“Texas, by God!” cried notorious killer John Wesley Hardin when he saw a Colt .45 pointed at him on a train in Florida. At the other end of the pistol stood Texas Ranger John B. Armstrong.
Hardin’s arrest assured Armstrong a place in history, but his story is larger, fuller, and even more important—and until now it has never been told.
Serving in the Rangers’ famed Frontier Battalion from 1875 to 1878, Armstrong rode with Captain L. H. McNelly in the capture of King Fisher, was called to Round Rock when Sam Bass was cornered, and helped patrol the region caught in the Taylor-Sutton Feud. His more lasting legacy, though, was as founder of the Armstrong Ranch, an operation that remains active and important to this day. From this family base he helped change ranching techniques and was an important sponsor for bringing the railroads to South Texas. In the 1890s he joined a special Ranger division that supplemented the force’s efforts, especially in pursuit and apprehension of gunmen and cattle rustlers in the region.
As Elmer Kelton notes in his afterword to this book, “Chuck Parsons’ biography is a long-delayed and much-justified tribute to Armstrong’s service to Texas.” Parsons fills in the missing details of a Ranger and rancher’s life, correcting some common misconceptions and adding to the record of a legendary group of lawmen and pioneers.
About the Author
CHUCK PARSONS is the author of eleven books and many articles on Texas and Western history. He resides in Prairie Lea, Texas.
"His approachable presentation of facts makes the book very accessible to the general reader. Drawing from a rich variety of sources, including Armstrong's grandson, Tobin, before his passing, Parsons reconstructed Armstrong's foundation. In his stripping away the myth, rather than destroying Armstrong's career, Parsons served to strengthen it."--Journal of the West — Journal of the West
“Parson’s study of Armstrong’s relatively short career as a Texas Ranger, 1875-1878, is filled with exploits of hair-raising adventure. . . For fans of the traditional Old West shoot –‘em up, and those interested in knowing what became of the men who outlived their violent pasts, Parsons bring the two together with this book. John B. Armstrong: Texas Ranger and Pioneer Ranchman belongs not only in the Texas history section of libraries, but it probably could hold its place in the Humanities section as well.”--Southwestern Historical Quarterly — Southwestern Historical Quarterly
”If you are a fan of the Old West this is a biography that belongs on your bookshelf right next to the stories about the other great lawmen of the Old West. . . .”--Cowboy Chronicle — Cowboy Chronicle
“Chuck Parsons provides the reader with a needed biography of John Barkley Armstrong, a well-known Texas Ranger and later a prominent rancher in South Texas . . . Parsons’s biography of Armstrong is highly recommended reading mainly for its depiction of numerous problems Texas Rangers faced during the 1870s.”--New Mexico Historical Review — Allan O. Kownslar
“A lively and riveting read, particularly in the chapters that deal with Armstrong’s rangering days. I thought a I knew all there was to know about John Wesley Hardin’s arrest and capture, but Parsons has uncovered much new material in his diligent research. John Armstrong was a fearless, no-nonsense Texas hero with far more depth and integrity than other, better-known lawmen, such as Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill Hickock. By the end of the book, however, you have the feeling Armstrong would not have desired their notoriety.”--Victoria-Advocate — Victoria-Advocate
“This biography of Armstrong is long overdue and fills a glaring hole in Texas Ranger history. It is an exceptional value and a major contribution to the genre.”--New Orleans Times-Picayune — NOLA