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The Texas Rangers Law Enforcement

Updated on November 27, 2012

The Texas Rangers & The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame

There probably isn't a little boy in Texas that didn't once pretend to be a Texas Ranger riding a horse, wearing a big Stetson hat, with boots on and toting a gun, chasing the Indians around his backyard. The Texas Rangers have been the subject of many books, movies, comics, programs and plays. But, did you realize that the Texas Rangers are the oldest law enforcement body in America?

Stephen F. Austin, the "Father of Texas" commissioned the first Rangers in 1823 to protect around 600-700 of the early colonists from Indian attacks while Texas was still a province of Mexico. He referred to these men as rangers since they were to range over large areas. If you've never been to Texas, it's probably rather difficult to imagine just how large these areas are.

The Texas Rangers have played a part in many of the most important events of Texas history. Some of the more notable criminal cases they were involved in were: gunfighter John Wesley Hardin, bank robber Sam Bass, and outlaws Bonnie and Clyde. I remember being quite fascinating with the Bonnie and Clyde story as a kid. Seems many people today see them as fictional movie characters.

Fort FIsher along the Brazos RIver on Intersate-35 in Waco, Texas is home to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum. If you ever get a chance, you should drop in. I've heard it mentioned more than once that Chuck Norris is known to pop in. You may recall that Chuck Norris starred in the TV series, Walker, Texas Ranger.

Photo credit:
Photo credit:

Texas Rangers Timeline

  • October 17, 1835: A resolution was made to create a corps of Texas Rangers consisting of 25 men under the command of Silas M. Parker covering the frontier between the Brazos River and the Trinity River, 10 men under the command of Garrison Greenwood to work on the east side of the Trinity River, and 25 men under the command of D. B. Frazier to cover the area between the Brazos and the Colorado Rivers.
  • November 24, 1835: The ordinance passed creating a corps. Their duty as Rangers was to protect the frontier against the Indians until the end of the Revolution. They were paid $1.25 per day for "pay, rations, clothing, and horse service," and the enlistment was for one year.
  • December 1836: The Congress of the Texas Republic (1836-1845) passed a law providing that President Sam Houston raise a battalion of 280 mounted riflemen to protect the frontier with a term of service of six months.
  • January 1837: A law was passed providing for a company of Rangers for the frontier various counties. Once by one more companies were added. It was during this period that the Texas Rangers began to make a name for themselves that spread far beyond the borders of the state.
  • 1840: The Rangers fight many battles with the Indians including the Council House Fight in San Antonio, the raid on Linnville, and the Battle of Plum Creek.
  • 1842: President Sam Houston approved a law providing for a companies of mounted men to "act as Rangers" on the southern and southwestern frontiers.
  • January 23, 1844, A law authorizes John C. Hays to raise a company of mounted men to act as Rangers from Bexar to Refugio Counties and westward.
  • January 28, 1861: Texas seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy (ratified Feb 23, 1861)
  • March 30, 1870: Texas was readmitted to the Union
  • May 1874: The Legislature appropriated $75,000 to organize six companies of 75 men known as the Frontier Battalion. They were stationed in districts at strategic points over the state. This was the first time they were given the status of peace officers instead of being a semi-miliary organization.
  • 1901: The Frontier Battalion was abolished since the frontier had basically disappeared. The Ranger Service was reorganized under a new law. Each Ranger was considered an officer and was given the right to perform all duties exercised by any other peace officer. There were to be four companies of 20 men each.
  • August 10, 1935: The Texas Rangers and the Texas Highway Patrol became the Texas Department of Public Safety giving them statewide law enforcement jurisdiction.
  • September 1, 1935: The beginning of today's Texas Ranger.


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