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Tracking the Texas Rangers

The Nineteenth Century

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

Tracking the Texas Rangers is an anthology of sixteen previously published articles, arranged in chronological history, covering key topics of the intrepid and sometimes controversial law officers named the Texas Rangers. 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 war with Mexico, for example, some murdered, pillaged, and raped. Yet these same Rangers eased the resultant United States victory. Even their beginning and the first use of the term “Texas Ranger” have mixed and complex origins. Tracking the Texas Rangers covers topics such as their early years, the great Comanche Raid of 1840, and the effective use of Colt revolvers. Article authors discuss Los Diablos Tejanos, Rip Ford, the Cortina War, the use of Hispanic Rangers and Rangers in labor disputes, and the recapture of Cynthia Ann Parker and the capture of John Wesley Hardin. 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 19th-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.

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Tracking the Texas Rangers

The Twentieth Century

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

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.

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Whiskey River Ranger

The Old West Life of Baz Outlaw

Bob Alexander

Captain Frank Jones, a famed nineteenth-century Texas Ranger, said of his company-s top sergeant, Baz Outlaw (1854-1894), "A man of unusual courage and coolness and in a close place is worth two or three ordinary men." Another old-time Texas Ranger declared that Baz Outlaw "was one of the worst and most dangerous" because "he never knew what fear was." But not all thought so highly of him. In Whiskey River Ranger, Bob Alexander tells for the first time the full story of this troubled Texas Ranger and his losing battle with alcoholism. In his career Baz Outlaw wore a badge as a Texas Ranger and also as a Deputy U.S. Marshal. He could be a fearless and crackerjack lawman, as well as an unmanageable manic. Although Baz Outlaw's badge-wearing career was sometimes heroically creditable, at other times his self-induced nightmarish imbroglios teased and tested Texas Ranger management's resoluteness. Baz Outlaw's true-life story is jam-packed with fellows owning well-known names, including Texas Rangers, city marshals, sheriffs, and steely-eyed mean-spirited miscreants. Baz Outlaw's tale is complete with horseback chases, explosive train robberies, vigilante justice (or injustice), nighttime ambushes and bushwhacking, and episodes of scorching six-shooter finality. Baz met his end in a brothel brawl at the hands of John Selman, the same gunfighter who killed John Wesley Hardin.

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Winchester Warriors

Texas Rangers of Company D, 1874-1901

Bob Alexander

The Texas Rangers were institutionally birthed in 1874 with the formation of the Frontier Battalion. They were tasked with interdicting Indian incursions into the frontier settlements and dealing with the lawlessness running rampant throughout Texas. In an effort to put a human face on the Rangers, Bob Alexander tells the story of one of the six companies of the Frontier Battalion, Company D. Readers follow the Rangers of Company D as—over time—it transforms from a unit of adventurous boys into a reasonably well-oiled law enforcement machine staffed by career-oriented lawmen. Beginning with their start as Indian fighters against the Comanches and Kiowas, Alexander explores the history of Company D as they rounded up numerous Texas outlaws and cattle thieves, engaged in border skirmishes along the Rio Grande, and participated in notable episodes such as the fence cutter wars. Winchester Warriors is an evenhanded and impartial assessment of Company D and its colorful cadre of Texas Rangers. Their laudable deeds are explored in detail, but by the same token their shameful misadventures are not whitewashed. These Texas Rangers were simply people, good and bad—and sometimes indifferent. This new study, extensively researched in both primary and secondary sources, will appeal to scholars and aficionados of the Texas Rangers and western history.

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Yours to Command

The Life and Legend of Texas Ranger Captain Bill McDonald

Harold J. Weiss Jr.

Captain Bill McDonald (1852-1918) is the most prominent of the “Four Great Captains” of Texas Ranger history. His career straddled the changing scene from the nineteenth to the twentieth centuries. In 1891 McDonald became captain of Company B of the Frontier Battalion of the Texas Rangers. “Captain Bill” and the Rangers under his command took part in a number of incidents from the Panhandle region to South Texas: the Fitzsimmons-Maher prizefight in El Paso, the Wichita Falls bank robbery, the murders by the San Saba Mob, the Reese-Townsend feud at Columbus, the lynching of the Humphries clan, the Conditt family murders near Edna, the Brownsville Raid of 1906, and the shootout with Mexican Americans near Rio Grande City. In all these endeavors, only one Ranger lost his life under McDonald’s command. McDonald’s reputation as a gunman rested upon his easily demonstrated markmanship, a flair for using his weapons to intimidate opponents, and the publicity given his numerous exploits. His ability to handle mobs resulted in a classic tale told around campfires: one riot, one Ranger. His admirers rank him as one of the great captains of Texas Ranger history. His detractors see him as an irresponsible lawman who accepted questionable information, precipitated violence, hungered for publicity, and related tall tales that cast himself in the hero’s role. Harold J. Weiss, Jr., seeks to find the true Bill McDonald and sort fact from myth. McDonald’s motto says it all: “No man in the wrong can stand up against a fellow that’s in the right and keeps on a-comin’.”

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