Tascosa: Its Life and Gaudy Times

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Texas Tech University Press, 2007 - History - 361 pages
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“Gatlin was one of the breed then prevalent on the West Texas plains who would kill a man to check whether the gun was loaded.”Here, for the first time, is the true, detailed, down-and-dirty story of Tascosa: here at last are the facts that connect the stories of the “beef bonanza,” Pat Garrett’s “Home Rangers,” the 1883 Cowboy Strike and the relentless, undeclared war that ensued between the corporation ranchers—Charlie Goodnight, “Alphabet” Lee, Al Boyce of the XIT and the rest of them—and the tough, dangerous fraternity of rustlers manipulated by Tascosa town boss Jesse Jenkins, a thirty year conflict that precipitated as gory a procession of violence and death as any frontier town ever witnessed. As well as being the center of ranching activity in the Panhandle, Tascosa also became the last best hiding place in Texas for killers on the run, horse thieves, tinhorn gamblers, hair-trigger shootists or anyone else with a past he wanted to get away from. Billy the Kid, “Poker Tom” Emory, Bill Gatlin, Jim Kenedy, and Louis “The Animal” Bousman were just a few of the outlaws and desperadoes who vied for dominance with Cape Willingham, Cap Arrington, Jim East, and other lawmen in an ongoing war of attrition that made sudden death a routine occurrence on the town’s dusty street. A lot of bad men made fortunes and a lot of good men lost them as Tascosa went from boom to bust, from frontier Babylon to forgotten ghost town, in just a few short gaudy decades. Bypassed by the railroad, its body fenced in and its heart torn out, the community dried up and blew away. Today, Tascosa is a ghost town; its name all but disappeared from maps of Texas. Gone, but not forgotten: in Tascosa Frederick Nolan has dug up the rip-roaring history of one of the most violent outlaw towns of the Old West.

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Photo on page 28 is NOT Charles T. Witherell. The officer pictured is Thomas Buchanan DUNCAN, USMA Class of 1882. The group photo was taken at Fort Clark, Texas in 1888. At the time DUNCAN was a 2nd Lieut in the 3rd Cavalry. DUNCAN went on to achieve the rank of Brigadier General and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for valor in World War I while serving as a Brigade Commander in the 35th Division A.E.F. DUNCAN died on 27 April 1940. It should be noted that Captain (Brevet Major) Charles T. Witherell is in fact in the same group photo. I encourage the author to use due diligence in finding CPT Witherell in the photo (he is the older gentlemen on the far right of the second row) and consider correcting the error in the book.
William F. Haenn
LTC, Infantry USA (Ret)


18751876 Last Buffalo First Sheep
Henry Hoyt El Medico Colorado
18761877 The Coming of the Longhorns
Charles Emory SquirrelEye Charlie
1878 Billy the Kid Hits Town
Jim Kenedy He was a wild one
1879188O Growing Pains
Selman and Long The Outlaw Confederacy
Torn Harris Im tired of this put me away
1884 Rustlers vs Rangers
Bill Gatlin Bad Clear Through
1886 Ill Met by Moonlight
The Animal and the Catfish Kid Us fellows have to stick together
1886189O When Troubles Come
Jesse Jenkins He never owed a debt that he didnt pay
1887189O The Writing on the Wall

188O Hunting Billy the Kid
Poker Torn Emory Riding under a Consumed Name
188O1882 Law and Some Order
Outlaw Bill Moore Los Muertos No Hablan
1882 The Beef Bonanza
Cape Willingham Tough fair and respected
1883 The Great Cowboy Strike
Charles Francis Rudolph Its sad to die young
Here We Quit You
Frenchy McCormick She was a ringtailed tooter

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About the author (2007)

Frederick Nolan is the author of The West of Billy the Kid, The Wild West: History, Myth and the Making of America, and many other works of fiction and nonfiction.

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