wasn’t around long enough to gather any history; the story of its
origin and short life is more interesting than a lot of towns that
are still with us. Trixie’s story is told by John
Germann, who researched the town and who owns one of the few pieces
of mail to leave that lost place. - Ed.
WITH A TEXAS "BAD MAN"
U. Loftis was born in Mississippi in 1872. He left home at age thirteen
and eventually found work as a cowhand on the Dan Waggoner ranch
in Wilbarger County, Texas. He gradually fell in with a rough crowd,
and on December 24, 1895 he and three other ne'er-do-wells robbed
the Waggoner company store. Other robberies followed, including
the store/post office at Ronda
in Wilbarger County.
A posse pursued them, caught them in a dugout home, and shot and
killed one. Loftis managed to escape and he soon emerged as a new
man, taking the alias "Tom Ross" and beginning a new life as a rancher
in Gaines County near the New Mexico state line.
was a "wanted" man. A reward notice appeared in The Ranger's Bible
booklet in 1900, describing him as about 32 years old (he was actually
more like 29), 5'9" tall, about 160 lbs., and a "peculiarly shaped
head, being very long behind with a high forehead." A cowboy associate
described it as a "watermelon head." When "Ross" let his hair grow
long it led one Ranger to call him "Buffalo Head." The notice offered
a reward - $25 for information leading to his arrest.
Ross, the murdering postmaster of Trixie, Texas
News of Loftis'
whereabouts eventually reached the authorities, and Captain John
Harris Rogers of the Texas Rangers galloped toward the ranch to
capture him. "Ross" fled into the sand dunes, then shot Rogers'
horse and approached the fallen Ranger on foot with his Winchester
rifle cocked. He could easily have killed Rogers, but the Ranger,
pleading for his life, warned "Ross" about the consequences of killing
a Texas Ranger. Then Rogers' partner, a Martin County sheriff, happened
to appear on the horizon. Ross hurriedly emptied the bullets out
of Rogers' pistol and fled back into the dunes.
next appeared from another front. Two Texas and Southwestern Cattle
Raisers Association inspectors began to work up a powerful cattle-rustling
case against him. Ross and a partner reacted violently; they boldly
rode into the county seat of Seminole
in 1923 and, in full view of many witnesses, murdered the two inspectors
inside the Gaines Hotel. Captured and then sentenced to the penitentiary
for twenty years "Ross" escaped, ultimately settling in a new country,
Canada, with yet another new name, "Charles Gannon." In Canada "Gannon"
killed a Chinese cook, then fled to Montana, where he got into an
argument with the ranch foreman and killed him too. Now facing new
murder charges, he committed suicide by shooting himself in the
ranch bunkhouse in 1929. A hearse brought his remains to Lovington,
New Mexico, one of his cattle-rustling haunts. The funeral service
was a heavily attended event. Interestingly, his first alias outlasted
him; the gravestone reads "Tom Ross."
But how does this picture post card, mailed from Trixie, Texas fit
into the tale of Loftis/Ross/Gannon?
the namesake of
Trixie and its outlaw postmaster
was a very short-lived post office in western Gaines County; it
operated for just a little over two years, April 1908 - June 1910.
That alone made the item of special interest to me. The interest
turned into intrigue as I began researching the basics of the office.
I discovered that the postmaster, in his application for the office,
had noted that the population to be served amounted to "one family,"
a rather interesting admission by the prospective postmaster and
one not likely to persuade the Post Office Department to readily
grant the application. When I started looking into the postmaster
himself the intrigue really escalated. The postmaster-applicant
was none other than Hill Loftis, using his alias "Tom Ross" in applying
for a post office at his ranch out in the wilds of western Gaines
County. Why he chose to create a post office is unclear, as is why
the POD would grant the request. In any case, further investigation
revealed that "Ross" named the office for his wife Lillian "Trixie"
Hardin, a Wichita Falls belle whom he had married in 1904, only
four years earlier. To cap it off, the typically mundane message
on the equally mundane picture post card is signed by none other
than the anything but mundane Lillian. She stayed in Gaines County
into the 1920s, but did not appear in the 1930 federal census. By
1940 she had moved to Lovington, New Mexico, and lived there until
she died in 1953. Her gravesite does not grace her with the name
of Trixie or Lillian; in the same cemetery as "Tom Ross," she is
interred as simply "Mrs. Tom Ross."
Much of the fascination and lure of postal history is the history.
And serendipity can play a major role; one often just stumbles onto
the history. A case in point: Trixie, Texas.
Originally published in "Texas postal history society Journal, Vol.
39, No. 1 February 2014
Map showing Trixie
Modification of Texas General Land Office 1920s map
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