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.
McDonald was born in Kemper County, Mississippi, September 28, 1852.
After the Civil War, Bill, his mother and other relatives moved to Texas,
settling on a farm near Henderson in Rusk County. Graduating from Soule's
Commercial College in New Orleans in 1872, he taught penmanship in Henderson
until starting a small store at Brown's Bluff. He later established
a grocery at Mineola.
While attempting to succeed as a businessman,
McDonald supplemented his living by working as a peace officer. In the
1880s he served as a deputy sheriff in Wood County. After moving to
Hardeman County, he served as deputy sheriff, special Ranger, and U.
S. Deputy Marshal of the Northern District of Texas and the Southern
District of Kansas.
In 1891 McDonald was selected to replace S.
A. McMurry as Captain of Company B, Frontier Battalion. He served as
a Ranger captain until 1907. Capt. McDonald and his company took part
in a number of celebrated cases including the Fitzsimmons-Maher prize
fight, the Wichita Falls bank robbery, the Reese-Townsend feud, and
the Brownsville Raid of 1906. His handling of the troops of the 25th
U.S. Infantry during this last incident made him known as "a man
who would charge hell with a bucket of water." He had a reputation
as a gunman that rested upon his his marksmanship, and his ability
to use his weapons to intimidate his opponents. McDonald is known
as one of the "Four Great Captains." The others being John
H. Rogers, John R. Hughes and John A. Brooks.
In 1905, McDonald served as bodyguard to President
Theodore Roosevelt. In 1907, Governor Campbell made him a state revenue
agent. He again fulfilled the role of bodyguard in 1912 for a visit
by Woodrow Wilson. Later Wilson appointed him U. S. Marshal for the
Northern District of Texas.
Bill McDonald died of pneumonia on January
15, 1918 at Wichita Falls. He is buried at Quanah. On his tombstone
is carved the following motto: "No man in the wrong can stand up
against a fellow that's in the right and keeps on a-comin'."
Suggestions for further reading:
The New Handbook of Texas, Austin:
Texas State Historical Commission, 1996, Vol. 4
Albert Bigelow Paine, Captain Bill McDonald,
Texas Ranger, New York: Little and Ives, 1909
Walter Prescott Webb, The Texas Rangers,
W. W. Sterling, Trails and Trials of
a Texas Ranger, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1968
Frederick Wilkins, The law comes to Texas,
Austin: State House Press, 1999
Walter Prescott Webb Papers, Center for American
History, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas
Vertical files, Texas Ranger Research Center,
Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, Waco, Texas.