Three Legendary Texas Rangers Who Did the State Proud

By  | 
Tony Maples Photography


In this day and age, heroes often appear to be few and far between. However, when we find them, we celebrate them. Such is the case with a few former Texas Rangers from the division of investigators who symbolized the state’s resolute spirit. No matter the crime and violence involved, these men embodied a grit and toughness we admire, something many of us strive for and continue to look toward in the face of much of today’s uncertainty. The Texas Rangers were founded in the mid-1800s by Stephen F. Austin. They continue to investigate crime as a part of the Texas Department of Public Safety, but in the early founding of the Republic of Texas, they played a significant role, which was continued in the state governments that followed it. Here are three legendary Texas Rangers who deserve our attention.

1. Captain John “Jack” Coffee Hays

Three Legendary Texas Rangers Who Did the State Proud

Photo: enavto elements

Captain John “Jack” Coffee Hays earned a reputation as one of the indomitable Texas Rangers through his efforts in conflict. Known for decisive battles with Native Americans, Mexican soldiers, and countless other raiders, Hays was actually a native of Tennessee. At the age of 19, he traveled to the Republic of Texas. Through family connections, he received an appointed to the Texas Rangers by the famed Sam Houston himself. In the earlier stages of his career, he fought a number of battles with Native Americans in efforts to protect West Texas settlers. In 1842, when Mexico invaded, he commanded a Texian defense regiment. Hays pioneered the use of Colt’s six-shooter.

2. Captain Bill McDonald

William Jesse McDonald, also known as Bill, moved from his home state of Mississippi to take a job in Wood County, Texas, in a grocery store. He took a keen interest in law enforcement and quickly worked his way toward becoming deputy sheriff. In the early part of his career he battled cattle rustlers, gangs, and a variety of criminal elements until becoming one of the famed Texas Rangers by the age of 31. He was known for his abilities of tact and intimidation and was recognized as “a man who would charge hell with a bucket of water.”

3. Frank Hamer

Three Legendary Texas Rangers Who Did the State Proud

Photo: envato elements

Of the three Texas Rangers we’re paying homage to in this article, Frank Hamer was the only native of Texas. Based out of Austin, Hamer’s time with the organization was during a period of tremendous change. In his career, he was active during violent periods of gunfights over bank robberies, which were almost an epidemic in that day and age. He is most widely recognized as one of the Rangers who tracked and took down the infamous Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. He became legendary for his accuracy and bravery in investigations, defeating odds that were against him time and again. He was wounded 17 times in the course of his career, and his favorite weapon was one he called “Old Lucky,” a Single Action Colt .45 revolver with a pearl handle. He was known for diplomacy above all else. When bounties were being doled out by the Texas Bankers’ Association for the killing of robbers, Hamer went to the press with the fact that the money was being taken by those who would set up their partners in fake robberies, killing them for a profit. Following his admonishments, the policy was changed.