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A Ranger Reminisces: “It seems to me now that I was a mear boy”

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527.     [TEXAS RANGERS]. GILLETT, James Buchanan. Autograph letter in ink signed, on Barrel Springs Ranch illustrated letterhead, to R.W. Connor concerning his service as a Texas Ranger. Marfa, Texas, March 3, 1916. 3 pp. 4to (28 x 2.5 cm). Creased where formerly folded, a few light stains, slight marginal wear. Highly legible. Overall very good.

     Gillett writes to Conner in response to a request for information about his father’s Ranger service: “I am proud to receive a letter from a son of my old friend and comrad C.R. Connor. Your father was a warm personal friend of mine.” He explains that he has “ridden hundreds of miles over the frontiers of Texas with him. I believe he was regarded as one of the best Rangers in Company E.” After leaving Company E, Gillett explains that he himself went to serve in Ranger Company A in El Paso and never saw Connor again. He muses wryly that Connor upon his death “was somewhat older than I am as he seemed to me to be one of the older men in the Co. while it seems to me now that I was a mear boy.” He then lists several members of Company E who “have long since passed to their reward” (e.g., C.L. Nevill, Bill Derrick, Dick Ware), noting that all the men he mentioned, to his amazement, “weighed 200# or more.” He closes by remarking that after coming to El Paso he never went back to East Texas, has gotten married, has five living children of seven, and has a five-month-old granddaughter [sic throughout].

     This warm, chatty letter lends insight into the special bonds that joined members of Texas Ranger units on the frontier, where danger was constant and duty often hard and hazardous. The bond clearly, in Gillett’s case, extends to his former comrade’s son, whose curiosity about his father and his life he is eager to satisfy, and, in turn, asks Connor for “a long personal letter from you” concerning his family. A rare personal letter from one Ranger to the family member of another, written on Gillett’s colorful letterhead. Gillett (1856-1937) was an Austin native who joined the Rangers in 1875, where he spent six years engaged in suppressing Native American raiders and cattle rustlers. After leaving the rangers, he held other law enforcement positions before becoming a rancher. See Handbook of the Texas Online.

     Little is known about Connor. He enlisted in Company E as a private on September 1, 1877, and was discharged on February 28, 1878, the same service times as his friend Gillett. He is apparently Chris Connor, because according to this letter, he participated with his fellow Ranger Richard C. “Dick” Ware in the gun battle at Round Rock where outlaw Sam Bass was mortally wounded.


Sold. Hammer: $2,000.00; Price Realized: $2,400.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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