At the end of a lengthy public probe into charges of corruption and criminal misdeeds, the question Lone Star legislators faced on April 2, 1919 was whether to do away with the Texas Rangers altogether or to give the legendary lawmen one more chance to clean up their act.
This is the subject of “This Week in Texas HIstory” for Wednesday, April 2 through Tuesday, April 8. If your local newspaper does not carry this longest running feature of its kind, you can read it each and every week with your very own private email subscription available on this web site.
Leander McNelly, famous Texas Ranger captain, walked into a U.S. cavalry camp near the Rio Grande on November 17, 1875 and asked to “borrow” the idle troopers if the officer in charge did not intend to pursue Mexican rustlers across the river.
Though barely in his twenties, the Virginian commanded one of the last units of Texas Confederates to disband at the end of the Civil War. Less than two years after the successful recovery of stolen cattle in the “Las Cuevas War,” McNelly died from tuberculosis at the the age of 33.
Texas Ranger Capt. Samuel Walker was killed on October 9, 1847 at the Battle of Huamantla by an unseen sniper firing a shotgun from a balcony.
Walker is best known as the co-inventor along with Samuel Colt of the six-shot revolver. At his own expense, Walker went to New York to take a direct part in the design of the new handgun that made the Rangers even more of a force to be reckoned with in the war with Mexico.
Future silent movie cowboy Tom Mix enlisted in the Texas Rangers on September 22, 1905, according to his official biography. Problem is that claim was a complete fabrication!
Mix, who also was an Army deserter, appeared in nearly 300 films, all but nine silent, between 1909 and 1935. The Pennsylvania native was among the most popular movie stars of the Twenties and remains the iconic sagebrush hero.
Those were the words of Ira Aten, the Texas Ranger chiefly responsible for bringing Dick Duncan to justice.
From the start, Aten suspected Duncan of killing four family members from San Saba that he was escorting to Mexico in February 1888. It took a month in the saddle covering 1,500 miles on horseback to break the case and pin the murders on Duncan, who was hanged in the Maverick County jail on September 18, 1891 in the only execution ever carried out in that border county.