Will: I suspect that you are correct in assuming that the "widow" status was incorrect. My paternal great-grandparents divorced in the late 1870s and NEVER did either one show that on any record - the stigma was likely the reason. They would give "single" or "married" or "widow/widower" but never "divorced". I went in circles for several years until I got to the bottom of the mystery. Of course your great-grandparents might never have actually obtained a divorce but simply separated without the legal formality or else Mr. Cooper was viewed as having "abandoned" the family, hence the resentment. I can't prove this but it sure sounds familiar.
As you likely know, Texas Railroad Rangers are NOT considered "real" Texas Rangers since they were not in the employ of the state but rather employed by private companies such as the railroads. I believe that they had something like a special police commission or such but nothing more. However, this does raise an interesting question: could Mr. Cooper have stayed on with the RR company and eventually retired from that service? If so, there might be a record with the Railroad Retirement Board. Both my grandfathers worked for railroads and I obtained some information from that agency. While their employment folders had been destroyed ("reduction in paper work act")the agency did have some info from the early 1940s in a database. I did this in 2002 and at that time there was a $21 search fee. Lucky for me, their mail sorting machine ate up my request and check so they asked me to re-submitt the request but never asked me to replace the check so I got a freebie. Anyway, if you want contact info or copy of my request, just ask, Rick
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