From Murderer to Lawman — Texas Ranger Captain Arrington

In April, I’m attending an arts workshop, including authors, in Canadian, in the Texas Panhandle. You can’t think about this part of Texas without giving a great deal of thought to one of our pioneers, Captain George Washington Arrington, who was also one of the first Texas Rangers. His ranch is now an historical site with a Bed and Breakfast. I’m hoping to take a tour while we’re there.

“Cap”, as he was known, was not just a lawman, rancher, spy for the Confederacy, and Texas Ranger, but also a murderer.

Arrington was born in Alabama under the name of John C. Orrick, Jr., and at the age of sixteen enlisted in the Confederate Army. But, in 1867 he murdered a businessman in his hometown; and after a while, he moved to Texas and changed his name to Arrington to escape his troubled past. He did many things during his lifetime; worked on the railroad, at a commission house, and farmed in Collin County, Texas, which led him to get hired on to be a drover in cattle drives. That seemingly changed his life.

In 1875 he enlisted in Company E of the newly organized Frontier Battalion of the Texas Rangers, where he excelled and after only two years was promoted to Captain of Company C because of his accomplishments of tracking down fugitives and outlaws. In 1879, his Company was moved to the Texas Panhandle to investigate depredations at area ranches. He eventually established the first Ranger Camp in the Panhandle.
After breaking up a major rustling ring, he left the Rangers and became the sheriff of “the mother city of the Panhandle”, Mobeetie, a wild and woolly town with a reputation for fast gunplay, sporting women and quick-dealing gamblers.

Although, Capt. Arrington had dealt with hostiles and outlaws, and had even murdered a man, he couldn’t deal with card sharks, cattle rustlers and ladies of the evening. But, the best thing about him living in Mobeetie was meeting and marrying Sara Burnette. Out of that union came ten children. The first two were born in the Old Mobeetie Jail, where part of the two-story structure was used as a resident.

After Arrington left his office as Sheriff, he managed the Rocking Chair Ranch, until it was sold to a large conglomerate. Involved in the civic affairs of Canadian and helping to establish their first rural school, Cap purchased his own ranch.
The Arrington Ranch Headquarters, which still stands today, is located south of Canadian adjacent to the Washita River. The house was ordered from the Van Tein catalog, delivered by railroad, moved pieces at a time by wagon for the first ten miles, and set up on the prairie in 1919. The building site was well chosen; sweeping vistas offer unobstructed sunsets and sunrises across the grassland.

Captain Arrington was definitely 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 wasn’t wearing a six-shooter, he had one within easy reach.
In his later years, he suffered from arthritis and made frequent train trips to Mineral Wells for their hot baths. In 1923, on one of these trips, he had a heart attack. He returned to his beloved Canadian where he died on March 31, 1923. He and his wife are both buried in the Old Mobeetie cemetery.

The Arrington Ranch House Lodge is alive and well owned by 5th generation Arrington, who have worked hard to keep Captain George Washington Arrington’s name alive and well in the Texas Panhandle.

Have you ever spent time in an historical home or building? How did it make you feel?

To one reader who leaves me a comment, I will give them an autographed copy of my latest Kasota Spring Romance Out of a Texas Night.

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A native Texan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Phyliss Miranda still believes in the Code of the Old West and loves to share her love for antiques, the lost art of quilting, and the Wild West.

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28 thoughts on “From Murderer to Lawman — Texas Ranger Captain Arrington”

  1. I lived in a converted Hotel into small apartments for about 15 months, the original safe is still in the wall. Made me wonder who all the people were who stayed there some names were mentioned important one’s also the basement was possibly a opium den during the turn of the 20th century. How many families stay a night or 2 there. It was one of the fancier hotel back in the day. It’s also reported haunted though I did not see any ghosts I still wondered about the people who would of stayed there.

    • Hi Kim, good to read your comment. How interesting? Have you done any length research on the Hotel? I’d be interested to know more about it’s history. Wow, I love your story. I can’t imagine living there and wonder why the safe? In the hotel lobby or in the rooms? I know the new motel/hotels have safes in the rooms, but I doubt they had them during this hotel’s hay day. I’m a bit of a ghost buster, but would probably die of fright if I ever encountered anything on that line. Like you, I wonder about the people who stayed there. In Canadian, we’re spending a couple of nights in an old renovated hotel, so I’ll let you know if we have anything “odd” happen. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Good morning Phyliss, what an amazing blog. Cap seemed like he was a great guy and like you said self-made man. I hope you have a great day. Love you dear!

    • Hi our precious, Tonya. Happy to see your comment. I’d done a blog on Cap several years back, but when I went back to reinvestigate him, I learned so much more…especially that he killed a man and went on the run. He’s such a highly respected pioneer of this area. I wonder if he murdered the man in self-defense or what exactly happened. Sure got my taste buds oozing over the “why”. He was no doubt a safe made man. I hope you have a wonderful day yourself, and love back-atcha! P

    • Hi Janine, good to hear from you. Glad you enjoyed the history. If you ever make it to this area, don’t miss Canadian, especially in the Fall. The foliage, unlike the wild side of the caprock of the Panhandle, is absolutely beautiful. Have a great day, my friend.

  3. Good morning! Awesome blog! I love blogs that teach me some of our histories, especially when it’s Texas history! I wish I had paid more attention to the history in the Texas Panhandle when we lived up that way. I lived up there from 5th through 7th grade so it’s not surprising that I didn’t appreciate it at the time. All of my travels to historical sites was when I was young and traveled with my parents so I can’t think of a good answer to your question.

    • Hi Miss Stephanie. Good to hear from you. Hey, I was born and raised here and didn’t pay a lot of attention to Texas history in school either. Particularly of the Panhandle. Although I’d done a lot of traveling in my youth, we either went to Louisiana where my mother’s family was from or up North where my daddy was raised. We never stopped along the way. But when I married, my DH and I took a lot of trips with our two girls and learned so much. Then, of course, when I began writing, I started lapping up our rich history, since almost all of my books/stories are set in this area. I love this really unknown part of Texas. I’d love to know what part of Texas you lived in, if you’d like to share. Remember, once you wear out a pair of shoes in Texas, you’re always a Texan at heart. Fifth to 7th grade, I’m sure you wore out a pair of shoes, so you’re an honorary Texan at best. Have a wonderful day, y friend. Hugs, P

  4. What a great blog. I learned a lot. I have spent time in historic buildings, You can almost feel the history.

    • Hi Debra, good to see you again. Thanks, I enjoyed writing the blog. I’m totally with you about feeling the history of an historic building. I think it’s both the architecture and known history combined that give us those feelings. I hope you have a wonderful week.

  5. this is so interesting. I have been a few historical homes. Jefferson plantation, was very interesting. I can feel the history and in some the tension of the place. course I am very imaginative too, so don’t now how much of that I feel.

    • Hi Lori, good to hear from you. I haven’t been on the Jefferson plantation, but would love to see it. We have friends who we’ve vacationed with for 40 plus years and have experienced some fantastic history. Lots of visits, since they live in New England, since there’s so much to see there. I do think imagination helps, but it is a combination of many things and historical events that makes the difference in how we feel. Glad you thought the blog interesting. May you have a wonderful rest of the week. Hugs from Texas.

  6. Great info. I had never heard of George Arrington. Now I will have to find more about him.
    I have never even visited a historical home.

    • Hi Estella, so happy you stopped by and left a message. Although I’d written a blog years ago on Arrington, when I did new research, I found such interesting things I didn’t know before. I hope you have an opportunity to visit an historical home someday. Even one in your own town. One of the things that two of my writer BFF’s in town do is go on the historical walk of our oldest neighborhood. It’s so fascinating to see the antiques and how the Texas Historical Society has caused them to be preserved. Maybe you can find something like that. I hope you have a great week. Hugs, P

    • Hi Caryl. Thanks for dropping by and reading my post. Happy you enjoyed the blog. Take care of yourself, and I hope to hear from you again soon. Hugs, Phyliss

    • Hi Melanie, so glad you stopped by and left a message. Thanks, I enjoyed writing the post and learning more about Arrington. Maybe someday you’ll come to this neck of the woods and we’ll all go out to the Arrington B&B Ranch. Take care of yourself. Hugs, Phyliss

  7. Hi Denise. Good to hear from you. Isn’t it wonderful when you can visit historical homes in various locations? I know, as a writer, one time I got an email and they were asking about what type of housing we would have had in Texas during the early 1800’s. My reply was simple, since Texas is so huge. If the setting is in Galveston, it could be a huge, almost Southern Plantation house, but if it was in the Panhandle, there’d be dugouts, outlaws, and no mode of transportation except horses. I’ve enjoyed seeing so many beautiful, preserved historical homes. One was Robert E. Lee’s. I hope you have a great day, Denise. Hugs, Phyliss

  8. Thank you for the interesting post, Phyliss. When we travel, it is usually with an eye to history and nature. We have visited many historical homes and stayed in a few historical hotels. We have been to reenactment events at Fort Ticonderoga in Northern New York State. Walking through the encampments at night with just the campfires and candles or lanterns for light definitely gives you the feel of stepping back in time. We bought and renovated an 1898 Victorian farm house. Even though it had been let go and needed a lot of work, the minute I stepped over the threshold I knew I was home. There is a warmth and solidity to older homes that you just don’t find in newer ones.

    • Hi Patricia. Thanks for leaving a comment. I’ve been to a lot of historical sites up North but never Fort Ticonderoga. Sounds wonderful and exciting. I did get to experience a Civil War reenactment at Andersonville. It was fabulous. They were having their annual reenactment and I stood only yards from behind a cannon. I can still feel the earth shaking and it taking my breath away. One of my truly fascinating historical visits. I can’t even imagine what it’d be like to walk through the encampments at night; and truly can see how it would be a step back in time. Wow, a 1898 Victorian farm house. I’m envious and can only imagine the warmth and solidity of an older home. Take care of yourself, my friend. Hugs, Phyliss

  9. I have toured a number of historical homes but never stayed overnight in one. Having grown up in northeastern New York many of the houses near us were historical though not famously so. Part of our house had been a shoe shop in a nearby community at one time. I used to wonder how it was moved the three miles to our place in the late 1800’s. “If walls could talk” imagine what we could learn.

  10. Dang, Alice I lost my whole response, but basically I said that I love historical homes whether famous or not. And, I can only imagine what it took to move the house that was once a shoe shop in the last 1800’s. My son-in-law, who lives in Kansas now, and I love to go to historical sites and cemeteries in that area. Linda Broday and I love forts and cemeteries. If only tombstones could talk. Have a great rest of the week. Hugs, Phyliss

  11. I had the privilege of living in a partially restored cabin built in the late 1700’s. It is located in what was then the Ohio territory. I loved that house for it’s sense of history. It was one of those places where you truly wished the walls could talk. It bedrroms on the 2nd floor were accessed by a narrow pie staircase (the treads were triangular like pie slices), the ceilings were low, only 6′ and were a type of tounge and groove board work. The 2 upstairs windows to the front of the house were only about 12″ tall and 24″ wide and swung inward. The main level had the original log walls exposed so you could see the hand hewn 12″ squared off logs. The basement was accessed through a trap door in an addition to the cabin that gave it that familiar salbox design. The ceiling in the basement was low and the round logs were exposed and you could see remnants of the tree bark that still clung to them, with dry stacked rock walls lining the space. The home was located just 3 homes down from the center of the small village where it was built. The only thing that kept it from being admitted to the National Register of Historic places is that despite being able to trace back to the original land grant the current owners were not able to track down the actual date the cabin was erected. I loved that house and of all the vintage home I’ve lived in, that is the one I most wish I could return to.

  12. Thank you for your post Phyllis. I’ve never heard of George Arrington. What an interesting life he had. I’ve never stayed in any historical places but sure have visited a lot.

  13. Sorry I missed your post yesterday. This proved my point exactly. An outlaw becoming a lawman. In the American West a man could change everything about himself and no one was the wiser. Maybe while we’re in Canadian we can look at some historical stuff. Interesting blog.

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