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32 ON A COLD DECEMBER MORNING in 1885, Private John Harris Rogers stood in the middle of Doan’s Store; not a building, but a town, of sorts, situated only several thousand yards west of where the Red River turned suddenly south on its wayward journey down from the high plains. Doan’s Springs were just to the north, as was Doan’s Crossing, a wide flat bank of the river that led Texans into Indian Territory. Not only Texans, but hundreds of thousands of cattle had been driven across the river there over the past seventeen years. For here the Chisholm Trail and a wide northeastern swing of the Western Trail converged. So too converged cowboys and soldiers, reservation Chickasaw and Apache, merchants and whiskey salesmen, rustlers and thieves, and prostitutes and the like. What a place, thought the young Ranger.1 Ranger companies B and C and now F had taken turns trying to tame this northern section of Wilbarger County, to no avail. Beyond the rowdy saloons—there were two - and the drunken brawls that spilled into the dusty streets, the proximity to the Texas border and Indian Territory made Doan’s Store a likely spot for crooks to escape the law. In August of 1883 alone there were arrests made of eight cattle thieves in five separate incidents, two whiskey merchants sellCHAPTER 3 The Fence Cutter Wars The Fence Cutter Wars 33 ★ ing liquor to the Indians, a burglar, and two wanted men on the run— all as they headed to cross the border and disappear into the reservations . This common occurrence at Doan’s Crossing brought Private Rogers and five others from Company F up from their Vernon camp. Warrants for several Texas fugitives spurred the Rangers to track them across the river. The Apaches and Chickasaws lived along this portion of the Red River and the small Anadarko Reservation lay a hundred miles into Indian Territory north of Fort Sill. Company F rode out of Doan’s Store on December 1 and would not return for nineteen days. The made their way to Fort Sill where they checked in with officers of the U. S. Army stationed there. Receiving the papers that allowed them legal jurisdiction should they find any Texas fugitive, the Rangers pressed on, skirting the sharp rise of the Quartz Mountains and enduring the rough terrain of gulleys and ravines along their way. The weather deteriorated into a series of wintry squalls—the normally high winds in that region spiked prickly cold—making the journey more than uncomfortable. But on December 17 they arrested felons Sam Davis and Jim Blankenship in Anadarko country; the two gave up without a fight. With winter settling in, the Rangers decided to quit while they were ahead—they were back in Vernon late on December 20, the two fugitives deposited in the small log cabin that served as the town jail.2 In north Texas 1886 came in cold and snowy, a far different clime from where John had grown up and likewise a contrast to the dry, dusty cold of Cotulla’s winters. On January 30 Rogers and Private J. B. Harry rode east to the Wichita County line and arrested Tom Comfort and Tom Moelhull. The two had been spotted after a break-in of the Smith ranch house near there. No rest for the weary, however— two days later Private Rogers and Jim Moore were on the train to Colorado City to disperse a mob that had gathered around a criminal in the city jail. They stayed on several days to guard the prisoner until he could be transported to safer surroundings. When violent railroad strikes hit Fort Worth that spring, Company F joined Companies B and C for nearly three weeks in April restoring order. An attack on a train April 2 outside of Fort Worth Chapter Three 34 ★ resulted in one death and several injuries. When it became known that a Missouri labor leader had ordered the ambush, local authorities called for outside help. U. S. marshals and Rangers responded, and Governor Ireland sent three hundred state militia to back them up. The depots and railway camps were shut down and the Rangers kept twenty-four hour vigil until an agreement was reached between the organized workers and the T&P management. Company C returned to its Rio Grande post after several days, while the other companies remained. Adjutant General King reported calm in the Fort Worth area: “Quiet and orderly and...


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