Since I’ve written several anthologies and short stories set in the Texas Panhandle and have lived here all of my life, one of the first things I learned was the names and information about the Texas Rangers that settled this part of Texas.
Of course, I’d read a lot about Capt. Arrington. Like him, so many of them were stationed at the newly established FortElliot. I love one of the quotes from the Arrington Ranch House Lodge brochure where most of this information came from. The quote is so fitting … “The Texas Rangers tamed the expanding frontier. Changing the climate of anarchy – where every man looked to himself for protection and to his six-gun as judge and jury – to one that was still violent, but over which laws of organized society could preside.” The brochure further goes on to state that Captain Arrington was stationed in this area from 1875-1882, at a time of transition in the Texas Panhandle; the constant westward flow of homesteaders put increasing pressure on the Rangers and military to open land for settlement.
Interaction among Indians, outlaws and settlers was tense and often bloody. The Indians wanted to keep what had been theirs, the outlaws wanted to take what belonged to the Indians, and the settlers wanted peace and quiet so they could raise families, livestock and crops on the High Plains.
I’ve written about Mobeetie, the mother city of the Panhandle, many times, but I didn’t know until recently that Capt. Arrington was a Sheriff for Mobeetie, a wild and woolly town with a reputation for fast gunplay, sporting women, and quick-dealing gamblers. Capt. Arrington, experienced at handling hostile Indians and outlaws, was now dealing with card sharks, cattle rustlers and ladies of the evening.
During his tenure as sheriff, the Captain married Sallie Burnette. Their family would grow to include three sons and six daughters. The first two children were born in the Old Mobeetie Jail, where part of the two-story structure was used as a resident.
The Arrington Ranch Headquarters is located south of Canadian adjacent to the Washita River. The two-story wood frame prairie home was ordered from the Van Tein catalogue in 1919. Materials were delivered by railroad and then moved in pieces by wagon the last ten miles. The building site was well chosen; sweeping vistas offer unobstructed sunrises and sunsets across the grassland.
Captain Arrington was a self-made man of his era – harsh but fair. He was rarely seen without his sidearm, fully aware of the long list of enemies made during his tenure as a lawman. If the Captain was not wearing a six-shooter, he had one within easy reach.
Upon his death in 1923 at the age 79, friends donated thousands of dollars for a gravesite monument. It reads, in part “…a fearless officer to who the frontier of Texas owes a a debt of gratitude. Both Mr. and Mrs. G. W. Arrington are buried in Mobeetie. I am so disappointed that I’m unable to find my personal picture of the Mobeetie Jail, but did find one of the original iron jail cells. I also have personal pictures of the beautiful headstone for Capt. Arrington and his wife in the Mobeetie cemetery, but I can’t locate them either. I, along with most of my writer friends, slip off to Ol’ Mobeetie and the cemetery as much as we can. There’s just something special about the area.
The Arrington Ranch House Lodge is owned by 5th generation Arrington’s and I thank Mike and Debbie Arrington for keeping Texas Ranger, Captain George Washington Arrington’s name alive and well in the panhandle of Texas.
If you’re ever in the Texas Panhandle, I promise to be your special guide to Mobeetie.