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120 JOHN ROGERS SAT IN A stiff-backed wooden chair next to the hospital bed, his head buried in his hands as he prayed. Santa Rosa Hospital, where John had recovered from his Laredo wounds, was sweltering in the desert heat of this July day, and no breeze stirred outside. Hattie stood nearby leaning against the bare wall, wiping tears quietly from her cheeks. The man in the bed breathed unsteadily as if struggling to inhale. The breaths came unevenly and more shallow as the minutes dragged by. Two doctors stopped by intermittently and a nurse stayed in the room as helpless as the others to do anything. Kid Rogers had become seriously ill while working at Tom Collins’ ranch outside of Alice. Having resigned from the Rangers in the fall of 1901 he had spent almost a year working for Collins. They had rushed him to the hospital on July 15 and removed his gall bladder in an operation that had at first seemed to go without complications. The captain and Hattie had been by his side since the day of his surgery , ten days now, hardly ever leaving the hospital. After several days of recovery Curren had taken a turn for the worse, internal bleeding perhaps, or an infection. Now he was at the end. Only thirty-three years old, Kid left behind a wife, two daughters, and a son he really never got to know. After a lifetime of adventure CHAPTER 9 Hill Loftis and the Sand Dunes Shootout Hill Loftis and the Sand Dunes Shootout 121 ★ and excitement as a Texas Ranger, “off and on” as he liked to say, Curren Lee Rogers was buried at the Odd Fellows Cemetery in San Antonio with the honors due him as a peace officer. Family, friends, and a large company of Rangers looked on, but it was a bitter personal loss for his older brother, whose faith once again severely tested withstood the tragedy. The year 1902 found Rogers’ company of Rangers roaming literally all across Texas. With the constricted organization now, a few men were required to cover thousands of square miles. During much of this year Rogers divided his company in order to cover the vast west Texas country, traveling himself between Laredo and the small town of Fort Hancock up the Rio Bravo near El Paso. Although the old fort itself had long since been abandoned, the town served as a railroad stop that allowed the captain and his men to make connections from the New Mexico border all the way to Brownsville and San Antonio. Jim Moore found himself patrolling Val Verde County, while Ed DuBose—before his resignation in October—made arrests in Pecos, and Oscar Latta did the same as far away as Menard. Will Wright traveled throughout the expansive country. On March 12 Rogers arrested Charles Smith for murder in Lockhart and returned him to the sheriff of Guadalupe County. He was attending court in Rio Grande City later that summer and arresting a Starr County cattle thief in October. When the railroad workers went on strike in late summer along the Laredo to Corpus Christi line, Rogers and Wright kept the peace.1 A popular though apocryphal anecdote may have arisen from this period when Rogers found himself in the valley with his company. With potential trouble staring them in the face, Rogers was said to have asked his men to join him in prayer whereupon he lifted these words: “Lord, if you’ll just stick around for a few minutes you’ll see the golldangdest fight you ever witnessed. And Lord, if you can’t see fit to help us, just please don’t help them.”2 Ranger William W. Sterling retells a favorite Rogers family story as having happened in Cotulla about this time. “When Captain Rogers was absent from Cotulla, Rangers [Ed] DuBose and Woodlief Thomas went into Capp’s Saloon for a few drinks. They had gotten pretty Chapter Nine 122 ★ well organized,” writes Sterling in his inimitable style, “when County Judge Knaggs, who wore the only stovepipe hat between San Antonio and Laredo, walked in front of the saloon. The target offered by his two-story headpiece proved irresistible. The roistering pair ventilated it with .45 caliber bullet holes, against the peace of the state and the dignity of the judge. “Captain Rogers was in San Diego [Texas] attending district court, and Ranger DuBose knew him to be an exponent of the axiom, ‘Liquor and...


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