Parker County Today June 2017 - Page 10

Categorizing the Posse isn’t easy. Since its 1947 incep- tion, the Posse has been known to “wear a lot of hats.” It’s a support system for county law enforcement, help to non-profit organizations, it’s a service organization and it’s a league of goodwill ambassadors for Parker County. In an age when so many traditions are toppling, it’s remarkable that the PCSP is still going strong. 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 grow- ing with the county? “Well, that’s something we have to stay ahead of,” O’Neal said. “My focus this year is to get ahead, to make sure we stay in front of the new people as they move in.” O’NeaI got his first real glimpse of the Sheriff’s Posse as a teen working for longtime posse member Rick Me rritt. According to O’Neal, Merritt helped him get into the Posse. O’Neal is the first member of his family to join the Posse. When he joined in ’01, he never imagined he’d become the organization’s Captain, but the longer he was active in the Posse, the more he thought about wanting to serve in that capacity. Last August, he realized his goal. With the Captain’s term lasting only a year, he faces quite a challenge, with so much to accomplish in so little time. During the time he holds the Posse’s reins, O’Neal’s focus is on taking steps to assure that the Posse continues to be highly influential and highly relevant, all the while attracting larger crowds at the Posse events like rodeos, parades and trail rides. O’Neal said it best, “So many people are moving into Parker County, people that don’t know the history of the Posse and don’t understand what it’s about. These new people aren’t familiar with the Posse. They don’t have any idea what it does or what it means to Parker County.” O’Neal views the education of Parker County’s newest residents as an essential part of his job. “If we don’t stay out in front of the new people moving into Parker County, there’s the potential of that hurting us in the long run.” In The Beginning …  8 The Parker County Sheriff’s Posse didn’t have a gran- diose 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 Comanches, chasing bank robbers, finding lost children or rounding up rustlers — a good posse could get a tough job done. Williams and Crum concluded that in the face of Parker County’s changing times (it seems that in Parker County, times are always changing), what the community needed was a posse to help maintain its Western roots, Sweetheart Cloe Peacock and 2016-2017 Captain Randy O’Neal Photo by Megan Parks a group of strong, community leaders that would help those in need, and be at the sheriff’s beck and call. They also thought it was a good idea to regularly get together with other like-minded men, ride horses and enjoy some camaraderie. In short, Parker County needed a posse. By the time Crum and Williams left the café, they were determined to share their idea with other commu- nity leaders. The idea was met with enthusiasm at every turn. Early in 1947, Crum and Williams met with a handful of other community leaders — mostly ranchers and busi- ness 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 need- ed to expand the membership to 20 so the Posse would qualify for a state charter. Continued on page 12