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Tracking the Texas Rangers

The Twentieth Century

Edited by Bruce A. Glasrud and Harold J. Weiss, Jr.

Publication Year: 2013

Tracking the Texas Rangers: The Twentieth Century is an anthology of fifteen previously published articles and chapter excerpts covering key topics of the Texas Rangers during the twentieth century. The task of determining the role of the Rangers as the state evolved and what they actually accomplished for the benefit of the state is a difficult challenge. The actions of the Rangers fit no easy description. There is a dark side to the story of the Rangers; during the Mexican Revolution, for example, some murdered with impunity. Others sought to restore order in the border communities as well as in the remainder of Texas. It is not lack of interest that complicates the unveiling of the mythical force. With the possible exception of the Alamo, probably more has been written about the Texas Rangers than any other aspect of Texas history. Tracking the Texas Rangers covers leaders such as Captains Bill McDonald, “Lone Wolf” Gonzaullas, and Barry Caver, accomplished Rangers like Joaquin Jackson and Arthur Hill, and the use of Rangers in the Mexican Revolution. Chapters discuss their role in the oil fields, in riots, and in capturing outlaws. Most important, the Rangers of the twentieth century experienced changes in investigative techniques, strategy, and intelligence gathering. Tracking looks at the use of Rangers in labor disputes, in race issues, and in the Tejano civil rights movement. The selections cover critical aspects of those experiences—organization, leadership, cultural implications, rural and urban life, and violence. In their introduction, editors Bruce A. Glasrud and Harold J. Weiss, Jr., discuss various themes and controversies surrounding the twentieth-century Rangers and their treatment by historians over the years. They also have added annotations to the essays to explain where new research has shed additional light on an event to update or correct the original article text.

Published by: University of North Texas Press

Series: Frances B. Vick Series


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p. C-C

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

Timeline: 20th Century Texas Ranger History, Harol J. Weiss, Jr.

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pp. vii-xiv

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pp. xv-xvi

This book, Tracking the Texas Rangers: The Twentieth Century, had its genesis at a meeting of the Texas State Historical Association where the two editors discussed the possibility of preparing an anthology on Texas Ranger history. Both concurred that it was a viable project, and subsequently spoke with Ron Chrisman, the director at the University of North Texas Press. With his initial encouragement we ventured forth. Thanks for all the help along the way, ...

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In Pursuit of the Texas Rangers: The Twentieth Century, Bruce A. Glasrud and Harold J. Weiss, Jr.

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pp. 1-22

Coming on the heels of the tumultuous and eventful nineteenth century, Texas Rangers at the beginning of the twentieth century could anticipate less onerous duties. But continuity and change remained the hallmarks of Ranger operations in the twentieth century. Although the Indian wars had come to an end, troubles on the ...

Bridging Two Centuries

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Tales of the Texas Rangers

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pp. 25-36

The Texas Rangers vie with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as a constabulary known and admired throughout the world. Both played a notable role in the past and continue to enjoy high reputation and a good press. Both attained legendary stature at least body of lawmen extending uninterruptedly back to the colonizing years of Stephen F. Austin in Mexican Texas. In truth, for at least four from 1823 (as modern Rangers like to think) or 1835 (as the contem-...

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1. Capt. Bill McDonald at Rio Grande City

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pp. 37-49

“We want Rangers and more of them, like Capt McDonald.” 1 Such sentiments, coming from people in southern Texas in the aftermath of the raid at Brownsville, revived Ranger Captain Bill McDonald’s spirits. “The mere presence of a Ranger in a vicinity,” one person noted in his message to the adjutant...

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2. Cowboys and Bandidos: Authority and Race in West Texas, 1913-1918

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pp. 50-70

In the shadow of the Mexican Revolution a separate battle was raging along the Texas-Mexican borderlands. The Texas Rangers, rancher vigilantes, and Mexican residents along the border were violently engaged in a regionally based struggle that was individualistic and highly racialized. Bandit gangs and posses comprised...

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3. Texas Rangers and the Mexican Revolution

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pp. 71-78

“One riot, one Ranger?”—hardly.1 That chestnut can be laid to rest, for there is a considerable gap between the myth of the Texas Rangers and the reality. For the decade 1910– 1920, the most important in the organization’s history, the conclusion one must inevitably reach is that the Texas State Ranger Force ...

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4. Dark Days of the Texas Rangers, 1915-1918

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pp. 79-97

On January 31, 1915, Captain John R. Hughes retired from service as a Texas Ranger. Known for decades as the “Border Boss” along the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Hughes established a farreaching reputation for justice and perseverance that outlives him by three generations. Yet for all of the impact he made on Texas during...

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5. Establishing Law And Order in the Oil Fields: The 1924 Ranger Raids in Navarro County, Texas

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pp. 98-107

During the first quarter of the twentieth century Corsicana, Texas, county seat of Navarro, experienced two separate oil booms. Both profoundly altered the community. The first, 1894–1901, awakened the city to petroleum possibilities;1 the second, 1923– 1926, made Corsicana per capita “the wealthiest business city in the...

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6. The Sherman Riot

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pp. 108-119

The young newspaperman knew it would be a difficult shot. His flashgun could not put out enough light to illuminate the whole scene. His only hope of getting a picture was to use available light. To do that, he’d have to expose his film for a full ten to fifteen seconds. The camera would need to be motionless, but he had no tripod....

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7. Bonnie and Clyde in Texas: The End of the Texas Outlaw Tradition

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pp. 120-132

The history of the outlaw tradition predates the founding of America and can be traced at least to eleventh-century England. Outlaw legends have appeared in a variety of incarnations throughout American history and it would be impossible to ascribe a particular paradigm to its development. Examples of this tradition...

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8. The Modernization of the Texas Rangers: 1933-1936

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pp. 133-146

The Texas Rangers have become almost as famous as the Lone Star State itself. Throughout an illustrious career and spectacular history, dating from October 19, 1835, they have fought Indians with muzzle-loaders, outlaws with six-shooters, and modern criminals with submachine guns. As law enforcers, they compare...

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9. Science Against the Criminal: Captain M.T. Gonzaullas

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pp. 147-161

Fort Davis, Texas, was the focus of the spotlight of public attention in April 1936 during the trial of a Kermit man on a charge of killing deer out of season. Captain M. T. Gonzaullas’ Bureau of Intelligence provided the unusual bit of evidence that convicted him. During the previous season, deer hunting had been restricted to the ...

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10. Ranger Arthur Hill In Dallas

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pp. 162-174

The year 1957 was one of transition for the Ranger Service and for Texas Ranger Arthur Hill. For the first time since their association with the Department of Public Safety in 1935, the Rangers underwent broad-based reorganization. Hill, now sergeant of Company B in Dallas, adjusted to his new position and new surroundings....

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11. The Modern Texas Rangers: A Law-Enforcement Dilemma In The Rio Grande Valley

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pp. 175-192

The Texas Rangers, announced State Senator Joe Bernal of Bexar County, are “the Mexican Americans’ Ku Klux Klan. All they need is a white hood with ‘Rinches’ written across it.”1 “They were formed in the old days of the Texas Republic to keep the Mexicans in line,” asserted Robert Analavage, an assistant editor of...

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12. Homicides and Questionable Deaths: A Window Into the Method

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pp. 193-203

In a rural area in South Texas, where the Brush Country joins the Hill Country, there was a trailer house approximately one mile north of a state highway, halfway between two small towns in Uvalde County. In this area were small hills grown over in mesquite, live oak, guajillo, cactus, and other brush. The trailer had a new,...

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13. Captain Barry Caver on the Republic of Texas Standoff

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pp. 204-237

It all started in the early 1990s when Richard McLaren began to organize a group of anti-government extremists in an effort to overthrow the state government. In his twisted mind, he believed that Texas had been illegally annexed into the Union in 1845. Thus, Texas was not a state in the United States but an independent, sovereign nation....

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14. Law of the Land

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pp. 238-258

In 1823 Stephen F. Austin hired ten men “to act as rangers for the common defense” in protecting his colonists from Indian raids. Nearly two centuries later, that group—known as the Texas Rangers— is alive and well, having adapted from being frontier lawmen to an elite investigative force, trading their horses and bedrolls for...

The Twentieth Century Texas Rangers: A Selected Bibliography

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pp. 259-262


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pp. 263-265

Source Credits

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pp. 266-267


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pp. 268-286

Photo Gallery

Into The Sunset: Those Other Reel Rangers

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pp. Q-R

E-ISBN-13: 9781574415407
Print-ISBN-13: 9781574415261

Page Count: 320
Illustrations: 14 b&w illus. 1 map.
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Frances B. Vick Series

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Subject Headings

  • Texas Rangers -- History -- 20th century.
  • Law enforcement -- Texas -- History -- 20th century.
  • Texas -- History -- 20th century.
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