The Texas Rangers, one of the most well-known law enforcement agencies in the world, has an on-again off-again history. First established in 1823 by Stephen F. Austin to “act as rangers for the common defense, the Rangers were disbanded and reformed many times over the years, mostly at the whim of whatever politician was in power at the time. It wasn’t until 1987 that the Texas Legislature enacted a statute that made the Texas Rangers a permanent entity of the Department of Public Service.
Through those years, the Rangers have worn several different styles of badges. Contrary to legend, they didn’t start out with stars on their vests. The first Rangers carried a Warrant of Authority, signed by The Adjutant General, that granted them the right to enforce the law when and where they saw fit.
It wasn’t until 1889 that the first Texas Ranger badge was created. Made from a silver Mexican coin, this unofficial badge was made from a Mexican silver dollar by the Rangers riding the southern and western parts of the state. The five-pointed star design is thought to have come from the unofficial seal of the state first used in 1835.
It changed a bit over the years:
An official, state-issued badge didn’t come along until 1935.
And even that changed again in 1957:
In 1962, in a decision that the Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety called “going back to the tradition steeped Mexican silver badge worn by their predecessors during frontier days,” the department adopted their permanent badge.
The “wagon-wheel” design is a five-pointed star, symbolizing the “Lone Star” of Texas, supported by an engraved wheel. The oak leaves on the left side represent strength and the olive branch on the right signifies peace, just as they appear on the Texas State Seal. The center of the star is reserved for the Company designation or the rank of Sergeant or Captain or Senior Captain.
This is the star you will see on the uniform of every Texas Ranger, along with their boots, revolvers and signature white cowboy hats.
If you want to know more about the Texas Rangers, visit their website: www.texasranger.org. There’s some fascinating stuff on that site.