Notes for William Scott Cooley (1854-1876)


Submitted by michael_95073
Noted added Sat Feb 17 20:50:12 2007

One-time Texas Ranger. Gangleader with Johnny Ringo. Participated in the The Mason County "Hoo Doo" War. See links:

Submitted by michael_95073
Noted added Sat Feb 17 20:58:20 2007


Scott Cooley

Cooley was a Texas frontiersman who pursued a variety of occupations before becoming a central figure of the Mason County War in 1875. At one time a member of Company D of the Texas Rangers, Cooley turned in his badge to pursue of more peaceful vocation. He trailed a couple of herds to Kansas for a Mason County rancher named Tim Williamson, and when Cooley contracted typhoid fever, he was nursed back to health by Mrs. Williamson.

Cooley later acquired a farm near Menard in a neighboring county, but when Williamson was murdered, Cooley bitterly returned to Mason County to seek vengeance. The Mason County War was essentially a clash between Anglos and Germans in the area, and the conflict was aggravated by local cattle thefts. There were assorted shootings, and Williamson was a victim of the German faction. When Cooley arrived on the scene, he promptly killed two men, then became the leader of several other gunmen and continued his path of violence.

Texas Rangers were called in and soon quelled the feud, but Cooley, who previously had served with several of the lawmen, managed to escape arrest. He returned to Blanco County, a former haunt, but he soon fell ill and died.

Submitted by michael_95073
Noted added Sun Jun 29 12:52:03 2008


Scott Cooley (1845-1876?) - Born in 1845, Cooley was an honorable man for the first 30 years of his life and served as a Texas Ranger. However, that all changed in September, 1875, when Deputy Sheriff Worley arrested Cooley's friend and benefactor Tim Williamson on the suspicion of cattle rustling. While Worley escorted Williamson to jail, an angry mob of German cattlemen abducted the prisoner and shot him to death. This incident marked the beginning of the Mason County War in Texas, that pitted the German cattlemen against the native-born Texans. Scott Cooley blamed Worley for Williamson's death, believing him to have been in collusion with the ambushers. Cooley then went to Worley's home where he found the deputy working on his well with an assistant, who had been lowered over the side. Cooley shot Worley dead, and the well worker, clinging to the rope, tumbled to the boom of the well. Cooley then cut scalped Worley, proudly displaying his prize to the Germans. Cooley and his men then killed Peter Bader, the second man on his death list, before tracking down murdering another man named Daniel Hoerster, whom they suspected of having been part of the ambush group. The Germans retaliated by hanging two of Cooley's confederates, and the murders continued in both directions for the next year before the Texas Rangers finally restored order. Cooley escaped from a posse at the Llanno River and was thought to have fled into Blanco County where he was sheltered by friends and died a short time later, supposedly of brain fever. Only a few minor gunmen were ever charged, one of which was Johnny Ringo, but he was acquitted. He would later turn up later in Tombstone , Arizona to tangle with the likes of Wyatt Earp.

Submitted by michael_95073
Noted added Wed Sep 24 18:28:25 2008

Re: Scott Cooley, Texas Ranger
Posted by: John W. Bell
Date: June 20, 2001 at 15:43:22
In Reply to: Scott Cooley, Texas Ranger by Linda

Dear Linda, Scott Cooley was my great great uncle. I have a lot of information on him. The following information I obtained from a reliable source and I have verified much of it. William Scott Cooley was Born c. 1855 to Mathias and Martha Cooley, apparently in Izard County, Arkansas He was apparently named after an older brother, William who probably died in 1854 or so. The family shows on the 1850 census for that county. By 1860 the family was in Jack County, Texas where they show on the 1860 census. Scott apparently left home at an early age, for James B. Gillett, who knew him during his service in the Texas Rangers, recalled that he had worked for Timothy P. Williamson and had made two drives up to Kansas as a drover. This would put his employment in 1872/1873. In 1874 he joined the Texas Rangers, Company D, under C.R. Perry and participated in the little Saline fight against some Indian raiders in which he distinguished himself. After his term was up in December, 1874, he rented the farm of John "Humpy" Jackson in Menard County. In May of 1875 Williamson was murdered by a mob in Mason County. Scott killed two men, John Wohrle and Karl Bader in revenge. He was also present when Daniel Hoerster, another pro-mob participant, was shot to death. In December of 1875 he and John Ringo were arrested in Burnet County for threatening the lives of Sherriff John Clymer and deputy J.J. Strickland. They were liberated, after several jail transfers, by a large number of partisans who included the Olney boys, John Baird, the Calvins and others--said to be some forty in all. The traditional story is that Cooley died of poisoning in Blanco County -- he is buried over there (in Miller Creek Cemetery).

My mother was Ernestine Cooley. Her father was George Washington Cooley and his father was Pleasant Cooley (Scott's older brother. I have lots of additional info. Let me hear form you.

Submitted by michael_95073
Noted added Mon Feb 2 17:13:18 2009

Snippets from Jan 09 emails from author Dave Johnson:


...I found it [the signature] in the hotel register of the Grand Central Hotel, in Ellsworth, Kansas, date of October 16, 1873.

...Yes. Edwards is from Palo Pinto County. I was never able to find out much on him, but then again I never really hunted. He was pre Hoo Doo War.

...I think that this is the period where he [Scott Cooley] was working with Tim Williamson as a drover.


Submitted by michael_95073
Note added Tue Mar 31 13:26:35 2009

Received from David Johnson, Mar 2009:

Frontier Battalion, Company D Muster Rolls
Issued at Blanco City, Texas

W. S. Cooley - Second Corporal - enrolled May 25, 1874
Description: 5' 6", age 22, dark complexion, dark hair, dark eyes from Jack County - cowhunter. Mustered in by William Callahan for 12 months at Blanco City

Resigned as corporal on August 15, 1874 and instated as a private. - August muster roll

Submitted by michael_95073
Note added Tue Apr 28 17:30:02 2009

Received from David Johnson, April 2009:

Galveston Daily News
October 3, 1877

Dispatch: Application for writ of habeas corpus in the case
of Miles Barler and Ben Beeson, charged with the murder of Henry Hoy in San
Saba county a few weeks since was heard before Judge Blackburn on Tuesday,
and Barler was admitted to bail in the sum of $10,000 and Beeson in the sum
of $4000. . . Pink Higgins, Bob Mitchell and William Tinker, charged with
the murder of Merritt Horrell on the 23d day of last January, were tried
before Judge Blackburn on Wednesday morning on a writ of habeas corpus (the
old papers having been destroyed) and Higgins and Mitchell were allowed bond
in the sum of $10,000 each, and Tinker's bond was fixed at $2,500..The jail
breakers from Burnet and Llano, who visited this place about the 4th of May,
1876, and released Scott Cooley and John Ringo, are here, some under bond
and the others in charge of the officers..On account of the destruction of
most of the papers of the District Court, much time is consumed in
substituting the cases, and frequently it is found impossible to reinstate
the causes.

Submitted by michael_95073
Note added Tue Oct 4 13:27:19 2011

Author David Johnson believes that the left figure is Scott Cooley. It's presented here with his permission.

Submitted by michael_95073
Note added Tue Oct 4 13:47:41 2011

Dave included this description of the above picture in an email to the John Cooley Mailing List.

The man in the lower left is, I believe, Scott Cooley. The picture came from a granddaughter of James B. Gillett, Texas Ranger, and you will note that lower left is much darker than the other Rangers. Gillett rode with Cooley.