In 1822 Stephen Austin established the first legal Anglo-American colony in Texas. Austin hired a band of horsemen to range over the country to scout the movements of hostile Native Americans. In 1835 this band of men became known as the Texas Rangers. They wore no uniform, never drilled or saluted their officers, and accepted a leader only if he proved the best during combat.
Members of the Texas Rangers included Charles Goodnight,John Coffee Hays and William Wallace. In 1840 Hays was promoted to the rank of captain. He arranged for his men to be given colt revolvers. The Comancheswere used to fighting against men armed with single-shot guns and suffered heavy casualties at Plum Creek (1840), Enchanted Rock (1841) and at Bandera Pass (1842).
A fellow ranger, Nelson Lee, described Hays as "a slim, slight, smooth-faced boy, not over twenty years of age, and looking younger than he was in fact. In his manners he was unassuming in the extreme, a stripling of few words, whose quiet demeanor stretched quite to the verge of modesty. Nevertheless, it was this youngster whom the tall, huge-framed brawny-armed campaigners hailed unanimously as their chief and leader."
In 1850 William Wallace, who had fought under Hays during the Mexican War, was given command of his own company of the Texas Rangers and over the next few years fought against Native Americans and Mexican bandits. He was also active in protecting Texans from war parties and soldiers from the Union Army during the American Civil War.
In 1874 the Texas Rangers were divided into two units. The Frontier Battalion were used against Native Americans attacking settlers, whereas the Special Force attempted to deal with rustlers and robbers in Texas.
The Special Force was disbanded in 1881. Later the Texas Rangers became the Texas Department of Public Safety.
At the time of my arrival in Texas, the country was in an unsettled state. For a long period of time a system of border warfare had existed between the citizens of Texas and Mexico, growing out of the declaration of independence on the part of the young republic. Marauding parties from beyond the Rio Grande kept the settlers of western Texas in a state of constant agitation and excitement. Besides these annoyances, the inhabitants of other sections were perpetually on the alert to defend themselves against those savage tribes which roamed over the vast region to the north, and which, not infrequently, stole down among the settlers, carrying away their property and putting them to death.
This condition of affairs necessarily resulted in bringing into existence the Texas Rangers, a military order as peculiar as it has become famous. The extensive frontier exposed to hostile inroads, together with the extremely sparse population of the country, rendered any other force of comparatively small avail. The qualifications necessary in a genuine Ranger were not, in many respects, such as are required in the ordinary soldier. Discipline, in the common acceptation of the term, was not regarded as absolutely essential. A fleet horse, an eye that could detect the trail, a power of endurance that defied fatigue, and the faculty of "looking through the double sights of his rifle with a steady arm," - these distinguished the Ranger, rather than any special knowledge of tactics. He was subjected to no "regulation uniform," though his usual habiliments were buckskin moccasins and overhauls, a roundabout and red shirt, a-cap manufactured by his own hands from the skin of the coon or wildcat, two or three revolvers and a bowie knife in his belt, and a short rifle on his arm. In this guise, and well mounted, should he measure eighty miles between the rising and setting sun, and then, gathering his blanket around him, lie down to rest upon the prairie grass with his saddle for a pillow, it would not, at all, occur to him he had performed an extraordinary day's labour.
In the fall of 1842, the Indians were worse on the frontiers than they had ever been before, or since. You could not stake a horse out at night with any expectation of finding him the next morning, and a fellow's scalp was not safe on his head five minutes, outside of his own shanty. The people on the frontiers at last came to the conclusion that something had to be done, or else they would be compelled to fall back on the "settlements," which you know would have been reversing the natural order of things. So we collected together by agreement at my ranch, organized a company of about forty men, and the next time the Indians came down from the mountains (and we had not long to wait for them) we took the trail, determined to follow it as long as our horses would hold out.
The trail led as up toward the headwaters of the Llano, and the third day out, I noticed a great many "signal smokes" rising up a long ways off in the direction we were travelling. These "signal smokes" are very curious things anyhow. You will see them rise up in a straight column, no matter how hard the wind may fee blowing, and after reaching a great height, they will spread out at the top like an umbrella, and then, in a minute or so, puff! they are all gone in the twinkling of an eye. How she Indians make them, I never could learn, and I have often asked old frontiersmen if they could tell me, but none of them could ever give me any information on the subject. Even the white men who have been captured by the Indians, and lived with them for years, never learned how these "signal smokes" were made.
There are few readers in this country, I venture to conjecture, whose ears have not become familiar with the name of Jack Hays. It is inseparably connected with the struggle of Texas for independence, and will live in the remembrance of mankind so long as the history of that struggle shall survive. In the imagination of most persons he undoubtedly figures as a rough, bold giant, bewhiskered like a brigand, and wielding the strength of Hercules. On the contrary, at the period of which I write, he was a slim, slight, smooth-faced boy, not over twenty years of age, and looking younger than he was in fact. Nevertheless, it was this youngster whom the tall, huge-framed brawny-armed campaigners hailed unanimously as their chief and leader when they had assembled together in their uncouth garb on the grand plaza of Bexar. It was a compliment as well deserved as it was unselfishly bestowed, for young as he was, he had already exhibited abundant evidence that, though a lamb in peace, he was a lion in war; and few, indeed, were the settlers, from the coast to the mountains of the north, or from the Sabine to the Rio Grande, who had not listened in wonder to his daring, and gloried in his exploits.
Republic of Texas, 1836-1845
Potential enemies of the Republic of Texas included Mexican bandits and hostile bands of Comanche and other Native American tribes. Friendly tribes of Tonkawas and Lipan Apaches often served as scouts and spies, and even formed entire companies of Texas Rangers.
President Sam Houston advocated fairness and alliance with the Native Americans. Houston&rsquos successor to the presidency, Mirabeau B. Lamar, favored expulsion of Native Americans from Texas.
The Republic of Texas documents in this case reflect the following realities in the lives of Texas Rangers:
- Early Ranger companies were led by officers chosen by the enlisted men.
- Those same enlisted men would often defend an officer unfairly treated by superiors.
- The pay was irregular. Texas Rangers had to provide their own horses and weapons.
- Rangers requested funds from the Texas Congress to provide relief for claims of such expenses.
- Life on the frontier was hard.
Items in this exhibit
The links shown below to the items displayed in this exhibit will open in PDF format in a separate window or tab. The documents are shown here in their entirety so some of the files contain multiple pages.
This letter authorized Colonel N. Robbins to raise a company of 50 men to act as Texas Rangers between the Navasota and Sabine Rivers.
Sam Houston authorized a company of Cherokee Rangers to range between the Sabine River and Hall&rsquos Trading House, &ldquoto prevent the wild Indians from stealing horses and murdering people on the frontier.&rdquo He specifically named the Wacos, Tehuacanas, Caddos, Comanches, and Pawnees as &ldquoin the habit of stealing horses&hellip.They are bad people and must be well watched.&rdquo
This document detailed the discovery of remains belonging to Border Guards who were attacked by Native Americans. Skeletons of oxen and fragments of clothing told the tale of the attack.
These 17 men petitioned for the reinstatement of Captain Daniel Monroe. According to the men, they regarded him as &ldquoone of the most vigilant officers belonging to the Ranging Corps.&rdquo In the document, they recounted the scarcity of food and supplies. According to the men, they never &ldquodrew one particle of food or clothing, only about 2000 lbs. of pork and small portions of corn for the soldiers of four families, except what Capt. Monroe furnished at his own expense (and paid cash for) and what we gathered from the prairies and woods with our rifles. &rdquo
Early Rangers went by different names from minute men to rangers to spies. Their duties, however, were the same: to protect and defend the frontier.
At his own expense, Hays paid for the repairing of arms and shoeing of horses for his company. This resolution allowed for the reimbursement by the Republic of Texas for the amount of $405.50.
“Los Diablos Tejanos”
The Texas Rangers’ rise to global fame came during the Mexican War. Gen. Zachary Taylor relied on the Rangers to push ahead of his army, scout territory, and engage Mexican troops in skirmishes. The Rangers accompanied American troops on campaigns deep into Mexico. They overwhelmed their opponents through sheer force and speed. Their fierce fighting style and victorious record earned them the nickname “Los Diablos Tejanos” — The Texas Devils.
The Texas Rangers emerged from the Mexican War a legendary and feared group of soldiers. But after the war, when the Texas frontier had been successfully defended against both Native American raids and Mexican encroachment, the Rangers were left with no clear new objective or role. And so, when the Civil War broke out, many of the Rangers enlisted in the Confederate Army.
Legends of America
When at the age of sixteen, I joined a jolly band.
We marched from San Antonio down to the Rio Grande.
Our captain he informed us, perhaps he thought it right,
“Before we reach the station, we’ll surely have to fight.”
The second oldest state-level law enforcement agency in the United States, the Texas Rangers got its start in 1823 only two years after white settlement in Texas formally began. Following the Mexican War of Independence, some 600 to 700 families moved to Texas however, it had no regular army to protect its new citizens. New Empresario Stephen F. Austin soon began to organize experienced frontiersmen as “rangers” in informal groups to protect the settlers against Indian attacks and other criminal elements.
It was not until October 17, 1835, that Texas formally constituted the force that has since been known as the Texas Rangers, and on November 24, 1835, Robert McAlpin Williamson was chosen to be the first Ranger Major.
Beginning with a complement of 56 men in three companies, the Rangers grew quickly as their numbers increased to more than 300 by 1837. Though officially sanctioned and their numbers increased, the Rangers served sparingly in their first few years.
During Texas’ fight for independence from Mexico, the Rangers sometimes served as scouts and couriers. Other menial tasks were also assigned to them such as retrieving cattle, escorting refugees, and destroying supplies and equipment left behind by the Mexicans.
Once independence was gained and the land became the Republic of Texas, the lawmen continued to see very little duty under President Sam Houston. However, when Mirabeau B. Lamar became President in 1838, he rejected Houston’s frontier policies of friendship with the Indians and engaged the Rangers in war against the tribes. The Texas Congress allowed him to recruit eight companies of mounted volunteers and maintain a company of 56 Rangers. A month later, he then provided for five similar companies in Central and South Texas.
Over the next three years, the Rangers waged all-out war against the Indians, successfully participating in a number of battles including the Council House Fight in San Antonio, the raid on Linnvile, and the Battle of Plum Creek. By the time that Lamar’s administration was over Texans had severely damaged the strength of the most powerful tribes.
When Sam Houston was reelected to the presidency in December 1841 he saw the effectiveness of the Rangers and on January 29, 1842, approved a law that officially provided for a company of mounted men to “act as Rangers.” As a result, 150 Rangers under Captain John Coffee “Jack” Hays, were assigned to protect the southern and western portions of the Texas frontier. Houston’s foresight in this decision proved successful in helping to repel the Mexican invasions of 1842, as well as shielding the white settlers against Indian attacks over the next three years.
Hays was also responsible for improving the quality of recruitments and initiating tough training programs for the new Rangers, as well as initiating an “esprit de corps” within his command. From this group came a number of celebrated ranger captains including W. A. A. “Big Foot” Wallace, Ben and Henry McCulloch, Samuel H. Walker, and Robert Addison “Ad” Gillespie.
Texas officially became part of the United States in 1846, which also started the Mexican War when the U.S. attempted to establish the boundary at the Rio Grande. During the two year affair, the Texas Rangers were called on to assist the American Army and soon achieved worldwide fame as a fighting force. Superbly mounted with a large assortment of weapons the Rangers were found to be so successful against Mexican guerillas, that they soon earned the name “los diablos Tejanos” or the “Texas Devils.”
When the Mexican War ended on February 2, 1848, the United States assumed responsibility for protecting the Texas frontier. Having no official function, the Rangers soon lost a number of its famous captains and frontier defenders. A decade later in the Spring of 1858, they briefly saw combat again when they were sent north to the Red River to settle a band of Comanche Indians.
After Texas seceded from the United States during the Civil War in 1861, an organization was created in Houston, called Terry’s Texas Rangers. Under the leadership of Colonel Benjamin Franklin Terry, many of the former Rangers enlisted under his command.
Painting of a Texas Ranger by Hermon Adams
During the reconstruction period of 1865-1873, the Rangers were designated as state police. A dark period in their history, they were charged with enforcing unpopular new laws that came with rejoining the United States. Among the war-weary Texans, the Rangers fell into disrepute. During this period, the Rangers acted as a military type police unit when enforcing the new laws or fighting Indians or Mexicans. However, when hunting down outlaws, they functioned more as lawmen and posses.
Their role changed once again in May 1874, when the state Democrats returned to power and Governor Richard Coke, along with the Legislature, appropriated $75,000 to organize six companies of 75 Rangers each. By this time, Texas was overrun with outlaws, Indians ravaging the western frontier, and Mexican bandits pillaging and murdering along the Rio Grande. The new troops were stationed at strategic points over the state and were known as the Frontier Battalion. During this era, the Ranger Service held a place somewhere between that of an army and a police force.
In 1877, the Texas Rangers found themselves on the outlaw trail, pursuing John Wesley Hardin. Hardin, who had killed Charles Webb, a deputy sheriff in Brown County in 1874, left the state when he began to be relentlessly pursued. However, one Texas Ranger by the named John Barclay Armstrong, better known as “McNelly’s Bulldog,” received permission to pursue Hardin across state lines. Finally catching up with the notorious outlaw on a train in Pensacola, Florida, the inevitable shoot out occurred. When the smoke cleared, Hardin had been knocked unconscious, one of his gang members killed and the rest were arrested on July 23, 1877.
Stagecoach Robbery by Phil Lear
In the spring of 1878, Sam Bass and his gang held up two stagecoaches and four trains within 25 miles of Dallas. The gang quickly found themselves the target of a spirited chase across North Texas by a special company of Texas Rangers headed by Junius Peak. Bass eluded his pursuers until one of his party, Jim Murphy, turned informer. As the Bass Gang rode south intending to rob a small bank in Round Rock, Murphy wrote to Major John B. Jones, commander of the Frontier Battalion of Texas Rangers.
In Round Rock, Texas, where Jones set up an ambush, a fierce battle between the gang and the Rangers took place on July 19, 1878. In the melee, Bass’ sidekick, Seaborn Barnes was killed and Sam was wounded, though he was able to ride away on his horse. The next morning he was found lying helpless in a pasture north of town and was brought back to Round Rock where he died on July 21st.
Texas Rangers in San Saba County
Over the next several years, the Frontier Battalion captured more than 3,000 Texas outlaws, but by 1882 the “frontier” was beginning to disappear.
During the next three decades, the Rangers’ prominence and prestige waned, although they continued to occasionally intercept cattle rustlers, contended with Mexican and Indian marauders along the Rio Grande, and at times protected blacks from white lynch mobs. By the turn of the century, critics began to urge the curtailment or abandonment of the Texas Rangers. As a result, the Frontier Battalion was abolished in 1901 and the Ranger force was cut to four law enforcement companies of twenty men each.
Ranger activities were soon redirected towards law enforcement among Texas citizens, but when violence increased along the Rio Grande, the Rangers participated in numerous bloody brush fights with Mexican nationals.
Pancho Villa and staff, Bain News Service
In 1914, during the early days of World War I, the Rangers had the daunting task of identifying and rounding up numerous spies, conspirators, saboteurs, and draft dodgers. In 1916, Pancho Villa’s raid on Columbus, New Mexico intensified already harsh feelings between the United States and Mexico. As a result, the regular Rangers, along with hundreds of special Rangers appointed by Texas governors, killed approximately 5,000 Hispanics between 1914 and 1919, which soon became a source of scandal and embarrassment.
In order to restore public confidence, the Texas legislature overhauled the force in January 1919, but not before a number of sordid tales of ranger brutality emerged. Soon the four companies of Ranger recruits were cut from twenty to fifteen per unit. The legislature also established higher salaries in order to attract men of higher character and established procedures for citizen complaints.
After the enactment of Prohibition in 1920, the Ranger’s primary function was patrolling the Rio Grande against tequila smugglers and cattle rustlers.
During the Great Depression, the Ranger force was reduced to just 45 men. Adding fuel to the fire, the Rangers openly supported Governor Ross Sterling against Miriam A. “Ma” Ferguson in the Democratic primary in the fall of 1932. As a result, when Ferguson took office in January 1933, she fired every ranger for his partisanship, salaries were slashed and the budget further reduced the force to thirty-two men. Without the protection of the Rangers, Texas soon became a haven for outlaws such as Raymond Hamilton, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker.
In 1934, Frank A. Hamer, a long-time Ranger who had been let go during Ferguson’s cutback, was asked by the head of the Texas prison system to utilize his skills to track down Bonnie and Clyde. Previously the pair had successfully broken out a member of their gang from the Huntsville Prison, killing a guard in the process.
After tracking the Barrow gang across nine states, Frank Hamer, in conjunction with law enforcement in Louisiana, learned that Bonnie and Clyde had visited Bienville Parish on May 21, 1934, and that Clyde had designated a rendezvous point near there with gang member Henry Methvin. Unknown to Bonnie and Clyde was that Methvin, cooperating with law enforcement, participated in assisting with an ambush along the route to the rendezvous.
Led by former Texas Rangers Hamer and Manny Gault, a posse including two Louisiana lawmen, and two more Texans lie in wait on Highway 154, between Gibsland and Sailes. In place by 9:00 p.m., they waited all night and through the next day with no sign of Bonnie and Clyde. However, around 9:10 a.m. on May 23, 1934, the posse, concealed in the bushes and almost ready to concede defeat, heard Clyde’s stolen Ford V-8 approaching. When he stopped to speak with Henry Methvin’s father, planted there with his truck that morning to distract Clyde and force him into the lane closest to the posse, the lawmen opened fire, killing Bonnie and Clyde while shooting a combined total of approximately 130 rounds.
It is not clear what legal authority there was to kill Bonnie Parker, who was not known to have killed anyone, but Hamer made it clear that he had intended to kill her. He had a reputation for not being overly solicitous with regard to law details. Hamer and others from the posse kept for themselves some of the stolen guns from Bonnie and Clyde’s vehicle, and the United States Congress awarded him a special citation for trapping and killing the outlaws.
In 1935, James Allred became the Texas governor after having run on a platform of better law enforcement. The legislature soon established the Texas Department of Public Safety, of which the Texas Rangers became a part of on August 10, 1935. Also in this new department was the Highway Patrol and a scientific crime laboratory and detection center known as the Headquarters Division.
Over the years, the Texas Rangers have investigated crimes ranging from murder to political corruption, kept the peace during riots, protected the Texas governor, tracked down fugitives, and functioned as a quasi-military force.
Today’s Texas Rangers are an investigative division of the Texas Department of Public Safety. The more than 100 highly trained men and women are posted across the State of Texas and are one of the most effective investigative law enforcement agencies in the world.
Texas Ranger Hall of Fame
I-35 and University Parks Drive
PO Box 2570
Order Out of Chaos (1901-1934)
An era of oil discoveries, Prohibition and the rise of motorized gangsters
The Legislature authorizes the formation of four (4) Ranger companies consisting of a total of 20 men. Their mission is to "protect the frontier against marauding or thieving parties and for the suppression of lawlessness and crime throughout the state."
The Spindletop Oil field is discovered, beginning an oil boom in Texas that lasts into the middle of the century. Many Texas Rangers, notably M.T. "Lonewolf" Gonzaullas in the 1930s, work against crime in the boomtowns and oil fields through the 1940s. Oil from Texas fuels the U.S. armed forces during World War II.
The Mexican Revolution causes increased violence on both sides of the border.
Politicians on the losing side of Mexican power struggles, such as Francisco "Pancho" Villa, flee north to the Texas border. They and other gangs establish control over land by indiscriminately terrorizing Mexican, Tejano (Texas Hispanic) and White populations.
Bandit and gang raids eventually kill hundreds of Mexican and US citizens for supplies, food, cattle and valuables.Texas ranchers, farmers and citizens form vigilantes. Local and State governments groups further increase the violence and tensions.
Some Texans see any Tejano or Mexican Hispanic as "bandits" and retaliate. Some Mexicans and Tejanos see any armed white man on a horse as a "Ranger." Racial tensions and violence add fuel to decades of anger over cattle thefts and land disputes.
1915-16 - The Plan de San Diego
Panic further spreads in 1915 when authorities in McAllen, Texas, arrest Basilio Ramos, Jr. Ramos who is carrying a copy of the Plan de San Diego, a revolutionary manifesto supposedly written and signed at the South Texas town of San Diego.
It calls for the formation of a "Liberating Army of Races and Peoples," of Mexican Americans, African Americans, and Japanese, to "free" the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Colorado from United States. Versions of the plan call for the murder of all white citizens over 16 years of age. The goal is an independent republic, which might later seek annexation to Mexico.
Francisco "Pancho" Villa's raid on Columbus, New Mexico in March of 1916, is widely taken as proof of support for the Plan de San Diego. Villa's men attack a regular US Army Cavalry unit, kill an estimated 18 persons, and burn the town of Columbus.
Raids from both side the the border quickly escalate and the United States responds by sending a large military force under Gen. John J. Pershing in pursuit of Villa.
Texas responds by mass-inducting untrained and ill-prepared men into new Ranger companies. The Ranger Force is very small and incapable of maintaining law and order.
The Ranger force grew to its largest level, but the lack of training and controls were evident. Some of the new companies uphold the law while others function as vigilantes incensed by raids from Mexico. Hispanic, as well as Anglo, Texans served in these units.
These Rangers are given orders ". to keep them (Mexican raiders) off of Texas territory if possible, and if they invade the State, let them understand they do so at the risk of their lives."
Mexican raids into Texas in 1915-16 cause an estimated 21 American deaths. An estimated 300 Mexicans or Tejanos were likely killed in South Texas by the actions of vigilantes, Texas Rangers, the US Army and citizens. Some sources claim death tolls as high as 3,000 but evidence is lacking.
The vigilante nature and poor command structure of the Texas Rangers led to civilian deaths. One retaliatory raid into Mexico may have killed as many as 20 Mexican citizens. An entire Ranger company is dismissed in the aftermath.
The 35th legislature creates a "Loyalty Ranger Force," a highly political group bearing commissions but performing little field service. "Loyalty Rangers" are assigned to brief the Adjutant General on Mexican revolutionary activities outside of San Antonio and in the border counties in Mexico and Texas.
In response to the presence of US troops on Mexican soil, President Venustiano Carranza demands the withdrawal of US forces, which is summarily rejected by the US government. Mexican raiding intensifies and an attack against Laredo is considered with a combined force of "San Diego raiders" and regular Mexican Army soldiers. A state of war is narrowly averted when US and Mexican officials agree to a peaceful reconciliation.
1917 - The Zimmerman Telegram
The fragile peace on the Border is again threatened in 1917. Fearing US entry into World War I, the Imperial German Foreign Office sent a coded telegram to Mexico proposing an alliance. It was intercepted and deciphered by British Military Intelligence.
"...we make Mexico a proposal of alliance on the following basis: make war together, make peace together, generous financial support and an understanding on our part that Mexico is to reconquer the lost territory in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. The settlement in detail is left to you. You will inform the President of the above most secretly as soon as the outbreak of war with the United States of America is certain. "
Mexican President Venustiano Carranza assigns a military commission to consider a Mexican invasion of the Southwest as proposed by Germany. But when news of the telegram explodes onto the national news, fanned by the Hearst newspaper chain, Mexico declines the offer. However, this further inflamed national and racial hatreds along the border.
On Christmas Day, 1917 suspected followers of Francisco "Pancho" Villa attack the ranch of Lucas Brite in Presidio County. They kill two Mexican passengers at the stage station, hang the driver and lay siege to the remainder of persons at the ranch.
In January of 1918 Texas Rangers from Company "B", soldiers from the 8th US Cavalry and ranchers search the settlement of Porvenir for evidence of property stolen from the Brite Ranch.
Accounts are conflicting, but it is certain that fifteen residents are executed without due process on the premise of being "bandits." The act is condemned on both side of the Border. The Capt. of Co. "B" is fired and the Rangers are dismissed.
Justifiably stronger action is not taken in the inflammatory climate of the Plan de San Diego, the Zimmerman Telegram and Villa raids. In 1919, hearings and investigations lead to reforms of the Texas Rangers. A memorial to the massacre and those killed is erected in 2018 outside Marfa.
Top 10 Facts About the Texas Rangers That Just Might Surprise You
Committing a crime in Texas has never been a good idea. Law enforcement in the Lone Star State has a history of being strict. One reason why Texas law enforcement has such a fearsome reputation is the Texas Rangers. Formed in 1823 (or 1835, depending on how you look at it), the Rangers are one of the oldest law enforcement agencies in the country.
Any organization that’s been around for hundreds of years has an eventful history. Do you know these ten facts about the Texas Rangers?
1. The Texas Rangers Were Originally Part-Time Employees.
You might think that any sort of law enforcement would be a full-time job, but Texas Rangers were originally only paid about 15 dollars a month. Also, the payment wasn’t in cash, but in property! That wasn’t enough money to live on, even back then. So, many Rangers took on other jobs, or farmed in order to pay the bills.
Many times, the Texas government didn’t even pay the Rangers the $15 per month they were owed. So being a Texas Ranger was essentially a volunteer job. At first, Rangers also provided their own equipment, including horses and guns.
2. Texas Rangers Have Always Been Multicultural.
Even when first established, the Rangers had Latino and Native American members, who varied in rank from private to captain. While most members were born in America, some also hailed from Europe, particularly Ireland, Germany, Scotland, and England.
3. The Texas Rangers Were One of the First Organizations to Carry Revolvers.
When fighting Comanches on horseback, Texas Rangers found themselves at a disadvantage. The Ranger would be able to shoot once. Then they would need to dismount in order to reload their single-shot weapons. Meanwhile, the Comanches would shoot arrows continuously while riding on horseback.
So, Texas Rangers started carrying revolvers. A Ranger could get off five shots before needing to reload. Also, the Ranger wouldn’t need to get off his horse to reload. He could reload from horseback, while avoiding arrow shots.
4. Texas Rangers Have Prevented at Least One Presidential Assassination.
In 1909, US President William Howard Taft met with Mexican President Porfirio Diaz in El Paso, Texas. This meeting was the first-ever between the two presidents. Diaz was unpopular at the time, and malcontents from both countries threatened to kill both heads of state. The two presidents were to pass along a route that included the El Paso Chamber of Commerce.
A pistol-wielding man was waiting for the two presidents in front of the building. Apparently, he was going to ambush both men. Fortunately, a Texas Ranger noticed the pistol and arrested the man, saving both Taft and Diaz.
5. Texas Rangers are Internationally Known… and Feared.
In World War II, the German press mistakenly reported that the Army Rangers landing in France were actually Texas Rangers! This caused quite a bit of panic among German civilians, due to the fearsome reputation of the Texas Rangers. Finally, the Reich’s Minister of Propaganda had to explain that the invaders were “only” Army Rangers.
The Texas Rangers helped protect the homefront during World War II and weren’t invading countries, except maybe during their free time.
6. Texas Rangers are NOT Allowed to Police Demonstrations or Other Types of Protest.
After some highly publicized incidents in the 1950s – 1970s, the Texas Ranger mission has changed. The agency focuses on investigation, crisis response, and border security. They no longer police demonstrations or handle prison riots.
7. There’s a Lot of Competition.
To become a Texas Ranger, recruits need at least eight years of law enforcement experience. There are usually over 100 applicants for any open Texas Ranger position. Also, the Texas Rangers have never needed to recruit new members.
8. There is a Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum.
The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame is in Waco, Texas, along with a museum. The Hall of Fame commemorates Rangers who died in the line of service, or who substantially contributed to the organization. The museum has many interesting exhibits, including Apache arrows and modern law enforcement equipment.
9. The Average Age of a Texas Ranger is About 44 years Old
While technically, a person can apply to be a Texas Ranger on their 21 st birthday, Rangers tend to be a little older than the average police officer. Most likely, this is due to the eight years of law enforcement experience required by the position.
10. Chuck Norris is a Texas Ranger
Remember Walker, Texas Ranger? In this classic television show, Chuck Norris played a Texas Ranger, who tended to stop bad guys with his fists. It may not have been sophisticated, but it was a fun TV show.
But did you know that Chuck Norris is actually a Texas Ranger? It’s true. Because of the impact that the television show made on American culture, Chuck Norris was made an honorary Texas Ranger. Other celebrities who were made honorary Rangers include President George H.W. Bush and John Wayne. By the way, the majority of Walker, Texas Ranger was actually filmed in Texas.
The Texas Rangers have been around for over 200 years. Over the course of that time, they have caught a staggering number of criminals. No one will ever know exactly how many people have been made safer due to the efforts of the Rangers. But if you ever find yourself in trouble, it’s nice to know that the Rangers are on your side.
Texas Rangers - History
The Texas Rangers have played a total of 59 seasons. Their first season was in 1961, and their most recent season was in 2020.
Have the Texas Rangers gone by any other names?
Yes. Between 1961 and 1971, the team was known as the Washington Senators.
In 1972, the team moved to Dallas and changed their name to the Texas Rangers.
When was the last time the Rangers were in the playoffs?
The Texas Rangers last made the playoffs in 2016, when they lost the AL Divisional Series. They've been in the playoffs a total of 8 times in their 59 seasons.
When was the last time the Rangers missed the playoffs?
The Texas Rangers last missed the playoffs in 2020.
When was the last time the Rangers won a playoff series?
In 2011, the Texas Rangers beat the Detroit Tigers in the AL Championship Series.
When was the last time the Rangers lost a playoff series?
In 2016, the Texas Rangers lost to the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL Divisional Series.
How many World Series have the Rangers won?
The Texas Rangers have never won a World Series. The closest they came to winning a championship was in 2010 and 2011 when they lost the World Series.
The Texas Rangers Killed Hundreds of Hispanic Americans During the Mexican Revolution
Texas Rangers killed hundreds – if not thousands – of Mexican-Americans within the state between 1915 and 1919. Now a Texas history museum is recognizing a forgotten part of history.
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Photo courtesy Russell Lee Photography Collection at UT-Austin
'Juan Crow' laws, patterned after Jim Crow laws, enforced the racial discrimination practiced against Mexican Americans. Signs reading 'No Mexicans Allowed' dotted numerous restaurants and other public accommodations.
Paulino Serda was a small ranch owner near Edinburg, Texas, in 1915 when a group of Mexican bandits came through town. They demanded he open the gates that connected the ranches so the group could pass.
&ldquoAnd of course, you didn&rsquot really say &lsquono&rsquo to these individuals,&rdquo says Serda&rsquos great-grandson Trinidad Gonzales, assistant chair of history and philosophy at South Texas College. &ldquoAnd apparently word got back to the Rangers that this had occurred. And when they went to his ranch, they asked to talk to him, to question him in private. And while that was going on, my great-grandmother heard the gunshots.&rdquo
The Texas Rangers killed Serda, no questions asked. Gonzales&rsquos family was one of many affected by some of the worst state-sanctioned violence in the history of the U.S. Today, he&rsquos part of a group of scholars working to get this part of Texas history recognized.
&ldquoWell essentially, the Matanza resulted because of reprisals by state and local authorities against a guerrilla uprising that had occurred,&rdquo says John Morán González (no relation), associate professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin and part of the group of scholars.
He says the guerrilla uprising was small and not very well organized, made up of bandits or Mexican revolutionaries. Nevertheless, the Texas Rangers were called in to control the situation. The repression, however, was not just directed at the bandits, but at the Texas-Mexican population as a whole. Morán González says that between 1915 and 1919, hundreds &ndash if not thousands &ndash of Mexicans and Tejanos in South Texas were killed by the Rangers and other vigilantes.
&ldquoSo in that sense, the project of policing throughout much of this era was also about the establishment of a racial order, of white supremacy,&rdquo Morán González says.
For the first time, this part of history will be acknowledged by the state of Texas through an exhibit at the Bob Bullock Museum called &ldquoLife and Death on the Border, 1910 to 1920.&rdquo
&ldquoThe scholars and professors approached the Bullock with this idea of this exhibit, to learn about this piece of history,&rdquo says Jennifer Cobb, Associate Curator of Exhibitions at the museum. &ldquoI never knew about it until I started working on this exhibit, and it was astounding that this is not public knowledge. This is largely faded from public memory after the period ended, aside from those who were directly affected by it.&rdquo
Cobb says the exhibit will be a look into what life was like leading up to, during, and after this violent period. It&rsquoll showcase court documents, photographs and artifacts from the era, even one of Pancho Villa&rsquos saddles. But Gonzales, whose great-grandfather was killed, says the exhibit is more than just about the victims.
&ldquoIt&rsquos also a way of celebrating our resiliency of the community against these conditions,&rdquo Gonzales says. &ldquoTo respond by pursuing our civil rights and our rights as equal participants within our society.&rdquo
This violent period spurred what would become the Mexican-American civil rights movement. One important document on display is the complete transcript of the 1919 Texas Legislative Investigation that looked into the Texas Rangers&rsquo actions, and found them guilty.
&ldquoThis was the first time that the Texas Rangers had ever been called to be held accountable for atrocities against the Texas-Mexican community by the legislature,&rdquo Morán González says. &ldquoPrior to that, the Texas Rangers knew pretty much anything goes.&rdquo
The group of scholars &ndash which includes both Gonzales and Morán González &ndash have named their project Refusing to Forget. Their goal is to commemorate this forgotten period of Texas history by making it known to a wider public. Currently, it&rsquos not part of the Texas public school curriculum. The exhibit is just one part of their efforts: They are also working to erect historical landmarks and develop a traveling exhibit to tour Texas, and eventually, the country.
The Bullock exhibit will open to the public on Saturday, and run through April.
Texas Matters: The Dark History Of The Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers are a legendary law enforcement agency but the lawmen have a dark side that has been virtually covered up in the telling of Texas history. Is it time to set the record straight?
"One Riot – One Ranger" is the title of a statue the stood since 1962 at Dallas Love Field Airport. Days ago that bronze figure of Texas Ranger Jay Banks was quickly removed.
City and airport officials decided to remove the statue after reading an excerpt of the book "Cult of Glory: The Bold and Brutal History of the Texas Rangers," by Doug J. Swanson.
In the book Swanson sets out to correct the public perception of the Texas Rangers with accounts of their role in racial violence and oppression against African Americans, Native peoples and Mexican Americans.
The death of George Floyd at the hands of four former Minneapolis police officers is prompting massive protests throughout the United States and the world.
Even today, two weeks later, the protests continue. But they do so as the COVID-19 pandemic. How can protesters continue to demand racial justice if the pandemic makes showing up a risk to their and their families health?
Texas Public Radio guest contributor Arrie Porter offers her thoughts.
Arrie Porter is an MFA thesis candidate in the MA/MFA program in Literature, Creative Writing, and Social Justice at Our Lady of the Lake University.
She is the creator and publisher of Nubian Notes, a local magazine maintained as a “Special Collection” at the John Peace Library at the Institute of Texan Cultures.
The Real Texas RangersThese five well-armed Texas Rangers and their dog are believed to have served under the leadership of legendary Ranger Captain Rip Ford in the Texas territory between the Rio Grande and Nueces River in 1850 and 1851. Most of their action was fighting the Comanches, including the capture of war chief Carne Muerta.
– Courtesy Heritage Auctions –
Nearly two centuries ago, Texas founding father Stephen F. Austin unofficially created the Texas Rangers to protect his fledgling colonists farming and ranching near the colony’s capital of Velasco, along the Brazos River near the Gulf Coast. Ever since Austin’s visionary call to arms in 1823, the Texas Rangers have been greatly admired, honored, respected—and feared—enforcers of the law. They have served in war and peace—on both sides of the border in the colony, republic and state. They fought in the Texas War of Independence, the Mexican and Civil wars and defended Texas against invasions from Mexico countless times. The Rangers’ hard-fought battles with their Mexican adversaries earned them the nickname “Los Diablos Tejanos”—“the Texas Devils.”
Since True West began publishing from Austin, Texas, in 1953, the history of the Texas Rangers—and the men who wore the badge and rode the Texas range in defense of the Lone Star State—has remained a constant source of inspiration for our editors, contributors and readers. In 2020, as Texas begins a three-year bicentennial commemoration of the storied law-enforcement agency, True West’s editors have asked two of our regular contributors, Ranger historian Chuck Parsons and Western author and film historian Johnny D. Boggs, to share their expertise on the men who wore the star of a Texas Ranger and on the 35th anniversary of Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Lonesome Dove.
So, saddle-up and ride the whirlwind as Parsons and Boggs take you down the trail of Texas’s legendary lawmen and define why they remain icons of the Old West.
There are many, many iconic images of the Texas Rangers, but here are my 10&hellip
The history of the Texas Rangers is the story of real people surrounded by the&hellip
There are many, many iconic images of the Texas Rangers, but here are my 12&hellip