Sul Ross: A Hell of a Goy?


In December 1860, a small force of Texas Rangers, led by Lawrence Sullivan Ross, and federal troops descended on a small Comanche hunting camp near Mule Creek in Northwest Texas, slaughtering women and children, yet subsequently refashioning it into a fierce battle against a superior Indian war party in which the valor of the Anglos broke the hegemony of the Comanche nation in the region. Cynthia Ann Parker was ‘rescued’ from the camp, 25 years after being taken from her family in the Fort Parker massacre.

Lawrence Sullivan Ross would later manipulate the facts and render outright fabrications in an effort to further his political career, a career which landed him the 19th governorship of Texas and later the Presidency of Texas A&M University, then known as AMC.

One might argue that the good he did in his later career justified the deplorable methods he employed to get elected, but this argument certainly begs the question.

So what is the answer? Perhaps by tending to the education of others, and single-handedly saving what now is one of the premier Universities in the state of Texas, he has vouchsafed his entitlement to the benefit of the doubt.

But then again, maybe not.





“Ben Dragoo Tells of the Capture of Cynthia Ann Parker.” Frontier Times 1, no. 3 (December 1923): 25-27.

Ben Dragoo was one of the Rangers present at the Pease River battle, and although he was shown to have fabricated much of his original account, he was later willing to admit to it, and this alone makes his story an invaluable resource to someone who’s trying to ferret out the truth.


“More about the Capture of the Woman Prisoner”, San Antonio Express, Feb 23rd, 1908

This is a rare snippet of Ross’s report to Sam Houston, which was supposedly lost in the early 20th century. Technically I could only find this as an indirect source (cited by others; I never handled the original), so it’s questionable if it really ‘counts’ or belongs here, but what I found, coupled with the fact that it’s not even supposed to still be available, was too compelling to overlook.


Hiram B. Rogers, “Recollections of Ranger H.B. Rogers of the Capture of Cynthia Ann Parker,” August 1928, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, UT Austin

Hiram B. Rogers is a fascinating figure, and was one of the only men to take responsibility for the tragedy at Pease River. This resource is filed with “Recollections of B. F. Gholson”, as told to J. A. Rickard in the Dolph Briscoe Center at UT, and I can’t recommend a visit there highly enough, no matter what you’re researching. Make sure to contact them beforehand and verify that the material is on hand, they store much of it offsite, and it takes about a week for them to get something in when you request it.



Araminta McClellan Taulman, “The Capture of Cynthia Ann Parker”, Frontier Times 6, no. 8 (May 1929)

Interesting letter submitted by a member of the Parker family in response to Ben Dragoo’s account of the Pease River debacle.


Benner, Judith Ann , Sul Ross, Soldier, Statesman, Educator, College Station, Texas: Texas A&M University Press, 1983.

Compelling biography of Sul Ross, but rather biased; reads more like fan mail in some parts than a dispassionate historical record, but worth reading nonetheless.


DeShields, James T. Cynthia Ann Parker, 1886. Reprint, Chama Press, 1991.

This is purely an advertisement for the political campaign of Ross. Historically worthless, unless you’re approaching it with skepticism.


Dobie, J. Frank. In the Shadow of History. Texas Folklore Society No. XV. Southern Methodist University Press, 1939.

Great resource with a lot of interesting stories about a variety of subjects … fair warning if you’re working with a deadline: you will get distracted by all the folklore and history!


Shelton, Perry Wayne. Personal Civil War Letters of General Lawrence Sullivan Ross with Other Letters. Austin: Shelly and Richard Morrison, 1994.

Who doesn’t like reading letters from the Civil War? This is more of a primary source, but in any event is well worth perusing. Ross’s accounts, as was the norm at the time, are lucid and compelling.


Paul I. Wellman, : “Cynthia Ann Parker”, Chronicles of Oklahoma 12, no. 2 (June 1932)

Inaccurate in many respects, nonetheless contains many accurate details.