Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ranger Jim's Ramblings for November

First off, I have to confess the second Thursday of the month kind of snuck up on me from behind and bushwhacked me, so this won't be as detailed a post as I would have liked. Such as that happens when you have too many things to do and not enough time to do them in.
So, keeping it simple, I'd like to address the common misconception that, until a very few years ago, all members of  the Texas Rangers were white, Anglo-Saxon males, who hated Mexicans and African-Americans, and persecuted them every chance they got. This has been especially perpetuated by some of the revisionist historians.

As with all myths and stereotypes, the white Anglo Ranger myth has its basis in fact. However, the truth is, especially in the organization before the days of the Civil War, Rangers came from many different backgrounds and ethnic groups. Quite a number of Native American Indians rode with the Rangers, not just as scouts, but as full-fledged Rangers. There were more than a few Rangers with Mexican or Spanish ancestry. Many of those joined the Rangers to fight the depredations of their own countrymen.  Even the so-called typical white "Anglo" Ranger came from many different backgrounds. Many of them were immigrants from Europe. The ancestors of the white Rangers were from many different countries, among them Germany, Poland, France, and the Slavic and Baltic regions. They weren't all Protestant, but included Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Jews among their ranks. Kleberg County, Texas, is named after one of the early Jewish Rangers.

Now, there were no African-Americans allowed in the Rangers, at least not officially. Some did serve as scouts, cooks, or camp helpers, and when the fighting started took part, just as if they were Rangers, but they were never actually on the Rangers' rolls. The first African-American was appointed in the late 1960s, at which point quite a few of the old-school Rangers quit in protest.

And no females. Not even any masquerading as a man. The first female Ranger came along in the 1980s.

It was only in the late 1800s when the Rangers really began their persecution of Mexicans, and Texans of Mexican ancestry. (I say Mexican rather than Hispanic because, for all intents and purposes, virtually every Hispanic in 19th century Texas was of Mexican ancestry). This came about after years of fighting Mexican outlaws, added to the natural prejudices of most of the Anglo Rangers. Atrocities were committed on both sides, but the Rangers, with the force of Texas law behind them, prevailed. And the atrocities the Rangers committed led to a deep mistrust of them by Mexican, and now Hispanic, Texans, which lingers to this day. However, even in the period when the Rangers were persecuting Mexican ancestry Texans, there were still Spanish ancestry Rangers in the organization.

Today's Rangers, of course, reflect a much different background, with African-Americans, Hispanics, and women among their ranks. They still have a long way to go to make up for past injustices, but they are indeed making great strides, in fact greater strides than in many so-called progressive, big city police departments.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. See you next month


  1. Short, but sweet and to the point. Thank you. A very good read. Doris

  2. Jim,

    In talking about Texas Ranger's history, I have been waiting for you to talk about how Texas Ranger's dealt with the Comanche's. To in fact expound on a more ruthless side of Ranger behavior. Could you please talk about Ranger Walker, his influence on the development of the WALKER COLT and what it was designed for---a lethal weapon to be used against Comanche Warriors? Of course, all this occurring around 1847---very early on in Western History, for such a modern and powerful revolver to be developed and used for the purpose of extermination of an Indian Tribe.

    Thank you.


    1. Whew, Charlie, you scared me for a minute there. When I saw Ranger Walker, until I saw the rest of the sentence I thought you meant as in Walker, Texas Ranger. A series which was as far away from reality as they come. Will get to your request one of these months.