One Riot, One Ranger
The Texas Rangers
As anyone who has seen
"Walker, Texas Ranger" on television knows, the Texas Rangers continue
to hold a place of honor in the Texas consciousness. Indeed, the Rangers have
been an integral part of Texas frontier legend. The Texas Rangers are one of the
oldest law enforcement organizations on the North American continent.
Founded by Stephen F Austin in 1823
They originated as "rangering companies" to provide protection against Indians on the western frontier of Texas. Stephen F. Austin hired the first ten Texas Rangers in 1823 to protect the settlers in his colony. They played an important role in the Texas War for Independence from Mexico and evolved into a paramilitary force that primarily fought Indians and patrolled the Mexican border. During the Civil War, with thousands of Texans off fighting with the Confederate Army, frontier protection was afforded by a "Regiment of Rangers." Even it eventually became part of the Confederate Army and Terry's Texas Rangers became one of the South's most revered fighting units.
"Reconstruction" period following defeat in the Civil War, Texas
citizens were stripped of control of the state. For all practical purposes,
there were no Texas Rangers for nearly a decade after the war. The state was
left under the "protection" of a Union occupation army and the
unelected government they imposed. Texas, like other Southern states in the
throes of reconstruction, distrusted any authority, civil or military. A period
of lawlessness ensued with looting, robbery and murder reaching unprecedented
proportions, earning Texas its "Wild West" image.
Restored Law & Order
Upon the re-admittance of Texas into the Union in 1876 and the return to a freely elected government, the Rangers played an integral part in restoring law and order to Texas. It was during this period that legend records a Texas Ranger stepping down from a train in a riot-torn town and being met by the locals who said, "They only sent one Ranger?" His reply, "You only got one riot, don't you?" assured the Rangers' place in Texas lore. "One riot, one Ranger" personifies the image of the Texas Rangers held by Texans.
Museum and Hall of Fame in Waco
The Texas Rangers currently operate as the elite investigative branch of the Texas Department of Public Safety. A Texas Ranger Museum and Hall of Fame is located in Waco. It is part of the recreated Fort Fisher, a Ranger outpost established in 1837 along the banks of the Brazos River. Fort Fisher is now the headquarters of Ranger Company F. The museum includes exhibits tracing the history of the Rangers, including audiovisual presentations, dioramas, and paintings. There is also a library, a collection of Ranger memorabilia and gun collections. The Hall of Fame honors twenty-six exemplary Rangers.