Saturday, December 11, 2010

The REAL Texas Rangers! by Tracy Garrett

Tracy Garrett at a booksigning
For as long as she can remember, Tracy Garrett has loved to disappear into the worlds created within the pages of a book. An accomplished musician, Tracy merged her need for creativity, her love of history, and her passion for reading when she began writing historical romance. An active member of Romance Writers of America and Dallas Area Romance Authors, Tracy lives in Missouri with her husband of twenty-six years. Her western historicals, TOUCH OF TEXAS and TOUCHED BY LOVE, are available from bookstores everywhere.


Clayton Moore as the Lone Ranger,
accompanied by his horse, Silver
Ever since the masked man in the white hat rode across the silver screen upholding the law and saving damsels in distress, I’ve been a fan of the Texas Rangers. From a few carefully chosen men protecting the Texas frontier to the elite of modern law enforcement, the history of the Texas Rangers is as colorful as the land and people they protect.

Hollywood has been enamored with this badge-wearing hero since 1910, when the first movie featuring a Ranger was released. But who are the real Texas Rangers?

In 1823 the Empresario of Mexico, Stephen F. Austin, created two companies of men to act as “rangers for the common defense.” These men had to be strong leaders and fighters, and needed some specialized skills:

>marksmanship with rifle and pistol;
>mastery of the outdoor life; and
>knowledge of the foe.

They also had to have their own horse and weapons, since the government provided only powder, lead, and a few provisions. After that, they had to fend for themselves.

The Texas Rangers have been formed and disbanded many times in their history. In 1835, the provisional Texas government authorized recruiting 25 Rangers. That number grew to 3 companies of 56 men each, who all mustered out in 1846 and joined the Army as scouts and guerilla fighters, and became sensations in the eastern newspapers. That’s where the legend of the Texas Rangers began.

1874 brought the creation of six companies of 75 “young men, in good physical condition, without families, who owned good horses.” The state was to furnish arms and ammunition at cost, the amount to be deducted from the first pay of each soldier. Because the state only provided .45 caliber ammunition, the Rangers began using what is arguably the best-known weapon of the West:

The New Model Army Metallic Cartridge Revolving Pistol, aka


1877 Salt War in El Paso
1877 Outlaw John Wesley Hardin shot in Pensacola, Florida
1878 Notorious outlaw Sam Bass captured near Round Rock, Texas
1880 Company “C” sent to the Panhandle to explore, making expanded settlement possible
1883 Free Range War - sent to stop fence cutting and enforce peace
1900 Galveston Hurricane - maintain the peace and uphold the law
1901 Law enforcement around the oil boom
1915 Pancho Villa & the border raids
1920s Enforced Prohibition laws

Captain Frank Hamer
 In 1939, Captain Frank Hamer and 49 retired Texas Rangers offered their services to the King of England to defend their shores against Nazi invasion. That sent rumors flying through Hitler’s Reich that the Texas Rangers planned to infiltrate Nazi Germany. The rumors were based on tales of U.S. Army Ranger commandos, but by then the Texas Rangers were so famous that the Gestapo and Ministry of Propaganda assumed they would be facing the Texas Rangers.

By the way, Texas Rangers Frank Hamer and Manny Gilbert were the law enforcement officers responsible for stopping Bonnie and Clyde.

The Texas Rangers didn’t become a permanent force until 1987. Today, the Rangers are made up of 116 officers, organized in Six Companies – the same six companies that were first put together in 1874.

Current Texas Ranger Badge
When we think of a Texas Ranger, we don’t usually picture a woman, but women have been a part of the Rangers since the 1920s. Women Rangers were “commissioned as Special Rangers in the 1920s – 1940s, with one even commissioned to serve as a Mansion Guard at the governor’s mansion, a task often performed by Regular Rangers at that time.” Currently, we have two female officers serving in the active Ranger force, in Company “D” in San Antonio and Company “F” in Waco. Today’s Texas Rangers are considered to be one of the most effective investigative law enforcement agencies in the world.

And Hollywood still loves them. To date, Texas Rangers have appeared as characters in more than 230 films, television shows and made-for-tv movies.

If you have never visited the Texas Ranger Museum in Waco, Texas, put it on your must-see list. It is a fascinating glimpse of the men and women who make up this amazing law enforcement agency--and an excellent research tool.


Tracy, thanks for that well-written history of the Texas Rangers! An ancestor was a Texas Ranger for a brief time, a field appointment which lasted only a few months when he lived near Denison, Texas. Even though he served only a short time, I am proud of that association with these deserving men. Today, promotion to a Texas Ranger is a very coveted and prestigious position. People in our area were pleased when one of our local State Troopers was promoted a few years ago. "One fight, one ranger" is still a familiar phrase in Texas.

And, Tracy, we really miss you in Texas. Please come back!


Caroline Clemmons said...

Tracy, thanks for sharing today.

Jeanmarie Hamilton said...

Thanks for the history on the Texas Rangers. The Texas Rangers' law enforcement is woven through the fabric of Texas history, which includes my own Texas family, who arrived on Texas shores in 1842. Texas Rangers led them to their new home near San Antonio in 1844. They had a good, safe start on their new lives.

Congratulations on your new book! Wishing you many happy readers!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I had no idea their history was so far reached. What a proud history it is, to. Thanks for the great accounting!

Unknown said...

TRACY--I'm a big fan of the Texas Rangers. They live in some of my books. I live in Hays County, Texas named for Captain Jack C. Hays, one of the most famous of Texas Rangers. On our town square is a big bronze statue of Cap'n Jack, on a rearing horse, holding a rifle high in the air.
I love the history of the Rangers--how they were disbanded, but brought back later in the 1800's. today? They still wear those Stetsons, boots, and the circle-star badge and ride around in cars of pickups! Excellent post--Celia

Anonymous said...

Excellent, excellent post! Thanks for the info!
Liz Arnold
The Wild Rose Press

Stephanie Suesan Smith, Ph.D. said...

This is a very interesting post. Some of the early Rangers, though, were were pretty scary, especially in the Rio Grande Valley. Fortunately, they are very good and effective law enforcement officers now.

Tracy Garrett said...

Well, nothing like being very very late to the party. Sorry. Best laid plans...

I'm so glad you all enjoyed the post. I'm such a huge fan if the Rangers. Celia, if you're in Hays Cty, you've probably been to the Ranger Museum in Waco. It's such a cool place to visit!

Caroline, thanks again for inviting me to blog with you!

Diana Cosby said...

Hi Tracy, great to see you here! The Texas Rangers are fascinating. I had the opportunity to go through the Texas Rangers Museum. Definitley something to see. I hope you have a fabulous holiday season, and I wish you continued success!