Lone Wolf, at least in the figurative sense, is once again at the center of a
Long-time Ranger Captain Manual T. Gonzaullas, one of Texas’
best-known 20th century law enforcement officers, died at 85 on Feb. 13, 1977
in a Dallas hospital. Old-time Rangers, Department of Public Safety officials,
younger officers and many friends packed his funeral service two days later.
in Spain on July 4, 1891 to a Spanish father and Canadian mother, Gonzaullas was
orphaned by the devastating 1900 Galveston hurricane.
He got his first taste of gunfire as a major in the Mexican Army in 1911 and later
spent five years as a U.S. Customs border guard. Joining the Rangers in 1920,
he served until fired by Gov. Miriam Ferguson in 1933.
Two years later,
when the Department of Public Safety was organized, Gonzaullas was hired to set
up the new law enforcement agency’s crime lab. In 1940, he opted to return to
the Ranger service and soon became captain of Co. B in Dallas.
Among numerous other high-profile cases, Gonzaullas spearheaded the investigation
infamous Phantom Killer murders in 1946. The captain usually prevailed in what
he set out to do, but Rangers never apprehended a suspect in the Texarkana
slayings. He retired in 1951.
“In my opinion,” his old boss DPS director
Col. Homer Garrison said in 1963, “Gonzaullas will go down in history as one of
the great Rangers of all time.”
Indeed, historians consider Gonzaullas
a key player in the modernization of the Rangers. But a third of a century after
his death, a writer has made a surprising discovery.
Franscell, who is working on a book called “Outlaw Texas” that will explore some
400 outlaw-related sites from pirate Jean
Lafitte’s base in Galveston
to the former Enron headquarters in Houston,
decided the final resting place of Lone Wolf was definitely worthy of inclusion.
The San Antonio resident
went to Dallas last fall to collect
Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates and photograph various graves in the
area for his book, due out in 2010. One of his stops was Dallas’
Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery, where Franscell had read that the famed
former Ranger captain had been laid to rest. That’s when he got a shock.
“The cemetery had no record of him, or anyone by that name,” Franscell said. “Later
research shows he had been cremated but his wife Laura died the following year
and she, too, was listed as being buried at Sparkman-Hillcrest.”
no “Gonzaullas” in their records at Sparkman-Hillcrest, a helpful funeral home
clerk even checked under “Gonzales” in case someone had made a spelling error
back when. Again, nothing that fit Lone Wolf and his wife came to light.
sprawling cemetery, located at 7405 W. Northwest Highway on Dallas’
north side certainly has its share of notables. Oil tycoon H.L. Hunt, blues musician
Freddie King, baseball great Mickey Mantle and actress Greer Garson among others
are buried there.
Franscell says he walked around the cemetery looking
for a grave marker for Gonzaullas and his wife but found none.
he is really at Sparkman-Hillcrest and their records are wrong,” Franscell continues,
“or that when he was cremated and given to Laura, she scattered the ashes somewhere
or was buried with them herself when she died…or they were both scattered somewhere
else. They had no children.”
had married Laura Isabel Scherer, a New Yorker, on April 12, 1920 in Riverside,
CA. The definitive biography on Lone Wolf, Brownson Malsch’s “Lone Wolf,” says
that the old Ranger died holding her hand, but makes no mention of Gonzaullas’
burial. The Dallas Morning News noted on Feb. 15, 1977 that Gonzaullas would be
cremated, but did not report what would be done with his ashes. (Laura joined
her late husband in death on Aug. 15, 1978.) ||
after Gonzaullas’ death, former Carson County sheriff John Nunn, who had been
a Highway Patrol trooper in Dallas in
1947-48 and shared an office with Gonzaullas for seven months, reminisced about
the old lawman.
Noting that the captain had piercing blue eyes, Nunn recalled
in an interview published in the Pampa Daily News how he had kept “pestering”
Gonzaullas to show him his quick draw. Finally, Gonzaullas assented.
only showed me one time,” Nunn said. “He was the fastest man I ever saw.”
former sheriff said he asked Gonzaullas how he came by his famous nickname and
got this reply: “I guess I got that nickname because I went into a lot of fights
by myself – and I came out by myself, too.”
Nunn said he traded a pair
of revolvers to Gonzaullas for a fine saddle made by the renowned leather craftsman
Sam Myers of El Paso.
The former sheriff used the saddle off and on for years before loaning it to the
Square House Museum in Panhandle.
So, while various museums have firearms
and other artifacts associated with Gonzaullas, no one seems to know where his
ashes ended up.
“Whatever the circumstances are,” Franscell concludes,
“I’d hate for one of the great Rangers to be ‘lost.’”
© Mike Cox
"Texas Tales" January
7 , 2010 column
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