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Because you've published items on Nate Fuller and A.G. Beard in your blog over the past couple of years, I thought you might enjoy the attached photograph of Fuller (left) and Beard pretending (?) to slake their thirst in an undated picture. My nephew, Caleb who lives in West Texas thinks he's identified (the photo as being made at Livingstons's Ranch Supply in Marfa). As for the date, it would have to be sometime between mid 1916 when Beard and Fuller enlisted and 1920 when Beard left for Mexico. Obviously if you or anyone else could supply additional information it would be welcome.

Monty Waters

Thanks for the cool old photo. A picture is worth a thousand words. Readers, for more on A.G. Beard from Monty, see: ... 106-223008

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The evening before he passed away, I had my last conversation with Elmer. I had stopped for a visit with him at the care center where he'd been undergoing rehab for about two months. He was propped up in his hospital bed, and as he shook my hand, he admitted to being "a little tired" from his exercise workout that day. His family was present, and after awhile our conversation turned to the evolution of his writing career. He told us he remembered he was paid one and a quarter cents per word for his first short stories. "It didn't take long for me to figure that a twenty-thousand word novella was better than a five thousand word short story." He talked about his earliest books published in paperback and how his first two novels Hot Iron and Buffalo Wagons -- were also issued in a very limited run of hardbacks mainly for library distribution. He mentioned he was paid about $1,500.00 for those novels, "good money for those days." And he remembered how elated he was when he entered the "big time" with the publication of his first major hardback, The Day The Cowboys Quit, in 1972. He recalled his relationships with his three major publishers, Ballantine, Doubleday, and Forge Press. And how pleased he had been with Forge. It was an engaging and enlightening conversation, with no hint of what was to come early the next morning. As I was leaving, he smiled, waved two fingers at me, and said, "Thanks for coming by, Felton." A few hours later, he died peacefully in his sleep.

Elmer Kelton was the quintessential "good old boy" who truly appreciated his many fans. He was always willing, even eager, to sign a stack of books for a fan.

Some folks think he was just another western writer. Some who've never read his works inevitably ask if his books are "like Louis L'Amour's?" They weren't, of course. I tell people Elmer Kelton didn't write "westerns", he wrote western literature. When you open a Kelton novel, you know beforehand that it will be clean, historically accurate, and entertaining. And somewhere on those pages will be a subtle message. Sounds simple. But his writing was so much more than that. You'll just have to read a Kelton novel to discover what I learned so many years ago.

Regretfully, he didn't live to see the life-size statue of him that will be placed in the new Tom Green County Library sometime next year. His last public appearance was at the "Toast to Elmer Kelton" held in May at the Fort Concho Commissary. It was a catered event and all seats were filled people showed up from around the state. At that event we presented he and his family with a bronze miniature replica of the statue and a bronze bust of Elmer. At least, he died knowing the statue is on its way to completion. And that it is being done by artist Raul Ruiz, who comes from a Tom Green County family that Elmer knew intimately for many years.

One of my life's greatest treasures is a signed copy of the book he had dedicated to me Texas Vendetta. The dedication page of that book reads: "To Felton Cochran, bookseller extraordinaire."

I will always remember Elmer as "friend extraordinaire."

Felton Cochran, 8/28/2009

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Palacine Indian North, courtesy of<>

Palacine Station photo courtesy of Steven Harris, Ardmore, OK--collector of Palacine Indian Memorabilia

Photo of Indian sculpture, courtesy of Cinnamon Carter

In November 2008, sixth-grade reading teacher Cinnamon Carter challenged her students to investigate the history of Native Americans in their small West Texas community of Ballinger. Carter, a relative newcomer to the town, was surprised to learn that many of the students had collected photos and recollections of a long-lost Indian statue that had once graced a local park.

For nearly 20 years, "Chief Palacine" stood on Indian Hill in the Ballinger City Park. Ballinger city official Elmer Shepperd purchased the statue from the Wirt-Franklin Oil and Gas Refinery in Ardmore, Oklahoma, in 1939.

According to Shepperd's nephew, the Ballinger statue was one of two from a Wirt-Franklin gas station at the southeast corner of Main and D Street Southwest in Ardmore. One statue was mounted atop the station and the other stood on a pedestal out front.

According to National Petroleum News (April 24, 1929), the Indian statues were an advertising ploy developed by D. A. Corcoran, head of Wirt-Franklin's sales department. In order to get one of the 11 1/2-foot statues, gas station owners had to carry Wirt-Franklin's Palacine gasoline and oil brands exclusively.

The cast zinc-alloy statues, produced for about $200 each by a Dallas sign company, depicted an Indian chief standing with one hand raised in a gesture of friendship. He stood on a cast metal "rock" over the words "A Friend." The base displayed the words "Palacine - Motor Oil - Gasoline" on three sides.

While no one knows exactly how many statues remain, three have been on display since 1935 at Woolaroc Ranch, former home of Frank Phillips of Phillips Petroleum, in Barnsdall, Oklahoma.

A Wirt-Franklin employee named Eubanks reportedly hauled off 15 statues on Mr. Wirt's orders, around 1952, and buried them in a ditch beside his house on Hedges Road, southwest of Ardmore.

The statue in Ballinger was stolen by vandals sometime in the 1950s. Legend has it that the chief was thrown into the creek below Indian Hill "and never seen again."

Carter's sixth-grade class became fascinated by the Indian and the place that it held in their community's collective memory. Family and wedding photos were often taken with "Friend," and one woman said, "He was the holder of our secrets, because we knew he would never tell a soul."

Carter, who recently established the non-profit Friends of Ballinger Indian Statue to raise money for the project, reports that the City Council, civic groups, and many individuals support the placement of a new Friend statue in the Ballinger Park.

Since January 2009, the students and the "Friends of Friend" have raised $14,000 of the estimated $47,000 needed to commission a bronze replica of Chief Palacine. The statue is being created by local sculptor Hugh Campbell, who specializes in Western art, and it will be cast in bronze by House Bronze, a custom fine art foundry in Lubbock.

Carter and her students continue to hold fundraising events and are beginning to look for grant funding opportunities. For more information, please visit

Read what the Class of 2015 has to say about the project at

If you would like to contribute to the project, please send your tax-deductible gift to Friends of the Ballinger Indian Statue, P. O. Box 231, Ballinger, Texas, 76821.

Steph McDougal
McDoux Preservation

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(August 22, 2009) The prolific and highly respected Texas author Elmer Steven Kelton died in his sleep early this morning in San Angelo at the age of eighty-three years. Elmer was born April 29, 1926 on the Five Wells Ranch east of Andrews to Buck and Beatrice Kelton. He graduated from Crane High School and started classes at the University of Texas in 1942. In 1944, he put aside his studies to join the U.S. Army Infantry and saw combat in Europe during World War II. In 1947, Elmer married Anna Lipp of Edensee, Austria.

The couple returned to the United States where Elmer graduated from U.T. with a degree in journalism. Kelton worked as farm and ranch editor for the San Angelo Standard Times from 1948 to 1963 writing his first book "Hot Iron" in 1956. That same year Kelton penned "Buffalo Wagons" winning the Spur Award for distinguished writing of the Western Writers Of America. His 1973 "The Time It Never Rained" won the Western Heritage Award from the Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Tommie Lee Jones starred in and directed Elmer's "The Good Old Boys" Turner Classic Movie. The Western Writers Of America named Kelton the number one western writer of all time. During his career, Kelton wrote sixty-two books and was the only writer to win the Spur Award seven times. He served as editor of Sheep & Goat Raiser Magazine and associate editor of Livestock Weekly for many years. At the time of his death, Elmer has two books "Other Men's Horses" and "Texas Standoff" that are to be published posthumously. Even though Elmer has been ill for several months he was working on and hoped to complete a new Hewey Calloway "Good Old Boys" story.

Anna Kelton, his wife of sixty-two years, sons Gary Kelton of Plainview and Steve Kelton of San Angelo and daughter Kathy Kelton and their spouses survive him. Elmer and Anna have four grand children, five great-grandchildren and one great grand child. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to a favorite charity, or to the Tom Green County Library Elmer Kelton Statue Fund at the San Angelo Area Foundation, 2201 Sherwood Way, Suite 205. Elmer Kelton's funeral is to be held Thursday at 2:00 pm at the First United Methodist Church, 36 E. Beauregard, in San Angelo.

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Charles H. Harris III and Louis R. Sadler have given us a history tour de force with their new book "The Secret War in El Paso: Mexican Revolutionary Intrigue, 1906-1920". Published by University of New Mexico Press, this recently released 488-page study is much more than simply an El Paso history as the title suggests. It is Texas history and Mexican history skillfully blended with U.S. diplomatic history as well. Secret War is for anyone interested in the Texas border and the Mexican revolution in those dangerous but intriguing times. The 107 pages of notes, bibliography and index is a valuable scholarly resource by itself. The research in Secret War is stellar and the book is so well written it is impossible to discern that two writers actually penned it. Secret War isn't one of those books the reader cannot put down before finishing. When I picked up my copy at Cactus Book Shop in San Angelo, I told Felton Cochran I would read it and have a review posted in a few days as is usually the case with a new read. Two weeks and more than one yellow highlighter later, I finished Secret War and find it not easy to express how impressed I am with this work. Perhaps I should simply say I think it the best and most finely detailed Texas-Mexican history I have ever read.

Secret War is fascinating with all the exciting elements of a world-class work of fiction but this is not an invented story. Here you will find real Texas Rangers, Federal agents, inventive smugglers, filibusters, spies and counter spies, traitors, thieves and murderers, gunrunners, secret codes, counterfeiters, shyster lawyers, and Mexican revolutionists from Victor Ochoa to Pancho Villa. It should be the goal of quality historians to interpret the past to the issues of today and inform the reader of why the past cannot be ignored. In this, Harris and Sadler truly demonstrate their work to be outstanding.

While the book offers an impressive bibliography, one most important collection of documents in the National Archives has finally emerged as being vital to the study of Texas and the Mexican revolution. This is RG 65, the Records of the [Federal] Bureau of Investigation, 1908-1922. It contains some 80,000 pages of documents.

I first encountered these documents many years ago when I had the opportunity to do some research at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Thanks to some funding from the Permian Historical Society, I went to D.C. in 1988 to research the records of the Big Bend Military District in RG 391, the Records of the United States Army Mobile Units 1821-1942. These include the official reports and records of the U.S. Cavalry stationed in the Big Bend during the so called "bandit raid" years. In the first few days of my D.C. research, I went through the Big Bend records in some ten or so boxes and made copies of those things I found of interest. But keep in mind, these are the official records that include things like troop movements and dates, logistical records such as the construction of the border outposts, and returns and casualties. My gut said there must be more and thanks to the advice of a astute archivist, I traveled to the Washington National Records Center in Suitland, Maryland. It was here that I found the classified and secret documents concerning the U.S. Cavalry actions in the Big Bend. At the time, many of these documents were classified even though more than seventy years had passed. While I was permitted to read most of these documents, each individual piece of paper I wanted to copy had to be examined and declassified by a military officer. The first day, a U.S. Army Captain only approved for copy a very few documents probably because he didn't want to make things known that might be embarrassing to the army. My luck changed the following day when a U.S. Navy officer approved everything I found. I came back to Texas with two suitcases full of documents that have been the basis of my research of Big Bend military since that time.

Over the years, I have made every effort to encourage our Texas universities and archives to obtain the now declassified and available on microfilm RG-65 for study. Usually the only response I get is a blank stare from a professor or archivist who explain there is no funding available for such and must have thought, what is he talking about? Harris and Sadler have made it obvious they have access to RG-65. I know of no institution in Texas that has or is interested in RG-65.

"The Secret War in El Paso" is in stock and available at Cactus Book Shop in San Angelo and Front Street Books in Alpine. For more information or to purchase Secret War go to:


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Dear WTHA Board members and friends,
Tai (who is temporarily out of the office) has asked me to contact you and let you know that our esteemed friend and dear colleague Professor Fred Rathjen passed away, apparently of liver cancer, yesterday around 2pm. Member Christena Stephens passed the word to me and Tai from member Brenda Haes. Fred evidently had been under Hospice care for about a week. I know that this is yet another shock to our Association, especially on the heals of the recent news about two other of our giants B.W. Aston and Elmer Kelton.

Our Year Book review editor Jean Stuntz sent along the following relating to wishes from the family. Jean has promised to send along additional information about potential services as soon as she hears of something.

Fred Rathjen's family wants any memorials to be given to the Forman/Rathjen scholarship which Fred created years ago. People can give online at or by mail to WTAMU Foundation, WTAMU Box 60766, Canyon, TX 79016, or by calling (806) 651-2070. They can designate the Forman/Rathjen scholarship when they donate.

David Murrah just sent the following as I was crafting this letter:
I just talked to Fred Rathen's son Kurt.

The graveside service will be at 9:30 am Thursday at the St. Paul Lutheran Cemetery on the Palo Duro Canyon highway in Canyon. The memorial service will be at the Trinity Lutheran Church, 5005 W. I-40 (between Bell and Western on south side of I-40) at 11:00 am Thursday.

David Murrah
I'm sure each of you join us here at the headquarters in sending our deepest sympathies to Betty and the family. I will keep you posted and will send a general announcement to the membership when I gain access to the email list.

Contact Information:
Monte L. Monroe, Ph.D.
Southwest Collection Archivist/Adjunct Professor
Texas Tech University
Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library
Box 41041
Lubbock, TX 79409-1041
(806) 742-3749 WK
(806) 742-0496 FAX

For more on Dr. Rathjen see:

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Can you tell me anything about Judge Edwin H. Fowlkes? He was a friend of John Prude's. He had a ranch and a home around Ft. Davis. He named one son after John Prude and another after Dr. Coleman. Any help would be appreciated.

See:"History Of Marfa And Presidio County" by Cecilia Thompson. Much must have come from "Marfa New Era" that burned sometime in the 1930's. It is obvious Ms. Thompson has or had some surviving copies. Barker Texas History Center in Austin has a few years of New Era on microfilm. I am sure New Era has articles about the judge, if you can find them. Also search Several articles there. Don't overlook Archives of the Big Bend, Sul Ross, Alpine. They probably have a file.

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On Saturday, July 4, 2009, 10:23 AM, Felix Boniulla Salmeron wrote:

I am amased at the lack of history in the West Texas region. I am a desendent of the Benavidez-Ortiz-Bonilla families of the Van Hron, Valentine, Ruidoso, Ft Davis, Alpine Toya Kent areas. Muy Great Grandmother was born in Valentine Texas in feb 1883 and Married Antonio Bonilla in 1895. They wnet on to rais e a big family. That is only one side of the family. Nestora's parents were Juan Benavidez and Petra Ortiz whoi lived in the Van Horn area early on. We have had a long tradition of veterans from WW1, WW2,Korea, Vietnam and now in Iraq. Muyy great Grandfather owned Mules which he usedwhen he worked on the rail road to move cross ties for the rail road. His son's were leneros or wood salemen as they gathered and cut wood to seel in Ft Davis in the early 1900. Back min those days, there was no electricity to go around or fuel for heating. Everyday they would go to the mountains and gather wood for sell to the people in the Ft davis town. They later got married and started families which now reachs into the 2000 mark. I have enjoyed you information and wish that there was more on the impact that hispanics had in West Texas

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I am Joe Sitters great granddaughter, Sylvia. I would also like to receive a copy of the photo of my great grandfather.

I would be more than happy to pay for any printing and shipping costs!

Thank you for all you are doing!

Sylvia Sitters


Sorry I took so long on this, have two books on the burner and it took me a while to find the photo in my files. I am emailing you a jpeg. Joe Sitters is on the left, Jack Howard standing next, unknown person next and Luke Dowe on the right. Photo made in front of Presidio County Court House, sometime before 1913. This is the photo third from the left at the top of the blog. Im writing a chapter about Joe Sitters in my forthcoming book, "More Little History Of The Texas Big Bend" and really need copies of any other photos or documents the Sitters family may have or know of.

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On Friday, June 26, 2009, 04:48 PM, David Tiller wrote:


I am very interested in finding the grave site of my Great Grandmother Jettie Smith who was related to the Prude Family and lived in Ft. Davis until her death around 1988. I believe that she was buried in Marfa. I can find no death records of her and remember her 100th birthday party at the Prude Ranch. To be honest, I'm not sure that her first name was Jettie or if that was her proper first name. She lived for many years at the Hotel Limpia. Any information you may have would be appreciated. Thank you, David Tiller

You must know your Grandmother's full name, when and where she lived to start. Smith can be very hard to trace. is great for this sort of thing. Maybe John Robert can help. Seems like I remember Big Spur mention Aunt Jettie once.

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