A story about English Royalty, a Rough Rider and a headless bandit!
Welcome to Ten Oaks Storage!
Named after Ten Oak Hill Ranch, childhood home and burial place of John “Jack” Howard, one of Teddy Roosevelt’s famous “Rough Riders” and descendant of English royalty.
We invite you to visit the original family home built in 1882, and the family graveyard with large granite crosses surrounded by an imposing stone wall. One headstone in particular might catch your attention....
Killed Feb. 12th 1913 Pilares, Texas
1st U.S. Vol. Cav.
Las Guasimas, San Juan Hill,
This is the inscription on the tombstone of Jack Howard whose colorful life was written about by Texas & Mexico historian and author Glenn Justice. His research helped bring back to life the memory of Jack and unveiled the surprising story below....
John Howard senior immigrated from England to Boerne with his wife and eight children in late 1881. The Howard family was directly related to the Duke of Norfolk and Catherine Howard, Queen of England (one of the unfortunate wives of King Henry the 8th), The family settled into an area known then as "The English Colony" off Old San Antonio Road, purchasing 320 acres on which they built “Ten Oak Hill Cottage”, a house formerly located on the property.
One of 5 boys, John "Jack" Howard grew up on the Ten Oaks property, excelling in horsemanship, Polo and Cricket. At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in 1898, 27 year old left his love “Louise” and rode to San Antonio with his good friend Gerald Calrow to enlist in Teddy Roosevelt’s 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, also known as “The Rough Riders”.
Howard served in many major engagements, including the famous charge up San Juan Hill, Cuba. After the war, President Roosevelt personally appointed Jack as a US Mounted Inspector of Customs, responsible for a large and lawless border area that included Big Bend. (Howard is shown in the photo above standing in front of the Presidio County court house around 1912).
Beginning in 1910, the Mexican Revolution and Pancho Villa made the border an especially dangerous place. It is estimated that between 1910 and 1920 as many as a million Mexican citizens lost their lives. During this time rifle cartridges sold for as much as $1 each and weapons smuggling was commonplace. Even Jack's relatives sold weapons and ammunition out of their store to Pancho Villa and others. In February of 1913, Howard and two other customs officers received a tip that the infamous smuggler and revolutionary “Chico Cano” was attending a child's funeral nearby. Surprising the funeral party, they captured Cano.
Escorting Chico to jail the next morning and traveling single file through a narrow canyon, the three officers were ambushed, all sustaining severe gunshot wounds. The handcuffed Chico escaped along with two of his brothers. Although shot in the chest, Jack Howard managed to survive until the next day when he died with his wife at his side.
Jack’s relatives offered a highly prized Colt machine gun as a reward to whomever would avenge the murder of their son-in-law. Not long after, a bloody sack was delivered to the family store, courtesy of Mexican Revolutionary Colonel Antonio Reyes. In the sack was the severed head of Chico Cano’s brother Manuel which was exchanged for the machine gun.
The gristly tale continued a few years later when Chico avenged his brother's murder at the conclusion of a battle against Colonel Reyes' forces. Colonel Reyes agreed to surrender himself and his troops after a promise from Chico that he would be "treated right". Chico quickly followed up on his interpretation of that promise by having two of his soldiers execute Colonel Reyes.
Brought home by his wife, Jack was laid to rest next to his father in the family cemetery here at Ten Oaks. Please join us in honoring Jack Howard’s service to our Country and The Great State of Texas.
John “Jack” Howard's six shooter, badge, saddle, and pocket watch are on display by the U.S. Customs Service at the Presidio Port of Entry.