Saturday, April 19, 2008

Rossville Brothers Served as Texas Rangers

(photo is part of the Nellie & Irene Lozano Collection)

Tom Mather Ross
Maria Navarro married John Clark Ross on August 20, 1870 at San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio. They made a home for themselves on land given to them as a wedding gift from Maria's father, Jose Antonio George Navarro. The land was part of the expansive ranch granted to her grandfather Jose Antonio Navarro. On August 1, 1871, Tom Mather Ross was born to the couple. Six more children would follow.

The earliest known enlistment into the Texas Rangers for Tom Mather Ross was in 1894 in Nueces County. He would have been 23. He is pictured with two Ranger companies at Temple, Texas during the railroad strike in July of 1894. The Ranger captains were J.A.Brooks, Company F and John R.Hughes, Company D. Tom re-enlisted in 1895 in Karnes County. In 1896, he is mentioned in a ledger, as being sent to El Paso, then on to Langtry for undercover duty in Governor Culberson's effort to prevent the Bob Fitzsimmons-Peter Maher world's heavyweight championship fight from taking place on Texas soil. The governor of Chihuahua ruled that the fight would not take place in Mexico. Judge Roy Bean invited them all to come to Langtry, and the fight was held on a tiny island in the middle of the Rio Grande.

Tom Ross served as a Ranger for approximately twelve years, serving as Sergeant under Captain John R. Hughes on the border. He was promoted to Captain of Company B in about 1906. He was stationed at Ysleta, in El Paso County for a number of years. He was shot in the leg which led to amputation. His "wooden leg"did not hamper his performance as a Ranger Captain.

Between 1907 and 1909 Captain Ross was assigned to Amarillo to go after bootleggers and saloon keepers. The local law enforcement ignored the laws and the problem had gotten out of hand. The Ranger's presence was greatly resented by many. This led to the murder of Ranger "Doc" Thomas and the assault of another Ranger by the chief of police. It soon became a public relations nightmare for the Rangers. Some officials in Austin felt the Rangers should withdraw from prohibition issues. This friction is said to be the cause of Captain Ross's resignation in 1910.

After leaving the Rangers, Tom Ross moved to San Antonio and tried his hand in real estate. This didn't last long and he made his way to Cameron County and worked as a sheriff's deputy for several years. From 1916-1917 he had an appointment as Special Agent of the United States Bureau of Investigation. On June 10, 1916 he led a posse that prevented the burning of the Webb Station railroad trestle by raiders. In 1925 Tom Ross returned to San Antonio and became a federal court interpreter, as position he held until his death in 1946.

On January 15, 1940 the 76th United States Congress passed a bill to pension a handful of Rangers who rendered their services in the Garza Revolution that had taken place on the border a half century before. Captain Tom Ross was on the list of Rangers.

Tom Ross never married. He is remembered by his nieces as a modest man with a good sense of humor. One recalled that, as children, they would wait until he went to sleep to sneak a peak at his "wooden leg" which he had removed and stored under the bed. Another accompanied him to the great Texas Centennial celebration in Dallas in 1936 and remembered what a wonderful time they had. He died in his sleep on January 1, 1946 at the age of 75.

Alexander Ross

On February 7, 1885, Alexander and Maggie Ross, twins, were born to Maria Navarro Ross and John Clark Ross. Maggie died shortly before her second birthday. They were the youngest of seven children born to the couple.

Alex Ross attended Texas A&M, studying civil engineering and surveying. These skills would prove useful in later in life, but, on April 1, 1905 Alex followed in the footsteps of his oldest brother, Tom, enlisting in the Rangers under Captain John R. Hughes. He was only 20. He re-enlisted on July 9, 1907 and again on September 2, 1908.

Ranger lore refers to Captain Hughes as one of the "four great captains", joining the Rangers in 1887. He was captain of his own company from 1893 to 1915. He was highly respected with a zest for rangering. His early service in Shafter and Presidio is said to have given him an understanding of the demands of the border. He earned the nickname, "border boss". He was a skilled outdoorsman, and was especially good at tracking. Hughes selected his recruits with great care and led by example. He must have been a great teacher for young Alex Ross.

Captain Hughes' Company D covered the huge Trans-Pecos with too few men. They tracked train robbers in the Devils River headlands and along the lonely Rio Grande. Border disturbances and ethnic troubles were a constant problem. Stock theft kept them very busy. Zane Grey's novel, The Long Star Ranger (1914) is dedicated to Hughes and his Rangers. Alex Ross was one of his Rangers.

After his days as a Ranger, Alex Ross helped survey the new town site of Jourdanton in 1909. Because of his engineering skills and his knowledge of Spanish he helped develop a banana plantation on the west coast of Mexico, near Puerto Vallarta. He married Elizabeth Mayers on January 3, 1910. The couple had three daughters, Mary Elizabeth, Harriett Emilie and Clara Adell. Alex was a quiet, modest man who sometimes told stories to his grandchildren about his days on the border as a Ranger. They remember how sweet he was to his family, never seeing him angry or upset. He was known for his kindness to others, lending a helping hand to all. Alex had a love of farming and ranching, working as ranch manager north of Castroville for the Roeglin family's Rio Medina Ranch for several years. He then spent the rest of his life farming and ranching on his own land in Rossville. Alex and Elizabeth attended the church at Anchorage and in 1958 Alex helped to build the chapel that is still in use today. He and Elizabeth were honored with a celebration on their 50th anniversary in 1960 by their many friends and family. Alex died on February 21, 1966 at the age of 81. He is buried in the Anchorage Cemetery next to Elizabeth.

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