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Riding Lucifer's Line: Ranger Deaths Along the Texas-mexico Border

Description: The Texas-Mexico border is trouble. Haphazardly splashing across the meandering Rio Grande into Mexico is—or at least can be—risky business, hazardous to one’s health and well-being. Kirby W. Dendy, the Chief of Texas Rangers, corroborates the sobering reality: “As their predecessors for over one hundred forty years before them did, today’s Texas Rangers continue to battle violence and transnational criminals along the Texas-Mexico border.” In Riding Lucifer’s Line, Bob Alexander, in his characteristic storytelling style, surveys the personal tragedies of twenty-five Texas Rangers who made the ultimate sacrifice as they scouted and enforced laws throughout borderland counties adjacent to the Rio Grande. The timeframe commences in 1874 with formation of the Frontier Battalion, which is when the Texas Rangers were actually institutionalized as a law enforcing entity, and concludes with the last known Texas Ranger death along the border in 1921. Alexander also discusses the transition of the Rangers in two introductory sections: “The Frontier Battalion Era, 1874-1901” and “The Ranger Force Era, 1901-1935,” wherein he follows Texas Rangers moving from an epochal narrative of the Old West to more modern, technological times. Written absent a preprogrammed agenda, Riding Lucifer’s Line is legitimate history. Adhering to facts, the author is not hesitant to challenge and shatter stale Texas Ranger mythology. Likewise, Alexander confronts head-on many of those critical Texas Ranger histories relying on innuendo and gossip and anecdotal accounts, at the expense of sustainable evidence—writings often plagued with a deficiency of rational thinking and common sense. Riding Lucifer’s Line is illustrated with sixty remarkable old-time photographs. Relying heavily on archived Texas Ranger documents, the lively text is authenticated with more than one thousand comprehensive endnotes.
Date: May 15, 2013
Creator: Alexander, Bob
Partner: UNT Press

Tracking the Texas Rangers: The Twentieth Century

Description: 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.
Date: September 15, 2013
Creator: Glasrud, Bruce A. & Weiss, Harold J. Jr.
Partner: UNT Press

Tracking the Texas Rangers: the Nineteenth Century

Description: 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.
Date: September 15, 2012
Creator: Glasrud, Bruce A.
Partner: UNT Press

Texas Ranger John B. Jones and the Frontier Battalion, 1874-1881

Description: In 1874, the Texas legislature created the Frontier Battalion, the first formal, budgeted organization as an arm of state government of what historically had been periodic groups loosely referred to as Texas Rangers. Initially created to combat the menace of repeated raids of Indians from the north and from Mexico into frontier counties, the Battalion was led by an unusual choice: a frail, humorless Confederate veteran from Navarro County, John B. Jones. Under Jones’s leadership, the Battalion grew in sophistication, moving from Indian fighting to capturing Texas’s bad men, such as John Wesley Hardin and Sam Bass. Established during the unsettled time of Reconstruction, the Rangers effectively filled a local law enforcement void until competency was returned to local sheriffs’ and marshals’ offices. Numerous books cover individual Texas Rangers of note, but only a few have dealt with the overall history of the Rangers, and, strangely, none about Jones specifically. For the first time, author Rick Miller presents the story of the Frontier Battalion as seen through the eyes of its commander, John B. Jones, during his administration from 1874 to 1881, relating its history—both good and bad—chronologically, in depth, and in context. Highlighted are repeated budget and funding problems, developing standards of conduct, personalities and their interaction, mission focus and strategies against Indian war parties and outlaws, and coping with politics and bureaucracy. Miller covers all the major activities of the Battalion in the field that created and ultimately enhanced the legend of the Texas Rangers. Jones’s personal life is revealed, as well as his role in shaping the policies and activities of the Frontier Battalion. Based largely on primary documents, especially the actual correspondence generated by the various actors in the Battalion’s drama that best tell the tale, this book is a major contribution to understanding the early ...
Date: August 15, 2012
Creator: Miller, Rick
Partner: UNT Press

Rawhide Ranger, Ira Aten: Enforcing Law on the Texas Frontier

Description: Ira Aten (1862-1953) was the epitome of a frontier lawman. At age twenty he enrolled in Company D during the transition of the Rangers from Indian fighters to topnotch peace officers. This unit—and Aten—would have a lively time making their mark in nineteenth-century Texas. The preponderance of Texas Ranger treatments center on the outfit as an institution or spotlight the narratives of specific captains. Bob Alexander aptly demonstrated in Winchester Warriors: Texas Rangers of Company D, 1874-1901 that there is merit in probing the lives of everyday working Rangers. Aten is an ideal example. The years Ira spent as a Ranger are jam-packed with adventure, border troubles, shoot-outs, solving major crimes—a quadruple homicide—and manhunts. Aten’s role in these and epochal Texas events such as the racially insensitive Jaybird/Woodpecker Feud and the bloody Fence Cutting Wars earned Ira’s spot in the Ranger Hall of Fame. His law enforcing deeds transcend days with the Rangers. Ira served two counties as sheriff, terms spiked with excitement. Afterward, for ten years on the XIT, he was tasked with clearing the ranch’s Escarbada Division of cattle thieves. Aten’s story spins on an axis of spine-tingling Texas history. Moving to California, Ira was active in transforming the Imperial Valley from raw desert into an agricultural oasis. Unmistakably he was public spirited and committed to community betterment. Relying on primary source documents to build a platform for this meticulously researched and comprehensive biography with 1000 endnotes and 100 remarkable old-time photographs, Alexander gives us Ira Aten in the round—evenhandedly—the true story of a Ranger tough as rawhide.
Date: July 15, 2011
Creator: Alexander, Bob
Partner: UNT Press

Captain John R. Hughes: Lone Star Ranger

Description: Captain John R. Hughes, Lone Star Ranger is the first full and complete modern biography of a man who served as a Texas Ranger from 1887 until early 1915. He came to the attention of the Rangers after doggedly trailing horse thieves for nearly a year and recovering his stolen stock. After helping Ranger Ira Aten track down another fugitive from justice, Hughes then joined Company D of the Texas Rangers on Aten’s recommendation, intending to stay for only a few months; he remained in the service for nearly thirty years. When Sgt. Charles Fusselman was killed by bandits, Hughes took his place. When Captain Frank Jones was killed by bandits in 1893, Hughes was named captain of Company D. As captain, Hughes and his men searched the border and identified every bandit involved in the killing of Jones. They all received justice. Toward the end of his career Hughes became a senior captain based in Austin, and in 1915, having served as a captain and ranger longer than any other man, he retired from the force. His later years were happy ones, with traveling and visiting friends and relatives. He became a Texas icon and national celebrity, receiving more awards and honors than any other Texas Ranger, before or since. Due to Chuck Parsons’s extensive research, we now know more about Hughes than ever before. This biography of one of the “Four Great Captains” sheds light on his life prior to becoming a Texas Ranger and on his love interest, though he never married. From joining Company D in 1887 until retirement, Hughes served the state honestly and proudly, earning the respect of all he met. Zane Grey dedicated his most popular novel, The Lone Star Ranger, to Hughes and his Rangers.
Date: February 15, 2011
Creator: Parsons, Chuck
Partner: UNT Press