George Washington Arrington was born in 1844 in Greensboro, Alabama as John Cromwell Orrick, Jr., the son of John Cromwell and Mariah Arrington Orrick. After John Sr., died in 1848, Mariah married William Larkin Williams, who lost his life in the Civil War.
John Orrick, Jr., enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861 and rode as a member of Colonel John Mosby’s guerrillas. He often operated as a spy, providing useful information about enemy movements to his squadron commander. After the war, Orrick migrated to Mexico arriving too late to join Emperor Maximilian’s forces as a mercenary. Disappointed, he returned to his home in Greensboro.
In 1867, Orrick and a man by the name of Alex Webb, a recently appointed voting registrar for Hale and Greene Counties in Alabama, began to argue. During the course of this dispute, Webb called Orrick a liar. Orrick drew out his pistol and shot Webb three times, killing him instantly. Witnesses later testified that after the shooting, Orrick remarked, “I will allow no damn Negro to call me a damned liar.” Now wanted for the murder of a government official, Orrick fled Greensboro. He not only left behind his home town, but also his name.
In 1870, Orrick was living in Texas under the name George Washington Arrington. He initially worked for the Houston and Texas Central Railway, later taking a job at a commission house in Galveston. In 1874, Arrington took up farming in Collin County but later blazed trail moving cattle to Brown County.
Arrington was in Brown County in 1875 when he enlisted in a newly formed company of the Frontier Battalion of Texas Rangers. His work in the first two years was sufficient to convince Major John B. Jones to promote him from Sergeant to First Lieutenant in 1877. Arrington, it seems, had demonstrated the skill of tracking down fugitives and outlaws. A year later, Arrington was appointed Captain of Company C and stationed at Coleman. In July 1878, he was ordered to Fort Griffin to restore peace in the wake of vigilante activities. A year after that his company was moved to the Texas Panhandle to investigate a series of Indian depredations at area ranches.
In 1879, Arrington (now called “Cap” because of his rank) had a significant disagreement with the US Army commander at Fort Elliott, Lieutenant Colonel J. W. (Black Jack) Davidson. Davidson favored humane treatment of transient Indians in the Texas Panhandle; Arrington believed that if the Indians were off their reservations, they should be treated as criminals.
In September 1879, Arrington established Camp Roberts, the first Texas Ranger Camp in the Panhandle, situated east of present-day Crosbyton. From this location, he led his company on a successful forty-day reconnaissance for the lost lakes in Eastern New Mexico. The rangers charted the area from Yellow House Canyon to Ranger Lake in Eastern New Mexico, marking watering places and favorite Indian hideouts.
Arrington resigned from the Texas Rangers in the summer of 1882 in order to take advantage of ranching opportunities in the Texas Panhandle. After helping local ranchers break up a major rustling operation, they elected him Over-Sheriff of fourteen counties in the Texas Panhandle. It was at this time that Cap Arrington met and married Miss Sarah (Sallie) Burnette. Together they had three sons and six daughters.
During his years as Sheriff, Arrington became known as the Panhandle’s Iron Hand. This reputation increased when, in 1886, Arrington shot and killed the cattle thief John Leverton. Leverton’s widow filed charged against Arrington for murder, but he was acquitted on the grounds of self-defense.
Arrington resigned his star in 1890; he had filed a land claim on choice ranch land on the Washita River in Hemphill County. In 1893 he became the manager of the Rocking Chair Ranch and with their support made considerable improvements in the process of marketing and shipping cattle. He remained with the Rocking Chair Ranch until 1896 when the Continental Land and Cattle Company bought out the owners.
After the sale of the Rocking Chair Ranch, Arrington resumed management over his own affairs. He became involved in the civic affairs of Canadian, Texas where he lived for seven years. In 1897, Arrington was called upon to escort the convicted killer George Isaacs to the State prison in Huntsville. Isaacs had murdered Hemphill County Sheriff Thomas McGee.
Because of his duties as a law officer, Cap Arrington always remained cautious about strangers; he was seldom ever seen in public without a side arm.
While visiting the springs at Mineral Wells in 1923, Cap Arrington suffered a heart attack in late March. Returning to his home, he passed away on 31 March. Miss Sallie lived on until June 1945. Cap Arrington’s ranch continues to operate through family heirs.
- Sinise, George Washington Arrington, 1979
- Texas State History Association
John Mosby (December 6, 1833 – May 30, 1916), was a Confederate cavalry battalion commander during the American Civil War. He commanded the 43rdBattalion of Virginia Cavalry; collectively known as Mosby’s Raiders, noted in history for its lightening quick raids and the ability to elude pursuing Union Army forces in the area of Central Virginia. After the Civil War, Mosby (who was known as “The Gray Ghost”) worked as a lawyer in the US Department of Justice and served as American Consul for Hong Kong. Mosby, a Republican, became a staunch supporter of President Ulysses S. Grant, his former enemy’s commander in chief in the Virginia campaign.
White Southerners commonly denounced carpetbaggers during the post-Civil War years, fearing they would loot and plunder the defeated south and be politically allied with radical Republicans. Many of their fears regarding the influence of the carpetbaggers came to fruition. Sixty men from the North, including educated free blacks and illiterate slaves, who had escaped to the North and returned South after the war, were elected as Republicans to Congress. Alex Webb was one of the negroes appointed to government office by the carpetbaggers.
Davidson was a native Virginian, well known as a professional soldier and Indian fighter. Davidson graduated from the US Military Academy in 1845, saw frontier duty in Kansas and Wisconsin, and participated in several California battles during the Mexican American War. During the Civil War, he served as a Brigadier General in McClellan’s Army of the Potomac. He was known as Black Jack because he commanded the US 10th Cavalry (Buffalo Soldiers) from 1866 to 1875.