Old West lawman, Ground Hog dinner

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A few years ago during one hot summer night, my oldest daughter Lauren and several of her friends were upstairs in our theater room “chillin” which is what she called it.

I went upstairs to see if these 19-year-olds were doing all right and to offer to have pizza delivered to them. As I opened the door to the theater room Lauren said, “Hi Dad, these are my friends Courtney, Emily and Dante. Dante jumped up from the recliner, stuck his hand out and said, “Hello Mr. Anderson, Dante Lalli.” I shook hands with the kid and told him how I had once known an old television personality, when I was in college, named Dino Lalli. Dante laughed and said, “Oh yeah, that’s my dad.”

Dante started telling me about his landscape business and how he also installed Christmas lights. He told me about how his dad was beginning to sell his large collection of autographed movie posters that he had been collecting for more than 30 years. I told him the poster I was looking for was for my favorite movie of all time “Tombstone” that cast the likes of Val Kilmer, Bill Paxton, Kurt Russell, Sam Elliott, Michael Biehn and Diana Delany. I thought it would really be something if I could get that poster from Dino knowing that he had witnessed this special cast signing it. I wanted to get that poster for several reasons, but the main reason was about my family heritage.

You see, while the Earp family, Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil were trying to keep the peace as Sheriff and deputies of Cochese County, Arizona back in the late 1880’s, my fifth-great grandpa Arthur Brown Ross, Sr. was straight across the map in Panola County, Texas doing the exact same thing. I wanted to have this unique movie poster for a special anniversary tribute that was on the horizon.

This past Thursday night, January 2, 2019 marked the 136th anniversary of the night Sheriff Arthur Brown Ross, Sr. was called down to the local saloon to “quell a disturbance.” He apparently thought he could go to the bar, break up the fight and then get back home to go to sleep. A shot rang out that night and killed him. A lawman gunned down in cold blood in the wild, wild west.

I first heard this story about “Brown” Ross in 1969 from my Grandpa Jack. He had reached into his sock drawer and retrieved a carefully wrapped Old Western 45-caliber handgun. He told me that since he never had any sons that someday that old gun would pass down to me.

About 10 years ago, I contacted the librarian at Panola County College in Carthage, Texas. I told her that I was looking for a copy of the Panola County Watchman newspaper from the week of January 2, 1883 and explained to her the front-page story I was looking for (an account of the Sheriff being shot and killed.)

She told me that she would do research. When she called me back a few weeks later, she told me there had been a fire at the newspaper in the 1940’s and that most of the oldest newspapers had been destroyed. Even with what she told me, I have kept my search ongoing.

I have a plan to purchase a full-page AD in the Panola County Watchman newspaper during the week of January 2, 2033 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Grandpa Arthur Brown Ross, Sr.’s passing. I think all the East-Texas Ross clan will think it is something special to see the photo we have of him and the photo of his old handgun, bullets and holster that (at that time) will have been passed down six generations.

If you get a chance and want to start the new year out right, make sure this weekend you watch the great classic movie Tombstone.

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The past few years, I have really come to appreciate the great time I always have at the First United Methodist Church’s annual Ground Hog Dinner.

I love how looking forward to that annual feast seems to make January fly by! This year is somewhat of a rarity since it will be taking place in early February, but you can always be certain that people from all over the state show up to eat what I believe is the best breakfast on the planet. Where else can you see so many longtime Yukon mainstays in one room?

Make sure you put Saturday, February 2nd on your calendar for the annual Ground Hog Day feast!

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God Bless our friends in Seminole, Oklahoma as they mourn the loss of Seminole Producer newspaper publisher Stu Phillips. Stu was only 55 years old. He followed in the footsteps of his father Ted and his grandfather Milt. Yukon’s Darren Heusel worked as sports editor for the Phillip’s family for years and told me this week that it was hard to believe Stu had died so young. Stu was a good newspaperman and our industry will miss him.

Thanks so much for reading. I will see you next Saturday. Would you like a Progress?