Texas Ranger Division
Learn more about Texas Ranger Division
The Texas Ranger Division, commonly known as the Texas Rangers, is a law enforcement agency with statewide jurisdiction based in Austin, the capital city of Texas, in the United States. Over the years, the Texas Rangers have investigated crimes ranging from murder to political corruption, acted as riot police and as detectives, protected the Texas governor, tracked down fugitives, and functioned as a quasi-military force at the service of both the Republic (1836–45) and the state of Texas.
The Texas Rangers were unofficially created by Stephen F. Austin in 1823 and formally constituted in 1835. Although the organization went through periods of inactivity during the 19th century, it was never officially dissolved. Since 1935, the organization has been a division of the Texas Department of Public Safety, and currently fulfills the role of Texas' State Bureau of Investigation. As of 2005, there are 118 active Rangers.
The Rangers have taken part in many of the most important events of Texas history, and were involved in some of the most well known criminal cases in the history of the Old West, such as those of gunfighter John Wesley Hardin, bank robber Sam Bass, and outlaws Bonnie and Clyde. Scores of books have been written about the Rangers, from well-researched works of nonfiction to pulp novels, making them significant participants in the mythology of the Wild West. During their long history, a distinct Ranger tradition has evolved, and their cultural significance to Texans is such that they are legally protected against disbandment.
 Creation and early days
By the early 1820s the Mexican War of Independence had subsided, and some 600 to 700 families had settled in Texas—most of them from the United States. Because there was no regular army to protect the citizens against attacks by Native Americans and bandits, Stephen F. Austin in 1823 organized small, informal armed groups whose duties required them to range over the countryside, and who thus came to be known as "rangers". Around August 4 of that year, Austin wrote that he would "... employ ten men ... to act as rangers for the common defense ... the wages I will give said ten men is fifteen dollars a month payable in property ..."
However, it was not until 1835 that the Texas Rangers were formally constituted, when Austin returned to Texas after having been imprisoned in Mexico City. Upon his return, Austin helped organize a council to govern the group. On October 17, at a consultation of the Provisional Government of Texas, Daniel Parker proposed a resolution to establish the Texas Rangers, totaling some 60 men distributed among three companies. This was instituted by Texas lawmakers on November 24, and within two years the Rangers comprised more than 300 men.
In their early days, Rangers performed tasks of little significance. During the Texas Revolution, they served mainly as scouts, couriers, and guides for the settlers fleeing before the Mexican Army, and performed general support duties. These minor roles continued after independence, when the region became the Republic of Texas under President Sam Houston. Houston, who had lived with the Cherokee for many years (and who had taken a Cherokee wife), favored peaceful coexistence with Indians, a policy that left little space for a force with the Rangers' characteristics.
This situation changed radically when Mirabeau B. Lamar became president in December 1838. Lamar had participated in skirmishes with the Cherokee in his home state of Georgia; like most Texans, he had not forgotten the support the Cherokee had given the Mexicans at the Cordova Rebellion against the Republic. He favored the eradication of Indians in Texas—a view that he shared with Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Thomas Rusk. Lamar saw in the Rangers the perfect tool for the task, and he obtained permission from the Texas Legislature to raise a force of 56 Rangers, along with other volunteer companies. During the following three years, he engaged the Rangers in a war against the Cherokee and the Comanche, and succeeded in weakening their territorial control.
 The Mexican–American War
Sam Houston was re-elected President of Texas on December 12, 1841. He had taken note of the Rangers' cost-efficiency, and increased their number to 150. Under Captain John Coffee "Jack" Hays's leadership, the force played an important role in the defense against the Mexican invasion led by General Adrian Woll in 1842 and against attacks by Indians. Despite his youth at the time, the charismatic Hays was a rallying figure to his men, and is often considered responsible for giving cohesion, discipline and a group mentality to the Rangers. Flacco, a chief of the allied Indian tribe of the Lipan, used to call Hays Bravo too much. The adoption of the state-of-the-art five-shot Colt revolver (which had been turned down by the U.S. Army) was also his work. Hays trained his men to aim, fire and reload their weapons from horseback, a radical innovation from the usual contemporary technique of dismounting before shooting at enemies and reloading, which was a necessity with more cumbersome weaponry. This tactic was put to devastating effect, and it was imitated shortly afterwards by the military. At the suggestion of one of Hays' officers, Samuel Hamilton Walker, these revolvers soon evolved into the famous, enhanced six-shot version, the Walker Colt. During these years, famous Rangers such as Hays, Walker, Benjamin McCulloch and William "Bigfoot" Wallace first established their reputation as frontier fighters.
With the annexation of Texas within the United States and the Mexican–American War in 1846, several companies of Rangers were mustered into federal service, and proved themselves at the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma. From that moment on, their effectiveness as guerrilla fighters and guides to the federal army through a territory that they were familiar with marked the pace of the American offense. Rangers played an important role in the battles of Monterrey and Buena Vista. The army commanded by General Winfield Scott landed at Veracruz in March 1847, and the Rangers once again provided valuable support at the ensuing Siege of Veracruz and the battles of Cerro Gordo and Chapultepec. They were also responsible for the defeat of the fierce Mexican guerrilleros that hindered the advance of the federal troops, which they achieved ruthlessly and efficiently. By then, the Rangers had earned themselves a considerable reputation that approached the legendary among Mexicans, and when Ranger companies entered and occupied Mexico City with the U.S. Army in September 1847, los Diablos Tejanos (the "Texas Devils") were received with reverence and fear. Their role in the Mexican–American War also won them nationwide fame in the United States and news of their exploits in the contemporary press became common, effectively establishing the Rangers as part of American folklore. As the Victoria Advocate reported in the November 16, 1848, issue:
- Four newly raised ranging companies, have all been organized, and taken their several stations on our frontier. We are much pleased. We know they are true men, and they know exactly what they are about. With many of them Indian and Mexican fighting has been their trade for years. That they may be permanently retained in the service on our frontier is extremely desirable, and we cannot permit ourselves to doubt such will be the case.
On January 27, 1858, Runnels allocated $70,000 to fund a force of Rangers, and John Salmon "Rip" Ford, a veteran Ranger of the war with Mexico, was commissioned as senior captain. With a force of some 100 Rangers, Ford began a large expedition against the Comanche and other tribes, whose raids against the settlers and their properties had become common. On May 12, Ford's Rangers, accompanied by Tonkawa, Anadarko and Shawnee scouts from the Brazos Reservation in Texas, crossed the Red River into Indian Territory and attacked a Comanche village in the Canadian River Valley, flanked by the Antelope Hills in what is now Oklahoma. Suffering only four casualties, the force killed a reported 76 Comanche (including a chief by the name of Iron Jacket) and took 18 prisoners and 300 horses.
In December 1859, Ford and his company were assigned to Brownsville, in south Texas, where the local Mexican rancher Juan Cortina had launched an attack and briefly occupied the town, and later conducted a series of guerrilla actions and raids against local Anglo landowners. Together with a regiment of the U.S. Army commanded by Major Samuel P. Heintzelman (who later became a notable general of the Union in the Civil War), Ford's Rangers took part in the Cortina War, and on December 27, 1859, they engaged and defeated Cortina's forces in the battle of Rio Grande City. Pursued and defeated by Ford and his Rangers again a few days later, Cortina retreated into Mexico, and although he would continue to promote minor actions against the Texan ranchers, the threat of a large-scale military incursion was effectively ended.
The success of these campaigns marked a turning point in Rangers' history. The U.S. Army could provide only limited and thinly stretched protection in the enormous territory of Texas. In contrast, the Rangers' effectiveness when dealing with these threats convinced both the people of the state and the political leaders that a well-funded and organized local Ranger force was essential. Such a force could use the deep familiarity with the territory and the proximity with the theater of operations as major advantages in its favor. This option was not pursued in the light of the emerging national political problems, and the Rangers all but disappeared as a functioning group until 1874. However, the conviction of their usefulness had become firmly established, and the agency would eventually be reconstituted.
 The Civil War and late 19th centuryseceded from the United States in 1861 during the American Civil War, many Rangers enlisted individually to fight for the Confederacy, such as Walter P. Lane, George W. Baylor, Thomas S. Lubbock, Benjamin McCulloch, John B. Jones, Leander H. McNelly and John Ford himself. Although the famous Eighth Texas Cavalry regiment was widely known as Terry's Texas Rangers, neither its leader and founder, Benjamin Franklin Terry, nor the majority of its members had been affiliated with the state agency. The fact that both groups have often been regarded as related (and Terry's men themselves had thus adopted the organization's name) speaks of the widespread fame that the Rangers had achieved by that time. During the Civil War, the duties of scouting the state frontiers for Union troops, hostile Indians and deserters devolved upon those who could not be drafted into the Confederate Army due to their age or other disabilities. This mixed group was never officially considered a Ranger force, although their work was essentially the same.
During Reconstruction, the Rangers served as state police. Charged with enforcing unpopular new laws that came with reintegration, the organization fell into disrepute. During this period, the Rangers were essentially a hybrid military and police unit; when fighting Indians or Mexicans, its members behaved much like troops, but when hunting down criminals, they functioned as detectives and policemen.
The scenario changed radically for the Rangers with the state election of 1873. When newly elected Governor Richard Coke took office in January 1874, he vigorously restored order to Texas in pursuit of improvements to both the economy and security. Once again Indians and Mexican bandits were threatening the frontiers, and once again the Rangers were tasked with solving the problem. The state legislature authorized the reorganization of the agency, and a special force was created within its aegis: the Frontier Battalion, consisting of six companies of 75 men each under the command of Major John B. Jones. This group played a major role in the control of ordinary lawbreakers as well as the defense against hostile Indian tribes, which was particularly necessary in the period of lawlessness and social collapse of the Reconstruction.
The Frontier Battalion was soon augmented with the Special Force, a second military group of 40 men under Captain Leander H. McNelly, with the specific task of bringing order in the area of south Texas between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande, called the Nueces Strip. At this particular region, the general situation of lawlessness was aggravated by the proximity of Texas to Mexico and the conflict between agrarian and cattle interests. Raids along the frontier were common, and not only perpetrated by ordinary bandits but also promoted by local Mexican caudillos. In particular, Juan Cortina's men were again conducting periodic guerrilla operations against local ranchers. In the following two years, McNelly and his group energetically engaged these threats and virtually eradicated them.
It was at these times that many of the Rangers' myths were born, such as their success in capturing or killing notorious criminals and desperados (including bank robber Sam Bass and gunfighter John Wesley Hardin) and their decisive role in the defeat of the Comanche, the Kiowa and the Apache peoples. It was also during these years that the Rangers suffered the only defeat in their history when they surrendered at the Salinero Revolt in 1877. Despite the fame of their deeds, the conduct of the Rangers during this period was far from exemplary. In particular, McNelly and his men used ruthless methods that often rivaled the brutality of their opponents, such as taking part in summary executions and confessions induced by torture and intimidation. McNelly also made himself famous for disobeying direct orders from his superiors on several occasions, and breaking through the Mexican frontier for self-appointed law enforcement purposes. Arguably, these methods either sowed the seeds of discontent among Mexican-Americans or restored order to the frontier. After McNelly's retirement because of health problems, the Special Force was dissolved in 1877 and their members absorbed into the Frontier Battalion, which continued to function even after Jones's death in the line of duty in 1881. By the last years of the 19th century, a high measure of security within the vast frontier of Texas had been achieved, in which the Rangers had played a primary role.
 The Mexican Revolution and early 20th century
At the beginning of the 20th century, Texas' frontiers had become more settled, thus rendering the 1874 legislation obsolete after the organization had existed as a quasi-military force for more than 25 years. Amidst serious legal troubles that questioned the authority of the Rangers to exert such a role, new resolutions appropriate to the current times were adopted. The Frontier Battalion was disbanded with the passing of new legislation on July 8, 1901, and a new Ranger force was created, consisting of four companies of "no more than 20 men each" with a captain in command of every unit. The Rangers had slowly but firmly evolved into an agency with an exclusive law enforcement focus.
The Mexican Revolution that began in 1910 against President Porfirio Díaz changed the relatively peaceful state of affairs along the border drastically. Soon after, violence on both sides of the frontier escalated as bands of raiders began crossing the Rio Grande on a near-daily basis, whether partisans in search of resources to wage civil war against Díaz, or gangs of simple bandits who took advantage of the turmoil to loot.
The political decision was clear: restore control and order by any necessary means. As Governor Oscar Branch Colquitt instructed Ranger Capt. John R. Hughes: ...you and your men are to keep 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 . Hundreds of new special Rangers were appointed by order of the state, which neglected to carefully screen aspiring members. Rather than conduct themselves as law enforcement officers, many of these groups acted more like vigilante squads. Reports of Rangers abusing their authority and breaking the law themselves became numerous . The situation grew even more dramatic when on March 9 1916, Pancho Villa led 1,500 Mexican raiders in a cross-border attack against Columbus, New Mexico, increasing the high tension that had already existed between the communities. Before the decade was over, hundreds if not thousands of lives were lost, counting Anglos, Tejanos and Mexicans alike; although by far, these last two groups suffered the most. In January 1919, at the initiative of Representative José T. Canales of Brownsville, the Texas Legislature launched a full investigation of Rangers' actions throughout these years. The investigation found that from 300 up to 5,000 people, mostly of Hispanic descent, had been killed by Rangers from 1910 to 1919, and that members of the Rangers had been involved in many sordid misdeeds of brutality and injustice .
These were the most turbulent times in the history of the Rangers, and with the objective of recycling the force's membership, putting it back in tune with its past and restoring the public's trust, the Legislature passed on March 31 1919, a resolution to purge it and enhance it and its procedures. All special Ranger groups were disbanded; the four official companies were kept, albeit their members were reduced from 20 to 15 each; better payment was offered in order to attract men of higher personal standards; and a method for citizens to articulate complaints against any further misdeeds or abuses was established.
The reforms proved positive, and the new Ranger force eventually regained the status of a respectable agency. Under the command of captains such as Frank Hamer (who would later become famous for leading the party that killed the outlaws Bonnie and Clyde), the Rangers displayed remarkable activity in the following years, including the ever-present fighting of cattle rustlers, intervening in the violent labor disputes of the time and protecting the citizenry at the Ku Klux Klan's public displays. With the passage of the Volstead Act and the beginning of the Prohibition on January 16 1920, their duties extended to scouting the border for tequila smugglers and detecting and dismantling the illegal stills that abounded along Texas' territory.
One of the Rangers' highest-profile interventions during this period was taming Texas's oil boomtowns (beginning with Spindletop's discovery in 1901), which had developed into lawless territories. During the 1920s, martial law was decreed on several of these towns, such as Mexia and Borger; at others, like Desdemona, Wink, Ranger, Kilgore and Burkburnett, the situation was also very serious, and the Rangers were called in to quell agitated locals and terminate all illegal activities. This trouble proved to be a recurring one until well in the 1950s, but the Rangers prevented it from growing into an even more dramatic problem. At Borger, a total of ten officers were sent on April 7 1927, including Capt. Hamer. The balance of the Rangers' activities upon their arrival as reported was:
A thorough-going clean-up was put underway. The liquor traffic was broken up, many stills being seized and destroyed, and several thousand gallons of whiskey being captured and poured out. Two hundred and three gambling slot machines were seized and destroyed, and in a period of twenty four hours, no less than twelve hundred prostitutes left the town of Borger.
 Modernization and present day
The Great Depression that began in 1929 forced both the federal and state governments to cut down on personnel and funding of their organizations, and the Rangers were no exception. The number of commissioned officers was reduced to 45, and the only means of transportation afforded to Rangers were free railroad passes, or using their own personal horses. The situation worsened for the agency when its members entangled themselves in politics in 1932 by publicly supporting Governor Ross Sterling in his re-election campaign, over his opponent Miriam Amanda "Ma" Ferguson. Ferguson was elected, and immediately after taking office in January 1933, she proceeded to discharge all serving Rangers. The force also saw its salaries and funds slashed by the Texas Legislature, and their numbers reduced further to 32 men. The result was that Texas became a safe hideout for the many Depression-era gangsters escaping from the law, such as Bonnie and Clyde, George "Machine Gun" Kelly, Pretty Boy Floyd and Raymond Hamilton. The hasty appointment of many unqualified Rangers to stop the increasing criminality proved completely ineffective.
The general disorganization of law enforcement in the state convinced the members of the Legislature that a thorough revision of the public security system was in order, and with that purpose it hired the services of a consulting firm from Chicago. The resulting report yielded many worrying conclusions, but the basic underlying facts were simple: the criminality levels in Texas were extremely high, and the state's means to fight them were underfunded, undermanned, loose, disorganized and obsolete. The consultants' recommendation, besides increasing funding, was to introduce a whole reorganization of state security agencies; especially, to merge the Rangers with the Texas Highway Patrol under a new agency called the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). After deliberating, the Legislature agreed with the suggestion. The resolution that created the new state law enforcement agency was passed in 1935, and with an initial budget of $450,000, the DPS became operational on August 10.
With minor rearrangements over the years, the 1935 reforms have ruled the Texas Rangers' organization until present day. Hiring new members, which had been largely a political decision, was now achieved through a series of examinations and merit evaluations. Promotion relied on seniority and performance in the line of duty. More and more sophisticated means of crime fighting were put at their disposal, like automobiles, advanced weaponry and forensics. By the late 1930s, the Rangers had one of the best crime labs in the United States at the Headquarters Division in Austin. The appointment of Colonel Homer Garrison in September 1938 as director of the DPS proved decisive as well. Under his leadership, many respected captains such as Manuel T. Gonzaullas worked extensively to restore the good name of the force that had been compromised in the previous decades, keeping it in line with its traditions within a modern and civilized society and regaining its high status. The number of commissioned officers grew and the Rangers developed a clear detective function, while the Highway Patrol took charge of direct law enforcement duties.
The quality of the force in terms of training, funding, modernization and number strength has continued to improve. In the last few decades, the Rangers have intervened in several thousand cases with a high level of effectiveness Ángel Maturino Reséndiz. The agency is also fully integrated with modern Texan ethnic groups, counting numerous officers of Hispanic and African American origin among its members. Today, the historical importance and symbolism of the Texas Rangers is such that they are protected by statute from being disbanded ("The division relating to the Texas Rangers may not be abolished" - Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 147, Sec. 1, September 1, 1987)., including many high-profile ones such as the pursuit and capture of serial killer
The Texas Rangers' internal organization still maintains the basic outlines that were set in 1935. The agency is formed into six companies, lettered from "A" to "F", each commanded by a Captain. The number of personnel is set by the Legislature; today, the Texas Rangers number 118 commissioned officers (including one woman), three crime analysts, one forensic artist, one fiscal analyst and 17 civilian support personnel (largely women). The Legislature has also made a provision for the appointment of 300 Special Rangers for use in emergency situations. The statewide headquarters of the Texas Rangers is located in Austin at the Texas DPS headquarters. Many incorrectly assume that Waco is the Rangers' headquarters, because the Ranger Hall of Fame is located there. Since August 31, 2005, the Chief of the Texas Rangers in command has been Senior Chief Ray Coffman and Assistant Senior Chief Jim Miller.
The companies' headquarters are distributed in six geographical locations:
- Houston is the headquarters for Company A, commanded by Capt. Tony Leal.
- Garland is the headquarters for Company B, commanded by Capt. Richard H. Sweaney.
- Lubbock is the headquarters for Company C, commanded by Capt. Randy Prince.
- San Antonio is the headquarters for Company D, commanded by Capt. Clete Buckaloo.
- Midland is the headquarters for Company E, commanded by Capt. Barry K. Caver.
- Waco is the headquarters for Company F, commanded by Capt. Kirby Dendy.
 Rangers' mythos
From its earliest days, the Rangers were surrounded with the mystique of the Old West. And though popular culture's image of the Rangers is typically one of rough living, tough talk and a quick draw, Ranger Captain John "Rip" Ford described the men who served him thus:
A large proportion ... were unmarried. A few of them drank intoxicating liquors. Still, it was a company of sober and brave men. They knew their duty and they did it. While in a town they made no braggadocio demonstration. They did not gallop through the streets, shoot, and yell. They had a specie of moral discipline which developed moral courage. They did right because it was right.
As it happened with many Old West myths like Billy the Kid or Wyatt Earp, the Rangers' legendary aura was in part a result of the work of sensationalistic writers and the contemporary press, who glorified and embellished their deeds in an idealized manner. The case of the Rangers is, however, unique: it was a collective force that, in exercise of the authority granted by the government, protected Texas against threats considered extremely evil at the time. While some Rangers could be considered mere criminals wearing badges by a modern observer, many documented tales of bravery and selflessness are also intertwined in the group's history.
 "Los Diablos Tejanos"
The Mexicans, who often tangled with the Rangers, called them Los Diablos Tejanos ("the Texas Devils"). John "Rip" Ford, who served under Captain John Coffee Hays in the Mexican-American War, recalled in his diary the moment the Rangers entered Mexico City and the reaction of the local population towards them:
"Los Diablos Tejanos! Los Diablos Tejanos!" cried the Mexicans as they crowded along the streets to get a look at the "Texas Devils". One war correspondent said they rode some standing upright, some sideways, some facing the rear, some by the reverse flank, some on horses, others on mustangs and mules; on they rode, pell-mell, wearing motley "uniforms" of almost every conceivable variety of pants and shirts, hats and caps ("caps made of the skins of the dog, the cat, the bear, the coon, the wild cat, and each cap had a tail hanging to it"). And the frightened onlookers and passers-by, not knowing whether to cheer or to run, believed the Texan to be "a sort of semi-civilized, half man, half devil, with a slight mixture of lion and the snapping turtle", and had "a more holy horror" of him than they had of "the evil saint himself."
 "One Riot, One Ranger"
One of the most enduring phrases associated with the Rangers today is One Riot, One Ranger. It is somewhat apocryphal in that there was never actually a riot; rather, the phrase was coined by Ranger Captain William "Bill" McDonald, who was sent to Dallas in 1896 to prevent the illegal heavyweight prize fight between Pete Maher and Bob Fitzsimmons that had been organized by the eccentric "Hanging Judge" Roy Bean. According to the story, McDonald's train was met by the mayor, who asked the single Ranger where the other lawmen were. McDonald is said to have replied: Hell! Ain't I enough? There's only one prize-fight!
Although some measure of truth lies within the tale, it is largely an idealized account written by author Bigelow Paine and loosely based on McDonald's statements, published in Paine's classic book Captain Bill McDonald: Texas Ranger in 1909. In truth, the fight had been so heavily publicized that nearly every Ranger was at hand, including all the then-captains and their superior, Adjutant General Woodford H. Mabry. Many of them were not really sure whether to stop the fight or to attend it; and in fact, other famous lawmen like Bat Masterson were also present for the occasion. The orders from the governor were clear, however, and the bout was stopped. Bean then tried to reorganize it in El Paso and later in Langtry, but the Rangers followed and thwarted his attempts. Finally, the fight took place on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande near Langtry, and all the Rangers could do was watch. Fitzsimmons won in less than two minutes, and according to their testimonies, they enjoyed the event very much. The motto appears on the pedestal of the large bronze statue of a Texas Ranger in the Love Field airport, contributed in 1961 by Mr. and Mrs. Earle Wyatt.
 High-profile busts
The Texas Rangers have assisted in many high-profile cases throughout the years. Most of them had a short-lived repercussion, while others have received wide coverage by the press and writers alike. However, there are some collars that are deeply entrenched in the Rangers' lore, such as those of outlaw John Wesley Hardin, bank robber Sam Bass, and the gunman Clyde Barrow and his moll Bonnie Parker.
 Sam Bass
In 1878, Sam Bass and his gang, who had perpetrated a series of bank and stagecoach robberies beginning in 1877, held up two stagecoaches and four trains within twenty-five miles of Dallas. The gang quickly found themselves the object of pursuit across North Texas by a special company of Texas Rangers headed by Captain Junius "June" Peak. Bass was able to elude the Rangers until a member of his party, Jim Murphy, turned informer, cut a deal to save himself, and led the law to the gang. As Bass's band rode south, Murphy wrote to Major John B. Jones, commander of the Frontier Battalion of Texas Rangers.
Jones set up an ambush at Round Rock, where the Bass gang had planned to rob the Williamson County Bank. On July 19, 1878, Bass and his gang scouted the area before the actual robbery. They bought some tobacco at a store and were noticed by Williamson County Sheriff Caige Grimes, who approached the group and was shot and killed. A heavy gunfight ensued between the outlaws, the Rangers and the local lawmen. A deputy named Moore was mortally wounded, as was Bass. The gang quickly mounted their horses and tried to escape while continuing to fire, and as they galloped away, Bass was shot again in the back by Ranger George Herold. Bass was later found lying helpless in a pasture north of town by the authorities. They took him into custody where he died from his wounds the next day, on July 21, 1878, at 27 years of age.
 John Wesley Hardin
One of Texas' deadliest outlaws, John Wesley Hardin was reputed to be the meanest man alive, an accolade he supposedly earned by killing a man for snoring. He committed his first murder at age 15, and admitted to killing more than 40 men over 27 years. In May 1874, Hardin killed Charles Webb, the deputy sheriff of Brown County, for which the outlaw was relentlessly pursued. John Barclay Armstrong, a Texas Ranger known as "McNelly's Bulldog" since he served with the Special Force as a sergeant and Captain Leander McNelly's right hand, asked for permission to arrest the gunman, which was granted. Pursuing Hardin across Alabama and into Florida, Armstrong caught up with Hardin in Pensacola.
After Armstrong, Colt pistol in hand, boarded a train that Hardin and four companions were on, the outlaw shouted, "Texas, by God!" and drew his own pistol. When it was over, one of his gang members was killed and his three surviving friends were staring at Armstrong’s pistol. Hardin had been knocked unconscious. Armstrong's hat had been neatly pierced by a bullet, but he was uninjured. Hardin was tried for murder, convicted, and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Seventeen years later, Hardin was pardoned by Governor Jim Hogg and released from prison on March 16, 1894. He moved to El Paso, where he began practicing law. On August 19, 1896, he was murdered in the middle of a dice game at the Acme Saloon over a personal disagreement.
 Bonnie and Clyde
Frank Hamer, the longtime Ranger captain, left the Rangers in 1932. In 1934, at the request of Col. Lee Simmons, head of the Texas prison system, Hamer was asked to use his skills to track down Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow (Bonnie and Clyde), whose Barrow gang had engineered a successful breakout of associates imprisoned at Huntsville. Prisoner and Barrow friend Joe Palmer had killed a guard while escaping, and the Barrow gang was responsible for many murders, robberies, and car thefts in Texas alone, while thwarting law enforcement with embarrassing consistency.
After tracking the Barrow gang across nine states, Hamer, in conjunction with officials in Louisiana, learned that Bonnie and Clyde had visited a home in Bienville Parish on May 21, 1934, and that Clyde had designated a rendezvous point in the vicinity with gang member Henry Methvin, in case they were later separated. Methvin, allegedly cooperating with law enforcement, made sure that he was separated from them that evening in Shreveport, and the posse set up an ambush along the route to the rendezvous at Highway 154, between Gibsland and Sailes. Led by former Rangers Hamer and B. M. "Manny" Gault, the posse now included Sheriff Henderson Jordan and Deputy Prentiss Oakley of Bienville Parish, Louisiana, and Dallas County Deputies Bob Alcorn and Ted Hinton. They were in place by 9:00 that night, waiting all through the next day, but with no sign of Bonnie and Clyde.
Around 9:00 a.m. on May 23rd, 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. Some have questioned whether there was any legal authority to kill Parker. The United States Congress awarded him a special citation for trapping and killing the outlaws.
 Rangers' badges and uniforms
Modern-day Rangers (as well as their predecessors) do not have a prescribed uniform; rather, they wear what they please. Historically, according to pictorial evidence, Rangers wore whatever clothes they could afford or muster, which were usually worn out due to heavy use, as well as lack of money to buy new ones.
To carry out their horseback missions, Rangers adapted tack and personal gear to fit their needs. Until the beginning of the 20th century, the greatest influence was from the vaqueros (Mexican cowboys). Saddles, spurs, ropes and vests used by the Rangers were all fashioned after those of the vaqueros. Most Rangers also preferred to wear broader-brimmed sombreros as opposed to cowboy hats, and favored square-cut, knee-high boots with a high heel and pointed toes, in a more Spanish style. Both groups carried their guns the same way, with the holsters positioned high on the gun belt around their hips instead of low on the thigh, or in cross-draw holsters. This placement made it easier to draw and shoot while riding a horse.
The wearing of badges did not become common until the late 1800s. Historians have put forth several reasons for the lack of the regular use of a badge; among them, that some Rangers felt that a shiny badge was a tempting target. Other historians have speculated that there was no real need to show a badge to a hostile Indian or outlaw who without doubt knew he was in for a fight. Additionally, from an historical viewpoint, a Ranger's pay was so scanty that the money required for such fancy accoutrements was rarely available. Nevertheless, some Rangers did wear badges, and the first of these appeared around 1875. They were locally made and varied considerably from one to another, but they invariably represented a star cut out of a Mexican silver coin (usually a five-peso coin). The design is reminiscent of Texas' Lone Star flag, and the use of a Mexican peso was probably intended to belittle Texas' southern neighbors, with whom there was constant struggle. Although present-day Rangers wear the familiar "star in a wheel" badge, it was adopted officially only recently. The current design of the Rangers' badge was incorporated in 1962, when Ranger Hardy L. Purvis and his mother donated enough Mexican five-peso coins to the DPS to provide badges for all 62 Rangers who were working at that time as commissioned officers. The design has, essentially, remained the same to this day.
 Popular culture
The Texas Rangers police force is the basis for the naming of the Texas Rangers baseball team.
- Heavy Weather by Bruce Sterling features a run-in with a Texas Ranger patrol with the novel's group of storm chasers, which segues into a detail description of the group following the collapse of the Federal Government.
- The Lonesome Dove novels of Larry McMurtry depict the fictionalized adventures of several Texas Rangers in the mid to late 19th century.
- One Ranger: A Memoir by H. Joaquin Jackson and David Marion Wilkinson is a biography of Texas Ranger H. Joaquin Jackson.
- The Lone Ranger (1933–57) (in background)
- Tales of the Texas Rangers (1955–59)
- Laredo (1960s)
- The Texas Rangers (1981)
- Walker, Texas Ranger, created in 1993 and starring martial arts practitioner and instructor Chuck Norris as Cordell Walker, has drawn much attention to this Texas law enforcement body. Late Night with Conan O'Brien features the Walker, Texas Ranger lever.
- King of the Hill (Texas rangers appear in at least two episodes.)
- Medium: Allison DuBois works with Captain Push of the Texas Rangers in several episodes
- Tales of the Texas Rangers featured Joel McCrea as Jace Pearson, personification of Texas Rangers everywhere. The show ran on NBC July 8, 1950 to September 14, 1952. Technical assistance for the program was provided by real life Texas Ranger Manuel "Lone Wolf" Gonzaullas.
- Texas Rangers was a pulp sized magazine produced by Better Publications that published 206 issues beginning October 1936 with the last issue dated February 1958. It featured lead novels about Texas Ranger Jim Hatfield.
- In the tabletop roleplaying game Deadlands, the Texas Rangers hunt supernatural monsters throughout the nineteenth century's "Weird West."
- "The Texas Rangers" 1936 film starring Fred MacMurray
- The Rangers have a prominent part in portions of "The Searchers", (1956), starring John Wayne.
- "The Comancheros" (1961) starring John Wayne, is a highly fictionalized account of the Rangers conflict with Comanches and their white allies.
- Bonnie and Clyde (1967) features a questionable portrayal of real-life Texas Ranger Frank Hamer.
- In True Grit (1969), starring John Wayne as a United States Marshal, Glen Campbell plays a Texas Ranger from Waco.
- In Stephen Spielberg's first film produced for theatres, The Sugarland Express, the Texas Department of Public Safety troopers call in two Texas Ranger snipers to try to kill the fugitives. (1974)
- Chuck Norris plays Texas Ranger "J.J. McQuade" in Lone Wolf McQuade (1983)
- Dennis Hopper plays Texas Ranger "Lefty" Enright in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1986)
- Clint Eastwood plays Texas Ranger Red Garnett in A Perfect World (1993)
- Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) features a fictional Texas Ranger named Earl McGraw (portrayed by Michael Parks).
- Earl McGraw is a lead character in From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter (2000), a prequel to From Dusk Till Dawn.
- Kill Bill Vol. I (2003) also features Earl McGraw.
- Texas Rangers (2001) portrays the exploits of Capt. Leander H. McNelly, played by Dylan McDermott.
- Man of the House (2005) stars Tommy Lee Jones as a Texas Ranger who has to protect a group of cheerleaders that witnessed a murder.
- ↑ Robinson, Charles, The Men Who Wear the Star: The Story of the Texas Rangers.
- ↑ Webb, Walter Prescott, The Texas Rangers: A Century of Frontier Defense.
- ↑ O'Neal, Bill, Captain Jack Hays, Texas Ranger Dispatch Magazine, the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, issue 1, 2000.
- ↑ Circelli, Jerry, Lawmen of the Old West, Western Horsemen Story. Accessed October 12, 2005.
- ↑ Ford, John Salmon, Rip Ford's Texas.
- ↑ Cox, Mike, Texas Ranger Tales: Stories That Need Telling.
- ↑ Wilkins, Frederick, Defending the Borders: The Texas Rangers, 1848-1861
- ↑ Wilkins, Frederick, The Law Comes to Texas: The Texas Rangers 1870-1901
- ↑ Parsons, Chuck & Hall Little, Marianne E., Captain L. H. McNelly, Texas Ranger: The Life and Times of a Fighting Man.
- ↑ Parsons, Chuck & Hall Little, Marianne E., ibid.
- ↑ Cox, Mike, op. cit.
- ↑ Cox, Mike, ibid.
- ↑ Harris, Charles H. III & Sadler, Louis R., The Texas Rangers And The Mexican Revolution: The Bloodiest Decade, 1910-1920.
- ↑ Harris, Charles H. III & Sadler, Louis R., ibid.
- ↑ Cox, Mike, op. cit.
- ↑ Webb, Walter Prescott, op. cit.
- ↑ Cox, Mike, op. cit.
- ↑ Texas Rangers from the Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed October 13, 2005.
- ↑ Ford, John Salmon, op. cit.
- ↑ Wilkins, Frederick, The Legend Begins: The Texas Rangers, 1823-1845.
- ↑ Ford, John Salmon, ibid.
- ↑ Robinson, Charles, op. cit.
- ↑ Dallas view trivia, about halfway down there is an image of the statue.
- ↑ John Wesley Hardin from the Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed October 12, 2005.
- ↑ Butler, Steven, In Search of Bonnie and Clyde in Louisiana, Dallas Sights. Accessed June 17, 2005.
- ↑ Circelli, Jerry, op. cit.
- ↑ The Texas Ranger Costume. Accessed September 15, 2005.
- Robinson, Charles, The Men Who Wear the Star: The Story of the Texas Rangers, Modern Library, (2001). ISBN 0-375-75748-1.
- Wilkins, Frederick, The Legend Begins: The Texas Rangers, 1823-1845, State House Press, (1996). ISBN 1-880510-41-3.
- Wilkins, Frederick, Defending the Borders: The Texas Rangers, 1848-1861, State House Press, (2001). ISBN 1-880510-41-3.
- Wilkins, Frederick, The Law Comes to Texas: The Texas Rangers 1870-1901, State House Press, (1999). ISBN 1880510618.
- Webb, Walter Prescott, The Texas Rangers: A Century of Frontier Defense, University of Texas Press (1989). ISBN 0-292-78110-5.
- Cox, Mike, Texas Ranger Tales: Stories That Need Telling, Republic of Texas, (1998). ISBN 1-55622-537-7.
- Ford, John Salmon, Rip Ford's Texas, University of Texas Press (1987). ISBN 0-292-77034-0.
- Harris, Charles H. III & Sadler, Louis R., The Texas Rangers And The Mexican Revolution: The Bloodiest Decade, 1910-1920, University of New Mexico Press (2004). ISBN 0-8263-3483-0.
- Chuck Parsons & Marianne E. Hall Little, Captain L. H. McNelly, Texas Ranger: The Life and Times of a Fighting Man, State House Press (2000). ISBN 1-880510-73-1.
- Barrow, Blanche Caldwell & John Neal Phillips (Ed.), My Life With Bonnie & Clyde, University of Oklahoma Press (2004). ISBN 0-8061-3625-1.
- Knight, James R. & Davis, Jonathan, Bonnie and Clyde: A Twenty-First-Century Update, Eakin Press (2003). ISBN 1-57168-794-7.
 External links
- Rangers and Sovereignty, Published 1914, hosted by the Portal to Texas History
- The Adventures of Big-Foot Wallace, the Texas Ranger and Hunter, Published 1870, hosted by the Portal to Texas History
- Diary of Ephraim Shelby Dodd : Member of Company D Terry's Texas Rangers, December 4, 1862--January 1, 1864. published 1914, hosted by the Portal to Texas History.
- Texas Rangers and The Mexican War
- Texas Rangers from the Handbook of Texas Online
- The Smithsonian Institute. The Problem of Identity in a Changing Culture. Popular Expressions of Culture Conflict Along the Lower Rio Grande Border, by Dr. Américo Paredes.
- Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum Article on Texas Rangers in Popular culture.
- The King Ranch and The King Rangers
- Excerpt detailing Ranger misconduct during the Mexican-American War.
- Lone Stars and Gunsmoke a Primary Source Adventure, a lesson plan hosted by The Portal to Texas History
- "Border Bandits" (2004) Article about a recent documentary film exposing the thousands of murders committed by Texas Rangers during the "bandit wars" of the early 20th century.
|State Police/Highway Patrol in the United States of America|
Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming