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Texas Tales

published: July 27th 2018
by: Mike Cox
Shot through his kidneys, as Rance Moore lay dying, it’s not hard to imagine that he almost looked forward to it. Not so much to end his agony, but in atonement for what he had done eight years earlier.
Moore first came to the Texas Hill Country during the Civil War. Living in Milam County when the rebellion began in 1861, about a year later Moore enlisted in state service to protect the frontier from hostile Indians. Originally considered more of a military force, the men who guarded the far settlements during the war between the states are today generally regarded as Texas Rangers. While they conducted regular patrols and had a military style command structure, they wore no uniforms and furnished their own weapons and mounts. 
Scouting the Edwards Plateau, Moore liked the land he saw. Later, in what is now Kimble County, he bought some acreage along Bear Creek. Despite the ongoing Indian threat, after his enlistment, Moore moved his family to his new property in West Texas. With a wife and six children, he raised cattle and most of the food his family needed. What couldn’t be grown could be harvested with a rifle or a baited hook dropped in the creek.
An assortment of friends joined the Moore family along or near Bear Creek. More settlers gave a heightened sense of safety, but more horses, cattle and people made for a more attractive target for raiding Comanches and Kiowas. Depredations increased to the point that in 1867, for their safety Moore decided to move his family to Mason County. 
Still, his new home still lay on the on the edge of the frontier.
On the night of Febru-ary 5, a noise from the stable awakened Moore. His horses sounded agitated. It could be wolves or a mountain lion, but the former ranger thought it more likely that Indians were trying to make off with his stock. Grabbing his rifle, Moore looked out into the dark.  
At first he saw nothing. But as his eyes adjusted, he made out a human silhouette standing near the corral, an Indian. Squeezing the trigger, Moore put a rifle ball in the center of the Indian’s chest and the figure toppled to the ground. 
As he stood grimly waiting for more Indians to appear, he realized something wasn’t right. No arrows or bullets flew in his direction. No cries of mourning came from the dead Indian’s fellow warriors.  
Rushing outside, Moore found to his horror that he had just killed his teenage son, Danie. The boy would have turned 15 on February 10. 
Why the youngster had ventured outside while everyone else in their cabin slept was not explained in the primary recounting of this story. Of course, the reason would have meant nothing to Moore. What mattered, and would remain with him like a festering, embedded iron arrowhead, was that he had mistakenly shot down his own flesh and blood.
The boy’s simple and misspelled grave maker, carved into local stone, makes no mention of the heartbreaking circumstances of his death:
“Danie More, Son of Permelia And Rance More.
“Born February 10, 1852—Died Feb. 5, 1867”
The grieving family moved back to their Bear Creek ranch in Kimble County not long after the tragedy. They stayed there until 1873 when Moore had an opportunity to sell the place along with all his cattle. Using the profit from that transaction, he acquired a tract of irrigated farm land on a fork of the Llano River.
While Moore did well as a farmer, the change of location did nothing to alleviate the enduring pain he lived with. After about a year, Moore sold out and moved again, this time to a place on Saline Creek.
Salt in the unhealed wound for Moore was another harsh reality: Indians continued to prey on the people living in Texas’s western-most counties. Two days before Christmas in 1874, nine warriors swept down on Moore’s ranch and herded away several head of horses. 
Knowing that a company of Rangers were camped only five miles from his ranch, Moore dispatched one of his other sons to alert the state lawmen. Under command of Capt. Dan Roberts, the rangers followed the Indian’s trail up Saline Creek but never encountered the raiders or recovered the stolen horses.
By 1875, the Rangers and U.S. Cavalry had finally made serious inroads on the Indian problem in West Texas. Meanwhile, Moore continued to have to make a living for his family. He made a deal with two men named Jim Mason and Henry Sharp to brand his calves and otherwise manage his cattle. In the fall of that year, they settled up and Moore got ready to drive his share of the herd to market. 
In the process, Moore and Mason had a profanity-laced disagreement over some of Moore’s camp equipment that Mason and Sharp had used. They men eventually parted company and Moore thought the matter over.
However, on December 12, Mason and one Wes Johnson showed up at Moore’s place. While warming their hands at the fireplace, Mason vented over the earlier incident as Moore heard him out. Finally appearing to be satisfied, Mason walked outside.
The unarmed Moore followed and the argument rekindled. Accounts of how things unfolded varied, but Mason shot and mortally wounded Moore. His family buried in him in the Koocksville Cemetery next to the son he had mistakenly killed.
Johnson ended up spending four years in prison following his conviction as an accomplice in the killing. Mason was indicted for murder but never found. 
***
Remembering 
pre-interstate roadsides
Unless You’re
65 Or More
You’ve Probably 
Never Heard of
Burma-Shave
From Days of Yore
Before cell phones, laptops, satellite radio or back-seat video screens, the basic ways to pass the time while traveling by car were talking with your fellow passengers, reading something printed on paper or simply relaxing and enjoying the scenery. 
In Texas and most other states, from the mid-1920s to the early 1960s, part of watching the countryside pass by involved reading and laughing at the clever advertising signs placed along highways by Burma-Vita, the Minneapolis company that manufactured a brush-less shaving cream called Burma-Shave. (For those who have forgotten or perhaps never heard of it, shaving is a daily procedure in which a male-born person voluntarily removes his facial hair with a sharp blade after applying some form of lubricant, generally referred to as shaving cream.)
The once ubiquitous brand name, which got off to a slow start until the owners thought of putting up pithy, punny signs to give their product legs, came from the company’s claim that their product was made with ingredients from the Malay Peninsula and Burma. 
Unlike large billboards or smaller advertising signs, Burma-Shave signs came in a sequential set of six, each spaced far enough apart for motorists to easily digest the witty words line by line. (The sixth board was always just the product name.) The signs, red boards with white letters often simply nailed to fence posts, adhered to one of the fundamental tenets of good advertising: Funny stuff tends to get remembered.
Clearly, Burma-Shave’s marketing department understood that truism very well. They even admitted as much with this sign set:
If Our Road Signs
Catch Your Eye
Smile
But Don’t Forget
To Buy
Burma-Shave
Before the company ended its sign campaign in 1963, over the years it had produced some 700 different sets of text. Starting in 1926, each year brought new signs with new verbiage, but older signs tended to stay up. That made for roughly 40,000 signs across the nation, excluding New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada, which company officials did not think had enough vehicular traffic to justify signage. (Because of high rental costs and other factors, Massachusetts also did not have the funny signs.) In Texas, however, Burma-Shave signs could be found along all the main pre-Interstate highways, as common as bluebonnets in early spring.
Of course, a good brand name does not afford immunity from the law. A company representative once had his own kind of close shave when he found himself facing two Texas Rangers with guns drawn. Turned out, the traveling salesman-sign hanger had tossed several boxes of defective Burma-Shave product off a bridge. Someone seeing that happen jumped to the sinister conclusion that a body was being disposed of.  Once the Burma-Shave rep succeeded in convincing the state lawmen that he was not a killer on the run, they let him go with a warning. 
While not always politically correct by today’s standards, the roadside signs brought smiles in the day. Not only were most of them funny, in addition to touting their product, they offered safety messages to motorists.
Some of the safety related slogans from the 1960s:
Drowsy?
Just Remember, Pard
That Marble Slab
Is Doggone
Hard
Angels
Who Guard You
When You Drive
Usually
Retire At 65
If Daisies
Are Your
Favorite Flower
Keep Pushin’ Up Those
Miles-Per-Hour
A perennial theme was that shaving, especially with Burma-Shave, made a gentleman more attractive to the ladies.
A favorite along Texas highways was:
Ben
Met Anna
Neglected Beard
Ben-Anna Split
Burma-Shave
For those with a passing knowledge of British history, the company offered this sign:
Henry the Eighth
Sure Had
Trouble
Short Term Wives
Long Term Stubble
From the company’s final year:
In Cupid’s Little 
Bag of Trix
Here’s the One
That Clix
With Chix
The sign campaign worked. At the company’s peak, Burma-Shave ranked second in U.S. shaving cream sales. But the advent of electric razors in the 1950s began to dull Burma-Shave’s market edge. In 1963, the company was acquired by Philip Morris. The new owners of the brand apparently did not have much of a sense of humor and the Burma-Shave sign campaign ended. Besides, television ads could reach a lot more people than road signs.
Philip Morris did not send teams across the nation to pull down every old Burma-Shave sign. Souvenir hunters and antique dealers took care of that, though some of the sign sets survived for years after their maker had faded into corporate history.
As early as 1942, the company seems to have understood the impact it had already had on American culture when it distributed this sign set:
If You 
Don’t Know
Whose Signs
These Are
You Can’t Have
Driven Very Far
Burma-Shave
SLS

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