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.