|Death: ||Jun. 27, 1888|
Gunfighter / Lawman: Christopher Columbus Rogers, simply called Chris, was born in the newly formed county of Anderson, west of Palestine and near present day Tennessee Colony. Chris grew up, as did most frontier settlers, a survivor. In 1826 empresario David Burnet received a grant from the Mexican government for colonization for this area. In 1833 settlers moved into the area and settled at the site of Fort Parker in Limestone County, while others settled near the site of present Elkhart, while others settled and erected Fort Sam Houston. It was in this area William Rogers chose to settle and raise a family. Chris was born in 1846, the year that Anderson County was carved out of Houston County. Land near Fort Sam Houston was chosen for the county seat and the town of Palestine was platted.
When Chris was fifteen when the War between the States began and he served as a guard at Camp Ford, the Confederate's Union POW camp in Tyler. After the war times were hard in the south, men lost their property and suffered the consequent poverty of unemployment. Chris found work as a printer for the Palestine newspaper, the Trinity Advocate. Rogers became a violent opponent of Reconstruction. Resenting martial law and carpetbagger rule, his first encounter was with an agent of the Freemen's Bureau, John H. Morrison, who he beat up in a quarrel. Soon thereafter he had a run-in with Palestine Marshal Dan Cary and in a gunfight killed the marshal. To escape martial law execution he fled to Tyler where he would operate a saloon. Rogers would stay in Tyler until he gunned down a business rival, Mose Remington. He was acquitted on the grounds of self-defense.
In 1873 Chris returned to his hometown Palestine which had become an unruly railway town. The following year Palestine was without a marshal. Town councils looked for men who possessed certain qualities to be their lawmen. They could not be intimidated by wild lawless men, know how to fight, and be skilled with a gun. Christopher Columbus Rogers fit this description and he was elected city marshal in 1874. As the marshal of Palestine he would bring justice and order to the area. The swiftness of his draw and the surety of his aim gain him the reputation of killing an additional nine men.
In 1888 Rogers was attempting to arrest a friend, Tom O'Donnell, on a misdemeanor charge. O'Donnell resisted and a gunfight ensued, O'Donnell was shot dead. Rogers suffered a broken arm in the exchange. Witnesses claimed O'Donnell was unarmed and Rogers was placed on suspension while the incident was investigated. While sitting unarmed in a saloon Rogers was stabbed to death by Bill Young as a result of an argument over the O'Donnell incident.
Rogers was buried in the East Hill Cemetery. The grave went unmarked until a historical marker was placed to mark the grave. After years of wear the marker was broken and the text portion removed. All that is left to mark the spot of one of the most flamboyant, yet unrecognized lawmen is a twisted and rusted piece of iron.
Addendum: The Historical Marker has now been returned to the grave.
Palestine City Cemetery
Created by: Lanny Medlin
Record added: Jul 19, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 28392110