On Saturday, November 17th, starting at 10:00 AM in Gooch Cemetery, the Mason County Historical Commission will conduct a Former Texas Ranger Memorial Cross service for two of Mason County’s early pioneers. James Ranck and Martin Vanburen (M.V.) Bridges are the center of these presentations.
In the 1870’s, both men were involved with the formation of our county by serving as Texas Rangers and many other contributions to our community. After the services at Gooch, participants will go to Crosby Cemetery where descendants of the Franz Kettner will hold a similar service for him. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend to learn more about our county’s rich heritage.
James E. Ranck (1832 – 1892)
James Edmund Ranck was born September 11, 1832, in Wayne County, Indiana. His father died one year later and his mother (Mary) married Dillon Bridges. James grew up with his Bridges siblings, receiving a more than adequate education.
Delicate health and other circumstances brought Ranck to San Antonio, Texas as a young man. For health reasons, Dr. Ferdinand Herff suggested a drier climate for his patient.
James Ranck arrived here (Mason County) about 1859. With the coming of the Civil War and the departure of the Federal troops from Fort Mason, there was an upsurge of Indian depredations. In early, 1862, the governor of Texas ordered a line of frontier ranger camps to be slung from the Red River to the Rio Grande. In March of that year, two of those sites established were Camp McMillian in San Saba County and Camp San Saba in McCulloch County. Ranck served at Camp San Saba in Co. K, Frontier Regiment, under Capt. William O’Brien from December, 1862 to July 28, 1863. Records show health problems were the reason for his discharge.
After the Civil War, he brought his extended family from Indiana – notably, the Bridges and Loring’s. They helped the area thrive with their interest and their skills. Quoting from Frontier Times, March, 1937: “ … Well does he deserve the honor as the father of that town, for his activities for more than thirty years established and sustained several enterprises. He took the lead in all matters pertaining to the upbuilding of the frontier post town. Soon after the close of the Civil War, Mr. Ranck opened quite a mercantile business in Mason. In 1875, he erected a large stone building on the northwest corner of the public square which is still known as the Ranck building. He was a shred trader and foresaw great possibilities for the town and county …” James Ranck died August 10, 1892 and is buried in Gooch Cemetery.
Martin Vanburen Bridges (1840 – 1903)
Martin Vanburen (M.V.) Bridges, son of Dillon and Mary (Gilbert-Ranck) was born August 16, 1840, in Wayne County, Indiana. M.V. enlisted for military service in the Civil War at the age of 21 and mustered out as a Corporal July 24, 1865. He married Miss Belle Naudain on February 24, 1864 and in the fall of 1866, the young Bridges family moved to Missouri. Then in the spring of 1870, at the urging of James Ranck, half brother of M.V., the family came to Mason. Here M.V. and Belle spent the rest of their living days.
M.V. served Mason and the County as sheriff, county commissioner, and many other positions of trust. For several years he was postmaster with Belle as the assistant postmaster. The Texas Adjutant General Records show M.V. serving as a Private in the Frontier Services, Company I under James M. Hunter from September, 1870 to January, 1871 and May through June of 1871, serving as a member of the State Police. Ranger Muster Rolls furnished by the Former Texas Ranger Association show M.V. serving December, 1873 through February, 1874, in Co. R Minute Men, Mason County under Daniel Herster. The Bridges were active members of the Methodist Episcopal Church with several mentions in “The Lucia Homes Diary, 1875 – 1876”. On May 3, 1903, M. V. died of blood poisoning and is buried in Gooch Cemetery along with his beloved, Belle, and daughter, Josie.