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THE TEXAS RANGER KILLING SEASON 
Examples of ineptitude and injustices perpetrated by individual Texas Rangers (TR) as well as entire units are not uncommon throughout the history of Texas, even up the present day. UT historian W. P. Webb, generally considered an apologist for the TR service, criticized TR activities back to the 1870s during the "Cortinas War on the War Grande," in his The Texas Rangers:A Century of Frontier Defense (1935), 181-2.

The Mexican Revolution brought on another series of border problems that resulted in atrocities. The most well known of those are the well documented (i. e., state representative "Tony" Canales investigation) and photographed slaughters carried out by state rangers between Brownsville and Laredo.

The Big Bend region was not without its problems either, particularly following the "Santa Isabel Massacre" of nineteen American miners west of Chihuahua City (Jan. 10, 1916), the Pancho Villa raid on Columbis, NM, (March 10, 1916) and the raid by starving and desperate Mexican bandits on Glenn Spring, TX (May 1916). Later, on Christmas Day, 1917, the raid on Luke Brite's ranch on the high plain above the escarpment overlooking the Rio Grande valley west of Marfa brought on a near fever pitch of resentment and demands for "justice" among the Anglo population of the region. Both the US Army and TR service were called on to mete it out. The Army, it seems, acted with circumspection leaving the dirty work to the state militia, or TR service. And those boys went about it with a vengeance (See: Glenn Justice, Revolution on the Rio Grande: Mexican Raids and Army Pursuits 1916-1919). One cold night in January 1918 a squad of TR under the command of Capt. J. M. Fox, of Brownsville area fame,rounded up Porvenir, Texas, taking "fifteen men between the ages of sixteen and seventy-two and marched them off into the darkness to a rock bluff . . . where they unceremoniously shot the Mexicans to death"(Justice, 39). No evidence to qualify any arrests had been found so the TR acted as judge, jury and executioner. Problem solved. But what problem? Many of those killed were U.S. citizens.

Those were only the "main events" of the killing season. Murders by TR took place all around the region. One, for example, happened in broad-open daylight in downtown Marfa when Carlos Morales Wood, the Valentine, Texas-based editor of La Patria, a Spanish-language newspaper was gunned down by two TR. Both rangers involved later became Texas sheriffs. Ron Segura points out another episode when TR H. L. Robertson murdered one of Segura's relatives.

Glenn Willeford


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