Charles Angelo Siringo

Charles Angelo Siringo

Twas good to live when all the range
Without no fence or fuss,
Belonged in partnership with God,
The Government and us.

With skyline bounds from east to west,
With room to go and come,
I liked m}' fellow man the best
When he was scattered some.

When my old soul hunts range and rest
Beyond the last divide,
.Just plant me in some stretch of West
That's sunny, lone and wide.

Let cattle rub my tombstone round
And coyotes mourn their kin,
Let hawses paw and tromp the moun'
But don't you fence it in! “

-- Badger Clark, Jr.


Charles Siringo at Find A Grave                Charlie Siringo by Red Stegall

Charles A. "Charlie" Siringo in front of the Hotel Palacios on his 1913 trip to Matagorda County
Horses Rowdy & Pat and Irish Wolfhound Eat 'Em  up Jake
Photo courtesy of Donald Harvey & Betty Rusk


Shy Tom, This was taken in front of Palacios Hotel in Palacios two weeks ago. Good picture of horses but poor of me. CAS

Shy Tom was Thomas Jefferson Williams, a friend of Charlie Siringo.

Charles A. Siringo

A native son who brought recognition to Matagorda County through his adventures and writings was well-known cowboy-detective, Charles Angelo Siringo. He was born February 7, 1855 on the Matagorda Peninsula to Antonio and Bridget White Siringo, who had married in Matagorda on October 12, 1852.

At the age of twelve he was “drafted” into the life of a cowboy when he got a job working for Mr. Faldien near Boggy.

His father, a native of Sicily, had died when he was a year old, and on August 15, 1867, his mother married William Carrier in Matagorda. The family sold their property in Matagorda to go north where Mr. Carrier was supposed to have property. After spending all of the family’s money, Mr. Carrier deserted them. Charlie worked at odd jobs, and finally worked his way back to Texas, landing at Indianola.

He began work on Matagorda County ranches, working for Tom Nye, Shanghai Pierce, Wiley Kuykendall, Robert Partain and W. B. Grimes. He spent two years living with the Horace Yeamans family on Cash’s Creek. Then he hired out driving cattle north from the LX Ranch. While at the LX Ranch, he first met Billy the Kid.

The Kid’s two-way rustling operation—stealing horses in New Mexico and selling them in Texas, and rustling cattle in Texas for the return trip and selling them in New Mexico—let to Siringo’s first experience as a detective. Siringo led a posse of the top guns of the LX to try to stop the rustling and to capture Billy. Charlie left the posse on a side venture to find out what happened to the stolen cattle, and the Kid was killed in a shoot-out with the posse led by Pat Garrett.

In the spring of 1886, Charlie went to Chicago and applied for a position with the Pinkerton Detective Agency. He received a dangerous assignment in the mining camps of Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene region. He assumed the alias of C. Leon Allison, and applied for a job as a miner and joined the miner’s union. Hired by the mine owners, he was appointed a United States Marshall and was the star witness in the trials held in the United States courts at Coeur d’Alene City and Boise.

His next assignment was the four year task of trailing the Wild Bunch, Butch Cassidy’s (George Leroy Parker) gang. These feared outlaws were Harvey Logan, the infamous Kid Curry; Ben Kilpatrick, the Tall Texan; Harry Longabaugh, the Sundance Kid; Will Carver; and Flatnose George Curry. This work took him as much as 1,000 miles at a time on horseback in the most remote and wildest part of the West. Altogether he traveled 25,000 miles trailing the Wild Bunch, most of it on horseback. In the four years he worked on the case, most of the outlaw members were killed, put behind bars, or left the country for South America. Charlie was the first cowboy to put his real life experiences in writing. His books in order of publication are: A Texas Cowboy, or Fifteen Years on the Hurricane Deck of a Spanish Pony (1885); A Cowboy Detective (1912); Two Evil Isms: Pinkertonism and Anarchism (1915); A Lone Star Cowboy (1919); A Song Companion of a Lone Star Cowboy (1919); and Riata and Spurs (1927). The following was written to Charlie by Will Rogers when he filled out an order for Riata and Spurs: “Dear Charley: Somebody gave me the proof sheet of our new book, Riata and Spurs, and wanted to know what I think of it. What I think of it? I think the same of it as I do the first cowboy book I ever read, Fifteen Years on the Hurricane Deck of a Spanish Pony. Why, that was the Cowboy’s Bible when I was growing up. I camped with a herd one night at the old LX Ranch, just north of Amarillo, in ’98, and they showed me an old forked tree where some old bronc had bucked you into. Why, that to us was like looking at the Shrine of Shakespeare to some of these “deep foreheads.” If you live to be one thousand years old, you couldn’t write a bad book about the cowboys—the stuff they did might be bad, but you could tell it so well it would sound almost respectable.” Well-known folklorist, J. Frank Dobie, wrote of him: “Charlie Siringo had almost nothing to say on life, he reported actions. He put down something valid on a class of livers, as remote now from the Atomic Age as Ramses II. His cowboys and gunmen were not Hollywood and Folklore. He was an honest reporter.”

Charlie Siringo had married as a young man, and in 1907, he resigned his job with the Pinkertons after twenty-two years and retired to his Sunny Slope Ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Retirement bored him, and he worked on several cases for William J. Burns Detective Agency. In the spring of 1916, Governor William C. McDonald of New Mexico persuaded Charlie to take a job as a ranger with the Mounted Police for the Cattle Sanitary Board of New Mexico. His health failed, and in December of 1922 he left Santa Fe for San Diego, California, to live with his daughter, Mrs. Viola Reed, and his fourteen-year-old granddaughter, Margaret. They nursed him back to health. Subsequently he moved to Los Angeles, and there to Venice, near Hollywood, where he died on October 19, 1928.

He requested the following verses by Badger Clark, Jr. be carved on his tombstone:

“Just plant me in some stretch of West
That's sunny, lone and wide.
Let cattle rub my tombstone down
And coyotes mourn their kin,
Let hawses paw and tromp the moun'
But don't you fence it in! “

Jean W. Richardson

Historic Matagorda County, Volume II, pages 486-487

A Cowboy Detective

Mr. Chas. A Siringo, who for more than twenty years has been a professional detective with the Pinkerton Agency, is a native of Matagorda county, having been born on is southern border near the gulf coast. He was a cowboy of the early days and later engaged in the detective agency work. Mr. Siringo has been here for the past few weeks visiting old time friends and the scenes of his early childhood where many great and surprising changes have been wrought in the years since he was a boy. Mr. Siringo has written a story of his experiences as a detective which was recently published by a Chicago house in book form. Through the courtesy of the author it has been our pleasure to review the book which is a narrative of most fascinating interest. In relating his experiences, Mr. Siringo assumes a happy vein, telling what were most thrilling and daring experiences as though they were but common occurrences, avoiding extended detail or any dramatic coloring for which there is unlimited opportunity. The special interest of the book is in its matter of fact exposure of the workings of desperados and criminals of different classes, revealing what may be termed the underworld in life and society, of which but little is really known. His work was principally in the west among the mines and cattle ranches and on railroads; but his experiences with the mountaineers and moonshiners of Kentucky were among the most dangerous of his undertakings. The revelations of the conditions existing among those people reveal a state of affairs that it would seem could scarce exist right in the heart of a civilized and enlightened nation. The book is well worth the reading for the real information it contains concerning people and conditions of which society in general is almost if not entirely ignorant. This biography makes clear that the one great secret of being a detective is to avoid being detected as such.

Palacios Beacon, February 21, 1913


Childhood Sweethearts Come Together After Both Had Been Married

Chas. A. Siringo of Santa Fe, New Mexico, cowboy, author and famed detective, was married at the Majestic Hotel Saturday afternoon to Mrs. Helen Partain, of Bay City, Texas.

The ceremony, sweet in its simplicity, was performed by Dr. Alonzo Monk, of the Central Methodist church, in the parlors of the hotel at 4 o’clock in the presence of a number of the hotel guests.

The bride, who is pretty for one of 51 years of age, looked unusually handsome in an elegant hand embroidered lavender chiffon gown.

She has been a guest at the Majestic for over two weeks, together with Wylie Kuykendall, a retired cattleman, of Victoria, Texas, and his wife.

Mrs. Siringo is the owner of a ranch of considerable value near San Antonio and was born and reared in the west.

Mr. Siringo is 58 years old. For years he has led a life of adventure. At the age of 11 he was a full-fledged cowboy and for 23 years he has been in the employ of the famous National Detective Agency, having only recently retired.

His book, an autobiography, “A Cowboy Detective” is a 500 page narrative that tells the thrilling adventures in the mountains and on the plains and of his own ups and downs throughout the United States, Alaska, British Columbia and Old Mexico. It is an intensely interesting detective story from start to finish.

Mr. Siringo first met his bride 40 years ago. It was then that cupid did his first work, for they were childhood sweethearts, however, Fate separated them only to bring them together again. Mr. and Mrs. Siringo will leave Hot Springs Wednesday for the groom’s Sunny Side [Slope] Ranch in the outskirts of Santa Fe. –Hot Springs, (Ark) Democrat.

Reprinted in The Daily Tribune, May 29, 1913

Charley Siringo Dies at Los Angeles
Cowboy Novelist, Well Known Here, Passes Away in California

Los Angeles, Cal., Oct 22.—In a little Hollywood home where he kept alive his memories of the Western Plains with thrilling tales of old-time cowboys, Charles A. Siringo died Friday.

It was about twenty years ago that he left the ranges and came to Southern California, broken in health after a strenuous life as a cowpuncher in the Texas Panhandle and hero of many thrilling encounters with desperadoes of the Plains. He was 77.

Fifty years ago Siringo, who was born in Texas and who gained fame as a hunter of outlaws, rode in the saddle on cattle drives over the old Chisholm trail of Kansas. Later he punched Texas Longhorns through the Panhandle country, where many a wild and wooly Western story had its inception.

But it was a train forty-two years ago that turned the tide in Siringo’s life. A cattle train took the plainsman to Chicago, where his experience as a cowboy gained him a place with the Pinkerton Detective Agency.

From Chicago the Pinkertons sent him to Denver. Some of his better known exploits against the lawless characters of the Western plains followed. For four years Siringo fought the “Wild Bunch,” a band of outlaw horsemen finally freeing the country from their depredations. Billy the Kid, a famous gunman of the plains, once was captured by Siringo.

When his health broke, Siringo packed up and came to the Pacific Coast.

In California Siringo’s hair-raising experiences in Indian uprisings, cowpunching, hunting desperados, buffalo hunts were molded into stories. Among his better known works were “A Lone-Star Cowboy,” “Fifteen Years on the [Hurricane] Deck of a Spanish Pony,” “The Life of Billy the Kid” and “A Cowboy Detective.”

Mr. Siringo was well known, especially amongst the old-time cattlemen of this section. Some years ago he returned to this county and married Mrs. Ellen Partain. They soon separated. Mr. Siringo returning to New Mexico. Mrs. Partain later married a man by the name of Sapp who is now serving a life term in the penitentiary for having his wife murdered in a thicket near Beaumont.

Siringo herded cattle on the South Texas plains and was a colorful character in the early days.

Matagorda County Tribune, October 26, 1926

Charles Siringo on Wikipedia               Charles Siringo on Thrilling               Charles Siringo in the Handbook of Texas

Encyclopedia of the Great Plains                Legends of America


Siringo Family Matagorda County Cattle Brands

Antonio Serringo [Siringo]

A crop off the left ear and a hole in right ear Dec 7, 1850


Catharine Seringo & her children

Upper and under bit out of each ear Oct 4, 1855


Bridget Seringo & her children - Catharine and Anjelo Seringo [Siringo]

Upper and under bit out of each ear Jul 26, 1858


C. A. Siringo

Over & under bit in each ear May 19, 1873


Copyright 2011 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved

May 15, 2011
May 15, 2011