Updated: Aug 1
PC Sheriff’s Posse –
“Rough, Tough, Brave Community Leaders Who’ve Influenced Parker County for 75 Years”
This is their story.
By Marsha Brown
It’s long been perceived as the most influential organization in Parker County—for the past 74 years, in fact. But when times change, power inevitably shifts. Is the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse the power organization today that it was in the ‘80s? What does the PCSP do, exactly?
Categorizing the Posse isn’t easy. Since its 1947 inception, the Posse has been known to “wear a lot of hats.” It’s a support system for county law enforcement, it’s help for non-profit organizations, a service organization and a league of goodwill ambassadors for Parker County. While Parker County once was a cattle baron’s paradise, today it’s rapidly morphing into a developer’s paradise. Because the community is changing, the leadership of the Posse faces a difficult balancing act. How can they best steer the Posse in a way to maintain its traditionally high standards while changing with the times and growing with the county?
In The Beginning … The Parker County Sheriff’s Posse didn’t have a grandiose beginning. It started quietly with a conversation two friends had early one cool, autumn morning in 1946 over strong coffee at a Weatherford café. Roger Williams and J.W. Crum were talking and somehow the subject turned to posses. They talked about how whenever a sheriff in a Western town needed extraordinary manpower to help tackle a tough task, he’d call on his most trustworthy local men — a posse. Regardless of whether they were facing down renegade Comanche, chasing bank robbers, finding lost children or rounding up rustlers — a good posse could get a tough job done.
Early in 1947, Crum and Williams met with a handful of other community leaders — mostly ranchers and business owners. They were ready to form a posse. They met at Williams’ business office, a dozen of them, on Jan. 13, 1947, (13 were invited, all but one attended) to discuss what they had to do in order to establish the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse. They were all thrilled with the idea. Even the one man who couldn’t attend sent his approval via proxy.
The Parker County Sheriff’s Posse’s original 13 members were J.W. Crum, Fletcher Dalton, Marsh Farmer, Walker Good, Aaron Hays, Dave Hudson, Forest Lindsay, Frank McEntire, Cullen Robinson, Loyd Smith, Tom B. Saunders, Roger Williams and L.T. “Red” Wood.
Hays was voted in as first captain of the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse. They also decided that Parker County Sheriff John F. Young would be an honorary leader of the organization and that each of his successors would hold that honor.
They met again a week later and decided that they needed to expand the membership to 20 so the Posse would qualify for a state charter.
“Our Posse is about public service, coupled with an interest and concentration on the history of Parker County.”
The 14th Posse Member
The newly-formed organization needed a constitution, a charter and bylaws. Young local lawyer Jack Borden seemed like a good fit, and became the 14th Posse member. He was joined by Walter Caraway, Barney Phillips, Ferd Slocum, Ray Smyth, H.K. Wylie and S.A. Wheeler. Saunders (a rancher) and Borden (an attorney) were given the honor of writing the charter, by-laws, constitution and obtaining and filing all of the paperwork with the state to make the formation of the organization official.
They must have done something right. “A number of groups began to spring up across the state, patterned after our Sheriff’s Posse,” Borden said, in an interview with Parker County Today in 2006.
Numerous counties in the southwestern United States still hold on to the tradition by having an active sheriff’s posse, but few possess the business acumen, community involvement and leadership of the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse and even fewer managed to achieve the level of influence and prestige reached by the local Posse. “Our Posse is about public service, coupled with an interest and concentration on the history of Parker County,”
The Posse has been called out numerous times over the past 70 years to assist in emergencies of various degrees. “The KKK threatened to blow up the Parker County Courthouse in the early 1950s and the Posse was called to help guard the courthouse,” said Posse Member Bill Ward. “Most recently we were called out when a young lady was missing, a single mom from Palo Pinto County, and we went out and rode for days looking for that girl. We helped the Palo Pinto Sheriff’s Office search for her.”
It’s About The Company You Keep
When Dr. Noel Bryan came to Parker County, he became the only veterinarian in the county. That was in the 1950s and he joined the Posse in 1959. “When I moved here, the Sheriff’s Posse was the organization in Parker County as far as I was concerned,” Bryan said. “This was an agricultural community and the posse was made up of ranchers, dairymen, bankers and lawyers. They were the hierarchy of Parker County. It was the type of organization I wanted to belong to. Eugene Polser and Boley Pearson got me into it. There were other good organizations in Parker County, like the Lion’s Club, and I belonged to them, but I was a country boy; the Posse was my niche. When I built my clinic out on the Mineral Wells Highway, I put it there because the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse was just up the road.”
Parker County Frontier Days Rodeo is one of the community’s most exciting local traditions. The whole show is produced by the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse. It’s not just bronc-busting and bull-riding. World-class entertainers like trick rider Bree Worthington have been a part of the lineup in years past. The money raised by the rodeo goes to boost local youth-related charities.
By the fall of 1947, the Posse raised its membership cap to 50 members. A valuable asset to the Posse is the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse headquarters. Not long after the Posse’s inception, interest and activities were growing by leaps and bounds and larger quarters were needed for meetings and dinners. Headquarters of the Posse were moved to the American Legion building, but after operating there for months and paying rent, it was decided to purchase land and eventually construct their own headquarters. The membership was again raised to 60, comprising 50 active and 10 honorary members.
The year 1947 ended with the purchase of the present site of 37 acres for permanent headquarters. When they closed on the property, it was a mesquite-infested abandoned peach orchard at 2251 Mineral Wells Highway, which was cleared mostly by Posse members on horseback with stout lariat ropes.
The Posse still calls the place home. The land purchase was financed by one of the local banks with the loan backed by several of the members’ personal guarantee of repayment. “The organization was young, but the members had already decided that it was going to be around for a long time and needed to put down deep roots,” wrote Phil Livingston in his book entitled, “Parker County Sheriff’s Posse — The First Fifty Years.” The original clubhouse was a 30’ x 100’ barracks building purchased from Camp Wolters in Mineral Wells. The Camp was being deactivated and the barracks were sold for civilian use. The all-steel sign that welcomes visitors was added in 1958. Hundreds of other improvements have contributed to the success of their annual events like the Frontier Days Celebration, Rodeo and Livestock Show, and sponsorship of the rodeo from the Lion’s Club in 1948. They began holding the event at their new arena beginning in 1950. The Parker County Sheriff’s Posse participates annually in numerous events. They saddle up in uniform for an all-day ride to Mineral Wells complete with a chuck wagon lunch on the trail, a tradition that was the brainchild of Boley Pearson. Upon arrival in Mineral Wells, they participate in the Palo Pinto Sheriff’s Posse parade and rodeo. As many as 500 people have participated in the trail ride in years past, but attendance today is more likely to be less than 100. Many of the riders are the “new guys and the guys from town who don’t get to ride everyday,” said Saunders. “That and the Posse kids who get permission to miss school.”
In 1997, the group began sponsorship of a professional bull-riding event each summer. Posse members always ride in the Fort Worth Stock Show Parade and in the grand entry on Weatherford night, as well as in parades and events throughout Texas and neighboring states.
The Posse has a website that chronicles the group’s history and the information given about its members. It reads much like a family Bible. The births of members are not what are recorded — instead, it’s the entrances of new members and the deaths of its longtime supporters that are listed herein. When a member passes away, the Posse upholds a longstanding cowboy tradition to honor him. On the last night of the rodeo when the Posse rides in, the member’s horse is led into the arena, saddled with the cowboy’s boots in the stirrups turned the wrong way.
And the member list reads like a who’s who of Weatherford history. The buildings, longtime businesses, schools, streets and events named after Posse members are too numerous to list. The Posse can count mayors, city councilmen, county commissioners, bankers, doctors, veterinarians, lawyers and even a former Speaker of The US House of Representatives, Jim Wright, as members.
Tom B. Saunders, IV, is a second-generation Posse member who joined in 1974. “Guys join the Posse for different motives, but most of it is people who like the western way and like to ride horses. The Posse promotes the western way of life. For some of the boys that live in town that don’t get to ride that much, it’s the camaraderie and it’s a lot of fun.”
The posse has always been made up of “people from all walks of life,” Borden said. “We had a bunch of the fellows already in the cutting horse business even before we started the Sheriff’s Posse in 1947,” he continued. The Posse was one of the first affiliates of the National Cutting Horse Association in 1949 and supplied the organization with its first three presidents: Ray Smyth, Tom B. Saunders and H. Calhoun. Ray Smyth was one of the first inductees into the NCHA Members Hall of Fame in 1977. All three men also served as Captain of the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse. Not surprisingly, the Posse rodeo has had a cutting competition almost since its inception.
Tom Riddle served as Posse Captain in 1979 and he also granted PCT an interview in 2006. He counted more than a dozen family members and in-laws who were also Posse members. Both he and Borden were proud of the support the Posse has given to Parker County’s youth. “The Posse has been there over the years especially for the 4-H, FFA and also the FFA rodeo,” said Riddle. The annual FFA/4H Livestock Show is held in conjunction with the summertime rodeo on the Pos
se Grounds as it has been since 1951. The Posse’s support of the livestock sale has helped many Parker County youth obtain funds to attend college.
“My son and both brothers were members; lots of guys have their whole families involved. It’s a good organization; we help a lot of kids and other charities. It makes the hard work worthwhile,” added Craig Peacock.
To become a Posse member, you must be sponsored by a current member and have three signatures of support from other Posse members. The applications are then passed to a screening committee and then the entire membership votes on each one. According to one member, “some years even Jesus Christ couldn’t get in.” The group currently has openings and there is no specific signup time; new members are added throughout the year. New Posse members must attend 10 events, parades or rides during their inaugural year.
The Parker County Sheriff’s Posse Rodeo became an officially sanctioned event of the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association in 1960. This assures that Parker County audiences will see the best cowboys; the professionals competing at the top of the sport, not just guys who do it on the weekends. The PRCA is like the NFL or NBA of rodeo. The PRCA sanctions 650 rodeos a year in 41 different states and ensures that each event is managed with fairness and competence and that the livestock used is healthy and cared for to the highest standards. PRCA-sanctioned rodeos all have the big six events: saddle bronc riding, bareback riding, bull riding, tie down, steer wrestling and team roping. Weatherford also has two optional PRCA events — barrel racing and steer roping.
Cowboys compete for dollars at PRCA events, and a running total is kept to allow the top earners to compete at the national finals held in Las Vegas. Although the Posse has given money raised at the annual rodeo to different community groups throughout the years, like youth scholarships and the Campbell Health Foundation, the majority of the money is used to improve the rodeo grounds themselves to continue to meet PRCA standards. In the early days, Posse members had to personally guarantee the notes at the banks so they would lend the money needed to put the rodeo on every year.
The Parker County’s rodeo season kicks-off with a jam-packed Saturday, June 4. Activities begin at 6:30 a.m. at The Cabins in Millsap with breakfast followed by a Cattle Drive and Trail Ride to the Sheriff’s Posse Grounds and lunch. “Saturday is going to be epic,” said 2022 Posse Captain Shane Harris.
The annual Rodeo Parade through Weatherford begins at the Weatherford 9th Grade Center on South Main Street at 6:30 p.m. And the day ends with a street dance on the Northwest Quadrant of the downtown square. The street dance is a free family-friendly event featuring Albert Leon Payne and Friends.
TUESDAY, June 7th - 7:30 pm Chick-Fil-A Bulls Night Out – PRCA Extreme Bull Riding
PRCA Rodeo - WEDNESDAY– SATURDAY, June 8th-11th - 7:30 pm nightly – a Pete Carr Rodeo Production. (Activities start at 7:30 pm each night and the rodeo starts at 8 pm)
June 7th – 8:00 AM - Timed Event Slack
June 8th – 8:00 AM - Ladies Breakaway Roping Slack
June 9th – 7:00 AM - Steer Roping Slack
June 9th – 5:30 PM - Exceptional Rodeo
June 11th – 8:00 AM - Barrel Racing Slack
The 75th Annual Frontier Days Celebration and Rodeo is set for June 7th-11th, beginning at 7:30 p.m. each evening at the Posse Grounds.
Longtime Posse member Dr. Noel Bryan says he’s loved every minute of his time in the Posse. “I’ve been everything in Posse except the corral boss,” Dr. Bryan said. “I’ve been the wrangler, lieutenant, captain and director. I haven’t regretted any of it.” What was the best part? “I think it was the camaraderie,” Bryan said. “The people who were in the Posse were the people who ran the town. It’s been great. The friendships and riding in the parades where the exuberant crowds were cheering us on. People would actually come out and cheer for us. It was fun, at least it was for me. We had a great time,” Bryan said. Then a mischievous spark lit up his face and he added, “We were lucky. Nobody put us in jail.”
75 Years Later, Still Going Strong
Current Posse Captain Shane Harris said the mission hasn’t changed. The most important thing about the Posse is still, “We’re still keeping the western heritage and the Western way of life alive. Each year it becomes more important because a few of our Parker County ranches are disappearing with every year that goes by. Each year more historic ranches become housing developments, so it’s takes more work to keep our heritage strong.” But being Posse Captain and leading the group isn’t the most important thing to him or the other members. “What’s most important is to put on a great rodeo. And we believe that it gets better every year.”
We would have to agree with Mr. Harris.
Who’s Who in ‘22
Besides Captain Shane Harris, Larry Walden is the Lieutenant, Roudy Turner, Secretary, Mat Galliton - Treasurer, Charles McFarland - Corral Boss, Jamie French - Wrangler, Maelie Turner - Sweetheart, Russ Authier - Sheriff, Doug Leeper - Past Captain, Rodeo Committee - Larry Sullivan - Chairman, Travis Faulkner, Thomas Saunders. Board of Directors - Bill Riddle, Seth Denbow, Steven Finch, Randy O'Neal, Stephen Shultz, and Ronnie Davis. The Ranch Rodeo was again a huge success.
The Posse bids a fond, sad farewell to with the loss of Dave Rydbeck, 6 year member(2015), Doug Finch-48 year member(1973).