through his kidneys, as Rance Moore lay dying, it's not hard to
imagine that he almost looked forward to it. Not so much to end
his agony, but in atonement for what he had done eight years earlier.
Moore first came to the Texas
Hill Country during the Civil War. Living in Milam
County when the rebellion began in 1861, about a year later
Moore enlisted in state service to protect the frontier from hostile
Indians. Originally considered more of a military force, the men
who guarded the far settlements during the war between the states
are today generally regarded as Texas Rangers. While they conducted
regular patrols and had a military style command structure, they
wore no uniforms and furnished their own weapons and mounts.
Scouting the Edwards Plateau, Moore liked the land he saw. Later,
in what is now Kimble
County, he bought some acreage along Bear Creek. Despite the
ongoing Indian threat, after his enlistment, Moore moved his family
to his new property in West
Texas. With a wife and six children, he raised cattle and most
of the food his family needed. What couldn't be grown could be harvested
with a rifle or a baited hook dropped in the creek.
An assortment of friends joined the Moore family along or near Bear
Creek. More settlers gave a heightened sense of safety, but more
horses, cattle and people made for a more attractive target for
raiding Comanches and Kiowas. Depredations increased to the point
that in 1867, for their safety Moore decided to move his family
to Mason County.
Still, his new home still lay on the on the edge of the frontier.
the night of February 5, a noise from the stable awakened Moore.
His horses sounded agitated. It could be wolves or a mountain lion,
but the former ranger thought it more likely that Indians were trying
to make off with his stock. Grabbing his rifle, Moore looked out
into the dark.
At first he saw nothing. But as his eyes adjusted, he made out a
human silhouette standing near the corral, an Indian. Squeezing
the trigger, Moore put a rifle ball in the center of the Indian's
chest and the figure toppled to the ground.
As he stood grimly waiting for more Indians to appear, he realized
something wasn't right. No arrows or bullets flew in his direction.
No cries of mourning came from the dead Indian's fellow warriors.
Rushing outside, Moore found to his horror that he had just killed
his teenage son, Danie. The boy would have turned 15 on February
Why the youngster had ventured outside while everyone else in their
cabin slept was not explained in the primary recounting of this
story. Of course, the reason would have meant nothing to Moore.
What mattered, and would remain with him like a festering, embedded
iron arrowhead, was that he had mistakenly shot down his own flesh
The boy's simple and misspelled grave marker, carved into local
stone, makes no mention of the heartbreaking circumstances of his
"Danie More, Son of Permelia And Rance More.
"Born February 10, 1852-Died Feb. 5, 1867"
grieving family moved back to their Bear Creek ranch in Kimble
County not long after the tragedy. They stayed there until 1873
when Moore had an opportunity to sell the place along with all his
cattle. Using the profit from that transaction, he acquired a tract
of irrigated farm land on a fork of the Llano River.
While Moore did well as a farmer, the change of location did nothing
to alleviate the enduring pain he lived with. After about a year,
Moore sold out and moved again, this time to a place on Saline Creek.
Salt in the unhealed wound for Moore was another harsh reality:
Indians continued to prey on the people living in Texas's western-most
counties. Two days before Christmas in 1874, nine warriors swept
down on Moore's ranch and herded away several head of horses.
Knowing that a company of Rangers were camped only five miles from
his ranch, Moore dispatched one of his other sons to alert the state
lawmen. Under command of Capt. Dan Roberts, the rangers followed
the Indian's trail up Saline Creek but never encountered the raiders
or recovered the stolen horses.
By 1875, the Rangers and U.S. Cavalry had finally made serious inroads
on the Indian problem in West Texas. Meanwhile, Moore continued
to have to make a living for his family. He made a deal with two
men named Jim Mason and Henry Sharp to brand his calves and otherwise
manage his cattle. In the fall of that year, they settled up and
Moore got ready to drive his share of the herd to market.
In the process, Moore and Mason had a profanity-laced disagreement
over some of Moore's camp equipment that Mason and Sharp had used.
They men eventually parted company and Moore thought the matter
However, on December 12, Mason and one Wes Johnson showed up at
Moore's place. While warming their hands at the fireplace, Mason
vented over the earlier incident as Moore heard him out. Finally
appearing to be satisfied, Mason walked outside.
The unarmed Moore followed and the argument rekindled. Accounts
of how things unfolded varied, but Mason shot and mortally wounded
Moore. His family buried in him in the Koocksville Cemetery next
to the son he had mistakenly killed.
Johnson ended up spending four years in prison following his conviction
as an accomplice in the killing. Mason was indicted for murder but