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59 ON MARCH 3, 1888, WORD CAME to the Ranger camp near San Angelo that horses had been stolen up the river and the thieves identified as Bill Neil and Bill Davis. Private Rogers took half the company and headed northwest, picking up the thieves’ trail between the Concho and Colorado valleys until they crossed into Mitchell County on March 6. Rogers met up with Mitchell County deputy sheriff Y. D. McMurry, and the two men went north while the other Rangers headed out along another trail. The next day as Rogers and McMurry ambled along a dusty trail, two men on horseback crossed from the nearby woods onto the road— it was the horse thieves. Neil grabbed for his pistol and had it out of the holster when Rogers’ first shot rang true, striking the man in the arm and forcing the gun to the ground. McMurry nearly made a fatal blunder as he turned to watch the first man fall from his horse, leaving Bill Davis an instant to draw his own weapon. However, a steely look from Rogers, gun pointed at Davis’s heart, encouraged the thief to rethink his position and he raised his hands skyward. The two men ended up in the Tom Green County jail. Two weeks later Rogers and two other Rangers rode the train east one hundred and twenty-five miles to the rowdy rail town of Mullin in CHAPTER 5 Captain of the Rangers Chapter Five 60 ★ Miles County. Created by the rail company that had pushed through there that winter, Mullin was already overflowing with raucous rail workers and the accompanying riffraff that always managed to come out of the woodwork when a new town rose up in west Texas. The three Rangers remained there a week, curbing the growing violence in the one street town, “restoring peace and order” as the records describe it. Upon their return by train to the Concho River camp, the Rangers were informed that new orders had come from Austin—Company F was bound for Ballinger again. Here they would spend two more months before yet another move. In April Private Rogers was recalled to Mullin to quell renewed violence, arresting a John Williams for aggravated assault and remaining in the town several days. With word that the elusive train robber John Barber and his gang had been spotted making their way south, Company F went on the trail. But on April 29 they returned to the Ballinger camp without success. In September the Cornett-Whitley Gang robbed a train out of Harwood. Barber escaped but several others were tracked down, arrested or killed. Barber himself died in 1889.1 Rogers and the others rode into camp filled with frustration, and this would be the last foray by the young private. Not bad news, however , for orders came on May 1 that John H. Rogers had been promoted to Ranger sergeant. His friend and comrade in arms John Brooks rose to the rank of lieutenant and, with the untimely resignation of William Scott ten days earlier, Brooks became the commander of Company F.2 This was a coming of age for Rogers, his first step up in command but not his last, and the result of obvious leadership skills he had exhibited over the previous year. It was a logical decision out in the field as well as in Austin, and Company F applauded the news. No rest for the diligent and dedicated, however, rings ever true for the Texas Rangers. On the same day Captain Scott had announced his resignation from the force, another stage had been robbed. This one, near the town of Miles in Runnels County, had been westbound for San Angelo. The unusually polite crook, almost apologetic as he emptied the pockets of the passengers, announced that they would Captain of the Rangers 61 ★ wait until the eastbound stage came by, which he planned to rob as well. Growing impatient when the other stage was delayed, the thief (who had identified himself as Rube Burrows while they waited) thanked the passengers for their cooperation and rode away. Two weeks later a reported sighting in Mills County of the polite robber brought Sergeant Rogers back to Mullin. But the trail evaporated and the robber, who it was later determined was not the infamous Alabama crook Burrows, managed his escape into the Texas wilderness. A stage robbery on June 23, 1888, near the Willow Watering Hole on the San Angelo-Abilene Road...


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