On Saturday, June 2, three Mason County Texas Rangers were honored with the Texas Ranger Memorial Cross being placed on their gravesite: Ranger P.C. Baird (1862-1928), Ranger John A. Moran (1885-1918), and Ranger George W. Coots (1841-1886). Former Texas Ranger Jim Gant of Georgetown gave a brief history of the Texas Rangers and of the Former Texas Ranger Association who supplied the crosses.
During the ceremonies, Jan Appleby read the biography of P.C. Baird and Jerry Carlman read his obituary from the March,1928 Mason County News. Jane Hoerster gave the biography of John A. Moran and Bob Laury read the obituary from the Mason County News of December, 1918. Fran Hoerster gave the biography of George W. Coots and Veleda Boyd read the obituary from the Mason County News of 1886. During each ceremony, Mary Carlman led the Pledges of Allegiance to the American and Texas flags; Charles Eckert gave the opening prayer and the benediction, and “The Ranger’s Prayer” was read by Jerry Carlman or Bob Laury. Ranger Jim Gant unveiled the memorial crosses at each cemetery and placed a Texas flag on each gravesite. Each ceremony was closed by the playing of “Taps” by Ross Brown of Austin. (He is the grandson of Tom and Nanci Gibbons of Mason).
We apologize for not being able to have any pre-publicity on the service of George W. Coots, but there is a biography of him in this edition’s paper written by Fran Hoerster. We were pleased to have several descendants of Ranger Coots at the ceremony.
Our thanks to Jerry and Mary Carlman who organized and planned the ceremonies with the Former Texas Rangers Association in Fredericksburg, to Rosemary Davis who designed the programs for each ceremony, to Laura Austin for refreshments, to Ross Brown for his playing of “Taps”, and of course, to Former Texas Ranger Jim Gant, and to all the other Historical Commission members who participated.
George W. Coots
George W. Coots was born January 4, 1841, in Titus County, Texas. His parents, hardy pioneer stock, had immigrated to Red River County, Texas, just after Texas won her independence from Mexico in 1836. Shortly, they received land from the Republic of Texas, and near neighbors in land records were Hugh Allen and Milligans.
George’s father, Andrew Jackson Coots, died in August of 1849. He had married Margaret Allen, daughter of their neighbor, Hugh Allen. Margaret, widowed yet again and left with seven children, married J. B. Lindsay in September of 1852 in Titus County. The family came to Mason County about 1856, her sister, Mahalia (Allen) Milligan, and her husband, Thomas Milligan, coming around the same time. Meanwhile, there are very heated letters from Hugh Allen, George’s maternal grandfather, who was living on Katemcy Creek just over the Mason County line, in what would later become McCulloch County, in 1858 and 1859. The letters were to the governor of Texas, protesting the lack of protection for the settlers in the area. There was great loss and fear here on the frontier.
George was aware of the conditions of this unsettled land. Little wonder that he early made the decision to join the frontier guard. We have his papers, stating, “I George Coots, an member of Capt. John William’s Company of Rangers mustered into service in the Fall of 1858 and known as the Williamson County Mounted volunteers for the Protection of the Frontier Rivers….make and appoint N.D. McMillan a Lieutenant of said company my….lawful attorney in fact to draw my full pay for services as a ranger in said company of Texas Rangers….” August 3rd, 1859. He was in the Second Company of Texas Rangers.
George was in this area in 1860, being a hunting guide for Robert E. Lee when Lee was at Fort Mason. Coots’ diary showed he had saved Lee from a bear attack while out hunting. His uncle, Mason County Sheriff Thomas Milligan, was killed by the Indians near Koocksville in January of 1860, the area still being in need of vigilance and defense.
On the 1st of December, 1861, he married Caroline Morris in Mason County. His mother had given her children cattle and calves and real and personal property in 1861, so they were comfortable. He was on the tax rolls of Mason County from 1859 through 1870, and his diary shows he took cattle up the trail to the northern markets more than once. An article in the San Antonio paper stated that Indians had stolen his horses in 1869. The family went to Colorado, probably when his mother went in about 1870, and stayed a few years, losing two children there. Mason County called them back, so they came, bringing the bodies of the dead children with them. In time, they would need a burial spot, so land for Bethel Cemetery was bought by George and Caroline and given for use of the family and community.
George was an exhorter and itinerant preacher in the Methodist church. He farmed and ranched for their living. However, on April 25th, 1886, at the young age of 45, he died at the home of his brother-in-law, T.R. Cox, and his wife, Matilda (Coots) Cox, in Mason. He died very well respected for the way he had lived, a true son of the frontier.