History

3 Famous Texas Rangers (Not Including Chuck Norris)

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We recently published an article about some notorious Texas outlaws, so it’s only fitting that we take a look at those living on the other side of the law. The Texas Rangers are a premiere crime-fighting force and have become a worldwide symbol of Texans’ indomitable spirit, violent history, and fondness for burly men in jeans and cowboy hats. Founded in the mid-1800s, the Texas Rangers were informally created by Stephen F. Austin, and played a role in the early founding of the Republic of Texas and the governments that succeeded it. Although Chuck Norris might be the most widely recognized “Texas Ranger”, here are 3 more that deserve our attention:

Captain John “Jack” Coffee Hays (January 28, 1817 – April 21, 1883)

Photo: wikipedia.org

An old school Ranger, Captain John “Jack” Coffee Hays set the Rangers’ standard for toughness, grit and no-nonsense efficiency. He earned his reputation by winning countless conflicts with Native Americans in West Texas (particularly the Comanches) as well as decisive battles against Mexican soldiers and raiders in some of the roughest conditions imaginable. By comparison, rangers after him had it easy.

A Tennessee native, Hays was 19 when he traveled to the Republic of Texas in 1836. Thanks to his family connections he was appointed to the Texas Rangers by Sam Houston himself. In the early part of his career he fought the Native Americans and protected settlers moving west, but when Mexico invaded in 1842 he found himself in command of the entire Texian defense force. He continued to play a pivotal role during the Mexican-American war a few years after and served with distinction, winning the admiration of his men. Once that ended Hays took a less violent job as Federal Indian Agent in New Mexico and Arizona, and his violent military and law-enforcement career came to a close. In his later years he moved to California and became the first sheriff of San Francisco County, and by the time the Civil War came along he was comfortably retired from military life. His legacy lives on through Hays County, Texas.

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