Texas Ranger Division

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TxDPS, Texas Ranger Division
TX - Ranger.png
Texas rangers crest.jpg
Badge of the Texas Ranger Division.png
Official 1962 design of Texas Ranger badge
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Flag of the State of Texas
Agency overview
FormedOctober 17, 1835;183 years ago (1835-10-17). Modeled after Stephen F. Austin's 1823 ranger companies.
Preceding agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionTexas, U.S.
Texas Ranger Division companies map.png
Map of TxDPS, Texas Ranger Division's jurisdiction.
Size268,820 square miles (696,240 km2)
Population27,469,114 (2015 est.) [1]
General nature
Headquarters Austin, Texas, United States

Texas Rangers166 [2]
Support Employees68 [2]
Agency executive
  • Chance Collins [3] , Chief
Parent agency Texas Department of Public Safety

The Texas Ranger Division, commonly called the Texas Rangers, is a U.S statewide investigative law enforcement agency with statewide jurisdiction in Texas, based in the capital city of Austin. Over the years, the Texas Rangers have investigated crimes ranging from murder to political corruption, acted in riot control and as detectives, protected the governor of Texas, tracked down fugitives, and functioned as a paramilitary force at the service of both the Republic (1836–1845) and the state of Texas.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

A State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) is a state-level detective agency in the United States. They are plainclothes agencies which usually investigate both criminal and civil cases involving the state and/or multiple jurisdictions. They also typically provide technical support to local agencies in the form of laboratory and/or record services.

Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a legal body to administer justice within a defined field of responsibility, e.g., Michigan tax law. In federations like the United States, areas of jurisdiction apply to local, state, and federal levels; e.g. the court has jurisdiction to apply federal law.


The Texas Rangers were unofficially created by Stephen F. Austin in a call-to-arms written in 1823 and were first headed by Captain Morris. After a decade, on August 10, 1835, Daniel Parker introduced a resolution to the Permanent Council creating a body of rangers to protect the border. [4] The unit was dissolved by the federal authorities during the post–Civil War Reconstruction Era, but was quickly reformed upon the reinstitution of home government. Since 1935, the organization has been a division of the Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS); it fulfills the role of Texas' state bureau of investigation. As of 2015, there are 162 commissioned members of the Ranger force. [5]

Stephen F. Austin American empresario, slaveholder, namesake of Austin, Texas

Stephen Fuller Austin was an American empresario. Known as the "Father of Texas", and the founder of Texas, he led the second, and ultimately, the successful colonization of the region by bringing 300 families from the United States to the region in 1825.

The Consultation served as the provisional government of Mexican Texas from October 1835 to March 1836 during the Texas Revolution. Tensions rose in Texas during early 1835 as throughout Mexico federalists began to oppose the increasingly centralist policies of the government. In the summer, Texians elected delegates to a political convention to be held in Gonzales in mid-October. Weeks before the convention and war began, settlers took up arms against Mexican soldiers at the Battle of Gonzales. The convention was postponed until November 1 after many of the delegates joined the newly organized volunteer Texian Army to initiate a siege of the Mexican garrison at San Antonio de Bexar. On November 3, a quorum was reached in San Antonio. Within days, the delegates passed a resolution to define why Texians were fighting. They expressed allegiance to the deposed Constitution of 1824 and maintained their right to form an independent government while this document was not in effect. Henry Smith was elected governor of the new provisional government and the remaining delegates formed a General Council. In the next weeks, the council authorized the creation of a new regular army to be commanded by Sam Houston. As Houston worked to establish an army independent from the existing volunteer army, the council repeatedly interfered in military matters.

American Civil War Civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865

The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North and the South. The most studied and written about episode in U.S. history, the Civil War began primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people. War broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights to uphold slavery.

The Rangers have taken part in many of the most important events of Texas history, such as stopping the assassination of presidents William Howard Taft and Porfirio Díaz in El Paso, Texas, and in some of the best-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 and other such fiction, making the Rangers significant participants in the mythology of the Wild West. The Lone Ranger, perhaps the best-known example of a Texas Ranger–derived fictional character, draws his alias from having once been a Texas Ranger. Other well-known examples include the several Texas Ranger roles portrayed by Chuck Norris.

William Howard Taft 27th president of the United States

William Howard Taft was the 27th president of the United States (1909–1913) and the tenth chief justice of the United States (1921–1930), the only person to have held both offices. Taft was elected president in 1908, the chosen successor of Theodore Roosevelt, but was defeated for re-election by Woodrow Wilson in 1912 after Roosevelt split the Republican vote by running as a third-party candidate. In 1921, President Warren G. Harding appointed Taft to be chief justice, a position in which he served until a month before his death.

Porfirio Díaz President of Mexico

José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori was a Mexican general and politician who served seven terms as President of Mexico, a total of 31 years, from February 17, 1877 to December 1, 1880 and from December 1, 1884 to May 25, 1911. A veteran of the War of the Reform (1858–60) and the French intervention in Mexico (1862–67), Díaz rose to the rank of General, leading republican troops against the French-imposed rule of Emperor Maximilian. Seizing power in a coup in 1876, Díaz and his allies, a group of technocrats known as "Científicos", ruled Mexico for the next thirty-five years, a period known as the Porfiriato.

El Paso, Texas City in Texas, United States

El Paso is a city in and the county seat of El Paso County, Texas, United States, in the far western part of the state. The 2017 population estimate for the city from the U.S. Census was 683,577. Its metropolitan statistical area (MSA) covers all of El Paso and Hudspeth counties in Texas, and has a population of 844,818.

During their mixed history, a distinct Ranger tradition has evolved; their cultural significance to Texians and later Texans is such that they are legally protected against disbandment. [6] There is a museum dedicated to the Texas Rangers in Waco, Texas.

Texians were residents of Mexican Texas and, later, the Republic of Texas.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast.

Waco, Texas City in Texas, United States

Waco is a city in central Texas and is the county seat of McLennan County, Texas, United States. It is situated along the Brazos River and I-35, halfway between Dallas and Austin. The city had a 2010 population of 124,805, making it the 22nd-most populous city in the state. The 2017 US Census population estimate is 136,436 The Waco Metropolitan Statistical Area consists of McLennan and Falls Counties, which had a 2010 population of 234,906. Falls County was added to the Waco MSA in 2013. The 2018 US Census population estimate for the Waco MSA is 271,942.


An early depiction of a group of Texas Rangers, c. 1845 Texrangers.jpg
An early depiction of a group of Texas Rangers, c. 1845

The rangers were founded in 1823 when Stephen F. Austin, known as the Father of Texas, employed ten men to act as rangers to protect 600 to 700 newly settled families who arrived in Texas following the Mexican War of Independence. While there is some discussion as to when Austin actually employed men as "rangers", Texas Ranger lore dates the year of their organization to this event. [7] The Texas Rangers were formally constituted in 1835 and, in November, Robert McAlpin Williamson was chosen to be the first Major of the Texas Rangers. Within two years the Rangers comprised more than 300 men.

Mexican War of Independence armed conflict which ended the rule of Spain in the territory of New Spain

The Mexican War of Independence was an armed conflict, and the culmination of a political and social process which ended the rule of Spain in 1821 in the territory of New Spain. The war had its antecedent in Napoleon's French invasion of Spain in 1808; it extended from the Cry of Dolores by Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla on September 16, 1810, to the entrance of the Army of the Three Guarantees led by Agustín de Iturbide to Mexico City on September 27, 1821. September 16 is celebrated as Mexican Independence Day.

Robert McAlpin Williamson American judge

Robert McAlpin Williamson was a Republic of Texas Supreme Court Justice, state lawmaker and Texas Ranger. Williamson County, Texas is named for him. He is the second white person documented playing the banjo.

Following the Texas Revolution and the creation of the Republic of Texas, newly elected president Mirabeau B. Lamar, (the second elected president of the Republic of Texas), raised a force of 56 Rangers to fight the Cherokee and the Comanche, partly in retaliation for the support they had given the Mexicans at the Cordova Rebellion against the Republic. [8] Ten rangers were killed in the Battle of Stone Houses in 1837. [9] The size of the Ranger force was increased from 56 to 150 men by Sam Houston, as President of the Republic, in 1841, (the 2nd time he was elected president of the Republic.)

Texas Revolution military conflict

The Texas Revolution was a rebellion of colonists from the United States and Tejanos in putting up armed resistance to the centralist government of Mexico. While the uprising was part of a larger one that included other provinces opposed to the regime of President Antonio López de Santa Anna, the Mexican government believed the United States had instigated the Texas insurrection with the goal of annexation. The Mexican Congress passed the Tornel Decree, declaring that any foreigners fighting against Mexican troops "will be deemed pirates and dealt with as such, being citizens of no nation presently at war with the Republic and fighting under no recognized flag." Only the province of Texas succeeded in breaking with Mexico, establishing the Republic of Texas, and eventually being annexed by the United States.

Republic of Texas independent sovereign nation in North America that existed from March 2, 1836, to February 19, 1846

The Republic of Texas was a sovereign state in North America that existed from March 2, 1836, to February 19, 1846. It was bordered by Mexico to the west and southwest, the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast, the two U.S. states of Louisiana and Arkansas to the east and northeast, and United States territories encompassing parts of the current U.S. states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico to the north and west. The citizens of the republic were known as Texians.

Mirabeau B. Lamar American politician

Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar was an attorney born in Georgia, who became a Texas politician, poet, diplomat and soldier. He was a leading Texas political figure during the Texas Republic era. He was elected as the second President of the Republic of Texas after Sam Houston. He was known for waging war against bands of Cherokee and Comanche peoples to push them out of Texas, and for establishing a fund to support public education.

The Rangers continued to participate in skirmishes with Native Americans through 1846, when the annexation of Texas to the United States and the Mexican–American War saw several companies of Rangers mustered into federal service. They played important roles at various battles, acting as guides and participating in Counter-guerrilla warfare, soon establishing a fearsome reputation among both Mexicans and Americans. At the Battle of Monterrey in September 1846, famous Texas Rangers such as John Coffee "Jack" Hays, Ben McCulloch, Bigfoot Wallace, and Samuel Hamilton Walker played important roles in the battle, to include advising General William Jenkins Worth on the tactics required to fight inside a Mexican city. Richard Addison Gillespie, a famed Texas Ranger, died at Monterrey, and General Worth renamed a hill "Mount Gillespie" after him. [10] Colonel Hays organized a second regiment of Texas Rangers, including Rip Ford, who fought with General Winfield Scott in his Mexico City Campaign and the Anti-guerrilla campaign along his line of communications to Vera Cruz. [11] :60

John Jackson Tumlinson Sr., the first alcalde of the Colorado district, is considered by many Texas Ranger historians to be the first Texas Ranger killed in the line of duty. [12] One of his most urgent issues was protection of settlers from theft and murder by marauders. On his way to San Antonio, in 1823, to discuss the issue with the governor, Tumlinson was killed by Native Americans. His traveling companion, a Mr. Newman, escaped. Tumlinson's body was never found. [13]

Following the end of the war in 1848, the Rangers were largely disbanded, but the election of Hardin Richard Runnels as governor in 1857 meant $70,000 was allocated to fund the Rangers under John Salmon "Rip" Ford, [11] :223 a veteran of the Mexican war. The now 100-strong Rangers participated in campaigns against the Comanche and other tribes, whose raids against the settlers and their properties had become common. Ford and his Rangers fought the Comanche in the Battle of Little Robe Creek in 1858 and then Juan Cortina in the Battle of Rio Grande City the following year. [11] :236, 275

The success of a series of campaigns in the 1860s 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. By 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 state 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 view of the emerging national political problems (prelude to the American Civil War), and the Rangers were again dissolved. [14]

Texas Historical Marker for Texas Ranger Camp Roberts in Blanco Canyon Texas Historical Marker for the Roberts Camp in Blanco Canyon.jpg
Texas Historical Marker for Texas Ranger Camp Roberts in Blanco Canyon

Many Rangers enlisted to fight for the Confederacy following the secession of Texas from the United States in 1861 during the Civil War. In 1870, during Reconstruction, the Rangers were briefly replaced by a Union-controlled version called the Texas State Police, disbanded only three years later. [15] The state election of 1873 saw newly elected Governor Richard Coke and the state legislature recommission the Rangers. [16] [17] During these times, 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), their involvement in the Mason County War, the Horrell-Higgins Feud, and their decisive role in the defeat of the Comanche, Kiowa and Apache peoples. The Apache "dreaded the Texas Rangers...whose guns were always loaded and whose aim was unerring; they slept in the saddle and ate while they rode, or done without...when they took up our trail they followed it determinedly and doggedly day and night." [18] Also during these years, 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 illegally excessive. In particular, Leander H. 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. [19]

Capt. Monroe Fox and two other Rangers on horseback with their lariats around the bodies of dead Mexican bandits, after the Norias Ranch Raid August 8, 1915 Rangers1915.JPG
Capt. Monroe Fox and two other Rangers on horseback with their lariats around the bodies of dead Mexican bandits, after the Norias Ranch Raid August 8, 1915

The Rangers next saw serious action at the summit of William Howard Taft and President Porfirio Díaz in 1909, preventing an assassination of both presidents, and during the subsequent Mexican Revolution. [20] [21] The breakdown of law and order on the Mexican side of the border, coupled with the lack of federal military forces, meant the Rangers were once again called upon to restore and maintain law and order, by any necessary means, which again led to excesses. However, the situation necessitated the appointment of hundreds of new special Rangers by the state, which neglected to carefully screen aspiring members. The Rangers were responsible for several incidents, ending in the January 28, 1918, massacre of the male population [22] (15 Mexican men and boys ranging in age from 16 to 72 years) of the tiny community of Porvenir, Texas, on the Mexican border in western Presidio County. Before the decade was over, thousands of lives were lost, Texans and Mexicans alike. In January 1919, an investigation launched by Texas lawmaker JT Canales found that from 300 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 acts of brutality and injustice. [23] The Rangers were reformed by a resolution of the Legislature in 1919, which saw the special Ranger groups disbanded and a complaints system instituted.

The Great Depression forced both the federal and state governments to cut down on personnel and funding of their organizations, and the number of commissioned officers was reduced to 45, with the only means of transportation afforded to Rangers being free railroad passes or using their personal horses. The agency was again damaged after supporting Governor Ross Sterling in his re-election campaign— after his opponent Miriam Amanda "Ma" Ferguson won, she proceeded to discharge all serving Rangers in 1933.

The ensuing disorganization of law enforcement in the state caused the Legislature to engage a firm of consultants to reorganize the state security agencies. The consultants recommended merging the Rangers with the Texas Highway Patrol under a new agency called the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). This change took place in 1935, with an initial budget of $450,000. 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 achieved through a series of examinations and merit evaluations. Promotion relied on seniority and performance in the line of duty. Today, the historical importance and symbolism of the Texas Rangers is such that they are protected by statute from being disbanded. [24]

Old West image

From its earliest days, the Rangers were surrounded with the mystique of the Old West. Although 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 as this:

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. [25]

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. While some Rangers could be considered criminals wearing badges by a modern observer, many documented tales of bravery and selflessness are also intertwined in the group's history. [26]

Despite the age of the agency, and the many contributions they have made to law enforcement over their entire history, Texas Rangers developed most of their reputation during the days of the Old West. Of the 79 Rangers killed in the line of duty, 30 were killed during the Old West period of 1858 through 1901. Also during this period, two of their three most high-profile captures or killings took place, the capture of John Wesley Hardin and the killing of Sam Bass, in addition to the capture of Texas gunman Billy Thompson and others. [27]

American historian Andrew Graybill has argued that the Texas Rangers resemble the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in many ways. He argues that each organization protected the established order by confining and removing Native Americans, by tightly controlling the mixed blood peoples (the African Americans in Texas, and the Métis in Canada), assisted the large-scale ranchers against the small-scale ranchers and farmers who fenced the land, and broke the power of labor unions that tried to organize the workers of industrial corporations. [28]

"One Riot, One Ranger"

Texas Rangers gathered at El Paso to stop the illegal Maher-Fitzsimmons fight, 1896. At the front row from the left are Adj. General W Mabry, and Capts. J Hughes, J Brooks, Bill McDonald (coiner of the phrase) and J Rogers. Txrangers3.jpg
Texas Rangers gathered at El Paso to stop the illegal Maher–Fitzsimmons fight, 1896. At the front row from the left are Adj. General W Mabry, and Capts. J Hughes, J Brooks, Bill McDonald (coiner of the phrase) and J Rogers.

A famous phrase associated with the Rangers is One Riot, One Ranger. It is a sensationalized 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 Dan Stuart and patronized by the eccentric "Hanging Judge" Roy Bean of Langtry, Texas. [29] 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!" [30]

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 1909 book Captain Bill McDonald: Texas Ranger. In truth, the fight had been so heavily publicized that nearly every Ranger was on hand, including all captains and their superior, Adjutant General Woodford H Mabry. Many of them were undecided on stopping the fight or attending it; and other famous lawmen, such as Bat Masterson, were also present. The orders of the governor were clear, however, and the bout was stopped. Stuart then tried to reorganize it in El Paso and later in Langtry, but the Rangers thwarted his attempts. Finally, the fight took place on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande near Langtry. [31]

The motto appears on the pedestal of the bronze Texas Ranger statue at the Dallas Love Field airport, contributed in 1961 by Earle Wyatt and his wife. [32]

High-profile cases

The Texas Rangers have assisted in many high-profile cases throughout the years. Some cases are deeply entrenched in the Rangers' lore, such as those of outlaw John Wesley Hardin, bank robber Sam Bass, and Bonnie and Clyde.

Sam Bass

Bank robber Sam Bass Sambass.jpg
Bank robber 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 25 miles (40 km) 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' 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 and the Rangers and 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; he died from his wounds the next day.

John Wesley Hardin

John Wesley Hardin John Wesley Hardin.gif
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 and a former Texas Ranger. 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, received permission to arrest the outlaw. He pursued Hardin across Alabama and into Florida, and caught up with him 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 pierced by a bullet, but he was uninjured. Hardin was charged 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, 1895, he was murdered during a poker game at the Acme Saloon over a personal disagreement. [33]

Taft-Díaz assassination attempt

In 1909, Private C.R. Moore of Company A, "performed one of the most important feats in the history of the Texas Rangers". [34] William Howard Taft and Porfirio Díaz planned a summit in El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, a historic first meeting between a U.S. president and a Mexican president and the first time an American president would cross the border into Mexico. [35] But tensions rose on both sides of the border, including threats of assassination, so the Texas Rangers, 4,000 U.S. and Mexican troops, United States Secret Service agents and United States Marshals were all called in to provide security. [36] Frederick Russell Burnham, the celebrated scout, was put in charge of a 250-person private security detail hired by John Hays Hammond, a nephew of Texas Ranger John Coffee Hays, who in addition to owning large investments in Mexico was a close friend of Taft from Yale University and a U.S. Vice-Presidential candidate in 1908. [37] [38] On October 16, the day of the summit, Burnham and Private C.R. Moore discovered a man holding a concealed palm pistol standing at the El Paso Chamber of Commerce building along the procession route. [39] [40] Burnham and Moore captured, disarmed, and arrested the would-be assassin within only a few feet of Taft and Díaz. [34] [21]

Bandit War

The Bandit War, a small but major campaign during the Border War, was fought in 1910–1915 in Texas. [41] The conflict was a series of violent raids conducted by Mexican revolutionaries in the American settlements of Tamaulipas, Coahuila and Chihuahua. The Texas Rangers became the primary fighting force and protection of the Texans during the operations against the rebels. The Mexican faction's incursion in the territory were carried out by the Seditionistas and Carrancistas, led by major political leaders such as Basilio Ramos and Luis de la Rosca. However, the Seditionistas were never able to launch a full-scale invasion of the United States so they resorted to conducting small raids into Texas. Much of the fighting involved the Texas Ranger Division though the United States Army also engaged in operations against the rebels. The Texas Rangers were led by Captain Harry Ransom on the orders of the Governor of Texas, James E. Ferguson. [42] [43]

Bonnie and Clyde

Frank Hamer, known in popular culture for tracking down and killing Bonnie and Clyde. FrankHamerEarly1920s.jpg
Frank Hamer, known in popular culture for tracking down and killing 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, whose Barrow gang had engineered a successful breakout of associates imprisoned at the Eastham Prison Farm in Houston County. 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. Nine law enforcement officers had already died in confrontations with the gang.

After tracking the Barrow gang across nine states, Hamer, in conjunction with officials in Louisiana, learned 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 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 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 23, 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.

Irene Garza murder

The Texas Rangers have received widespread coverage for their role in the investigation of the death of Irene Garza, a Texas beauty queen. In 1960, Garza was last seen going to Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen where Father John Feit heard her confession. Her body was found five days later in a canal. Autopsy results showed she had been raped while unconscious and died of asphyxiation, likely from suffocation. [44] Feit was the primary suspect, but the case stalled for many years as the Hidalgo County district attorney did not feel that the evidence was sufficient to secure a conviction. Texas Ranger Rudy Jaramillo started working on the case in 2002. [45] In 2015, under a new district attorney, Feit was indicted for murder. In December 2017, Feit was found guilty of murder with malice aforethought. Feit, aged 85, was sentenced to life imprisonment, bringing to close the longest unsolved criminal case in Hidalgo County, Texas.


The duties of the Texas Ranger Division consist of conducting criminal and special investigations; apprehending wanted felons; suppressing major disturbances; the protection of life and property; and rendering assistance to local law enforcement in suppressing crime and violence. The Texas Ranger Division is also responsible for the gathering and dissemination of criminal intelligence pertaining to all facets of organized crime. The Texas Ranger Division joins with all other enforcement agencies in the suppression of the same; under orders of the Director, suppress all criminal activity in any given area, when it is apparent that the local officials are unwilling or unable to maintain law and order; also upon the request or order of a judge of a court of record, Texas Rangers may serve as officers of the court and assist in the maintenance of decorum, the protection of life, and the preservation of property during any judicial proceeding; and provide protection for elected officials at public functions and at any other time or place when directed. The Texas Rangers, with the approval of the Director, may conduct investigations of any alleged misconduct on the part of other Department of Public Safety personnel. [46]


The Texas Rangers' internal organization maintains the basic outlines that were set in 1935. The agency is divided into seven companies: six District Companies lettered from "A" to "F", and Headquarters Company "H". The number of personnel is set by the Texas Legislature; as of 2014, the Texas Rangers number 150 commissioned officers, one forensic artist, one fiscal analyst and 24 civilian support personnel. [47] The Legislature has also made a provision for the temporary commissioned appointment of up to 300 Special Rangers for use in investigative or emergency situations. The statewide headquarters of the Texas Rangers is located in Austin at the Texas DPS headquarters. As of 1 October 2014, the Chief of the Texas Rangers is Assistant Director of DPS Randall Prince.

The District Companies' headquarters are distributed in six geographical locations: [48]

Division Headquarters:


The modern-day badge of a Texas Ranger is compared to the obverse and reverse of a 1948 cinco pesos coin from which it is made. TXAS RANGERS-F&B-W.JPG
The modern-day badge of a Texas Ranger is compared to the obverse and reverse of a 1948 cinco pesos coin from which it is made.

Modern-day Rangers (as well as their predecessors) do not have a prescribed uniform, per se, although the State of Texas does provide guidelines as to appropriate Ranger attire, including a requirement that Rangers wear clothing that is western in nature. Currently, the favored attire includes white shirt and tie, khaki/tan or gray trousers, light-colored western hat, "ranger" belt, and cowboy boots. Historically, according to pictorial evidence, Rangers wore whatever clothes they could afford or muster, which were usually worn out from heavy use. While Rangers still pay for their clothing today, they receive an initial stipend to offset some of the costs of boots, gunbelts and hats.

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 they 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 around their hips instead of low on the thigh. This placement made it easier to draw while riding a horse. [49]


The wearing of badges became more common in the late 1800s. Historians have put forth several reasons for the lack of the regular use of a badge; among them, some Rangers felt a shiny badge was a tempting target. Other historians have speculated there was no real need to show a badge to a hostile Native American or outlaw. Additionally, from a 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 from a Mexican silver coin (usually a five-peso coin). The design is reminiscent of Texas's Lone Star flag.

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. [50]

Officers killed

Since the establishment of the Texas Department of Public Safety Texas Rangers Division, 110 Rangers have died in the line of duty. The following list also contains officers from the Texas Rangers, which was merged into the Texas Department of Public Safety. [51] [52]

The causes of death are as follows:

Causes of deathNumber of deaths
Automobile accident
Duty related illness
Gunfire (accidental)
Struck by train
Struck by vehicle

Numerous films and television series focus closely or loosely on the Texas Rangers. In addition, the Texas Rangers baseball team, when it relocated to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex in 1972, took its name from the force.

The Miracle Rider (1935), a Western serial, had Tom Mix play Tom Morgan, a Texas Ranger who protects the Ravenhead reservation from Zaharoff, a greedy arms dealer.

Tales of the Texas Rangers a Western procedural radio program that ran on NBC from 1950 to 1951, starring Joel McCrea, which was described as Dragnet with a Western flavor, and dealt with Ranger investigations in the 1930s and 1940s. The program was adapted to television in the mid-50s as a Saturday morning juvenile Western, again on NBC, including contemporary stories as well as stories from the old West.

The 1957–1959 CBS western series Trackdown , starring Robert Culp as the fictional Ranger Hoby Gilman, even carried the official endorsement of the Rangers and the State of Texas. Trackdown episodes were set in both fictional and real locations in Texas though the series itself was filmed at the former Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, California. Episodes focus on Gilman tracking down bank robbers, horse thieves, swindlers, and murderers. [53]

John Horton Slaughter, a former Texas Ranger who later became a rancher in and the sheriff of Cochise County in southeastern Arizona, was the focus of the 1958–1961 Walt Disney miniseries Texas John Slaughter.

The Lone Ranger , which aired on radio from 1933 to 1954 on Mutual, NBC Blue and ABC and on television from 1949 to 1957 on ABC and was that network's first hit series, was the tale of a former Texas Ranger and starred Clayton Moore and for one season John Hart.

CBS had a children's program from 1955 to 1959, Tales of the Texas Rangers , with Willard Parker and Harry Lauter as fictional rangers, which ran on the Saturday morning schedule and later in rebroadcasts on ABC. [54]

From 1965 to 1967, NBC aired Laredo, a light-hearted look at a company of Rangers in the border city of Laredo. A spin-off of The Virginian , Laredo starred Philip Carey, Peter Brown, William Smith, and Neville Brand.

Rango (1967) was a short-lived comedy series starring Tim Conway as the eponymous Rango, a bumbling Texas Ranger in the 19th century. Rango got the job only because his uncle is a high-ranking officer in the organization.

The syndicated western series Judge Roy Bean, with Edgar Buchanan in the starring role of Justice of the Peace Roy Bean, had a Texas Ranger character, Steve, played by Russell Hayden.

Both the novel series Lonesome Dove and its television adaptation focus on the Texas Rangers, among them Woodrow F. Call and Augustus McCrae.

The film Lone Wolf McQuade (1983) starring Chuck Norris, David Carradine, Barbara Carrera and Robert Beltran follows Texas Ranger J.J. McQuade (Norris) as he investigates a ring of arms dealers.

Walter Hill's film Extreme Prejudice (1987), starring Nick Nolte, Powers Boothe, Michael Ironside, and María Conchita Alonso, focuses on the fight between a ranger and his former childhood friend, turned drug lord.

The television series Walker, Texas Ranger (1993–2001) followed the fictional Rangers Cordell Walker and James Trivette, played by Chuck Norris and Clarence Gilyard, Jr.. In the series, Walker and Trivette are assigned to B Company, stationed first in Fort Worth, and later in Dallas.

The animated television series King of the Hill (1997–2010) featured Jeff Boomhauer, whose profession was a long-running secret. In episode 20 of the final season of King of the Hill that aired September 13, 2009, it was revealed that Boomhauer was a Texas Ranger in a shot of his wallet revealing his badge and information.

The film Man of the House (2005), features Tommy Lee Jones as a Texas Ranger.

In Harry Turtledove's alternative history novel, Settling Accounts: In at the Death (2007), Texas Rangers from the newly recreated Republic of Texas, detain and arrest Jefferson Pinkard, commander of Camp Determination.

The novel True Grit and the 1969 and 2010 films based on the novel include a Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf as a prominent member of the story.

In the television series From Dusk 'til Dawn (2014) includes Texas Rangers as the primary antagonists hunting the main characters and also discusses some of the history of racial tension along the Texas–Mexico Border and the suffering of the Mexican and Mexican American peoples of that area at the hands of "Los Rinches" or the Texas Rangers.

In the post-apocalypse television series Revolution (2012–2014), when Texas is once again an independent nation, the Texas Rangers appear in the second season and serve as the main military of Texas.

Ranger Molly Parker was portrayed in the eight-episode television drama (2014) Killer Women , created by Hannah Shakespeare and starring Tricia Helfer as Molly Parker. All of the criminals portrayed in the series were women, and the show highlighted how only a very few Rangers were women.

The film Hell or High Water (2016), an American neo-Western crime thriller film directed by David Mackenzie and written by Taylor Sheridan, features prominently the roles of two Texas Rangers (portrayed by Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham), who pursue two brothers (portrayed by Chris Pine and Ben Foster) engaged in a series of bank robberies throughout the small towns of the region known as West Texas (part of the greater Comancheria) in order to save their family ranch from foreclosure and repossession.

In 2016 Faber and Faber published the first in a series of novels written by JM Gulvin featuring 1960's Texas Ranger John Quarrie.

The 2019 Netflix film The Highwaymen portrays the Texas Rangers Frank Hamer and Maney Gault tracking down and killing Bonnie and Clyde

Hall of Fame and Museum

The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum opened in Waco in 1968.

See also


  1. "Table 1. Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". U.S. Census Bureau. December 23, 2015. Archived from the original (CSV) on December 23, 2015. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  2. 1 2 " Texas Department of Public Safety – Texas Rangers" . Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  3. "DPS announces staff promotions". May 15, 2018. Retrieved March 2, 2019.
  4. "TxDPS – Texas Rangers Historical Development". Txdps.state.tx.us. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  5. James Pinkerton, Houston Chronicle (September 10, 2009). "Perry announces 'Ranger Recon' to work border". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  6. "Texas Ranger Hall of Fame". Texasranger.org. Archived from the original on March 20, 2016. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  7. Cox, Mike, The Texas Rangers.
  8. Webb, Walter Prescott, The Texas Rangers: A Century of Frontier Defense.
  9. "Private Lewis F. Scheuster, Texas Rangers, Texas". Odmp.org. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  10. "Mexico, Sep. 20–23, 1846 | Texan Volunteers at Monterrey". The Battle of Monterrey. Archived from the original on July 7, 2011. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  11. 1 2 3 Ford, J.S., 1963, Rip Ford's Texas. Austin: University of Texas Press, ISBN   0292770340
  12. Transactions, Texas Lodge of Research, Captain Peter F. Tumlinson: Texian Ranger and Mason. Doyle, Brett Laird XXXIX (2004–2005) 83–91.
  13. "Tumlinson, John Jackson, Sr. | The Handbook of Texas Online| Texas State Historical Association (TSHA)". Tshaonline.org. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  14. Wilkins, Frederick, Defending the Borders: The Texas Rangers, 1848–1861.
  15. Webb, Walter Prescott, The Texas Rangers: A Century of Frontier Justice, University of Texas Press, 1965, second edition, pp. 219–229.
  16. Utley, Robert M., Lone Star Justice: The First Century of the Texas Rangers, Berkley Books, 2003, p. 144.
  17. Gillett, J.B., Six Years with the Texas Rangers, 1875–1881, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1921
  18. Lehmann, H., 1927, 9 Years Among the Native Americans, 1870–1879, Von Beockmann-Jones Company, pp. 115–16
  19. Parsons, Chuck & Hall Little, Marianne E., Captain L. H. McNelly, Texas Ranger: The Life and Times of a Fighting Man.
  20. Harris 2007, p. 26.
  21. 1 2 Harris 2009, p. 213.
  22. "The Bismarck tribune. (Bismarck, N.D.) 1916–current, February 8, 1918, Image 2 « Chronicling America « Library of Congress". Chroniclingamerica.loc.gov. February 8, 1918. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  23. Harris, Charles H. III & Sadler, Louis R., ibid.
  24. "The division relating to the Texas Rangers may not be abolished". Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 147, Sec. 1, September 1, 1987.
  25. Ford, John Salmon, op. cit.
  26. Wilkins, Frederick, The Legend Begins: The Texas Rangers, 1823–1845.
  27. "Texas Ranger Hall of Fame". Texasranger.org. Archived from the original on February 23, 2009. Retrieved March 6, 2009.
  28. Andrew R. Graybill, Policing the Great Plains: Rangers, Mounties, and the North American Frontier, 1875–1910 (University of Nebraska Press, 2007) excerpt and text search
  29. Miletich, Leo N. Dan Stuart's Fistic Carnival (College Station: Texas A&M, 1994), pp. 147–58.
  30. http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/TexasRangers/silverstars.htm
  31. Robinson, Charles, op. cit.
  32. "Texas Ranger of 1960". Love Field Art Program, Office of Public Affairs. Waldine Amanda Tauch (sculptor). Love Field Main Lobby. Retrieved December 28, 2014.CS1 maint: others (link)
  33. John Wesley Hardin from the Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved October 12, 2005.
  34. 1 2 Harris 2004, p. 26.
  35. Harris 2009, p. 1.
  36. Harris 2009, p. 15.
  37. Hampton 1910.
  38. Daily Mail 1909, p. 7.
  39. Harris 2009, p. 16.
  40. Hammond 1935, pp. 565–66.
  41. Utley, Robert M., Lone Star Lawmen: The Second Century of the Texas Rangers, Berkley (2008) Chapter I: The Border 1910–1915. ISBN   978-0425219386
  42. "Plan of San Diego | The Handbook of Texas Online| Texas State Historical Association (TSHA)". Tshaonline.org. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  43. "Ralph Wranker". Taliesyn.com. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  44. Nelson, Aaron (December 11, 2017). "Reporter". San Antonio Express News (Morning). San Antonio Express News. San Antonio Express News. Retrieved May 13, 2018.
  45. Colloff, Pamela (January 20, 2013). "Unholy act". Texas Monthly . Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  46. "Texas Department of Public Safety – Texas Ranger Duties". Txdps.state.tx.us. Archived from the original on March 4, 2009. Retrieved March 6, 2009.
  47. "Texas Department of Public Safety – Texas Rangers Personnel". Txdps.state.tx.us. Archived from the original on January 27, 2010. Retrieved August 31, 2010.
  48. "Texas Ranger Hall of Fame & Museum – Texas Rangers Today". Texasranger.org. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  49. Circelli, Jerry, op. cit.
  50. "The Texas Ranger Costume". Curtrich.com. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  51. "Texas Department of Public Safety – Texas Rangers, Texas, Fallen Officers". Odmp.org. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  52. "Texas Rangers, Texas, Fallen Officers". Odmp.org. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  53. Billy Hathorn, "Roy Bean, Temple Houston, Bill Longley, Ranald Mackenzie, Buffalo Bill, Jr., and the Texas Rangers: Depictions of West Texans in Series Television, 1955 to 1967", West Texas Historical Review , Vol. 89 (2013), pp. 102–18
  54. "Tales of the Texas Rangers". Internet Movie Database . Retrieved August 9, 2014.

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