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In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

25 Roscoe High School Seniors to Graduate at Friday Commencement

RHS Class of 2011 Valedictorian Caden Smith and Salutatorian Lindsey Williams.
A chapter of life will close for the twenty-five 2011 Roscoe Collegiate High Seniors as they cross the stage to successfully complete their high school careers on Friday night.  But what’s even more impressive is that thirteen of those twenty-five have already earned an Associate’s Degree from Western Texas College in Snyder to go along with their high school diplomas.  

After having one student graduate with an Associate’s Degree last year, Roscoe Collegiate’s Associate program hit full stride this year, and all thirteen of this year’s Western Texas graduates have earned a minimum of sixty community college hours while completing their high school requirements, giving them a leg up on college.

The valedictorian this year is Caden Smith, who graduates with an overall average of 98.47.  He was followed closely by the salutatorian, Lindsey Williams, whose average was 98.31. 
Here is a list of the Class of 2011, with an asterisk to indicate the students who are also graduating from high school with their Associate’s Degree:

Adan Aguayo*
Tatiana Aguayo*
Calvin Ballenger
Austin Carrasco*
Anthony Castor
Melanie Diaz
Edgar Gallegos*
Riley Gilmore
Cody Graham*
Roman Lomas
Damian Loza
Michael Massey
Nathan McGlothlin
Kimberly Norris*
Gabriel Perez
Kaitlinn Reed*
Collin Smith*
Caden Smith*
Juan Solis
Martin Solis
Britannie Styron*
Jacey Tomlin*
Cristina Villa*
Ruben Villa
Lindsey Williams*



Leonard Hillman Whittington, known in Roscoe as Hillman, was the first Roscoe soldier to die in the Second World War, and for that reason shares the name of the local American Legion Post, Frost-Whittington Post No. 227, with Jack Frost, the first Roscoe soldier to die in the First World War.  

Hillman Whittington grew up in Roscoe and graduated from Roscoe High School in 1939.  He joined the Army Air Force on February 11, 1941, and the following year married Maxie Cooper of Champion, also a Roscoe High School grad.  They were married for only two weeks before he was sent to the Pacific, where he took part in the Battle of Midway Island in June 1942.

Co-pilot of a B-26 bomber, he was killed on June 4 when his plane went down in a torpedo attack on a Japanese ship. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.  Here is the official citation:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Second Lieutenant Leonard H. Whittington (ASN: 0-427074), United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Co-Pilot on a B-26 Medium Bomber of the 18th Reconnaissance Squadron, 22d Bombardment Group, Far East Air Force, in aerial action against enemy surface forces on 4 June 1942, during an engagement near Midway Island. Lieutenant Whittington displayed extraordinary heroism during a torpedo-bombing mission against the Japanese Navy. The success of the mission was dependent entirely upon the skill, courageousness and unfaltering devotion to duty of the crew members of the airplanes participating, who unhesitatingly entered into the attack at great personal risk to their own lives in the face of concentrated gunfire of the Japanese Naval forces and fighter planes. During this, the first torpedo attack ever carried out by the Army Air Forces, the airplane on which Lieutenant Whittington was co-pilot was lost. The personal courage and zealous devotion to duty displayed by Second Lieutenant Whittington on this occasion, at the cost of his life, have upheld the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Far East Air Force, and the United States Army Air Forces.

General Orders: Headquarters, Hawaiian Department, U.S. Army, General Orders No. 117 (1942)
Action Date: 4-Jun-42
Service: Army Air Force
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Company: 69th Bombardment Squadron
Regiment: 38th Bombardment Group (M)
Division: Far East Air Force (Detached)



Joseph Aaron Rayburn, 84, of Rowlett died on Monday. Born April 17, 1927, in Roscoe to Henry Franklin Rayburn and Claudia Mae (Helms) Rayburn, he was in the US Army Air Corps in WWII and was a member of American Legion Post 227, the VFW, and the First Baptist Church of Rowlett.

He is survived by his wife, Flora Mae of Rockwall; daughters, Jeorginna Pyles of Rowlett and Kathryn Crenshaw Travis of Rockwall; sisters, Inez Howe of Corpus Christi, Juanita Blanton of Beeville, and Mary Elizabeth Blair of Alpine; brothers, Lawrence of Vienna, VA, and Ernest David of Aledo; seven grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.  He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, J.R. , and sister, Hazel Louise.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 26, at the First Baptist Church in Rowlett followed by interment on Friday, May 27, in the Roscoe Cemetery. Arrangements are under the direction of Rest Haven Funeral Home in Rowlett with reception on Wednesday evening at the funeral home from 6-8 p.m.  Memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 4144 N. Central Expy, Ste 750, Dallas, TX 75205.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Porter Re-Elected as Mayor; Graham and Pruitt in Runoff for City Council Seat

In the Roscoe City Elections held last Saturday, incumbent Pete Porter was re-elected as Mayor for a second four-year term, defeating Ken Brawley by a count of 85 to 44. 

In the only other contested city office, City Council Place 3, no candidate won a majority, so a runoff election between the top two vote-getters, Don Graham and Virgil Pruitt, will tentatively take place at City Hall on Saturday, June 11. 

Helen Perry, who ran unopposed, was re-elected to City Council Place 2.


In the Roscoe ISD School Board election, Tim Tomlin edged Frankie Santiago for the two-year term, and Jason Freeman, Wes Williams, and David Pantoja were elected to four-year terms.



The third time’s the charm.  After being rejected twice, City Manager Cody Thompson finally struck paydirt on the third application.  The City of Roscoe has just learned it will be receiving assistance from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs with a program offering financial support to individuals who build new homes in Roscoe, provided they fulfill certain conditions. 

In brief, the award provides up to five individuals up to about $80,000 each to tear down an old, substandard home in Roscoe and replace it with a new one.  The state provides the financing and the owners pay back whatever portion their income allows.  Thompson says the process is best explained as a hand up rather than a handout. 

The financial advantage to new home builders is obvious.  The City of Roscoe will also benefit by the increase in the tax roll and by having new homes going up in town.  Thus, this award is a win/win all the way around.

The contract with the state is valid until May 2013, and the new house must be the owner’s primary residence.  Interested parties should contact the City Manager for contract details.  


As anticipated, a recent news release from the Texas Water Development Board confirms that on May 4 it approved a $1,765,000 loan, with up to 100% loan principal forgiveness, to the City of Roscoe to finance needed water system improvements.

The Board stipulates that Roscoe use these funds to install a reverse-osmosis water treatment system to treat high levels of nitrates, to improve existing lines, and to install a SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system.

The City Manager and City Council are working closely with the Board to make sure all the construction requirements are met, some of which will necessarily take time.  Bids must be announced and received, contracts awarded, plans drawn up and approved, and so on, all within specified guidelines.  Actual construction is now projected to begin next spring with anticipated completion four or five months later, i.e., around July or August 2012.  



Caden Smith came in second in both the discus throw and shot put at the State Class 1A Track and Field Meet in Austin last weekend.  On Friday his 167’7” throw in the discus was topped only by Austin Cook of Overton, who won the gold with a toss of 176’5”.  On Saturday, he put the shot 54’5.5”, which was second only to LaQuan McGowan of Boys Ranch, who managed 57’3”.

The state meet capped a stellar high school sports career for Smith, who also starred for the Plowboys in football and basketball.  Next Friday night he will graduate from Roscoe Collegiate High School with a diploma and an Associate’s Degree from Western Texas College, and this fall he starts at Texas A&M, where he will play football.



The Nolan County Foundation Board announced the awarding of 30 $1000 Scholarships to outstanding Nolan County 2011 high school graduates, including five from Roscoe and five from Highland.  Business sponsorships and player registrations at the 2011 Golf Classic at the Sweetwater Country Club helped fund the scholarships. 

Roscoe grads receiving scholarships are Kaitlinn Reed, Caden Smith, Collin Smith, Jacey Tomlin, and Lindsey Williams.  Highland honorees are Josh Andrews, Katy Fullwood, Puja Parbhoo, Landon Rowlett, and Brandt Stevens. 



The City of Roscoe’s annual cleanup week will end this Saturday, May 21.  So, if you have brush, tires or other unwanted materials you want to get rid of, drop them off before then between 9am and 7pm at the big roll-off bins just north of the railroad tracks downtown on Business 84.  If you have questions, contact City Hall at 325-766-3871.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Larry Cornoyer to Exhibit Artwork at Western Heritage Classic

Larry Cornoyer and his wonder dog, Gypsy.
Prestigious because only invited artists may exhibit work there, the Western Heritage Art Show and Sale in Abilene this weekend will include work by some of the best cowboy artists in the southwest, among them Roscoe’s Larry Cornoyer.
Cornoyer, who’s been creating western art for the past thirty-five years, will show over thirty of his works at the event, including drawings done in pencil, pen and ink, and charcoal. 

The Art Show and Sale kicks off with a preview Thursday evening 6:30-9:00 and runs all day Friday and Saturday from 9am to 8pm in Big Country Hall.

It will be just one part of the Western Heritage Classic, which includes matched horse races, a ranch rodeo, a chuck wagon cookoff, a fiddler’s contest, and other events, all in celebration of the Texas ranching tradition.  For details and more information, click here.



Looking east on FM 1606 west of Claytonville (Photo courtesy of Leslie Schmidt).
Firefighters from Roscoe and several other area cities had their hands full on Sunday and Monday with a wildfire that burned in the Claytonville area north of Roscoe.  The fire, known as the 611 Gas Plant fire, charred over 8000 acres, including parts of the 18 Ranch, and threatened the Claytonville Gas Plant as well as over 25 homes before being contained.  Flames came right up to within twenty yards of the plant but luckily caused it no damage.  

Firemen controlled the blaze on Monday morning and were released, but flare ups that afternoon forced them back to the area.  At last report the fire was under control.  Its reported cause was lightning.   



Cindy Shelton Raughton was one of ten area athletes inducted into the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame on Monday evening in the Abilene Civic Center.  A standout basketball player for Avoca High School, she went on to star for the Wayland Baptist College Flying Queens, who won the national women’s basketball championship in 1960.  She was also a member of the American all-star team that visited Russia and played several games there. 

She then married Rudy Raughton, raised a family, and taught for 31 years in Roscoe before retiring in 2000. 

Last night at the City Council meeting, she was honored with a proclamation from the City of Roscoe for her accomplishments. An article (with photos) relating her exploits and experiences appeared in the Abilene Reporter-News on Thursday.  It may be accessed by clicking here.



Roscoe’s oldest citizen, Laura Fay Duncan, celebrated her 104th birthday with a party and cake on Saturday at the Sweetwater Healthcare Center.  She was born May 7, 1907, in Cisco and moved to Nolan County in 1928 to teach at Divide.  She then taught at Roscoe High from 1930-39 before getting married and raising a family. 

Attending the birthday party was Laura Fay’s friend, Pauline Heine, also from Roscoe, who’s only 103 and won’t be 104 until September. 



Former Nightwatchman Lewis Snyder of Roscoe was honored at a ceremony last Wednesday at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene.  The Roll Call of Honor, conducted by the Abilene Police Department, recognizes area law officers killed in the line of duty.  

Lewis Snyder was shot and killed on August 4, 1966, as he attempted to arrest a suspect who was breaking into a downtown Roscoe business at about 4:00am.  The suspect fled to Fort Worth but was apprehended the next day. 


A morning Cinco de Mayo parade in downtown Roscoe was followed by vendors and capped off by an evening street dance “on the bricks” to the music of the band Fantasia.   



The City of Roscoe will hold its annual cleanup week from this Saturday, May 14, to next Saturday, May 21.  During that time, residents may drop off brush, tires, and other unwanted materials from 9:00am to 7:00pm at the big roll-off bins just north of the railroad tracks downtown.   For more information, call the City Hall at 325-766-3871.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Roscoe’s Mayor Slain—in 1937

The downtown alley where the shooting of A. J. Parker took place.
At 4:30 in the afternoon on Friday, June 4, 1937, shots rang out in the alley between the R. S. & P. office and Haney’s drug store.  The mayor of Roscoe, Arthur J. Parker, was hit three times, once through the shoulder, once in the chest, and once in the back.  Not felled by the shots, he ran up the alley and out of the line of fire as eyewitness W. A. Sloan approached the shooter, Bill Dawson, and asked for the gun.  Dawson refused, but former city marshal X. B. Sanders then walked up and without resistance took the .32 pistol from Dawson’s pocket.  

Seeing Dawson disarmed, Parker returned to the scene on his way to the Young Hospital a half block away, and, as he staggered past, told Sanders to call Sheriff Tom Wade.  Dawson, seeing Parker still on his feet, told Sanders to give him his gun and let him finish the job. 

Dawson then apparently went through the back door to Haney’s into the drug store, where he gave himself up to Deputy Sheriff Pat Mayes.  He was taken to the Nolan County jail in Sweetwater and charged with assault with intent to murder, and bond was set at $5000. 

In the meantime, Mayor Parker walked to the hospital and immediately began to receive treatment from Dr. J. W. Young.  Initially, Dr. Young expressed optimism about the mayor’s recovery, giving him a 75% chance of survival.  That night he operated, removing a bullet from Parker’s chest while allowing another to remain just above the stomach.  Unfortunately, the mayor’s condition continued to worsen on Saturday, and on early Sunday morning at about 3 a.m., a day and a half after the shooting, he died.  

His funeral was held on Monday, June 7, at the Community Tabernacle in Roscoe with Sam Young of Sweetwater delivering the funeral oration.  He praised Parker, a Methodist, as a good citizen, an advocate of law and order, and a churchman who often expressed his belief in religious principles.  Others speaking included Methodist minister Rev. W. B. Swim, Baptist pastor Rev. J. N. Easterwood, and former Baptist pastor, Rev. G. W. Parks.  Pallbearers were City Council members Barna Haney, R. E. Harwell, W. E. Kirkland, and Turner May; City Secretary W. P. Copeland; and Hark Haney.

Born in Alabama, Arthur J. Parker, 51, had lived in Roscoe all his adult life and had been the city’s mayor for fifteen of the previous seventeen years.  First elected to the office in 1920, he had served continuously thereafter except for one term, 1933-1935, in which he had not run.  During his tenure, the city had passed bonds for street and waterwork improvement, paved the downtown streets with bricks, extended the water system to include the entire town, installed the city sewer system, purchased the first fire truck, and made natural gas available, along with other civic improvements.  He was an insurance agent and realtor. 

In 1922, he married Ora Parks, the daughter of the town’s Baptist minister, Rev. G. W. Parks.  They subsequently had two children, Arthur, Jr., 14 in 1937, and Shirley Ann, 11.  The Mayor’s father, J. J. Parker, had been one of the original city aldermen when Roscoe was incorporated in 1907. 

Bill Dawson, 58, was a cowboy and rancher for twenty years in Tom Green and Coke Counties before moving south of Roscoe six years earlier to ranch with Bob Scott of Colorado City.  He won third place in the old man’s calf roping contest at the 1934 Texas Cowboy Reunion in Stamford and later won first place in several other rodeos.  In November 1934, two and a half years earlier, he became Roscoe’s nightwatchman, a position that made him the city’s principal law enforcement officer after the sun went down. He was married, and his wife ran a café in downtown Roscoe.

Bad feelings had existed between Parker and Dawson for some time.  Dawson was initially hired as nightwatchman at a salary of $60 a month but had recently been forced to take a cut in pay, which he apparently blamed on Parker.  According to Laura Fay Duncan, both he and Parker were hot tempered, and Dawson had publically accused the Mayor of dishonesty. 

The day before the shooting, Dawson received a letter from the Mayor informing him that he had been fired by order of the City Council and replaced by City Marshal Leslie Butler, but Dawson refused to step down, saying the firing was unauthorized.  (City Councilman Barna Haney told the Abilene Reporter-News that the council had met the previous week before the firing and had not been in session since.) 

At the court hearing held on June 19, two weeks after the shooting, Mrs. Dawson testified that Parker had come to her café earlier in the day and asked her what her husband was going to do about the letter, saying that the city wasn’t big enough for both of them.  She also said that City Commissioner Ralph Henson told her that Parker had said, “The town is not big enough for both of us.  While I’m mayor, I’ll run the town to suit me, if it don’t suit anyone else.  Dawson will leave, or I’ll put his light out.” 

Roscoe farmer O. J. Beinhauer testified that Dawson told him in the café he “wasn’t going to stand for the canning—that it would be different if the city commission had done it, but that he would sooner kill one man than let him get by with such a thing.”  Beinhauer also quoted Dawson as saying, “If I killed him, he wouldn’t have enough friends to carry him off the street.” Mrs. Dawson testified that right after the shooting her husband said to her, “I shot ‘Red’ Parker, Mother. I had to do it.  I wasn’t going to let him beat me up.”

The hearing resulted in District Judge A. S. Mauzey setting Dawson’s bail at $10,000 and charging him with the malicious murder of the mayor.  

On August 3, Mrs. A. J. Parker was elected Mayor of Roscoe to succeed her deceased husband.  She ran unopposed.

On Tuesday, September 28, the trial began in the 32nd District Court in Sweetwater with Judge Mauzey presiding.  The prosecution was led by E. T. Brook of Abilene, while Dawson’s defense counsel was Temple Dickson, who later became a state representative. 

The prosecution argued that Dawson had killed the mayor in cold blood and appealed to the jury to assess the death penalty, citing Dawson’s expressed hatred for the mayor.  Brook argued that testimony indicated the trouble that led to the shooting had been brewing in Dawson’s mind for some time.  He emphasized that Dawson’s request to X. B. Sanders to give him the gun so he could finish the job clearly indicated his murderous intent. 

Dickson, on the other hand, based his case on self-defense, citing threats made by Parker, including one right before the shooting in which he said he would give Dawson a “licking.” Dickson also argued that Dawson was unbalanced and fearful since an earlier altercation with a group of drunks who beat him up when he attempted to apprehend them.  Referring to Dawson’s advanced age, he told the jury, “Any sentence you may impose on the defendant means death as he will not live long if sent to prison.”

The jury deliberated for seventeen hours before reaching their verdict of guilty, and the judge sentenced Dawson to fourteen years in the state penitentiary.  I have not been able to find proof to verify it, but Laura Fay Duncan remembers that Dickson’s prediction was correct and that Dawson didn’t live long after being sent to Huntsville.



Roscoe Plowboy Caden Smith returns to Austin for the third straight year in the shot put and the discus throw after winning first place in both events in the Regional II-A Track and Field Meet at ACU’s Elmer Gray Stadium on Monday.

His winning throw in the discus of 169’7”, his second best distance of the year, was over 15 feet farther than the 152’1” effort by L. J. Collier of Munday that took second place.  Smith won the shot put with a toss of 53’2”.  

The state meet will be May 13-14 in Austin.

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