Before There Was a Texas, There Were Texas Rangers

I’m on the last draft of the third book in my Haywire Brides series (at least I hope it’s the last draft). My male protagonist is a Texas Ranger and, as some of you might have guessed from my earlier books, that’s my favorite type of hero to write about.

The Texas Rangers have a long and checkered history, starting in 1823. When Stephan F. Austin hired ten men to protect the frontier, he probably never imagined that nearly two hundred years later, the force would still be going strong.  

Those early Rangers were called various names including mounted gunmen, mounted volunteers, minutemen, spies, scouts and mounted rifle companies.  The term Texas Rangers didn’t come into use until the1870s.

Maintaining law and order on the frontier wasn’t easy, but those mounted gunmen still managed to move with quick speed over long distances, and settle trouble on the spot. Those early rangers were called upon to serve as infantrymen, border guards, and investigators.  They tracked down cattle rustlers and helped settle labor disputes.  They both fought and protected the Indians.

The job didn’t come cheap.  A man was expected to provide his own horse and it had to be equipped with saddle, blanket and bridle.  A man also had to supply his own weaponry, which included rifle, pistol and knife. 

As for clothing, a Texas Ranger wore what he had.  It wasn’t until the Rangers became full-time professional lawmen in the 1890s that many started wearing suits.  (Today, Rangers are expected to wear conservative western attire, including western boots and hat, dress shirt and appropriate pants.)

He would also have carried a blanket, and cloth wallet for salt and ammunition.  To alleviate thirst, a ranger would suck on sweetened or spiced parched corn.  Dried meat, tobacco and rope were also considered necessities. What he didn’t carry with him was provided by the land. It was a tough life and it’s not hard to guess why a man seldom lasted more than six months on the job.

Those early professional Rangers received twenty-five dollars a month in pay and worked hard for it. An officer’s pay was seventy-five dollars.

Texas Ranger Hall of Fame

Today, the Texas Rangers enjoy a stellar reputation, but that wasn’t always the case. Frontier justice could sometimes be harsh and cruel, and some Rangers fought according to their own rules. This led to excesses of brutality and injustice, including the massacre of unarmed citizens.  The Rangers were reformed by a Legislature resolution in 1919, which instituted a citizen complaint system.

The Texas Rangers have undergone many changes and transformations through the years. But the biggest change of all probably has such legendary Rangers as John B. Jones and Big Foot Wallace a-whirling in their graves; The Texas Rangers recently allowed women to join the ranks.  (Hmm.  I feel a story coming on.)

I told you the kind of heroes I like to write.  What kind of heroes do you like to read about?

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Margaret has published more than 46 books and is a N.Y. Times Bestselling author and two-time Romance Writers of America Rita Finalist. She writes historical novels set--where else?--in the Old West! She has written for a day time soap and is currently working on a new series. Not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don't ask her to diagram a sentence.

34 thoughts on “Before There Was a Texas, There Were Texas Rangers”

  1. Good morning. Being from Texas I truly love The Texas Rangers. Both of them, actually. The men who protect and the baseball team too. Ha Ha!! I couldn’t resist.
    I love reading about Texas Rangers, I also love bounty hunter books and anything half- Breed Indians.
    Your book looks amazing.

    • Hi Tonya, I just wish I didn’t have to plow through all the baseball stuff on the Internet before I can get to the REAL Texas Rangers. I like bounty hunter books, too. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Good morning! I love love love the Texas Rangers! I love HWR that have Indian romance mixed in, half-breed even. I love to see a once outlaw become a man that protects his family, friends, land and cattle with a passion. A man that leans toward being an outlaw to stop the evil outlaws. I’d love to read about a female Texas Ranger!! I bet your series is awesome! Happy New Year!

  3. I love reading about early Texas Rangers. I love all Western Historical books . I love reading about Outlaws that go to the good side and love for the hero to love the heroine with worship and adoration. Look forward to reading your books. Loved this informative blog

  4. I adore all things Texas including Texas Rangers! Thank you for telling us all about their history. Heroes I like to read about are varied, but anything country or western tops the list.

  5. Wow, thank your for sharing this information. I love to read about the Texas Rangers. Ohh, wouldnt that be a wonderful story with a woman wanting to become one of them? This sounds like it could be a story with humor and romance as well as danger.

  6. Thank you Margaret for the early history on the amazing Texas Rangers. While visiting my son year’s ago in Texas the museum for Texas Rangers was the first place he took us to.A wonderful experience Love reading about Texas Rangers, Cowboys & Scottish Highlanders. 🙂

    • Hi Carol, I’ve heard nothing but nice thing about the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame. I need to go there. That’s quite an intriguing combination; Texas Rangers, cowboys and Scottish Highlanders!

  7. Thoroughly enjoyed your blog! I love reading about mail order brides, Mountain men, rangers, half-breed Indian love stories, bounty hunters, cowboys, horses, mules, oxen, orphans, rodeos, wagon trains, and anything having to do with the west! Have a great day and thanks again for such an interesting blog.

  8. Thank you for another interesting post. I had never heard of sucking on sweetened or spiced parched corn to help with thirst. It would be interesting to try it just to see what it is like. It got a bit of a rough start, but the Rangers eventually coalesced into a respected and efficient force for law and order. I am surprised it took so long for them to admit women.
    I will be waiting for your book about a woman breaking into the ranks of the Texas Rangers. I can imagine how well that is going to go over with many of the Rangers.

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