From 1823 to the present day, a courageous group of
men and women have been chosen to protect and serve the people of
Texas. To this day, the Texas Rangers are the oldest statewide law
enforcement agency in America.
Texas Rangers, there would not be a state of Texas as we know today,"
said Byron Johnson, Director of the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame
and Museum in Waco, Texas.
"They were protecting settlers as
neighbors, helping neighbors, and now they are elite criminal
investigators for the state," said Christine Rothenbush, Marketing and
Development Coordinator on behalf of the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame
200 years ago, Texas was a state of about 700 citizens. With no regular
army to protect its citizens from Native Americans or other threats,
Stephen F. Austin, known as the "Father of Texas," formed the
Rangers. He was contracted by the Mexican government to bring settlers
in from what was consider the old South of the U.S., as well as Europe,
to settle Texas.
"The Rangers started because the government of
Mexico was unable to provide any protection in the Northern Province of
Mexico, which is what Texas was at the time," said Johnson.
the Texas Revolution, the Rangers were still serving as a militia
company during the Battle of the Alamo. William Travis sent out an
appeal, pleading for people to come in and reinforce the Alamo.
the only real recruits that came in were a ranging company from the
town of Gonzales, and they rode into the Alamo shortly before it was
closed for the battle, and unfortunately they all died in the battle at
the Alamo," said Johnson. "The youngest one of them was still in his
teens at the time."
"They all died in the cause of Texas independence," Johnson added.
the late 1920s and early 1930s, political corruption had spread across
the state of Texas, even infiltrating the governor's office. To combat a
further spread of corruption, the state created the Texas Department of
Public Safety (DPS), listed under a civilian Public Safety Commission.
1934, the Rangers were taken out of the direct line of the governor of
the state of Texas and put under a Public Safety Commission," said
The first agencies under DPS were the Texas Rangers, the
Motorcycle Highway Patrol, and what would later become the state
Criminal Evidence Lab. At the time, this was an unprecedented move, as
law enforcement agencies were commonly created in the United States when
most states formed law enforcement agencies, separated into specific
The Rangers have played a significant role in
several high-profile and historic national events. Among those include
the Mexican Revolution, World War I, oil booms, and prohibition. Perhaps
most notably was the Rangers' role in bringing Bonnie Parker and Clyde
Barrow to justice.
Parker and Barrow were an American criminal
couple during the time of the Great Depression. They would travel across
the U.S., robbing banks, stores, and gas stations. What separated
Parker and Barrow from other outlaws during this time was technology.
weapons they used were essentially weapons developed during World War
I, like Browning automatic rifles, and Thompson submachine guns, that
were unavailable to small-town police officers," said Johnson. "Bonnie
and Clyde would come roaring into town in a Ford V8."
enforcement in small towns was no match for the infamous criminal duo.
In need of a solution to stop the national crime spree, the Rangers
turned to an ex-Ranger, Frank Hamer, encouraging the former Ranger
captain to come out of retirement to track down Parker and Barrow. Hamer
was known as a legendary "manhunter" during his time with the agency.
hunted them for over 100 days and managed to end their criminal career
in a very, very carefully crafted ambush in western Louisiana," said
Johnson. "Both Bonnie and Clyde were killed."
The Texas Rangers
popularity has grown as well. The Rangers have been the subject of
numerous Hollywood films and television series, including The Lone
"A lot of Texans appreciate the Rangers, but they don't
realize how worldwide they are," said Rothenbush. "We have followers in
France and Germany and Czechoslovakia. All over America love and adore
the Texas Rangers. They want that level of justice in their country."
January 21, the Texas Rangers return to television. Walker, the highly
anticipated new series on The CW, stars Jared Padalecki as Cordell
Walker, a widower and father of two, who has returned home to Austin
after being deep undercover. Walker soon discovers that a lot has
changed since being away and works to get his home back in order.
Texas Rangers are also marking their 200th anniversary in 2023. As part
of the Texas Ranger Bicentennial celebration, a series of celebrations,
festivals, and engaging presentations will be offered. For more
information on the upcoming festivities, visit www.texasranger.org.