History

One Texas Ranger, One Enchanted Rock, and Many Comanche Warriors

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If you’ve visited Enchanted Rock and climbed the spectacularly huge pink dome, you may have spotted a commemoration near the peak which tells the story of a battle between native Comanche warriors and Captain John Coffee ‘Jack’ Hays, a Texas Ranger who was onsite to survey for the Republic of Texas. This official state of Texas plaque was placed during the 1936 Texas Centennial. Look for it next time you explore this park near Fredericksburg.

One Texas Ranger, One Enchanted Rock, and Many Comanche Warriors

Photo: envato elements

The tale goes like this: Captain Hays and 20 men were in the area in the early 1840s to survey what would eventually be southwestern Llano County. When riding out alone to inspect the giant rock, Hays was spotted by nearby Comanche people, who were infuriated with the Ranger’s presence on their sacred mountain and proceeded to attack him.

Finding an inlet in the rock, Hays safeguarded himself and survived the incoming violence by creating his own via gunpowder. Eventually, his company arrived to assist Hays. Tragically, several Comanche fighters were killed, but fortunately, no Rangers fell that day at Enchanted Rock. An 1851 painting at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco depicts an embattled Hays.

One Texas Ranger, One Enchanted Rock, and Many Comanche Warriors

Photo: envato elements

Later in life, Hays commanded the 1st Regiment of Texas Mounted Volunteers during the Mexican American War, as well as fighting in the Battles of Monterrey and Mexico City. He also led a gold rush wagon train in 1849, served San Francisco County sheriff, surveyed out the city of Oakland, and was a delegate to the 1876 National Democratic Convention. Hays County, near Austin, is titled in his honor. Additionally, the outside of Dallas’s Hall of State, features a native limestone frieze with the carved names of 59 famous past Texans. On the front left, you will find the name John Coffee “Jack” Hays.