On March 2, 1836, the Texas Declaration of Independence was passed unanimously in Independence Hall at Washington-on-the-Brazos.
59 delegates, elected from each Texas settlement, signed the six-page document in the simple wooden building. A replica of Independence Hall stands in present-day Washington, part of a larger historical complex dedicated to interpreting the stories of the revolution and republic. Visit Washington on the Brazos State Historic Site to get a unique insight into these lives and times.
For a cinematic view of the fight for Texas independence, watch the 20-minute film “Independence! A Lone Star Rises”:
Cowboy, author, and detective born on the Texas coast February 7th, 1855
On this day in 1855, Charles Siringo was born in Matagorda County. Beginning in 1870, he worked as a cowboy, part of the time for Shanghai Pierce, and later helped establish the LX Ranch. While working as an LX cowboy, he met Billy the Kid and led a posse into New Mexico in pursuit of him. In 1884, while working as a merchant in Caldwell, Kansas, Siringo began writing his first book, A Texas Cowboy; or, Fifteen Years on the Hurricane Deck of a Spanish Pony (1885), which established him as the first cowboy autobiographer and became a range literature classic. In 1886 he moved to Chicago and began a twenty-two-year career with Pinkerton’s National Detective Agency.
He subsequently worked all over the West and participated in such celebrated cases as the Haymarket anarchist trial and the murder trial of “Big Bill” Haywood. After leaving Pinkerton’s in 1907, Siringo retired to his ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His second book (A Cowboy Detective, 1912) caused a bitter conflict with the Pinkertons, and his Two Evil Isms, Pinkertonism and Anarchism (1915) brought an unsuccessful libel suit from the agency. Siringo was appointed a New Mexico Ranger in 1916 and for two years saw active service against cattle rustlers. Following his return to Santa Fe, he published A Lone Star Cowboy (1919) and History of “Billy the Kid” (1920). In 1922 he moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a film advisor and played bit parts in movies. His Riata and Spurs (1927) was a mature composite of his first two autobiographies. Siringo met such varied celebrities as Pat Garrett, Bat Masterson, Clarence Darrow, William S. Hart, and Will Rogers. He helped to romanticize the West and to create the myth of the American cowboy. Siringo died in California in 1928.
Earlier I posted about Jane Long, the woman shown here, and mentioned that her story is one of overcoming incredible hardship. That prompted me to read a lengthy article about Jane Long that Anne A. Brindley published in the October 1952 Southwestern Historical Quarterly. Goodness gracious, Hollywood needs to make a movie about her life. The screenplay, starting with her smoking her pipe on her porch in Richmond, Texas in the last year of her life (1880) and reflecting on her adventures writes itself.
Jane was born in Maryland in 1798, moved to Mississippi in 1811, married James Long in 1815, moved to Texas in 1819, and ended up on the Bolivar Peninsula in 1821. That was adventure enough but then things got tough for Jane.
In late 1821, Jane’s husband, Dr. James Long, decided that he and a band of about 50 men were going to wrest Texas from Mexican rule, leaving Jane in a small stone fort on Bolivar Point at the entrance to Galveston Bay. Winter was coming, the nearest people were a hostile band of Karankawas living across the bay, and Jane was pregnant. James promised to return in three weeks. He left Jane, their 6-year old daughter Ann, and Kian, a 12-year old servant girl, in the company of a few soldiers at the fort. Three weeks came and went, supplies began to run low, and the soldiers left, a few at a time. Jane was 23 years old.
Winter blew in and it may have been the most brutal winter in Texas history. Galveston Bay froze over. Jane moved into a small makeshift tent in the middle of the fort, but snow collapsed the walls.
On December 21, Jane delivered her as Kian, the servant, laid delirious with fever. Jane christened the newborn baby “Mary James,” and the next day went out to collect fish that had frozen in the ice. There were so many fish that Jane, who had been on the verge of starvation, was able to store and salt away so many that she was able to pull her and her little family through. The day after Christmas, some men showed up with a message from James, her husband: he had been captured and was imprisoned in Mexico City, but was well.
Across the bay, on Galveston Island, the Karankawas were waiting. Their fires burned at night. One morning, Kian went outside and spotted several canoes loaded with warriors approaching the fort. Jane and Kian turned their one, old, aging cannon on the Karankawas, applied tinder, and blasted away. She didn’t hit anything, but the tremendous roar turned the Indians away. Finally, on March 22, Jane agreed to leave the fort and travel with James Smith to San Jacinto. Several months passed and she received a letter that informed her that her husband had died in Mexico City. An accident, Mexican authorities claimed.
Courageous, Jane opened a boarding house in Brazoria and, over time, refused marriage proposals from Mirabeau Lamar, Sam Houston, and Ben Milam, among others.
For a long time, Jane’s daughter Mary James was thought to be the first Anglo child born in Texas, which is why Jane was called “the Mother of Texas,” though it has now been confirmed that Mary James was NOT the first Anglo child born in Texas. Nevertheless, Jane’s amazing struggle and perseverance during that awful winter of 1821 remains a testament to the human capacity to endure, and I have often felt it would make the basis of an excellent Hollywood screenplay.
P.S. It got so cold that winter that Jane saw a large black bear walk across the frozen bay from the mainland to Galveston Island. A black bear can weigh some 350-400 .lbs, so the ice must have been 5 inches thick, minimum.
Photo of Jane Long courtesy of the fantabulous Rosenberg Library in Galveston.
#AceNewsReport – Feb.07: Jose Guadalupe Diaz Diaz, aka Zorro, 43, of Chihuahua, Mexico, and Martin Artin Perez Marrufo, aka Popeye, 54, of Chihuahua, Mexico, were found guilty at the conclusion of a 13-day jury trial before U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone in the Western District of Texas, El Paso Division.
#AceDailyNews DOJ Court Report: Barrio Azteca Gunmen Who Committed Consulate Murders in Ciudad Juarez Found Guilty on All Counts
A federal jury in Texas yesterday convicted two members of the violent street and prison gang, Barrio Azteca, on all counts related to the murders of a U.S. Consulate employee, her husband, and the husband of another U.S. Consulate employee.
The jury found Diaz and Marrufo guilty of conspiracy counts for racketeering, narcotics trafficking, narcotics importation, money laundering, and murder in a foreign country; three counts of murder in aid of racketeering, and three counts of murder resulting from use and carrying of a firearm during and in relation to crimes of violence and drug trafficking.
Evidence presented at trial demonstrated that on March 13, 2010, Diaz and Marrufo served as gunmen on the hit teams that murdered U.S. Consulate employee Leslie Enriquez, her husband, Arthur Redelfs, and Jorge Salcido Ceniceros, the husband of another U.S. Consulate employee. The victims were targeted by the hit teams after departing from a child’s birthday party in Juarez because they were mistaken initially for rival gang members. Diaz shot and killed Enriquez and Redelfs. Marrufo shot and killed Ceniceros.
“The murders of Leslie Enriquez, Arthur Redelfs, and Jorge Salcido Ceniceros are a tragedy,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “These convictions demonstrate the Department’s commitment to combating violent transnational criminal organizations. I want to thank the Mexican Government for its cooperation including extraditing both defendants to the United States to face criminal charges.”
“Although 12 years have passed since these senseless murders, our office has only strengthened its resolve to seek justice for victims of cartel violence,” said U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff for the Western District of Texas. “These guilty verdicts demonstrate the diligent pursuit of our prosecutors and our commitment to protecting communities from ruthless brutality.”
“These convictions represent the FBI’s commitment to take aggressive action against anyone who takes the lives of innocent American citizens,” said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “Even the most ruthless criminals, whether here or afar, cannot evade justice, and we will continue to hold those accountable who commit brutal acts of violence.”
“Today’s convictions serve as a stark warning to all drug traffickers that we will pursue and prosecute any and all who compromise the safety and health of Americans and those who support our U.S missions abroad,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “The hardworking women and men of DEA will continue to work with our domestic and global partners to rid our communities of the intimidation, violence, and drug abuse these criminal drug networks inflict.”
At trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Barrio Azteca is a transnational criminal organization engaged in money-laundering, racketeering, and drug-related activities in El Paso, Texas. The gang allied with other drug gangs to battle the Sinaloa Cartel, at the time headed by Chapo Guzman, and its allies for control of the drug trafficking routes through Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. The drug routes through Juarez, known as the Juarez Plaza, are important to drug trafficking organizations because it is a principal illicit drug trafficking route into the United States.
A total of 35 defendants were charged in the third superseding indictment and are alleged to have committed various criminal acts, including the 2010 Juarez Consulate murders in Juarez, Mexico, as well as racketeering, narcotics distribution and importation, retaliation against persons providing information to U.S. law enforcement, extortion, money laundering, murder, and obstruction of justice. Of the 35 defendants charged, all have been apprehended and 28 have pleaded guilty. One was convicted by trial, one committed suicide before the conclusion of his trial and three are awaiting extradition from Mexico.
Diaz was extradited from Mexico on Nov. 13, 2019 and Maruffo was extradited from Mexico on Jan. 18, 2020. The extraditions were the result of close coordination between U.S. and Mexican law enforcement authorities, who also cooperated in the investigation and prosecution of this case.
Sentencing is scheduled for May 9. Diaz and Maruffo face a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison.
Trial Attorney Jay Bauer of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, Trial Attorney Christina Taylor of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Spitzer of the Western District of Texas are prosecuting the case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico and the Criminal Division’s Offices of International Affairs and Enforcement Operations provided significant assistance in this case.
The FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force located at the Texas Anti-Gang Center in El Paso, FBI Albuquerque Field Office, DEA Juarez and DEA El Paso investigated the case. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; the U.S. Marshals Service; U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Federal Bureau of Prisons; U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service; the Texas Department of Public Safety; the Texas Department of Criminal Justice; El Paso Police Department; El Paso County Sheriff’s Office; El Paso Independent School District Police Department; Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission; New Mexico State Police; Dona Ana County, N.M., Sheriff’s Office; Las Cruces, N.M., Police Department; Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility and Otero County Prison Facility New Mexico provided valuable assistance.
Charles Goodnight co-founded the JA Ranch in 1877, the first large cattle operation in the Panhandle. He worked to produce better livestock, not only purebred cattle but also a bison-cattle cross called “cattalo.”
Charles’ wife, Mary Ann, known as Molly by the ranch hands, cared for orphaned bison calves and was instrumental in conserving living herds during a period of systematic extermination.
In 1887, the Goodnights built a spacious Victorian-style two-story ranch house. The home is restored on its original site and features a 268-square-foot second-floor sleeping porch with spectacular views of the countryside and the nearby bison herd that are actual descendants of the herd raised by Charles and Mary Ann.
Plan a visit to Charles and Mary Ann Goodnight Ranch State Historic Site:
The Pecos River rises on the slopes of the Santa Fe mountain range in Mora County, New Mexico, and travels 900+ miles before emptying into the Rio Grande. Its drainage basin is approximately 44,000 square miles. It’s sort of hard to believe when you look at the river today, but before dams came along and impounded it, the river used to flow swiftly: Early-day travelers described it as generally sixty-five to a hundred feet wide and seven to ten feet deep, with a fast current. It was fordable at only a few places, the most famous of which was the Horsehead Crossing. Incidentally, like most Texas Rivers, the Pecos has had many different names. In 1583 Antonio de Espejo called the river the Río de las Vacas (“river of the cows”) because of the number of buffalo in the vicinity. Gaspar Castaño de Sosa, who followed the Pecos northward, called it the Río Salado because of its salty taste, which, he said, caused it to be shunned by men and animals alike. According to Adolph F. Bandelier, the name Pecos first appears in Juan de Oñate’s reports concerning the Indian pueblo of Cicuye, now known as the Pecos Pueblo, and is of unknown origin. To Mexicans, the river was long known as the Río Puerco (“dirty river”).
Shown here is a photo of the Pecos near Sheffield, Texas that was taken by Traces of Texas reader Trey Armstrong. Thank you, Trey!
Traces of Texas reader Mary Haner graciously submitted this wonderful photo of the Sayers family outside their home, which comes with a good story Says Mary:
“This is the Sayers home in Dumont. Farley Says is 5th from the right. Burk Burnett shot Farley Sayers over a cattle dispute in May 1912. Farley was married to my Dad’s half-sister, Rosa Magee. I remember Dad telling me how proud the young rancher was with his newly built home. Left to right: the carpenter (unknown), Minnie Magee Morgan (Rosa’s sister), Walker Morgan (who was in the washroom when Farley got shot), Jess Sayers, Farley Sayers, Little Farley, Rosa Magee Sayers, Lois Sayers, J.T. Sayers, and Mary Johnson, who later married Jess Sayers.”
The story behind the shooting of Farley Sayers is this: In 1912 when he was 63 years old, Burke Burnett was confronted by Farley Sayers in a bathroom at the Goodland Hotel in Paducah, Texas. Witnesses say Sayers reached for his gun but was outdrawn by Burnett and killed by a single shot to the chest. Burnett turned himself in to local law enforcement and stood murder trial next was acquitted on grounds of self-defense. A feud between the two men over the ownership of cattle precipitated the event.
Thank you, Mary! I just did quite a bit of research on all of this, including reading the New York Times account in 1912. I guess any time a man as wealthy as Mr. Burnett owner of the 6666 ranches kills a man, it’s newsworthy.
One of the oldest existing ferry services in Texas began 200 years ago.
A member of Stephen F. Austin’s Old Three Hundred, Nathaniel Lynch, established his ferry in 1822. The flat-bottomed boat was pulled by hand using a rope strung across the San Jacinto River at Buffalo Bayou.
The historic ferry played a vital role in Texas’s fight for independence. During the fearful exodus known as the Runaway Scrape, as many as 5,000 women and children crowded together waiting to use the ferry to escape Santa Anna’s advancing Mexican army.
On April 21, 1836—the day of the Battle of San Jacinto and the turning point in Texas’ war for independence—Lynch’s Ferry carried wounded soldiers across the San Jacinto River to the town of Lynchburg.
Since 1888, the Lynchburg Ferry has been operated by Harris County, free of charge. Passengers can board at Lynchburg for a 10-minute ride across the Houston Ship Channel to our San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site.
“A petrified wood explosion is sweeping over Glen Rose … Every new building is incorporating some of this ‘wood’ from the nearby petrified forests into its walls or fences. Every owner of house needing repairs is lying awake at night studying out how he may most attractively weave some stone logs or chunks or stump or chips or splinters into its walls and make it distinctively Glen Rosian.”
From 1929, an article in the Dallas Morning News describes the boom in petrified wood construction that Glen Rose, Texas experienced in the late 1920s. About 45 of the structures still stand. Shown here is the Ed Young Service station on CR 312.
I believe locals refer to it as sycamore grove. It was built in 1928 and served as a speakeasy during Prohibition.
Traces of Texas reader Aaron Maxwell took this photo and kindly sent it in.