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He Wore Silver & Gold: The Life of Gerald (Gerry) Glenn Jones: Article - Cowboys in Houlka, Mississippi

Updated on November 7, 2018
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Gerry Glenn Jones is a writer of fiction and nonfiction, as well as scripts for theatre and film. This is a factual article.

Houlka Cowboys: An Introduction

New Houlka, Mississippi, is a small town in Northeastern Mississippi where I began my law enforcement career in 1976. It was here that I learned boredom can turn into complete chaos faster than a weasel in a hen house. This is a true story.

New Houlka City Hall
New Houlka City Hall | Source

Quiet Sunday Night in Houlka

The introduction makes the town sound like it was an unpredictable place, and it certainly could be. It was normally pretty quiet in the days I was a police officer there; however, it could get rowdy in a hurry. The biggest disturbances were usually caused by mainly, good-old-boys with a little too much alcohol in them. One particular night in 1978 or 79, the manure hit the fan, as they say colloquially.

New Houlka on a Sunday afternoon
New Houlka on a Sunday afternoon | Source

Texas Visitors

It was a rainy, boring Sunday night, around 11 p.m. and I was patrolling the town when I saw a car with Texas license plates parked in front of the Quarles' residence, and it was occupied by four people. The Quarles family were friends of mine, and I had never seen that car there before, so I checked them out. They turned out to be family members from Texas, who had just arrived to spend a few days with the family. They said when they arrived all the lights in the house were off, and they decided to sleep in the car until morning, to keep from waking up the Quarles' family.

They asked if I thought they would be safe out there in the car; to which I told them that nothing seemed to be moving around town and I would periodically check on them. Little did I know what was about to happen.

The Cowboys Arrive

After leaving the Quarles' residence, I drove onto Mississippi Highway 32 and headed east. When I reached the railroad, I looked to my left and saw five guys, wearing black rain slickers and cowboy hats; they were all on horses and were heading into town. It was not odd for people to ride horses at night there, but it was odd they were riding in the rain.

Figuring they were probably heading home, I didn't think much more about it, but made the block, and returned to the area where I had seen them, but they were no longer there. About this same time, I started hearing gunshots coming from different locations in town, and finally, I saw one of the cowboys, who was about 30 yards in front of me, fire his handgun into the air, and then run his horse through someone's yard and out the other side onto another road. Then the others started appearing doing the same thing. At this point I realized they were just having some drunken fun, getting me to chase them.

This cat and mouse routine continued until I realized my patrol car couldn't go where the horses could, and I called for help. I was afraid they might accidentally shoot someone or that someone might shoot them.

Drunk Cowboy
Drunk Cowboy | Source

The Cowboys Are Corralled

After about 10 minutes from the time I called for assistance, Toby Craig, who was sheriff of Chickasaw County came out to help me, and Travis McCain, who was the chief of police in Houlka, came from his home in Calhoun County to help.

I was able to cause one of the Cowboys' horse to throw him by flipping my car's siren on and off quickly, and he was arrested and uninjured. We worked as a team and were finally able to corral all of them but one, who escaped. We were happy no one got hurt; however, they had gotten rid of their guns somewhere before we caught them, and I spent the rest of the night looking for where they stashed them, without results.

Surprised Texans

When everything settled down, I remembered the Texas family who was waiting in their car in front of the Quarles' residence, so I went there to check on them. I found an empty car and lights on inside the residence.

I knocked on the door and was met by Mr. Quarles, who wanted to know what had happened. I told him and the others in the room what had transpired. I laughed out loud by the response to this by the father of the visiting family. He said, "I have lived all my life in Texas, which has always been called the wild west, and now I arrive in this quiet town in Mississippi to see cowboys riding their horses down the streets; shooting their guns." He said when the whole thing started, he thought it was fireworks, but it didn't take long after the first cowboy rode past, shooting in the air, he realized it wasn't fireworks.

Well, so much for a quiet Sunday night in New Houlka, Mississippi.

Cowboy on a bucking horse
Cowboy on a bucking horse | Source
The horses probably celebrated after their riders were arrested
The horses probably celebrated after their riders were arrested | Source

© 2018 Gerry Glenn Jones


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