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147 Not only have yourself and your men received the universal commendation of the citizenship of this county, but the entire Ranger service has been greatly raised in the estimation and good will of the public here by the examples furnished by the deportment of yourself and men. District Judge James Perkins to Captain Rogers, Center, Texas, September 1, 19081 But it had not been easy. Company C found that it could hardly get out of east Texas for the trouble that continued to start up there, more and more of it racially motivated. Just a few weeks after the incident in Nacogdoches, Rogers reported that he and members of his company had tracked three men “who were hunting Negroes” after an incident near San Augustine in which a White man had been gunned down. The Rangers captured the three assailants and put them on trial, but a biased jury of their peers and several perjured witnesses ended the proceedings with a hung jury. The men were released.2 Late in June, 1908, Frank Hamer made his way to Beaumont where racial attacks had escalated beyond the scope of—or perhaps with the assistance of—local authorities. Two Black men had been arrested and put in jail but a growing mob gathered in the Beaumont streets CHAPTER 11 End of This Trail Chapter Eleven 148 ★ to take justice into their own hands. Hamer secreted the two prisoners out of the jail after dark and hid them in a barn. Some of the crowd actually poked around in the barn during the night, with Hamer and the two men hidden and quiet, and then moved on. The Black men were safe, the trial went on without incident, and Rogers commended Hamer’s “presence of mind, coolness and courage” during that dangerous incident. Company C registered investigations, arrests and other activity in Angelina County, Lufkin, San Augustine, Floresville, and Hempstead during the first half of 1908. Rogers was in Beaumont in June and arrested three men for perjury including a local judge. That same month Oscar Latta and Frank Hamer brought down a San Augustine gambling ring with the arrest of twelve men.3 On the downside of all this activity, Rogers could hardly afford to lose any of his men. There were only seven in his entire company, thanks to the tight legislative budget and continuing suspicion in Austin that the Rangers had become antiquated and no longer useful . But on September 1, 1908, John Dibrell resigned from the force and three months later Frank Hamer left the Rangers to become Navasota’s city marshal. His appointment actually came from Dibrell’s recommendation; the city of 3,000 had experienced nearly uncontrolled violence for three years with over a hundred citizens killed. When the most recent of many inept or scared marshals hung up his badge after only one week on the job, Hamer took over and eventually brought law and order to the town. It was a tough loss for Rogers and the Rangers, but Hamer would wear the Ranger badge again.4 Captain Rogers left the haunts of his east and central Texas jurisdiction briefly in November, 1908 when he was called to San Diego to oversee the elections there. Peace reigned during the week with his presence, although he did make one arrest of a drunk for disorderly conduct. Back home by the middle of the month, the captain was honored at the First Southern Presbyterian Church in Austin, his family’s house of worship for the year they had lived in the capital city, with the title of ruling elder. This was a prestigious leadership position that Rogers took very seriously and included his stewardship of a campaign drive End of This Trail 149 ★ that resulted in the purchase of a new parsonage for Pastor D. N. McLauchlin and a new Sunday School building as well. When Dr. William A. McLeod became the church pastor in 1912 he wrote about Elder John Rogers: “He was a man of singular devotion to the Master’s work. Any preacher who had ever had him as an auditor could not soon forget the eagerness with which he caught every word. He was a man of unflinching courage in the line of duty, but tender and gentle in his dealings. He and his devoted wife and children made a strong force in the church.” Bestowed with the same title of church elder that Sunday morning was Thomas Watt Gregory, a friend...


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