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174 After giving due credit to all loyal friends who stood by me so nobly and endorsed me so unqualifiedly, I nevertheless attribute my success to Almighty God, whose I am and whom I serve and to whom I solemnly pledged if He would favor me for said position, I would use the office for His glory, which pledge I now ratify, relying upon Him for His help and guidance . It is my desire that what additional influence I might have by reason of my office shall be used for Him. This, the 3rd day of April, 1913, the day I assumed the responsibilities of the office. J. H. Rogers, United States Marshal1 In 1913 the Western District of Texas encompassed a massive amount of land—over 115,000 square miles in a narrow rectangle— and was divided into six subdistricts: Waco as the headquarters, Austin , San Antonio, El Paso, Del Rio, and the new Pecos office added on February 5. As one of his first duties in office Marshal John H. Rogers assigned Charley Burks as chief deputy, J. T. Thompson, J. D. Platt, and C. S. Rogers as his deputies, and added his former sergeant John CHAPTER 13 U. S. Marshal, Western District U. S. Marshal, Western District 175 ★ Dibrell as well. Burks had a career in law enforcement but was plucked from the state House of Representatives in 1913 where he served as sergeant-at-arms. Fred Peck, James T. Johnson, Early Wilson, and Arley V. Knight would also serve under Rogers in the years that followed.2 Rogers moved the headquarters of the district twice during the early period of his tenure in office. By the end of 1913 he had moved from Waco to San Antonio, and a year later he was back “home” in Austin. He commuted between the latter two cities for most of the next seven years—by train since he did not own and never in his life drove an automobile. In Austin, where Rogers preferred to do most of his work near home, the marshal’s office was housed in Rooms One and Two of the Federal Building downtown. Hattie and their son Pleas moved with the marshal from El Paso to Waco, and from San Antonio back to the Austin they loved and where Lucile was residing by that time. In 1915 Rogers purchased the vacant two-story house at 1200 San Antonio—on the northwest corner of that intersection—where his family would live for the next seventeen years. Both Lucile and Pleas attended The University of Austin in 1916 and part of 1917. On April 30, 1917, Lucile married Charles Mills Reeves at the First Southern Presbyterian Church on East Eighth Street. Pastor William Minter performed the ceremony which was one of the social highlights of the spring in Austin.3 Significant cases awaited the new U. S. marshal even though most of the work involved bureaucratic paper shuffling and the vapid filing of reports. The office of U. S. marshal had become primarily a coordinating position over the previous twenty-five years, delegating the actual investigations and arrests to deputies. Official job descriptions noted that marshals were “the executive officers of the Federal courts” and “the local disbursing officers of the Department of Justice,” hardly exciting for anyone who had been out in the field before. One interpretation said that “marshals simply served process and paid bills.”4 It would have been quite a change for the exRanger and his activities of the previous decades. Still, the opportunity to be closer to home was not without its benefits. And at age fifty Rogers looked forward to at least some slowing in the expectations of his job. Chapter Thirteen 176 ★ Chief among the marshal’s duties in his first two years were actions brought against Mexican revolutionaries who had conspired while in the United States or had recruited fellow soldiers here. Emilio Vasquez Gomez, Francisco Madero’s lieutenant and vice-president, was the defendant in a suit brought by the attorney general on January 9, 1913, only days before Rogers took office. The case would drag on for the next six and one-half years despite the efforts of law enforcement on the U.S. side of the border. Another conspirator, Nicanor Valdez, was named in Case #167 for 1913 for committing acts against the U. S. neutrality laws. This case had originated on Bert McDowell’s desk on February 19 and was handed over to Rogers...


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