Having heard that the Walnut Springs Museum was having a special ceremony on Jan. 16 to honore two early Texas Rangers and Bosque County pioneers, I had to check it out.

The program “Colonel Buck Barry and Captain Jack Cureton; Character in Action” was narrated by Bryan Sowell, a native of Walnut Springs.

James Buckner “Buck” Barry came to Texas from North Carolina in 1845.

He fought in the Mexican War and Indian campaigns.

In the Civil War he commanded a Confederate cavalry regiment in Texas outposts from the Red River to Fort McKavett.

Camps were a day’s horseback ride apart.

Patrols protected outer settlements and prevented Indian attacks and threatened Federal invasion from Indian Territory.

Colonel Barry was elected to the Texas Legislature in 1883.

He died in 1906 on his ranch near Walnut Springs.

Several pictures of Col. Barry were on display at the museum, one of them a daguerreotype made in 1854 when he was a Texas Ranger.

According to Bryan Sowell this is possibly one of the oldest remaining daguerreotypes in Texas.

Buck Barry was a man of strong convictions about right and wrong.

These convictions were forged through his years as an Indian fighter and Texas Ranger.

He was a man who lived by his convictions, and this helped to get him elected to the Texas State Legislature.

Buck had worn a full beard all his life and by the 1880s, when he was elected to the Legislature, this backwoods fashion had gone out of style.

It seems the strongest comment against his character was made by the Stephenville paper when it asked, “Why can’t the people of this district elect a ‘ladies man’ to the Legislature?” a reference to his beard.

Bryan said Barry prepared his own tomb, requesting no coffin. and was laid on concrete as he had wished with only a pillow under his head.

He died on his 85th birthday in 1906, buried at the Barry cemetery, part of the property he settled in 1856, about five miles west of Walnut Springs on Farm-to-Market Road 27.

The Texas Ranger and his horse were inseparable.

As an illustration, note the following obituary from the Meridian Tribune of 1902.

“Thursday afternoon as some boys were crossing the pasture belonging to Col. Ramsey Cox, they came across the dead body of one of Bosque County’s oldest residents.

“The find was at once reported to the proper authorities and preparations were made to give the poor old fellow a decent burial.

“He has quite a history, having been raised in this country since his early youth and has seen service in many bloody battles between the Indian and the white man.

“He has been faithful and true to every trust, and his many friends will grieve to hear of his death.

“He took a quite prominent part in the Old Settlers Reunion at this place a few weeks ago and seemed to enjoy the day as much as anyone present.

“At a late hour in the afternoon sorrowing friends took the corpse up near the hill commonly known as Hat-Top, dug a grave and consigned to the dust the dead body of Sunday, that faithful old horse who has served our friend, Col. Buck Barry, for 40 long years. If we can get biographical sketch of his life we will give some to our readers sometime in the future.”

Another pioneer who was discussed was Capt. Jack Cureton, American Indian fighter, lawman and rancher.

Capt. Jack settled on the Palo Pinto County frontier in 1854. He led neighbors in defending their homes during Indian raids.

In 1860 Capt. Jack was among a group of Texas Rangers under the leadership of Capt. “Sul” Ross, who rescued Cynthia Ann Parker and her 2-year-old daughter, Toh-Tsee-Ah at the battle of Pease River.

Cynthia Ann had been captured by the Comanches 24 years earlier in a raid on Fort Parker in east Texas.

He was captain of frontier troops during the Civil War, defending Northwest Texas from Indians and northern invasion.

Camp Cureton in Archer County, a CSA Outpost, was named for him.

He was sheriff of Bosque County from 1876-80. His grave is at Flat Top Ranch north of Walnut Springs.

These two men were early Bosque County pioneers, Texas Rangers and ranchers, two men of strong character who lived by that character daily.

As the title of the program stated, these two men exemplified character in action.

Of the hundreds or thousands who have lived in Walnut Springs over the past 150 years or so, few names are remembered today as well as these two.

Their names stand out above the rest because of their character and the exemplary lives they lived.

Several of Buck Barry’s descendants were present at the meeting consisting of two of his great-granddaughters and their extended families.

The great-granddaughters were each given time to tell a little about their remembrances of the early days in Walnut Springs.

A lot of history is represented in Walnut Springs, from the early pioneers and Texas Rangers on to the coming of the railroad. At one time Walnut Springs was the headquarters of the Texas Central Railroad and had a large railroad shop there.

To find out more about the people of the Walnut Springs area and the Texas Central Railroad, visit the Walnut Springs Museum next door to city hall in downtown.

The museum is open Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

John Watson is a Cleburne resident who can be reached at texastraveler@sbcglobal.net.

Correction: In last week’s article, I stated that Randy Hamilton had the old Coca Cola building as a warehouse and lost it to the bank in a bankruptcy. Actually, he sold the building before he died in 1982, and the children kept the furniture business going until 1986.

The Ranger

Once along the border, like the drift of autumn leaves,

Thronged the Indians, desperados and cattle-lifting thieves

Until there came swift-riding over the valley, hill and flat

The law in dirk and derringer and tall white hat.

Rip Ford and old Buck Barry-there is glamour in the names

Of the men who made the Rangers, as the record still proclaims:

The lifter left the cattle and the outlaw hid his gat

When they thought about the rider in the tall white hat.

As tall as his story from the borderland uncouth —

Some of it is legend but most of it is truth …

For facts stands out of hard fought fight, or years of strife

The Ranger rode the border and the outlaw rode for life.

His is a tale unended. Still riding down the years

Come the hoofbeats of the Ranger and his stalwart form appears

Through dark may be the danger, he has no care for that,

Riding on into the future in his tall white hat.

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