Sensational Story Of Gold, Murder, And Original Panhandle Bad Guy
A recent dive into the history of the Texas panhandle's Boot Hill and Old Tascosa left a craving for more tales from the wild days of the region. Old Tascosa doesn't disappoint.
Ever hear the story about one of the southwest's original bad boys who killed for gold and set up shop near Old Tascosa?
A True Old West Gunslinger Comes To Texas
Legends have it that he was meaner, and a better shot, than Billy The Kid; yet the name Sostenes is one that is pretty much lost to history. They've made movies about Billy. He even showed up in the first Bill and Ted movie. Nothing like that is afforded Sostenes.
His legend begins with tragedy, when his father was murdered by an Anglo-American in New Mexico. Sostenes, the son of a French man and a Mexican-Indian woman, supposedly swore on that day he would kill every gringo he came across.
According to lore, that's exactly what he did.
Ran Out Of New Mexico, And Straight To The Texas Panhandle
Supposedly, Sostenes killed some 23 men before he was finally ran out of New Mexico. Legend has it that his family was sick of all the killing done by his hand.
That's an important part to keep in mind.
Sostenes wound up in the one place you would expect to find someone with his...set of skills at the time. In 1876, he set up shop just south of Old Tascosa, the wildest town in the Texas panhandle.
Moving In With Family, And A Fateful Promise To A Prominent Rancher
Sostenes had taken up residence with his brother-in-law, who wound up going with Charles Goodnight who needed help getting a herd to the Palo Duro. Goodnight knew the reputation of Sostenes, and told the brother-in-law that he was worried for the cowboys that would be working at Palo Duro.
The brother-in-law swore to Goodnight that if Sostenes continued his wicked ways, that he would kill Sostenes personally.
Gold And Blood On The High Plains
The story goes that two brothers were riding through the area after making a lot of money during the gold rush. The brothers were sheep herders, and legend has it that Sostenes decided to drop in one night on their camp.
He convinced one of the brothers to take him out on a hunt. That brother didn't make it back alive.
Sostenes went back to the camp, and got the drop on the other brother. All that was left to take care of was a Navajo herder. Sostenes had a young man accompanying him, and he told the boy to go take care of the problem.
Instead, the boy rode like hell back to the plaza and spread word of what had happened.
The End Of Sostenes, And The Quest For Vengence
Upon hearing what his brother-in-law had done, a plan was hatched and a trap was set. Sostenes' brother-in-law intended to make good on his promise to goodnight.
According to lore, a whole group waited in an adobe house for Sostenes and promptly filled him full of holes when arrived.
This wouldn't be good enough for the family of the brothers who were murdered. Their rage knew no bounds, and they swore to kill every Mexican in the Texas panhandle. They rode into the region, and dispensed their own brand of justice on Sostenes' family.
The Legacy Left Behind Today
After he was killed, Sostenes was supposedly buried on the south bank of the Canadian River. His family buried him on the top of a hill.
His final resting place was named Sierrita de la Cruz. No marker exists as a reminder of one of the Texas panhandle's original bad boys.