road company backed by the United States Army; 
the latter represented by three companies of armed 
and unruly negroes. It may be added that in the 
performance of his duty he would without a mo- 
ment's hesitation have opened fire on all three com- 
panies. Captain Bill has almost no sense of humor, 

Eeturning from the station he saw another com- 
pany of soldiers leaving Fort Brown. Seeing the 
approach of the Eangers, this company halted, hesi- 
tated, wheeled and once more entered the fort. The 
Eangers now arrayed themselves in front of the 
entrance, and stood guard. Presently the company 
that had marched to the station also returned and 
entered the enclosure. Nothing further happened. 
Mobody else attempted to leave the Fort. By and 
by, the Eanger Captain left his men on guard and 
went over to the office of District Judge Welch. As 
he entered, he noticed that Major Penrose and one 
of his officers. Captain Lyon, were in close conversa- 
tion with Welch, and he heard Welch say : 

What Finally Happened at Brownsville 345 

'' Well, that will be all right! '' 

Captain did not hesitate. 

** Judge/' he said earnestly, ** you are not com- 
promising with these people! '' 

** No, Captain, but the Major here has some 
orders about these men. I've agreed to send them 
out of the State, after we get through with them, 
so they won't be bothered," and to Penrose he 
added: ** This is the man who will have to escort 
them out." 

Captain Bill regarded him sternly. He believed 
this to be a subterfuge. 

** Judge," he said, ** those niggers are not going 
to be moved from here. They are my prisoners, 
and I'm going to hold them. I'm going to wire to 
the Governor for assistance to help me hold them." 

*' And I am going to move them away," said 
Penrose, ** for I have an order from the President 
to do it." 

Captain Bill looked interested. 

** I should like to see something from President 
Roosevelt," he said. ** I was on a wolf hunt with 
him once, and I know him very well. I should like 
to see something from the President." 

Major Penrose replied: 

** This is confidential. I have shown it to the 
judge, here; he can .tell you." 

^* If it is confidential, how in the devil can you 
show it to the judge, and not to me, when they're my 
prisoners, and I 'm here representing the State f ' ' 

346 Captain Bill McDonald 

Penrose qualified: 

** It isn't exactly from the President; it's from 
the Secretary of War. ' ' 

'' Well, I should like to see that.'' 

*^ I'm sorry, but I can't show it to you. I'm going 
to move those men, however, at all hazards." 

** And I'm going to hold them at all hazards, 
until I get orders from Governor Lanham to the 
contrary. I'm going now to wire for instructions 
and assistance, and with my four men I can hold 
them niggers, and your whole command, if necessary, 
until the Governor says to let them go. ' ' 

Captain McDonald wired Governor Lanham im- 
mediately, as follows: 

''To Gov. S. W. T. Lanham and Gen. John A. 
Hulen, Austin, Texas. 

*' The military authorities are trying to take our 
prisoners from here for the purpose of defending 
them and defeating justice, and will attempt to do 
so at once, over my protest. Please send assistance 
to prevent this outrage. The officers are trying to 
cover up the diabolical crime that I am about to 
uncover, and it will be a shame to allow this to be 
done. I turned warrants over to them in due form, 
with the promise that they would hold the prisoners 
in the guard-house, and turn them over to me when 
called for. Everything is quiet, but I propose to do 
my duty. ,, Signed, W. J. McDonald, 

** Capt. Co B, Eanger Force. 

No reply came from the Governor after a reason- 
able wait, and without further delay Captain Mc- 

What Finally Happened at Brownsville 347 

Donald sent to the fort a formal demand for his 
prisoners, reviewing fully the nature of their of- 
fence. Major Penrose replied that he had been 
directed by higher authority to assure the safety of 
the said prisoners, and added that when such safety 
was assured they would be delivered to the civil 
authorities for trial. He added further, 

'' After a most careful investigation I am unable 
to find anyone, or party, in any way connected with 
the crime of which you speak/' 

The cat was out of the bag, and in full view, now. 
Major Penrose, regardless of the revelations made 
in his office, two days before (or, perhaps, because of 
them) ; regardless also of his own confession that 
Captain McDonald had got at least six of the right 
men, had determined now to make a general and 
complete denial. He had consulted legal advice — 
the best in Brownsville — and the result was a plea 
of * * not guilty ' ' for the entire command. 

The captain immediately repeated the demand for 
his prisoners, closing his note by requesting Major 
Penrose, politely enough, to wait until he (Mc- 
Donald) had received instructions from his superior 
officers (the governor and adjutant general), before 
attempting to move the men. 

Major Penrose made no reply to this, and the 
eventful day wore on. Toward evening it was 
noticed that a group of officials was gathering in the 
office of Judge Wells. Captain Bill took one of 
his men and went over there, each carrying an auto- 

348 Captain Bill McDonald 

matic gun across his arm, as usual. They entered 
unnoticed, and found a group which included Judge 
Welch, Attorney Kleiber, Mayor Combe, Congress- 
man Garner, State Senator Willacy and others. 
Some very earnest talk was in progress in this 
group, concerning a row and bloodshed which Bill 
McDonald was likely to bring down upon the com- 
munity, when, as a matter of fact, the Rangers had 
brought to the community the only sense of security 
it had known since the raid. Judge Welch, who had 
been first to welcome the Ranger Captain and to 
accord him authority, was now strenuously con- 
demning that very authority and advocating its re- 
moval. Just then he happened to catch sight of 
Captain Bill and his Ranger, standing close by, their 
guns across their arms. He came near falling over 
in his surprise and there followed a moment of gen- 
eral embarrassment for the '^ Anti-Ranger '' party. 
Judge '^ Jim '^ Wells was the first to address the 

** Bill," he said, '' you won^t listen to us. You're 
going against the law and you're going to start a 
row here that can't be stopped without terrible 
sacrifice. Those nigger soldiers won't go away and 
leave those prisoners behind without breaking out 
again, and next time it will be a good deal worse. 
They think those prisoners will be lynched, if they're 
left here. They'll look after them all right, and turn 
them over to the proper authorities. Don't, for 
God's sake, get us into another row. Bill." 

What Finally Happened at Brownsville 349 

The Ranger Captain looked from one to another. 

** There was a row here before I came/' he said. 
'* There's been none since. I come here when the 
town couldn't get anybody else to come, and you 
fellows was all scared to death. As for the law, I 
didn't go into that post until Judge Welch here and 
the district attorney told me it was all right, and I 
arrested them niggers on warrants that Judge Welch 
issued. It's a strange thing to me that the law ain't 
all right to-day, when it was all right yesterday and 
day before. As for the rest of the niggers leaving, 
they'll go fast enough when they get a chance, and 
I'm going to keep my prisoners here till I get orders 
from Governor Lanham to turn 'em loose. Further- 
more, I don 't believe the people of Brownsville want 
them taken away from here, and I'll tell you right 
now, that so long as I and my men are here, them 
niggers are in no danger, nor the people neither." 

Judge Welch spoke up. He said : 

** You haven't any sense, McDonald. You're run- 
ning up against the local authorities as well as the 
United States. I'll settle this thing, right here. I 
want those warrants." 

** Judge," said Captain Bill, ** those warrants 
are not returnable until the third day of September, 
and this is the Twenty-fourth of August. I'm going 
to hold that bunch of niggers with those warrants 
until I hear from Governor Lanham. I've wired 
the governor for assistance, and I'm waiting now to 
hear from him." 

350 Captain Bill McDonald 

Congressman Garner spoke up at this point. 

** That is a very reasonable request of Captain 
McDonald's,'' he said, ** that the prisoners be held 
until he can hear from the governor." 

Captain Bill parleyed no further, but leaving the 
group, crossed over to the Miller Hotel — the same 
that had been fired on by the mob. 

Still no word from the governor and adjutant 
general. That they were being bombarded with tele- 
grams and protests, and that every influence was 
being brought to bear, the Captain did not doubt. Yet 
he did not wholly lose faith. He believed that in the 
end the governor would stand by what had been 
done and support him in the position he had taken. 
He left a part of his force to keep watch on the 
entrance of the fort, and went in to supper. When 
he had finished, he came outside to take his turn at 
standing guard. Presently he saw a body of armed 
men approaching. There appeared to be forty or 
fifty of them, most of them dressed in khaki, and in 
the dusk he at first took them to be soldiers. Then 
as they drew nearer, he discovered that they were 
led by Judge Welch, District Attorney Kleiber, and 
the Mexican sheriff, who for the first time was tak- 
ing an active part in the Brownsville drama — having 
previously been safely locked up in his own jail. 
Viewed at this distance of time and space, how silly 
it seems that those officials, knowing Bill McDonald, 
as all Texas knew him, could have hoped to frighten 
him with a nondescript muster like that. They drew 

What Finally Happened at Brownsville 351 

their posse — Mexican riff-raff — up in front of the 
hotel. Judge Welch asked: 

'' Wliere^s Captain McDonald? " 

Captain Bill himself came forward. 

** What's the trouble, now, judge? '' he said. 
*' Looks like you're going to war, with all these 
armed men.'' 

*' I've come for those warrants," said Welch. 
** I've got an order for them." 

*' All right, Judge; you don't need an army, if 
you've got an order from the proper authorities. 
Come in here by the light, where I can see it." 

So they went in, followed by the Mexican sheriff 
and his khaki muster, and all the other crowd that 
could get in — all the citizens and guests of the hotel ; 
the drummers and ranchmen and tourists — they all 
pushed and elbowed in until the hotel lobby was full 
and the balcony around the court was crowded 
(and there were ladies on the balcony), a fine 
audience indeed for this, the closing scene. Every- 
body was inside that could get in, now, and the 
room grew quiet. In the center of the lobby, in a 
little group, were the chief actors. The Ranger 
Captain and his sergeant stood together, their 
automatic guns, as usual, in position for quick 
and easy service. They made a picturesque pair, 
with their typical Texas hats, and arms, and . 
dress, and their determined faces. Judge Welch 
facing them, fumbled a little and produced his 

352 Captain Bill McDonald 

Captain Bill held it to the light. It ran as follows : 

' * To Captain William J. McDonald, Company B, 
Kanger Force, Brownsville, Texas. 

^' You are hereby directed and required to im- 
mediately turn over the warrants for the twelve 
soldiers and one ex-soldier, delivered to you for the 
arrest of these men, without any further attempt 
at execution of the same. 

^' Signed, Stanley Welch, Dist. Judge, 

'' 39th Dist. State of Tex.'' 

Captain Bill finished reading and regarded the 
judge steadily. 

'^ This is your own order, Judge,'' he said. 
'^ What is the meaning of it? " 

Judge Welch started in to repeat some of the argu- 
ments of the afternoon. 

' ' You won 't take the advice of your best friends, ' ' 
he said, ^* and are bound to start something here 
that will cause the blood to flow in these streets." 

Captain Bill looked at him and let his gun rest a 
little more easily on his arm. 

^^ If that is what you brought this gang here for, 
we'll start it now," he said. 

There was a spontaneous round of applause, from 
both the lobby and the balcony. The ladies in the 
latter strained forward to get a view of the man 
who had defied a command of soldiers and who now, 
before their very eyes, was facing a sheriff's armed 
posse, undismayed. 

What Finally Happened at Brownsville 353 

** I'll tell you, Judge,'' Captain Bill went on. 
** You-all look like fifteen cents in Mexican money, 
to me, when I'm doing my duty, you and your ki-ki 
militia here, and your Mexican sheriff that you told 
me yourself was no good, and had done nothing, and 
was locked up in his own jail for protection when I 
come here." 

There was more applause at this point — also, 
laughter, the latter rather nervous, on the part of 
the ladies. Captain Bill proceeded : 

* * Now, you bring him and his gang down here to 
arrest me for contempt of court, I suppose — you, 
and your district attorney, after you both told me 
that I had a full right to enter the post and use such 
means as was necessary to bring those criminals 
to justice. Looks like as soon as I get things started 
and some of the guilty men locked up, the law is all 
changed and you come here demanding my war- 
rants, and expect to put me in jail if I don't give 
them up — is that iti " 

Judge Welch assumed an air of superior virtue. 

''I'm not afraid to do my duty," he blustered. 

'' Nor I," said Captain Bill, ^^ so fly at it! " 

There was more applause then, of course. It was 
the moment of the dramatic climax — the instant for 
a telegram from the governor, upholding the posi- 
tion of Captain Bill and putting his enemies to rout. 
The stage machinery was perfect, too, for a telegram 
did indeed come at that moment, only, instead of 
sustaining the chief actor in the drama, it cut the 

354 Captain Bill McDonald 

ground from under his feet. Captain Bill took the 
yellow envelope from the messenger, opened it and 
read the contents. There were just two sentences. 
The first was equivocal and meant nothing. The last 
meant surrender and humiliation. 

'' Austin, Texas, August 24, 1906. 
** To Captain W. J. McDonald, Brownsville, 

** Have requested Gen. McCaskey to prevent re- 
moval of soldiers charged with recent murder. 
Consult district judge and sheriff and act under 
and through them. 

'' Signed, 
'' S. W. T. Lanham, Governor." 

After all, it requires defeat to reveal true great- 
ness. Few they are who with the eyes of the mul- 
titude upon them can stand with calm eye and 
steady nerve, unmoved and unfaltering, when the 
last support is snatched away. It was all at an end, 
now; all his effort had gone for little or nothing — 
his final hope had failed. But those watching him 
could not have told that the crushing blow had fallen. 
He folded the telegram with a hand that betrayed 
not the slightest tremor, and with a voice that was 
entirely steady, and even pleasant, he said : 

** Well, Judge, if nothing else will do you, I am 
ready, now, to give you my warrant for those pris- 
oners. Major Penrose has the other copy and is 
holding them with it. I can get along, I guess, with- 
out a warrant. The train won't leave until to- 

What Finally Happened at Brownsville 355 

morrow morning, for the men in charge are in- 
structed not to leave until I say so, and I don't 
intend to say so, to-night." 

The crowd that had been still and breathless 
during the last few moments, gave a great round of 
applause at this, and the drama was over. 

Captain McDonald still had a very small hope 
that affairs might take a turn before morning, and 
all night, with his little army, he patroled the en- 
trance of the fort to see that the prisoners were not 
moved. That a battle would have followed any such 
attempt there is not the least doubt. He withdrew 
all interference next morning, and the train carry- 
ing the troops, including the prisoners, left about 
six o'clock, for San Antonio. The prisoners were 
taken to Fort Sam Houston, the remainder of the 
command to Fort Eena, Oklahoma. When the final 
investigations took place, the man who, according to 
Major Blocksom, had been willing to *^ charge hell 
with a bucket of water," in the cause af justice and 
duty, was lying ill — the result of his old wounds com- 
bined with the misery of unfair treatment. Sergeant 
McCauley, who was ready with all the evidence, was 
invited to testify, and did so, but not a single indict- 
ment was found by officials, civil or military. The 
* * conspiracy of silence was complete. ' ' * 

But, perhaps, after all, the efforts of Captain Bill 

* Austin, Texas, Sept. 5, 1906. 
To Whom it May Concern: 

This is to certify that I did on yesterday examine Captain W. J. 
McDonald and found him su£[ering from chronic bronchitis of both 

356 Captain Bill McDonald 

had not been wholly without result; for he made a 
report of the matter to Washington, and President 
Eoosevelt, doubtless recalling that wolf-hunt and 
knowing the integrity and courage of the writer, 
viewed that report in the light of evidence. When 
the official verdict, ** Not guilty," was reached, he 
dismissed, ^^ without honor," the entire command 
of the Twenty-fifth Infantry. 

The Brownsville episode had become national his- 
tory; a curious chapter — the end of which would 
not soon be written." * 

lungs, but worse on the left side, having been shot and these organs 
having been injured. 

He is now suffering a great deal and very much debilitated. I ad- 
vised him to suspend his active life for a short while and to go to some 
water-place for a few weeks of rest. I think it may take three or four 
weeks for him to recuperate. RespectuUy, 

L. L. Lacey, M.D. 

That Sergeant McCauley was on hand and turned over the cap 
marked C. W. A. to the grand jury is shown by the following receipt: 

Brownsville, Texas, Sept. 12, 1906. 
Received from WiUiam J, McCauley, Sergeant Companj'" B, State 
Rangers, one United States soldier's cap, marked on sweat-band with 
name of C. W. Askew. 

William Volz, 

. Foreman of Grand Jury. 

* During 1908 a secret investigation was being conducted by the 
War Department, with the result that President Roosevelt recom- 
mended the reinstatement of such men as could establish their inno- 
cence and were willing to help bring the guilty to justice. A partial 
report of this investigation will be found in Appendix D, at the end of 
this volume. 

judge's Welch's charge to the grand jury. 

However much we may be inclined to criticise Judge Welch's attitude 
during Capt. McDonald's stay in Brownsville, his charge to the Grand 


The Battle on the Eio Grande 

assassination of judge stanley welch. captain 
bill ordered to the scene. an ambush; a 
surprise and an inquest 

Within three months from the night of the 
Brownsville raid, there occurred another tragedy 
in the banks of the Rio Grande. In the hours of 
earliest morning of Tuesday, November 6th — Elec- 
tion Day — while asleep in his office room at Rio 
Grande City, District Judge Stanley Welch, promi- 
nently connected with the Brownsville episode, was 
shot dead in his bed by some unknown assassin; 

Jury that somewhat later took up the investigation, leaves little to be 
desired. He said: 

" And now, gentlemen of the Grand Jury, among the other responsible 
duties of your position is that of making a full, thorough, and complete 
investigation of the unprovoked, murderous, midnight assault commit- 
ted by the negro soldiers of the Twenty-fifth United States Infantry 
upon the citizens and homes of Brownsville on the night of the 13th of 
August. An inoffensive citizen was shot down and killed by them while 
closing his gate. An unwarranted and cowardly assault was made on 
the Lieutenant of Police of Brownsville, and his arm shattered by their 
bullets, requiring its amputation. 

"Fiendish malice and hate, showing blacker than their skins, was 
evidenced by their firing of volley after volley from deadly rifles into 
and through the doors and windows of family residences, clearly with 
tlie brutish hope on their part of killing women and children, and thus 
make memorable their hatred for the white race. Hard words these, 
but strictly true and warranted by uncontested facts. 

" It was my province to come among your patient people even while 
their terrible fears and horror of another outbreak were upon them, and 

358 Captain Bill McDonald 

this cowardly killing being doubtless the harvest of 
factional discord, widely sown and carefully tended 
in that hotbed of political corruption and violence 
along the Mexican border. 

Eio Grande City lies up the river from Browns- 
ville a distance of about one hundred miles. It is 
the county seat of Starr County, and has no rail- 
road nearer than Sam Fordyce, the terminus of the 
St. L. B. & M., some twenty miles away. There are 
no railroads at all in Starr County — a big county, 
full of cactus, hard, spiny mesquite grass, Mexi- 
cans, and hot burning sand. Eiot and plot would 
flourish naturally, in a place like that, as they do in 
all Latin- American territory. 

Starr County, in fact, is rather more Mexican than 
Mexico herself, using the word to convey the less 
fortunate characteristics of .that hybrid race. It 

God spare me in my life the sorrow of ever again witnessing the faces 
of agonized women and fear-stricken children, tensioned with days and 
nights of suffering and waiting for relief, with none coming from either 
Nation or State to give them assurance that greater and unspeakable 
outrages were not to follow. 

"Tardy relief did come. At the eleventh hour the fiends, who dis- 
graced the uniforms they were permitted to wear and shamed a nation, 
were removed. That all of the three companies were blamabie must be 
conceded, for they knew who were guilty and they shielded and sheltered 
them, and failed to give them up. Hence it is that it has been left to 
the civil authorities of the State, and especially to this District Court, 
to apprehend, if possible, those directly guilty of murder, assault to 
murder, and the ruffianly conspiracies to that end, as the authorities of 
the United States, in charge, have declared their inability to discover 
who were the uniformed thugs and murders that committed the out- 

"The lengthy investigation of a committee of your leading citizens, 
made while these outrages were fresh, is at your service. I also present 

The Battle on the Rio Grande 359 

is not the better class of citizens that leave Mexico, 
or Italy, or China, and the United States has suf- 
fered accordingly. The border counties of Texas, 
because of their situation have been peculiarly un- 
fortunate in this regard. In Starr County the elec- 
tive offices are held almost entirely by Mexicans, 
and the struggle for place is very fierce and bitter. 
Affairs generally are conducted by Mexicans, and 
even the schools are in Mexican hands. From a 
statement concerning the school trustees and teach- 
ers, in Starr County, it appears that out of twenty- 
four trustees only seven could speak and write the 
English language, and out of thirty-nine teachers 
nineteen of them had no knowledge whatever of our 
national tongue. Commenting on this report, D. C. 
Rankin of Dallas, in an article in the Corpus Christi 
Crony, says: 

to you three affidavits made before me by W. J. McDonald, Captain of 
Company B of the ranger force of Texas, against twelve of the negro 
soldiers and one civilian, a negro ex-soldier. All these parties are under 
arrest, and within the jurisdiction of the civil authorities of the State, 
and to await the action of our courts. Hence it is that if it has ever 
been known by committee. Sheriff, State Ranger or other officer or 
individual who, if any of these men are guilty, that knowledge should 
come to you as the grand inquisitorial body that represents, not only 
the County of Cameron, but the State of Texas. 

"I have no hesitation in saying that I share in the imiversal belief 
that among those under arrest are many of the murderers, but some- 
thing more than mere belief and opinion are required to vindicate the 
law. Evidence must be had upon which to predicate an indictment, 
and warrant a trial. If you indict on mere suspicion or opinion and 
without evidence, you leave our people and community open to the 
charge of injustice and the proceedings will resolve themselves into 
mere delay, for in the end an indictment unsustained by evidence must 
be dismissed." 

360 Captain Bill McDonald 

'' The male teachers are political heelers for the 
party in power, and the lady teachers are backed 
by workers in the ring. ... No wonder that 
law and order amount to nothing in that rotten sec- 
tion, and no wonder that District Judge, Stanley 
Welch, was assassinated while asleep in his bed. 
No wonder that when Eangers were sent there to 
preserve the peace and protect the citizenship from 
the ravages of the so-called Americanized Mexicans, 
that they were ambushed and fired upon by a lot of 
these desperadoes." 

It is this story of crime and ambush that we shall 
undertake to tell in this chapter. When the assas- 
sination occurred. District Attorney Kleiber, who 
also may be remembered as having figured in the 
Brownsville story, was asleep in the room adjoining 
the one occupied by Judge Welch — the two inhabit- 
ing a small one-story brick building not far from the 
court-house. They had retired about the same time 
and Kleiber slept soundly until next morning at 
seven. Hearing no movement in Judge Welch's 
room, he called, but received no answer. Thinking 
the judge had overslept, Kleiber then rose, and 
opening the door between, called again. The judge 
did not stir, and going nearer the district attorney 
saw blood coming from his left side. Judge Welch 
was lying on that side; the window behind him 
was up — the shutter closed. He had been shot in 
the back, from without, through a broken slat in 
the blind. Attorney Kleiber recalled having been 

The Battle on the Rio Grande 361 

partially roused from his sleep by some sudden 
noise, and now supposed it to have been the fatal 

Mr. Kleiber at once notified the authorities, and 
by eight o'clock news of the murder was on the 
street. It was Election Day, as already stated, and 
excitement followed the report, with demoralization 
among the better element — the party to which Judge 
Welch belonged. It should be explained here that 
the two parties in that section are the ** Eeds " 
and the *^ Blues '' — nominally Democrats and Re- 
publicans, though the distinction would seem one of 
patronage rather than of politics. In Rio Grande 
City the party of Judge Welch, called the Reds 
(Democrats) — is in the minority. 

On this Tuesday, November 6th, 1906, its fran- 
chise was even more restricted than usual. When 
the fact of the murder became known about fifty 
mounted men, ^* Blues,*' went through the crowds, 
demanding that the polls be instantly opened. 
Local officers were either unwilling or unable to deal 
with this mob, and open warfare between the 
Blues and the Reds was imminent. To avoid 
bloodshed, Chairman Seabury of the Reds assem- 
bled the best men among the leaders of the Blues 
and persuaded them to agree with him that no 
armed men should approach the court-house, where 
the voting place had been established; also that one 
man of each party should be appointed as special 
peace officer at the polls, and that a Blue and a 

362 Captain Bill McDonald 

Eed should vote alternately as long as there existed 
material for such an arrangement. 

The agreement was kept two hours, after which 
the Blues took possession of the court-house; en- 
tered the door, and held the same, backed by armed 
men on foot and on horseback, terrorizing and keep- 
ing out most of the opposition voters. When the 
polls closed at 6:30 p.m., about one hundred and 
twenty-five electors had not cast their votes.* There 
had been plenty of intimidation and some personal 
violence, but no loss of life. The elements for riot 
and bloodshed, however, were all there, and it needed 
only a little brisk stirring to precipitate a general 

Meantime, news of the murder of Judge Welch, 
with a report of the general situation at Rio Grande 
City, and a request for Rangers, had traveled over- 
land to Sam Fordyce and by telegraph to Austin, 
not arriving in time for action that day. Captain 
McDonald's territory included Starr County — his 
headquarters having been removed to Alice in 1903, f 
and on Wednesday morning of November 7th, 1906, 
he was called by telephone from the governor's 
office at Austin. Governor Lanham himself was at 
the Austin end and conveyed the news of the as- 
sassination, which McDonald had just learned from 
another source. 

* For further details of the condition at Rio Grande City at this time, 
see Appendix E. 

t Company B had been transferred from Amarillo to Fort Han- 
cock in 1902 for a comparatively brief period. 

The Battle on the Rio Grande 363 

'* How many men have you at Alice? *' inquired 
the governor. 

** Two, including myself. My sergeant, W. J. 
McCauley, is here. One of my men is on a scout 
below Corpus Christi, and the other (his force had 
by this time been reduced to three) is guarding two 
murderers at Edna.'' 

** Captain,'' was the governor's next question, 
** would the fact that you have not been favorably 
disposed toward Judge Welch since the Brownsville 
affair make any difference in your undertaking this 
matter, now! " 

' * If you think so, Governor, you ought to get an- 
other Eanger Captain for this company; a Ranger 
that would let a thing like that make any difference 
in a case of this kind would be no good for any 
purpose that I know of. ' ' 

** Well, then. Captain, take whatever force you 
have, and proceed as soon as possible to Rio Grande 
City, and I will send additional men there, as quickly 
as possible. I will wire the authorities that you are 
on the way with one Ranger and that more will 
follow at once." 

** All right, Governor, I'll start first train, and 
do the best I can. ' ' 

** And Captain " (The governor had suddenly re- 
membered Brownsville)." 

'' Yes, sir." 

** Be conservative, Captain. Investigate, and try 
to quiet matters, but be conservative, quite con- 
servative. Captain." 

364 Captain Bill McDonald 

'* Yes, sir, Governor, all right. I'll be conserva- 
tive — as conservative as the circumstances will 
permit. * ' 

* * Now, .do that. Captain. Just quiet matters, and 
I'll send you reinforcements at once. Only be as 
conservative as possible till they come." 

Captain Bill wasted no time in his preparation. 
The train would leave in half and hour, and he 
didn't stop to pack a dress suit. He notified Mc- 
Cauley, and gathered up a young fellow named 
Marsden, who had Ranger ambitions, and started 
with such clothes and guns as he had on. 

It is a slow, roundabout way from Alice to Eio 
Grande City. You have to go from Alice over to 
Corpus Christi and there wait for a train that takes 
you down to Harlingen. Then at Harlingen you 
must wait for another train to take you to Sam 
Fordyce, and at Sam Fordyce you can hire a hack 
that will carry you to Eio Grande City, unless you 
are waylaid and murdered along that lonely road 
which follows the river and winds between a thick 
growth of cactus, mesquite and all the thorny rank 
vegetation of that sandy semi-tropical land. Start- 
ing from Alice in the forenoon, one with good luck 
may reach Eio Grande City by ten o'clock at night, 
though it will be safer to wait at Sam Fordyce until 
next morning. Those who travel from Sam Fordyce 
to Eio Grande City after nightfall, go armed, and 
need to. 

Captain Bill had good luck on the way down. 

The Battle on the Rio Grande 365 

While waiting for the Harlingen train at Corpus 
Christi he fell in with Sam McKenzie, his ranger, 
who had been on a scout in that section, and at 
Harlingen he found Blaze Belling, who had resigned 
from Company B to become U. S. River Guard. He 
brought both men along, and with a force like that 
he felt able to cope with a mob of whatever size or 
nationality. Of course, nothing was known at Rio 
Grande City of the increase in the Ranger army. 
It had been given out there that Captain McDonald 
and one man had been ordered down, and that rein- 
forcements would follow, accordingly as Governor 
Lanham had wired. 

The day was well along when the little army 
finally reached Sam Fordyce and secured a convey- 
ance for the final stage of their journey. An old 
frontiersman by the name of Inman, who owned a 
hack and pair of small mules, agreed to undertake 
the journey. It was late in the afternoon when they 

Night fell, clear and starlight, but there was no 
moon, and the narrow winding southern road 
hedged thickly with mesquite and yucca and cactus 
growth was dark enough, except here and there 
where it opened to the river or to a hacienda (Mexi- 
can ranch), with its half dozen thatched huts, or 
hackles, surrounded by brush fences. 

The Rangers drove along quietly, speaking in low 
voices when they spoke at all, peering into the 
darkness ahead, for they had no knowledge of what 

366 Captain Bill McDonald 

conditions were awaiting them, or what they were 
likely to meet along the way. Besides, it is the 
Eanger practice to go warily on dark nights and not 
traverse an unknown road with festivity and bois- 
terous mirth. 

It was about 8:30 o'clock and they had covered 
a little more than half the distance to Eio Grande 
City, when they heard the noise of approaching 
wheels and vaguely distinguished the outlines of 
some vehicle in the darkness ahead. They were at 
the time about opposite Casita Eanch — a poor place 
with the usual brush fences. Mr. Inman slackened 
down his mules and pulled the Eanger hack a little 
to one side of the road, supposing it to be only one 
of the traveling coaches that make daily trips be- 
tween Eio Grande City and the railway terminus. 
But when the approaching vehicle was about thirty 
paces away, there was a sudden flash in the dark, a 
report, and a bullet went singing over the heads of 
the Eangers. 

The Eangers were instantly in battle front, guns 
up and ready. They did not fire at once, however, 
for there might be some mistake. 

'' Hold up there! " called McDonald. '' We are 
Texas Eangers! Stop that shooting! '' and this 
admonition Private McKenzie quickly repeated in 
the Mexican tongue. 

There was no chance for mistake, after that. The 
hacks had been moving right along and were now 
not more than twelve feet apart. Then the ap- 

'As pretty a fight as ever took place on the banks of the Rio Grande. 

The Battle on the Rio Grande 367 

proacliing Imck stopped and tliree figures with guns 
were seen to leap to the ground. Captain Bill, who 
was standing up in the hack with his Winchester 
leveled on them, thought at first that they were 
getting out to surrender their arms, and three of 
his Eangers, McCauley, McKenzie and Delling 
quickly jumped down, facing them. But at that in- 
stant the epithets * * Cavarones ! ' ' and * ' Gringoes ! ' ' 
came from the Mexicans, and then ^* Tetterly! 
Tetterly! '' (Shoot! Shoot!) with which signal the 
Mexicans, both on the ground and in the hack, let 
go at the Eangers, point blank, while from behind 
the brush fence two guns in ambush opened an en- 
filading fire. 

Then for the thirty seconds or so that it lasted, 
there was as pretty a fight as ever took place on the 
banks of the Eio Grande. With seven Mexican and 
five Eanger rapid-fire guns going — a round dozen in 
all — there was one continuous explosion, and an un- 
ceasing glare. 

* * From where I stood in the hack, I could see the 
whites of their eyes,'' Captain Bill said afterward, 
*^ and I felt as if I could pick the buttons off their 
coats. I let go as fast as I knew how, and at a 
different Mexican every time." 

But though rapid, the Eanger fire was cool and 
accurate, while the Mexican marksmanship was in- 
excusably bad. 

In less than half a minute it was all over. The 
seven Mexican guns were silenced, the Mexican 

368 Captain Bill McDonald 

force demolished. In the road, a man lay across 
his gun, dead. Two were limping and staggering 
away — one with a broken leg, the other to die ; two 
more — the ambushers — were hiding in the weeds 
(where they were presently captured), while in the 
Mexican hack, which was now once more moving 
slowly along, was a freight of yet two more, both 

Sergeant McCauley, from his position on the 
ground, looked up to where Captain McDonald, still 
standing in the hack, was already reloading. 

*' Pretty little fight, Uncle Bill,'' he said, casual 

** Yes," said Captain Bill, thoughtfully filling the 
magazine of his Winchester, ^* but do you reckon 
the governor will think we've been conservative 
enough? "^ 

When the dead and wounded and prisoners were 
gathered and a general observation of the field was 
taken, it was found, from the empty shells, that each 
side had fired about an equal number of shots — 
some sixty, in all. 

Marvelous as it may seem, not a Eanger was 
touched by any of the thirty or more shots fired at 
them, though Mr. Inman, the driver, got a pretty 
hot bullet through the very narrow space just under 
his arm — a bullet that cut his undershirt and 
scorched his skin, and made him think for the mo- 
ment that he was wounded. Old veteran that he 
was, he sat quietly holding his team — a silent ob- 

The Battle on the Rio Grande 369 

server of the spectacle — only regretting that, being 
unarmed, he could not have a more active part. 

Captain Bill now took Delling and started for Rio 
Grande City, leaving the remainder of his force in 
charge of the dead, wounded and prisoners. They 
kept a sharp lookout for new attacking parties as 
they drove along, and discussed the recent battle in 
voices that were jubilant, but modulated. 

** Of course, from the governor's telegram, they 
only expected to meet two men,'' Captain Bill re- 
flected. ** It must have been a surprise when they 
suddenly found five guns going. ' ' And a little later, 
speaking out of what seemed a troubled conscience, 
** But I'm afraid the Governor won't think I was 
conservative. ' ' 

Then presently they met two more vehicles com- 
ing, this time in a hurry. Eeady for action, the 
Rangers waited until they were up close, then stop- 
ped them. They, also, had come to meet the 
Rangers, but this time with a note from the county 
judge, telling them to hurry, as the town was up in 
arms, and an outbreak was momentarily expected. 

Captain McDonald sent one of the hacks after his 
men and their prisoners, with orders to get Mexi- 
cans from the Casita Ranch to watch the dead men 
until the inquest, next day. Then with the other 
hack he pushed on to Rio Grande City. From the 
tone of the judge's note he expected to find matters 
in a desperate condition. When he arrived, how- 
ever, there seemed to be no special excitement. 

370 Captain Bill McDonald 

Everybody was armed and there were groups on 
the street, but there was little noise or open disturb- 
ance. The Eanger Captain looked up the judge and 
sheriff and made a report of his battle and its 
results, the news of which was soon both general and 
effective. When he went out among the crowds and 
told them to disarm — to go home and put their guns 
away and quit their foolishness — ^it was like the dis- 
missal of a State encampment. By the time his men 
arrived everything was peaceable. It was too late 
that night to make a report to the governor, but 
Captain Bill summed up the situation in a telegram 
next morning. Governor Lanham had protested at 
the length and cost of a telegraphic report from 
Brownsville ; this time there was no waste of words. 

'' Eio Grande City, Nov. 8, 1906. 

" Gov. S. W. T. Lanham, 
^* Austin, Texas. 
* * We were ambushed ; four Mexicans dead, one 
wounded, two captured; preparing to hold inquest. 
Everybody disarmed; everything quiet. 

" W. J. McDonald, 
*'Capt. Co. B, 

*^ Eanger Force." 

That told the story, adequately, cheaply and 
modestly. The papers over the State made a good 
deal to-do over it, and reviewed Captain Bill's 
other exploits — real and imaginary — but to him it 
was only in the day's work, the work he had been 

The Battle on the Rio Grande 371 

carrying on for a long time, now, nearly a quarter 
of a century.* 

The inquest was held that morning according to 
program, and the verdict justified the Rangers. 
After which, the four unlucky Ranger-hunters were 
buried in a lonely old graveyard near the place where 
they fell. The names of the four were, Farias, 
Osuna, Vincia and Perez — all known in Rio Grande 
City. Their comrade who was wounded, another 
Osuna, confirmed the Rangers ' account of the battle. 
The original plan had been for all to lie in ambush 
behind the fence and fire on the Rangers deliber- 
ately, at close range. Losing patience, however, in 
an attempt to clamber over the thick barrier, all but 
two decided to remain in the hack. 

The better element of Rio Grande City, though re- 
joicing over the results of the ambush, were natu- 
rally apprehensive as to what might happen next. 
Friends of the dead men were numerous, and it was 
believed that a bloody outbreak with reprisals would 
follow. Captain McDonald assured the citizens that 
he had no such fears, and the arrival of State troops 
and Ranger Company D, Captain Hughes, helped 
to restore confidence. 

Captain Bill did not remain long in Rio Grande 

* "The Fort Worth Record," commenting on this report, compared 
it to Perry's famous " We have met the enemy and they are ours." 
The Record adds : " Perry and McDonald are made of the same stuff. 
If McDonald had been in Perry's place he would have been equal to 
the emergency. If Perry had been in McDonald's place he couldn't 
have done better." 

372 Captain Bill McDonald 

City. He was still engaged in solving the Conditt 
problem at Edna and could not undertake to unravel 
the mystery of Judge Welch's assassination. It re- 
mains unraveled to this day. Perhaps time will fur- 
nish a clue. Perhaps the secret lies buried in the old 
graveyard back of the Casita Eanch. 

Nothing was ever done with the prisoners taken 
by the Rangers. That is, nothing was done with the 
two men caught in ambush. The wounded man was 
afterward made deputy sheriff, probably as a re- 
ward of merit for having engaged in a shooting 
match with the Rangers and escaped alive. 


The End of Eangering and a New Appointment 

state eevenue agent of texas. the ** full rendi- 
tion '* bill enforced. a great battle 


The Eio Grande affair was Captain BilPs last 
Eanger service of dramatic importance. He was 
continuously busy during the two months that 
elapsed between that episode and his official retire- 
ment, but it was only in the usual line of duty, chas- 
ing murderers, putting down riot and disarming un- 
ruly men — the things he had done so often that to 
look back on his career now was to gaze down a 
kaleidoscopic vista of death and disorder — a whirl- 
ing maze of bad men and guns. 

It was in January, 1907, that he went to Bellville 
as a witness in a murder case, and it was while he 
was there, January 16th, that Governor T. M. 
Campbell, who had just succeeded Governor Lan- 
ham, appointed him State Revenue Agent of Texas. 
Captain Bill's first knowledge of the matter came 
to him through the morning paper at Bellville. 
When his duties were over there, he set out for 
Austin to inquire into it. He knew that a State 
Revenue Agent was appointed to keep a general 

374 Captain BiU McDonald 

supervision over the collection of the State revenues 
—taxes, license money and the like — but he had 
only a dim idea as to the specific duties of the office. 
He was by no means certain that he wanted to ex- 
change the wide free life of Rangering, whatever 
might be its drawbacks, for the routine duties of an 
office in the Capitol, with a desk, a revolving chair 
and a stenographer, whatever might be the comforts 
and perquisites of these things. He was no longer 
a young man, and he had been shot through from 
different directions. Desperate wounds, long hard 
vigils, cold and exposure, had left him weather- 
beaten and with shoulders and chest no longer as 
full and erect as in the old days. Yet his eye was 
just as clear, his ear as alert and his nerve as steady 
as in the beginning, and if this appointment was 
merely a sinecure ; a reward for deeds performed — 
a sort of official manifest that he was down and out 
— ^he would have none of it. He could wear out, and 
he might some day stop a conclusive bullet, but he 
declined to rust out. 

Perhaps there was a pretty general belief in 
Texas that Captain McDonald's appointment was, 
in fact, a sinecure, but if so the idea was transient. 
Arriving at the State Capitol, he called on Governor 
Campbell, without delay. 

*^ How about this appointment. Governor? '' he 
said. '' "What kind of a job is it? '' 

** Well, it's a better job than you've got, Captain. 
The pay is better and it's safer, too. You're going 

End of Rangering and a New Appointment 375 

to die, or be killed, someday, going about in all 
kinds of weather and getting shot at, from ambush. 
We can't afford to lose you, just yet.'' 

** Thank you, Governor, I don't want to be lost, 
either," Captain Bill said in his gentle drawl, ** but 
I don't know as I can fill the bill. What do I have 
to do as State Eevenue Agent, anyway. No chance 
to handle a gun, is there? I can do that about as 
well as anything." 

Governor Campbell laughed and handed Captain 
Bill a copy of the statutes. 

** There's the law, on the subject," he said. 
*^ You'll find all the information you need, right 

Captain Bill took the book and spent several days 
reading and re-reading whatever he could find bear- 
ing on the matter of tax-paying; also on the duties 
of tax-assessors and tax-gatherers in general, and 
on those of the State Eevenue Agent in particular. 
He found that he knew a good deal on the subject, 
after all ; not in technical detail, perhaps, but funda- 
mentally and vitally. In his wide general knowl- 
edge of the conditions prevailing in every portion 
of the State he knew that the poorest counties — 
those least able to bear the burden — carried a dis- 
proportionate load of the State expenses. He had 
never given the matter much consideration before, 
taking it for granted that in a new county, and a 
poor county, taxes could not help being high. This 
was true, no doubt, but he saw clearly enough, now. 

376 Captain Bill McDonald 

that in such counties, taxes had been by far too high, 
all along, and that the *^ Full Eendition '^ law 
provided a remedy for just that thing. Captain 
Bill had but one idea about law, which was that it 
must be enforced. To enforce that law would be 
interesting, and righteous. He went back to Gov- 
ernor Campbell. 

^^ Governor,'* he said, ^' I think this job will suit 
me pretty well, if I can run it my way. * * 

** Well, Captain, that was what you were ap- 
pointed for.'' 

^^ Governor," Captain Bill proceeded, '^ there's 
some of our counties and people paying twice as 
much tax as they ought to, and some of them, the 
ones that ought to pay most, and the railroads and 
corporations, are not paying half enough." 

Governor Campbell nodded. 

'^ How would you rectify that. Captain? " he 

'' Well, you see, the tax rate is the same for all 
counties, and the poor counties to provide for their 
own home expenses have to assess on a high valua- 
tion in order to make the amount big enough to go 
around, while the rich counties that are practically 
out of debt assess on a low valuation, sometimes not 
more than a fourth the value of the property. That 
might be all right if it was only the home levy that 
counted, but you see the State levy is assessed on 
the same valuation as the home levy, and the result 
is that a county that is in debt is paying State taxes 

End of Rangering and a New Appointment ^11 

on a valuation about twice or three times as big 
as those big rich counties that have had the most 
benefit from the State and are best able to pay for 
it. Why those old rich counties get an allowance 
of school money from the State that is actually 
more than all the taxes they turn in. Now the way 
to fix that is to make all the counties assess exactly 
alike — on full valuation — and get the State levy 
down where it belongs and the State expense fairly 
apportioned. The Full Rendition bill provides 
clearly for this case, and ought to be enforced.'' 

Governor Campbell looked thoughtful. He fore- 
saw the storm that a man with the convictions and 
determination of Bill McDonald could stir up in a 
State like Texas. Presently he said : 

** Well, Captain, that was what the Full Rendi- 
tion Bill was passed for, but it's been considered a 
dead letter, so far." 

^' It won't be a dead letter if I take the job. Gov- 
ernor. It will be the livest letter in the statute book, 
for a while. ' ' 

Campbell smiled grimly. In imagination he al- 
ready heard the howl that would go up, and the im- 
precations that would descend upon appointer as 
well as appointee. After all, perhaps a Ranger 
Captain in a job like that was not a perfect selection. 
Then presently he turned to Captain Bill. 

^* Well, Captain, you've got your appointment," 
he said. 

The State Revenue Agent lost no time in begin- 

378 Captain Bill McDonald 

ning his work. Already many of the annual assess- 
ments for 1907 had been made, and if any re-assess- 
ments were to be taken there was no time to lose. 
In 1906 the assessed values of Texas properties had 
aggregated $1,210,000,000. State Agent McDonald 
resolved that they should properly be more than 
double this amount, and he undertook at once the 
first step in that direction. He did this knowing 
full well what would result. He knew that a man's 
purse is his tenderest point, and that to lay a finger 
on his taxes is to touch a spot already sore. He 
knew that what he was about to do meant to antago- 
nize practically every corporation in the State, and 
every rich county as a whole. Also, perhaps, a 
majority of the press. Papers that had lauded him 
to the skies for his achievements would be first to 
belittle him, now, and to cry him down. What he 
was undertaking was distinctly a minority crusade ; 
a struggle for the pioneer ; a fight for the under dog. 

Yet I think his chief consideration was the en- 
forcement of the law. That would be likely to be 
so; the law's enforcement had been his habit so 
long. If the other things weighed at all, they prob- 
ably only added zest to his resolve. 

He began by issuing a general letter to assessors 
throughout the State. In part the letter ran: 

''Dear Sir: 

** As State Eevenue Agent with well defined 
duties imposed upon me, I feel called upon to com- 
municate with Tax Assessors relative to the rendi- 

End of Eangering and a New Appointment 379 

tion and assessment of real and personal property 
for Taxation. . . . 

'' An inspection of the tax rolls of your county 
for 1906 and some years prior thereto, discloses the 
fact that real and personal property is assessed 
at only a certain percentage of its value instead of 
* * at its value ' ' as required by the Constitution and 
laws of the State. I will take occasion during the 
year to visit such counties as may be practicable 
and examine into the mode of rendition and assess- 
ment . . . and I hope to have your assistance. ^ ' 

The letter then called attention to, and quoted 
from, the law, setting forth the duties which good 
officers and citizens would perform in full, and the 
penalties for being, and doing, otherwise. Near the 
end of this letter he said : 

* * This duty is imposed upon you by the law, and 
I suppose I am not presumptuous in asking you to 
follow it strictly so that there will be no embarrass- 
ment when I call for the purpose of making an in- 
vestigation,'' etc., etc. 

It was a careful dignified letter, entirely justified 
by the conditions. It is true the Eevenue Agent 
did not fully explain in that last clause just what 
would be likely to cause the ** embarrassment " 
when he appeared upon the scene ** for the purpose 
of making an investigation,'' and the thoughtful as- 
sessor who had followed Bill McDonald's career 
and remembered some of his former investigations 

380 Captain Bill McDonald 

may have inferred that it would have something to 
do with guns. 

Certainly that letter made those assessors mad. 
Also it made the people mad. And the newspapers. 
Even the people and newspapers of the counties 
that would benefit by the Full Kendition law — not 
quite understanding, at first — got mad as a pre- 
paration for further enlightenment. Never, since 
Joseph laid a twenty per cent, levy on the Egyptians, 
after first taking away all of their land, was there 
such a general madness over any tax order under 
the sun. In all the history of Texas there had been 
no such commotion — such a cyclone of indignation 
as that which had its storm center in the State 
Eevenue Agent's office at Austin. Newspapers that 
only a week before had been praising Bill McDonald 
as the bravest man since Bowie and Travis — a fit 
successor to those heroes of the Alamo — now de- 
nounced him as a bloodthirsty desperado, who pro- 
posed to hold up the people of Texas as he had held 
up bad men — at the point of a six-shooter. They 
declared that his sole purpose was to fill the State 
Treasury to bursting with the people's money, so 
that it might be an easy prey for grafters, already 
lying in wait with schemes. Then they denounced 
Governor Campbell for appointing such a man, and 
prophesied his political ruin and general down- 
fall. Some of them could not, and others would not, 
see that a full assessment for all was the only fair 
system, and that, if the values increased, the general 

End of Rangering and a New Appointment 381 

rate of levy would lower accordingly. None so 
blind as those who will not see, and property 
owners, public and private, in counties where assess- 
ments had long been far too low to give them a fair 
share of the Staters burdens, were naturally blinded 
by that self-interest which was stirred in with 
Adam's dust. 

Indignation meetings prevailed. Assessors 
elected ** by the people," told their constituents 
that they would ^* obey the will of the people,'* and 
tell any petty Eevenue Agent that he could go to, 
with his bluff — that the ^* people '' of Texas were 
bigger than any individual in it and knew what they 
wanted in the way of assessments, regardless of any 
fool laws to the contrary. 

Perhaps the coolest man in the State sat in the 
State Eevenue Agent's office at Austin, and smiled 
that bland winning smile of his as he greeted the 
reporters and declined to get mad or to recede from 
his position, merely referring them to the law as 
set down; dictating, between times, answers to ex- 
cited assessors in which he assured them that his 
first letter was quite genuine and meant what it 
said, and that furthermore if they had — as some of 
them stated — already turned in their assessment 
rolls for 1907, they must go back and do it again, 
observing the law both in letter and spirit, in order 
to avoid that little '^ embarrassment " when he 
should call somewhat later in the year. And this 
kicked up the dust worse than ever. 

382 Captain Bill McDonald 

There was, however, a percentage of public senti- 
ment in favor of the law and justice, regardless of 
personal interest. There were men in high places 
who stood boldly for the new order of assessment, 
and there were newspapers, even in the old rich 
counties that for a principle were willing to lose 
subscribers and pay the additional tax, besides. The 
names of those men and of those newspapers Texas 
should inscribe on a roll of honor in her State 
Capitol, for it was by such as those that some 
seventy years ago her independence was won. 

Governor Campbell, assailed on every side, 
breasted the storm and stood .firm. If his political 
structure must go down to ruin because of an effort 
to secure justice and the enforcement of the statutes 
as laid down, then perhaps the ruin would be better 
than the edifice. He discussed the matter thought- 
fully and earnestly, here and there, when called upon, 
and was listened to with respect though with un- 
certain approval. Other officials throughout the 
State were inclined to be governed by the temper of 
their constituents. Yet there were notable excep- 
tions. In February, 1907, at a convention of county 
judges, in Dallas, the statement was made that an 
attempt to carry out the instructions of the State 
Eevenue Agent in the matter of the Full Kendition 
law would mean the political death of such county 
judges or commissioners as engaged in that effort. 
This statement, though wide, was not general. 
Among others to dissent was Judge Hill of Eastland 

End of Bangering and a New Appointment 383 

County, who declared that if the people of Texas 
did not want a man in office who would carry out 
the law he, for one, would be glad to resign. That 
was a fine brave statement and had its effect. A 
resolution pledging the members of the association, 
individually and as a whole, to support and main- 
tain the letter and spirit of the Full Rendition law, 
to the end that the taxes of the entire State might be 
equal and uniform, was unanimously adopted. The 
right word from the right source had been spoken. 
It began to be echoed in public places. 

It was along in March, 1907, that the State 
Revenue Agent decided that he would not wait to 
call on the assessors during the year, but that he 
would gather them in Austin where he could talk to 
them, all together. A meeting of the State Associa- 
tion of Assessors, near the end of the month, was 
the result. 

The assessors came together in many frames of 
mind, but mainly belligerent. Some of them had 
given it out to their constituents before they started 
that they were going down to tell that old Ranger 
that he might be able to round-up cattle-thieves and 
Mexicans, but that a bunch of county assessors 
would be a different matter. When these officials 
began to collect around the Capitol there was plenty 
of talk — not always complimentary. The State Reve- 
nue Agent loafed around among them. It was notice- 
able how the criticism subsided in the various groups 
as he sauntered in their direction. It was rumored 

384 Captain Bill McDonald 

that, though a civil officer, he still wore a '' forty- 
five " in a holster and carried an ** automatic '' in 
his hip-pocket. When the members were finally 
assembled in general meeting, and ^^ Captain Bill '' 
rose to address them — they were quite still. He did 
not make a long speech, but it was to the point. 

* ^ We have been assessing in this go-as-you-please 
sort of a fashion a good while,'* he said, '^ and now 
we are going to do it the other way. WeVe been 
assessing by custom — now we're going to do it by 
law. The present tax rate is twenty cents on the 
hundred. We want to get it down to five cents on 
the hundred and adjust it so that every man will 
pay what he should — no more and no less. I don't 
want to pay out money any more than the next one, 
but I want to pay what is right, and I know you 
men want to do what is right, with your people, when 
you find out what the right thing is. This law is 
right, and just because we've been going according 
to an old unjust custom, is no reason now, why we 
shouldn't go according to an old and just law." 

It was in this strain that he talked to them, using 
the friendly familiar vernacular which meant sin- 
cerity and a genuine interest in their welfare. They 
saw that he was in earnest, and he spoke to their 
better inclination. Also, he had the strong side of 
the argument. A paper commenting on the matter 

'' Thrice was the Captain armed, for the reason 
that he was in the right, and had the laws of the 

End of Rangering and a New Appointment 385 

State to back him '* — a statement true in the main, 
though it leaves the reader to guess in what third 
way the * * Captain ' ' was thought to be armed. 

At all events, whatever rebellion may have existed 
must have been pretty well quieted by the next day, 
for the following resolution was unanimously 
adopted : 

'' Resolved, That we, the Assessors of the State 
of Texas, in convention assembled, will make what 
improvements we possibly can to increase the rendi- 
tions of 1907, and promise to fully comply with the 
law, in the assessments of the future, and we hereby 
authorize the secretary of this convention to notify 
all assessors not present to co-operate with us in this 
matter. ' ' * 

When that association disbanded, if there was any 
indignation and resentment existing for the State 
Revenue Agent it made no outward manifestation. 
One assessor said: 

^ * As to what my duty was, I very well knew that 
before I went to Austin. But like most other asses- 
sors I followed a custom instead of the law. When a 
change was demanded I though it would cause a 
great deal of confusion among the people who had 
made an inventory of their property. I find it is 

* The New York " Sun," commenting on this, said: 
" Many of the assessors came to Austin with a feeling of animosity 
toward Captain McDonald, but he brought them all into line and be- 
fore the meeting adjourned resolutions were unanimously adopted 
thanking him for taking up the question of assessments and promising 
to assess property at its full market value." 

386 Captain Bill McDonald 

not the case. I have very little trouble, and in my 
judgment I will get forty per cent, raise, for an 
average. " 

And another assessor, writing to the Fort Worth 
Eecord, said: 

'* Well, I am going to do my duty. I am swear- 
ing every man to the value of his property, as well 
as to the rendering of it, so when brother McDonald 
comes around, if he ever does, there will be no kick 
coming my way.'' 

The result came when the inventories were all 
gathered and the items footed. Between the fig- 
ures of 1906 and 1907 there was an actual difference 
of $414,137,246 in favor of the latter year. A part 
of this vast increase would come from the natural 
property growth of the State, but in the main it 
was due to the revised inventories and valuations. 
And this was a mere beginning, undertaken under 
disturbing and adverse conditions. The increase of 
1908 over 1907 added another total of $561,297,248 
to the property assessment values, aggregating an 
increase over the year 1906 of $975,434,494. Per- 
haps Texas will be a three billion dollar State yet, 
as has been prophesied, and the tax rate in the 
pioneer counties will be such as to encourage still 
further settlement and progress. 

Not that the system is perfect yet. There are 
still assessors who shirk their duty, and hence 
counties who default in their burdens. No great 
reform can be immediately complete, but if State 

End of Rangering and a New Appointment 387 

Eevenue Agent McDonald survives long enough, this 
one will be so, in time, and already it stands as his 
greatest monument and victory.* 

[Full rendition of property values for the purposes of taxation has 
always been the law in Texas. The Thirtieth Legislature provided for 
the reestablishmcnt of an old and dishonored system. For a fuller 
understanding of the conditions before and after the enforcement of 
this and other laws the reader may refer to Governor Campbell's Mes- 
sage of Jan., 1909 (Appendix F), and an address by Hon. W. D. Wil- 
liams (Appendix G), at the end of this volume.] 

* In addition to this work, State Revenue Agent McDonald has very 
largely increased the State income by the systematic and vigorous en- 
forcing of the law, providing for the licensing of various public enter- 
tainments and for regulating the sale of liquors. His experience in 
putting into effect the new " Baskin-McGregor " law somewhat re- 
sembled his adventures with the Full Rendition law and ended with as 
signal a victory. 


In Conclusion 

captain bill mc donald of texas what he has been 

and what he is to-day 

So now we have arrived at the end of our story — 
the story of ** a man who does things '' — who has 
been making history for twenty-five years, who is 
still making it, to-day. It is the story of a life so 
full of incident and episode that we have been able 
to give only a chapter here and there — to touch the 
high places as it were ; for the tale entire would fill 
a library, and would involve the chronology of a 
State, which in that quarter of a century has in- 
creased its population nearly five times, its wealth 
in a like proportion, while its progress in education 
and morals has been incalculable. It is with the im- 
provement last named that Bill McDonald, and the 
little army of State Eangers from which he had been 
selected as an example, have been chiefly concerned, 
though advancement in other directions has been 
collateral and dependent on moral growth. Order 
is not only the first law of Heaven, but of the 
frontier, and by the sturdy Frontier Battalion has 
the fight for order been made, and won. For in 

In Conclusion 389 

spite of plague-spots here and there (and in a 
State of so vast an area, and so recent and motly a 
settlement, it would be strange indeed if these did 
not exist), Texas is to-day a splendid empire of 
beautiful towns and cities — of fair and fruitful 
farms, and of handsome, hardy law-abiding men and 

The Pan-handle has become a garden — ^not a 
Garden of Eden, exactly, but a garden of agriculture 
and home-culture — a larger garden than Eden, and 
happier and more profitable than Eden has ever 
been, since the fall. 

And the best evidence of what the Eanger Force 
has done for Texas may be found in the steady re- 
duction of its numbers. By the very nature of its 
achievements it has each year reduced the necessity 
of its existence. To-day it consists of four little 
companies, aggregating about thirty men, all told. 
They are brave, picked men — who face death daily 
and are not afraid. If from among these Bill Mc- 
Donald has been marked for special distinction, it 
is not because he has been more willing to do and 
dare, or more resolute in its purpose of reform, but 
because he was at his birth marked by that special 
genius which, whatever his environment, would 
make episodic achievement and peculiar distinction 
his inevitable portion. Long before he became an 
officer he was a peace-maker. Wherever trouble 
occurred, McDonald had a genius for being there, 
separating and disarming the combatants, admon- 

390 Captain Bill McDonald 

ishing them in that convincing manner which few 
men ever resented. No one ever knew him to flinch 
at a time like that — perhaps no one ever dreamed 
that he would be likely to do so. 

He was variously gifted. His perceptions were 
abnormally keen — his deductive conclusions often 
startling in their exactness. In his detective work, 
he was sometimes referred to as the Sherlock 
Holmes of Texas, though his processes would seem 
to have been more instinctive, and perhaps less in- 
tellectual, than those of Dr. Doyle 's imaginary hero. 
For he had the eyes of a fox, the ears of a wolf 
and he could follow a scent like a hound. 

*' Cap, you have eyes in the back of your head 
and can smell a criminal in the dark,'' was once 
said to him, and perhaps this statement was not so 
wide of the mark. 

His understanding of character — frontier char- 
acter — was likewise a gift. Almost every man has 
a right side, and Bill McDonald always seemed to 
know how to reach that side. When no right side 
developed, he knew how to handle the wrong one. 
He seldom failed to win the confidence and the 
respect — even the friendship — of his prisoners. Such 
enemies as he has to-day are not among the men he 
caused to be punished, but among those who feared 
— and still fear — capture and punishment. There 
may be a good many such. Time and again his re- 
moval was not only requested, but demanded — some- 
times by a whole community — a community which 

In Conclusion 391 

did not want the law's enforcement, and such a 
demand was likely to be accompanied by the threat 
of political revolt. But Texas, from the days of 
Sam Houston, has had good governors — governors 
to whom such a demand was in the nature of a com- 
pliment and the best reason for retaining the ** of- 
fending " incumbent. Hence Bill McDonald not 
only remained in service, but was given an ever 
widening usefulness. 

His * * suddenness ' ' and determination was a con- 
stant amazement to law-breakers. Once when he 
was in El Paso he received a telegram stating that 
some of his horses had been stolen from a ranch 
he then owned on the Oklahoma and Texas line. 
That ranch was nearly five hundred miles away as 
the crow flies, but Bill McDonald was on the train 
bound in that direction while the telegram was still 
damp. Arriving at his ranch, he struck the trail 
and set out alone to follow it, without rest, through 
Greer County, riding hot foot a distance of three 
hundred miles ; overtaking the thieves at last some- 
where beyond Norman, Oklahoma. Sid Woodring, 
a wary old outlaw, was in that gang, also his 
nephew, Frank Woodring, and a third member 
whose name is not recalled. It was a genuine sur- 
prise when Bill McDonald, whom they thought at 
the other end of Texas, charged in among them and 
had them disarmed almost before they realized what 
was going on. He marched them back to the jail 
at Norman; had them indicted in Greer County, 

392 Captain Bill McDonald 

where court was then in session ; got them convicted 
for terms ranging from five to ten years, and re- 
turned with his recovered horses — completing, in 
the space of a few days, one of the neatest and most 
spectacular bits of official work on record. 

The amount of his work was something enormous. 
In the two years ending August 31st, 1904, Kanger 
Company B, which he commanded, traveled 74,537 
miles, made 205 scouts and 174 arrests. Thirty-one 
of the arrests were for murder, and nearly all for 
desperate crimes. "When it is remembered that 
some of those scouts required days, and some of the 
arrests were hundreds of miles apart, and the result 
of long and arduous trailing and persistent detec- 
tive work, the labor and the result can be better 
understood. Nor is this an unusual report. It has 
been selected at random and is by no means of the 
busiest period — the period of the early nineties — 
those riotous Pan-handle days.* 

There was no show, no fuss and feathers about 
this work. Eiot threatened or broke out here and 
there — the newspapers carried a line that Captain 
Bill was on the way to the scene. He arrived — often 
alone — disarmed a mob; made an arrest or two, 
perhaps; gave out a few quiet admonitions, and 
it was all over — next day to be forgotten. With 
many another man such cases would have meant 
resistance, bloodshed, troops, and the long animosi- 

* For details of this report with tabulated statement of all Ranger 
work for that period see Appendix C. 

In Conclusion 393 

ties of years. That was his genius: to settle mat- 
ters — to dispose of them — to get through and to be at 
other work without waste of time. Once when he was 
ordered to Galveston to prevent a prize-fight, he ar- 
rived at the hall where it was to take place, after the 
crowd had gathered. He did not bother to discuss 
matters with the managers or principals, but walked 
out on the stage and announced briefly to the 
audience that the fight would not take place, for the 
reason that it was against the law which he was 
there to enforce. That was a fair sample of his 
method — to know the law, and to enforce it, without 
a fire-works and without violence. No man has ever 
been his equal, perhaps, in that field. 

It was true he was lucky, for bullets missed him, 
as a rule, and he steered clear of many dead-falls. 
Among the Mexicans, and bad men generally, there 
grew up a superstition that he was bullet-proof, and 
after the Eio Grande affair there would seem to be 
some reason for such a belief, for he stood up there 
in plain view, a tall and shining mark, blazing away, 
and no bullet touched him. 

He has been always modest concerning his 
achievements, discussing them in the few words of 
an official report. When he has spoken at all it has 
been his habit to present the general result, rather 
than his part in it. It was this characteristic that 
made difficult the securing of material for these 
chapters. In preparing for the Eio Grande battle, 
for instance, I said to him : 

394 Captain Bill McDonald 

** Of course you hit some of those Mexicans? *' 

** Well, you see, standing up as I was I had a 
good place to shoot from.'' 

** Then you did hit some of them? " 

'* Well — of course, as I say, I had the best place 
to shoot from, and I felt as if I could pick the buttons 
off their coats." 

** But, Captain, what I want to know is, if you 
think you really hit any of them. ' ' 

** Oh, well, hell (very reluctantly), I don't guess 
I missed any of 'em! " 

'' Did you feel afraid? " 

'* No — I don't reckon I thought of that." 

Yet every man is afraid of something. It was 
about the time of the conversation just noted (he 
was then visiting New York City), that he said 
anxiously to a companion who was steering him 
through the mess of traffic at one of the Twenty- 
third Street crossings : 

** Look here, you'll get me killed, yet, in a place 
like this. I don't know the game." 
I The muzzle of a Colt 45, or of a Winchester, had 
no terrors for him, but a phalanx of automobiles 
and traction-cars, mingled with a medley of other 
vehicles, bearing down from four different direc- 
tions — a perfect tangle of impending death — proved 
disturbing to one accustomed to simpler, even if 
more malignant, dangers. 

With conditions of his own kind, however, he was 
at home, even in the metropolis. Visiting Coney 

In Conclusion 395 

Island one night lie came upon two tough in- 
dividuals, clutched in a fierce grip and trying to 
damage each other vitally. Texas was a long way 
off, but it did not matter. He took hold of those 
men saying: 

** Look here, what are you men acting so sorry 
for? Stop this, now, and go home! " 

They were the sort of men who would have 
resisted a policeman — who might have killed him. 
What they did now was to cease their warfare and 
stare in a dazed way at the tall lean figure, the 
unusual features and the large white hat of Captain 

*' You fellows go on home, now,'' he admonished, 
in his slow, homely way, and the two set out in dif- 
ferent directions, without a word. 

It was on his way back to Texas that he paid his 
promised visit to President Eoosevelt. He was a 
bit nervous over the prospect, but found himself 
altogether at ease a moment after his arrival at the 
White House. For he was given the so^t of hearty 
welcome that goes with the wider life he knew best, 
and was introduced without formality to men who 
were delighted to honor him for what he was, and 
had been. If Theodore Eoosevelt had enjoyed his 
visit to the plains, so no less did Captain Bill Mc- 
Donald find delight amid the halls and highways of 

Captain Bill McDonald of Texas — the last of a 
vanishing race and a vanished day; of the race to 

396 Captain Bill McDonald 

which Crockett and Bowie and Travis and Fannin 
belonged; of a day when a hip and a holster were 
made one for the other — when to reach in that 
direction meant, for somebody, post-mortem and 
obsequies. State Eevenue Agent of Texas — such to- 
day is his title — and the work he has undertaken in 
his new field goes bravely on. Texas still needs his 
honesty, his courage, and his determination. When 
those qualities direct the affairs of the body politic, 
the prosperity and predominance of that common- 
wealth are assured. 







Adjutant-General's Office, 
State of Texas. 

Austin, Feb. 27, 1896. 

Lieutenant-Governor George T. Jester, Acting Governor: 

Sir : — I heremth briefly submit a few facts connected with my 
presence at El Paso. 

Much of the views sent over the wires were all colored in the 
interest of the managers of the prize fight. In fact, two reporters 
informed me that Stuart exercised a kind of censorship over all 
dispatches; that he demanded they be colored in his favor, with 
the threat that unless it was so worded they could not see the 
fight. Tlie dispatches contained the denunciatory proceedings of 
a city council against the Governor's order in sending the rangers, 
and by my action there, in having close watch kept over all that 
was done so far as it pertained to the bringing off of the fight, but 
failed, with one exception, to contain the resolutions of the 
Ministers' Union, who represented a large class among the best 
citizens approving the Governor's action and upholding my 
methods. I talked with many of the best citizens, among whom 
were district officials, who stated they believed the fight would 
have been pulled off on some adjacent disputed territory about 
El Paso. Of course, Mr. Stuart assured me that he would not 
bring the fight off in Texas, but the Governor of Chihuahua also 
informed me that Mr. Stuart assured him that he would not pull 
off the fight in Old Mexico, • and at the same time he had the 
dispatches to quote him as saying he would never violate the laws 
of Texas. If he does not do so every day in some of his gambling 
establishments, then common report has woefully misrepresented 

400 Captain Bill McDonald 

I had a close and constant espionage placed, not only on the 
principals, but also on the passenger depot and the cars loaded 
with paraphernalia of the ring, with instructions to follow the 
latter to wherever hauled. Not only did I do this, up to the 14th, 
but kept it up to the 21st, notwithstanding Mr. Albers' outburst 
of virtuous (?) indignation, because I kept a surveillance over 
Maher when taken to Albers' room, over the latter's place of busi- 
ness, on the night of the 13th, the day before the fight was to 
occur. I did this on the night of the 20th, when Maher was 
domiciled in the same room. By the way, from the report of 
Captains Hughes and Brooks, I find it hard to reconcile Mr. 
Albers' high sounding document with his action in going on the 
bond of some bunco men whom Captain Hughes arrested for 
swindling and placed in jail. They were let out of jail, and 
Captains Hughes and Brooks investigated the facts, and found 
Mr. Albers and a man by the name of Bums, a keeper of a 
" red light " joint, were the bondsmen. Now, the surveillance over 
men who were advertised to commit a crime which was a felony 
in Texas, made these people very mad, and much was said about 
the liberty of the citizen, martial law, etc. The drippings from 
such sanctuaries should come very seldom, and then in very broken 
doses. I usurped no authority, nor interfered with local officers 
in any duty they saw fit to perform. I was ordered there to 
see that no such crime as was widely advertised to come off near 
El Paso should be perpetrated upon any isolated Texas soil, nor 
even on any so-called neutral strip between Texas and Mexico. 
The presence of the ranger force was evidently very much appre- 
ciated by a certain business element there, when these people 
called on me for protection and to leave a detachment in El Paso 
to protect the banks, while most of my force would be out of the 
city on the day of the fight. The city was full of desperate 
characters looking for spoils from whatever source. 

From the utterance of Mr. Stuart, and most of his friends, as 
expressed in press despatches, it would appear that the rangers 
and he were there for the same purpose — to prevent the fight in 
Texas.. Nevertheless, Mr. Stuart's side kept up their misrepre- 
sentations until it became a foregone conclusion that no fight 
could occur on any disputed or neutral ground convenient to El 
Paso, notwithstanding the press dispatches reported him as having 
Mr. Bat Masterson and 100 men to protect his ring. I never 
heard of one cat squalling because another cat's tail got mashed. 
They began looking for another place, and Maher's eyes became 

Appendix A 401 

very sore, and apparently remained in that condition until a 
secure place was found in Old Mexico, some 400 miles from El 
Paso. Then his eyes began to improve every day. Still, they may 
have been sore, but Dr. Yandell, who was reported in press dis- 
patches as saying " Pete had acute ophthalmia," informed me that 
he never diagnosed his case, nor saw Maher at the time. 

The prize fighters were merely dough in the hands of Mr. 
Stuart and the hundreds of others who were present for the 
money they hoped to win, and would have fought in the ring, 
wherever located, if unmolested by officers at that time. It is 
hard to believe that Mr. Stuart had so much respect for law he 
regarded as wrong, and which he believed was passed to affect 
his interests. To illustrate his great respect for laws generally, 
Mr. Brooks, manager of the Western Union Telegraph Company, 
came to me the night before the start was to be made for Langtry, 
and demanded protection. He stated that a representative of 
Mr. Stuart had come to him and informed him that unless his 
company paid $10,000 to Mr. Stuart, that he (Mr. B.) could not 
use his own office and his own wires to send off the report of the 
fight at Langtry. This same representative of Mr. Stuart's in- 
formed Mr. Brooks that said Mr. Stuart would place his (Mr. 
Stuart's) men in the office and keep him out by force. I readily 
granted him protection to do his legitimate business and had my 
rangers about the office, with the proper instructions, and no such 
high-handed measures were undertaken. 

The statement wired, that I and the rangers crossed the river 
to see the fight, was palpably made to belittle the force. They 
knew it was false at the time. 

I desire to express my approbation for the intelligent and 
efficient manner in which Captains Brooks, McDonald, HugheS; 
and Rogers executed every order and performed every duty. The 
rangers conducted themselves in such manner as to reflect addi- 
tional credit upon the name of a ranger — always a synonym for 
courage and duty well performed. They were active in the execu- 
tion of every order, quiet and orderly in manner, determined in 
mien, fearless and vigilant on duty ; they thus naturally incur the 
displeasure of the law-breakers ever\nvhere. 

I have the honor to be ydur obedient servant, 

W. H. Mabry, Adjutant-General. 

Thanks are due Captains Orsay and Owen for the manner in 
which they have performed their respective duties. 

402 Captain BUI McDonald 

I beg to here express my appreciation for the thoughtful and 
courteous consideration always accorded to me by Your Excel- 
lency, and my obligations for the cordial and able co-operation 
and advice which you have rendered to me in the administration 
of mj'^ department. 

I have the honor to subscribe myself, 

Verj^ respectfully your obedient servant, 

W. H. Mabry, Adjutant-General. 


As now organized, the frontier force consists of four companies, 
commanded by Captains J. A. Brooks, W. J. McDonald, Jno. R. 
Hughes and J. H. Rogers. 

Three are stationed along the Rio Grande and one (McDonald) 
in the Pan-handle, with headquarters at Alice, Cotulla, Ysleta and 
Amarillo. They scout over a large section of country, and detach- 
ments are sent to different sections where needed, if it is possible 
to send them. Demands for rangers have been greater than this 
department could furnish, because of the limited number of men 
in the service. But eveiy effort has been made to cover as much 
territory as possible. 

The report of operations for the two years show that they have 
traveled in scouting 173,381 miles; arrested 676 criminals; re- 
turned 2,856 head of stolen stock to their owners; have assisted 
the civil authorities 162 times, and guarded jails 13 times. 

The duties of the ranger are arduous and often dangerous. The 
most desperate criminals would naturally seek that isolated sec- 
tion, and when on the trail of the bold desperadoes, often life is 
the forfeit in the encounter that may follow. Praise is due the 
commanding officers and their men for the prompt and fearless 
manner with which they perform their duties. While the pay is 
small, none but young men of character, standing, and good habits 
are enlisted, and they so conduct themselves as to reflect credit 
upon the State in the efficient service they render. 

Because of the limited force, and the great demands made upon 
the service, there have been enlisted 82 special rangers, who serve 
mthout pay from the State. They are almost exclusively located 
in the frontier sections, and are paid principally by private in- 
terests, who claim the}^ are compelled to stand the hardship of 

Appendix A 403 

the extra burden, or tax it imposes, because, in conjunction with 
the regular force as a standing menace to criminals, they are thus 
enabled to enjoy some of the protection which a State really 
guarantees to them. These " specials " are always enlisted upon 
the recommendation of the sheriff and the district attorney, or 
the sheriff and some other officer of the county or district. 



December 1st, 1898 — October 31st, 1900 

the ranger service 

The fact that the State has had for some years past a force 
always ready to suppress disorder, arrest criminals and aid the 
civil authorities in the protection of courts and jails, has been the 
cause of hundreds of criminals taking refuge in the border States, 
outside of the jurisdiction of Texas, and in Mexico, who would 
return to Texas to continue their depredations and murders were 
it not for the ranger force. Instances can be shown where the 
moral effect of having the rangers ready to co-operate with the 
civil authorities anywhere in the State has been a deterrent to 
the commission of lawless acts, and numerous instances can be 
shown where whole counties have been purged of their criminal 
element by the presence of the rangers, who alone were able to 
restore peace and good order in the community. 

In reality, the so-called Frontier Battalion is but four small 
detachments. The reports received at this office indicate that these 
men, while fearless and prompt in the performance of their duty, 
have always acted with discretion and in the most orderly manner. 
Their well-known reputation for courage of itself has had a most 
salutary and good moral effect on the lawless element of the com- 
munities where they have been stationed. 

Since January 1, 1899, the officers and men of the Frontier 
Battalion have been very actively engaged in running down the 
criminal element in the west, and in subduing lawlessness in other 
portions of the State. The rangers have only been used in other 
portions of the State when a direct request on your Excellency 
was made by the civil authorities of cities or counties needing 
them. That their work has been effective and to the satisfaction 

Appendix B 405 

of those requesting their service, it is only necessary to refer to 
letters on file in this office in reference to their etiiciency received 
from citizens and officials of the various cities and towns to which 
rangers have been ordered. It is probably appropriate to men- 
tion some prominent features of the work of the rangers during 
the past two yeai-s, outside of the duties usually performed by 
them in the way of scouting in the sparsely settled district of the 
west, and the work accomplished in recovering stolen cattle, arrest- 
ing thieves, murderers, etc. 

During the month of March, 1899, Captain McDonald, with two 
men, was ordered to Columbus, Colorado county, for the purpose 
of preventing trouble there between the Townsend and Reece 
factions. Captain McDonald went alone, his men not being able 
to reach him in time, and his courage and cool behavior prevented 
a conflict between the two factions. The district judge and 
district attorney both informed him that it was impossible to 
handle the situation, but he told them that he could make the 
effort, and he gave the members of each faction a limited time 
in which to get rid of their weapons, stating that he would put 
those in jail who refused to comjoly. His order had the desired 

Captain McDonald was ordered by your Excellency to Hender- 
son county to work on the cases against the lynchers of the 
Humphreys. In reference to this affair, I take the liberty of quoting 
from a letter from Hon. N. B. Morris, ex-Assistant Attorney- 
General : 

" You will remember that at the request of the sheriff, county 
attorney and other local authorities of that county. Captain Mc- 
Donald and Private Old were sent there to assist them and myself 
in the investigation of that horrible murder which was then en- 
shrouded in a mystery that it seemed almost impossible to uncover. 
Before the rangers reached us the people in the neighborhood of 
the murder seemed afraid to talk. They said they would be 
murdered, too, if they took any hand in working up the case. 
About the first thing that Captain McDonald did was to assure 
the people that he and his associates had come there to stay until 
every murderer was arrested and con\deted, and that he would see 
that all those who assisted him would be protected. They believed 
him, and in consequence thereof they soon began to talk and feel 
that the law would be vindicated, and I am glad to say that it 
was. The work of the rangers in this one case is worth more to 
the State, in my opinion, than your department will cost during 

406 Captain Bill McDonald 

your administration. In fact, such service cannot be valued in 
dollars and cents. . . . 

" The rano^ers were at all times sober, orderly and quiet, and 
left that countrj^ on good terms with all factions. They paid no 
attention to the criticism of the mob sympathizers, but went 
straight along, did their duty and now have the confidence not 
only of the good citizens, but of the members of the mob and 
their friends." 

Three of the lynchers turned State's evidence and eight of them 
were sentenced to the penitentiary for life. 

In March, 1899, Company E, Captain J. H. Rogers command- 
ing, was ordered to Laredo to assist the State health officer to 
enforce the quarantine laws, there being an epidemic of smallpox 
in that city. The Mexicans living there objected to being moved 
from their homes to the hospital, and the State health officer, 
considering it absolutelj'^ necessary for them to be moved in order 
to stop the spread of the disease, required force to accomplish 
his object. The Mexicans showed a disposition to riot on the 
19th, collecting together in hundreds, some of them being armed. 
The city officials had a fight with them, several shots being fired, 
and on the 20th, Captain Rogers, followed by one ranger and a 
special ranger, went with the sheriff of the county to search for 
arms secreted in the house of an ex-policeman, it is supposed, 
for the purpose of making an assault upon the State health 
officer and his force if approached. These officers met resistance 
from the inmates of the house. A fight ensued in which Captain 
Rogers received a wound in the right arm, and one of the Mexicans 
was killed. The remaining detachment of Company E, having 
been advised of the fight, and having met Captain Rogers in a 
disabled condition, and presuming that the lives of the ranger and 
special ranger were in jeopardy, went to the scene of action 
without hesitation, and immediately upon reaching the street in 
which the Mexicans were assembled were fired upon by the latter. 
The six rangers proceeded up the street firing as they went, being 
under the impression that a man seen lying in the street, dead, 
was one of the rangers who accompanied Captain Rogers. Several 
disinterested citizens have said that these rangers showed remark- 
able pluck and daring in coming down the street, fighting several 
times their number without the slightest hesitation. Several 
Mexicans were wounded. After this the work of moving the 
smallpox patients to the hospital was an easy task. 

In April, 1899, two rangers of this company were sent into 

Appendix B 407 

Wharton County by request, and were successful in breaking up 
a gang of cattle thieves operating in that locality. Several were 
arrested, including the recognized leader. 

In September, 1899, Captain Rogers and several of his men 
were ordered to Orange by request of the civil authorities, on 
account of an organized mob killing one negro and wounding 
another, and sending anonymous letters to others directing them 
to move out of the country. Several arrests were made. Captain 
Rogers was removed from Orange on account of his wound, and 
Captain McDonald and several of his men were ordered there to 
relieve him. Captain McDonald succeeded in arresting and having 
indicted four men for murder and a great number of men for 
conspiracy to murder in connection with the above mob. It is to 
be regretted that Ranger T. L. Fuller, while in the discharge of 
his duty at Orange, Texas, found it necessary to shoot and kill 
Oscar Poole in self-defense. 

On the 15th day of October, 1900, while Captain W. J. Mc- 
Donald, Lieutenant T. L. Fuller and Private A. L. Saxon, of 
Company B, were attending court at Orange, Texas, as "vvitnesses, 
and Lieutenant Fuller to answer the charge of false imprisonment 
(for making an arrest while a private),* the latter was shot and 
killed by Tom Poole, a brother of Oscar Poole, while in a barber 
shop talking to one of the barbers. From the information received 
it is certain that Lieutenant Fuller did not know of the presence 
of Tom Poole when shot. While this ranger was enlisted on 
account of his previous good record as a deputy sheriff, he enlisted 
with the hope of saving sufficient money to finish his education in 
the University of Texas, having at that time just completed his 
freshman year. He was a young man of temperate habits, quiet 
in his manner and a fearless ranger. 

* This tragedy resulted in the following recommendation by the Adjutant-General, 
which recommendation was duly acted upon. 


I recommend that the law governing the ranger service be so 
ammended " that the officers, non-commissioned officers and pri- 
vates of the ranger force be clothed with the powers of peace 
officers to aid the civil authorities in the execution of the laws 
anywhere in the State; that they be given authority to make 
arrests, and in such cases to be governed by the laws regulating 

408 Captain Bill McDonald 

and defining the powers and the duties of sheriffs when in dis- 
charge of similar duties." That this force consist of not to exceed 
four companies of twenty men each. The commissioned officers 
to be four company commanders, each with the rank of captain, 
one quartermaster with the rank of captain, and four 1st ser- 
geants. The pay of the officers and non-commissioned officers to 
be as heretofore prescribed, and the pay of privates to be $40.00 
per month. By increasing the pay of the privates, the State will 
secure the service of a better class of men, who will remain in 
the service a longer time and do more efficient work. 

In view of the fact that a number of criminal suits have been 
brought against privates in the ranger force for false imprison- 
ment by reason of arrests made by them prior to the promulga- 
tion of the attorney-general's opinion advising that only the 
officers of the ranger force had authority to execute criminal 
process under the law (see General Orders No. 24, Exhibit P), 
I respectfully recommend that an act be passed by the Legislature 
legalizing the official acts of the rangers as peace officers prior to 
May 26, 1900. 

Officers and privates have for twenty-four years been acting in 
good faith under the impression that all rangers had the authority 
of peace officers, and privates of the Frontier Battalion have, 
during that time, received orders from higher authority to exercise 
the power of peace officers. 



September 1st, 1902 to August 31st, 1904 

The Adjutant-General, State of Texas: 

Sir: — I have the honor to herewith inclose a report of the 
operations of Company B, Ranger Force, for the two years ending 
August 31, 1904 : 

September, 1902. — Captain McDonald, with Privates Blanton, 
Ryan and Taylor, scouted to Hutchinson County, from Amarillo. 
Private Taylor arrested James Newlin for assault to murder and 
turned him over to Sheriff Randal. Sergeant McCauley and 
Private Delling were ordered to Newlin county on a scout, and 
escorted a party of surveyors, who had been run out of pastures 
with Winchesters, and protected them from violence. Captain Mc- 
Donald with Privates Blanton and Taylor went to Columbus to 
carry Gregorio Cortez to Karnes County district court. His life 
being threatened by a mob, it was necessary to secure two men 
from Company C and guard the jail in which he was placed. By 
order of the district judge we carried him back to Columbus and 
put him in jail there. Captain McDonald arrested S. Harvard for 
theft of a bale of cotton valued at $25.20 and put him in jail 
at Quanah. 

October, 1902. — I went to Norman, 0. T., to appear in cases 
against horse thieves previously caught by me, for theft of horses. 
Accompanied by Privates Taylor and Ryan, I went to Eagle 
Lake to investigate the attempted assassination of W. T. Eld- 
ridge and to protect Mr. Eldridge from further violence, and 
succeeded in finding out who did the shooting. Privates Blanton, 
Wari'ent and Ryan scouted Oldham, Moore, Hutchinson, Roberts, 
Hemphill, Wheeler, Gray and Carson counties during the month, 
locating cow thieves, reported to be in that section. Sergeant 
McCauley assisted Sheriff Johnson in carrying a crazy man to 

410 Captain Bill McDonald 

the asylum at Austin, Texas. During this month, 2,600 miles 
were scouted and traveled. 

November, 1902. — Accompanied by Privates Ryan and Taylor, 
I attended district court at Richmond, where trouble was antici- 
pated in connection vrith the attempt to assassinate Mr. Eldridge. 
I went to Texline and Clayton, N. M., to investigate cattle 

December, 1902. — With Privates Blanton and Kenton I took 
Will Carr, who had turned State's evidence on the county clerk, 
cattle inspectors and others in Hutchinson County, to Lipscomb 
County to district court, where one of the cases had been trans- 
ferred. By order of the Governor of the State, Company B was 
ordered to Fort Hancock, on the Rio Grande, which was made 
headquarters, instead of Amarillo. 

January, 1903. — Private Smith scouted to Alpine, to Santiago 
and to Comstoek. An-ested Joe Hammon for murder and 
delivered him to the sheriff at Alpine. Also arrested a man for 

February, 1903. — Privates Smith and Taylor arrested a man at 
Sanderson for burglarizing Lockhamden ranch. He recovered 
the stolen property and turned it over to the owner. He turned 
the burglar over to the sheriff of the county. Sergeant McCauley 
and Private Ryan arrested Joe Jones, wanted at Pecos for 
forgerj^, and turned him over to the sheriff of the county. The 
money in his possession was secured and turned over to the 
sheriff of the county, and the defendant sent to the penitentiary 
at once. Privates Bean and Blanton scouted to Shafter and 
guarded the money for the mines. I assisted the local officials 
of El Paso several times during the month, and went to Man- 
gum, 0. T., as witness, and to assist in the prosecution of Sid 
Woodring, Frank Woodring and others for stealing my horses. 
These men were followed by me from the line of Collingsworth 
County to Cleveland County, 0. T., and caught with the horses. 
They were sent to the penitentiarj'^ for the theft. 

March, 1903. — Sergeant McCauley and Privates Bean and 
Blanton scouted on two trips to Shafter and Marfa, and up the 
Rio Grande in search for the notorious Bill Taylor, the train 
robber and murderer, and who had broken jail on several occa- 
sions, but he escaped into Mexico. Privates Taylor and Smith 
scouted to Sanderson and assisted the constable in preventing 
trouble at a trial in court, where the defendant, a sheriff, had 
killed the justice of the peace. Private Taylor, at the request 

Appendix C 411 

of the sheriff, went with him to El Paso to bring Geo. Maglovlin, 
who was charged with rape, to Alpine court. He also assisted 
in the arrest of a man for rape, one for horse theft, and one for 
murder, and put them in jail. Many scouts were made along the 
river in search of cow and horse thieves during the month. 

April, 1903. — I assisted the oflicei-s and went with the sheriff 
of Pecos County to locate a man, but he escaped into Mexico. 
Sergeant McCauley and Private Bean arrested two men for theft 
of wood, and one for theft of a horse. Sergeant McCauley 
assisted the sheriff in arresting a man for threatening to take 
life. Pnvates Delling and Ryan scouted to Valentine and as- 
sisted in following horse thieves, but the thieves escaped into 
Mexico. They recovered one stolen horse and returned it to 
owner. Private Smith arrested a man for assault, and went to 
Sanderson to investigate the attempted burning of a hotel. He 
also went to Del Rio to look after several horse-stealing cases. 
Private Taylor went with Inspector Cook on a scout, looking for 
stolen cattle. 

May, 1903. — I assisted in bringing to justice Gil Brice, a Mexi- 
can, charged with killing a lawyer named Tusselman several 
years ago, and who had escaped at Fort Hancock while shackled. 
Privates Ryan and Bean were sent to Sanderson to investigate 
the killing of a justice of peace and another man. Private Taylor 
arrested Thos. Chappis for attempt to murder, and succeeded in 
getting him in jail. Arrested R. C. McMahan for killing of Mr. 
Bob Smith, a justice of the peace, and Chas. Reed for lunacy. 

June, 1903. — Private Ryan scouted down the river and to 
Sanderson. Sergeant McCauley scouted with and assisted river 
guards. Private Bean scouted from Sanderson in pursuit of a 
Mexican wanted in Tom Green County for attempt to rape. 
Scouted to Sanderson and arrested Tom Brown for killing Mr. 
Morris, the operator. Private Delling scouted to Ferlingin and 
investigated some cattle stealing. 

July, 1903. — Privates Bean and Dunaway scouted four days 
down the river looking for stolen cattle. They arrested three 
Mexicans for shooting at Fort Hancock. Privates Delling and 
Ryan scouted to Sanderson to prevent trouble between factions, 
and to Fort Stockton to be present at the examining trial of 
McMahan, who was charged with murder, as trouble was ex- 
pected. They also arrested a man charged with rape. 

August, 1903. — Sergeant McCauley and Private Bean scouted 
in the northern part of El Paso County, looking after cattle and 

412 Captain Bill McDonald 

horse thieves. Private Dunaway arrested John McCain while he 
was in the act of robbing a T. & P. caboose. Private Taylor 
scouted during the month. Various other scouts were made during 
the month. 

September, 1903. — By order of General Hulen, I took Private 
Dunaway and went to Marfa to investigate an attack made on 
L. N. Holbert, county attorney. Mr. Holbert had been taken 
from the hotel by a mob and seriously beaten. I found who the 
guilty parties were, and brought Mr. Holbert to go before the 
grand jury to prosecute them, but through fear he begged off 
from the district attorney and wanted the matter dropped. I 
made an investigation of some whitecappers, and furnished the 
grand jury with evidence of same. One man was indicted. By 
order of General Hulen, Sergeant McCauley and Private Dun- 
away went to Eagle Pass to assist in the quarantine regulations 
and guarded the river until the quarantine was raised. Accom- 
panied by Sergeant McCauley, I went with Deputy Sheriff 
Kenton to capture a man, but failed to get him out of Mexico. 
Several scouts were made to Sanderson and Fort Stockton to 
assist the officers. Private Bean arrested two Mexicans for carry- 
ing pistols, and carried them to jail, by order of the justice of 
the peace. Privates Delling and Ryan arrested two Mexicans 
for disturbing the peace. Private Taylor went to Columbus as 
witness in the Cortez case. Privates Delling and Smith went with 
Sheriff Walton to assist him in his county for several days. 

October, 1903.-— Sergeant McCauley and Private Dunaway 
were still on quarantine service at Eagle Pass. Private Dunaway 
arrested a Mexican for running a night watchman from his duty, 
and put him in jail. Privates Ryan and Bean arrested a man for 
burglarizing Finley ranch; recovered the property stolen, and 
turned it over to its owner. The man was put in jail at El Paso. 
Private Smith assisted the sheriff and scouted with him over the 
county, and then went to Marfa and assisted the officers there. 
Sergeant McCauley and Private Dunaway returned from Eagle 
Pass, where they have been on duty for several months. Private 
Bean scouted after outlaws during the month. Private Ryan 
went to Fort Stockton to attend district court, and went to 
Sanderson to do some work for the sheriff in serving some 
papers. Privates Taylor, Smith and Delling carried prisoners 
from Fort Stockton to Marfa for safe keeping. Privates Smith, 
Taylor and Delling attended district court in Del Rio. 

December, 1903. — By order of General Hulen, I went to 

Appendix C 413 

Walker County to look after parties who waylaid and assas- 
sinated Bob James in KittrelPs " Cut-off " on December 4th. I 
arrived there on the 12th, and on the 13th and 14th arrested 
Buck Shaw, Henry Shaw, P. Clark and Jim Alston as being im- 
plicated in the murder, carried them to Huntsville, and had them 
put in the penitentiary for safe keeping. Held a court of in- 
quiry before Judge Cox, a justice of the peace, every few days. 
On the 24th Buck Shaw, the leader of the gang, had an ex- 
amining trial, and was held without bail. Chas. Rhoden was 
tried on the 29th and held without bail. The defendants then 
sued out writs of habeas corpus before District Judge Smithers. 
Alston was allowed bail in the sum of $1,500. Private Delling 
arrived in the " Cut-off " on the 16th and has been assisting me 
since in the cases. Private Delling assisted in arresting two men 
for theft of cattle. Private Bean killed a negro porter at El 
Paso for knocking him down with an iron poker, and was 
promptly acquitted in district court at El Paso in January. 
Sergeant McCauley went to Marfa to investigate some stealing 
there and then went to investigate the killing of William Johnson. 

January, 1904. — I, together with Private Delling, went to 
Corrigan and Livingston to look after some witnesses. I went 
after a bad negro for Sheriff Brooks. The negro was armed 
with a shotgun, and considerable shooting occurred. After the 
negro ran out he shot at me and I wounded him in the side. 
Went to Huntsville to attend habeas corpus trial of the murderers 
of Bob James, which resulted in holding Shaw, Roden and Clark 
without bail. Assisted Sheriff Brooks in arresting a bad negro, 
wanted for robbing. Scouted in Houston, Trinity and Walker 
counties during the month, continually. Private Delling went 
to Polk County and arrested four men for theft of hogs and put 
them in jail at Huntsville. Sergeant McCauley arrested C. 
Marsden for murder. Sergeant McCauley, Privates Ryan and 
Bean scouted to Love's ranch to stop an invasion of Mexicans 
who were coming over after parties charged with murder on 
this side. 

February, 1904. — I went to Crockett after attached witness. 
Private Delling arrested a man in the " Cut-off " for theft of 
hogs. I was ordered to Groveton by Adjutant General Hulen 
for the purpose of investigating the murder of an old lady, 
Touchstone, who was murdered for her land and money and 
thrown out the door for the hogs to eat. After investigation, 
I found that her throat had been cut and that she had been 

414 Captain Bill McDonald 

killed outright. Assisted by Private Delling I arrested Ab Angle, 
who had run off, as principal, and five others as accomplices. 
These parties were indicted by the grand jury. I caught one of 
them over the line of Arkansas while running away and put him 
in the pen at Henderson. Private Delling arrested a man in 
the " Cut-off " for horse theft, and put him in jail at Groveton. 
Private Dunaway arrested a man for robbing a camp. Private 
Bean arrested five Mexicans for disturbing the peace, and one 
man for assault to murder. Privates Taylor and Smith attended 
district court at Marfa. Privates Smith and Dunaway were 
ordered to Groveton to assist me in holding down the toughs 
of east Texas. Private Ryan attended district court at Amarillo ; 
attended district court at Huntsville; assisted the sheriff in 
handling prisoners. Private Delling arrested three men for 
shooting up the town. He also arrested one who was charged 
with adultery in the " Cut-off " and one for waylaying and shoot- 
ing two men at Phelps with a shotgun. Private Dunaway ar- 
rested a man for carrying a pistol at Groveton, and two men for 
conspiring to kill Abe Hyman, the only eyewitness to the murder 
of Dr. Gary, and another man at Groveton. One of the men 
had fixed a plan to make the other believe that Abe Hyman was 
going to do him some violence, and succeeded in getting him to 
get a shotgun in order to kill Abe Hyman. Private Dunaway 
took the gun and landed both men in jail. The accused men 
admitted the whole truth. One of these men was made constable, 
deputy sheriff and jailer as soon as he was released from jail. 
The other was run off at once, but I have his sworn statements 
of the facts. Private Dunaway arrested a man for burglary and 
rape and put him in jail. Private Taylor arrested a man at 
Sanderson for stealing cattle. Private Taylor was ordered to 
report to me at Groveton. Private Dunaway arrested a man for 
carrying a pistol, put him in jail, but the sheriff released him 
soon after, pretending he was an assistant of his. 

April, 1904. — I carried two of the accomplices in the Touch- 
stone murder from Huntsville to Groveton. By order of the Ad- 
jutant General I went to Leon County to investigate the mur- 
der of Tummins, who was waylaid and killed. Two men were 
arrested at the house of the murderer and put under $5,000 bond, 
but the grand jury failed to find a bill against them. They then 
began shooting into houses and had the people considerably dis- 
turbed. With Private Delling, I arrested them and held them 
without bail at the examining trial and also in habeas corpus 

Appendix C 415 

trial. I was ordered to San Jacinto County to investigate law- 
lessness there, especially wire cutting, but found some of the 
wire cutters on the grand jury, and it was the opinion of the 
district and county attorney that we could do no good under ex- 
isting circumstances, and notliing was accomplished there. Pri- 
vate Dunaway arrested a man for assault to rape. Assisted by 
Privates Dunaway and Delling, I arrested four persons charged 
with murder. They had previously been arrested for being ac- 
complices to the Touchstone murder. I arrested a man for theft 
of a horse. Sergeant McCauley scouted in different counties on 
the Rio Grande, and investigated the stealing of horses. I went 
to Waverly to investigate the poisoning of a well and cistern, 
but decided it was done by the parties themselves, in order to 
accuse others of it. I went to Palestine to assist the sheriff in 
hanging a negro charged with rai>e. Private Delling went to 
Leon County to investigate the murder of Bob Blackwell, and 
succeeded in securing the required evidence. He attended the ex- 
amining trial of the two men charged with the murder, who were 
held without bail. Privates Smith and Dunaway arrested a man 
for attempting to murder A. A. Smith and put him in jail. They 
also arrested the same man for carrying a pistol. Private Ryan 
arrested two Mexicans for stealing sheep in El Paso County and 
another for stealing wood. 

June, 1904. — Private Delling and myself scouted in Kittrell's 
"Cut-off," Houston and Trinity Counties. I went to Comstock; 
made a scout on Deril's River, to El Paso and to Fort Hancock. 
Sergeant McCauley arrested a man for embezzlement and started 
to jail mth him at El Paso, but he escaped by junjping out of 
a window while the train was in motion. Sergeant McCauley 
and Private Ryan arrested two Mexicans for theft of horses and 
saddles, recovered the property and returned the same to its 
owners. Private Ryan attempted to arrest a man for theft of 
cattle, and had a running fight with and wounded him. He es- 
caped across the river. Private Dunaway arrested a man and 
put him in jail for carrying a pistol. Privates Delling and 
Smith went to Centerville to court to prevent trouble between 
citizens there, when a malicious prosecution was filed against 
him. Private Delling arrested a man for carrying a pistol in 
the " Cut-off." 

July, 1904. — Accompanied by Privates Delling and Wilcox, I 
went to Oakwood to investigate train robbing of the I. & G. N. 
We captured two of the men without a doubt. They were put 

416 Captain Bill McDonald 

in jail at Palestine and identified by the conductor as the two 
men that came into the sleeper, and the only two tracks that led 
up to where the express packages were torn open fitted theirs. 
They afterwards admitted them to be their tracks. While we 
made a strong case against them, the influence of the officers 
and others was too strong to find any bills. I would like to have 
space to add in this report the testimony taken at the examin- 
ing trial. 

August, 1904. — I went to Grove ton to attend court, and car- 
ried Ab Angle before the grand jury, but he failed to testify, 
as he had been persuaded not to do so. I arrested a man for 
being implicated in train robbery, but he proved an alibi and 
was released. Private Delling went to Centerville to district 
court. Sergeant McCauley recovered six stolen horses and 
turned them over to the owners. He arrested four Mexicans for 
theft of cattle. 

Veiy respectfully, 

W. J. McDonald, 
Commanding Company B, Ranger Force. 

Appendix C 


Captain J. A. Brooks .... 
Captain W. J McDonald . . 
Captain J. H. Rogers .... 
Captain Jno. R. Hughes . . 



Oot33> 1 Letter of company. | 

SUnooSiiS 1 Murder. | 

§ 1 o» wo 00 1 Assault to murder. 



w 1 : 4^*.c;, 1 Aggravated assault. 

S 1 «; "w 1 Horse, cattle and other theft. 


»(k. K5 tC ti 

Swindling, embezzlement and 


1 Robbery and burglary. 

•(^ 1 • H-M 

1 Mail and train robbery. 

O* 1 ►-*>>*• 

1 Perjury. 

I^ 1 -JH-OS 

1 Rape and adultery. 

1 SmuggUng. 

O 1 • ow^ 1 Carrying concealed weapons. 


H-: : to 1 Seduction. 


: : ** 1 Escaped convicts (captured). 

: 1 

: : : | Rioting. 




ti OJ Cn © 

Minor offenses. 



Total arrests. 




: 1 — — 1 Attempts at arrest. 

o 1 SScSS 1 District courts a.ssi«ted. 




Number days quarantine guard. 

SI: 55; 

1 Jail guards. 


: 1 Other assistance to civil authority. 


! h-' CO 1 Engagements with criminals. 


: H-i h3 1 Persons killed in resisting arrest. 

•• 1 

'.'.'.'. 1 Wounded in resisting arrest. 


' • cnco 1 Escorts. 


'.'.'. ^ \ Rangers killed in line of du*v. 


: : : ^ 1 Rangers wounded in line of duty. 





Horses and cattle recovered and re- 
turned to owners. 



Miles traveled in discharge of di 






14TH OF AUGUST, 1906 

Washington, B. C, December 5, 1908. 

Sm: I have the honor to submit the following report relative 
to the investigation of the Brownsville raid : 

Ex-Private Boj^d Conyers, of Company B, Twenty-fifth In- 
fantry, now at Monroe, Ga., told William Lawson, a detective in 
the employ of Captain William G. Baldwin, of Roanoke, Va., 
that he and three [or four] other men of the Twenty-fifth In- 
fantry were, the leaders in the Brownsville raid. This informa- 
tion was obtained at different dates during the month of June, 
1908. (See Exhibit A.) 

I submit the affidavit as presented. There are certain dis- 
crepancies of a minor character, due to the fact that Lawson is 
illiterate and had to depend on his memory for details. But it 
should be borne in mind that Lawson was unacquainted with the 
details of the Brownsville raid and was given information which 
could have come only from one familiar with the secret history of 
the afi!air. Lawson's first report included the names of Conyers, 
John Holloman, John Brown, and " another man." Subse- 
quently he supplied the name of James Powell, but I think the 
original name given was that of Robert L. Collier, Company C, 
one of the relief guard. This information was corroborated in 
the presence of witnesses, but before Lawson could finish his 
work Conyers became suspicious and would give no further evi- 
dence incriminating himself. From then on he furnished to A. 
H. Baldwin, Captain W. G. Baldwin, and to myself information 
piecemeal and reluctantly. The name of Carolina de Saussure, 
his bunk mate, was the last one obtained. 

Appendix D 419 

Conyers tried to commit suicide after he found that he had 
made his statements to a detective, declaring: that the other ne- 
groes would kill him when it got out. He finallj' wrote to Sena- 
tor Foraker and received a reply, a copy of which is annexed. 
That reply he construed to mean that he should stick to his 
original stoiy told before the Senate committee at all haz- 
ards, and there he stands. I have every reason to believe that 
his confession is genuine and gives for the first time the true 
secret history of the Browns\ille raid. 

The list of participants given in this report Conyers furnished 
me personally. I believe it is substantially correct, but with 
the influences shown to be backing Conyers to adhere to his false 
testimony given before the Senate committee still being exerted 
he cannot be relied on to support his own confession mitil it is 
thoroughly sustained from other sources. 

Evidences of similar encouragement to stick to the lies told 
at Brownsville and before the Senate committee were foimd in 
many places, and subsequent to the date of the Foraker letter 
they became stronger and more obstructive than ever. 

The investigation has been conducted with strict recognition 
of the advisability of preserving secrecy, and with discretion. 
No promises of immunity were made. The laiowledge on the 
part of the ex-soldiers that the Government could not punish 
them after their separation from the service, coupled with the 
belief that by preser\dng silence they would aid in the passage 
of the relief legislation now pending in Congress, has added to 
the difficulty of securing information. 

The issue has evidently become racial. The colored detectives 
would be confronted frequently in the smaller towns where these 
men are living with a demand from colored men for information 
as to their business. 

We have located over 130 of these ex-soldiers, and have been 
in thirty States in quest of information. The appendices give 
statements as to the results obtained. They indicate a general 
knowledge on the part of the ex-soldiei's that the raid came from 
inside the fort, and that the soldiers of Company B were the 
guilty parties. 

We earnestly urge that we be permitted to continue the in- 
vestigation. Several detectives are still in the field, and within 
the coming week a number of affidavits will be forthcoming. 

With some repetition of matter appearing later in the report, 
Boyd Conyers's story is given here in narrative form: 

420 Captain Bill McDonald 


"The rumors of trouble over the assignment of colored troops 
to Brownsville were circulated before the troops left Fort Nio- 
brara, and preparations were made among the men to * get even 
with the crackers/ so the whites were called. Some cartridges 
were held out at range practice, but more en route to Browns- 
ville. Pretense was made that they were given away at stations 
along the road. Some were, but a large number were secreted. 

" At inspection in Brownsville, Lieutenant Lawrason, Company 
B, threatened punishment to the men who were short of ammu- 
nition, but nothing was done about it, and the deficiency was 

" The friction with citizens of Brownsville began at once. In 
Boyd Conyers's language, 'Whisky made all the trouble. If 
we hadn't been drinking we wouldn't have had the nerve to shoot 
up the town.' 

" It was agreed, at a gathering of a few men in the saloon of 
Allison, the colored ex-soldier, on the afternoon of August 13, 
1906, that the raid should take place that night at 12 o'clock. It 
seems to have been delayed a few minutes to let Tamayo, the 
Mexican scavenger, get away from the B barracks. 

" John Hdlloman, the money lender of Company B, was the 
chief conspirator and leader in the raid and custodian and dis- 
tributor of the cartridges, but his plans could not have been car- 
ried out had not Sergeant George Jackson, of Company B, in 
charge of the keys of the gun racks in B barracks, and Sergeant 
Reid, in command of the guards, co-operated both before and 
after the raid. 

" The four men who led the raid were John HoUoman, John 
Brown, Boyd Conyers, and Carolina de Saussure, all of Com- 
pany B (and probably R. L. Collier, of Company C). Hollo- 
man was in barracks. Brown in the bake shop, Conj^ers and De 
Saussure in the guardhouse. The two latter were in the same 
detail, and had been relieved at about 11 o'clock, De Saussure 
on the post at the guardhouse, and Conyers on No. 2, around 
the barracks and facing the town. Holloman got the party to- 
gether. Conyers and De Saussure slept on the same bunk in the 
guardhouse, claiming that they wanted to get under the mosquito 
net, and they had the trick of taking their guns into the bunk 
instead of placing them in the open rack, on the excuse that 

Appendix D 421 

they didn't rust so badly under cover, but really so (he absence 
of the guns from the open guardhouse rack would not attract 
attention, and their owti absence would be ascribed to a visit to the 
closet, which was back of the guardhouse. These two men 
slipped out the rear door of the guardhouse, passed through the 
sally port, and joined HoUoman and Brown. 

" The party crossed the wall of the fort down near the end of 
A barracks, went up the roadway to the entrance to the Cowen 
alley, where the signal shots were fired. These shots were im- 
mediately tallied onto by the alarm shots of Joseph B. Howard, 
guard on No. 2, and formed the series testified to by Mrs. Katie 
E. Leahy, of Brownsville. Her testimony is further borne out 
by the statement that not over thirty seconds elapsed before a 
number of men of Company B swarmed out on the upper gallery 
and opened a fusillade on the town. 

" It is an absolute certainty that it would have been impossible 
for Sergeant Jackson to have opened the gun racks, for the men 
to have assembled, secured their guns, loaded them, gone out to 
the gallery, and started firing, all after the first shot was fired; 
all aroused, as they testified unanimously, from sound slumber, 
in less than two minutes, in the confusion of a dark barrack 
room. Beyond the possibility of a doubt, the racks had been 
opened and the inside conspirators were ready to pour out on 
the signal shots. The testimony is ample that there were scarcely 
twenty seconds between the last of the signal shots and the first 
general volley from B barracks. 

" The number firing from the barracks is unknown, but per- 
haps 20 men were involved. A smaller number went to the 
ground and followed the leaders up the alley. It will be remem- 
bered that one of the witnesses testified to hearing some one of 
the group of soldiers exclaim, * There they go ! ' Whereupon 
these men leaped over the wall and ran up the alley. 

" Boyd Conyers is the man whose gun jammed at the exit of 
the alley by the Cowen house, testified to by Herbert Elkins, and 
it was taken from him by De Saussure and fixed in the street 
where the light from the street lamp at the corner of Elizabeth 
Street shone on them. 

" Less than five minutes elapsed from the time the first shot was 
fired until these men were all back inside the fort. 

" Conyers stated that Reid was told that they were going to 
shoot up the town, and he had laughed and said, ' Don't go out 
there and let the crackers get the best of you.' 

422 Captain Bill McDonald 

" When Conyers and De Saussure reached the guardhouse they 
ran in the back way and got into their bunks. Sergeant Reid 
came in and swore at them, but Conyers was so excited and out 
of breath that he could hardly stand, so Reid stationed him at the 
rear of tlie guardhouse in the dark where he could not be scruti- 
nized so closely. 

" Holloman came around with extra cartridges about daybreak 
and Reid passed them out. The guns were all cleaned before 

This day personally appeared before me William Lawson, who, 
being duly sworn, deposes and says: 

" On June 5, 1908, I was sent to Monroe, Ga., to interview 
Boyd Conyers, one of the soldiers who was stationed at Browns- 
ville, Tex., in August, 1906. I was sent by Mr. Baldwin to get 
in with Conyers and ascertain if he knew who did the shooting 
at that point. I was not given the names of any of the members 
of either of the companies stationed at that point, nor was I given 
any other information, except the fact that a shooting occurred 
at the time and place above mentioned, and that Boyd Conyers 
was suspected of knowing who did same. 

"I arrived at Monroe, Ga., on June 5, and stopped at the 
home of Esther Crews, colored. I met Boyd Conyers, who is 
known as ' Buddie ' Conyers, on the morning of June 6, but had 
very little conversation with him, but was introduced to him as 
an old soldier. On the morning of June 8, between 8 and 9 
o'clock, I met Conyers about halfway between the station house 
and Main Street. We talked some twenty or twenty-five minutes. 
I broached the Brownsville case, and mentioned the fact that the 
soldiers had shown their good sense by keeping their mouths 
while at Washington. I then asked him what the motive was for 
the shooting. He told me that the ^crackers ' at Brownsville 
had made threats that they would have no negro soldiers at 
Brownsville, and the soldiers had made it up in their minds that 
if they bothered them that they would go in and clean up the 
ground. He also said that they mentioned this to Sergeant Reid, 
who was commander of the guards, and that Reid said, * All that 
I have to say is to take care of yourself and the boys when you 
go down there.' S. H. Parker, whose home is at Charleston, S. 
C, was present and heard the same conversation. 

" About then a gentleman called Conyers to come and clean 
some clothes, and Conyers left, and nothing further was said 
about the matter at this time. I was with Conyers nearly every 

Appendix D 423 

day, and went to Gainesville, Ga., on an excursion with him on 
the 15th of June. I did not mention the Brownsville matter to 
Conyers again until on the 29th of June, when I returned from 
Atlanta, ha\dng gone there on June 27. On this date I met him 
at Joe Blassingame's and had a pint bottle of liquor, offered him 
a drink — he would not drink in the house, but we went up the 
street and we stopped under a storehouse porch, near Main 
street. We took a drink or two, and I started the Brownsville 
case again. He told me that he was doing guard duty at the time 
of the shooting at Brownsville, and was stationed at the outlet 
toward the town. He said that when the guard was called the 
night of the shooting they mentioned to Sergeant Reid what had 
occurred downtown, and he said, * Boys, if you are not satisfied, 
you will have to go and get satisfied,' and they remarked that 
they were going to get satisfaction that night. Reid then laughed 
and said, ^Boys, don't you go down there and let them get the 
best of you.' He then assigned the guard and went away. 

" In this conversation Conyers told me that John Brown, J. H. 
HoUoman, and a man named Powell, and several others, came 
down where he was on guard, and that they went downtown and 
just gave them hell, and after they shot out all of their cartridges 
they ran back to the barracks, and when they got back to the bar- 
racks they found that the alarm had been sounded and the offi- 
cers were calling the roll. Holloman, Brown, and himself were 
late for roll call, but that some one answered for Brown and Hol- 
loman, but that he was late, and that Reid told him that they had 
gotten themselves and himself in a hell of a hole, and told him to 
go to the guardhouse and pretend to be asleep, which he did. 

" He told me that they had slipped a few cartridges when at 
target practice and that before inspection, after the shooting, 
Reid gave him some cartridges to replace the ones he had used. 
He further said that they had all agreed before they went out 
that they would keep their mouths, and that he would have told 
them at the investigation at Washington all about the shooting, 
but that he was afraid. I had no further talk with Conyers, be- 
cause I saw that I was being suspected by the negroes around 
Monroe, Ga. 

Witnesses : 

H. J. Browne. 
Geo. W. Madert. 

"William (his x mark) Lawson." 

424 Captain Bill McDonald 

District of Columbia, ss. : 

Subscribed and sworn to before me, a notary public in and for 
the District aforesaid, this 16th day of October, a.d. 1908. 

[seal] Geo. W. Madert, 

Notary Public. 

This day personally appeared before me Herbert J. Browne, 
of Washington, D. C, who, being duly sworn, deposes and says: 

" I was employed by the War Department in May, 1908, in 
company with Captain William G. Baldwin, of Roanoke, Va., 
chief of the Baldwin Detective Agency, to investigate the conduct 
of the battalion of the Twenty-fifth Infantry, stationed at 
Brownsville, Tex., which conduct resulted in the Brownsville raid, 
so called, on the night of August 13-14, 1906, wherein one Frank 
Natus was killed. Lieutenant of Police Dominguez badly wounded, 
and the houses of several citizens were shot into. Captain Bald- 
win has charge of the secret work for the Norfolk and Western 
Railway, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, the Southern Rail- 
wa3% and the Atlantic Coast Line, and is one of the best known 
and most responsible detectives in the country. 

"In conjunction with him I have been continuously employed 
upon this work since its inception in May. 

" The facts set forth in my report addressed to General George 
B. Davis, Judge-Advocate-General, War Department, under date 
of December 5, 1908, are true to the best of my knowledge and 

" In particular I visited Monroe, Ga., to corroborate the in- 
vestigation at that point of William Lawson, a colored detective 
in the employ of Captain Baldwin, whose affidavit and reports 
are annexed to and made a part of my report of December 5, 
1908, above referred to. 

" I had several interviews at Monroe with Boyd Conyers, ex- 
private of Company B, Twenty-fifth Infantry, one of the guard 
on the night of ^the Brownsville raid, and found that William 
Lawson's statements regarding Conyers were substantially and 
essentially correct. I personally obtained from Conyers further 
information detailing how the cartridges used in the raid were 
surreptitiously and illegally obtained and distributed, how the 
principal raiders proceeded, when and by whom the gun racks 
in Company B were unlawfully and secretly opened for the pur- 
pose of the raid, how the raiders were protected during and subse- 
quent to the raid and given opportunity to clean their guns, and. 

Appendix D 425 

in particular, was furnished by Conyers with the names of eight 
participants in the raid other than the three named by him in 
his statements to William Lawson, a total of eleven, including 
himself, the said Conyers, all members of Company B, Twenty- 
fifth Infantiy. 

" The leaders of the raid, as named by Boyd Conyers, were 
John Holloman, John Brown, Carolina de Saussure, and himself. 
Following them were William Anderson, James Bailey, Charles 
E. Cooper, William Lemons, Henry Jimerson, James *Rastus' 
Johnson, and Henry ' Sonny ' Jones. Sergeant Reid, in charge 
of the guard, was accused by Conyers of knowledge before and 
after the raid. Sergeant George Jackson, in charge of the keys 
of the gun racks of Company B, was accused of opening the 
racks for the raiders, and of again opening them subsequent to 
the raid in order that the guns might be removed and cleaned. 

" I found Boyd Conyers in a disturbed frame of mind. No 
claim is made that his original declarations to William Lawson 
were other than those of a criminal boasting to one of his own 
race of his crime and of his success in escaping discovery. His 
subsequent declarations to me were given partly during moments 
of contrition and in a desire to unload his conscience by a con- 
fession and partly as the result of careful and persistent ques- 

" I found the effect of the letter from Senator Foraker to 
Conyers extremely obstructive. He seemed to regard it as a 
mandate to adhere to the false story told by him before the 
Senate Committee on Militaiy Affairs, and as absolving him 
from any and all obligations to aid in uncovering the truth. 
Similar influences were encountered at many points, adding largely 
to the difficulty of obtaining admissions of even the most ob^ious 
facts relative to the raid. 

" Heribert J. Browne." 

Subscribed and sworn to before me this 9th day of December, 

[seal.] J. B. Randolph, Notary Public. 



Presiding Judge of Election, Precinct No. 1, Rio 
Grande City, November, 1906 

Rio Grande City, Texas, 11/12/06. 
Hon. J no. B. Kulen, Adj. -Gen., 


As the presiding judge for this Precinct, No. (1) one of 
Starr County, Texas, at the late general election held in this 
city on the 6th day of November, 1906, in the upstairs room at 
the court-house, used by the district judge as the court-room, 
permit me to make the following report of the proceedings had 
that day: 

Ha-sdng had no call nor communication from the Republicans 
of this place for representation among the (4) four clerks of the 
election subject to appointment by the presiding officer, they 
had already been named, taking care that one man who had 
theretofore voted the Republican ticket was chosen and also one 
man whom I knew to favor Mr. Gregorio Duffy, the ruling spirit 
locally of the opposition to the Democrats. 

Also, ha^dng heard ugly rumors of threats accredited to the 
Republicans, I had notified eighteen (LS) law abiding citizens to 
be present at the polls as early as half-past seven a.m. on the 
6th of November, 1906, then and there to take the oath of office 
and act as the peace officers during the election. Of these only 
12, I think, appeared and were sworn in. 

As soon as the election judges assembled they and those of the 
peace officers present and the supervisors were sworn in. 

At this point the presiding officer stepped to the front door 
and noting that a body of armed men on horseback and afoot 
had assembled on the outside at the 100-foot limit from the 
polling place, asked who had dared come to the polls thus armed 
and was told they were the Republican voters. 

Appendix E 427 

Immediately Mr. F. W. Seabury called me to the foot of the 
first flight of steps and introduced me to a Mr. Creager, who, 
after replying that the armed men outside were Jose Pina's 
peace officers, demanded representation among the clerks of 
election. I told him that all parties had representation, but when 
he insisted on some of the names he suggested, it being agreed 
to by the person, I put Domingo L. Garza in the place of the 
Duffy representative I had called to act as clerk. 

From the names Mr. Creager suggested as inside officer, I also 
chose Mr. Jose Pina, believing that by having him under my 
direction, the agreement between Mr. Seabury and the presiding 
judge on the one hand and Mr. Creager on the other, that the 
voters should come up stairs in pairs — one Democrat and one 
Republican together — could best be maintained, for the reason 
that the said Jose Pina had been the agency who, through his 
magisterial capacity incident to him as county commissioner for 
this Precinct, had appointed the (40) forty peace officers that 
Mr. Creager said the Republicans had at hand to preserve the 
peace and insure a fair and quiet election. 

Thereupon Mr. Garza and Mr. Pina and the balance of the 
peace officers called by the presiding judge were sworn in, and 
word reaching me that threats of breaking in the front door 
beloAV were being made by the Republican crowd outside, the 
janitor was ordered to open it ; the polls were declared open and 
the timepiece set at eight o'clock a.m. 

During the coui-se of the first half hour — possibly it was that 
long — the agreement of pairing the voters coming up. to the vote 
was observed. Then, noting that for some minutes nearly all 
the voters had been Republicans, inside peace officer, Jose Pina, 
was directed to see why there were no Democrats coming in. 

On his return he told me it would be all right and that there 
were no Democrats at the door just then, but another of my 
deputies from below in response to my call came up and told 
me the Republicans had taken possession of the staircase and 
lower door and would only let such Democrats in as forced their 
way by them at peril of their lives. 

At the end of about (2) two hours the disorder became so great 
that repeated demand had to be made on Mr. Jose Pina and the 
other inside officers to regulate the people outside the rail. On 
seeing that even Mr. Pina could not control his Republican 
friends I had to threaten the crowd with closing the polls if they 
did not preserve order, and remain in line instead of filling the 

428 Captain Bill McDonald 

area outside the railing to such an extent as to threaten to tear 
it loose from the floor. 

Immediately after the fourth threat of this kind, I was in- 
formed and could see from the faces of the crowd that only 
trouble would ensue if I tried that method to handle them, so 
I let them have their own way and thereafter they did break the 
railing supports loose from the floor. Thereafter, I repeatedly 
called on Mr. Juan Hinajosa, the Rupublican challenger, to en- 
force order and refused to receive any more votes until his people 
should get into line. 

On entering the polling place, my only object was to see that 
a fair election should take place, and I do not think that I 
neglected any precaution to have it so. I repeatedly sent word 
to my peace officers below, after about half-past ten a.m., to 
clear the stairs and lower corridor of all who had already voted, 
but none of them could be found generally, and when one was 
found he would send back word that he could do nothing with 
the crowd and that Democratic voters were being turned away 
from the lower door and only Republican voters were being 
allowed to enter. 

I have since been told by the peace officers of the election, 
that fear for their lives led them to desist from trying to enforce 
the entry of Democrats into the line going to the polls. 

I have also since learned that Democratic voters who were 
business men of the town, left their places of business as many 
as three and four times and went to the polls to vote, but were 
denied entrance by Mr. Pina's armed deputies and other Re- 
publicans and their sympathizers. And also that four desperate 
characters with Winchesters in their hands were picketed in front 
of the lower entrance to the court-house, and that when asked 
if they were voters Mr. Gregorio Duffy replied, " No, they are 
only some posts driven in the ground there for a rear-guard to 
keep out the Democrats." 

Also on examination of the certified list of poll-tax payers of 
this precinct after the election, I find that 126 of them did not 
vote, and nearly all were Democrats. Why, I have not had time 
yet to inquire, but you will note that this failure to vote bears 
out the statements of the peace officers appointed by the presid- 
ing judge. 

During the course of the election 160 out of the 367 voters 
who deposited their ballots were sworn, and I believe that if the 
legal voters only of those 160 had been permitted to vote and 

Appendix E 429 

the Democrats of the 126 poll-tax payers who did not p:et to vote 
had been permitted to do so that the majority would have stood 
about 40 in favor of the Democrats instead of 103 against them, 
as it did result. 

Permit me to explain in closinj? that I had reasons to believe 
before the election that the Republicans intended to appear in 
force and with arms at the election, but, under the ad\4ce of 
Judge Welch, T had made no arrangements up to the evening 
before the election for peace officers of my appointing, but that, 
Avhen I told him about five o'clock p.m. on November 5th that 
30 or 40 strangers from Mexico were in town, Judge Welch 
told me to appoint whatever number I thought proper to 
guarantee a peaceable election, but especially admonished me not 
to have so many as to give the semblance of an armed force at 
the polls. 

Such being my course beforehand, I felt myself morally re- 
sponsible for the lives of the men I had appointed as peace 
officers, and therefore never sent them any command during the 
day to use force in handling the crowd, and that they were all 
men of good enough sense to see the futility of such a course is 
shown by the fact that they did not in any instance act 

In conclusion let me add that I had no interest to serve and 
none at stake in this election, and that my only interest now in 
submitting this report is to help, as best I may, in maintaining 
the majesty of American law and the purity of the ballot box, 
and the sanctity of the elective franchise thereunder to the utmost 
confines of this American Union. 

I am, Sir, yours sincerely, 

T. B. Skidmore, 

Late Pres. Judge of Election in Precinct No. 1 of Starr Co., 
Tex., on Nov. 6, 1906. 

Dufify has since been murdered. 






Austin, January 14, 1909. 

To the Senate and House of Bepresentatives : 

As members of the Thirty-first Legislature, you have each 
voluntarily undertaken an important task. Your duties are 
important and your responsibilities are serious. You have as- 
sembled under favorable conditions. The State Treasury is on 
a cash basis. The State is generally prosperous, and the people 
are contented and happy. The law is supreme in Texas, and 
all the laws are now very generally enforced and obeyed. 

There is no substantial reason to doubt that the welfare of 
the State and the happiness of the people will be promoted by 
the intelligence of your work, and by your fidelity to the people 
with whom you made a covenant at the ballot box. You need 
make no serious mistakes, as the will of the people has been 
ascertained upon all important matters which demand the atten- 
tion of the Legislature at this time. 

Organized avarice, though in attempted disguise, can hardly 
be expected to oyerride the popular will. Selfish interests and 
those seeking special advantages and exclusive privileges will 
have their ready advocates on every hand, and wholesome legisla- 
tion heretofore enacted for the protection of the people will 
doubtless be assailed. A word of caution is therefore offered to 
the end that the chosen representative of a confiding constituency 
may be on his guard. It is not unlikely that designing forces 
have organized and will be maintained at the Capitol which will 
test the wisdom, integrity and patriotism of this Legislature. 

The laws enacted and the reforms Avrought under the present 
administration in behalf of the great masses of the people of 
Texas have been under fire for nearly two years, and have 


Appendix F 431 

repeatedly received the emphatic endorsement of the Democratic 
voters of our State, and have been approved and re-affirmed by 
the organized Democracy in convention assembled. The platform 
of the opposition party demanded the repeal or modification of 
many of these important laws, and that party, its candidates and 
its platform were repudiated and defeated by about 150,000 
majority. Desperate efforts have been employed by sinister agencies 
to discredit these laws, and to defeat the operation of these reforms, 
but the people have willed otherwise, and the laws have come to 
stay. Such changes as may be sought by the friends of the laws to 
strengthen them, and which may be dictated by experience, may, 
with propriety, be made, but these laws were demanded by the 
people; they were enacted by their trusted representatives, and 
in spirit and substance they should stand. 

They are just and right and ought to stand. The result of 
the recent political contests involving these laws and reforms 
strikingly demonstrate that the agencies of corrupt and sinister 
special interests can not dominate and control in Texas. The 
patriotism of our people and the freedom of speech which obtains 
in Texas make it certain that her incorruptible electorate can be 
safely trusted to uphold the public official who keeps the faith 
and redeems his pledges made to them. Those who have con- 
tended that modifications and exceptions in their interest should 
be made in the laws enacted by the last Legislature might have 
placed their propositions upon the Democratic primary election 
ticket, and thus tested them at the ballot box, or they could 
have uncovered their schemes in the last Democratic convention, 
and these plans were suggested time and again as open to them. 
This course was open under the law, but they chose rather to 
undertake the defeat of candidates who stood for these laws. In 
this they signally failed in every instance. The State Democratic 
Convention, following the lead of nearly all the county conven- 
tions, endorsed the laws as they stood, and placed the party 
candidates upon a platform committed to their perpetuation. 
The enemies of the legislation and reforms enacted by the last 
Legislature chose to submit their demands for repeal, changes 
and modifications thereof in the Republican State platform, 
which of course binds all representatives of that party faith. 
Democrats are bound by party action, by the verdict rendered 
at the polls, and by the platfonn made by its convention. 

The Democratic platform declaration with respect to the laws 
enacted during this administration is as follows : 

432 Captain Bill McDonald 

" We heartily endorse * * * the acts of the Thirtieth Legis- 
lature enacted in obedience to platform demands, and we rejoice 
at the emphatic endorsement given said laws and administration 
by the Democratic voters of Texas in the recent primary 

The measures of commanding importance enacted during the 
present administration are in the interest of justice, equality, 
good government and decency. They have resulted in no harm 
or injustice to any man or to any legitimate business enterprise 
within this State. The truth of this statement has already been 
demonstrated, and any effort to emasculate, destroy or weaken 
them would be a fraud upon the people and a betrayal of the 
Democratic party. These laws became effective in the midst of 
a great national panic, and Texas has been and is in a better 
financial and economic condition to-day than any State in the 

To effect needed reforms and to check evil tendencies, laws 
were enacted by the last Legislature to the following effect: 

1. The keeping of gambling houses and the exhibiting of 
gambling devices was made a felony. 

2. The practice of drinking intoxicating liquors on railroad 
trains was prohibited. 

3. A law passed requiring contests of local option elections to 
be promptly instituted, and providing that otherwise the legality 
of such elections should be conclusively presumed. 

4. Authority was granted district judges, on proper showing, 
to prevent by injunction the sale of intoxicating liquors in pro- 
hibition communities. 

5. A tax of $5,000 was le\ded on express companies shipping 
intoxicating liquors into prohibition districts, the effect of which 
was to take the express companies out of the liquor and saloon 

6. An effective bucket shop law which prohibits gambling in 
cotton and other futures, thereby guarding against depression 
in the prices of the farmers' crops, as a result of unnatural 
speculative or gambling transactions. 

7. To encourage and promote agricultural development, a 
separate Department of Agriculture was created, and has been 
organized, and is at this time actively promoting, with the facili- 
ties at hand, our agricultural interests. 

Appendix F 433 

8. The occupation tax on useful occupations was repealed. 

9. A law prohibiting? the free-pass evil was enacted. 

10. A law ajrainst nepotism was passed. 

11. Charter fees of corporations were increased in a just and 
fair amount. 

12. The depositoiy law enacted keeps in ciiculation State 
funds and the rates of interest secured yields a return largely in 
excess of the entire expenses of the State Treasurer's office, and 
provides a handsome yield in interest on county funds heretofore 
deposited in banks without interest. 

13. Laws increasing franchise taxes, and gross-receipts taxes, 
and securing the listing, rendition and assessment of the railways* 
intangible values for taxation, were enacted, and their operation 
has resulted in shifting a large portion of the burden theretofore 
unjustly borne by the individual property taxpayers to those 
who had been evading and escaping taxation. 

14. A mine inspection law for the protection of laborers 
engaged in mining business, a law against black-listing, and a 
law lightening the labors of trainmen, enginemen, and telegraph 
operators and to protect the public, and other just laws, were 
passed for the benefit and protection of workingmen. 

15. The law known as the '" Robertson Insurance Law " having 
for its object the better protection of the policy-holders in Texas, 
and to promote investments in our State, was passed. The 
practical operation of this law is to require the investment of 
seventy-five per cent, of the Texas reserve of life insurance com- 
panies doing business in Texas, in Texas securities, and to require 
the deposit of such securities in the State Treasury, or other 
depository designated by the law. It is also provided that the 
deposit and investment features may be waived by the Com- 
missioner of Insurance upon substantial showing under the terms 
and conditions of the law. 

16. The " Full Rendition Law," as it is called, and the " Auto- 
matic Tax Law," having for their respective objects the rendition 
and assessment of all taxable property at its full value, greater 
uniformity and the adjustment of the tax rates and tax burdens 
in keeping with the absolute requirements of the government. 

17. A uniform text-book law, providing for the adoption of a 
uniform system of text-books for all the public free schools of 
the State was passed. 

18. A law prohibiting insolvent corporations from doing busi- 
ness in Texas was enacted. 

434 Captain Bill McDonald 

19. A law prohibiting lobbying, and many otber useful laws, 
were passed in the interest of the people. 

In the administration of the State government during the past 
two years, an earnest effort has been made by the Executive and 
all other departments of the public service, to give the people a 
clean, ejfficient, and economical government. 

That the full measure of our success may be ascertained, and 
the people more fully informed, the most careful and rigid in- 
vestigation into the administration of every department of 
government and into the management of each State institution 
is invited and suggested. That the laws should be properly en- 
forced upon all alike, no law-abiding man will deny. The Con- 
stitution provides that "the Governor shall cause the laws to be 
faithfully executed," and every means and power that could be 
appropriately exercised has been brought into requisition to meet 
this mandate of the Constitution. No one should be strong 
enough to escape the power of the law, and none too weak to 
receive its protection. 

The mandate of the Constitution is clear and the duty of the 
Governor, with respect to enforcing the law, is plain, but the 
Governors powers are not adequate, and adequate statutory 
powers as contemplated by the Constitution should be promptly 
provided by legislation suited to present conditions as well as for 
future contingencies. 

Obedience to all criminal laws should be a condition in liquor 
dealers' bonds, and jurisdiction for suits for breach thereof 
should be given to the district courts of Travis County. 

The transactions of the Treasury Department are set out in 
detail in the State Treasurers annual report for the fiscal year 
ending August 31, 1908. The report, together with the tables 
accompanying the same, contain much useful information, and it 
is suggested that an examination of the same will be useful and 
profitable to the legislators. 

At the beginning of this administration, the Comptroller esti- 
mated the deficit for the fiscal year ending August 31, 1907, to 
be approximately $300,000, and possibly more. However, as a 
result of careful and, we believe, efficient administration, aided 
by more effective revenue legislation, the deficit was avoided, and 
the State has been able to meet all of its current obligations for 
the past two years, and at all times to maintain an adequate work- 
ing surplus in the State Treasury. Instead of a deficit, as pre- 

Appendix F 435 

dieted, on Au^st 31, 1907, the State had met all of its oblig^a- 
tions, and had a cash balance of $692,612.81 to the credit of the 
general revenue, and at the close of the fiscal year, August 31, 
1908, after paying all claims when presented, the State had to 
the credit of the general revenue fund a balance of $888,985.61. 

This very satisfactory financial condition was secured and has 
been maintained under the operation of the present tax system 
without additional tax burdens upon the individual property-tax 
leavers. Interests theretofore escaping and property theretofore 
unrendered have been required, imder the new laws, to contribute 
more to the support of the government, thereby lessening the 
burden upon those who were under the old laws bearing more 
than their just share. 

To illustrate: Under the operation of the intangible tax law, 
$173,698,318 of intangible values of railways and bridge and 
feriy companies were listed for State and county taxes for the 
year 1908. The physical values of the railways increased under 
the new rendition law from $100,166,782, in 1906, to $157,822,790, 
in 1908. The intangible tax law, and the full rendition law has 
added to the tax rolls more than $250,000,000 of railway and 
other corporate values theretofore escaping taxation. The credits 
af money of banks and bankers and of others than banks and 
bankers are not now being properly listed for taxation; still 
there has been a great improvement, as the tax rolls show that 
they were increased from $42,112,424, in 1906, to $80,717,825, in 
1908; an increase of more than 91 per cent. These are prominent 
illustrations of property values heretofore escaping, which, under 
the new laws, have contributed to the reduction of the ad valorem 
tax rate of 20 cents on the one hundred dollars in 1906, to 
the low rate of 6l^ cents on the one hundred dollars in 1908. 
The average tax rate in the counties throughout the State for 
1906 was 55 cents on the one hundred dollars. This average 
rate of 55 cents was reduced in 1908 to an average rate of 40 
cents on the one hundred dollai-s for county purposes by the 
operation of the new laws. The individual citizens who have been 
pa>4ng taxes upon their homes and farms at a fair valuation ^viIl 
pay less taxes in 1908 in proportion to value than they have paid 
for the support of the State govennnent in any year since 1860, 
and as the receipts from other sources to the credit of general 
revenue increases, the ad valorem tax rate for State purposes 
will be reduced in proportion. 

Under the operation of the tax laws of the last Legislature, 

436 Captain Bill McDonald 

the property values on the tax rolls increased from $1,221,- 
159,869, in 1906, to $2,174,122,480, in 1908. The amount of taxes 
paid in 1906 on the tax rate of 20 cents on the one hundred 
dollars, amounted to $2,435,412.92, and in 1908, with the tax rate 
of 6^/4 cents, the total tax amounts to $1,358,826.55; an increase 
in assessed values of $952,935,411, and a reduction of $1,076,- 
586.37 in the total amount of ad valorem State taxes levied for 
1908 as compared with 1906, and a much more equitable distribu- 
tion of the taxes has been secured. 

The valuation of property assessed for taxes, the rates and the 
amounts of State ad valorem taxes for the years 1906, 1907, and 

1906— Valuation, $1,221,259,869; rate, 20 cents; amount of 
taxes, $2,435,412.92. 

1907— Valuation, $1,635,297,115; rate, 12^/2 cents; amount of 
taxes, $2,040,625.58. 

1908— Valuation, $2,174,122,480; rate, 6^4 cents; amount of 
taxes, $1,358,826.55. 

Receipts to the credit of the State's general revenue for the 
year 1906, 1907, and 1908, from special corporation taxes and 
from all other sources, not including the ad valorem taxes on 
tangible and intangible values, is shown below; $375,418.94 
received from the United States government in 1906 not included : 

1906— Amount of receipts $1,826,682.26 

1907— Amount of receipts 2,024,434.80 

1908— Amount of receipts 2,416,218.46 

. The county tax rolls for 1906, 1907, and 1908 disclose the 
gross inequalities obtaining throughout the State prior to the 
recent tax legislation, and they further show that an earnest 
effort was made in the large majority of the counties to comply 
with the laws respecting rendition, assessment and equalization. 
In a few counties, however, the law was ignored, and the conduct 
of the tax officials of such counties was little short of unconscion- 
able. These counties received the full benefits of the reductions 
in the State ad valorem tax rate from 20 cents to 6^/4 cents, and 
the State school ad valorem rate from 20 cents to 16^ cents, 
and received the full benefit of the increase in the apportionment 
of the available school iund, but by the dereliction and disregard 

Appendix F 437 

of duty on the part of their trusted tax ofTicials they contributed 
practically nothinj? to the increase of values resultinp: in such 
general good. This is so manifestly unfair and unjust that an 
effective remedy should be speedily provided by law. It is in- 
conceivable that the oath of office prescribed by the Constitution, 
to say nothing of the oath prescribed by the new statute, and 
to which all tax officials must solemnly subscribe, should be so 
lightly considered by some men who have been honored with 
official station. Each county and each citizen and corporation 
of the State should contribute a just share and no more of the 
taxes necessary to support the State government and to main- 
tain the public free school system, and no county, citizen or 
corporation through the dereliction of tax officials should be 
permitted to share in the benefits of reduced rates, and the in- 
crease of school funds when they fail to do their part. They 
should not be allowed by official dereliction to shift their just 
share of the taxes to the taxpayers of other counties and com- 
munities. It is just to say that the people of some of the counties 
where the law was disregarded repudiated the derelict tax officials 
upon their first opportunity. 

Article 5124e, of Chapter XI, of the Acts of the First Called 
Session of the Thirtieth Legislature should be amended so that 
suits for removal from office may be instituted and prosecuted 
either in the county of such officer's residence, or in the district 
courts of Travis County, at the option of the Attorney-General. 
Laws should also be enacted providing that resignations or ex- 
pirations of terms of office shall not abate action for removal 
from office, and the law should further pro\'ide that county 
officers who are removed from office for malfeasance or mis- 
feasance or for any dereliction shall not thereafter hold office in 
this State until their eligibility is established and restored by act 
of the Legislature. 

In this connection, I invite your attention to the respective 
annual reports of the State Tax Commissioner and the State 
Revenue Agent. The data and the difficulties encountered in the 
laws enforcement, and the suggestions made by these faithful 
officials, will, I believe, be of much value to the Legislature in 
improving our system of taxation and in (enacting legislation to 
secure equality and more uniformity in the distribution of its 



I am altogether sensible, gentlemen, of the honor which you 
have done me by inviting me to discuss before you that act of 
the Thirtieth Legislature of Texas commonly known as the Full 
Rendition Statute. I am fully aware of the honor done me, as 
I have said, and yet I am not averse to accepting the invitation. 
I have heard so much said about this law; I have heard it so 
x\ildly praised and so extravagantly denounced; I have heard 
its promoters and all who were concerned in the enactment so 
severely condemned on the one hand and so unreservedly lauded 
on the other; I have read so many editorials in favor of full 
rendition and so many more against it, that the fever of strife 
has been set to circulating in my own blood, and I have come 
at last really to desire to speak my own thoughts on this subject. 
And especially is this true when I am afforded to-day the oppor- 
tunity of addressing upon this issue the body of distinguished 
citizens which is assembled here before me, and which represents 
the opinions, the aspirations and the sentiments of the com- 
mercial classes of my own State. For this too is true, gentlemen, 
that however much I may in some particulars and on some occa- 
sions dissent from the prevailing beliefs of what is called the 
business world, I am now and always compelled to admit that 
the leaders of commerce are not only keen of intellect, but that 
they are full of courage, ready to give weighty reasons for the 
faith that is in them, loyal and patriotic citizens, commanding 
the respect and admiration of the world, true and sincere friends 
and generous adversaries. 

That statute, which is generally called the Full Rendition 
statute, was enacted at the Regular Session of the Thirtieth Legis- 
lature, and is published by official authority as Chapter XI on 
page 459 of the General Laws of 1907. By provisions of this 
act, assessors are required to list the property for taxation at its 
reasonable cash market value or, if it has no market value, then 
at its real and intrinsic value. 

Appendix G 439 

Practically this is what is meant by the words " full value 
rendition," that the rendition shall be at the reasonable cash 
value of the article or thing which is listed. But it is well settled 
by repeated decisions of appellate courts that where the word 
" value " is used in a statute and is not limited either by qualify- 
ing words or by the context of the statute, it has the same 
meaning as if it had been written " reasonable cash market 
value," or " real and intrinsic value." 

So that, as respects its actual intent, the Full Rendition 
statute brings into operation no new principle and does nothing 
more than to deprive our assessors of a common excuse, some- 
times honestly made and sometimes not, of misunderstanding the 
meaning of the word " value," as used in former statutes upon 
the same subject. The act was not intended to and did not 
introduce a new practice in the assessment of property for taxa- 
tion, but on the contrary, was aimed at persuading or compelling 
obedience to methods already established by law, but fallen into 
partial or total disuse. 

The Constitution of 1876, which is now in force, commands 
that " all property in this State shall be taxed in proportion to 
its value," and, as already explained, the word " value," as used 
in this connection, means fair cash market value, or if the article 
has no market value, then its real and intrinsic. The Constitution 
fixes the same standard of compensation as does the Act of 1907, 
and if the latter is correctly designated as a full rendition law 
then is the Constitution itself also a full rendition Constitution. 

Now, when we are inclined to complain of the trials and hard- 
ships of the present, it is sometimes the part of \visdom for us 
to recall for a moment the conditions and circumstances which 
surrounded us in the past. For it is by such a comparison alone 
that we may truly know whether our situation has indeed changed 
for the worse, or whether our complaints are justified. 

We have had an ad valorem general property tax in Texas 
since the beginning of the Anglo-Saxon government within our 
boundaiies. The Constitution of 1836 gave to the legislative 
department of the Republic an absolutely free hand to sha]>e 
laws for the raising of a public revenue at its sole will and 
pleasure. " Congress," so it was wiitten, " shall have power to 
levy and collect taxes and imposts, excise and tonnage duties." 
Article 2, Section 1. This authoi-ity was sufficiently broad to 
enable the Legislature of an independent sovereignty, such as 
Texas then was, to determine what persons and what property 

440 Captain Bill McDonald 

should be burdened for the support of the government and what 
persons and what property should be exempted. There was no 
limitation upon the power, nor any restrictions to prevent what- 
ever discriminations Congress should see fit to enact. 

With this unlimited charter in its hands, the first Congress of 
Texas met together in October, 1836, the founders of a new 
nation, a truly representative bodj^, great in intellect, great in 
character and courage, but greater than all in devotion and 
loyalty to the eternal principles of right and justice, which are 
now, always have been and always will be the principles of 
Democracy also. And those ancient heroes in home-spun, being 
thus the sovereign legislative body of an independent people, 
legislating as well for the planter, with his broad and fertile 
lands, tilled by his hundreds of slaves, as for the wandering 
hunter and scout, Avhose Kentucky rifle and pouch of bullets and 
horn of powder constituted his sole possessions, passed that act, 
entitled " An Act to raise a public revenue by direct taxation," 
approved June 12, 1837. And, after this manner, there came into 
being the first " full rendition " statute, which was also the first 
statute for the direct taxation of property enacted under Anglo- 
Saxon domination in Texas. 

For, by this act. Congress required all property owners and 
all agents and representatives of such owners, to make out and 
deliver to the proper assessing officers inventories showing the 
value of all their properties, and to swear that same were just, 
true and faithful valuations and lists. If the assessor believed 
any valuation offered to him was too low, it was made his duty, 
summarfty and without notice or formality, to call to his assist- 
ance two neighboring citizens, to be selected by himself, and the 
three of them were required to persuade and encourage the 
reluctant property owner into those straight and narrow paths 
where duty leads and virtue is its own and only reward. From 
the assessor and his chosen helpers there was no appeal. That 
which they said was the full value was the full value, both in 
law and in fact, and there was an immediate end of the con- 
troversy. . 

In these modem days of frock coats and silk stockings and 
peace and comfort, we would incline to think that the Act of 
1837, which put a " big stick " in the hands of the assessor, would 
have been sufficiently strenuous to have satisfied even that most 
strenuous of officers, our worthy President Theodore Roosevelt. 
But there were mighty men in those old days, when Sam Houston 

Appendix G 441 

was at the head of the Lone Star Republic, and this problem 
was as meat between their teeth. They enjoyed it to the utter- 
most. They enjoyed it so much that they could not keep their 
minds occupied with other things, and, in 1838, Congress amended 
and strengthened the original " full rendition " bill so as to 
require every property owner to swear a still harder swear, to wit, 
that his list was a true and perfect inventory and account of his 
property and its value. A true and perfect valuation ! Think of 
it, ye who strain at gnats in these meek and modern days! 
A most vigorous oath, indeed, was that. Strong and bitter, like 
the medicines they took in those good old times. And yet I 
must own to it, gentlemen, that I have nowhere heard or read 
that either the oaths or the medicines did them any harm. 

I have recalled to your recollection those old days of the golden 
age of Texas for one purpose only, which is that you may be 
reminded how, in the words of Solomon, " there is nothing new 
under the sun." There is nothing new, not even our troubles, 
and I can imagine that, even in the time of the Republic, our 
citizens desisted momentarily from the fighting of Mexicans and 
the pursuit of hostile Indians to hold indignation meetings all 
the way from Nacogdoches to Matagorda Bay, where fierce pro- 
tests were drawn and adopted, condemning Houston and Lamar 
and the members of the First Congress for their wickedness in 
procuring the enactment of a " full rendition " statute with which 
to oppress and impoverish the Lone Star people. 

I, myself, am reminded in this connection of the solemn utter- 
ances of some of the daily newspapers, most excellent oracles of 
Democracy, warning us in editorial columns long that this is a 
new country, where a continuous stream of bottoms is dropping 
out of our real estate booms, and that it is a great big mistake 
to assess our new and fragile values at anything approaching 
their face. And in my mind's eye, I can see right now one of 
those ancient and beloved heroes, recently companion to the im- 
mortal Davy Crockett, the tails of his coonskin cap fluttering in 
the wind, addressing an indignation meeting in the days of the 
Fii-st Congress, arousing unlimited enthusiasm ^vith the very 
same argument which is noiv so commonly used, founded upon 
the newness, three-quarters of a century ago, of this country of 
ours, which some of us profess to believe has not yet grown suf- 
ficiently old to tell the truth for purposes of taxation. 

The statutes of Texas have always been " full rendition " 
statutes, and our Constitutions, except for that one which was 

442 Captain Bill McDonald 

adopted in 1836, have always been "full rendition" Constitu- 
tions. And, in my judgment, there can be no honest attempt at 
a fair adjustment of the burdens of a direct tax upon the 
general property of this or any other coimtry which does not 
make a decent effort at an equalization in proportion to the true 
value of each article which is taxed. The true value of an article 
is necessarily its fair, full value, nothing more and nothing less. 
If we levy general property taxes, we are compelled to require 
by law that all property subject to the levy shall be taxed in 
proportion to its value, and such a rule is inevitably a law for a 
" full rendition." 

If a government were to command that its taxables should be 
listed at one-fourth their full value, and that a tax of $1 on the 
$100 should be levied on the values so listed, it would in substance 
have enacted a law for the taxation of its property, at full value, 
at 25 cents on each $100, and no amount of figuring can make out 
of it anything less or anything more. 

The proposition that property shall be taxed at one-fourth, 
or at one-fifth, or at any other fractional part of its true and 
full value is wholly inadequate to meet any of the objections 
which are urged against the "full rendition" bill. If a tract 
of land be assessed at $100 an acre at its full value, Januarj^ 1, 
1908, and by reason of any change in conditions, the value has 
diminished before the arrival of the taxpaying season, say 
December 31, 1908, to $50 an acre, and, if it be assumed that it 
would be an injustice under those circumstances to require the 
owner to pay a tax in December which is based upon such a 
valuation, still the slightest reflection will convince you that this 
injustice has not been obviated by assessing the land at $25 an 
acre and, at the same time, multiplying the tax rate by four. 
In either case precisely the same amount of money is exacted 
from the owner, and, in either case, the tax is in truth based 
upon the full value January 1st, which we have assumed to be 
$100 an acre, and no account is taken of any subsequent de- 

But, if it be urged that the owner will be better satisfied to 
pay 25 cents an acre if his land be valued at $25 an acre than 
he will be to pay the same 25 cents on the same acre up-^n a 
valuation of $100, then I can only answer by saying thai the 
Texans with whom I am acquainted are so well fixed with brains 
that you can not fool them ^^dth a trick so transparent as this. 
If a citizen pays a tax of $50 on a 200-acre farm, he knows that 

Appendix G 443 

he is out just $50 in good, common, hard cash, and all the 
assessors and collectors in the State can not fool him into the 
belief that he lias paid only $40 by showing him how low his 
land was assessed and how high it was taxed. Having paid his 
money, he will feel neither better nor worse because of the valua- 
tion put upon his property, provided only that he has had a 
square deal as compared with the other taxpayers. 

This is the whole of the tax question, as I see it — to deal 
justly wdth every man in the sight of God — to tax every person 
as nearly as possible in proportion to his ability to pay. And 
under any ad valorem system the measure of the ability of each 
indi\4dual and the only approximately fair measure which the 
ingenuity of man has ever been able to devise is found in the 
reasonable, full value of the taxable property of every owner. 

No revenue law is wholly bad which tends in this direction and, 
on the other hand, every such law is good and valuable in direct 
proportion as it is so drawn that it will aid in bringing about 
this all-desirable equality in the imposition of public burdens. 

Granting that taxes are apportioned with reasonable fairness, 
there is but one way whereby an impartial reduction can be had 
and the benefits of such reduction distributed proportionately 
and honestly among the taxpayers, and this way is by cutting 
down the expenses of the government. Every other effort is 
either the pursuit of a ghost, leaving the pursuer empty handed 
if he were to succeed in catching it, or it is an effort at tax 
dodging. The average taxpayer is no shirk, and the very best 
for which he can hope and the things for which he should always 
be demanding are, first, an economical administration of public 
affairs, and, second, the utmost fairness in the distribution of 
public burdens. 

The Constitution of Texas, as I have already shown, has al- 
ways commanded an equality in taxation, to be attained by levy- 
ing upon all property in proportion to its value. The laws of 
Texas have been enacted in obedience to the constitutional man- 
date, as full rendition laws, but have until the late session of 
the Thirtieth Legislature failed in one respect, at least, for they 
provided no adequate mean^ by which they might be enforced. 
And under these laws, which on the face required a fair assess- 
ment, but did not undertake to compel obedience to their provi- 
sions, a practice of evasion was begun and spread all over the 
State, until a condition prevailed which was anarchy, pure and 
simple. County strove against county and neighbor against 

444 Captain Bill McDonald 

neighbor, each one trying unjustly to shift some portion of his 
rightful burden to the shoulders of another. It was a reign of 
lawlessness, gentlemen, when, as some of you members have 
demonstrated, the average assessment in one county was only 
24 per cent, of the value of the property assessed, while the 
average in another county was as much as 75 per cent. And 
the remaining counties of the State ranged themselves anywhere 
you please between these two extremes. 

Equality in taxation was a thing dead and forgotten, and 
honorable people were being taught to look with contempt upon 
the affidavits which were required to be made before the assessors. 
A strong and manly people who throughout their history had 
held the vice of lying in peculiar detestation, were made accus- 
tomed to falsehoods, uttered for profit, under the supposed sanc- 
tion of an oath. A condition prevailed which would in time have 
compelled the moral deterioration of all citizens. 

Now, it is certain that it is one of the most important of the 
functions of government that it shall secure justice and fair 
dealing as between all those who are subject to its jurisdiction. 
But more than this, and more than all else, it is the duty of 
those who are in control of public affairs that they shall permit 
no condition to continue which threatens to undermine the moral 
character of its people. For I venture the opinion that civiliza- 
tion is not builded of capital and labor alone, but that its chief 
component parts are the love of virtue and the sense of honor 
and the devotion to truth and integrity which are in the hearts 
of all persons, and if these good attributes are no longer actuated 
by these high ideals, then I predict that mankind will have be- 
come from that moment forward incapable of maintaining social 

The practice of undervaluing property for purposes of taxation, 
which had become common and almost universal in Texas, was 
destructive of all possibility of justice as between the respective 
owners, and had in addition thereto a distinct tendency to debase 
the morals of an uncontaminated and virtuous people. The 
movement for what I will venture to call purer and better laws 
did not begin in the Thirtieth Tjegislature, but years and years 
ago, and the so-called Full Rendition act of 1907 is merely a mile- 
stone in the forward march of a progress which has continued 
throughout the ages, and which will never end. 

The statute for the taxation of banks and banking capital is 
a " full rendition " statute, designed to enable and to require 

Appendix G 445 

assessors to list at full value the stocks or property of slich 
institutions and all funds employed in that particular business. 
The act for the taxation of the intangible assets of railroads, 
an act which I had the pleasure of assisting to pass in the 
Twenty-ninth Legislature, is another " full rendition " law, under 
the operations of which nearly $174,000,000 of additional rail- 
road values is exposed to view and listed and taxed. These and 
other statutes of the same kind, which I have not the time to 
mention, are just and fair, if all other property is also assessed 
approximately at its value, but they become discriminatory and 
oppressive as soon as undervaluations of other taxables are 
purposely allowed. 

I am fully aware that there are certain vices which appear 
to be necessarily inherent in any system that can be devised for 
the direct taxation of both real and personal property. And 
while I am not inclined to believe that these vices render this 
character of tax more difEcult of fair apportionment than is any 
other, yet I would not for a moment attempt to render blind 
either myself or you to those imperfections and weaknesses of 
human nature which make it apparently impossible entirely to 
effect the purpose of any law, no matter how just or wise it may 
be. But I would remind you that we can not give ground in 
the face of this argument without abandoning all effort at an 
orderly rule of society and plunging headlong into the deadly 
chaos of anarchy. If our inability, entirely and in all cases, to 
enforce a full rendition law is just cause for the abandonment of 
the full rendition principle, then, in the same way and for the 
same reason, we shall be driven from any other plan that we 
may adopt. Indeed, if we once admit the force of this objection, 
we must abandon all law, for in no case are we able satisfactorily 
to enforce any statute which is upon our books. 

Remember, gentlemen, I make no pretense that perfection has 
been attained in the act of the Thirtieth Legislature, or that the 
act is incapable of improvement. What I am contending is that 
it is a step forward, and that this body, standing as it does for 
the ideal aspirations of the business men of Texas, must 
take no step backward. To repeal this statute, setting up nothing 
better in its place, retreating to a condition of which you, as 
thoughtful and patriotic citizens, must have been sick at heart, 
may bring us to have " fewer laws," but I am not able to 
persuade myself that those laws which are left will thereby have 
become any the better. 

446 Captain Bill McDonald 

In my judgment, ex parte affidavits, which have the effect of 
making the truth cost money and of rewarding falsehood as if 
it were a virtue and not a \dce, ought not to be exacted in any 
but the rarest of cases, and only where no other source of in- 
formation can reasonably be found. And, for this reason, I 
have long preferred that the visible property of the State should 
be valued and assessed by the assessor rather than by the owner. 
But I am greatly in the minority in my opinion of this subject, 
and because that opinion is of absolutely no consequence, I 
refrain from enlarging upon it. 

Proceeding, then, along the only road which is open for travel, 
and assuming that each owner shall continue to fix the prima 
facie value of his own assets, it can not be successfully denied 
that the interests of society demand that such valuation shall 
be made under oath, and that the value stated in every affidavit 
shall be the true, full value and not an arbitrary, assumed and 
fictitious proportion of the same. 

The " full rendition " law, considered in connection with other 
statutes in force upon the same subject, provides an admirable 
system of local equalization, and tends in a very considerable 
degree toward equalization throughout the limits of Texas. 

But this is a State of vast areas and of prodigious distances, 
and in any such widely extended territory it seems to me that 
the physical conditions alone are sufficient to demand the en- 
actment into law of some method of apportionment which will 
not depend entirely upon local views and local sentiments. It 
must be kept in mind that, while the Attorney-General may sue 
to remove from office any assessor or member of a board of 
equalization whom he believes to be guilty of intentionally accept- 
ing undervaluations, yet, convictions for such offenses are always 
difficult to secure and the prosecution of the vast majority of 
such cases would be no better than a farce. The State govern- 
ment is practically without power to compel reasonable assess- 
ments in any county or section where the citizens are largely 
opposed to full rendition. The administration has no legal 
authority which it can effectually use, but must confine itself to 
moral suasion alone, and in controversies where interested parties 
are arrayed upon opposite sides, we, as a people, have never 
regarded moral suasion and merely moral responsibilities as a 
sufficiently effective force to be worthy of serious mention. We 
will not permit a judge to hear a case in court, or a juror to 
sit on a jury where either the plaintiff or the defendant is related 

Appendix G 447 

to him within the third de.sjee, either by blood or marriage. 
Arbilrators must be without interest and not related to the 
parties, and, in general, wherever an act is authorized which 
may affect the rights of others, the law is vigilant in requiring 
that the officer or pei-son acting shall be disinterested and im- 
partial. Everj'one will agree that these precautions against in- 
justice are right and necessary, and yet I can conceive of no 
good reason why interested parties or their relatives may not be 
permitted to adjudge any other disputed claims quite as well, 
and with just as large a probability that justice will be done as 
when they were asked to determine what amount of State taxes 
they will pay. 

A compulsory equalization of some character seems to me the 
next step to be taken in the forward march toward fairer taxa- 
tion in Texas. We have come a long way from that original 
plan of 1S37, by which an assessor and two neighbors arbitrarily 
determined what a property owner should pay, but we are still 
very far from home. Nor should this occasion surprise, for if 
the law is to be worthy of respect, if it is to be in any way 
effective as a force for the right, it must not be fixed and un- 
changeable, but, on the contrary, must be capable of infinite 
varietj"^ and infinite development, growing with the growth of 
the people who are its creators and enforcers, eternal in seeking 
justice, but flexible in adapting itself to the present. 

In conclusion, gentlemen, permit me to call to your attention 
veiy briefly a few of the effects of the new tax laws. For if we 
are to return, as at least one candidate for high office is insisting, 
to the old order of things, we are abandoning not merely the so- 
called Full Rendition law, but all other of the recent enactments 
upon the same subject. We are to abandon the intangible tax 
law, the franchise tax law, the law taxing the gross receipts of 
certain corporations, and all other of the statutes of the Twenty- 
ninth and Thirtieth Legislatures by which a fairer adjustment of 
the burdens of government was sought to be secured. And if 
we abandon these laws we must abandon their undeniable benefits 
as well as their doubtful disadvantages, and pay taxes as we paid 
them in the good old times. 

Now, in 1906, when these laws were either tied up in court 
or not yet in force, the property owners of Texas were called 
upon to pay a total ad valorem tax for the expense of the State 
government of $2,443,637, but in 1907 the ad valorem tax for 
State expenses was reduced to $2,044,566. The operation of the 

448 Captain Bill McDonald 

new tax laws reduced the burdens put upon property owners by 
$400,000, and of the amount which property was still required 
to pay, something near $214,000 was levied upon railroad in- 
tangibles. The saving upon the general property, aside from 
railroad and corporation taxes, was $614,000 for that single year, 
for State expenses alone. In the same way, the saving for the 
year 11)08 will not be less than $900,000 on State expenses, not 
including the school fund. 

It can not be successfully denied that the new tax laws have 
tended largely toward an equitable distiibution of tax burdens 
and that in doing this they have diminished the amount paid by 
the average citizen. The intangible assets tax alone brought in 
a revenue for 1907 of $1,470,000 to the State and its counties, 
and cost for its administration the insignificant sum of $2,650, 
a result which can not be surpassed in the history of governmental 

These are the triumphs which we are asked to abandon by 
returning to that system where "the assessors under the com- 
missioners courts made the assessments as under fonner laws." 

Now, gentlemen, I for one am not disposed to retreat. I am 
intending to go forward, not backward. And in the course which 
I am determined to pursue I am expecting to go arm in arm in 
the company of the most of those who are here to-day as the 
representatives of commercial Texas.