Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum: 1-35 and University Parks Drive | PO Box 2570, Waco, TX 76702-2570 | (254) 750-8631
Ranger Hall of Fame
The HALL OF FAME is the State designated memorial of the Texas Ranger service, commemorating the service and sacrifices of 30 Texas Rangers who gave their lives in the line of duty or made significant contributions to development of the service.
J. "Johnny" Klevenhagen
1912 - 1958
Klevenhagen was born on June 12, 1912 near New Braunfels, Comal County,
Texas. As a young boy, Johnny came in contact with the Texas Rangers while
they were tracking cattle rustlers on the ranches near his home. He determined
then that he wanted to grow up to be a Texas Ranger. He worked on his
father's ranch until he was 16, then moved to San Antonio where he worked
for the San Antonio Electric Company.
At 17, Klevenhagen applied to be a San Antonio motorcycle policeman. Since
he did not meet the minimum age requirement, he grew a mustache, obtained
a poll tax receipt with his name on it, and passed for 18. Besides serving
on the Bexar County Highway Patrol, Klevenhagen also served as a Bexar
County deputy constable, a criminal investigator in he Bexar County sheriff's
department and as a criminal investigator for the Bexar County District
Attorney's office. During his tenure in county law enforcement, Johnny
gained a reputation as a persistent and dogged investigator, who would
not shoot unless shot at and a man whose word could be trusted. Klevenhagen
worked many sensational cases including the case of Alligator Joe - a
man known to have committed at least two murders and who was suspected
of having fed more than just stray dogs and cats to his pet alligators.
In 1941 Klevenhagen's boyhood dream came true when he received a Texas
Ranger commission. He was assigned to Company A, serving out of Houston.
During his years in Houston, Klevenhagen worked a variety of high profile
cases. He was involved in the investigations that would eventually lead
to the down fall of the "Duke of Duval," George Parr. He also worked to
keep organized crime out of Houston and led many of the strikes against
illegal gambling operation in Galveston. Besides being an accomplished
horseman and marksman, Klevenhagen was a licensed pilot and well-versed
in the sciences of ballistics, fingerprints, and forensic investigation.
He was promoted to Captain in September 1957.
As with many Rangers, Klevenhagen pushed himself to the limit of his health
and endurance. In December 1957 he suffered a heart attack after the funeral
of a friend. After leaving the hospital and resuming his duties, he was
stricken with another attack on November 15, 1958 and died on November
26, 1958 at age 46. Following a funeral service in Houston, his body was
taken to San Antonio for a second service. He is buried in the Mission
Burial Park in San Antonio, Texas. Suggestions for further reading:
Douglas V. Meed, Texas Ranger Johnny
Klevenhagen, Plano, TX; Republic of Texas Press, 2000
Vertical Files, Texas Ranger Research Center,
Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, Waco, Texas