Pete Rose is a fine interpreter of our American past. . . . [drawing] from geology, history, ethnography, sociology, and environmental science to help us understand how the land and those who inhabited it influenced each other. -Scott Zesch, author of The Captured: A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier
Isolated by geology and passed over by development, the vast, waterless tablelands of the Edwards Plateau of Texas became the stage for one of the great nineteenth-century dramas of Western justice. In 1873, opportunistic Anglo-Celtic cattlemen and homesteaders, protected by little other than personal firearms and their own bravado, began settling the stream-laced rangelands east of the plateau. An insidious criminal element soon followed: a family-based tribal confederation of frontier outlaws took root in the canyonlands around the forks of the Llano River, in unorganized and lawless Kimble County. Sometimes disguised as Indians, they preyed on neighbors, northbound trail herds, and stockmen in adjacent counties. They robbed stagecoaches repeatedly. They traded in border markets alongside Mexican Indian raiders, and may have participated in the brutal Dowdy massacre of 1878. Outnumbering and intimidating law-abiding settlers, this criminal confederation took over the nascent Kimble County government in 1876. Only dogged persistence by Texas Rangers, with increasing support from citizens and local law officers, would stem the tide.
Meticulously researched and documented, The Reckoning brings to life all the players. Rose shows frontier West Texas as it really was: a raw, lawless, unforgiving place and time that yielded only stubbornly to Order and its handmaiden, the Rule of Law.
Peter R. Rose is a fifth-generation Texan and a geologist with more than fifty years of professional experience. The author of the definitive monograph on the Edwards Plateau of West Texas, he is descended from nineteenth-century settlers in Kimble County, where his family maintains ranching operations to the present day.