Thursday, December 1, 2005

My Texas Ranger Grandfather

Ranger Reunion - My great great grandfather, R.D. Routh, is on the second row, fifth gentleman from the right (with a red mark next to him)

I received this story from my Routh cousin, Sue, this morning. The clipping was from the Brownwood Bulletin, I believe. I will have to check on the year, but probably in the early 1940's:

If you want to know the history of Brown County, drop around some day to 210 North Broadway Street, and talk to Bob Routh. Mr. Routh is one of the oldest living settlers of Brownwood. He came here in 1872, when this city was a hamlet of seven or eight log houses.

"Was Brownwood one street then?" he echoed my query. "It was even less than that. The Brownwood of 1872 consisted of two stores built from undressed timber, a log courthouse, and about five dwellings. The business section of the twon was in the bend of the Slough where the old jail now stands. The residences were scattered out for about a quarter to a half mile from the business houses.

"As for the surrounding county, it was sparsely settled. As well as I remember, there were only 56 families in the county when I came here. There were the Andersons and Williamses, the Cheathams, and others."

Mr. Routh was born in Collin County February 23, 1854. When he was eighteen, he decided to move into a less settled section of the country, and made the journey from his home to this city by ox wagon.

"It was slow going, and a tedious way of traveling, " he said, "but it was the mode in those days. There were very few horses in Texas when I was growing up. Horses were scarce then even in the cattle country.

"And this section was cattle country. When I came here there was about twenty acres in cultivation in the whole county. Old Uncle Bill Anderson had a ten acre patch out at his place, and someone else had a small farm near town.

"Brownwood was better off in a lot of ways then, because this country is naturally cattle land. It should never have been cut up into farms.

"As for money, there was little of it. But none of us ever suffered."

I wanted to know about the Chisholm Trail. "Did it go through Coleman County, as some say?"

"No, the Chisholm Trail never did go through this part of the state. It started on the Chisholm ranch which was located in Wise County and went up into Indian Territory. It branched into two main routes, one of these went to Kansas and Dodge City, while the other one went to Denver, Colorado. Cattle were driven into Kansas and sold to the packing plants, cattle driven to Denver, and sold to western stockmen.

"There were a number of cattle trails in this section of Texas, but all of them, so far as I know, were unnamed. There was one trail which started in southern Texas, came up through Brown County (it passed the old Round Mountain on Salt Creek) and went on north through Callahan County. This trail may have merged later on along the route with the Chisholm, that I don't know, but what I do know that the Chisholm Trail was never south of Wise County.

"I could show you where the old Chisholm Trail passed if we were in Wise County. I could find the Chisholm easily, for I have been upon the Chisholm ranch many times. A brother of mine used to ride ranger there."

"I joined the Rangers here in 1873. There were 75 men in our company, and we were detailed for Indian duty, but I was never in an Indian fight.

"Bill Williams came to town one day for supplies and when he returned to his ranch which was located on the Jim Ned, he found his wife dying. One of the children was dead, and the other had been carried away. It was presumed that a party of Comanches had committed the depredation.

"The last Indian fight in Brown County occurred in 1875. It took place on Clear Creek, and Dick Cheatham and Dick Smith, as well as some other local men ran across a raiding party of Comanches. The fight was short duration, and the Indians were killed; one of them was brought into town and left at Dave Hutchinson's blacksmith shop, where he was kep on exhibition for a day. He was then taken out, and stuck up in a tree along the old Comanche road. A few days later he fell out of his perch and was eaten by the roaming hogs.

"Most, if not all of the raids, in this section were carried out by Comanches. The tribes camped on the Pease River, and the braves would set out at various intervals after horses. They would scout over this part of the state and would even travel as far south as Bell County after mounts. They wanted animals much more than they wanted scalps.

"Regardless of what people say, the Indian was never bad at heart. The white man did his best to make him bad, and partly succeeded. The white man crowded the redskin into the Pacific Ocean; he stole his land from him; he made him promises and he always broke them. It has always been the great failing of the white man that he had no sympathy for primitive peoples; greed seems to be paramount in his nature.

"Shooting scares were common here in the seventies and were no rarity in the eighties either. Men considered killing to be the easiest and most effective way to settle quarrels. As a rule they had nothing to fear from the law because they were usually acquitted when they were tried.

"I can count them out, one after another, the men who killed and were killed. There was one old man who killed once too often. He shot his brother-in-law, and carved a second notch on his gun. A shoot.....grain in the morning and go to picnic in the afternoon.

"I knew a ranger here named Captain James. He was a first cousin to Jesse and looked as much like the bandit as a twin brother. He showed me a picture that he and Jesse had taken together before the captain left Missouri.

"James went down to the Bayou bridge one day to arrest a man who was camped there. I forget what charge the man was wanted for. He appeared to be peaceable enough and told James that he would go back to town with him. He requested that he might get his coat from the wagon. James consented to this. The man went tot he wagon, reached under the seat, drew a gun, and fired at James. James was hard hit, but he fired back, killing the stranger. A ranger who was with James carried him to town, and after a few months, the captain recovered from his wound.

"I saw Captain James at a ranger reunion five years ago. Whether he has died since then or not, I don't know.

In 1879 Mr. Routh married Miss Rosie Cane*. Six children were born to them, all of whom are living.

*The spelling was Cain, and could possibly have been Crain/Crane.