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Thursday, February 28, 2008, 04:24 PM

I am researching some family oral history which occurred in Presidio, likely in the summer of 1917. I am looking for a newspaper/official account of this event. Can you suggest some directions/web sites?

Hugh Fletcher

In the summer of 1917, Presidio County deputy sheriff John Fletcher Rawls, a rancher in the Casa Piedra area of Presidio County, Texas was wounded in a shootout in the Anaya Cafe on Main Street in Presidio , Texas. The gunmen were renegade members of the US Army who were protecting the border against Pancho Villa. Rawls, commissioned by Sheriff Ira Cline, of Presidio County, Texas was the only lawman in the immediate area and alone, challenged the band of seven armed men when he discovered them in a back room of the cafe with the waitresses who had been taken prisoner for sexual purposes. The waitresses were daughters of the owner, part of a family that had taken refuge in Presidio to avoid the revolution that was taking place in Northern Mexico, particularly in their home state of Chihuahua. When Rawls opened the door to the back room the shoot out began. Rawls tripped on the step to the room which was raised above the ground floor level of the main floor, and as the shooters ran past him, as he scrambled to get up off the floor, they unloaded their service pistols into him, escaping but leaving the girls unharmed. They were never identified or tried as their identities were never known. Somehow Rawls lived, although severely crippled. After a year of hospitalization with a huge amount of doctor bills, Rawls sold his ranch and moved to El Paso, Texas He died in Austin, Texas Dec 21, 1958. After the revolution, the Anaya family returned to their home in Chihuahua.


The following is a response to the above account from Monty Waters:

You published e-mail from Hugh Fletcher in February 2008. He sought more information on a shoot out involving his grandfather in Presidio Texas. I have since spoken with Hugh Fletcher and his son Tyler (of Fletcher's books in Salado). I have done more research into the career of my grandfather, A. G. Beard, a law enforcement officer in Presidio County from 1916 to about 1920. I think the story of Fletcher Rawls and my grandfather are connected, beyond the fact that they were both law enforcement officers at the same time and in the same place, though I'll admit I can't prove it. Written below is what I do know. I won't try to attach or insert footnotes here but unless otherwise indicated, all of my information comes from documents and published sources I have reviewed.

I can provide a bit more detail on the events described in Hugh Fletcher's e-mail about his grandfather's brush with death. First, this probably did not happen in 1917. He dates it as during the tenure of Presidio County Sheriff Ira Cline, who did not take office until 1918. Cline served until 1921 after losing the 1920 election to Jeff Vaughn. His grandfather, Fletcher Rawls served both Cline and his predecessor, Milton Chastain as deputy for many years and was certainly involved in the violence of the times. The Alpine Avalanche published a story on October 14, 1914 with the following headline: "Fletcher Rawls killed Marin Dominquez, a bad and treacherous Mexican, at a dance held at the Rock House." The "Rock House" (aka Casa Piedra) was very near Rawls ranch in southern Presidio County. Sheriff Chastain, in May 1917 recommended Fletcher, his brother Tom and his nephew (Tom's son) Jack for "Special Ranger" commissions, which could usually be obtained by having the local sheriff request them from the governor. Chastain cited the Rawls proximity to the border as the reason for their request, and also cited Fletcher Rawls nine years of service as a deputy to him. Governor Ferguson granted the request and all three Rawls got commissions, which allowed them to carry firearms openly, and assist the local ranger company when needed, though they were not on the state payroll. Ultimately these commissions were surrendered when a new governor and new adjutant general took over in the wake of Ferguson's impeachment, and only Tom Rawls bothered to renew. This is probably because the other Rawls received or resumed their commissions as Presidio County deputies and didn't need them.

Hugh Fletcher wrote that the incident occurred in the summer. His son Tyler remembered his great grandmother telling him she was in class and was called out and told something terrible had happened to her father. He thought it was during the school term. For reasons I give below, I think they were both correct, and the incident happened in May of 1919.

Hugh told me that his grandfather borrowed a new holster from his nephew Jack, before the incident, and his gun stuck in his holster, making it impossible for him to draw his weapon. This explains the lopsided outcome of the gun battle. He also told me his grandfather's interest in the woman in the cafe was not entirely professional. He thought his grandfather, single at the time, was sweet on one of the women who worked there. He asked his grandfather what happened to the men who committed this act of violence against him and was told that they were taken care of by friends, and wouldn't elaborate.

On August 5, 1919 my grandfather, A.G. Beard, Charlie Craighead, and Jack Rawls were indicted by the Presidio County grand jury for robbery with firearms, assault to murder . . . [and] threat against life and false imprisonment. My grandfather had been honorably discharged from Jerry Gray's Marfa-headquarted company of rangers in March 1919, and sometime thereafter he took a job as town marshal of Marfa. Charles Craighead, another former ranger, had a long and "colorful" career in Texas law enforcement. He was a son of a former Wilson Co. sheriff, brother to ranger Pat Craighead who lost a leg in the "San Benito shootout" in south Texas that took the lives of a deputy sheriff and ranger. Charles Craighead, shortly thereafter took the life of a Mexican suspect, for which he was indicted and acquitted on grounds of self-defense. In 1915 he was involved in the shootout with members of Chico Cano's gang that took the lives of Eugene Hulen and Joe Sitter. As of May 21, 1919 he resigned a position as an inspector for the Texas Cattle Raisers Association, and the special ranger commission that went with it, to become a Presidio County constable. Jack Rawls was 21 years old, had recently married and become a father. He was the son of Tom Rawls, a prominent Presidio County rancher and county commissioner. His involvement in a violent escapade with two veteran law enforcement officers seems out of place unless, as I assume, it was directed against parties he blamed for his uncle's wounds.

But I know very few facts about what caused these indictments to be issued, aside from what is written in the grand jury report. All of the files concerning it are missing from the Presidio County courthouse except a few entries in court minutes, which are summarized below. The incident obviously happened sometime prior to August 1919. The grand jury mentioned that crime, and "lewd women" were a problem in Presidio County. It also chastised local law enforcement officers for taking the law into their own hands, instead of reporting criminal activity to the grand jury. This remark suggests that the victims of the violence were not entirely upstanding citizens.

Beard family folklore suggests that A. G. Beard got in trouble for using too much force in shutting down a local business that my 100-year-old cousin has variously described as a "gyp joint" or a house of ill repute. The owners were influential and caused him to lose his job as marshal (the indictment is not mentioned). Could these assaults relate to the Anaya cafe?

There is one other tantalizing clue. In ranger force Special Order 21, which announced my grandfather and others were to be honorably discharged in March, they were specifically made eligible for future service should openings occur in the force. By April Gray's company was again recruiting rangers, and it is likely my grandfather tried to re-enlist. I infer this because on May 24, 1919 Captain Gray wrote to his friend, Captain Roy Aldrich in Austin (who would need to approve any reenlistment) a cryptic letter, which said This is on the Q.T. Don't have beard [sic] put in my company until you see me personal. There has ben [sic] something doing out here. After his signature Gray wrote Destroy this don't file it away. I suspect the "something" Gray referred to was the incident that caused Beard, Rawls and Craighead to be indicted two months later.

In addition to the indictment, in August Beard, Craighead and other ex-rangers and law enforcement officials became suspects in a July 30th robbery of a Mexican payroll officer of $21,600, mainly in gold coins. No one was ever indicted for this robbery, but the suspects are all identified in internal [federal] bureau of investigation documents examined by historians Sadler and Harris. The other suspects included Sheriff Ira Cline, his brother Buford, prominent local rancher Jesse "Buck" Pool, ex-rangers Boone Oliphant, and Andy Barker (nephew of long time Presidio sheriff Dud Barker). The last three were all participants in the 1918 "Porvenir massacre".

If Craighead and Beard did share in the proceeds of this robbery, they would need it for bail and lawyers. Charges were eventually dropped against Jack Rawls. Craighead spent part of this period in Hebbronville where his brother was by now sheriff. After lengthy delays he pled guilty, in 1921 to a charge of aggravated assault. The record does not disclose what sentence, if any, was imposed on him.

My grandfather A.G. Beard never stood trial. All we know for certain is that in early 1920 he was still living in Marfa and told the census taker that he was employed as a peace officer. But by the spring of 1922 we know he was working as security for an American oil company in Tampico, Mexico. It is probably not coincidental that the ex ranger captain under whom he served for two years, James Madison Fox, was also employed there. Fox resigned from the rangers in June, 1918 following the firing of five of his men for their actions at Porvenir. Fox held a variety of jobs until he returned to the rangers as a captain in the mid 1920s under the patronage of the newly elected Miriam Ferguson.

As noted by Hugh Fletcher, the injuries to Fletcher Rawls ended his career as a Big Bend rancher, but his brother and nephew continued to ranch there until the 1950s. Beard eventually returned to Texas, and in 1923 married my grandmother. He died in 1941 and is buried in Austin. Charlie Craighead resumed a career with the Cattle Raisers where he served many years. He died in Hebbronville in 1951. In the late 1950s the Texas Legislature funded a pension for rangers of their era and both Beard's and Craighead's widows received ranger pensions until they died.

Thanks for the update Monty. Unfortunately no microfilm exists of the Marfa New Era newspaper of those days since it burned in a fire sometime in the 1930's. The El Paso Public Library has microfilm and an excellent index of the El Paso Times which may contain some info about the shoot out. also has El Paso Times. Gj

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Our dear friend and colleague Gerald Raun passed away March 25, 2009 in Alpine, Texas. He will be greatly missed. Services are to be announced later. Gerald Raun was born July 14, 1932 in Maryville, Missouri. After living in Lincoln, Nebraska, San Francisco, California and Tulsa, Oklahoma his family moved to Odem, Texas, where he graduated from high school in 1949.

Gerald enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin in 1956 and received an M.S. in Zoology in 1958 and a Ph.D. in Zoology in 1961. His thesis was an ecological study of the terrestrial and aquatic vertebrates of Palmetto State Park, a moist, relict area in Central Texas. He was awarded a Welder Wildlife Foundation Fellowship and spent three years at the Welder Wildlife Refuge near Sinton, Texas, where he completed the fieldwork for his dissertation, a study of the population dynamics of the wood rat, Neotoma microus.

Gerald was appointed Curator of Zoology at the Texas Memorial Museum in Austin, in 1960, where he served until accepting an appointment as Assistant Professor of Biology at North Texas University in Denton in 1967. He was promoted to Associate Professor, and in 1970, moved to Angelo State University in San Angelo as Professor and Head of the Department of Biology. He remained at Angelo State until 1978 when he resigned and entered private business.

He became involved in advertising, including positions with the San Angelo Standard Times and the Thrifty Nickel. He became publisher of the Devil's River News in Sonora, Texas and in 1989 moved to Alpine as publisher of the Alpine Avalanche. He retired in 1993 and returned to research interests including Trans-Pecos cacti and the history of the Big Bend, particularly as affected by the Mexican Revolution 1910-1920.

Gerald served for almost ten years as Editor of the Texas Journal of Science and was a Fellow and Honorary Life Member of the Texas Academy of Science. He held offices as Secretary, Vice President, and President of the Texas Herpetological Society. He was a member of the Board of Scientists, Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, the Advisory Council of the Center For Big Bend Studies, and also served on the Center's Editorial Advisory Board. He was an adjunct Professor of Biology at Sul Ross State University and served on the Alpine City Council.

He authored two books, one book chapter, several monographs and over 50 scientific articles dealing with amphibians, reptiles and mammals of Texas, and more recently on cacti. He has also authored several historical articles, which have been published in the Journal of Big Bend Studies. In 1997, Raun completed an index for the Journal, and most recently he completed another index for the publication (volumes nine through nineteen) to be published later this year.

Condensed and edited from "Spotlight on Gerald and Dian Raun," in La Vista de la Frontera Newsletter of the Center for Big Bend Studies, Summer 1997, Sul Ross State University.

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On Sunday, March 8, 2009, 09:34 PM, Monty Waters wrote:

Thank you for posting the photo of Jerry Gray's Ranger Company. It has been reproduced many times in books, but not on the internet.

The list below is from multiple sources. The first name is as it appears in the Adjutant Generals records of Ranger enlistments (online). The names in brackets are from other published sources. This picture is usually dated September 1918. If this picture is the entire company, it was taken in early October: specifically after the departure of Frank Patterson (October 1) and before the enlistment of Lee Trimble (October 4).

Unless otherwise indicated, all men hold the rank of private. From left to right:

W.A. Miles [Arthur]*
Captain Jerry Gray
C.H. Hagler [Charles]*
DeWitt T. Barnett
William M. Murdock [Jack]
Sam H. Neill [Samuel Houston]
A.G. Beard [Alexander Glenn]
Mark L. Langford [Marcus Lafayette]
Frank W. Hillboldt [also spelled Hillbolt or Heilbolt]
D.W. Cox
Harold A. King
Nathan N. Fuller
Frank C. Crittenden
Sergeant A.H. Woelber [Albert Henry]
S. F. Schurman Buffalo Bill

Cecilia Thompson's caption (in History of Marfa and Presidio County) says that this company;replaced the Captain Fox Company that was busted; for taking part in the invasion of Pilares Mexico. This incident occurred January 28, 1918 when several local ranchmen, rangers, and mounted cavalrymen descended on the small settlement of Porvenir, Texas. Fifteen residents were killed under highly suspicious circumstances. The whole story is well told in Little Known History of the Texas Big Bend. Eight Texas Rangers were identified as participants. Three resigned in the ensuing five-month investigation. Five others were fired in June, when Company B was disbanded. Captain Fox resigned in protest. Historian Walter Prescott Webb erroneously claimed the entire company was dismissed.

Seven Company B Rangers were cleared of involvement and transferred to the new command of Captain Gray. Three resigned following the transfer, but four are in this picture (Neill, Beard, Fuller and Woelber). These Company B survivors formed the nucleus of the newly formed Company D. Most of the other men in this picture were recruited in May or later (marked with an asterisk: *). The other veterans are: Cox (served '09-'11, reenlisted 12-22-17); Captain Gray; and Schurman (enlisted 12/14/17).

When this company was formed in June it was Company D;, but by October it changed to Company B;. This picture is usually labled Co. B, but if it really was taken in September it might properly be called Co. "D".

The attrition of the Co. B veterans recruited by Fox suggests they and Gray didn't get along. When the force needed to be downsized in March 1919 Gray selected Beard and Woelber to be (honorably) discharged. Gray liked Fuller, but his acrimonious departure is described in a previous post. The oldest veteran (in more ways than one), Sam Neill, who was described by Gray as "A good man for his age", played a heroic role defending his family during the Brite Ranch raid, Christmas 1917, but was finally dismissed on account of old age on April 15, 1920. He was 62.

Thanks Monty very much for sharing your research. Many astounding updates coming here on the Porvenir massacre soon. Much newly found ballistic evidence found at the massacre site strongly indicates that the Porvenir victims were killed by a U.S. Army firing squad. This does not rule out Ranger participation in the murders. Gj

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Kelly Pruitt died in Presidio last Sunday. For more click below. Gj ... ront04.txt

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Lots of us have probably heard about Yale's infamous Skull and Bones Society. Many important people are said to have been members of Skull and Bones including several former U. S. Presidents. The society is supposed to have a bizarre collection of skulls used in strange rituals. Rumors have long circulated that Skull and Bones possess the skulls of Pancho Villa and Geronimo among others. On the 100th anniversary of his grandfather's death, Harlyn Geronimo, great-grandson of the famed Apache leader filed a federal lawsuit to recover the skull.

For more check out:


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Dan Carlin is a 41-year-old Los Angeles radio talk show host and self described "amateur historian" who offers fresh and well thought out insight into how history is always a factor in today's world. He uses the new media of pod casting to bring his insightful views to the world with his excellent series titled, "Hardcore History". The series is available free of charge at: or from

No you don't have to have an ipod or a Mac to hear "Hardcore History" just go to the website and listen. What does this have to do with Texas History? Download Dan's "Apache Tears" podcast and find out.


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Six years ago, it became illegal for British citizens to legally own a handgun. In the U.S. our Second Amendment rights are now in great peril. Take a few minutes to view this video and see what is happening in England today. Gj

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Hi: Was doing some research on Tom Gardner and found your comments. There is quite a bit of detail about Tom in DeArment's great book Alias Frank Canton, including a picture on page 87. You can search the book using google's book search option.I have an old note by another researcher saying Tom Gardner was buried on Toyah Creek near Pecos City, but don't know what location that may be. Any ideas?

Thanks for the info about DeArment book. Don't know where Gardner is buried but am doing some searching and will let you know if I find anything. If you want to know where Gardner is buried, search cemetery records and see if you can find an obituary.

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After viewing your page about your various titles I thought I would ask you a question which no one else seems to know the answer, for sure.You are no doubt familiar with the story of John R. Hughes intending to marry a young woman . . . but she died of some disease prior to the wedding. Because of this loss, Hughes never married. There are at least two photographs of Hughes and the woman together. One in a group with other friends and one of him and her standing together on a beach, supposedly taken in 1904. This book, I think the book is by Maude T. Gilleland, indicates she is buried at Rockport, Aransas County. But again -- she has no name. Can you tell me the name of this woman that Hughes was going to marry?


Chuck Parsons

Sorry, I looked through my library and files and could not find anything about the identity of this woman. Obviously, she was the love of his life. Also, searched Newspaper Archives. Captain Hughes stands out in history as a Texas Ranger beyond reproach, something rare in those days of rangers who were corrupt, politically motivated, racist and so many of them were little more than hired guns. Does anyone out there know anything about her? If so, please let us know.


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On December 2, 1747, Spanish Captain Commander Joseph de Ydoiaga arrived at the Pueblo of San Cristobal after crossing the Rio Grande somewhere in the vicinity today's Presidio, Texas. Captain Ydoiaga, escorted by a contingent of militia and six Indian guides, came to San Cristobal during his exploration of the La Junita region to report to the Viceroy of New Spain the feasibility of establishing a presidio to protect the Spanish missions near La Junita against Indian attacks. Apache and Comanche raids had decimated La Junita and northern Mexico forcing the Spanish to seek a military solution to the ongoing Indian problems. Ydoiaga made careful and detailed written observations of the people and places he saw in the region and his writings offer the single best single source of information we have about Spanish colonial attempts during this time. Enrique Madrid superbly translated Ydoiaga's writings in the excellent "Expedition to La Junita de los Rios 1747-1748" published by the Texas State Historical Commission 1992. This is a book that everyone with an interest in Big Bend history needs to read. When Ydoiaga came to San Cristobal, he held talks over a three day period with the pueblo leaders and residents, inquiring about their community and their farming methods, which were greatly affected by droughts, and flooding of the Rio Grande. Also, the Captain conducted a census of the community that numbered 157 individuals.

In June 2003, city workers were digging a trench with a backhoe to replace an aging water line on Third Street on the southeastern edge of Presidio. To their surprise, they accidentally dug up some very old human remains and reported the incident to the Center For Big Bend Studies in Alpine. CBBS archaeologists came to the site and during an initial assessment documented three burials in and near the backhoe trench. In January 2006, armed with grant money from the Preservation Texas Trust Fund, the City of Presidio, and the Trans-Pecos Archaeological Preservation Program of the CBBS, archaeologists began an extensive investigation of the Millington Site. CBBS Director William A. Cloud worked as Principal Investigator and Project Archaeologist with Dr. Jennifer Piehl as Assistant Project Archaeologist. The archaeologists discovered fourteen features including parts of three structures, five human burials, a ring midden, and two small hearths along with a total of 2,745 artifacts. The Millington site proved to be the place described by Ydoiaga 261 years ago as the San Cristobal Pueblo.

The project finally resulted in a fine new book by William A. Cloud and Jennifer C. Piehl titled, "The Millington Site: Archaeological and Human Osteological Investigations Presidio County, Texas". Published by the Center for Big Bend Studies, the 211-page book contains an amazing amount of data and information. As a historian, I found this book to be absolutely fascinating because in addition to the detailed and complete archaeological information, the authors did a superb job of explaining the importance of the data, the historical context and how the study greatly advances our knowledge of the La Junta people and their environment. It like, "Expedition to La Junita de los Rios 1747-1748" is a book that cannot be overlooked by anyone wanting to truly understand Big Bend history.

"The Millington Site" is available at Front Street Books in Alpine. It can be ordered online at: or by calling 432-837-1126.


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