Yours to Command: The Life and Legend of Texas Ranger Captain Bill McDonald

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University of North Texas Press, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 436 pages
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Captain Bill McDonald (1852–1918) is the most prominent of the "Four Great Captains" of Texas Ranger history. His career straddled the changing scene from the nineteenth to the twentieth centuries. In 1891 McDonald became captain of Company B of the Frontier Battalion of the Texas Rangers. "Captain Bill" and the Rangers under his command took part in a number of incidents from the Panhandle region to South Texas: the Fitzsimmons-Maher prizefight in El Paso, the Wichita Falls bank robbery, the murders by the San Saba Mob, the Reese-Townsend feud at Columbus, the lynching of the Humphries clan, the Conditt family murders near Edna, the Brownsville Raid of 1906, and the shootout with Mexican Americans near Rio Grande City. In all these endeavors, only one Ranger lost his life under McDonald's command. McDonald's reputation as a gunman rested upon his easily demonstrated markmanship, a flair for using his weapons to intimidate opponents, and the publicity given his numerous exploits. His ability to handle mobs resulted in a classic tale told around campfires: one riot, one Ranger. His admirers rank him as one of the great captains of Texas Ranger history. His detractors see him as an irresponsible lawman who accepted questionable information, precipitated violence, hungered for publicity, and related tall tales that cast himself in the hero's role. Harold J. Weiss, Jr., seeks to find the true Bill McDonald and sort fact from myth. McDonald's motto says it all: "No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that's in the right and keeps on 'a-comin'."
 

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Contents

EMERGENCE OF A RANGER CAPTAIN
1
Bill McDonald the Historical Record and the Popular Mind
3
The Making of a Texas Lawman
23
Captain Bill and Company B in the Panhandle
52
A Gunfight Between Two Guardians of the Law
87
Proceed to El Paso The Rangers and Prizefighting
101
A Bank Robbery in Wichita Falls
119
WANING DAYS OF THE FRONTIER BATTALION
131
Finale of the Frontier Battalion
186
AN AGING LAWMAN HIGHS AND LOWS
207
Forming a New Ranger Force
209
Conditt Murder Case A Study in Detection
229
Brownsville Affair A Muddled Incident
243
Rio Grande City The Last Stand
273
The End Comes State Revenue Agent and Other Roles
283
NOTES
307

San Saba Mob A Murder Society
133
ReeseTownsend Feud at Columbus
152
Humphries Case An East Texas Lynching
171
BIBLIOGRAPHY
387
INDEX
415
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

HAROLD J. WEISS JR. is Emeritus Professor of History, Government, and Criminal Justice at Jamestown Community College. He received his doctorate in history from Indiana University at Bloomington. Weiss has published numerous articles and essays on the Texas Rangers and western law and order in the Journal of the West, Southwestern Historical Quarterly, and South Texas Studies.He lives in Leander, Texas.

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