|Birth: ||Feb. 17, 1866|
|Death: ||Jun. 17, 1941|
San Diego County
Thomas was a 2nd Lt. in the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry in the Spanish-American War.
He was the husband of Margaret Eve Rynning.
He was born in Beloit, Rock County, Wisconsin and became an orphan at age 12. He worked in a Wisconsin sawmill for a year before going to live with his sister in Chicago. He spent three years in Chicago working as a stair builder. In 1882, at the age of sixteen, he went to Texas and became a bullwhacker outside of Del Rio. He then hired on as a cowboy on a ranch in Texas' Davis Mountains and made two trail drives to Dodge City. All of his life his ambition had to become an Indian fighter and in February of 1885, outside of Del Rio, Texas, he enlisted in Troop D of the US Eighth Cavalry to fight in the Indian Wars. Private Rynning was sent to Arizona where he rode dispatch for General Crook and then as packer for General Miles. After the Apache wars ended, Rynning fought in Indian skirmishes from Texas to Deadwood, South Dakota before mustering out as a sergeant when his five year hitch was up. He then made a visit to his boyhood home of Beloit and found his friends all gone and nothing was like he remembered. He gravitated down to Chicago and worked the World Fair for a while.
Turning down an offer from Buffalo Bill to join his Wild West Show, he went into engineering and specialized in building bridges for the Southern Pacific Railroad. This took him back to Arizona where he was when the Spanish American War began and he enlisted with the First Volunteer Cavalry, soon to become known as the Rough Riders. He was quickly appointed as a sergeant and then promoted to lieutenant when the unit moved to San Antonio. He fought in Cuba side-by-side with Leonard Wood and Theodore Roosevelt and they became fast friends. When Captain Bucky O'Neill was killed at San Juan, Lieutenant Rynning led the charge up San Juan Hill.
After the war he returned to Arizona and his contracting business. In 1901, the Arizona legislature had established the Arizona Rangers to combat all the lawlessness in the territory. Burt Mossman was selected as the first captain and after the first year he resigned. Governor Brodie appointed Rynning as the new captain and he received his commission on August 29, 1902. Under his leadership, he and his dedicated band of Rangers, never numbering more than 25 at any one time, virtually eliminated major crimes in the territory.
They also were called upon to quell union disputes on more than one occasion. He even led a band of Americans into Mexico to dispel a large union uprising a few miles below the border. He served as captain for five years and was then appointed by President Taft as the last warden of the Yuma Territorial Prison. While there he convinced the governor that living conditions were just too poor and that he could build a new prison at Florence, Arizona using only his contracting skills and prison labor. He was given permission to commence work.
The prisoners were paid in time, for each day the worked they received two days in time. At the completion of the facility an appraiser from Washington gave an appraisal of $1,500,000. The actual cost had been $182,000. He stayed on as warden at Florence until 1912 when a Democratic president was elected and replaced him. He moved to San Diego where he remained until he died. (Bio by Tom Todd)
"Gun Notches, A Saga of Frontier Lawman", by Captain Thomas H. Rynning as told to Al Cohn and Joe Chisholm, and "The Arizona Rangers" by Bill O'Neal
Margaret Eve Rollins Rynning (1882 - 1967)
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery
San Diego County
Plot: OSA 11
Created by: Kit and Morgan Benson
Record added: Aug 08, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 11498382