By Frank McMillian
Burton C. Mossman, born in Illinois and buried at Mount Washington, gained considerable renown as a lawman, rancher and businessman during the tumultuous days of settling the Arizona territory. It is believed that Mossman’s family moved from Illinois to Missouri from 1873 to 1882, before moving to New Mexico. By 1884, and still a teenager, Mossman began working as a cowboy for a large cattle company in northern Arizona Territory. In 1897, just 30 years old, Mossman became superintendent of the ranch. Shortly after that, he began pursuing additional interests, reportedly becoming a partner in a stagecoach line, and in 1898 he was elected sheriff of Navajo County. Later that year he was part of a group of business associates that built an opera house in Winslow, Ariz. He later sold the opera house and built a store in Douglas, Ariz.
In 1901 Mossman became the first captain of the Arizona Rangers, which had been established by the territorial governor to combat cattle rustling as well as train and bank robbery in the territory. Although holding that position for only a year, Mossman’s exploits as captain of the Arizona Rangers is legendary in the annals of western lawmen. His career with the Rangers ended in the fall of 1902, after he captured and brought to justice the notorious Augustine Chacon — a feat memorialized by Hollywood in the 1963 episode “The Measure of a Man” in the syndicated television series “Death Valley Days.”
In 1916 he moved to Roswell, N.M., where he established the Diamond A Ranch. The ranch is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is reported that before retiring from the cattle business in 1944, he had business interests in cattle operations from Mexico to Montana and owned more than a million cattle.
He married his first wife, Grace, in Kansas City in 1905. The couple had a son and daughter, but Grace died nine days after the daughter was born. He married again in New Mexico in 1925. When Mossman died in 1956 at age 89, he was buried next to Grace at Mount Washington.
Burton Mossman, Arizona Ranger
Source: State Historical Society of Missouri