Monday, May 20, 2013

Slight but tough rancher helped tame wild, wooly Arizona

Mossman as a teenager
Burton C. Mossman stood barely 5 feet 8 inches tall with his boots on, and weighed 160 pounds after a steak dinner. But he was tough as nails. In 1901, Arizona Territorial Gov. Nathan O. Murphy met with Mossman, a prominent cattle rancher, at a saloon in Holbrook to ask him to be captain of the newly formed Arizona Rangers. The Rangers' mission was to rid the Arizona Territory of cattle rustlers, horse thieves and murderers. Mossman accepted the position and chose a sergeant and 12 men, including veteran Rough Riders, lawmen and able residents. In the first 12 months, these men rid the territory of more than 125 wanted outlaws, and scared many more across the border. Mossman is most famous for his bold and daring manhunt of one of the most wanted men in the history of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico: Augustine Chacon, who had murdered 15 Americans and 37 Mexicans. Crossing the border unarmed and with the help of Burt Alvord, an outlaw who agreed to help in hopes of getting a lighter sentence, Mossman brought Chacon into the gallows. In the eight years the Arizona Rough Riders were active, they were very effective at stopping crime and driving out criminals. Ultimately, they did so well they put themselves out of business. Most of them became successful businessmen and prominent citizens. Mossman was no exception. Following the Rangers, he spent many years ranching in northern Mexico and the United States, and finally hung up his saddle in 1944. For Mossman, his final career was a continuation of his first. He was born in 1867 to George W., a Civil War veteran, and Anna (West) Mossman in Aurora, Ill. He was reared in Minnesota, but by age 16 he had come to the Territory of New Mexico. At 21 he was in charge of his first cattle spread, and nine years later was he managing the 2 million acres of the Hash Knife Ranch in Northern Arizona, near Holbrook. Like most real cowboys, Mossman never died, he just faded away in 1956, in Roswell, N.M. He is buried in Kansas City, Mo...more

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