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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tidbits about Texas and the Texas Rangers.


Phyliss Miranda
USA Today and New York Times Bestselling Author

I love the Texas Rangers ... how about you?  Until I began writing, I didn’t even know other states had rangers, particularly Arizona, but there’s just something about a Texas Ranger that I love to pieces. 

Since 1823, the Texas Rangers have represented the highest ideals of Texas and America to admirers around the world. Individually, they are some of the most colorful heroes in American history. Together, they brought peace to an untamed frontier, and in the process became one of the most famous and respected crime-fighting forces anywhere. 

Hitler and the Texas Rangers.  The name “Rangers” is synonymous with the Texas Rangers, and never was it more clear than during WWII. On August 19, 1942, three Commando units of the British 2nd Canadian Division landed in France. The purpose was to create an illusion of a major invasion and force Hitler to halt troops bound for the Russian front. However, somewhere along the line the British Commandos became the Texas Rangers. Apparently the confusion came with leaks that a special American combat unit, the legendary U.S. Army Rangers, who were modeled after the successful British Commandos, had invaded. Hitler was rumored to have watched Amerikanische westliche Filme (American westerns), and only knew of the Texas Rangers who were depicted in American movies played in European theaters during the 20’s and 30’s. As a result, the only American "Rangers" known to Hitler were heroic men in white hats, who single-handedly cleaned up entire towns with blazing guns.  Ironically, the Texas Rangers did volunteer to go to Europe but were not allowed to do so by our military. For a short period of time, thanks to rumor, the legend of the Texas Rangers offered hope to the residents of occupied France, two years before the Allies successfully landed on the beaches of Normandy.  

Texas Ranger uniform.  Before the 1950’s there was no official uniform, although some companies tried to administer the coordination of outfits that proved unpopular. Traditionally, Texas Ranger clothing is conservative western attire, specifically with white or tan hats, cowboy boots, white western cut shirt, tie, pants and belt.  But there is one requirement. A Ranger must wear an “appropriate” Texas Ranger hat, which is light-colored and shaped in a businessman’s style, commonly called the Rancher or Cattleman. Brims must not exceed 4 inches or be flat with edges rolled up. Hats excessively crushed, rolled, or dipped are not acceptable.  The elite lawmen own both a quality straw and a felt hat to be worn as determined by the weather or assignment. 

The Texas Rangers and the Alamo.  In answer to Col. Travis’ request for assistance in defending the Alamo, a party of Texas Ranges responded. The Gonzales Ranging Company of Mounted Volunteers answered the call, fought, and died alongside the other defenders of the Alamo.

Santa Anna escaped death because he was a Mason. This myth isn’t about the Texas Rangers, but I thought it fit with today’s discussion. Although not all historians agree, this statement can be dispelled by truths. In April of 1836, Santa Anna was captured after the defeat of the Mexican Army at the Battle of San Jacinto, and legend has it that he saved himself from execution by giving secret "Masonic signs" when he was seized, and later when he was brought before General Sam Houston.  Some historians believe that he simply filled the air with Masonic signs and gave a distress signal grip to Houston because he feared for his life. In truth, by using his knowledge of Masonic rituals, the captured Mexican dictator may have appealed to his captors to spare his life. However, they were under no obligation to save him for several reasons. First, Santa Anna had disowned the Masonic fraternity and outlawed its practice in Mexico, thus placing him outside the protection of any Masonic obligations. Secondly, Santa Anna was worth more to Texas alive than dead. Incidentally, President Andrew Jackson and General Houston were members of the same Masonic lodge, the Cumberland Lodge No. 8 in Nashville, Tennessee. Jackson wrote to Houston and asked him to spare Santa Anna's life, reminding Houston that "while he is in your power, the difficulties of your enemy, in raising another army, will be great.... Let not his blood be shed, unless imperious necessity demands it....” Could it be that President Jackson intended to seek humanity and wisdom to halt an enemy?

In western historical romances, Texas Rangers make a terrific hero because of the qualities they are known for.  I have to admit, I love ‘um too, although my favorites to write are crusty ol’ retired Ranger sidekicks.

Whether it’s television, movies, or books, who is your favorite Texas Ranger?




  1. Fascinating. It is always the 'little' pieces of history that catch my eye and stir the imagination. These were no exception. Regardless of the truth, but I always try to find out for sure, oh the stories you can tell. Thank you. Doris

    1. Hi Doris, that's the way I am. I love research and the more tidbits I pick up along the way, the more they end up in a book! My favorite is Hitler being scared of the Texas Rangers. They are really cool and although the majority could be my son or grandson, I get all goofy feeling when I see a Ranger! They are just cool. Have a great day. Phyliss

  2. Hi Phyliss,
    Thanks for these great historical tidbits. I'm guilty of using Texas Rangers as heroes. There's just something about them. As for the Santa Anna info, very interesting. :-)

  3. Phyliss, I loved this post. I've been swamped the last couple of days and just made it over, but that's the great thing about the internet, right? What fantastic historical tidbits! Santa Anna and his Masonic signs, yet! Who knew? That's food for thought, isn't it?