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North Texas Star

James Bowie Indians prized, and raced, a good horse Death at the Depot
August 2015


along the


August 2015 NORTH TEXAS STAR Page 2


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North Texas Star

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A Coffe Pot and Simple Thoughts
By Don Price

David May
Lindsay Burge
Mary Gray
Kailie Trigg
Susie Howell


The man and his knife

By Jim Dillard



By Wynelle Catlin


Death at the Depot
By Erik J. Wright

August 2015 NORTH TEXAS STAR Page 4


along the


A Coffee Pot and Simple Thoughts

It's almost September. Remember Autumn
Leaves? Remember September Song, Sarah
Vaughn and Lena Horne? Of course, we all do. How
could anyone think of anything else, and at the mellowest time of life. What a priceless gift to ponder,
yes, indeed.
Wood smoke's in the creek bottom, permeating my
dog's nostrils and mine; it even
clouds my mind's eye with nostalgia of long unhurried walks
of none other than a sort of purposelessness, but just look at all
the priceless walking exercises
you'll perhaps outlive your
What else on earth smells
more invigorating than oak
wood smoke, or mesquite, hovering around sandstone fences
and spider webs on the cool
September morn' down in the
shady creek bottom?
Chances are if you know of
anything that smells better,
you've never smelled wood
smoke on a hoarfrost morning,
not a breath of wind to distract
you either.
Like woodsmoke, the things
in life that should matter most
are the simplest. Let's just take
solitude for instance: what is
simpler than solitude?
Quietude may be difficult to find in the city but the
country's brimming with it: the coo of a mourning or
white-winged dove, the bark of a gray fox, the rustling of an armadillo sort-of tanking through the
brush; even the explosion of the water's surface, the
frog that is no more, and the largemouth with the
smug look.
Summer changes gears right about now; and one
becomes more aware of it if he's out early, especially
at aurora's first appearance, the thinest slice of
Walking just a few paces through the pasture finds

one looking down at his soaking shoes and pants'

legs, becoming aware of the silent dew that blanketed the earth's surface the night before.
Then slowly the aurora and sun join insurmountable forces silent and soul moving to show a
thinking person there surely is a God.
Then one becomes humble, finding, grasping a
happiness he never knew existed or could possibly exist.
The quietest hour is the one at
early dawn, certainly the most
glorious; trees stand, sentinels
of the land, waiting to be bathed
in the sunlight of life.
Tomorrow morning, observe
the break of dawn, feel the
coolness of lingering night air,
pause to look at an orange ball
lipping the horizon now
you're in rapport with nature.
Maybe you can scoot from
town to a hidden pond where
the bass play and feed, wallowing near the stumps like feral
hogs. Casting out your favorite
popper is the ticket, hooking
and releasing a few giant bass
so that someone else can share
your joy later by catching the
same fish.
It'll make you glow inside just
to know you've quietly released
several prizes while the other
guys forget the number of times they've told the
same old story.
While the morning's still cool, build yourself a tiny
mesquite fire to inhale the aroma, while in the tiny
fire's middle an old bucket serves the purpose. Black
coffee, is there any other kind?

Part II
Always the first crier to tell us of approaching
splendor, the sumac bush blushes scarlet, usually in
October. Along our familiar roadsides it is to be

found, discovered aflame by those who will take a

moment to notice.
Found in abundance in limestone country, sumac
was particularly strong along that stretch of roadway
between Palo Pinto and Brad. Two species were
found there: shining and smooth sumac. Appreciating
this crest of coloration is worth the wait.
The halcyon days of fall fuse together, blending
pleasantly before our eyes. A simple soul who owns
no worldly goods may be richer than we because he
takes a moment longer to observe nature perhaps
more than we do...
Before you know it, elms and pecans will be the
guilded ones, each a pot-o'-gold taking over when the
sumac denudes, affording abundant wealth for anyone who will stop to notice. One of the secrets to
happiness: slow down.
Myriad roadside flowers are abloom at this time of
year, even common broomweeds, gasping before
Jack Frost oozes ...
Bobwhites used to be in abundance, found
throughout the countryside. You'd have to search
carefully, for their camouflage was often blending
into pasture grasses. A good dog really helps.
My best year in the bend behind Bud, an English
Setter was in 1969. Ralph Lindsay, county agent,
always said his best year was when the 7-year
drought broke, 1957. I can just hear Bud barking
over that little rise.
Grit is my hunting companion now, a 14-monthold Brittany Spaniel, and he thinks he knows all
about it. I keep telling him Bud wore mighty big
An old bird hunter once told me to watch out for
every sixth year ... my best year was 1969, and now
it's 1975. Sure enough this year seems to be the best
so far.
We'll hunt out the hollows some of these hazy,
idyllic mornings, stopping at noon to perk a coffee
pot, woof a sandwich. Come on, Grit, we've a lot of
sniffing to do before December 1st, opening day of
quail season.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said (I guess we learned
about Ralph in seventh grade): He who knows the
most, he who knows what sweets and virtues are in

August 2015 NORTH TEXAS STAR Page 5

the ground, the waters, the plants, the heavens, and how
to come at these enchantments, is the rich and royal

Part III

Your skill in dropping the bass lure where you want it

on the first cast will be a great aid in catching a bass,
whereas your fishing partner might hang his lure in brush
or on a tree limb instead, because of inexperience.
But don't razz your fishing partner too heavily, especially since you've travelled to that remote lake in only
one vehicle, because your partner may have the only set
of keys to the car. Think before you pop off.
Every time a cast is made unless the angler is concealed or the distance great or water murky there is the
element of exposure to the wary bass by now.
And the more you cast, the more cause for suspicion.
The skilled angler who can lay his lure in the pocket on
the first cast has a far better chance of bringing home the
In many cases it's not nearly as effective to cast your
lure within inches of your target unless you fish the plug
slowly, in fact, the slower the better, especially when you
are working a top-water, such as the old favorite: James
Heddon's Chugger Spook, black body, white ribs, probably the most familiar top-water bass lure, starting in the
1940s. Catching one on a top-water is twice the fun
Suppose your first cast misses the pocket by ten feet.

The 5-pounder sees the lure splash, since it's not near
enough for him to grab, he begins to wonder. (Aside: I've
always wondered if a fish wonders.)
The second cast does little better, let's say five feet
nearer, and this bass in question really studies the artificial over with a dubious eye, growing way more skeptical.
The third time is one too many, as the 5-pounder's had
plenty of time to collect his senses. Goodbye, opportunity.
However, the pleasant part of learning how to bait cast
with accuracy is that it can be practiced in your back
It is unwise to tempt a 10-pounder before learning how
to cast, because most amateurs scare away all bass with
their vicious sidearms anyway: watch your buddy's hat;
better still, watch his eyeballs. Some of your enemies
will report you to the insane asylum for fishing in your
own backyard, but it's simpler to become meek than trying to learn casting and catching fish at the same time.
I'll tell you what it is, causing all of these awkward
thoughts ...
Did you hear about the 8-year-old kid who caught a
12-pound largemouth black bass on a $3 spin-cast reel, a
Zebco 202, in Florida? It was his first trip, probably his
first cast, and he didn't even learn the art of casting in his

August 2015 NORTH TEXAS STAR Page 6


The man and his knife


(This is a two-part series on the life and times of James Bowie, revered for his name-sake Bowie knife and death at the Alamo in San Antonio during the Texas
Revolution against Mexico in 1836. His larger-than-life persona gave rise to myths and legends that to this day remain in the cultural folklore of Texas.)
James Bowie (1796-1836) was born nine miles
northwest of Franklin in Logan County, Ky., on March
Going to antique stores, trade days and flea markets
10, 1796. He was the ninth of 10 children born to Elva
is something I've always enjoy doing. I usually pick up Ap-Catesby Jones and Reason (or Rezin) Bowie, who
something I really don't need and wish I hadn't bought
were of Scottish-English ancestry. Reason Bowie was
it by the time I get home.
wounded during the American Revolution and married
Nevertheless, over the years I have accumulated colthe young woman who nursed him back to health. They
lections of glass oil
moved from Georgia to
lamps, old kerosene lanKentucky. At that time, James'
terns, bricks, bait-casting
father owned eight slaves, eleven
fishing reels, padlocks,
head of cattle, seven horses and
cookie jars, bottle openone stud horse. The next year
ers and, my latest obsesthey moved to a 200-acre farm
sion, trivets.
on the Red River in Kentucky,
When our daughter
only to relocate two years later
lived in Canton in East
in Missouri.
Texas, my wife and I visOn May 1, 1801, Reason
ited the vast Canton
Bowie and his brothers, Dick,
Trade Days grounds on
Rhesa and John, swore allemany occasions and
giance to the Spanish governwalked ourselves to the
ment and emigrated to Spanish
point of exhaustion
Louisiana. By October, they had
searching for treasures.
settled on farms in present
The Chicken House Flea
Catahoula Parish, where Reason
Market west of
Bowie became the largest slave
Stephenville, First
holders in the area, with 20
Monday Trade Days in
slaves. His sons, James, John J.,
Weatherford and Second
Stephen and Rezin P. Bowie, and
Monday Trade Day in
all the other Bowie children,
Bowie are also some of
worked on the plantation and
James Bowie
our favorite stomping
learned to read and write.
grounds for building our
James and his brother Rezin
also became fluent in Spanish
The Second Monday Trades Day (Friday, Saturday,
and French and learned to hunt, fish and how to operand Sunday before the second Saturday of each month) ate the farm and plantation. James became proficient
in Bowie, located in Montague County northwest of
with a pistol, rifle and knife and developed a reputation
Fort Worth, began in 1890 when farmers gathered each for fearlessness. In 1809, the clan moved to southeast
month to buy, sell and trade horses and mules. The
Louisiana, where Reason Bowie purchased 640 acres
trade day grounds, which are located near the rodeo
on the Vermillion River, near the mouth of Little
arena south of downtown, have evolved into an extenBayou. He raised sugarcane and livestock on his plansive monthly gathering of vendors displaying their
tation near Opelousas and bought and sold slaves.
wares of everything from rusty-gold farm equipment to
James Bowie's brother, John, described him as "a
you guessed it Bowie knives!
stout, rather raw-boned man, of 6 feet height, weighted
The town owes its name to the man behind the legend180 pounds. He had light-colored skin, keen gray eyes
ary Bowie knife, James (Jim) Bowie. Bowie's death at the
rather deeply set in his head, a fair complexion, and
Alamo in 1836 propelled his name to Texas icon status as
high cheek bones." James was fond of hunting and
he fought to the death in defense of Texas. His adventurefishing, and family tradition says he caught and rode
some life as an American and Texas pioneer, soldier, smug- wild horses, roped alligators and trapped bears. He was
gler, slave trader, businessman and land speculator helped
said to have an open, frank disposition but "when
define the character of a man like none other of his time.
aroused to anger by an insult, his anger was terrible."

Part 1

When Andrew Jackson called for volunteers to fight

the British in the War of 1812, James and Rezin enlisted in the Louisiana militia during 1814, but arrived in
New Orleans too late to participate in the final battle
there. After mustering out of service, James moved to
Rapides Parish and supported himself by cutting planks
and lumber and floating them down the bayou for sale.
During June 1819, he joined the infamous Long
Expedition from Natchez, La., to Nacogdoches in
Spanish Texas to liberate the region from Spanish rule.
James Long led the force that eventually totaled 300
men and captured Nacogdoches where he established
the first Republic of Texas. However, Long and his
men were forced into retreat later that year when 500
Spanish troops arrived to quell the uprising. Bowie
escaped back to the safety of Louisiana. Long was
taken into custody in 1821 by Spanish troops when he
led another expedition into Spanish Texas to take
Presidio La Bahia (near present Goliad). He was taken
to Mexico City and, six months later, shot by a
Mexican guard.
After Bowie's father died around 1821, he and Rezin
received 10 slaves and livestock from the estate and
began a partnership to develop several large estates in
Lafourche Parish and around Opelousas. They also
began a scheme to take advantage of increasing land
values and speculation to sell land to the burgeoning
population of settlers coming into Louisiana.
Without adequate funds to support their venture, they
became involved in a partnership with pirate Jean
Lafitte, who captured slave ships in the Caribbean and
Gulf of Mexico and operated a slave market from his
compound on Galveston Island. Although a law was
passed in 1821 prohibiting the importation of slaves
through any port in the United States, there was a loophole that allowed any ship to capture a slave ship. All
slaves turned over to the customs officials would be
sold within the United States with half the profits going
to the people that turned them in.
Bowie and Rezin profited greatly by this illicit by
purchasing the slaves from Lafitte at a discounted price
and taking them to custom officials in New Orleans.
Bowie and his brother would then purchase the slaves
at the auction and be given half the purchase price.
Once the slaves were in their possession, they could
then resell them in New Orleans or take them to other
markets in the south. The brothers made a profit of
$65,000 that they used to fund their land speculation

August 2015 NORTH TEXAS STAR Page 7





August 2015 NORTH TEXAS STAR Page 8

Duels were often conducted during this time between

Dragoons, whose name is engraved on the sheath.
individuals who sought to preserve their personal charThe term Bowie knife became synonymous with any
acter and dignity or to settle some other injustice that
large knife produced during that period, as blacksmiths
had occurred between two men. On September 19,
throughout the country fashioned a wide variety of
1827, Bowie was in attendance at such a publicized duel knives with different shapes and lengths. The Bowie
on a sandbar outside Natchez, Mississippi, between
knife would remain popular until after the Civil War
Samuel Levi Wells III and his opponent Dr. Thomas
when Mr. Colt's revolver was put into use. Blacksmith
Harris Maddox. Also in attendance was Norris Wright,
James Black in Arkansas also is reported to have made a
sheriff of Rapides Parish, with whom Bowie held a
knife for Bowie in 1830 from a wooden pattern he had
grudge for his role as a bank director in turning down
carved. Black modified the blade with a clip point, and
his application for a loan. On an early occasion, Wright
by the 1850, this style of knife was manufactured in cuthad fired a shot at Bowie during a confrontation in
lery factories in Sheffield, England. The location of the
Alexandria, Louisiana. From that point on, Bowie
original Bowie knife is unknown.
always carried the large nine and one-quarter inch knife
During the late 1820s, James lived in New Orleans
given to him by his brother Rezin.
and continued the land speculation venture in southern
As the duel unfolded, two shots were fired by each
Louisiana with his brother Rezin. Along with their
man with none of shots finding their mark. Although the brother Stephen, they established the 1,800-acre Arcadia
two men resolved their differences with a handshake,
sugar plantation near Thibodaux, La., and set up the first
several men in the crowd who had grievances against
steam-powered sugar mill in Louisiana. After Rezin was
each other began to fight. Alexander Crain fired
at Samuel Cuny and when Cuny fell, Bowie shot
at Crain but missed. During the melee, Bowie
Bowie knife
was shot in the hip, but regained his stance and
charged his antagonist, only to be hit on the head
with an empty pistol. Sheriff Wright shot at
Bowie, who was lying on the ground but missed,
and Bowie returned fire with his pistol, possibly
hitting Wright. Wright then impaled Bowie in the
chest with his sword cane. As Wright attempted to
extract his sword, Bowie grabbed and pulled him
down, disemboweling him with his large knife.
Wright died instantly, but Bowie, with the sword
still in him, was shot and stabbed again by Alfred
Blanchard. Bowie then rose and cut Blanchard severely
elected to the state Legislature, James began to travel to
with his knife.
eastern cities, Arkansas and Mississippi. During 1829,
The doctor who originally fought in the duel patched
James became engaged to Cecelia Wells, who unexpectBowie up and he lived to fight another day. This event
edly died in Alexandria, La., two weeks prior to their
became known as "The Sandbar Fight," and word
wedding date. The brothers sold the Arcadia sugar planspread far and wide about Bowie and his prowess with a tation, along with other landholdings and 82 slaves, to
knife. There are several differing accounts of the duel
Natchez investors in 1831 for $90,000.
but, needless to say, it was surely a bloody affair.
At the age of 34, James Bowie and a friend left
There are many stories, legends and claims as to who
Thibodaux on Jan. 1, 1830, and traveled through
built the first "Bowie knife," and I will not go down that Nacogdoches to San Felipe, Texas. There they presented
road. According the Texas State Historical Association,
a letter of introduction from Thomas F. McKinney, one
James' brother Rezin claimed to have designed the first
of the Old Three Hundred colonists, to Stephen F.
large "Bowie knife" that James used in the Sand Bar
Austin, and on Feb. 20th took the oath of allegiance to
Fight. It was forged by blacksmith Jesse Clifft, a close
Mexico. From there they traveled to San Antonio with
friend of the family who lived in Bayou Boeuf, La.
William H. Wharton and his wife, Isaac Donaho,
In profile, it was a large butcher knife with a thin
Caiaphas K. Ham, and several slaves with a letter of
blade, which James wore in a silver-mounted black
introduction to two influential Mexicans, Juan Martn de
leather sheath. After the Sand Bar Fight, such knives
Veramendi and Juan N. Segun. Bowie's party traveled
became popular. In 1828, James Bowie went to
on south to Saltillo, Mexico, the state capitol of
Philadelphia, Pa., and showed his knife to cutler Henry
Coahuila and Texas, where he learned the Mexican law
Schively. The "Clifft knife" became the pattern for a
of 1828 offered its citizens grants of eleven-leagues
fancier "Schively knife," which Rezin wanted made with (48,708 acres) in Texas for $100 to $250 each. Bowie
a silver sheath. Rezin had several other Schively knives
convinced a number of Mexicans to apply for the elevmade by Daniel Searle, of Baton Rouge, La., during the
en-league grants and then bought 15 or 16 land grants
1830s. Rezin presented the Searle Bowie knife, now on
from them. Although Stephen F. Austin disapproved of
display at the Alamo, to H.W. Fowler, United States
Bowie locating his grant lands in his colony in southeast

Texas, he eventually allowed them.

Bowie returned to San Antonio and posed as a
wealthy man, becoming friends with the Veramendi
family, who sponsored his baptism into the Catholic
church. That fall he traveled to Mexico with the
Veramendi family and officially became a Mexican citizen, contingent on his establishing a wool and cotton
mill in Coahuila in partnership with Veramendi.
Through a friend in Natchez, he purchased a textile mill
for $20,000.
On April 25, 1831, he married 19-year-old Ursula de
Veramundi after pledging to the mayor of Saltillo to pay
her a dowry of $15,000 pecos in cash or property within
two years of the marriage. They settled in San Antonio
on land given to them by Ursula's father near San Jose
Mission, but soon moved into the Veramendi Palace to
live with Ursula's parents. They had two children, Marie
Elve in 1832 and James Veramendi in 1833.
While in San Antonio, Bowie became infatuated with
stories he heard about the Lost Almagres
Mine, supposedly located in the vicinity of the
ruins of the old Santa Cruz de San Saba
Mission near present Menard, Texas. After
obtaining permission from Mexican government officials, Bowie and his brother Rezin
and nine men left San Antonio on Nov. 2,
1831, on an expedition deep into Indian territory to search for the mine. When they were
within six miles of the old mission, they were
attacked by a large band of Tawakoni, Waco
and Caddo Indians and fought for their lives
for the next 13 hours. After the Indians finally
retreated, only one of Bowie's men had been
killed, with several wounded. Around 30 Indians were
killed and 40 wounded.
When word reached San Antonio that Bowie and his
men had been wiped out, Ursula Bowie went into
mourning and began wearing black widow's clothing.
Miraculously, Bowie and the surviving members of his
expedition arrived back in San Antonio on Dec. 6th,
undeterred by the adventure. A month later, as "colonel"
of citizen rangers, he led another expedition with 26
men from Gonzales to the headwaters of the Colorado
River in search of Tawakonis and other hostile Indians,
only to return two and-a-half months later without
As the winds of revolution against the tyrannical
Mexican government began to blow throughout Texas
during the next few years, James Bowie would rise to
the occasion and become inextricably tangled in the web
of conflicts to come that would forge his name into the
annals of Texas history.
(To be continued.)
Sources: Handbook of Texas Online (tshaonline.org);
wickapedia.org; and other internet sources.
Jim Dillard is a retired wildlife biologist and freelance
writer from Mineral Wells. Question/comments to blueduck@sbcglobal.net.

August 2015 NORTH TEXAS STAR Page 9

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Indians prized, and raced,



History in this part of the country is interwoven

with association with Indians. As we write about
our historical legacy, we tend to focus on murder
and mayhem. But there was a lot of interaction with
Native Americans in other areas, too horse racing
was one.
Kiowa chief Satanta was the first Indian to be
tried for murder in a white man's court, with the
trial taking place in the courthouse in Jacksboro.
Long before his arrest and trial, Satanta took part
in a horse race on the prairie near Fort Larned, Kan.
Excited soldiers and Indians gathered for the big
Ferocious Kiowas, who roamed the plains of the
southwest following their ancient traditions of raiding and plundering, were pitting their best race
horse against the best steed of the soldiers who
were stationed at Fort Larned to protect the frontier
from the ravages of the savages.
The Kiowas bet everything they owned on the
outcome of the race. So did the soldiers, but their
possessions were fewer.
The items bet against each other were put together. Horses were tied together, saddles placed together, or if a saddle was bet against a blanket then the
two were placed together. All bets were placed
under the watchful eye of a stakeholder trusted by
both Indians and soldiers.
The race track was staked out on the smooth prairie. The two racehorses, with riders in place,
stomped nervously at the starting line.
A gunshot signaled the start. The racers were off.
Dust boiled as the horses thundered down the track.
Excited onlookers yelled.
The soldiers' horse was gaining. It was ahead. It
The winners ran to collect their loot.
Satanta was one of the losers. Brawny and burly,
he was noted all along the frontier for his ability to
drink whiskey, steal white women and children, and
most of all for his powers of oratory. He spoke long
and well with a silver tongue. Most likely he had
boasted about how the Indian horse would fare
against the puny horseflesh of the soldiers, for that
was his way. But he lost graciously, maybe because
he knew that he could stealthily visit a certain settler in Texas who had a black stallion that ran with
the speed of the wind.
Satanta, as did all the Kiowas, liked good horses.
He knew every horse on the plains and frontiers of
Kansas, New Mexico, Texas and Indian Territory.
The Kiowa tribe had not always owned horses.

About 200 years before, according to tribal legend,

the Kiowas had lived in the far north, where it was
cold much of the time. They used dogs to carry
their belongings when they moved from one location to another.
Then a young man went on a hunting trip, far to
the south where it was warm much of the year. He
met Comanches who had wonderful animals they
could mount to go very, very fast.
He was given one of the horses. He took it back
to his northern home and told about the tribe who
rode these animals. And he said it was warm
instead of cold where they lived.
Some members of the tribe did not believe him,
but most of them did, so they packed their possessions and made the long trek on foot to the southwestern plains. Soon everyone had a horse.
They used horses to move from one campsite to
another. They raided enemy tribes to steal horses.
They raided deep into Mexico to get horses and
women. Then, as strange pale men moved closer to
their hunting grounds, they raided them to steal
horses and women.
Horses became a sign of wealth. One who
acquired many horses was considered
industrious, for he must have gone on
many raids. The Kiowa were proud of
their horses. They took good care of
them, and raced them at the drop of a
The settlers who began coming to
Texas after it won independence and
later joined the Union also admired
horses. Many got them the way
the Indians did, but others
went into Mexico and
bought horses. A few
brought horses from the
The Texans were
also proud of
their horses,
took good

care of them and would also race them at the drop

of a hat.
Satanta knew the black stallion in southern Texas
was fast as the wind and beat everything he'd raced
against. He formed a raiding party and crossed the
Red River into Texas. He and his band sneaked the
stallion away from the settler's safekeeping and
returned home as fast as possible without injuring
the newly acquired horse.
Back in Indian Territory, Satanta and his tribe
spread the word. The Kiowas had another horse.
They wanted a chance to recoup their losses from
the soldiers at Fort Larned.
A date for another race was set. People flocked to
the fort from 300 miles around to witness the big
event. Again the betting was fast and furious.
The horses were taken to the starting line, with
the black stallion prancing nervously.
The gun cracked. The race was on.
The black stallion lived up to his reputation, leaving the soldiers' horse far behind.
Satanta had not boasted in vain this time. His
arrogant face filled with pride as the Kiowas collected their spoils and began to carry them away.
The soldiers got their heads together. They wanted the fast black stallion. How much money could
they raise? It was a struggle but by pooling all their
resources, they raised $2,000.
Going to Satanta, they offered him the money for
the fast black horse, fresh from a Texas barn.
Satanta was just beginning to appreciate
the peculiar trading value of white man's
currency. He accepted the offer. Some of
his band questioned his selling the fast
horse. No doubt they planned to
win races all along the frontier.
But Satanta shrugged, saying, Unless they take
him east of the
Mississippi, I can get
him again when I
want him.

August 2015 NORTH TEXAS STAR Page 11


August 2015 NORTH TEXAS STAR Page 12


Death at the depot


Train Depot Ranger White was shot and killed by area badman Edward Stoke Clark in 1908 at
Weatherfords old train depot. (Photo by Ron Reiring).
On Tuesday, Feb. 4, 1908, Mamie Ledford and
Myrtle King were on the inbound train from Fort
Worth to Weatherford. Mamie was married to,
but separated from, 27-year-old Orion Ledford, a
streetcar motorman in Fort Worth. Mamie had
since been involved with another one of Fort
Worths motormen, Edward Stoke Clark. Clark
was generally regarded by many in the area as a
dangerous man and was deeply involved in Fort
Worths gambling circuit.
Mamie Ledford phoned Clark and asked him
to join the two women during their stay in
Weatherford, but also sensing trouble, she contacted Texas Ranger Homer White, Company A,
who had been appointed just a few months
before on Dec. 1, 1917, to escort the ladies
through town in case a confrontation should
arise between Clark and Ledfords estranged
Before White could arrive on scene, Clark and

Ledford had begun arguing at the Texas and

Pacific Railway depot immediately west of
downtown Weatherford. Though White was hesitant to intervene at this point on what he saw as
a personal matter, local citizens were persistent
and Clark stepped forward and announced his
intention of arresting Clark. The best evidence
suggests that what happened next was typical of
the dangerous character of Stoke Clark.
Witnesses reported hearing several small-caliber gunshots, followed immediately by several
large-caliber gunshots. White had dropped to the
darkened railroad depot platform with wounds
from a .38-caliber pistol and Clark suffered
severe wounds from a .45-caliber revolver.
Private White would die moments later. Clark,
though shot through and bleeding, managed to
stagger back to his hotel, where he surrendered
to local authorities, The Daily Herald
(Weatherford) reported.

Author Erik Wright, a Weatherford native, publishes regularly for history magazines and journals.
A former Southwestern archaeologist, Wright is recognized by many as an authority on borderlands violence
with special emphasis on Arizona and Australian banditry. He now lives in Arkansas with his wife, Laura.

August 2015 NORTH TEXAS STAR Page 13

August 2015 NORTH TEXAS STAR Page 14

HomerWhite Homer White, Texas

Ranger. (Courtesy of Helen Parker)

The report is that Clark at once unlimbered a .38-calibre Colts revolver and opened fire on the ranger, firing six shots in rapid succession. One of the shots
struck White in the left arm and passed through his
body near the heart, producing a wound that caused his
death almost instantly. Although White was mortally
wounded and in the throes of death, he got his .45 Colt
into action and fired five shots, one of which passed
through the left hip of Clark and the other through the
calf of his left leg.
Clark was tried and convicted of second-degree murder of Texas Ranger Homer White on Nov. 18, 1908, in
a Parker County courtroom. Yet, just six months later
Clark appealed the ruling and, on May 26, 1909, the
case was reversed and remanded by the Texas Criminal
Court of Appeals because, the trial judge did not properly instruct the jury that Clark had a right to a jury
charge on self-defense.
A few months after this ruling, on Aug. 12, 1909,
Clark was likely involved in the shotgun ambush and
death of Fort Worth policeman William Campbell as he
was on foot patrol at Twelfth and Rusk Streets in front
of the Jockey Club Saloon. Though the killer was identified as Stoke Clark, he was not charged.
Only 23 when killed, White was buried in a family
plot in the Graves-Gentry Cemetery in Hamilton,
Texas. Clark would die on May 15, 1911, after suffering wounds from an automatic shotgun blast following
a violent street fight with Oklahoma hard cases Mart
Bannon and Lige Gable. Texas Ranger Frank Johnson
eulogized White upon hearing of his murder.
Homer White was a credit to the Rangers force of
Texas during his short time of service. He was a nephew of Ben Plasters, one of the leading cattlemen of
Colorado City. His father, who lived in Hamilton
County, was a longtime and highly honored citizen of
this state. White was a man of exemplary habits. He
never dissipated and was cool and considerate under all
conditions. He made friends among his brother officers
from the very beginning of the service as a state ranger
and there is profound distress over his untimely death.
The Weekly Herald (Weatherford). Feb. 5, 1908.
The Weekly Herald (Weatherford). Feb. 6, 1908.
The Weekly Herald (Weatherford). May 18, 1911.
Edward Stoke Clark file (authors collection).
Homer White, private, Texas Rangers, Co. A, by
Helen Parker (unpublished manuscript in authors collection).
Additional research provided by Helen Parker.

Company A, Weatherford Company A, Texas

Rangers. Homer White is fifth from the left, wearing
a dark vest, and Captain Johnson is the tall man to
his left. (Courtesy of Helen Parker)

August 2015 NORTH TEXAS STAR Page 15

August 2015 NORTH TEXAS STAR Page 16

August 2015 NORTH TEXAS STAR Page 17

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