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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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Clint Peoples, Texas Ranger

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(Image credit: wacohistory.org)

Captain Clinton Thomas Peoples was born August  25, 1910 in Bridgeport, Wise County, Texas to William Thomas and Susie May Johnson Baugh Peoples.  In Bridgeport, his parents ran a cafe and candy store.  The family later moved to the King Ranch where his father managed a section of the ranch.  He attended high school in Conroe where they were living at the time.

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Posted by on April 25, 2019 in biography, texas rangers

 

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Charles Drake Ferris, Texas Ranger

Charles Drake “Charlie” Ferris was the son of Warren Angus Ferris, a surveyor who laid out the first streets of the old city of Dallas, Texas.  Back in 1917, Charlie Ferris was interviewed by a regional newspaper at his home near Capitan in Lincoln County, New Mexico.  Among other things, Charlie talked about the capture of two Texas outlaws, James Pitts and Charles Yeager.  According to his recollection, previously written up in the old Pennsylvania Grit, Ferris served as a Texas Ranger for about twenty years.

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Posted by on August 23, 2018 in biography, texas rangers

 

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Unsolved Mystery: Texarkana’s Moonlight Murders

A couple, Jimmy Hollis and Mary Larey, had been on a date after which they had parked on the last road of a subdivision in Texarkana the night of February 22, 1946.  At the time, Hollis was 25 and Larey was 19.  After a double date to a movie, they had only been parked for about ten minutes when someone walked up to Hollis’ side of the car and shined a flashlight in his eyes.  The man with the flashlight ordered the couple to exit the car.  Hollis recalled that the man was armed with a gun.  The man then demanded that Hollis remove his trousers.  Hollis had initially resisted but complied, only to be struck hard in the head either with the gun or some other object.  Hollis suffered a fractured skull in the attack.  Thinking it was probably a robbery, Larey was scared but pulled Hollis’ billfold out of his trousers to show the man that Hollis had no money.  The man then ordered Larey to open her purse.  She replied that she didn’t have one and she was knocked to the ground by the assailant after being struck with an object.  The man then ordered Larey to get up and run, which she did.  The man quickly caught her and bewildered Larey by asking her why she was running.  Larey was again knocked to the ground and this time was sexually assaulted.  After the attack, the assailant disappeared and Larey was allowed to escape, managing to get to her feet and run to a nearby house.

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Posted by on March 8, 2018 in films, texas rangers, unsolved mystery

 

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Battle of the Knobs/Battle of Stone Houses

This battle took place in late 1837 in North Texas involving a group of Texas Rangers and a number of mostly Keeci Indians.  According to the various accounts, a Lt. Van Benthuysen was searching the area looking for some stolen horses.  After several  weeks of scouting, the Rangers encountered the Keeci (also spelled as Kichai and Keechi) at a place known for its appearance, mounds of rock described as rock teepees or rock houses.  According to all accounts, the Keeci outnumbered the Rangers several times over, with the Indians amounting to an estimated 150 and the Rangers numbering seventeen or eighteen.  The Rangers held out after losing four of their party.  Also during the battle, the Indians set off a ring of fire around the troops who escaped on foot through the smoke, but not until having lost ten men, over half their number.  Out of their eighteen, four were killed in the battle and six were killed during the escape.  They walked and foraged for ten days until reaching a friendly Kickapoo camp near the present city of Dallas where they stayed for a while before returning to safety near Houston.

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Posted by on February 8, 2018 in texas rangers, tribes and tribal leaders

 

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George Bernard Erath

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(Image credit: Waco Tribune Herald)

George Bernard Erath was born in Vienna, Austria in 1813.  He was educated at Vienna Polytechnic Institute where he studied liberal arts.  Young Erath lived on his own and worked for a few years in Europe, eventually setting sail for America.  One of the reasons given for his departure was that he did not want to be drafted into service for the Austrian Army.  Whatever his justification for not wanting to serve in Austria, he would show no reluctance whatsoever to fight for the State of Texas.  In fact, he spent years doing just that.  He arrived in America in the summer of 1832 in New Orleans.  He then worked in Cincinnati, Ohio before returning to the South again in Florence, Alabama for a short time.  Erath then relocated to Texas in 1833 where he would remain for the rest of his life, entering at Brazoria on the Gulf and settling in Robertson County.

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Posted by on August 10, 2017 in biography, county names, texas rangers

 

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H. Joaquin Jackson, Texas Ranger

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Jackson was a Texas Ranger during most of his law enforcement career, serving in the Uvalde area and later in Alpine.  He was born in 1935 and hired on with DPS briefly before becoming a Texas Ranger.  He served a total of 27 years with the Texas Rangers before retiring in 1993.

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Posted by on August 3, 2017 in biography, texas rangers

 

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