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Canseco-Keck History Series

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Canseco-Keck History Series

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Frontier Crossroads

Fort Davis and the West

By Robert Wooster

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Guarding the Border

The Military Memoirs of the Ward Schrantz, 1912-1917

By Jeff Patrick

Ward Loren Schrantz, of Carthage, Missouri, entered the U.S. Army in 1912, at a time when military leaders were still seriously debating the future of the horse cavalry. He left active military service in 1946, after the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Japan. Schrantz served capably at a time when the U.S. military was undergoing rapid technological and strategic transformation and, as a journalist and attentive observer, left a vivid personal account of his time in the Army and Missouri National Guard.   Editor Jeff Patrick has woven three undated versions of Schrantz's memoir into a single narrative focused on the sparsely documented pre–World War I period from 1912 to 1917, thus helping to fill a significant gap in the existing literature. Schrantz's memoir is notable not only for the period it covers, but also for its lively evocation of a soldier's life during the U.S.-Mexico border disturbances of the early twentieth century. Schrantz's account demonstrates the perennial contrast between how soldiers were expected to behave and how they actually behaved; it offers colorful and authentic details not usually available from official histories. Patrick also has added an appendix consisting of the letters that Schrantz wrote for publication in his hometown newspaper, the Carthage Evening Press.   These documents yield interesting insights into the attitudes and dispositions of U.S. soldiers during this time, as well as the perceptions and opinions of the "folks back home." Students, scholars, and others interested in military and borderlands history will find much to enjoy in Guarding the Border: The Military Memoirs of Ward Schrantz, 1912–1917.

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Indian Agent

Peter Ellis Bean in Mexican Texas

By Jack Jackson

How can the life of one relatively unknown man change our understanding of Texas history and the American West? Peter Ellis Bean, a fairly minor but fascinating character, casts unexpected light on conflicts, famous characters, and events from the time of Mexican rule through the years of the Republic. Bean’s role in Mexico’s revolution against Spain and his service as an agent of the Mexican government, especially as Indian agent in eastern Texas, provide an unusually vivid picture of Mexican Texas, as well as new information about the Indians in his region. More explosively, Jackson’s research on Bean’s career as Indian agent casts doubt on the traditional characterization of Sam Houston as a friend to the Texas Indians. Bean’s career shows Houston as a rival for the loyalty of the Indians during Texas’ rebellion against Mexico, a rival who made false promises for military and political gain. After Texas independence, Bean acquired vast lands in Texas, at one point holding more than 100,000 acres. A good citizen and a good businessman, involved with real estate, sawmills, salt works, agriculture, and stock raising, he was also a bigamist. Meticulously researched, dramatically written, and embodying a unique understanding of Mexican Texas, Jack Jackson’s chronicle of Peter Ellis Bean not only rescues him from relative obscurity but also corrects key aspects of the history in which he was involved and brings to life an era more often consigned to myth.

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John B. Armstrong, Texas Ranger and Pioneer Ranchman

Lawman and Rancher

By Chuck Parsons; Foreword by Tobin Armstrong; Afterword by Elmer Kelton

“Texas, by God!” cried notorious killer John Wesley Hardin when he saw a Colt .45 pointed at him on a train in Florida. At the other end of the pistol stood Texas Ranger John B. Armstrong. Hardin’s arrest assured Armstrong a place in history, but his story is larger, fuller, and even more important—and until now it has never been told. Serving in the Rangers’ famed Frontier Battalion from 1875 to 1878, Armstrong rode with Captain L. H. McNelly in the capture of King Fisher, was called to Round Rock when Sam Bass was cornered, and helped patrol the region caught in the Taylor-Sutton Feud. His more lasting legacy, though, was as founder of the Armstrong Ranch, an operation that remains active and important to this day. From this family base he helped change ranching techniques and was an important sponsor for bringing the railroads to South Texas. In the 1890s he joined a special Ranger division that supplemented the force’s efforts, especially in pursuit and apprehension of gunmen and cattle rustlers in the region. As Elmer Kelton notes in his afterword to this book, “Chuck Parsons’ biography is a long-delayed and much-justified tribute to Armstrong’s service to Texas.” Parsons fills in the missing details of a Ranger and rancher’s life, correcting some common misconceptions and adding to the record of a legendary group of lawmen and pioneers.

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Salt Warriors

Insurgency on the Rio Grande

By Paul Cool

The El Paso Salt War of 1877 has gone down in history as the spontaneous “action of a mindless rabble,” but as author Paul Cool deftly demonstrates, the episode was actually an insurgency, “the product of a deliberate, community-based decision squarely in the tradition of the American nation’s original fight for self-government.” The Paseños (local Mexican Americans) had held common ownership of the immense salt lakes at the base of the Guadalupe Mountains since the time of Spanish rule. They believed their title was confirmed in the treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. However, to the American businessmen who saw in the white expanse a cash crop that could make them rich in the years following the American Civil War, ownership appeared up for grabs. After years of struggle among Anglo politicians and speculators eager to seize the lakes, an Austin banker staked a legal claim in 1877, and his son-in-law, Charles Howard, started to enforce it. Cool chronicles the ensuing popular uprising that disrupted established governmental authority in El Paso for twelve weeks. Unique features of this pioneering book include the author’s employment of previously untapped sources and the first thorough and systematic use of familiar ones, notably the government report El Paso Troubles in Texas, to create this detailed study of the war. First-person accounts from reports and newspaper items create a landmark day-by-day account of the San Elizario battle, including the location of the Texas Ranger positions. This fast-paced account not only corrects the record of this historical episode but will also resonate in the context of today’s racial and ethnic tensions along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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Yankee Invasion of Texas

By Stephen A. Townsend

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