- Associated Press - Monday, May 30, 2016

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) - The National Park Service on Monday paid tribute to its first ranger ever killed in the line of duty, unveiling a monument to him in Hot Springs not far from where he was gunned down in 1927 while apparently searching for bootleggers.

A bronze plaque and a park ranger hat mounted on a 3½-foot-tall boulder now stands along the southwestern edge of Hot Springs National Park to honor Ranger James Alexander Cary.

“In keeping with his life and service and sacrifice, we felt that Memorial Day would be a fitting time to pay tribute to his legacy,” park superintendent Josie Fernandez told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1Ue8YSZ ). “This is an appropriate and solemn thing to do.

Cary was 31 when he was killed and was known to search West Mountain for bootleggers and alcohol. It’s believed he was watching crates of liquor he had found earlier and was shot when he tried to arrest the bootleggers, according to Tom Hill, curator for the Hot Springs National Park museum.

“These guys were hiding their stash on federal property, and Ranger Cary was trying to stop that,” Hill said.

Hill said Cary probably went to West Mountain on the afternoon of March 12, 1927, and when Park Superintendent Joseph Bolten noticed that the U.S. flag had not been taken down for the evening at the park’s headquarters, he sent officers to look for Cary.

Cary’s body was found the following morning.

Six men were eventually tried for Cary’s death, but no one was convicted, Hill said.

Cary’s son, James Orvis Cary, was 5 years old at the time and said he doesn’t remember that day.

Now 94 and living in Dallas, Cary said he does remember the struggle the family went through afterward.

“We had a hard time,” said Cary. “My mother spent a lot of time and money trying to figure out who killed him.

“I remember it was a bootlegging kind of town,” he said.

The monument faces West Mountain and the area where Cary was killed, park Superintendent Fernandez said.

“With this memorial, Ranger Cary will continue to ever watch over us.”

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com


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