As promised, today’s positing will be a bit about the history of the Texas Rangers.
So, the first question from my last posting. When were the Rangers established, 1823 or 1835? The correct answer: Technically, both. Stephen Austin organized the first volunteer company of “Ten Men to act as Rangers for the common defense” in 1823. Two companies were formed, their members to be paid “fifteen dollars a month, payable in property.” These two companies are regarded as the ancestors of the modern day Texas Rangers.
In 1835, with the movement for independence from Mexico growing, a “Corps of Rangers” to defend against Indians was formed. These men were to be paid $1.25 per day. They had to furnish their own guns, horses, and equipment.
The first time the term “Texas Rangers” officially appears in a piece of legislation is not until 1874. However, the 1823 date is the one used to determine the anniversary celebrations for the Rangers, and the official date for their establishment.
Contrary to popular perception, the Texas Rangers, especially the Rangers of the pre-Civil War era, were not all white males. Anglos, Hispanics, and Native Americans all served as Rangers, and some men from all those groups were in fact officers. There were African Americans attached to the Rangers; however, not in any official capacity. They mostly were employed as cooks or servants, or occasionally as scouts. Of course, they often had to fight just as hard, but never got the credit or pay. Even after the Civil War, until the 1930s, when tensions between white and Mexican ancestry Texans were at their highest, there were still some Hispanic Rangers. Females? Not a chance. The first female Ranger wasn’t appointed until the 1970s. When that happened, quite a few veteran Rangers quit in protest.
One Native American Indian tribe which became closely allied with the Rangers was the Tonkawas. They became trusted friends and scouts, especially because the Rangers helped fight their hated enemies, the ferocious Karankawas, who were reputed to engage in cannibalism.
The legend that Texas Rangers hand-carved their badges from Mexican five or ten peso coins? No evidence has ever been found to prove that conclusively. The Rangers didn’t even officially adopt badges until the turn of the 20th century. Until then very few wore badges at all. The most likely story is a few Rangers had badges carved for them, and the custom gradually spread. The illustration accompanying this post shows a Texas Ranger badge from the late 1880a or early 1890s. Today, all Texas Ranger badges are carved from Mexican cinco peso coins. And don’t buy that “genuine antique” Texas Ranger badge you saw listed on eBay. It’s a fake. There’s big business in selling fraudulent Texas Ranger badges to unsuspecting buyers.
Texas Rangers never have worn an official uniform. Today they do have a dress code, which calls for a white Western hat (can be straw in the summer) dress shirt, western slacks and boots, and a tie. Of course, that’s not required when in the field on horseback, undercover, and so forth. And most Rangers today don’t own horses, with those that do mostly being the ones stationed in West Texas. The others borrow horses when needed from the Texas Department of Corrections.
Kathleen was the winner to the "This Little Piggy Murder" quiz.
Now, the answer to the burning question - What was the “This Little Piggy Murder”?
So there you have it. No word on who got the ham, bacon, and pork chops.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my best friend (along with my dog) in the world, my horse, Yankee. He turned 20 yesterday.
Nest time out… more on the Texas Rangers… or horses… or both.
Jim--Enjoyed this mini history of the Texas Rangers. You're right about the badges. A check of various photos of the 19th century Rangers reveals that none (that I found) wore badges. Some of those "authentic" badges on eBay sell for as much as $350. Thanks for the inside look at the Rangers.ReplyDelete
Question for you, Jim. Where was the pig war?ReplyDelete
Well, Jim covered Leon and Trinity counties and a couple of others, an area the size of Delaware and New Jersey combined, so it was in that territory. If you look on a map, Jim was stationed in Centerville, which is on I45 almost exactly halfway between Houston and Dallas. Home of Fort Boggy State Park, which is the setting for the climax of my book Ranger's Revenge, and also the home of Woody's Smokehouse.ReplyDelete
Kathleen came up with the This Little Piggy murder involved an actual pig, or in this case pigs, which is as close as I figured anyone would get, so she wins a copy of one of my Jim Blawcyzk novels. I'm going to send her a copy of Ranger's Revenge, since part of the story takes place in the same vicinity. Kathleen, if you'll to to my website email at www.jamesjgriffin.net or my regular email at email@example.com and give me your mailing address I'll get the book off to you.ReplyDelete
Most common "genuine" badge forgery is the Company A. I'll admit I have one of those, but I only paid two bucks for it. Wanted it for when I do my reenactments, since I didn't need a truly accurate historical badge, which go for many dollars.
Glad you enjoyed the post.
Wow, great info on the Rangers. And OINK on the Piggy murders! Whoa, and I assume the owner was convicted of murder? Hooo, boy.ReplyDelete
Very informative, and very helpful!ReplyDelete
Jim, this was an excellent post (as usual). I always learn something when I read your blogs. Fascinating stuff about the Rangers. I enjoyed learning about them--and about the Little Piggy Murder. Incidentally, I wanted to tell you, after reading your last post on the Morgan horses, I woke up that night in the middle of the night with the first line of a childhood nursery rhyme going through my mind..."Justin Morgan had a horse..." but I can't remember any more than that. I just remember my mom saying it to me when I was very young.LOLReplyDelete
Great post Jim! Unless we research history books, we'd never be exposed to this kind of helpful information.ReplyDelete
"One Riot, One Ranger Jim."
Jim, I always enjoy your posts. It's amazing to me that the admission of women to the force caused such a shakeup as recently as the 1970s. The Texas Rangers are iconic. Despite a couple of notorious scandals and a notable disbanding during Reconstruction, the organization has been around for nearly 200 years. I hope you're planning to deliver more posts about their history. :-)ReplyDelete
I can't believe my facetious guess about the piggy murder was close! (I recorded Costner's "Hatfields and McCoys" miniseries and finally got around to watching it recenty, so I suppose I had pigs on the brain.) I'll get in touch. Thank you! :-)
Glad everyone enjoyed the post. I promise more info on the Rangers next month... and probably on horses also. My two favorite subjects.ReplyDelete
Off topic completely, but congratulations to our (Catholic's) new pope, Francis. With any luck he'll be just the person we need to finally straighten out some of the problems and get the Church back to where it should be.
Another interesting post, Jim.ReplyDelete
I love this stuff. Good to know about the badges--I've seen them on eBay.ReplyDelete
We actually did have a Pig War on San Juan Island. It was 1859, and an American shot a British pig, which led to a geographical boundary dispute and troops being brought in on both sides, and a dozen years of diplomatic yammering until Britain and the US settled. Not one shot fired, though.
In my other life, had a case (when I worked for the government) which required that I and three other agents travel to Texas for some interviews. Our liaisons were two Texas Rangers. This was around 1992. Their boots were supplied by Tony Lama (stamped on the bottom: made for the Texas Rangers-Tony Lama Boot Company). Their hats supplied by another company, can't remember the name. They said they still carried beef jerkey in the trunk of the car. A few other fun things like that. Had a blast with them.ReplyDelete
Really enjoyed this little bit of history. We did get a tour of the Ranger Museum while there too. A really fun aside from the work.
Nice post, Jim. The Ranger stationed in Palo Pinto County did his level best to train me to be a homicide investigator. Incredibly savvy human being. Some of my best memories of those early days are are those when I got to work with him.ReplyDelete
Kathleen--I remember vividly when the first women were brought into the Rangers. It wasn't until the early 1990s. Not that I agree with him, but one of my friends who was a Ranger at the time, retired that month. I still remember his quote--which I can not print here but will someday use in a book.