Evans is one of the more enigmatic characters in the annals of West
Texas and New Mexico outlawry. He’s a shadowy figure, referred
to far more often than actually seen. He’s known to have worked
with John Selman when Selman was robbing homes and stores in Fort
Davis during the late 1870s. He’s rumored to have been associated
with Billy the Kid in New Mexico. Then he just quietly disappeared
sometime around 1879--and nobody knows what happened to him. Or
In Vol. I, No. 7 (April, 1924) of J. Marvin Hunter’s original Frontier
Times magazine, there’s a story about a Texas Ranger fight with
bandits high in the Chinati mountains of the Big
Bend country. The fight occurred in 1879. The story first appeared
in the San Antonio Light in 1914. There’s no byline attached,
but the writer apparently interviewed former Ranger Sam Henry, then
living at Rock
Springs. Henry was one of the Rangers in the fight.
to the story, SGT L. B. Caruthers was ordered to take four more
Rangers—Sam Henry, Tom Carson, Ed Seiker, and ‘Red’ Bingham, to
to put down some of the outlawry that was rampant in the area. They
were accompanied by an Hispanic man who apparently took care of
the pack animals and did the camp chores. Ed Seiker was also a sergeant
and, according to the story “some say” he commanded the unit, “…but
Sam Henry, who was in the fight and now lives at Rock
Springs, says that Caruthers was in command.”
Davis the Rangers “…learned that the most daring of the desperados
were four in number and led by Jesse Evans of New Mexico. They would
rob stores in daylight in Fort
Davis and terrorize the citizens generally, and the latter had
offered a reward of $500 for their capture.”
A local black man—his name is given as ‘Louis’—was apparently on
somewhat friendly terms with the outlaws. He told the Rangers the
outlaws were holed up in the Chinati mountains. He also told the
outlaws the Rangers were after them. He apparently didn’t tell the
outlaws he’d talked to the Rangers and told them where to look.
The outlaws told him not to bother to tell them if there were no
more than four Rangers, since they would be able to take care of
that many. At that point Louis bows out of the story and we read
no more about him.
SGT Caruthers led his men some 80 miles from Fort
Davis to the Chinatis, near the Rio Grande. While cutting for
sign they spotted four men, horseback, above them in the mountains.
This corresponded to the number of men they were looking for, so
the Rangers started toward them. The men immediately turned tail
and spurred their horses, opening fire on the Rangers as they did
so. This removed all doubt as to who they were.
outlaws holed up atop a flat-top mountain that had a ridge of rock
about four feet high, behind which they took up firing positions.
They had a clear field of fire across the open ground the Rangers
would have to cover to get to them.
Each Ranger was armed with a Winchester as well as at least one
sixshooter, usually two.
Caruthers had the men charge afoot, firing furiously with their
Winchesters as they did. The outlaws got off a few shots—one killed
Ranger ‘Red’ Bingham—but the volume of fire the Rangers were putting
out made it impossible for an outlaw to show his head above the
of the outlaws—and remember, the Rangers knew Jesse Evans was the
leader of this particular gang—got off the shot that killed Bingham
and was immediately shot “between the eyes” by SGT Ed Seiker. The
other three tried to escape by staying low behind the ridge but
ran head-on into Ranger Tom Carson. They then dropped their guns
killing of Bingham enraged the two Ranger privates, who were all
for killing the remaining outlaws on the spot. The sergeants prevented
that. The outlaws were bound and placed on their horses. Using their
belt knives, the Rangers dug a grave on the rocky mountaintop and
buried ‘Red’ Bingham. The dead outlaw they left for the buzzards.
The remaining outlaws were taken to Fort
Davis, where they were eventually tried, convicted, and sentenced
Now the question—who was the outlaw whose corpse was left to the
buzzards high in the Chinatis? The Rangers knew they were after
a gang led by Jesse Evans. They killed the leader of this particular
gang. It’s been very hard to trace Jesse Evans’ whereabouts after
1879. Did four Texas Rangers, after burying their comrade, leave
Jesse Evans to rot in the Big
Bend country? I can’t say, for absolute certain, they did. I
also can’t say, for absolute certain, they didn’t. All I can say—for
certain--is this. You don’t find much mention of Jesse Evans after
Note: SGT Caruthers’ last name may have been spelled Carruthers.
Both spellings are in the article in Frontier Times. I picked the
first spelling used.
"Charley Eckhardt's Texas"
January 5, 2011 column