John B. Armstrong: Texas Ranger and Pioneer Ranchman
by Chuck Parsons, Texas A&M University Press, College Station, 2007, $20.
This slim book on Texas Ranger John B. Armstrong surveys the life of the lawman most famous for arresting man-killer John Wesley Hardin. Author Chuck Parsons makes clear, however, that Armstrong did far more than that. His duties as a Ranger also brought him into contact with Mexican cattle rustlers under Juan Nepomuceno Cortina, rival gang members in Dewitt County’s Sutton-Taylor feud, and gunslingers King Fisher and Sam Bass.
Parsons constructs Armstrong’s life from personal letters, memoirs of fellow Texas Rangers and newspaper articles that trumpeted Armstrong’s swift but fair administration of frontier justice. The author also manages to debunk those historians who had Armstrong working on the XIT Ranch and being gunned down by a band of cattle thieves in 1908. Armstrong never worked on the ranch and died in 1913. Parson’s workmanlike, no-frills writing approach and dedication to hard evidence befit a man like Armstrong.
Originally published in the December 2007 issue of Wild West. To subscribe, click here.