Ask anyone who knows anything about those times and they’ll tell you that Texas will never see another criminal like him. Charles Sanderson Brogdon, Jr. was a career horse thief and burglar. I was a Texas Ranger. Despite our conflicting professions, we got along just fine once we made formal introductions and put away the guns we had pointed at each other after a ten-day manhunt in 1966.
Editor’s note: The following excerpt is from Chapter Seven, “For Love and Horses: The Manhunt for the ‘See More Kid,’” in the memoir of retired Texas Ranger H. Joaquin Jackson, One Ranger, published this spring by the University of Texas Press. It was edited and condensed by Contributing Editor Johnny D. Boggs with permission of the authors and UT Press.
Brogdon racked up Texas’ most extraordinary nonviolent criminal record—a one-man crime wave launched by a kid who broke into a few hundred houses in his relentless search for a home. By the spring of 1953, the law wanted Charles Brogdon for some forty residential burglaries, two stolen horses, six cut fences, and a pilfered jeep. He began leaving notes at the crime scene to taunt the investigators, like “The See More Kid sees more and does less.” Few people referred to him as Charlie Brogdon after that.
“Joaquin?” See More said. “You’ve got to get me out of this Medina County jail!”
“Why’s that?” I said.
“I like beans as much as the next guy, but these sons of bitches down here feed beans, beans, beans, every goddamn meal. Three times a day—beans!”
Sometimes crooks are blind to the concept of jail as a deterrent to crime. Did See More really think that I would be willing to review menu items with the jailhouse chef?
What I didn’t understand was that determination and strength of will were fore-most among See More’s unique array of talents. See More stripped down to his birthday suit, greased him-self from head to foot with pomade, pitched his clothes out the window to the alley below, and began to work his
way through the bars and case-ment window.
We knew he was a crack shot with a rifle and his exceptional knowledge of the Hill Country would make him a deadly sniper. He faced completion of his seven-year sentence and was awaiting trial as a habitual offender in both Medina and Uvalde Counties. No one had to tell a convict with See More’s extensive jailhouse ex-perience that he faced two life sentences.
After days on a cold trail, I was tired, saddle sore, and grumpy from living rough and constantly orchestrating the movements of so many cops. See More was be-ginning to exact a personal toll. I told Ranger Ed Gooding, “I’m getting tired of tracking and hunting this son of a bitch. If we catch him, I think I’ll just shoot ’m and be done with it.”
I poked my head in places where a scorpion wouldn’t go, cutting See More’s stale sign, catching only spotted ticks and a pesky rash.
We stopped at the ranch gate and walked quietly on the wet ground toward the cabin some 500 yards away.
“Look out!” Deputy Williams yelled. “He’s in there and he’s got a gun on you!”
I scrambled behind the trunk of an oak tree.
“See More,” I said. “This is Joaquin Jackson. You’re in there. I know that.”
“Yah, so what!” he said.
“I got two men out here. You better give yourself up.”
“I ain’t gonna do it, Joaquin,” he said.
It’s nice to be on a first name basis with the criminal element, I guess, but it’s nicer when they do what I tell them.
“Now look here, See More,” I said. “You come on out with your hands up before somebody gets hurt.”
“Well, I ain’t gonna do it!” See More said.
“You’re just going to gun me down if I do.”
I cringed hearing that. “No I won’t.”
“You said you would…. I heard you myself when you were talking to that other Ranger back there on Elm Creek.”
I then remembered my unfortunate conversation with Ranger Gooding.
“Okay, well, maybe I did say that,” I said, back-peddling in a hurry. “But I didn’t mean it.”
“I don’t want to find out the hard way that you did,” he said.
“I give you my word as a Ranger,” I began. “You put your gun down, put your hands behind your head, and walk over to the window on the east side where that deputy can see you. You do that and nobody gets hurt.”
“You swear?” he said.
“Yeah,” I said, rolling my eyes. It’d been a while since I’d had juvenile conversation like this.
“He’s at the window with his hands behind his head!” I was never so glad to hear those words.
I slipped the cuffs around his skinny wrists. As I started to pat him down, he said, “Talk like that scares a feller, Joaquin. Makes it hard to do the right thing.”
“I know,” I said. “I’m sorry, See More.”
A moment later, See More said, “I was serious about them goddamn beans, Joaquin.”
“I know it,” I said. “But I can’t do nothin’ ’bout the beans, See More. It just ain’t my line of work.”
“They’ll have better grub in a real prison, don’t you think?”
“I expect so,” I said, and led him out to the car.
He drew 12 years in the Huntsville Penitentiary, which in and of itself is a miracle. See More dodged a conviction as a habitual offender on a legal technicality. Otherwise, he would have been behind bars for the rest of his life.
Thirty years have passed. A man who had seen most everywhere and done everything has worked on three ranches in three decades. Charlie married and fathered five children. At last count, there were eleven kids who called him “Papa.”
In April 2003, we sat together on Charlie’s swing while the breeze was still cool and talked. I could see the light in his eyes. Family did that for him. And mine for me. We’re lucky men, See More and I.
“Would you like a cold beer, Joaquin?” Charlie says with a wry smile.
“It’s early yet for me, See More,” I say.
He cocks his head, studying me. “A little whiskey, then?”
“I don’t believe.”
It’s nice to see each other after all these years. I’ve often wondered what became of See More. Now I know he’s done all right. It’s nice to be here on this beautiful ranch in East Texas. It’s nice to sit on that porch on a cool spring morning and just swing. Me and See More, well, we had this coming.
H. Joaquin Jackson served as a Texas Ranger from 1966-93 and owns and operates a private investigative company in Alpine, Texas. David Marion Wilkinson, an award-winning novelist, is writer-in-residence at Sul Ross State University. Former Texas resident Johnny D. Boggs is now on the lam in Santa Fe.