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Bonnie and Clyde, Machine Gun Kelly, the Newton Boys, the Santa Claus Bank Robbers. . . . During the era of gangsters and organized crime, Texas hosted its fair share of guns and gambling, moonshine and morphine, ransom and robbery. The state’s crime wave hit such a level that in 1927 the Texas Bankers Association offered a reward of $5,000 for a dead bank robber; no reward was given for one captured alive. Veteran historian T. Lindsay Baker brings his considerable sleuthing skills to the dark side, leading readers on a fascinating tour of the most interesting and best preserved crime scenes in the Lone Star State. Gangster Tour of Texas traces a trail of crime that had its beginnings in 1918, when the Texas legislature outlawed alcohol, and persisted until 1957, when Texas Rangers closed down the infamous casinos of Galveston. Baker presents detailed maps, photographs of criminals, victims, and law officers, and pictures of the crime scenes as they appear today. Steeped in solid historical research, including personal visits by the author to every site described in the book, this volume offers entertaining and informative insights into a particularly lawless period in our nation’s history. Readers interested in true crime, regional history, or this unique aspect of heritage tourism will derive hours of enjoyment as they follow--on the road or from their armchairs--the trail of both cops and robbers in Gangster Tour of Texas. “Baker knows how to spin a yarn that keeps his readers engrossed; knows that it does history no harm to write it so folks will enjoy many illustrations, maps, and pictures of outlaws, lawmen, victims, witnesses, and crime scenes that accompany each story. Plus, his picture captions are as informative as his story narratives."--Bill Neal, author, Getting Away with Murder on the Texas Frontier
Award-winning author Bob Alexander presents a biography of 20th-century Ranger Captain Jack Dean, who holds the distinction of being one of only five men to serve in both the Officer’s Corps of the Rangers and also as a President-appointed United States Marshal. Jack Dean’s service in Texas Ranger history occurred at a time when the institution was undergoing a philosophical revamping and restructuring, all hastened by America’s Civil Rights Movement, landmark decisions handed down by the United States Supreme Court, zooming advances in forensic technology, and focused efforts designed to diversify and professionalize the Rangers. His job choice caused him to circulate in the duplicitous underworld of dishonesty and criminality where twisted self-interest overrode compliance with societal norms. His biography is packed with true-crime calamities: double murders, single murders, negligent homicides, suicides, jailbreaks, manhunts, armed robberies and home invasions, kidnappings, public corruption, sexual assaults, illicit gambling, car-theft rings, dope smuggling, and arms trafficking.
From their founding in the 1820s up to the modern age, the Texas Rangers have shown the ability to adapt and survive. Part of that survival depended on their use of firearms. The evolving technology of these weapons often determined the effectiveness of these early day Rangers. John Coffee “Jack” Hays and Samuel Walker would leave their mark on the Rangers by incorporating new technology which allowed them to alter tactics when confronting their adversaries. The Frontier Battalion was created at about the same time as the Colt Peacemaker and the Winchester 73—these were the guns that “won the West.” Firearms of the Texas Rangers, with more than 180 photographs, tells the history of the Texas Rangers primarily through the use of their firearms. Author Doug Dukes narrates famous episodes in Ranger history, including Jack Hays and the Paterson, the Walker Colt, the McCulloch Colt Revolver (smuggled through the Union blockade during the Civil War), and the Frontier Battalion and their use of the Colt Peacemaker and Winchester and Sharps carbines. Readers will delight in learning of Frank Hamer’s marksmanship with his Colt Single Action Army and his Remington, along with Captain J.W. McCormick and his two .45 Colt pistols, complete with photos. Whether it was a Ranger in 1844 with his Paterson on patrol for Indians north of San Antonio, or a Ranger in 2016 with his LaRue 7.62 rifle working the Rio Grande looking for smugglers and terrorists, the technology may have changed, but the gritty job of the Rangers has not.
A calaboose is, quite simply, a tiny jail. Designed to house prisoners only for a short time, a calaboose could be anything from an iron cage to a poured concrete blockhouse. Easily constructed and more affordable for small communities than a full-sized building, calabooses once dotted the rural landscape. Though a relic of a bygone era in law enforcement and no longer in use, many calabooses remain in communities throughout Texas, often hidden in plain sight. In The Texas Calaboose and Other Forgotten Jails, William E. Moore has compiled the first guidebook to extant calabooses in Texas. He explores the history of the calaboose, including its construction, use, and eventual decline, but the heart of the book is in the alphabetically arranged photo tour of calabooses across the state. Each entry is accompanied by a vignette describing the unique features of the calaboose at hand, any infamous or otherwise memorable occupants, and the state of the calaboose at present. Most have been long abandoned, but because many remain on city or town property, some have been repurposed into storage buildings or even government offices. In certain ways, these small jails encapsulate the history of outlying communities during a time of transition from the “Wild West” to the twentieth century. Some of the structures have been preserved and cared-for, but despite the stories they can tell, many more are endangered or have already been lost. This definitive guide to tiny Texas jails serves as a record of a unique and disappearing feature of our heritage.
Texas has one of the world’s largest prison systems, in operation for more than 170 years and currently employing more than 28,000 people. Hundreds of thousands of people have been involved in the prison business in Texas: inmates, correctional officers, public officials, private industry representatives, and volunteers have all entered the secure facilities and experienced a different world. Previous books on Texas prisons have focused either on records and data of the prisons, personal memoirs by both inmates and correctional officers, or accounts of prison breaks. Tall Walls and High Fences is the first comprehensive history of Texas prisons, written by a former law enforcement officer and an officer of the Texas prisons. Bob Alexander and Richard K. Alford chronicle the significant events and transformation of the Texas prison system from its earliest times to the present day, paying special attention to the human side of the story. Incarceration policy evolved from isolation to hard labor to rodeo and educational opportunities, with reform measures becoming an ever-evolving quest. The complex job of the correctional officer has evolved as well—they must ensure custody and control over the inmate population at all times, in order to provide a proper environment conducive to safety and positive change. Alexander and Alford focus especially on the men and women who work with diligence and dedication at their jobs “inside the walls,” risking their lives and—in too many instances—giving their lives in a peculiar line of duty most would find unpalatable. Within these pages are stories of prison breaks, bloodhounds chasing escapees, and gunfights. Inside the walls are deadly confrontations, human trafficking, rape, clandestine consensual trysts, and tricks turned against correctional officers. Famous people and episodes in Texas prison history receive their due, from Texas Rangers apprehending and placing outlaws in prison to the famed gunfighter John Wesley Hardin’s time in and out of prison. Tall Walls and High Fences covers numerous convict escape attempts and successes, including the 1974 prison siege at Huntsville and the 2007 prisoner gunfight and escape at the Wynne Unit. Throughout this long history Alexander and Alford pay special tribute to the more than 75 correctional officers, lawmen, and civilians who lost their lives in the line of duty.
"The indefatigable T. Lindsay Baker has now turned his enormous mental and physical energies to the subject and has brought to view - if not to life -eighty-six Texas ghost towns for the reader's pleasure. Baker lists three criteria for inclusion: tangible remains, public access, and statewide coverage. In each case Baker comments about the town's founding, its former significance, and the reasons for its decline. There are maps and instructions for reaching each site and numerous photographs showing the past and present status of each. The contemporary photos were taken, in most instances, by Baker himself, who proves as adept a photographer as he is researcher and writer....Baker has done his work thoroughly and well, within limits imposed by necessity. He obviously had fun in the process and it shows in his prose."---New Mexico Historical Review
The only biography of Johnny "Guitar" Watson (1935-1996) paints an intriguing portrait of the American blues funk composer. His fans appreciate his historical role in black American music. Rappers honored him with samples. In this book tens of musicians reveal the life story of the struggling guitarist who became eternal with Gangster Of Love and A Real Mother For Ya. Besides hundreds of others, the love bandit had three First Ladies he lived with for years. They tell their untold love stories and explain how they stimulated his music as Muse, and how they financed his music business as Maecenas, helping him to produce gold albums by working as prostitute, thief or booster. His musicians reveal: how did he compose his incredible oeuvre? This book includes: The first complete Discography with 284 songs, Hundreds of songs composed or produced by Watson for others, songs he features on, his songs covered or sampled by others, Index with hundreds of related artists, Extended stories of Frank Zappa on John Watson and Watson on Zappa, 660 References, 300 Illustrations, of which 4 in full color. EXTENDED EDITION (First Edition April 2009), corrected by music author Fred Rothwell (UK), with 50% more pages and 150% more Illustrations.
From its earliest days of human habitation, the Texas coast was home to seemingly endless clouds of ducks, geese, swans, and shorebirds. By the 1880s Texas huntsmen, or market hunters, as they came to be called, began providing meat and plumage for the restaurant tables and millinery salons of a rapidly growing nation. A network of suppliers, packers, distribution centers, and shipping hubs efficiently handled their immense harvest. At the peak of Texas market hunting in the late 1890s, Rockport merchants shipped an average of 600 ducks a day in a five-month shooting season, and in the last year of legal market hunting, an estimated 60,000 ducks and geese were shipped from Corpus Christi alone. Market men employed efficient methods to harvest nature’s bounty. They commonly hunted at night, often using bait to concentrate large numbers of waterfowl. The effectiveness of the hunt was improved when side-by-side double barrel shotguns and large-gauge swivel guns gave way to repeating firearms, with some capable of discharging as many as eleven shells in a single volley. Their methods were so efficient that, by the late 1800s, Texas sportsmen and others blamed the alarming decline of coastal waterfowl populations on the market hunter’s occupation. In 1903, after a long fight and many failures, the first migratory bird game law passed the Texas legislature. Though the fight would continue, it was the beginning of the end of the year-round slaughter. Most market hunters quit, and those who didn’t became outlaws. In this book, R. K. Sawyer chronicles the days of market hunting along the Texas coast and the showdown between the early game wardens and those who persisted in commercial waterfowl hunting. Containing an abundance of rare historical photographs and oral history, Texas Market Hunting: Stories of Waterfowl, Game Laws, and Outlaws provides a comprehensive and colorful account of this bygone period.