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H. O. (sic) Robertson is the person responsible for the murder of my grandfather, Rodrigo Barragan and his friend, Febronio Calanche. Robertson was a cold blooded killer, worked the border as a river rider, was deputized as a Texas Ranger and when his friend, Joe Sitter was killed, he took revenged by killing every Mexican he came in contact with, to include the above named and also my uncle Anestacio Segura.

I pray that someday, someone will publish the real truth of who these people really were. Recently the Texas Ranger Association put a headstone on Joe Sitter's grave in Valentine, TX to "honor" his service as a Texas Ranger. This story appeared in the Marfa big Bend Sentinel, you could probably contact Marfa paper and view in their archives.

Ron Segura

You are not alone in your assessment of Texas Ranger Horace L. Robertson. Candelaria merchant and Justice of the Peace wrote the following account after investigating the murder of Barragan and Calanche in 1914.

I have always felt sure it was Robertson who shot to death Barragan and Calanche or ordered it done. Robertson as he came up the river was still boss of the T. O. Ranch and the men with him were his cowboys and under his control. Anyway if he neither did the killing himself, nor ordered it done, he sanctioned, or acquiesced in and there is no use to deny it the foul deed. The following are the known facts in the case.

Barragan and Calanche were hunting a lost bull in the dry pasture between our ranch and the river. Our ranch, at that time, was owned by Calanche."

(This ranch is today known as the Circle Dug Ranch see for more. Be sure and click on the history link.)

Kilpatrick continued,"Robertson and his men camped on the edge of this dry pasture near the trail leading to Calanche's ranch house the night of the same day the two Mexicans were hunting the lost bull. Two days later when Barragan and Calanche failed to show up, Mexican trackers went to hunt for them. Their trail was stuck and followed into Robertson's camp. From the camp there were only two trails-one made by the main body of Robertson's men going on up the river; the other made by three or four horsemen going up a small arroyo. Following this later trail the dead bodies of the two men were found. Upon the head of each were piled his saddle blanket, cartridge belt and gun.

The only possible interpretation of these facts is that Barragan and Calanche while on their way late in the evening to the latter's ranch rode into Robertson's camp when they were tied up,--the trackers declared there was evidence of this, until the next morning. After breakfast, the main body of the gang went on up the river. Two or three remained behind, took Barragan and Calanche six or seven hundred yards up the arroyo and shot them to death. The killers then-for there was their trail cut across (sic) and joined the main body.

Now, Robertson knew of Calanche, and that he did not have a spotless reputation among some of the stockmen, and he was not unaware that Calanche had once been indicted for the alleged theft of a calf. But doubtless he didn't care to remember the old Mexican came clear (sic). This is why, I believe Robertson killed him, had him killed or consented to his killing. Barragan was shot merely because he was with Calanche, the once indicted calf stealer. Here Robertson was shown up in what seemed to be his true colors. All he wanted was some accusation, suspicion or former indictment and then he would rashly proceed either to manufacture evidence or to just kill the supposed thief. Yet no investigation was ever made of this most wanton and cruel slaying of three innocent Mexican citizens: Holy Jesus! And we call this a Christian land and one of law and order where God still reigns. Forty years ago before the fundamentalist church people struck Presidio County so outrageous an affair would have received serious attention. But now with her villages and towns full of school houses, places of worship and halls of justice, would be assassins and cold blooded murders go scot free.

Kilpatrick felt very strongly about the murders and went so far as to appear before a Presidio County Grand Jury and as he put it begged for an indictment that never came.

Several years ago, members of the Calanche family from El Paso located the graves of Barragan and Calanche on the Texas side of the Rio Grande just up river a short distance from the Los Fresnos, Chihuahua crossing north of Candelaria in Presidio County.

I am at present working on a manuscript detailing these murders by Ranger Robertson. Robertson was later tried in El Paso for killing Joe Sitters son, Walter Sitters. A few years after the trial, Robertson was shot to death in the Texas Panhandle. The book will also have a chapter on Joe Sitters and his vendetta to kill Chico Cano, which ended in his own death in 1915. I share your frustration with the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame because they seem to do their best to glorify the bloody deeds of many of these old rangers.

Ron, are you also related to Leno Barragan of Candelaria? I also have found some interesting things about him and plan to include it in my forthcoming book titled, "More Little Known History Of The Texas Big Bend: Documented Chronicles Of Apaches, Comanches, Frontiersmen, Outlaws And Lawmen".


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I am researching my mysterious ancestor named Lewis Gardner. He was born c. 1810 SC, migrated to GA where he married, fathered children, and farmed. He then migrated to MS where he owned a farm. His wife divorced him and he went to Texas after the Civil War. Lewis lived in Houston County for a time and spent his last years in Johnson County, Texas.

He probably got remarried, but family lore says that Lewis had a reputation as a bad man and that he was later supposedly killed by horse thieves at a place pronounced 'Natchez' near Brownsville, Texas.

Do you know of a place pronounced 'Natchez' near Brownsville?

Would you know of any Brownsville newspapers from about 1865 - 1880?

Any note of a mysterious gunfighter named Lewis Gardner in south Texas?

He was said to have been involved in a gunfight near the King Ranch and was also said to have been ambushed and supposedly killed in a gunfight while transporting horses to Louisiana to be sold.

Their was also supposed to have been a postcard of him taken at Brownsville, Texas.

Thank you,
Corey Gardner

I did a little digging on this one and here is what I found. shows a Lewis Gardner, son of John Gardner born in 1810 in South Carolina. He died in 1880 in Dallas County, Texas. Not sure if this is your ancestor but might be. The Handbook of Texas has nothing on Nachez, Texas near Brownsville. I think you might want to spend some time doing research on this at the Barker Texas History Center at U.T. in Austin. Search their excellent vertical files and see what you find. The Barker Center also has the most complete collection of Texas Newspapers on microfilm available and should have Brownsville newspapers for that time period. Also, search King Ranch and see if you can't find something about the gunfight. I know there are several books on the King Ranch but do not have any in my library. The Barker should have this also. Good luck and let us know what you find about your gunfighter of South Texas. Gj

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On Friday, August 24, 2007, 03:42 PM, Gary Owen wrote:

Since the last post, I have done a little more thinking about what I remember of those episodes. Senor Luna was a somewhat enigmatic chap, dis-appearing for long stretches, and then suddenly reappearing, often to the accompaniment of some level of stress for somebody. It was not like he just subsided into obscurity and went about his affairs un-noticed. You always noticed the presence of Senor Luna. I either never knew, or have forgotten, just how Senor Luna sustained himself. I know that he, being a dual citizen, spent some time across the river with his elderly mother.

It may be that he had other relatives elsewhere on this side of the river who looked after him for some of the time. I doubt he was periodically institutionalized--considering the grief that would have attended that. Senor Luna's troubles with Mexican officialdom reached a crisis one day, I believe in the early spring of '67. Some of us were at the B.P. office one day when the phone rang and it was the custom people down at the bridge calling us to get down there quickly.

They said that the Commandante of the Mexican Army garrison across the river had an American citizen in chains and that we had to take him off their hands or they were going to have to shoot him or something. I suppose it was the bit about an "American" citizen that threw me off, that plus the fact that many weeks had passed since the hotel encounter. I went down there expecting to see some crazed tourist who had gone berserk in Mexico somehow, and was being expelled. When we got to the border crossing, it was only a few minutes until some Mexican army vehicles came racing across the bridge and slid to a stop in the dirt.

Out of the back of one of them, they dragged a very disheveled and oddly subdued (though visibly enraged) Senor Luna, bound hand and foot in chains and manacles. The commandante had him unchained and said something to the effect that he was now our problem. We knew that we had to get him away quickly to avoid an unfortunate incident of some sort, but how to get him into a vehicle was not a simple matter. Someone, knowing his quirk about the Attorney General, told him that the AG already had heard about this and was coming to intercede ---personally, and that the meeting was arranged for the next day in Marfa and we were instructed to escort him there.

This was right up his alley, and we opened the rear door to put him in the back. That seemed to offend him, and he insisted that a guest of the AG was entitled to ride in front. With that a couple of the others got in the car, and away they went for the county tank in marfa 67 miles away. When they got there the trick was to get him in a cell, so they told him that the AG had instructed them to keep Senor Luna in a carefully guarded secure location until his arrival the following day.

That worked well enough and seemed to mollify him. Several weeks passed, and one evening I was standing on a street in greater downtown Presidio when Senor Luna appeared. It was apparent that he recognized me, as he made straight for me, and began inquiring as to my well being. He was without his crutch, so I expressed some pleasure at his recovery from his injury. We stood there as he talked, all the while I was hoping the subject of the Attorny General would not come up, fearing it might remind him of the recent deceptions that landed him in the slammer in Marfa.

In a few moments he strolled away, limping slightly into the gathering dusk of a Rio Grande spring evening. I never saw Senor Luna again. Shortly I found myself in the army, bound for southeast Asia, and when that was done other matters were such that I never went back until 20 years later just for a day. That short time I spent in the Big Bend area was the most formative time of my life. The land, the people, all of it, have lived in my memory more vividly than even the war. For these 40 years I have wondered what ever became of Senor Luna.

I am hoping that some other old Presidio hand will read this who knows and can pass it along to me. One amusing aside to all this. Some time later,after the army,I was watching the film"The Wild Bunch" with Ernest Borgnine and William Holden. When the Mexican General Mapache appeared I had the momentary idea that they had somehow wound up with the Commandante of the Ojinaga army garrison playing a bit part in thair movie, because he looked just like him. Probably that movie would be as near to what that time along the border was really like as we can get to today. An interesting mix of the old and the modern.

More later, G.Owen

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Here is more from Gary Owen remembering his days in the 1960's with the Border Patrol. Gj

All this remembrance of Nate Fuller and my time in Presidio has made me think of many things I saw in that time 40 years ago.There were many interesting characters in residence in Presidio then,and I suppose that a certain amount of eccentricity would be a result of(requirement for?) living there for long.

Of all the odd souls I came to know there,one of the more memorable has to be "Senor Luna"I never knew if that was really his name,or merely a reflection of his frequent state of mind. My first awareness of Senor Luna came early on,when we were picking around outside Presidio doing a little sign cutting for any one heading out for the interior.We observed this really big footprint--I mean Shaquille O'neil big.The old hand observed- "Oh ,that's just Senor Luna,youll get to know him eventually".

Well,time went by and I gave it no more thought.Then one evening I was sitting at the Hotel Bar in Ojinaga enjoying a Tecate,and idly watching a "Lady of the Evening" plying her trade with a couple of guys from up north somewhere.It was cool weather then,and the door opened and in hobbles this very large individual wearing a greatcoat,and using a really stout wooden crutch.

He comes over and plops down on the stool next to me and with no introduction and only a few pleasantries,begins extolling the charms of "Maria Elena" across the way and inquires as to whether I would like an introduction.Not wishing to be impolite I replied that while her charms were indeed considerable(NOT)I thought she was profitably engaged for the evening,and that it would be rude to intrude upon the arrangements.Another time perhaps. That seemed to satisfy him and conversation turned briefly to more mundane matters.He spoke pretty good English,and at first all seemed normal.Then his conversation became increasingly erratic as he discussed his dis-satisfaction with his treatment at the hands of the local constabulary.After a few minutes he started spraying spittle and appeared increasingly angry.

I was starting to eye the door when he said something that let me know he was getting really unstable.He said he had to be in Presidio the next day for a meeting with the Attorney General!Now,I didn't know who exactly he had in mind,but I was pretty certain the the attorney general(Ramsey Clarke I think)didn't even know there was such a place as Presidio,let alone how to get there.The more he said the madder he seemed to get,and the more worried I got.Here was this huge person,red-eyed spitting mad,armed with a crutch that would have made a seviceable battering ram,and what's worse--between me and the door.

I was young and feisty in those days,but I knew there was no profit in argument with the likes of this guy.I told him that if the attorney general was due in Presidio the next day I had to immediately get back across the river and make preparations for his arrival----and with that I bolted out the door,and straight for the border.

The next day I recounted my strange encounter,and was told--"Well,you've finally made the acquaintance of "Senor Luna".It seemed that because of some accident of birth coupled with some peculiarity of immigration law,Senor Luna enjoyed dual citizenship.His elderly mother lived in Ojinaga.But Senor Luna came and went as he pleased.For some reason he was on really bad terms with the police in Mexico,and had evidently gotten the best of them at times.It got bad enough that they resolved that at the next outbreak they would just shoot him,which they did.Whether by design or lousy aim,they only succeeded in wounding him in the leg,hence the crutch. While Senor Luna appeared considerably irked by that,I got the impression that he was most peeved by what he consided to be the attorney general's inadequate concern for his grievance.

That was not my last encounter with Senor Luna.There was a further violent episode in Senor Luna's stormy relationship with officialdom that resulted in his forcible expulsion by the Mexican Army.That will wait for another installment in the Luna saga---more later. G.Owen

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This just came from Kirby Warnock about his Border Bandits film. Gj

Just a note that we've been invited to screen BORDER BANDITS at some
theaters in Texas in September. We'll be in Austin, San Antonio and Mission
September 13-15.
All details are on our Web site at

I will be at every screening to take questions and comments from the

Come on out, and please bring your friends who don't believe this story.
They are the folks I want in the audience.
For a good idea of what takes place at these theater screenings, read Joe
Nick Patoski's account on his blog:

Joe Nick is a former senior editor at Texas Monthly and has seen the good,
the bad and the ugly.

See you there!!!
"Ride to the sound of the guns, boys!"


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Here is an email question from Rolando Romo
about Quanah Parker coming to the Big Bend to buy peyote.

I am a history graduate student at Texas A&M International University and I am working on a thesis of John Richard Parker, Uncle to Quanah Parker.

I came across an internet site in which you are quoting from historian, Barry Scobee. In the article, Scobee states that Quanah and two companions stayed at the Hotel Limpia in the Big Bend Area in 1894. They were looking for peyote.

John Richard Parker was visited by Quanah Parker and two companions at his ranch in Mexico. During his stay at the ranch, Quanah was given a potion that included peyote to assist curing him from a deep wound from a bull's gash. Quanah then went back to Cache, Oklahoma.

I would very much like to have as many details of Quanah's visit at Hotel Limpia in order to obtain more information. I have not been able to get a date or geographic place name for John Richard Parker's ranch in Mexico. I am following all possible leads. If you can be of any help, it would be appreciated.

Is there a museum or library that would have the guest registers for Hotel Olympia?

Thank you,
Rolando Romo

I got the information about Quanah in Fort Davis from a newspaper article clipping. Sadly, there the article is undated and I do not know what newspaper it came from. Presumable it was probably sometime in the 1920's or 30's. As for old Limpia Hotel registration books suggest you contact the Limpia Hotel. They might well have documation of Quanah's visit. Also, you might want to check the Arhives of the Big Bend at Sul Ross State University, they have Scobee papers, see For more on Hotel Limpia see:


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I just finished reading Joe Klein's insightful book titled "Woody Guthrie: A Life" published by Dell Publishing. It is not a new work but simply the most definitive book I have found about the life the legendary folksong writer and political activist Woody Guthrie. Klein's volume is more than a biography; it is a rich, well-written portrait to be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in Texas history as well as those wanting to better understand Guthrie's tremendous influence on folk music.

In 1931, nineteen-year-old Woody packed his bags and set out from Oklahoma to Texas. He arrived in the panhandle oil boomtown of Pampa just in time for the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. Since I was born and grew up in Pampa, I found the story of Woody's life in my hometown fascinating. It is only in the last few years that Pampa has embraced Woody Guthrie. When I was growing up in Pampa during the 1950's and 60's Woody's unequaled contributions to folk music were completely swept under the table because of his political leanings. These days Pampa celebrates Woody and that fact for a decade, Woody called Pampa home. Today, you can drive the Woody Guthrie Memorial Highway or take the Woody Guthrie walking tour in Pampa. You can hear musicians at the Woody Guthrie Folk Music Center of Pampa, Texas. A magnificent 150 foot long sculpture of Woody's classic song "This Land Is Your Land" by Rusty Neef can be seen near the M. K. Brown Civic Auditorium.

For more on Woody and Pampa, check out these links: ... g_tour.htm


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"In my comments on the photo in"Chronicles of the Big Bend",I referred to it as Company "B"in 1918,and it is so identified in the caption.I believe this to be an error,as I have the same photo from the Moody Texas ranger library identifying it as a photo of company "A"in 1918.They are all identified with Jerry Gray(Capt.)second from the left and Nathan Fuller fourth from the right.None of the other names are the same as those discharged by the Governor.This is evidently taken after the disbanding of Company "B"in June of that year. I have some enlistment records for N.N.Fuller indicating that he joined the Ranger service in on May 15,1916 in Company "B",,Captain.He was listed as being 27 years and 3 mos.of age.His next period of enlistment began on twe1th of July in 1918,and still in Company "B",but there is no signature on the form for the Captain or any other designation of the company.Next,there is a form signed by James A.Harley,Adjutant General,State of Texas commissioning Nathan N.Fuller as a private in the Texas Ranger Force,dated Sept.10,1918.The next enlistment record is dated June the 20th,1919 and signed Jerry Grey,CaptainCo."A".Captain Gray's remarks were that he was a good ranger.The final record is dated Aug.22,1922also signed by Jerry Grey,Capt;Co."A".I also have some payroll records dated sept.1917 which list Co."B" as consisting of: CaptainJ.M.Fox,Sgt.H.c.Trollinger,Pvts.A.G.Beard,N.N.Fuller,H.G.Holden,Boon Oliphant,and A.H.woelber.Barker,Herman Weaver and Cole must have become members between Sept 1917 and Jan. of 1918,as Oliphant was the only one listed as present then. It is evient that the fact was that Nate Fuller was not actually present during the Porvenir matter,and I have wrongly remembered his comment that the investigator insisted that he was .It is more likely that he insisted that Nate would have known who was given that C."B" was so small during that period.I suspect that his comment to the investigator was a reflection of his usual reticence,and desire not to implicate anyone in matters not personally known to him.I remember one conversation I had with him in which he remarked that he was several times contacted by magazine people(True West,Frontier Times,etc.) to get him to tell his story.He said he always refused,as he knew very well that he wouldn't recognize what actually got printed. The fact that he reenlisted in what was still being referred to as Co."B" in July of 1918,but with no Captain's signature evidently reflects the turmoil following the Porvenir massacre and the Govenor's actions in response."

Think you are right, there seems to be no evidence that Fuller personally took part in the massacre but he must have known the details. Harris and Sadler show Fuller's service dates as a regular ranger from May 15, 1916 to Feb. 11, 1920. Gj

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I read your post about the passing of the last witness to the Porvenir massacre with great interest. My own life was touched in a small way by those tragic and desperate times. I was a border patrolman for a short time (1966-67) stationed in Presidio. I got to know an old Texas Ranger named Nate Fuller. It was not easy to get him to talk, but when he did it was always interesting. I remember once he told me about being questioned in regard to an incident that happened up the river one time,but cannot recall that he ever referred to it as "Porvenir ",but it was a long time ago. In reading all your posts I know that that was what he was talking about. It must have been the Canales Investigation that led to his being interviewed about the deaths of those men that night. I very distinctly remember that old Nate got somewhat agitated when talking about it and recall pretty much what he said. As I recall, he related it this way, and at times seemed to be reliving it: He said he was running a saloon at Shafter(evidently out of the Rangers) when someone pulled up in front in a model-t and got out with a typewriter. He said he was with the government and was there to find out what Nate knew about the incident of those men being shot that night. Nate said at first"I don't know nothing about it!" Then the investigator replied that he already knew full well that Nate was up there that night along with several other members of Company "B", along with some ranchers and soldiers. At that point Nate replied (and this stuck in my memory 40 years)"Well all I know is that some lead got to flying around that night, and those boys got in front of some of it!" Nate was 80 when I knew him, but he was still quick as a bird. I later learned that he died in '69 of complications following prostate surgery. There is a picture of Company "B" on page 33 of "Chronicles of the Big Bend".Nate is 4th from the right astride a black and white mount, wearing a bandolier and a Colt Peacemaker that appears to be nickel plated with a ivory grip. He looks to be someone you would do well not to get cross-threaded with too seriously. Even at 80 we could tell he wasn't someone to trifle with. I haven't any access to the Canales Report, and don't want to download 1600 pages on my computer. I was wondering if you might have any further knowledge the you could share concerning whether, and what, old Nate's actual history in regards to this might be. Nate Fuller is one of the most unforgettable characters ever to touch my life, and my brief personal experience in the Big Bend country was one of the formative events of all. I was drafted into the VietNam war, and subsequent events precluded my getting to live there anymore. I have come to the conclusion that there is a magic chemical in the earth in that land which, once ingested, forever transforms your innermost being and never lets go. It has haunted me all these years. I plan to go back in October of this year and revisit it all again. Regards, G. Owen

G. Owen,
Thanks for your comments. First I have seen about Ranger Fuller being present at Porvenir. In June 1918, Texas Governor Hobby disbanded Company B and fired A. C. Barker, Max Herman, Bud Weaver, Allen Cole and Boone Oliphant. Captain Fox resigned claiming he had been discharged for political reasons. None of the rangers faced criminal charges for the killings. If you haven't read it, see my chapter on the massacre in "Little Known History Of The Texas Big Bend." Also, Harris and Sadler write about the massacre in "The Texas Rangers And The Mexican Revolution." They mention Ranger Fuller on page 489. Also be sure and see Robert M. Utley's "Lone Star Lawmen" for more on the massacre.

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According to the Associated Press, some 1 miles of recently constructed border barriers near Columbus, New Mexico will have to be removed because they were mistakenly placed on the Mexican side of the border. It could cost as much as $35 million to correct the mistake. In March, U.S. officials discovered that the mile and section protruded between one to six feet into Mexican territory. Mexico is insisting the barriers be moved. Gj

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