The Official Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, Texas
Texas Ranger Research Center: The Texas Rangers - A Select Annotated Bibliography

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The Texas Rangers: A Select Annotated Bibliography

Compiled and Annotated
by Christina Stopka, Librarian/Archivist
Rebekkah Lohr, Former Curatorial Assistant

Photo of Retired Captains John R  Hughes and Ira Aten
Retired Captains John R. Hughes and Ira Aten
at Aten's ranch in El Centro, California in the 1930s.
© 2004, Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum.

Since the 1840s, hundreds of histories, biographies, autobiographies and works of fiction have been written about the Texas Rangers. The following selected bibliography is recommended as a starting point for people interested in in-depth information on the history and legends of the Texas Rangers. It is sometimes hard to separate fact from fiction, the reality from the legend. Serious students of the Texas Rangers need to be detectives – reading a wide range of books and articles, looking for corroborating evidence of accounts, and bearing in mind the biases and methodologies of the authors.

As new books on the Rangers appear we will update and revise this list. Readers seeking even more information are urged to use the bibliographies found these works and to consult primary and secondary source materials such as unpublished manuscripts, memoirs, newspaper files, and archive and phtograph collections at the Texas State Archives in Austin, the Center for American History in Austin and the Texas Ranger Research Center at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum.

Some of these items are out of print but should be available through your local public or academic library. Books still in print may be available through our Museum Store (1-877-750-8631 toll free US and Canada 9am to 4pm every day).


Cox, Mike. Texas Ranger Tales: Stories That Need Telling. Plano, TX: Republic of Texas Press, 1997.

A collection of interesting and often amusing stories about the Rangers not usually found in books on Ranger history. Mike Cox is currently the Chief Public Information Officer for the Texas Department of Public Safety. A second volume of Texas Ranger Tales is due out soon.

star

Ford, John Salmon. Rip Ford’s Texas. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1963.

Edited by Stephen B. Oates. Ford’s account of his life in Texas and important events in the state’s history. He served as a Ranger in the 1840s and 1850s, continued in military service through the Civil War, and also held political office, in addition to being a doctor, lawyer, and surveyor.

star

Gillett, James B. Six Years with the Texas Rangers, 1875 to 1881. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1987.

Edited by M. M. Quaife. Gillett’s account of his years of service with the Rangers during the early years of the Frontier Battalion. He served in Company D under Capt. Dan W. Roberts and participated in a number of famous incidents, including being an eyewitness to the killing of outlaw Sam Bass.

star Gooding, Ed. Ed Gooding: Soldier, Texas Ranger. Ranger Publishing, 35 Circle Drive, Longview, Texas 75602-4840. xii + 269 pages, profusely illustrated. Index. ISBN 0-9673319-1-9.

Not only was Ed Gooding was one of the finest Texas Rangers of his era, but he was truly one of America’s Greatest Generation.

star

Greer, James Kimmins. Colonel Jack Hays: Texas Frontier Leader and California Builder. New York: E. P. Dutton & Company, Inc., 1952.

John Coffee Hays, one of the most famous of the early Rangers, served during the 1830s and 1840s. He was a distinguished leader during the Mexican War in which he led the Ranger companies. After the war, he headed to California where he helped to found the city Oakland and served as Surveyor General for the state.

star

Hardin, Stephen. The Texas Rangers. London: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 1991.

This volume is part of Osprey’s Military Elite Series written for juveniles. It presents a concise history of the Rangers up to the 1990s. It is heavily illustrated with both photographs and drawings. This is a good beginning book for both children and adults.

star

Harris, Charles H., III and Louis R. Sadler. The Texas Rangers and the Mexican Revolution: The bloodiest Decade, 1910 – 1920. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2004.

A well-researched and unbiased examination of the instability along the Texas-Mexico border during the period of the Mexican Revolution. It is one of the first studies to extensively use archives from the Mexican Government and declassified FBI and other Federal records on the Mexican Revolution and the Plan of San Diego. Although lacking in in-depth analyses and interpretation, the book does a good job of attempting to verify or debunk the many legends regarding the role of the Texas Rangers along the border in the years 1910 – 1920. I so doing it both corrects and adds to what is known of the era.

star

Jenkins, John H. and H. Gordon Frost. “I’m Frank Hamer” The Life of a Texas Peace Officer. Austin: State House Press, 1993.

The story of the famous Ranger, Frank Hamer, who tracked down Bonnie and Clyde. Hamer, known as a gunfighter, served on and off as a Ranger throughout the early 1900s, in addition to other law enforcement duties. The book includes a detailed account of the lives and deaths of the Bonnie and Clyde.

star

Knowles, Thomas W. They Rode for the Lone Star: The Saga of the Texas Rangers. Dallas: Taylor Publishing Company, 1999.

Fully illustrated history of the Texas Rangers from the birth of Texas to the Civil War. Many of the illustrations and photographs used in this book have never been published before.

star

Malsch, Brownson. “Lone Wolf” Gonzaullas, Texas Ranger. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998.

Biography of Captain M. T. “Lone Wolf” Gonzaullas, the famed Ranger who joined the force in 1920. Gonzaullas played a pivotal role in the modernization of Texas law enforcement by setting up the state’s first crime lab and was a model example of a modern Ranger captain.

star

Martinez, Ray. They Call Me Ranger Ray, From the UT Tower Sniper To Corruption In South Texas. New Braunfels, TX: Rio Bravo Publishing, 2004. ISBN 0-9769162-0-6.

One of the deadliest days in American school history was Charles Whitman murderous rampage at the University of Texas tower. Get the real story from the man who stopped him, plus many other important case stories from this memoir of a dedicated Texas Ranger.

star

Moore, Stephen L. Savage Frontier: Volumes I & II 1835 – 1837; Rangers, Riflemen, and Indian Wars in Texas. Plano, TX: Republic of Texas Press, 2002.

These books offer a comprehensive treatment of the Rangers during the first years of the Republic of Texas. In addition to being a good history of these three years, Moore also includes numerous rosters that could be of interest to family historians looking for that elusive Ranger relative.

star

Paine, Albert Bigelow. Captain Bill McDonald, Texas Ranger. Austin: State House Press, 1986.

Biography of Capt. William J. McDonald who served as captain of Company B during the 1890s and early 1900s. He also served in other areas of law enforcement including sheriff and U.S. Marshal.

star

Parsons, Chuck and Marianne E. Hall Little. Captain L. H. McNelly – Texas Ranger – The Life and Times of a Fighting Man. Austin: State House Press, 2001.

A superlative biography of this often controversial figure of Texas Ranger history.

star

Proctor, Ben. Just one riot: episodes of Texas Rangers in the 20th century. Austin: Eakin Press, 1991.

This work covers some of the more famous incidents of Ranger history in the 20th century that illustrate the adage of “one riot, one Ranger.” Starting with Bill McDonald’s handling of the Brownsville riot in 1906, the book conclude with the “Huntsville Siege” of 1974.

star

Roberts, Capt. Dan W. Roberts. Rangers and Sovereignty. Austin: State House Press, 1987.

Capt. Roberts’ account of Ranger life in the 1870s and 1880s. He served as captain of Company D. The book also includes a book written by Roberts’ wife who recounts her life in the Ranger camp.

star

Smith, David Paul. Frontier Defense in the Civil War: Texas Rangers and Rebels. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 1992.

This book analyzes the defense of the Texas Frontier against Indian raiders and army deserters by the varied groups established during the turbulent years of the Civil War. The author makes a good job of distinguishing between those men on the frontier in the hired by the State to do ranging duty and those who were stationed there as soldiers of the Confederate States Army.

star

Spellman, Paul N. Captain John H. Rogers, Texas Ranger. Denton, TX: University of North Texas Press, 2003.

A well-written and readable biography of one of the “four great” Ranger captains, Rogers began serving in the Rangers in the late nineteenth century and made the transition into the Rangers of the twentieth century.

star

Sterling, William Warren. Trails and Trials of a Texas Ranger. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1968.

Sterling was a Ranger in the early 1900s and rose through the ranks to become the adjutant general of Texas in the 1930s. This book chronicles his life and experiences as a Ranger as well as presenting short biographical sketches of some of the Rangers Sterling admired.

star

Utley, Robert M. Lone Star Justice. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

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Webb, Walter Prescott. The Texas Rangers: A Century of Frontier Defense. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985.

First published in 1935, this well-known history of the Rangers covers the first years of the force up to 1935 when the Rangers became a part of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Webb spent many years writing this book and even rode with the Rangers, experiences which he includes in the book. This work is not as readable as some of Webb’s other histories and tends to look at Ranger history through rose-colored glasses.

star

Wilkins, Frederick. Defending the borders: the Texas Rangers 1848-1861. Austin: State House Press, 2001.

Covers the years from the end of the Mexican War to the beginning of the American Civil War. With this work, Wilkins helps to clarify an often confusing period in Ranger history. With the publication of this work, Wilkins finished a four volume set that give an in-depth treatment of the nineteenth Ranger.

star

Wilkins, Frederick. The Highly Irregular Irregulars: Texas Rangers on the Mexican War. Austin: Eakin Press, 1990.

The history of the Rangers during the Mexican War, a time when the Rangers were effective and respected fighters, although often undisciplined and “highly irregular.”

star

Wilkins, Frederick. The Law Comes to Texas: The Texas Rangers 1870-1901. Austin: State House Press, 1999.

Concentrates on the Frontier Battalion era and the important transition of the Rangers from fighting Indians to chasing outlaws. The book includes accounts of famous outlaws Sam Bass and John Wesley Hardin and their captures by the Rangers.

star

Wilkins, Frederick. The Legend Begins: The Texas Rangers, 1823-1845. Austin: State House Press, 1996.

The formative years of the Texas Rangers. In addition to details on battles, Wilkins also gives good information on the weapons and accoutrements of the early Rangers. A very reader friendly history book.

star

In the 1980s and 1990s several biographies and autobiographies of “modern” Rangers have been published. Some of the men covered in these books include:

Elliott, Glenn and Robert Nieman.  Glenn Elliott: A Ranger's Ranger. Self Published, 1999. and Elliott, Glenn and Robert Nieman.  Glenn Elliott: Still A Ranger's Ranger. Self Published, 2003.

Albers, E.G.   Life and Reflections of a Texas Ranger.

E. G. “Butch” Albers, served 1961-1974
E. J. “Jay” Banks, served 1947-1960
Glenn Elliott, served 1961-1987 (2 volumes)
Joaquin Jackson, served 1957 – 1993
Jim Peters, served 1968-1987
Lewis Rigler, served 1947-1977
John M. Wood, served 1949-1978

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