Friday, December 9, 2011

Fast and Furiously - Texas Ranger Border Justice and Patrol in the 19th Century

Attorney General Eric Holder clearly has 'no shame' and no remorse -- this cold and expressionless man seems an empty vessel occupying a desk and drawing a federal salary.  What gives him his casual confidence that he will not be forced to resign?  His arrogant attitude toward all questions?  Who really heads the Justice Department these days?  Anyone?

"As they said in the McCarthy hearings, have you no shame?" asked Holder, referencing a famous retort to McCarthy.  (CNN, 12/8/11)

"More people are going to die, probably," said Rep. Ted Poe, a Texas Republican. "Unfortunately, I think that's probably true," Holder replied.  (CNN, 12/8/11)

What follows is the full text of a very well-written article about the Texas Ranger in the late 19th century, and the rigors of their proud life protecting the great expanse of the Texas border.  How shameful it is that today our Justice Department now makes a mockery of almost two hundred years of lives dedicated to protecting our borders -- of almost two hundred years of lives lost protecting our borders.

Nelson Evening Mail, Volume XXVIII, Issue 198, 28 September 1894, Page 4

Outside of the pages of fiction the Texas Ranger is seldom introduced to the general public. His personal acquaintance is something to be prized, and with my fingers still tingling from his hearty hand clasp, the memory of his original ways still fresh in my mind, it is a pleasure to speak of him, to tell who and what he is, and what manner of life he leads.  He met me with a warm smile of welcome, and the pleasant light in his eyes was in strange contrast to his costume, with its belt full of cartridges about his waist and the heavy pistol on his hip.

He was an ideal host. Everything he had was mine, and the entire camp was at my disposal.  I had every opportunity to study him, and I availed myself well of the chance; for there is in all America no more interesting figure than the Texas Ranger.

Texas has long been a favourite field for romance and story, and in many a thrilling tale the Texas Ranger has been a character, both picturesque and prominent; yet even though his name and his fame have been so widely heralded, he is somewhat of a myth to the world at large, and even to the average Texan he is little known, much misunderstood, and thoroughly unappreciated.

The Frontier Battalion, as the Texas Ranger force is now designated, is in every way unique. It is a standing army, regularly enlisted in the service of the State, always in the field, always under arms. It has been an important factor in the affairs of Texas for more than half a century. 

It was in 1832, when the citizens of Texas were assembled in convention at San Felipe de Austin to sue for statehood under the Mexican Government, that they provided for the protection of the frontier by a body of mounted men, or civic militia, on duty for 40 days at a time, in relays of 40 men.

Texas Ranger Camp in 1887
(photo from collection of Mike Cox, Austin, Texas)
The exact extent of the force is not known, but it continued in existence and constituted one of the people's main defences during their subsequent struggle with Mexico.  Under the Republic the organization numbered 1000 men, and was divided into small troops patrolling the Mexican border and the equally dangerous frontier to the west and north, from which the murderous redskins made their frequent raids. 

When the State was admitted to the union the Rangers had yet much to do. They took a most prominent part in the Mexican War, and remained in the saddle when that war was over. Much of interest might be written of the doings of the Rangers in the stirring times which followed, when but a call was needed to augment their thin lines along the border into a determined little army, and hurl them an avenging host, down on the Mexican raiders or the Indian hordes, with the trail of burning homes and murdered, mutilated forms they always left behind them.  It is the purpose of this sketch, however, to picture the Texas Ranger as he exists today.

The force was reorganized by act of the fourteenth Legislature, and on April 10, 1874, six companies, of 75 men each, were put into the field.  The disasters of the civil war had left Texas, as were all other southern States, prostrated and poverty-stricken; but Texas, in addition to sorrows and suffering it shared with its sister states from the horrors of reconstruction, was scourged with a harassing, never-ending warfare with border ruffians and Indians, grown bold by the license of war and the subsequent years of misrule. Indians and Mexicans ranged their prairies, back and forth across the border, and murder, robbery, and arson were done by day and by night.

Progress and prosperity were held in check, the State was at a standstill, and the life led by those hardy pioneers who had pushed their way to the outposts of civilization was hazardous in the extreme, exposed as they were to the hardships of an undeveloped frontier, surrounded by a lawless desperate element, the outgrowth of existing conditions.

Captain Frank Jones’s Company D, Frontier Battalion, of the Texas Rangers, 1890's 
The Texas Rangers soon made themselves felt, however, and before their steady front, step by step, they pushed the opposing forces of lawlessness and discord. Many a hard-fought fight marked their way, and the milestones of their progress were graves enclosing the forms of brave rangers who fell before the bullet of the outlaw. Today the Indian is gone, and the desperado is held in check; but the Texas border can never be stripped of its charms for fugitives from justice and desperate men from all nations, and the day will never come when there will be no demand for the services of the Texas Ranger.

With the advance of civilization the number of Rangers has been gradually reduced, until there are now but four companies in the field, and the minimum limit has in all probability been reached. To these four companies is entrusted the guardianship of the frontier, from the Pan Handle to the Gulf of Mexico, a stretch of border country greater in extent than the Atlantic coast from New York to Charleston.

Texas Rangers in Presidio County, El Paso
district, in 1890.
When it is realized that the Rangers keep this entire line under constant patrol, the significance of their name is seen. Empowered with the authority of peace officers, heavily armed and well mounted, they ride the broad prairies, and shrewd indeed must be the criminal who escapes their vigilance. They act in conjunction with the sheriffs of the border countries, and whenever practicable, cooperate with the regular United States army forces along the Rio Grande. Criminals of all kinds know them and fear them, and their very name is a power for good.

Some idea of the extent of their operations may be gained from a statement in a recent report of the adjutant-general— their official head —showing that in one year they scouted over 89,472 miles in the discharge of their duty, and arrested 597 desperate criminals.

I cannot give a better idea of the Texas Ranger of today than by showing him as he appeared to me on the occasion I have before mentioned, when I was the guest of one of their companies, shared their hospitality, and accompanied them on their round of duty for nearly a month.

It was in the Rio Grande country, and although winter the weather was hot and dry.  In that country rain is often unknown for many months, and on this occasion the drought had been almost unbroken for two years.  The camp of the Rangers was located in the midst of country barren of vegetation as to
resemble a desert;  yet this very country was a cattle range, and in favourable seasons the rich grass carpeted its vast stretches with verdure, on which countless herds were fattened.

A row of tents, neatly arranged, presented an appearance quite military; but with that the resemblance ceased, for the rigour and discipline of a military encampment were entirely absent. Obedient to every command, the men yet held themselves the equal of their captain; and he, in turn, treated them with an off-hand freedom very different from the attitude of the officer towards the regular in ranks. The secret of this is found in the fact that the captain has chosen every man in his company with a personal knowledge of his worth, and knows he can depend on him in every emergency. He gives no unnecessary orders, and when he speaks his men act.

The captain of the company is paid 100 dollars a month, and the privates 30 dollars. All supply their own arms and horses, and the State furnishes them with ammunition and provisions. No uniforms are worn, and in the midst of the ranger camp one finds himself in rough-looking company indeed.  Shining rifles, big revolvers, long knives, woollen shirts, and slouch hats, pants in boots, and sometimes leather breeches, are the accompaniment of every man, giving the camp the appearance of a crowd of brigands rather than a posse of police officers. It doesn't take long, however, to find that their roughness is all outside. There is no bigger-hearted, generous fellow on earth than your genuine Texas Ranger -- no more warmly hospitable place than a ranger camp.

The routine of arresting cattle thieves and trailing ordinary criminals is often varied in the round of ranger life; when big raids of outlaws, intent on driving whole herds across the border, are to be intercepted, fugitive train robbers run down, or some noted desperado taken in charge. All seems confusion at first; but when the time for action comes, a word brings order, and in a moment every man is in the saddle, belted and spurred, ready to sweep like the wind across the dusty prairies.

It was such an occasion I have in mind. A fugitive from Mexico, at the head of a motley crew of cutthroats, came in conflict with the United States troops, one of whom was killed, and the rangers took the field to assist in their capture or extermination.

Night and day they rode.  The comforts of camp were unknown.  The drought-stricken country for hundreds of miles was their field of action, and through the trackless chaparral, where naught of life was seen but the sluggish vulture feasting on the famine-slaughtered stock, they pursued the fleeing outlaws.  Many a fight they had, and it is no fancy picture which shows the ranger fallen in the fight, the smoking pistol still in his hand, while his faithful horse, with wind-tossed mane and tail, sniffs at his lifeless form. The country was sparsely inhabited, and the people, far from the centers of civilization — for the most part rough, ignorant, superstitious descendants of the lower class of Mexicans were friendly to the fugitives; yet success went to the rangers. 

A number of prisoners were taken, some worthless lives cut short, and some vacant places left in the ranks of the rangers. Those of the outlaws not captured or killed were swept from Texas soil, law and order were upheld, and though humble hearts in humble homes mourn the dead ranger so soon forgotten by the world, the result is good. The price of peace is always paid in blood.

And such is a brief glimpse into the life of the Texas Ranger. --- New York Once-a-Week

Texas Ranger Hall of Fame
The Texas Ranger, Legends of America

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Native Yaupon Holly and Pine Forests of Southeast Texas

Native Yaupon Holly, Species: Ilex vomitoria,
See UT Austin Native Plant Database
The past week is just full of negativity.  Did you hear about the BPA you eat along with your favorite Progresso soup?  I just shook my head, walked to the pantry, looked at the neat rows of my favorites I'd just picked up the week before, and could only wonder - ponder - endlessly ruminate . . . on just what the heck I'd done to my innards the past winters that I've had Progresso's clam chowder and basil tomato every week for months on end.

Ah well . . . too much negativity.  After all, Pakistan is pondering . . . some sort of action; the Chinese own the USA (or some say it's so) . . . Iran has a bomb, no doubt . . . and Israel ain't exactly a coward . . . and mighty Egypt really has some twisted issues that will effect the rest of the world when they all settle out . . . and let me not forget the more than 50% of the USA that is on the government dole one way or the other . . . or so it seems.  Put the current eye-rolling Republican race for the presidential nomination in the mix and what do you have?  More negativity. . . I might as well forget about it all and just eat my soup -- I'll go with the Clam Chowder, heavily seasoned with black pepper, along with a side of hot American cheese toast on Jewish rye -- my absolute favorite. 
 Native Pine Tree, See UT Austin's Texas Beyond History 
The Pine Forests of East Texas 

And I'll take a walk outside and see what beautiful wonders God has brought to these Pineywoods that seem forever green -- even in the dark dry days of our summer drought the mighty pines stood tall and green.  Yes, some have suffered, there are some orange tops in the horizon of green pine tops - but not so many, pine trees appear to be good troopers, positive thinkers.

Intermixed with those glorious, reaching to the sky green pine trees in the fall of the year in eastern Texas, at least for sure this pocket of the more southeasterly section -- are native yaupons.  Some of the yaupons are males, some females.  The female yaupon puts off the most beautiful red berries; they are like a gift, a vision of something that bespeaks of newness and hope and warmth, despite the fact they come with the onset of cold.  Those bright red berries and deep green leaves are nature's Christmas show in these Pineywoods.

Over the past decade I have been quite 'eccentric', some would say, about any inadvertent killing of my female yaupon.  If a fence must be cleared, leave the female yaupon; if a gate must be put in a section of fence, move it away from the female yaupon; if the female yaupon is growing beneath a tree grove -- leave it be!  I am watching, and I'll know if you chop her down.

This past week I took some photos of female yaupons in full fruit, along with some shots of the pine trees reaching for the blue sky.  It seemed appropriate.  We have been blessed with some terribly needed rains the past few weeks.  One of them jumped the big pond by probably 8 feet over night.  All of the hardwood trees were sore in need of those rains to keep them alive until the spring, and no doubt the sturdy pine trees needed it as well to keep on being the green blessing that they always are on my horizon.  While the yaupon are notoriously tolerant to dry conditions, they surely are dancing when I'm not looking for the gift of the fall rains that will support the growth of new youngsters, male and female yaupon alike, with the coming of the next spring.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Heavy Pulp in my O.J. Please! . . . pulp and peel have natural antibiotic properties.

I've always preferred my orange juice with pulp, but it has been harder to come by in the small grocery stores of my area - of course there's always Walmart; I can usually find it there if I force myself through their anti-small business doors.  But, even there it is still in the minority of orange juices to select from.  One can assume that most folks (at least in my rural area) don't want pulp in their O.J. --  maybe it gets caught in their teeth, doesn't feel right on the tongue, who knows? 

British White Bull Calf, Son of El Presidente, Coming along
nicely due to his dam's 'regular healthy diet' that is also supplemented
with vitamins and minerals..........
 But -- I'd be willing to bet good money they'd be demanding there families drink O.J. with Heavy Pulp if they had any idea that it had medicinal benefits well beyond that silky sipping O.J. they've been drinking all these years. 

I've always been intrigued by research and resulting implementation in regard to bovines versus humans of vitamin and mineral supplementation for enhancing fertility, longevity, and disease resistance.  Just recently something hit the mainstream news in regard to humans and vitamin supplementation -- that perhaps they're not necessary for most humans who eat a regular healthy diet. 

Yet, we put our cattle out there on natural grass pastures, feed them alfalfa or grain as a supplement - and still make sure they get supplemental vitamins and minerals.  I know I try to take a combo Calcium, Magnesium, and Zinc regularly - clearly its good for the cows, so I figure it is likely good for me as well.  And have you happened to notice that some bovine supplements even have Vitamin D3 in them?  I found that an interesting addition to the bovine mix - they are after all outside every single day of their lives!

I'm certainly tickled to now find out that pulp in my O.J. is a really good thing - no doubt it would take decades of research and vast sums of money spent by the USDA & FDA, etc. . .  before any Florida orange juice farmer could recommend pulp in their O.J. as healthier for a human.  Instead, I predict we'll see 'dried orange peel pellets' on the market by next year --  in a pretty package for humans to swallow down with their smooth and silky sipping O.J.

The following is most of the text in regard to this study that finds orange juice pulp and peel has 'natural antibiotic' properties:

"U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their collaborators have conducted a series of studies that explore non-antibiotic methods to reduce foodborne pathogens that are found in the gut of food animals.

The team consists of Agricultural Research Service (ARS) microbiologist Todd R. Callaway, with the agency's Food and Feed Safety Research Unit in College Station, Texas; ARS animal scientist and project leader Jeffery Carroll with the agency's Livestock Issues Research Unit in Lubbock, Texas; and John Arthington at the University of Florida in Ona.
Early studies showed that citrus products provide cows with good roughage and vitamins, and the essential oils in such products provide a natural antibiotic effect.

Callaway's early data showed the feasibility of using orange pulp as a feed source to provide anti-pathogenic activity in cattle. He also showed that consumption of citrus byproducts (orange peel and pulp) by cattle is compatible with current production practices, and the byproducts are palatable to the animals. 

Orange Peel Waste being used to make Ethanol
Photo Source:  The Sietch Blog
 Callaway then shed light on how to exploit the essential oils inside the peel and pulp that are natural antimicrobials. Collaborations with researchers Steven Ricke and Philip Crandall at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville also have identified specific essential oils that kill the pathogenic bacteria.

From the time Callaway began studying citrus as an animal gut cleanser, he recognized that citrus peel can be heavy and expensive to ship long distances, so his latest studies have investigated the use of processed orange peel pellets.

For one study, the team fed dried orange peel pellets to sheep as a model for cows for eight days. They found a tenfold reduction in Salmonella populations in the animals' intestinal contents. Callaway received a grant from the National Cattleman's Beef Association (Beef Checkoff funds) to help fund the study. Results from the 2011 study were published in Foodborne Pathogens and Disease."

Link to Drovers Cattle Network Source Article: USDA scientists reduce pathogens in cattle with orange peels ; USDA - Updated: November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hardships of Early Texas Pioneers - Late 19th Century Poetry

Newspaper Source:  Texas Siftings, Published August 1, 1885, Reproduced below as printed in the newspaper.  I found this a very moving and visual old ballad that well captures the travails of early Texas settlers, as well as the distinct voice of the times.  No author is credited, merely the 'Written for Siftings' as presented below.  Texas Siftings was started in 1881 in Austin, Texas.  See the Texas State Historical Association discussion of this early newspaper at this link.


[Written for Siftings]

"Then why do I sell?" you ask me again
Big cabin, an' clearin', an' all?
Well, Stranger, I'll tell you; though maybe you'll think
It ain't any reason at all.
There's plenty of hardships in pi'neer life;
It's a hard workin' stint; at the best,
But I'd stick to it yet if 't wa'nt for this:
A heart like a log in my breast.

D'ye see over there by the cotton wood tree,
A climbin' rose close by a mound,
Inside of a fence made of rough cedar boughs,
With Woodbine all runnin' around?
Well -- Netty, my darling old woman, lies there:
Not very old either you see
She wa'n't mor'n twenty the year I come West,
Sh'd be comin' grass, thirty-three.

How she worked with a will at our first little hut,
In the fields and among garden stuff
Till her forehead was burned, and her poor little hands,
Through hardships, grew rugged and rough.
She never complained; but many a time
I have come in and found her just there,
With eyelids all red and her face to the East:
You see all her own folks were there.

I'd cheer her and tell her we'd go by and' bye
When the clearin' an' ploughin' was through;
But then came the baby.  He wa'n't very strong,
And poor Netty had plenty to do.
So after a while she got gloomy again;
She would hide in the corn-field to cry;
We hadn't no meetin' to speak of, you know,
Not a woman to talk to was nigh.

An' she wanted to show little Joe to her folk;
She was hungry, I s'pose, for the sight
Of faces and scenes she had had loved all her life,
Which 'twas natteral, Stranger, and right.
But just when we'd planned to go over the plains,
The devilish Sioux came about.
So we waited, it may be, a harvest or two,
And then came the summer of drought --

That left us poor people.  The next coming spring
Such a wearisome fever came round:
An' Stranger -- hold on till I tell you -- there now --
It had little Joe in the ground.
Netty pined to a shadder, and moped by his grave
And her eyes grew so large and so clear,
That I knowed we had got to go soon to the East
If I cared about keepin' her here.

If you'd seen her poor face when at last I could say
I would take her home vistin'.  Well --
I'll never forget how she put up her hands
Into mine, and for joy cried a spell.
She didn't feel strong though, that week or the next,
An' the cough an' the fever increased,
But softly she'd whisper -- she couldn't speak loud --
"We'll go -- by an' bye -- to the East."

She never got East any further than that,
Right over there under the mound;
But I'm going to take her and Joe in the spring
to her father's old burying ground.
That Stranger's the reason I'm willin' to sell;
You can buy at a bargain, you see;
It's mighty good land for a settler to have,
But it seems like a grave-yard to me."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rain Making in Texas - A Successful Explosives Experiment in 1891

Okay, now this I find quite interesting; it would appear that rain was successfully conjured up in the Midland, Texas area in the fall of 1891.  Also of note is the author's mention of the extent of the drought in the Midland area in 1891 - " . . . little or no rain had fallen the locality for some three years."  It seems the successful experiment was premised on the rains that seemed to consistently fall in the grueling days of the Civil War following the cannon shots and gunfire of major battles.  Hmmm . . . there are a lot of guns in Texas . . . maybe we need to pick a day and time and all shoot at the sky!

Otago Witness , Issue 1965, 22 October 1891, Page 45

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Timaru Herald, Volume LIII, Issue 5269, 21 October 1891, Page 3

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