The Killing of Captain Frank Jones - By J. Marvin Hunter
[From J. Marvin Hunter’s Frontier Times Magazine, January, 1929]
Captain Frank Jones was a gallant Texas Ranger. He is remembered kindly by all of the Old Guard who are yet living, as one of the most efficient, brave, untiring Rangers in the service of the State. He lost his life in the discharge of duty, while trying to effect the capture of a band of outlaws, near El Paso, Texas, June 30, 1893. The story of his death will be given further on in this article, as related by the late lamented Colonel George Wythe Baylor, his father-in-law. Captain Frank Jones was born in Austin, Texas, in 1856. He was the son of Judge Wm. Eastman Jones of Georgia, and his wife, Elizabeth Rector Jones of Tennessee. He enlisted in Company A, State Rangers, under command of Ira Long, when but 17 years old, and remained with that company a year when he joined Company F, commanded by Lieutenant Pat Dolan, with whom he stayed nine months. He next enlisted in Company D, under Captain D. W. Roberts, and was appointed corporal of the company. Later, in the same year, Captain L. P. Sicker took command of the company and Corporal Jones was promoted to sergeant. Subsequently when Captain Sicker was appointed quartermaster of the battalion, Jones was left in command of the company later was appointed captain. This was during the administration of Governor Ireland, and his career from that time to the time of his death had been in keeping with the record he had already made, winning him commendation from headquarters as well as from all with whom he came in contact.
The following account of the killing of Capt. Frank Jones appeared in the San Antonio Express July 1, 1893:
"Ysleta, El Paso Co., Texas, June 30—(Special) Frank Jones, captain of Company D, of the Texas Rangers, was killed by smugglers near the line of Mexico this morning. He had been scouting with his detachment to capture a band of Mexican outlaws, and a fight ensued, in which the Mexicans outnumbered the rangers. Captain Jones' body was taken to San Elizario, and reinforcements secured to follow the murderers. The whole section is up in arms and a hot chase has been made to capture the murderers. Sergeant J. R.Hughes went to the assistance of Corporal Kirchner, who was left in command. Captain Jones has two brothers in San Antonio and another who is county judge of Val Verde county. The fight was a desperate one when it was seen that the rangers were overpowered and it is fortunate that the whole party was not killed."
"El Paso, Texas, June—(Special)—About 1 o'clock this morning information reached here that Captain Frank L. Jones, in command of Company D, Texas Rangers, had been killed by Mexican outlaws on an island about thirty miles down the Rio Grande. Sheriff Simmons called for volunteers to form a posse to go out at once to the relief of the surviving members of Captain Jones' company of rangers. Superintendent Martin of the Southern Pacific tendered Sheriff Simmons a special train with a coach for the men and a stock car for the needed horses. The volunteers were soon found and about two hours after the news of the killing of the officer had been received a dozen men were on their way to avenge the death and capture the body of the fallen man from the keeping of the pirates and cut-throats that took it.
"News has just been received that the posse has the outlaws surrounded on the Mexican side of the river and that Sheriff Simmons is on his way back for reinforcements. The men that killed Captain Jones are a part of a gang of thieves, murderers and smugglers that have for years infested an island that has been a sort of neutral ground. For several years the people of this part of the state have desired the presence of a company of rangers for protection from these border thieves and murderers, and only a week ago did Captain Jones and the brave men with him erect tents in Ysleta for the avowed purpose of ridding the island below the bosque above of the desperate characters that have for years infested them."
Captain Jones married a daughter of General George W. Baylor only a short time before he was killed. In reporting the details of the murder of Captain Jones to the Adjutant General's Department, General Baylor wrote:
"Ysleta, Texas, July 9, 1893—W. H.Mabry, Adjutant General State of Texas, Austin.—Dear Sir: Having been delayed by efforts to recover Captain Jones' arms and effects, and Private Tucker's horse, has delayed me, and together with providing a room for my daughter, who could not bear to remain in the house where she had spent a few happy days with her husband, will be excuse for my not being more prompt. The newspapers are in the main correct. I give the particulars of the fight, as it will be of interest to you and Captain Jones' old comrades.
"The scout was made to arrest Jesus Maria Olguin and his son, Severio Olguin, charged with horse and cattle stealing and with assault with intent to commit murder. The father, Jesus, his sons, Sebastian, Severio, and an unknown Mexican, having defied Ed Bryan and two men with arms, Bryan being deputy sheriff. They are a hard set, the grandfather, Clato, his sons, Jesus Maria, Antonio (ex-convict) and Pedro Olguin. The sons of Jesus are Severio, Sebastian, Pecilliano, and two younger ones. All live on the Island on Texas soil, except the ex-convict, Antonio, who was sent to the penitentiary and escaped. Sebastian and Pecilliano have been arrested and at the last term of court were sentenced one to ten years and the other three years in the penitentiary.
"The scout was composed of Captain Frank Jones, Corporal Karl Kirchner, Privates T. E. Tucker, E. D. Aten, J. W.Sanders and R. E. Bryant. They left quarters on the evening of June 29, 1893, and camped the first night opposite La Quadrilla, five miles below San Elizario, on the east bank of the present Rio Grande. That morning the party were in their saddles by 4 o'clock and rode straight across the island for the Olguin ranch, some five miles distant, and the east bank of the old river and boundary line between Mexico and the United States, rounding up the ranch they found old Clato Olguin, Jesus Maria's wife, two other women and a boy. The old man was very surly, and the men wanted had evidently been notified of the scout, possibly by their friends in Ysleta or San Elizario, and had crossed over to the Mexican side to the house of Antonio Olguin.
"After getting breakfast the captain started up the river in the main road, which crosses backward and forward from our side to Mexico several times, the river being very crooked and being overgrown with chaparral, it is difficult to determine which one is the Texas or Mexico. About three miles above the Olguin ranch while in advance with Private Tucker, Captain Jones saw two Mexicans coming down the road towards them, who on seeing the rangers wheeled and ran back and the rangers immediately gave chase and kept up the road. After a run of three or four hundred yards Corporal Kirchner and Privates Saunders and Aten passed Captain Jones and Private Tucker and ran on to the Mexicans. One of them, Jesus Maria Olguin, fell from his horse and turned square off to the left of the road, he being near Antonio Olguin's house, and doubled back again across the road and ran into the house. The other turned off to the right of the road and threw up his hands.
"There were four houses in this settlement which is on the main road and some 200 yards from the Texas line. As Corporal Kirchner, who was ahead, passed he was fired upon from the door of one of the houses. One bullet struck his Winchester, bending it so that he could only fire one shot and then reload. Saunders came next and a second volley was fired at him, which he returned by a shot from his pistol, this being the first shot fired by the rangers. Captain Jones came next and a volley being fired he halted and dismounted within thirty feet of the door and in front of it and returned the fire with his Winchester. Private Tucker also dismounted and fired. The Mexicans would open the door and fire and two Mexicans on the right and left of the house would rise from behind an adobe wall and fire also. The door would then close. Kirchner, Saunders and Aten whirled and came back and dismounted and Bryan came up back of and within fifteen or twenty feet of Captain Jones and Tucker, and every time the door was opened and a volley fired, Captain Jones and the men would return it. The house had a porthole also from which firing was kept up. In the second volley Captain Jones had his thigh broken and fell, but managed to get his wounded leg straightened out in front of him and fired two or three shots. His mortal wound was given by a Mexican behind the adobe wall, the captain leaning forward in shooting and the Mexican shooting over the wall. The ball struck just above the heart (as brave and noble one as ever beat) and ranged downward killing him instantly. Tucker, who stood over him when he first fell, said, 'Captain, are you hurt?' He answered, 'Yes, shot all to pieces.' A moment later when the fatal bullet struck him he said, 'Boys, I am killed,' and fell back dead.
"Tucker says the captain probably never knew he had crossed the line, and Tucker only knew it when Pat Bryan said, 'We had better get across the line; we are in Mexico and within a mile or so of the Plaza of Tres Jacales, and there will soon be a force of Mexicans here.' Young Lupan, who went with them from San Elizario with the scout to try and recover a stolen horse, told them a courier had gone to the town of Guadalupe for soldiers and men.
"All firing had ceased and the rangers rode up the road towards Tres Jacales and Bryan asked a Mexican to take care of the Captain's body, which he promised to do, but said they could not deliver it to us on this side, as it was against their laws. Of the Mexican outlaws Severio Olquin had his arm broken near the body; Jesus Maria Olguin was shot through the right hand and had two bullets gaze his head. The Mexicans had them under guard so they told Major Teel, but turned them loose and luckily Colonel Martinez, who came down from Juarez with Sheriff Simmons to turn over Captain Jones' body, came onto Jesus Olguin and Antonio, the ex-convict, in a short bend of the road and the colonel on being told who they were had his escort arrest them and they took them to Tres Jacales and there arrested Severio Olguin, and the three are now in the Juarez jail and our officers are trying to have them extradited.
"You will see the bosque gang have had a hard blow and taking into consideration that the rangers were in an open road and the thieves in an adobe house or behind adobe walls, they certainly made a good fight. The Mexican authorities have shown every courtesy in their power in giving us the body of our dead ranger and promise to return the gun, pistol, watch, money and horse left at the scene of the fight.
"A good, true, and noble man has fallen in the path of duty and we mourn his loss and pity the broken heart of a loving young wife. Let us hope the result may be that our authorities and those of Mexico may combine to rid the country of this set of thieves and outlaws. Yours respectfully, GEORGE WYTHE BAYLOR.
"Captain Frank Jones is survived by one daughter, Mrs. Kathleen Jones Tyndall, wife of Major John G. Tyndall, Field Artillery, U. S. Army, and now stationed at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. Mrs. Tyndall very kindly sent Frontier Times a letter written by her father to Mrs. Pauline Baker, Uvalde, Texas, in December, 1891, in which he tells Mrs. Baker of the capture of some train robbers. The letter was written on the stationery of Company D, State Rangers, with Frank Jones, Captain; non-commissioned officers were, first sergeant, B. L. Outlaw; first corporal, John R. Hughes. The letter is given verbatim, as follows:"Camp Hogg, Texas,Dec. 2, 1891.Mrs. Pauline Baker,Uvalde,Texas.
Dear Mrs. Baker: Thinking an account of the capture, as it really occurred, of the train robbers might be interesting to you, and having some leisure time to dispose of, will devote a part of it to writing you this letter. If it does not prove interesting, I at least hope it will not bore you. When I left Uvalde I went straight to El Paso as an attached witness for the Federal grand jury then in session. Before reaching El Paso I received a telegram, forwarded from Alpine, stating that the robbers were in camp about 50 miles from Comstock, a station on the Southern Pacific road, and about 30 miles west of Del Rio. I went on to El Paso that evening and the next day saw the Division Supt. and made arrangements for transporting men and horses from Alpine to Comstock.
The next day I came down on the passenger train to Alpine and got off and came out to camp and got the men and horses and returned to Alpine the same evening. We boarded a freight train about nine o'clock in the night and reached Comstock about noon the next day. Here we left the railroad and that night camped at old "Camp Hudson" on Devil's river. The next day we arrived at the place these robbers had camped and slaughtered a beef, but they had been gone 3 days.
The next day I followed their trail across the country about 40 miles and camped without water for our horses, but found sufficient in some rocks for our own use. The next day the trail lead in the direction of the Pecos and we came to a ranch at "Howard's well," an old time station on the old overland stage line from San Antonio to El Paso. At this point some parties had seen the men we were following and they were yet 3 days ahead of us. A few miles from this place we again found their trail and followed it all that day. The next morning we heard of them and they were only one day ahead of us, they having laid up 2 days to rest their horses.
We would have overtaken them the next day, but they did not ride close together and the grass was almost knee high and we had some difficulty in trailing them. The next day about noon we followed their trail to a ranch where I expected to find them as the sign was quite fresh. We ran up to the house and surrounded it and found no one there but a lady and she was so frightened she could hardy talk. She was a Northern woman. After she got breath enough to talk, informed me that the robbers had been gone about 4 hours and that a young man who worked for them had ridden off with them. Said they wanted to purchase some horses and as this young man had some for sale they had gone up the next pasture where they could catch them in. I pushed on and on reaching this place found 2 of the robbers' broken horses near the pen, and of course, I then knew two of them had a fresh mount. It was now about 2 o'clock and we had ridden very hard that day and had no dinner. We unpacked and while the boys were getting dinner a man came up and he proved to be the man who had left the ranch with the robbers that morning. On being questioned he said that he had sold them two splendid young horses and that they were in camp only one mile from us. He said that, he ate dinner with them and they had a splendid place in which to make a fight. He described them so accurately that I knew positively the two who had obtained the new horses; they were John Flynt and Jack Wellington, the worst men by far in the party. We hurried through dinner and packed up and went straight to their camp. I had fully made up my mind to go on them no matter when or how I found them. They must have started about the same time we did for when I reached the place they had camped for noon we saw them about one mile ahead riding along very leisurely. I noticed that they were making a curve to the left and I quit the road and went up the bed of a dry ravine and quartering with them. When we came out of this ravine they were in plain view and distant about half a mile. We increased our gait to a brisk trot and when about 300 yards from them I ordered a charge and at them we went with our guns drawn. They did not see us until their horses shied at the noise ours made running. Lansford did not attempt to escape but the others put spurs to their horses and the chase was on in good earnest. Flint and Wellington stayed together and I followed them about 3 miles when Wellington's horse was shot and could not run any more. Wellington jumped off and gun in hand started to some rocks on the side of the mountain. When he dismounted I was sure that Flynt would too and that they would fight to the death. I dismounted and shot at Wellington 3 times but it was a long distance and I undershot him. He had a much better gun than mine, it being a large long range rifle with cartridges as long as your finger. I knew that he was a famous shot and at long range had a decided advantage. I remounted my horse and ran up to about 100 yards of him where I felt pretty sure I could kill him the first shot. I then called out to him that I was an officer and did not wish to hurt him and he surrendered. In the meantime Flynt ran on and the two men who were next to one I sent on after him telling them to follow him until they ran him into some hole and that as soon as I captured or killed Wellington would follow on. There had been so much talk about Wellington that I was anxious to try conclusions with him and I guess we would have had a regular Winchester duel only he saw some of the men coming on up the flat and knew that in case he killed me he could not get away with his life. He was not a particle unnerved. Flynt ran about 5 miles farther on then dismounted and went into a ravine in a little thicket, and after making a note in his pocket book as to what disposition was to be made of his property, blew his brains out. Some time in the chase he had been shot through the body, but I do not think the wound was necessarily a fatal one. You who understand anatomy would be a better judge of that than I am. The ball entered just under the right shoulder blade making its exit through the right nipple. He had not bled a great deal except from the wound in the head. He had not bled a particle from the mouth or nose. We procured a hack and brought his body to a ranch 8 miles from where he was killed.
The next day we buried him the best we could under the circumstances, the prisoners assisting us. I had to purchase the partition out of a house to get lumber to make a coffin for him. Flynt was a young man who had been given good advantages, but gambling and drinking had ruined him. He was to have been married in Oct. but got into this trouble. I had met the girl a few times and she is a very bright woman. Since his death she "cut me dead" but I am under the impression that I will survive. I am really sorry for her. I would give almost anything to know the history of this man Wellington. He is a gentleman and he is a very handsome man. Has fine blue eyes, fair complexion, blond hair and mustache. He said that he and Flynt had put up several jobs to get to kill me. But enough of trainrobbers. I am afraid you will never speak to me again for having inflicted such a letter on you.
I have not heard from my daughter for some days and she was not very well, but nothing serious. You just ought to see how I am fixed up in camp. Have a $32.00 bedroom set, and am not engaged to anyone in Uvalde or anywhere else. I would be glad to hear from you any time. Will visit Boerne about Christmas.
With best regards, I am, Your friend, FRANK JONES."