Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A blast from the Texas past – when men were men

Sheep were nervous when “dinnamite booms” exploded

Six Shooter Junction - Behold, Sgt. Ira Aten of the Texas Rangers, best known for his exemplary service during the “fence cutting wars” of 1886.

Sgt. Aten and his men worked undercover on some large ranches, investigating the violence that accompanied certain parties' cutting of the new-fangled barbed wire fences that were sprouting up across the prairies.

Several murders had occurred. The forces of law and order wondered where it would all stop.

Though the adjutant general of the Texas Rangers disapproved, the sergeant and his men deposited what he called “dinnamite booms” along certain areas of the fences most often cut.

"I fixed the bombs so that when the fence was cut between the posts it would jerk a small wire laid under the grass to the cap and explode the bombs."

Ordered to remove the “dinnamite booms” by his captain, Sergeant Aten exploded many of them purposely. This aroused an attitude of great caution amongst the population, which displayed no further mischief when it came to cutting the fences flung up by ranchers carving out their property against the traditional rights of free rangers and drovers far and wide.

The sergeant served until 1891 as a “special ranger,” without pay.

Historians at the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame note that Sgt. Aten was originally attracted to work as a Texas Ranger when he witnessed the death by the hostile gunfire of Texas Rangers in their attempted capture of the outlaw Sam Bass near Sgt. Aten's boyhood home of Round Rock, where his father was a Methodist circuit rider.

(cue barber shop quartet, crooning "Just a closer walk with thee")

Sgt. Aten served most of his career along the Mexican border, patrolling the area between Pecos and Rio Grande City. He later served as Sheriff of Ft. Bend County after his adroit dispatch of the most violent offenders in the Jaybird-Woodpecker War in that area, then moved his family to Imperial County, California, where he was appointed to the Imperial Valley Board.

In that position, he was instrumental in the legislation that eventually led to the building of Hoover Dam by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

If I could sing both kinds of music, country and western, I would probably put this in ceramics in the dialect of high glaze, the caressive puntry method, and write something like what has, undoubtedly, become part of history as the perfect country and western song. But I digress. Play the jukebox, somebody, please. Here's a red quarter. - The Legendary

No comments:

Post a Comment