The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez

Gregorio Cortez and his brother Romaldo were working as ranch hands at the W.A. Thulmeyer ranch in Karnes County one day when they saw County Sheriff W.T. Morris and his deputies riding toward them. cortez_alone

It was June 12, 1901, and life for Cortez would never be the same.

Within five minutes Cortez, 25, became a martyr, folk hero and central figure in a corrido (Hispanic folk ballad), one famous to this day.

The sheriff and his deputies, John Trimmell and Boone Choate, were at the ranch searching for a horse thief.

Sheriff Morris questioned the Cortez brothers and Choate acted as interpreter.

But Choate misunderstood several of Cortez’s replies.

When Morris asked if Cortez had recently traded a horse, Cortez replied “no.”

Choate didn’t understand the Spanish language distinguishes between horses (caballos) and mares (yeguas).

Cortez had traded a mare.

Things got heated and the sheriff was convinced Cortez was lying.

When Morris tried to arrest the brothers, Gregorio told the sheriff, “No me puede arrestar por nada” (You can not arrest me for nothing).

Choate thought Cortez was saying, “No white man can arrest me.”

Morris drew his gun.

Romaldo tried to protect his brother by lunging at the sheriff, but Morris shot and wounded Romaldo and then fired at Gregorio Cortez, narrowly missing him.imggregorio cortez2

Gregorio Cortez shot and killed the sheriff.

Then he headed for the Rio Grande.

Hundreds of men pursued him, including several Texas Rangers. A train on the International-Great Northern Railroad route to Laredo was even used to bring in new posses and fresh horses.

Cortez made mistakes. When he sought shelter at a ranch, Gonzales County Sheriff Robert Glover and his posse cornered him.

Shots were exchanged, and Glover and Deputy Schnabel were killed while Cortez made yet another escape.

Schnabel may have been killed by friendly fire.

After three weeks on the run, someone turned him in and the law cornered Cortez at Abrán de la Garza’s sheep camp in Cotulla.

By the time they caught up with him, Cortez had walked nearly 100 miles and ridden more than 400.

He rode two horses to death.

The state of Texas tried Cortez on many different charges and some of the juries, many of which were Anglo, let him go.

And each time he was convicted, the Texas Court of Appeals overturned the verdict.

Cortez could make the fight because his supporters raised money for his legal defense, including for committed lawyer B.R. Abernathy.

But at the last trial, in 1905, Cortez was convicted of killing Sheriff Glover and sentenced to life in prison.

He was sent to Huntsville.americo

Romaldo Cortez died in the Karnes City jail.

In 1913, Texas Governor O.B. Colquitt gave Cortez a conditional pardon and Cortez left Texas to fight in the Mexican revolution.

When he returned, he eventually moved to Anson and died at age 41.

In the meantime, folksong writers were busy.

Because corridos evolve over time, there is no one version of El Corrido de Gregorio Cortez but here are a few typical verses.

They let loose the bloodhound


 They followed him from afar.

 But trying to catch Cortez

 Was like following a star.


..Then said Gregorio Cortez,

 And his voice was like a bell,

 You will never get my weapons

 Till you put me in a cell.


 Then said Gregorio Cortez,

 With a pistol in his hand,

 Ah, so many mounted Rangers

 Just to take one Mexican!

I hope he enjoyed his hero status. He earned it the hard way.

As of 1958, when Américo Paredes wrote With His Pistol in His Hand: A Border Ballad and Its Hero, people still sung Gregorio’s song, around the ranch campfires, in the cantinas.

Here’s what Paredes says about the gatherings.

People asked the storytellers what Cortez looked like, and the storytellers said, “Some say he was short and some say he was tall; some say he was Indian brown and some say he was blond..and he looked just a little bit like me.”

Click below to purchase one of Julia Robb’s page-turning historical Texas novels:

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The Voters “can go to hell and I will go to Texas.” David Crockett

by Julia Robb




David Crockett

Don’t call him Davy.

David’s political enemies called him “Davy” to make him seem boyish.

They never convinced anybody.

Dying at the Alamo was just the final scene in David’s dramatic and impressive life.

David Crockett was six-foot and handsome, an expert shot with his rifles (he always named them “Betsey”), a three-term U.S. congressman and an American folk hero who wrote a popular memoir titled A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett, of the State of Tennessee.Davy-Crockett1358814911_image_1024w

He grew up in the wilderness, could hit a target at two hundred yards and specialized in hunting bear.

He also fought in the Creek War, serving with the Tennessee Mounted Volunteer Riflemen, and served in the War of 1812.

Because the military failed to provide supplies, David did tend to drift in and out of the ranks while searching for food.

“It was root hog or die,” Crockett said in his autobiography.

Best of all, David was a “truly honest man,” according to biographer William C. Davis, in Three Roads to the Alamo: The Lives of David Crockett, James Bowie and William Barret Travis.

“..there was no true guile in the man. He was exactly as he seemed: He said what he thought and meant what he said,” Davis wrote, later adding, “His conscious demanded he stand for right.”

Crockett himself repeatedly wrote, and said, “Be always sure you’re right–THEN GO AHEAD.”

Although he did exaggerate his backwoods style for the voters, Davis said Crockett “projected a basic and genuine gentility,” and “good cheer.”

Like many other American heroes, David came from a humble background.

He was descended from a Scot family who immigrated to America in the early eighteenth century and settled on the frontier, in what was then North Carolina.220px-David_Crockett

In 1778, David’s grandparents paid for living on the frontier when a Creek, or Chickamauga, war party attacked their farm, killing them, wounding one son and kidnapping another.

Joseph Crockett, David’s father, (who fought in the American revolution) escaped the Indian attack because he was already married and living on his own.

David was born August 17, 1786, in his father’s log cabin, but ran away when he was thirteen and spent years taking care of himself.

That didn’t leave much time for school.

But David was always ambitious and when he returned home, he made a bargain with a local schoolmaster. The teacher would give him reading and writing lessons in return for David’s work.

The arrangement was a success, although Crockett was never a good speller.

When he was twenty, David married Polly Finley and they began farming.

However, the couple was forced to keep moving west because David was both restless and a poor farmer. He had to hunt to feed his family and lost several properties to tax delinquency and debt.

During these endless moves, the couple had three children.

They weren’t destined for happiness. Polly died and it broke David’s heart.

Polly’s death was “The hardest trial which ever falls to the lot of man,” David said in his memoir.

His children would either have to be farmed out to relatives or he would be forced to marry again, David wrote, so he proposed to a widow, Elizabeth Patton.

The couple was not happy and eventually separated.

But, Crockett was good at something other than farming.

Getting along with people was easy for him. They found him charming.

When he was living at the head of Shoal Creek, three miles west of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, his fellow citizens nominated David for Justice of the Peace and the state legislature approved their choice.

After that, he was elected to local offices, then to the state legislature.

Both in the state legislature and U.S. Congress, David proposed laws to help his fellow frontiersmen, especially laws designed to help them obtain ownership of land on which they settled and improved.

A week after taking office in the state legislature, Crockett cast his first vote to relieve heavy penalties on people owing overdue property taxes.

This issue was one with which David could personally sympathize.

Reforming land grant law was another pet issue. He believed a few men were monopolizing the best property.

Crockett did not work well with other legislators. He made “Independence his personal religion, recklessly unmindful that religions have a way of creating martyrs,” Davis wrote.

But by the time Crockett ran for Congress, something new was happening in American culture.

People no longer identified with the founding fathers and wanted to see themselves in a different kind of man; a Western man, a frontiersman, a self-made man.

David Crockett was that man.

First they began calling him one of the “Lions of the West,” then they identified him with the character who trod the stage in “The Lion of the West; or, A Trip to Washington.”

After that, he was the celebrity of the age. David couldn’t go anywhere without being asked for his autograph. A book was written about him, he was invited to speak, he toured the East Coast and was toasted in every town.

Uninvited visitors showed up at his Washington hotel room and he showed them what they expected to see; the frontiersman who could whip his weight in wildcats and ride alligators.

“Well!–they came to see a bar (bear), and they’ve seen one–hope they like the performance–it did not cost them anything any how,” David told a friend, after one such visit.DavyCrockettBarHunter_0

An aspiring author wrote a book about Crockett, but it was so inaccurate that he decided to write his own book to set the record straight (and make some desperately-needed money).

That’s when David wrote his Narrative, which was the most popular book of the time.

After that, however, Crockett’s life went downhill.

His constant attacks on Andrew Jackson wore thin. David called him “King Andrew.” And he just got tired. He was never cut out for politics.

Then Jackson went after him in the 1835 Congressional election, supported an opponent against him, and David lost by 252 votes.

That’s when David said to hell with the voters, he was going to Texas.

He took his rifle, his fiddle and a few friends, and headed west.

According to one letter writer, when David stopped in Texas towns, people sensed he would not be seen again.

Crockett was himself prophetic in a letter he wrote to his daughter, “Do not be uneasy about me I am with my friends,” he wrote.

“I am rejoiced at my fate.”



Click below to purchase one of Julia Robb’s page-turning historical Texas novels:

Julia Robb is the author of Scalp Mountain and Saint of the Burning Heart, eBooks for sale at She can be reached at,,, goodreads, pinterest, twitter, Facebook, and amazon author pages.






Silly Laws in Texas

Laws that probably should never have been written, or should have come off the books a long time ago!

  • When two trains meet each other at a railroad crossing, each shall come to a full stop, and neither shall proceed until the other has gone. two_trains_at_lavon
  • A city ordinance states that a person cannot go barefoot without first obtaining a special five-dollar permit.
  • It is illegal to take more than three sips of beer at a time while standing.
  • You can be legally married by publically introducing a person as your husband or wife 3 times.
  • It is illegal to drive without windshield wipers. You don’t need a windshield, but you must have the wipers.
  • It is illegal for one to shoot a buffalo from the second story of a hotel.
  • It is illegal to milk another person’s cow.
  • A recently passed anticrime law requires criminals to give their victims 24 hours notice, either orally or in writing, and to explain the nature of the crime to be committed.
  • It is unlawful for a person to consume an alcoholic beverage while operating a motor vehicle upon a public roadway, if the person is observed doing so by a peace officer.
  • The entire Encyclopedia Britannica is banned in Texas because it contains a formula for making beer at home.


  • It is illegal to idle or loiter anyplace within the corporate limits of the city for the purpose of flirting or mashing.


  • Wire cutters can not be carried in your pocket.


  • Collegiate football is banned at Lamar University.


  • It is against the law to throw confetti, rubber balls, feather dusters, whips or quirts (riding crop), and explosive firecrackers of any kind.


  • It is illegal to dust any public building with a feather duster. article-new_ehow_images_a08_1h_k2_make-dust-cling-feather-duster-800x800


  • It’s illegal to possess realistic dildos.

    El Paso

  • Churches, hotels, halls of assembly, stores, markets, banking rooms, railroad depots, and saloons are required to provide spittoons “of a kind and number to efficiently contain expectorations into them.”


  • Beer may not be purchased after midnight on a Sunday, but it may be purchased on Monday.
  • It is illegal to sell Limburger cheese on Sunday.


  • It is illegal to drive a motor car down Broadway before noon on Sundays.


  • Dogs must be on a leash at ALL times. Fine of 100 dollars.


  • It is illegal to take more than three swallows of beer while standing.

    Lubbock County

  • It is illegal to drive within an arm’s length of alcohol – including alcohol in someone else’s blood stream.


  • It is illegal for children to have unusual haircuts. Unusual%20Haircuts-7

    Port Arthur

  • Obnoxious odors may not be emitted while in an elevator.


  • It is now illegal to place a “for sale” sign on a car if it visible from the street.
  • It is illegal to do “U Turns”.

    San Antonio

  • It is illegal for both sexes to flirt or respond to flirtation using the eyes and/or hands.
  • It is illegal to urinate on the Alamo.


  • No one may ride a horse and buggy through the town square.
  • You can ride your horse in the saloon.
  • Cattle thieves may be hanged on the spot.


  • Owners of horses may not ride them at night without tail lights.



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Some Things You Just Can’t Explain

Author Unknown


A farmer is sitting in the neighborhood bar getting soused. A man comes in and asks the farmer, “Hey, why are you sitting here on this beautiful day getting drunk?” lonely-man-at-bar

Farmer: “Some things you just can’t explain.”

Man: “So what happened that’s so horrible?”

Farmer: “Well, today I was sitting by my cow milking her. Just as I got the bucket about full, she took her left leg and kicked over the bucket.”

Man: “Ok, but that’s not so bad.”

Farmer: “Some things you just can’t explain.”

Man: “So what happened then?”

Farmer: “I took her left leg and tied it to the post on the left.”

Man: “And then?”

Farmer: “Well, I sat back down and continued to milk her. Just as I got the bucket about full, she took her right leg and kicked over the bucket.”

Man: “Again?”

Farmer: “Some things you just can’t explain.” 681x454

Man: “So, what did you do then?”

Farmer: “I took her right leg this time, and tied it to the post on the right.”

Man: “And then?”

Farmer: “Well, I sat back down and began milking her again. Just as got the bucket about full, when the stupid cow knocked over the bucket with her tail.”

Man: “Hmmm . . . “

Farmer: “Some things you just can’t explain.”

Man: “So, then what did you do?”

Farmer: “Well, I didn’t have any more rope, so I took off my belt and tied her tail to the rafter. In that moment, my pants fell down and my wife walked in.”



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Jack Hays and The Wild Texas Rangers

by Julia Robb


In 1840, Texas Ranger Captain Jack Hays and twenty of his men tracked down two hundred Comanches herding stolen horses.37-Jack-Hays

Hays said, “Yonder are the Indians, boys, and yonder are our horses. The Indians are pretty strong. But we can whip them. What do you say?”

The Rangers charged, killed the Comanche leader and the rest of the warriors ran.

That’s a typical Ranger story.

The nineteenth century Texas Rangers were special to Texas and there’s a reason.

The Rangers were quick-shooting, hard-drinking, brutal, aggressive men, “just this side of brigands and desperados,” who fought a “war to the knife,” according to S.C. Gwynne, author of Empire of the Summer Moon.

In other words, they were just what Texas needed when the Comanche, Kiowa and Kickapoo were besieging us on every side.

The Rangers were also self-sacrificing.

Not only did they fight the tribes, they also fought Mexican soldiers (in two different wars), Mexican bandits and Anglo outlaws, while having to supply their own food, weapons, equipment and horses.

Rangers carried one rifle, two pistols, a knife and one blanket.

In time, Texas paid each ranger $30 per month.

Rangers also slept fully clothed in case they were forced to jump from their bedrolls and fight.

Texans organized the Rangers in 1835, and the new military waged all-out war against the tribes, especially during the 1839 Cherokee War in East Texas, the Council House Fight in San Antonio, in March 1840, and the (victorious) Battle of Plum Creek, against 1,000 Comanche warriors, in August 1840.

By 1841, the Rangers had undermined, if not broken, the tribes’ power. Comanches were still a threat, but the frontier was advancing west.

Things changed in 1861.

So many men left Texas during the Civil War, to fight for the Confederacy (including the Rangers), the tribes again ruled the plains.

Wilderness reclaimed whole parts of Texas because the Comanche had either killed the settlers or used fear and fire to push them out.

And the reconstruction government (1865-1870), did not allow the Rangers to operate, instead forcing a state police force down Texas’ throats.

State police were not effective against Comanche, and were highly unpopular–they were renowned for killing suspects without benefit of trial, particularly when those suspects were former Confederates.

By 1874, Texans were desperate for help against the Comanche and legislators again funded the Rangers.

Good move. The “Frontier Battalion,” about 450 men, fought in fifteen Indian battles.

After U.S. Fourth Cavalry Commander Ranald Mackenzie and his troopers, and the Rangers, were through with the Comanche, the tribe agreed to remain on the Fort Sill, Oklahoma, reservation.

The Rangers also “thinned out” more than 3,000 Texas desperados, including bank robber Sam Bass and gunfighter John Wesley Hardin.

Rangers were also ordered to end several frontier feuds–which they did.

The Rangers have occasionally committed wrongs, as organizations are full of imperfect human beings.

Accusers have charged the Rangers with racial prejudice; of not always giving Hispanics and African-Americans the benefit of the doubt.

That probably happened.

A folk song originating in South Texas tells the story of Gregorio Cortez Lira, who killed a Texas sheriff.

The sheriff had it coming and Gregorio was brave, the song says, adding “Don’t run, you cowardly rangers, from just one Mexican.”

The history of the world is bathed in blood and injustice, and organizations usually mirror culture.

But the Rangers came through for Texas when Texas needed them, and I, for one, am grateful.

JackHaysStatueSanMarcosTX211JRJack Hays’ Statue in San Marcos


Click below to purchase one of Julia Robb’s page-turning historical Texas novels:

Julia Robb is the author of Scalp Mountain and Saint of the Burning Heart, eBooks for sale at She can be reached at,,, goodreads, pinterest, twitter, Facebook, and amazon author pages.



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Farmer Brown Goes to Court

Farmer Brown can't bear to hurt the bunnies

Farmer Brown decided his injuries from the accident were serious enough to take the trucking company (responsible for the accident) to court. In court, the trucking company’s fancy lawyer was questioning Farmer Brown. “Didn’t you say, at the scene of the accident, ‘I’m fine’?” asked the lawyer.

Farmer Brown responded, “Well I’ll tell you what happened. I had just loaded my favorite mule Bessie into the…”

“I didn’t ask for any details,” the lawyer interrupted, “just answer the question. Did you not say, at the scene of the accident, ‘I’m fine’!”

Farmer Brown said, “Well I had just gotten Bessie into the trailer and I was driving down the road…” 426769_381151215289106_431336315_n
The lawyer interrupted again and said, “Judge, I am trying to establish the fact that, at the scene of the accident, this man told the Highway Patrolman on the scene that he was just fine. Now several weeks after the accident he is trying to sue my client. I believe he is a fraud. Please tell him to simply answer the question.”

By this time the Judge was fairly interested in Farmer Brown’s answer and said to the lawyer, “I’d like to hear what he has to say about his favorite mule Bessie.”.
Brown thanked the Judge and proceeded, “Well as I was saying, I had just loaded Bessie, my favorite mule, into the trailer and was driving her down the highway when this huge semi-truck and trailer ran the stop sign and smacked my truck right in the side.”
He continued, “I was thrown into one ditch and Bessie was thrown into the other. I was hurting real bad and didn’t want to move. However, I could hear ole Bessie moaning and groaning. I knew she was in terrible shape just by her groans.”

“Shortly after the accident a highway patrolman came on the scene. He could hear Bessie moaning and groaning so he went over to her. After he looked at her, he took out his gun and shot her between the eyes. Then the patrolman came across the road with his gun in his hand and looked at me.”


Finally, farmer Brown came to the end of the story. “The patrolman looked at me and said, ‘Your mule was in such bad shape I had to shoot her. How are YOU feeling’?”


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Letter From Basic Training

A Texas Farm boy joins the Army, and this is his first letter home from Basic Training:
Dear Ma and Pa:
Am well. Hope you are. Tell Brother Walt and Brother Elmer the Army beats working for old man Minch. Tell them to join up quick before all the places are filled.
I was restless at first because you got to stay in bed till nearly 6 a.m.( but am getting so I like to sleep late. All you do before breakfast is smooth your cot and shine some things — no hogs to slop, feed to pitch, mash to mix, wood to split, fire to lay.
Practically nothing. You got to shave, but it is not bad in warm water. Breakfast is strong on trimmings like fruit juice, cereal, eggs, bacon, etc., but kind of weak on chops, potatoes, beef, ham steak, fried eggplant, pie and regular food, but you can always sit between two city boys that live on coffee. Their food plus yours holds you till noon, when you get fed. It’s no wonder these city boys can’t walk much.
We go on “route marches,” which, the Sgt. says, are long walks to harden us. If he thinks so, it is not my place to tell him different. A “route march” is about as far as to our mailbox at home. Then the city guys all get sore feet and we ride back in trucks. The country is nice, but awful flat. 750117-soldier-firing-rifle-on-a-range
The Sgt. is like a schoolteacher. He nags some. The Capt. is like the school board. Cols. and Gens. just ride around and frown. They don’t bother you none.
I keep getting medals for shooting. I don’t know why, the bull’s-eye is near big as a chipmonk and don’t move and it ain’t shooting at you, like the Higsett boys at home. All you got to do is lie there all comfortable and hit it, you don’t even load your own cartridges they come in boxes. Be sure to tell Walt and Elmer to hurry and join before other fellows get onto this setup and come stampeding in.
Your loving son,
P.S. Speaking of shooting, enclosed is $200 for barn roof and ma’s teeth. The city boys shoot craps, but not very good.
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