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 Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

Danger lurked on Texas frontiers
during Civil War

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew
There was a period of years during and after the Civil War when the frontiers of Texas were extremely dangerous to settlers. Ranches and settlements were few and far between, many of the men were still off fighting wars. The U.S. Army had its hands full with Indians and raiders and the Texas Rangers were scattered thinly and undermanned. No one was safe including many small towns when the Indians traveled during the fall Comanche Moon period.
Tombstone of one Killed by Indians

"Killed by the Indians"
Buried in Bayview Cemetery in Corpus Christi
TE photo

During raids most of the settlers were killed outright and their cabins burned. Time and again women and children were taken prisoner by raiding Indians. Some were kept as slaves to the tribes while others were traded to the Comancheros and taken into the West and Mexico. Most of these captives were never seen or heard of again.
tombstone in Uvalde's Pioneer Cemetery
One of Uvalde's former citizens was brought home from Mexico for burial
TE photo
One young white boy was taken prisoner by the Indians in Wise County near early Fort Worth. His family was killed outright so he had no one to care or follow.

After living with the Indians for several years he wound up in Oklahoma Territory where W.T. Waggoner, the famous Texas rancher was grazing cattle herds on Indian Lands.

Seeing the Indian boy was white, Mr. Waggoner traded some horses for him and took him into his ranching family as an employee and cowboy. The Waggoners raised him with the man working for them the rest of his life. He married, raised a family and eventually became a kind of foreman and lead-off man for the ranch. Everyone knew and called him "Shinnery" McElroy.

Though he worked as hard as any man, he was somewhat crippled and limped when he walked. When asked how his leg was hurt he told the following story.

While living with the Indians as a boy, he could run faster than the other Indian boys his age when playing games and in contests. This was irritating to the Indians so they cut a tendon in his knee to slow him down. When listeners sympathized with the brutality, Shinnery always replied,

"That's better than cutting my throat."

When the Indians were finally placed on reservations, the Texas frontier became somewhat safer but outlaw gangs and a few "war raiders" were still around so the land was never really safe.
Signal Peak Tx  and Jose Maria Polancio Grave Stone
Grave Marker of Jose Maria Polancio (Killed by Indians)
Finding the Polancio Grave Marker
by Barclay Gibson
Schulenburg TX - Warren Lyons killed by Indians 1837
Killed by Indians 1837
TE photo
The Texas Rangers kept law and order for years until the outlaw element moved into Oklahoma Territory and New Mexico Territory.

The Rangers first came into being in 1823 when Stephen F. Austin hired 10 men, paying them out of his own pocket, to protect his settlers from the marauding Indians. In 1835 the Rangers were organized as a group, being more of a militia for the Republic of Texas.

In 1875 they became peace officers and worked in that capacity until 1935, becoming part of the Texas Department of Public Safety. In 1937 they became a separate group again and developed into a highly respected special modern crime-fighting organization.


Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew"
April 13 , 2010 Column
E-mail: trewblue@centramedia.net.
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