A Guide to the Texas Ranger Gunfight at San Benito, 1910
In November 1835, Texas lawmakers created a corps of Texas Rangers to guard the frontier between the Brazos and Trinity Rivers. During the Texas Revolution and Republic, the Rangers were used principally for protection against Native American raids. After serving for the Confederacy in the Civil War, the organization was restructured as state police and charged with the enforcement of unpopular Reconstruction laws. The beginning of the 20th century saw the Rangers involved in detective work, largely investigating cattle theft. Violence and brutality soon increased along the Rio Grande, where the rangers participated in numerous bloody brush fights with Mexican nationals. In 1910, the Mexican Revolution unsettled the populace on both sides of the border.
On July 31, 1910, Texas Rangers organized a posse to capture accused murderer Jacinto Treviño in the border city of San Benito. Based on false information, Rangers Quirl Carnes and Pat Craighead, deputy sheriffs Benny Lawrence and Earl West, and six employees of the San Benito Company staked out the roads into town. Ambushed by Treviño supporters, Lawrence was killed instantly, and Carnes, West, and Craighead were injured, with Carnes’s wounds proving fatal.
Harris, Charles H., III and Louis R. Sadler. Texas Rangers and the Mexican Revolution: The bloodiest decade, 1910-1920. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2004.
“Historical Development.” Texas Department of Public Safety: Texas Rangers’ Links. Accessed March 4, 2011.
Invoices and correspondence comprise the Texas Ranger Gunfight at San Benito, 1910, documenting the after effects of a July 1910 attack on a Texas Ranger posse. The papers relate to a billing dispute over payment to Dr. Harry Loew for his treatment of Quirl Carnes, Pat Craighead, and Earl West. Correspondence, primarily between Loew and the State of Texas, relates to requests for payment and legal issues, including a draft of a letter to Governor O. B. Colquitt. The invoices detail the treatment each man received.
This collection is open for research use.
Texas Ranger Gunfight at San Benito, 1910, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s “History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light project,” 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers