Cover

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Title page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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Preface

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pp. ix-xi

One day years after my father, Norman Kemp Dixon, had passed away, my mother asked me to search for something in his file cabinet. I no longer recall what I was trying to find, but what I discovered was stunning: thirteen diaries laying out his daily activities as a Texas Ranger—morning...

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1. Yankee Ranger

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pp. 1-17

One spring day in 1932, Nora and Christian Spellman watched from their front porch as a car bearing the new boarders drove up the dirt road to their farmhouse. Nora barely noticed Carl Mull or his three seedy wildcatters as they climbed out of the car. Instead, she focused...

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2. Oil!

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pp. 18-29

In 1823 Stephen F. Austin called for volunteers “to act as rangers for the common defence.” That was the beginning of the world-famous force that would become known as the Texas Rangers. More than a hundred years later, in 1935, the Ranger force was incorporated into the newly...

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3. Bits and Bullets

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pp. 30-42

An oil scout named Paul Davis witnessed the result of the oil well drilled by Columbus Marion “Dad” Joiner in Rusk County in 1930: “Here comes the oil, over the derrick, and all the pine trees downwind from us for several hundred yards were just soaked with oil.” The great East...

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4. Slots and Goats

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pp. 43-52

Frederick Dixon left for the East on January 4, 1939. Norman had devoted much of their time together to showing his father the sights—Camp Mabry, Marshall Ford Dam, Lake Buchanan, and San Antonio. But upon returning to work after having seen his father off on the train...

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5. Goldthwaite

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pp. 53-63

On September 2, 1940, Ranger Sgt. Ernest Best led Rangers R. F. Rohatsch, B. F. Spain and N. K. Dixon, along with two San Antonio Police Department vice-squad members, in a two-and-one-half-hour raid of the Labor Temple, a union building, seizing fourteen slot machines, which the raiders called “automatic payoff devices.” As the more than one hundred...

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6. The Sheriff and the Socialite

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pp. 64-75

Born on a farm in Nueces County, John B. Harney, who stood 6'3" as a grown man, was elected sheriff in 1938. “No more humane nor kindly man lives in Nueces County,” said an old friend of the sheriff in 1939. He was, the Reverend Bill Crook said in the same year, “A man’s man...

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7. Home Front

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pp. 76-90

World War II began in September 1939. On May 20, 1940, Gov. W. Lee O’Daniel dramatically announced that he had confidential reports of un-American activities in Texas. “I shall appreciate,” he said, “any and all information that any of our citizens can give me concerning any specific cases of un-American activities they know about or...

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8. Rape and Race

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pp. 91-100

Four a.m. Monday, November 29, 1943. On the other end of the line was Sheriff Roy Moore of Denton, who told Norman Dixon that a couple of hours earlier a seventeen-year-old white girl had been raped and her seventeen-year-old boyfriend beaten and robbed by an “unknown...

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9. Red River Ranger

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pp. 101-112

One of Norman Dixon’s role models was his chief in the Bureau of Intelligence and his captain in Company B, Lone Wolf Gonzaullas. If Dixon’s birth in Vermont was unusual for a future Texas Ranger, Gonzaullas’s birth in Cadiz, Spain, was even more so. Born on July 4, 1891, to naturalized...

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10. Bad Men

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pp. 113-124

By the time Norman Dixon had transferred to Company B, in August 1942, he was well experienced in going undercover in taverns, nightclubs, drugstores, service stations, and cafés in search of illicit gambling; in arresting and filing charges against the operators; and in seizing...

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11. The Phantom and the War Hero

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pp. 125-133

On the night of February 22, 1946, nineteen-year-old Mary Jeanne Larey and twenty-three-year-old Jimmy Hollis parked fifty feet off a country road half a mile northwest of Texarkana. A man wearing a white mask with holes cut out for his eyes and mouth walked up to the car...

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12. Aggies Revolt!

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pp. 134-149

On the morning of December 23, 1946, Norman Dixon, Denton County Sheriff Roy Moore, and Deputy Sam Gentry investigated the December 1 theft of fifty-one tires from the Huffines Motor Company in Lewisville, Denton County, and its connection to a December 17 theft...

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13. Gays and Reds on Campus

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pp. 150-161

From February into June 1947 Norman Dixon was on special assignment as an investigator for legislative committees, looking into alleged scandals involving the state parole board, the Texas Good Roads Association, and Texas A&M College. During those months when Norman...

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14. A Lone Ranger

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pp. 162-171

In his 1947 diary Norman Dixon lists two items connected to radical activity. He spent the bulk of one Friday reading old and current issues of Daily Worker, the CPUSA newspaper, and he covered a speech given by Henry Wallace at Gregory Gym on the UT campus. Dixon...

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15. The Chief

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pp. 172-181

For several years after passage of the Texas Communist Control Act in 1951, Norman Dixon served as chief of the Internal Security Section of the Texas Department of Public Safety. When he walked the hallways of the headquarters building, he was greeted as “Chief,” as in...

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16. The Fall

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pp. 182-192

According to Chief Dixon’s informant, in a January 1954 meeting, the leader of his Communist group joked about a Daily Worker article stating that “they” had microphones that could receive voices clearly through a brick wall. But he was bothered by DPS head Colonel...

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17. An Old Ranger Lets Go

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pp. 193-196

Norman Dixon began writing plays, fiction, and poetry long before he became a Texas Ranger. After his law-enforcement career ended, he began writing again. Tucked away in his files are many short stories, some poetry, a few nonfiction pieces, and a novel, “Sagacity of a Savage...

Notes

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pp. 197-214

Bibliography

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pp. 215-218

Index

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pp. 219-229