Danger lurked on Texas frontiersby
during Civil War
was a period of years during and after the Civil War when the frontiers of Texas
were extremely dangerous to settlers. Ranches and settlements were few and far
between, many of the men were still off fighting wars. The U.S. Army had its hands
full with Indians and raiders and the Texas Rangers were scattered thinly and
undermanned. No one was safe including many small towns when the Indians traveled
during the fall Comanche Moon period. |
|During raids most
of the settlers were killed outright and their cabins burned. Time and again women
and children were taken prisoner by raiding Indians. Some were kept as slaves
to the tribes while others were traded to the Comancheros and taken into the West
and Mexico. Most of these captives were never seen or heard of again.|
of Uvalde's former
citizens was brought home from Mexico for burial|
young white boy was taken prisoner by the Indians in Wise County near early Fort
Worth. His family was killed outright so he had no one to care or follow.
After living with the Indians for several years he wound up in Oklahoma
Territory where W.T. Waggoner, the famous Texas rancher was grazing cattle herds
on Indian Lands.
Seeing the Indian boy was white, Mr. Waggoner traded
some horses for him and took him into his ranching family as an employee and cowboy.
The Waggoners raised him with the man working for them the rest of his life. He
married, raised a family and eventually became a kind of foreman and lead-off
man for the ranch. Everyone knew and called him "Shinnery" McElroy.
he worked as hard as any man, he was somewhat crippled and limped when he walked.
When asked how his leg was hurt he told the following story.
with the Indians as a boy, he could run faster than the other Indian boys his
age when playing games and in contests. This was irritating to the Indians so
they cut a tendon in his knee to slow him down. When listeners sympathized with
the brutality, Shinnery always replied,
"That's better than cutting my
When the Indians were finally placed on reservations, the Texas
frontier became somewhat safer but outlaw gangs and a few "war raiders" were still
around so the land was never really safe.
of Jose Maria Polancio (Killed by Indians)|
by Indians 1837|
Texas Rangers kept law and order for years until the outlaw element moved into
Oklahoma Territory and New Mexico Territory. |
The Rangers first came into
being in 1823 when Stephen F. Austin hired 10 men, paying them out of his own
pocket, to protect his settlers from the marauding Indians. In 1835 the Rangers
were organized as a group, being more of a militia for the Republic of Texas.
In 1875 they became peace officers and worked in that capacity until 1935,
becoming part of the Texas Department of Public Safety. In 1937 they became a
separate group again and developed into a highly respected special modern crime-fighting
© Delbert Trew
All Trew" April
13 , 2010 Column