If you need a real man … “Give Me a Texas Ranger”

The rich history of the Texas Rangers has been chronicled in works of nonfiction and memoirs. Movies and television series have been made about them, and they are a favorite hero in novels; so when you need a real man — “Give Me a Texas Ranger”.

I began work on “One Woman, One Ranger” for our newest anthology with a duel purpose.  I didn’t want to write just another romance with a Texas Ranger hero, but about one who found love. I wanted it to reflect the ideals that brought peace to the untamed frontier; the strengths and traditions that made the famous respected organization the lawmen they are today.

In order to accomplish my goal, I had to understand the iconic lawmen; a colorful and brave body of fighting men who had a reputation for tenacity, firmness and quick-triggered justice.  I wanted to delve into their thinking and their hearts.

I love research!  When we were on tour with “Give Me a Texan” Linda Broday and I spent a day in Waco, Texas, at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum.  One of our favorite exhibits was “Writing the Ranger”, where authors from Louis L’Amour to Diane Palmer have their covers on display. The comics, the cowboys, and The Lone Ranger are all there. 

But, my favorite resource that gave me the best insight into the ol’ time Texas Rangers is a book written in 1921 by James Gillett “Six Years with the Texas Rangers”.  Sgt. Gillett joined the organization June 1, 1875, and rode with them until 1881.  His first-person accounts influenced many scenes in my story.

From their inception, the only true criteria for being a Ranger: Could he ride? Could he shoot? Did he have the guts it took to protect?  Famous lawman Rip Ford said, “They ride like Mexicans; trail like Indians; shoot like Tennesseans; and fight like the devil.”  The early lawmen fashioned traditions which affected all future Rangers by creating an aura of invincibility with their dedication, toughness, and perseverance.

In 1823 they were referred to as Citizen Soldiers and “rangered” the new frontier. They’ve had a number of names including the State Police. Between the annexation of Texas in 1846 and the outbreak of the Civil War, the Texas Ranger existed almost in name only. However, in 1874, Stephen F. Austin formed two bands of ten Rangers each to protect the new frontier. The Frontier Battalion protected the vast area between the Red River and the Nueces River, while the Special Force unit handled Southwest Texas.

A must for all Rangers was a serviceable horse, a good rifle, and a six-shooting pistol.  “An Act to Provide for the Protection of the Frontier of the State of Texas 1874” became the blueprint for frontier law enforcement. One clarification was the value of their horse and how it had to be appraised by the enrolling officer and two disinterested parties, so in the event something happened to the animal the Ranger could be reimbursed fairly. Yet, the horse couldn’t be disposed of without the consent of the commanding officer. Each critter was given an allowance of no more than 12 lbs. of oats or corn a day, plus 2 ounces of salt per week.  If the dang rascal over indulged, the overage came out of the rangers pay check … $40 a month!   I used that little known fact in my plot. Hayden McGraw’s horse, Stewball, liked to go off on his own to find food, so at times it really put my hero at a disadvantage.


At first, the Rangers were more interested in performance and gettin’ the job done than in personal appearance. The only well-groomed critter around the lawman was generally his horse, who was meticulously cared for.     

In contrast, today’s Ranger dress requirements are certainly more uptown.  “The appropriate Texas Ranger clothing is deemed to be conservative western attire.  The Texas Ranger hat will be light-colored and shaped in a businessman’s style.  Styles commonly called the Rancher or Cattleman are recommended.  Brims must not exceed 4 inches or be flat with edges rolled up. Hats excessively crushed, rolled, or dipped are not acceptable. Members of the Ranger Division will own both a quality straw and quality felt hat. The appropriate hat will usually be determined by the weather or assignments.”      

For my story, I wanted an emotional connection between my third generation Texas Ranger, Hayden McGraw, and his father and grandfather. Prior to 1835, these lawmen didn’t wear badges.  The State of Texas Adjutant General’s Office issued Warrants of Authority, an impressive paper document kept folded in their pockets, to commissioned officers. Although that procedure played a big part in my plot, I still needed something more personal. 

The origin of the Ranger badge fascinated me. The first ones were made for individual lawmen, at their request, from Mexican coins.  Some were probably made by jewelers, while others may have been made by gunsmiths or metalworkers. The legend of Rangers cutting them out of coins around campfires is unlikely. These first badges were used as a means of identification in the midst of feuds and disputes that might involve several law enforcement agencies, or where hired guns were introduced.  Photographs taken in the 1870’s through the 1920’s show that there was a great variety of badges and that comparatively few Rangers wore them.  Of interest, later research indicates they didn’t wear badges because the sun reflected off them, making tracking easier. Many kept them hidden beneath their saddle, but always in easy reach.

Today, the Texas Rangers wear a replica of the historic original insignia which old-time Rangers carved out of a Mexican five peso silver dollar. Symbolically the five-pointed star represents the “Lone Star” of Texas, while the points are supported by an engraved wheel. Thus it is termed the “wagon-wheel” badge. The oak leaves on the left side represent strength and the olive branch on the right signifies peace.  These are taken from the Texas Great Seal. The cutout center star has engraving on it and the center of the star is reserved for the Company designation or the rank. The edges still often have the coin lines and the peso is still highly visible on the reverse of the badge.  Thus, First Lieutenant Hayden McGraw’s badge is a key element of my story.

As of old, the Texas Rangers still maintain vigilant watch and ward over the peace and welfare of Texas, bringing a sense of security and trust to our law-abiding citizens.

Do any of you have any Texas Rangers in your family tree?  I wish I did, but since I don’t, I can only write about the fearless body of men who shaped the new frontier and salute those protecting the citizens of the fine state of Texas today. 

I’m givin’ away a copy of your choice of titles to one lucky person!

Order today!  Give Me A Texas Ranger    Give Me A Cowboy    Give Me A Texan


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A native Texan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Phyliss Miranda still believes in the Code of the Old West and loves to share her love for antiques, the lost art of quilting, and the Wild West.

Visit her at phylissmiranda.com

52 thoughts on “If you need a real man … “Give Me a Texas Ranger””

  1. Oh, I love this post, Phyliss! I visited the Texas Ranger Museum in San Antonio which had tableaux of Ranger history. It was great.

    I completely adored Give me a Cowboy, and I had Give me a Texas Ranger pre-ordered so it automatically appreared in my new Kindle the other day. Yee-haw. I’m curling up for a terrific read.

    No Texans of any kind in this family, we’re a firefighting bunch from Suuthern California, but I sure like and admire those Rangers.

    Here’s wishes for a bazillion sales! oxoxox

  2. Early bird, Tanya! Thank for stopping by so early. Appreciate the kind words. I hope you enjoy Texas Ranger as much as the other two. I think I actually like my story better than “Texan” and “Cowboy”, but in the end, of course, it’s the reader that matter. I’m sure glad to know it hit Kindle right on time. Just got an email from Amazon that it’s being shipped! And, BN been out for a week or so. Yeah, we’ve had five or six booksignings, so it’s certainly good to know “Texas Ranger” is officially released! Have a great day! Hugs, P

  3. It’s always a treat to read about real and fictional Texas Rangers. They exemplify integrity, courage and honor! I liked learning about their Texas Ranger badge. Do you know how many Texas Rangers there are today?

    Unfortunately I don’t have any ties to Texas. Law enforcement ties, my cousin Allen is a sheriff’s deputy in Wisconsin.

  4. Phyliss,wow,thats a eye opener first thing in the morning to see something that sexy on a book cover,he is hot!I love to read about the Texas Rangers,an this sounds like a really good book that would be hard to put down,thanks for the great post!

  5. oh yes, give me a texas ranger….or a cowboy…or a texan…whatever–i’ll just take a real man
    i’m married
    okay…well just in literary land then 🙂

    sounds like a great story and glad to know i’ve got a copy coming!

    i love the history behind the badge and the care for their horses…it always wins me over when men take care of their animals

    thanks for coming by!

  6. The love of my life is Sam Elliott, who has no peer as a Western star. One of his grandfathers was a Texas Ranger. I can easily see Sam in the real-life role of Texas Ranger…those baddies wouldn’t stand a chance!

    “Rip Ford” is a great name for a real-life lawman! Rip, indeed!

    “Texas Ranger” is the American equivalent of “Canadian Mountie”. To my mind, the title immediately suggests a dedicated law enforcement officer. Elite. A cut above. Someone who should be shown respect and taken very seriously. Be glad they’re on our side : )

    Yes, I enjoyed Chuck Norris as “Walker, Texas Ranger”. I still watch the reruns.

    “In the eyes of a ranger,
    The unsuspected stranger
    Had better know the truth of wrong from right,
    ’cause the eyes of a ranger are upon you,
    Any wrong you do he’s gonna see,
    When you’re in Texas look behind you,
    ’cause that’s where the rangers are gonna be.”

  7. Laurie, great question. I went direct to the Texas DPS site and pulled this information. It’s more than you asked, but I thought it gives insight on today’s Rangers and answers your question.

    The Texas Ranger Division is a major division within the Texas Department of Public Safety with lead criminal investigative responsibility for the following: major incident crime investigations, unsolved crime/serial crime investigations, public corruption investigations, officer involved shooting investigations, and border security operations. The Texas Ranger Division is comprised of 144 commissioned Rangers, 24 non-commissioned administrative support personnel, 1 budget analyst and 1 forensic artist, totaling 170 full time employees.
    The Texas Ranger Division is currently in the process of creating a Public Corruption Unit in response to legislation passed during the 81st Legislative session. The Ranger Division has also been tasked with management oversight of the department’s full-time SWAT Team, proposed regional Special Response Teams (SRT’s), and the department’s Crisis Negotiations Unit. The Texas Rangers currently coordinate border security operations through six (6) Ranger Staff Lieutenants assigned to six (6) Joint Operations and Intelligence Centers (JOICs) along the Texas- Mexico border and Coastal Bend area of the state.

  8. Thank you, Vickie C and runner 10 for the nice compliments on our cover. Kensington sure has a way of givin’ us some of the sexiest covers out there. They’re pretty bold, but I believe tasteful. Our favorite is still Nathan Kemp on our first cover. He was also on “Cowboy” and does some for fellow Filly Karen Kay.

  9. Hi Phyliss! What a great way to start the day! I don’t have any Texas Rangers in my family, but it would be an honor to be able to say yes. Honor… loyalty…courage. That’s what makes a western hero!

  10. The Texas Rangers were dedicated men who often worked without pay. I wanted to go to the TX Ranger Museum but it was closed the day I was near it. So I had to depend on other sources to write my first TX Ranger.
    FYI-I’ve just posted the 2nd part of my summer gift to readers, a short story called “Watermelon Cowboy.”
    Thanks for all this TX info, Phylliss!

  11. Great research info on those rangers! I love that hearty bunch of lawmen. The quinessential alpha hero.

    I just bought Give Me a Texas Ranger at my local Wal-Mart last week. It’s at the top of my TBR pile, calling my name. I hope to get to it very soon!

  12. Tabitha, thanks. Married or not, we can still admire a good lookin’ lawman, as long as he’s in a novel! LOL Virginia, two great examples of characters created for TV and the big screen. And, isn’t “Rip Ford” a great name! Lyn, next time you’re in Waco I hope the museum is open. It’s a wonderful place with about everything you’d ever want to know about the Rangers, including modern day heros. The story of Bonnie and Clyde and the Rangers is also interesting. Have a great day, ladies! Hugs, P

  13. Phyliss, I found your post very interesting, loved the tidbit about the horses & food-sounds like some humans I know about. Mmm. Looking forward to that next anthology & anxious to see you in Wichita Falls this weekend.

  14. Phyllis…loved your take on the Texas Ranger. You did your research and your love of texas history and the texas rangers shined through. Just a note to add that Texas State Genealogical Society is now offering Texas Ranger Certificates if one has a Texas Ranger in their ancestry. Must be a direct ancestor.

  15. no Texas rangers in my history; I used to watch Walker, Texas Ranger also and enjoyed it.

    Thanks for the info which I enjoyed reading.

  16. I love this post, Phyliss. I’ve never done a Texas Ranger but now I’m thinking I ought to. Did they leave Texas? Did they chase down bad guys only to the state line?

    I need to study more…however if you’d just tell me, that’d save me some time. 🙂

  17. Love the post, Phyliss! Tons of good information in there. Collaborating with you on this anthology was a real treat. Your story is so good. Hayden McGraw and Ella Stevenson were great characters. Hayden really exemplifies the Texas Rangers.

    Like you, I wish I had a Ranger in my family tree but I’m pretty sure my forebearers were scoundrels and con men. 🙂

  18. great job on summarizing your research; I enjoyed your very informative post. Thanks for including these great American icons in your stories – keep them coming!

  19. Lyn, Watermellow Cowboy sounds like a great read! Karen thanks for buying “Texas Ranger”. Hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed writing the stories. Thanks Jeannene for the compliment. We love to write them. Janet, see you on Friday!

  20. Great post. I don’t have any Texas Rangers in my family tree. I have always been fascinated by them.

  21. Thank your for an interesting and informative post, Phyllis. We missed the museum when we went to Texas last year. There is so much to see, I am sure we will be going back again. Will make sure we go to the Texas Ranger Museum next time. We often don’t realize just how slim a start some organizations got. They have certainly earned their reputation.
    I have one of these books on my TBR mountain at home. Will have to find it when I get back. I feel the need for a western read.

    Lyn, thanks for the link for WATERMELON COWBOY. It was sweet.

  22. I am reading this book right now, and it is a wonderful collection of stories. The Texas Rangers make great heroes.

    Don’t include me in the drawing because I have read all of these books. 🙂

  23. My grandpa was a Texan but definitely no Texas Ranger. I really enjoyed this post and learning more about the Rangers. This spring I got to visit the Ranger office in Dallas with a writer buddy, Margaret Daley, who is writing a series about Rangers. We spent an hour talking to one. He was tall, dark, and handsome. A bit soft spoken and very humble. He showed us all the gear he has to carry in his care. Very interesting. He has a portable CSI lab so he can investigate crimes when there’s no one else to do it.

  24. I love to read and watch anything about the Texas Rangers..
    I have not had the opportunity to read any of these books, but I will looking for the for sure.

    I never knew there was a Hall of Fame of Texas Rangers.. Now this is something I will have to make another trip to Texas to see..

    Great post Phyllis.

  25. Great info. I guess I love Texas Rangers because for some reason, they seem to be a combination of my favorite heroes, cowboys and policemen. Can’t wait to get to the Hall of Fame.

    Peace, Julie

  26. Judie, I didn’t know about the certificates. How cool. I just wished I had one in my family, but don’t. Winnie, Robyn and Linda … I’m always full of tidbits, as you know! LOL Mary, although I believe they typically only had jurisdiction in their later years in Texas that wasn’t always the case. During the Mexican-American War, one of the most feared regiments of Rangers ever were the “Los Diablos Tejanos” or Devil Texans, who didn’t mind a bit crossing over into Mexico to take care of business. My hero’s grandfather was a Devil Texan. Also, although I can’t recall the full story, the Texas Rangers were involved in the capture of Bonnie and Clyde and I believe that was in Louisiana. Also, Texas wasn’t the only state to have Rangers.

  27. Having worked at the Texas Department of public Safety, I have known some good Texas Rangers. These are rank among the best. Should be in the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame, Waco, Texas.

  28. Thanks Nat, Cheryl and Crystal for stopping by. I agree that the Rangers earned their reputation … and they weren’t always good ones either. But, in a novel we’ll stand for nothing less than the hunkiest, smartest, cutest, and most alluring Rangers that fiction can conjure up. Thanks, friends, for your comments.

  29. Hi Phyliss. First as usual you always enlighten me on some unknown trivia and I surely enjoyed reading about the horses and oats and the salt allowed. I bet it could cause some woes for a cowboy with a horse with a good appetite!
    Just started reading Rangers and can’ t put it down!
    Have a good time here and I will stop back by in awhile.

  30. Any book that speaks of Texas Rangers on the cover has me hooked. I love reading about them.

  31. Hi guys, I sure think there’s certainly an agreement that Rangers are a favorite hero … whether in fiction or in real life. Thanks for everyone who is reading our collection or have it in their TBR stack. I hope you enjoy them. Thanks, Kenn, for reminding us that today’s Rangers are under the Texas Highway Patrol. It was hard to stop writing my blog because they are certainly rich with history. It is also astonishing how many books have been written about them. I have a Ranger in “Outlaw” that I’m working on now, which reminds me, I’ve got to get back to him!!!

  32. No Texans in my family (live in PA with Sicilian background) but that’s what makes them so interesting to me since it’s a whole ‘nother world. I think as a reader, I can usually tell what authors enjoy their research – it shows in all the interesting facts (such as the badge). What a great way to learn history than in a romance novel 🙂

  33. Vickie, how much fun getting to interview a Ranger. When I wrote “Cowboy” a friend got me an interview with an ol’ time rodeo star…pretty dang exciting, such a treat. I got insight that I could have never gotten anywhere else. There’s nothing like one-on-one research, to be able to ask questions and just look them in the eye. Yep, Vicky F., Stewball gives Hayden some real heartburn with his appetite. For sure, Jodi you have your own Texas cowboy. A true gentleman with lots of Texas spirit.

  34. I’ll take one! 🙂 Thanks for the interesting post Phyllis. I can’t wait to read your book.

  35. What a wonderful post! I spent two weeks visiting friends in Waco a few years back and they never took me to the Texas Rangers Museum…didn’t even know it was there. Now I am really bummed! Well, guess I have to make another trip! 🙂

    Cindy W.


  36. Hi Joye, Tammy and Cindy. Cindy, hope you get to go back and visit the museum. It is totally awesome. Tammy and Joye thanks for dropping by and commenting.

    I’m gonna sign off for the day and get some more pages written for “Give Me an Outlaw” which has a huge deadline looming overhead. I really appreciate everyone for stopping by and sittin’ a while with us today. I’ll draw for today’s winner in a while and let you all know who it is! Settle back and enjoy a wonderful July evening wherever you are. Hugs from Texas, Phyliss

  37. Thanks Phyliss for giving us so much background on the the Rangers!!! I’ve read several books with Rangers but really know nothing about them then or now. I can’t wait to read this new Give Me book!! It’s good to know you’re working on another read for us. I’ve loved all the other Give Me books that are out!!! Thanks, Sue

  38. Phyliss, well better late than never! One of those days here in Oklahoma. LOL WHAT A GREAT POST! I loved learning the facts. Very cool! I bet you had all kinds of fun doing the research you did. These books just sound glorious and I cannot wait to get my hands on them. LOL Finding the time to read is a different story, but I bet I DO, once I have them waiting for me. I really enjoyed this post!

  39. Phil–loved the man–hated he got caught up by that JP with the marriage licenses. I DO have a Texas Ranger in the family. He fought with Arrington west of Mobeetee and into New Mexico (a nono but they went on anyway) Keep ’em up. We love em.

  40. Jackye, thanks for stopping by. I’m thrilled you made it, girl. I knew you had a Ranger in your family, which makes it even more exciting that you dropped by. I believe, if I’m not mistaken, you’re the only one who commented today who had a family member as a Ranger! Love hearing from one of Linda and my RWA chapter gals. Hugs, P

  41. Phyliss – Yes, there is a Texas Ranger in our family. Check out Edward Dixon Westfall. He was a Lt. in “Bigfoot” Wallace’s group. Also check out the Westfall Branch of the San Antonio Library. That is the result of part of his estate. Some of his journals he kept are very interesting.

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