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Fort Fisher

Fort Fisher, as it was known, was set up for a short time on the west bank of the Brazos river near the settlements that would give rise to Waco.  It was established by the Texas Rangers to provide security for settlers in 1837 and to the best of our knowledge, it was also abandoned the same year.  The outpost was named for William S. Fisher, Secretary of War of the Republic of Texas at the time.  Fisher was a long time member of the Texas Army.  He would later become a participant in the ill fated Meir Expedition after which he would be captured and imprisoned in Mexico.  Fisher passed away around two years after being released from his confinement in Mexico.

Fort Fisher is likely better known today as being the site of the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum.  The facility was conceived by several individuals connected to Waco and the Texas Rangers including former Ranger Clint Peoples, former Waco mayor Roger Conger, Wacoan Gaines deGaffenreid, Alva Stem and others.  It was to house the Homer Garrison Museum and is the state-designated official historical center of the Rangers.  Col. Homer Garrison had been a lawman since he was nineteen years old, serving as a deputy sheriff of Angelina County, a patrolman for the Texas Highway Patrol which became part of the Texas Department of Public Safety in 1935.  Garrison went on to become the director of TDPS and commander of the Texas Rangers until his death in 1968.

The concept of the museum was supported by Governors John Connally and Preston Smith, who was present at the signing of the law creating the museum.  By the time of the groundbreaking in 1968, Peoples had retired from the Rangers and was serving as a United States Marshal, but his last posting as a Ranger was to command Company F in Waco.  Several individuals donated artifacts to the museum including Charles Schriner III and Joe Bates.  Their collections included Bates’ Colt .45 made for Captain Ben McCullogh and a monogrammed carbine that once belonged to Ranger Captain Manuel “Lone Wolf” Gonzuallas.

Gaines deGaffenreid was known as a leading collector of guns and historical memorabilia pertaining to the early days of Texas.  He had been born and raised in Chilton, Texas.  He was local rancher and had assembled one of the finest collections of historical weaponry.  He was named as the first curator of the museum and served in that capacity until his death in 1991.  Prior his death, the City of Waco acquired a number of items from his collection and conveyed them to the museum.  In addition, the museum’s collection includes items associated with Sul Ross, Rangers William Jesse McDonald, Gonzuallas, Frank Hamer and John R. Hughes.  Conger, Peoples, Robert E. Davis, Sr., Bryce Brown and Dave Carnahan were named as the committee to screen items to be accepted into the museum.

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(Image credit: Waco News-Tribune)

The museum also includes Texas Ranger service records from 1847 to 1935, historically significant photographs, books and other items connected to the law enforcement agency.

A statue of a Ranger mounted on horseback entitled Texas Ranger was installed on the grounds in 2008.  It was created by Don Hunt and was a gift of Betsy and Clifton Robinson.  A second statue stands at the entrance of the building and shows Ranger George Erath standing and holding surveying equipment.  It is entitled Major George B. Erath – Frontiersman and was created and donated by the artist Robert Summers in 1976.

The museum structure was completed in 1976.  It is now open seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day.  It is located just east of Interstate 35 at Exit 335B.  The museum commemorates the long history of the Texas Rangers and among other topics, provides biographical details of the thirty-one individuals named to its hall of fame.  Other features and details about the facility are available on its website.

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Posted by on May 16, 2019 in forts, texas rangers

 

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Fort McKavett

Fort McKavett is located near Menard in Menard County, Texas.  It was one in a line of Texas frontier forts built during the era to protect settlers who were moving into the area.  The forts were situated roughly in a diagonal line connecting the Red River to the Rio Grande and about one hundred miles west of the currently occupied land at the time.  United States Army infantry colonel Thomas Staniford was given orders to build a military post at the headwaters of the San Saba River and he arrived with his regiment on March 14, 1852.  The headwaters were a natural spring and Staniford decided to move the location about two miles down from it where the spring formed a small lagoon, favoring the water supply there.

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Posted by on April 11, 2019 in forts

 

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Fort Davis

Fort Davis was one of the group of Texas frontier forts.  Also located on the short-lived Overland Trail, it provided protection for the travelers and settlers as well as the U. S. Mail in this contested area.  It was situated roughly equidistant between Fort Clark to the southeast and Fort Bliss to the northwest in what is now known as the Davis Mountains.  We would think of it today as being the northern point of a triangle with the points of the southern base being Marfa to the west and Alpine to the east.

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Posted by on December 13, 2018 in civil war, forts, tribes and tribal leaders

 

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Fort Bliss

The military reservation that would become Fort Bliss was initially established on the Rio Grande in the late 1840s shortly after the end of the Mexican-American War and was active from 1848 to 1851.  At this time, it did not have an official name, and was referred to as the “Post Opposite El Paso del Norte.”  There was already a sizeable civilian settlement on either side of the Rio Grande: American El Paso and Cuidad Juarez on the Mexican side.  The fort was comprised of the Third Infantry and was commanded by Jefferson Van Horne.  After this short period of two to three years, its troops were mostly removed to Fort Fillmore, New Mexico Territory.

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Posted by on September 20, 2018 in biography, forts

 

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Fort Phantom Hill

Fort Phantom Hill was located southwest of Fort Griffin and northeast of Fort Chadbourne.  The orders to create such a fort were issued by General William Belknap as he was beginning construction at the fort that would later be named for him, although the General died before he could complete either outpost.  Construction began in 1851 under the leadership of Lt. Col. J. J. Abercrombie pursuant to the orders of General Persifor F. Smith, Belknap’s successor.  Belknap’s plan had been for the outpost to be located in Coleman County, but Smith changed the orders to the current location.  A few buildings were built of local stone, but others were built of wood or were even more temporary, such as pole huts.  In retrospect, it would have been difficult to find a worse location from a physical standpoint, as it was poorly situated near dry or brackish river branches.  Water had to be hauled several miles and there were no nearby wood sources for fires.  Wood for construction was at least forty miles away.

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(Image credit: Texas Co op Power Magazine)

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Posted by on May 17, 2018 in forts

 

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Fort Griffin

The U. S. Army camp that would later become Fort Griffin was established in 1856 to help protect a Comanche reservation that had been set up earlier in the area.  When Robert E. Lee held the rank of Lt. Col. in the U. S. Army, he served here as commander from April, 1856 to July, 1857.  It was located less than a mile from the Clear Fork of the Brazos River on a small plateau of about sixty feet in height providing an enhanced view of the surrounding area.  The original location was in the lowlands a short distance away until a monsoon type rain hit and turned it into a swampy mess.

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Posted by on March 15, 2018 in forts

 

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Fort Richardson

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(Image credit: Texas State Historical Association)

Fort Richardson was founded in 1866, following the end of the Civil War, first staffed near Jacksboro, Texas by elements of the 6th Cavalry.  It was temporarily relocated around 20 miles north to a location known as Buffalo Springs in Clay County one year later.  Buffalo Springs had the advantages of more plentiful water and timber, but was closer to the hostile tribes while also being further from supply depots in the Austin area.  Construction was begun at Buffalo Springs, but was abandoned in favor of the original Jack County location after an Indian attack and several months of drought.  The Jack County location was reestablished and consisted of about 300 acres along the Lost Creek tributary of the West Fork of the Trinity River.  Construction had to start over as the previously abandoned buildings in Jacksboro had been used for building materials by the local settlers.  Fort Richardson became the northern-most outpost in the chain of western forts.

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Posted by on January 18, 2018 in forts

 

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