Howard had great respect for the Texas Rangers whose acts of bravery, bravado and skilled gunplay are forever a part of the Texas mythos. Today, at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, these brave lawmen are immortalized. So if you are ever in Waco with a few hours to kill, you can visit the museum and see the various displays dedicated to the men who tamed the wild and woolly Texas frontier.
In his letters to H.P. Lovecraft and other members of his circle of correspondents, Howard often wrote of these larger than life lawmen — of course, being Howard, he made them and their deeds seem even larger. One of the Texas Rangers Howard admired was Manuel T. “Lone Wolf” Gonzaullas. In a missive to Lovecraft dated July13, 1932, Howard wrote of the “Santa Claus” bank robbery that occurred on December 23, 1927 in Cisco, about 30 miles north of Cross Plains. In the letter, he mentions Gonzaullas:
Gad, the country buzzed like so many bees! The authorities sent south for the great Ranger captain Tom Hickman, and Gonzaullas — “Lone Wolf” Gonzaullas — “Trigger Finger” Gonzaullas — “Quick Action” Gonzaullas — hero of more touch-and-go gun-fights than I know, and already almost a mythical figure in the Southwest. But they were not needed; the fugitives staggered in and gave themselves up — haggard shapes in torn and muddy garments, caked with blood from bullet-wounds. It was the end of the last great robber-gang of Texas. Let me see; it was three — no, four years ago. It doesn’t seem that long. All the Southwest rang with the news.
Howard’s memory failed him since both Hickman and Gonzaullas participated in the search as noted in this excerpt of my post of December 23, 2010:
The posse, directed by Ranger Captain Tom Hickman pressed on, allowing the wounded men no opportunity for rest. His sergeant, Manuel T. “Lone Wolf” Gonzaullas, went up in an airplane as a spotter, participating in the first aerial search for criminals in Texas history. However, Gonzaullas was unable to spot the fleeing men. But their trail indicated the men were tiring of the chase – close set footprints showed the men were weakening from loss of blood.
Or, since the manhunt ended rather quickly, Howard may not have learned of the involvement of “Lone Wolf” in the search. This was mainly due to a reward offered by the Texas Bankers Association, who offered to pay anyone who killed a bank robber in the commission of a bank robbery $5,000. This led to anyone from eight to eighty who had a gun to grab it and join the hunt. Since everyone in Texas owned a gun, there was quite a mob on the trail of the bank robbers.
Manuel Trazazas Gonzaullas was born in Cádiz, Spain on July 4, 1891 to parents who were naturalized U.S. citizens. His father, Manuel Gonzaullas, was Spanish and his mother, Helen von Droff, was a Canadian — the young couple was on vacation when Gonzaullas was born.
As a young boy growing up in El Paso, Gonzaullas already knew he wanted to be a Texas Ranger, inspired by seeing the legendary Ranger John R. Hughes, the “Border Boss,” on horseback. That fire in the belly to fight lawlessness soon burned hotter as a teenager, when banditos murdered his two brothers and seriously wounded his parents. After serving in the Mexican army and with United States Treasury Department, Gonzaullas took the oath of the Texas Rangers on October 1, 1920. He was still a newlywed when he enlisted in the Rangers, having married Laura Isabel Scherer, a New Yorker, on April 12, 1920. She was an introvert and stayed in the background and stoically endured her husband’s long absences while he was on a dangerous assignment in some faraway Texas town.
Gonzaullas enforced the law in the Texas oil fields, boom towns, and along the Texas border during the 1920s and 1930s. Alone, he pursued murderers, bootleggers, gamblers, drug runners and bank robbers. He came to be known as “El Lobo Solo” (“The Lone Wolf”) and he was one of four Rangers called “Big Four,” who had an enormous impact crime fighting: Gonzaullas, Frank Hamer, Thomas R. Hickman and Will Wright. Gonzaullas would eventually become the first Texas Ranger Captain of Hispanic ancestry.
The mere presence of Gonzaullas inspired an exodus of troublemakers from problem areas. Often, when word reached a Texas town where crime was rampant, most criminals cleared out before he even arrived. Cool under fire and an excellent marksman, Gonzaullas arrested so many bootleggers, gambling operators, thugs and killers that he often had to improvise jail facilities. Such was the case in Kilgore.
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