25, 1875, Ringo killed his first man, Jim Chaney, in Mason.
In December Ringo and Cooley had an altercation with the sheriff
of Burnet County,
probably over the sheriff's attempt to serve a warrant on Ringo
for the old indictment of disturbing the peace.
After a scuffle the sheriff and an army of deputies arrested the
two desperadoes and took them to Lampasas
for confinement, but Llano
County friends arranged for their "parole and early release"
in the middle of the night.
In June 1876 Ringo and Cooley, on their way to Mason,
stopped for lunch at Charlie Metcalfe's hotel in Loyal
Valley. A witness reported that they walked in to the hotel
"in broad daylight, armed to the teeth, ate lunch with perfect composure
and rode off unmolested." Ringo was a wanted man and often had meals
with a rifle across his lap.
But the plan to ride into Mason
changed when Cooley and Ringo learned their enemies were waiting
for them at Hedwig's Hill just north of the Llano
Ringo turned east and rode to Long Mountain in Llano County (near
the present day Buchanan
Dam) where he hid out with the Farris family.
Scott Cooley went to Fredericksburg
where he stopped for lunch at the Nimitz. He rode out of town that
afternoon on his way to see friends in Blanco
But Cooley never made it. Somewhere near the Blanco
County line he got off his horse, laid down, and died. That
his last meal was lunch at the Nimitz Hotel is probably a coincidence.
1879 Johnny Ringo left the Hill
Country for Tombstone where he fell in with "back shooting border
scum" including Ike Clanton and William "Curly Bill" Brocius.
In Arizona Ringo suffered from bouts of depression. He would get
rip-roaring drunk, occasionally going on a whiskey tear for days
at a time.
On July 14, 1882 a traveler found Ringo's body lying against the
trunk of a tree in Turkey Creek Canyon. He had a single gunshot
wound to the head. Most experts believe he committed suicide.
Ringo's sisters lived well into the twentieth century. Many writers
and historians tried to get them to talk about their brother, but
they stubbornly refused all interviews.
© Michael Barr
14 , 2016 Column
The Seguin Gazette-Enterprise, June 22, 1994, "Going In Search Of
The Real Johnny Ringo," p5. David Johnson, The Mason County "Hoo
Doo" War, 1874-1902 (Denton: University of North Texas Press, 2006).
David Johnson, John Ringo, King of the Cowboys (Denton: University
of North Texas Press, 2008).