The Official Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, Texas
Ranger History: Historic Badges of the Texas Rangers

Historic Badges of the Texas Rangers

Frank Hamer's 1915 Warrant of Authority © 1999 The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum
    

When the Frontier Battalion and Special Force were formed in 1874, it was difficult for Texas Rangers to establish their authority. The State of Texas Adjutant General's Office began issuing Warrants of Authority -- impressive paper documents kept folded in their pockets -- to officers but not to enlisted men. This practice continued, in one form or another, until 1935 when badges and credentials were specified for all Texas Rangers.

 

 

 






Earliest Authenticated Texas Ranger Badge circa 1889

The first Texas Ranger badges were made for individual Rangers from Mexican coins at their request. Some were probably made by jewelers, others may have been made by gunsmiths or metalworkers. The legend of Rangers cutting them out These first badges were used as a means of identifying Rangers in the midst of feuds and disputes that might involve several law enforcement agencies, or where hired guns were introduced. Photographs taken in the 1870s through the 1920s show that there was a great variety of badges and that comparatively few Rangers wore badges.

Texas Ranger Badges about 1910-1925 © 1999,
the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum

The "shield" badge worn on the left was carried by "Special" Railroad Ranger Milton Poole in the 1920s. He had similar authority to regular Texas Rangers, but was paid by the railroad instead of the state. Shield badges were rarely worn by Rangers and are rare. The word "State" served to establish a wide jurisdiction The center badge was worn by Ranger D.E. Haines during Prohibition, a small circle-star or wagon wheel badge with T-E-X-A-S spelled out in the Center. The word "Texas" served to establish statewide jurisdiction the same way "State" did on the above badge. The badge on the right was worn by Ranger Marvin "Red" Burton. It is believed to be a "Stock" design sold to law enforcement agents through catalogs.


Texas Ranger Badge used from 1938-1957
©1997 The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum

Shortly after the Texas Rangers were merged with the Department of Public Safety, a new badge design was issued by the state. Roughly oval-shaped, it contained the legend "Dept. of Public Safety", the letters T-E-X-A-S and a star with the rank in the center. Captains were issued gold badges, lower ranks received silver.

BADGES WITH HISTORY

Texas Department of Public Safety
1957

The following article was released by the Texas Department of Public Safety in 1957 when the Texas Rangers were issued the above blue badges. They proved to be very unpopular, and were called the "bottle cap" badges."

About the first of July, 1957, members of the Texas Department of Public Safety donned new badges, marking another milestone in the 134-year--old history of state law enforcement in Texas.

The change to the new badge presents a streamlined version of the very first in badges for state lawmen who find their beginning in the "Texas Rangers in the year 1823 when Stephen F. Austin appointed 10 "Rangers" to protect settlers from Indians.

Badges have been part of the equipment of law enforcement officers for hundreds of years. They and originated in ancient times when the armored knights wore a insignia to announce their official status and allegiances.

No one knows exactly how the badge got its start in Texas and little is known of the type of badge that was first carved from Mexican silver dollars by Rangers who rode across the southern and western parts of Texas, fighting Indians and Mexicans.

The name Rangers was applied to the group selected in 1823 for their chore of "riding the range" of "ranging about the country" fighting Indians. The first Rangers were successful in their mission of Indian fighting and were officially adopted as the law enforcement body for the people of Texas in 1835. But the Rangers were not to have official badges until 1935.

The circle-star badge is believed to be related to the adoption of the state seal. A letter written by Charles B. Stewart in 1835, now in the Texas State Archives, states that he used a pearl button in the shape of a five-pointed star to make an impression in wax as the first state seal. This was during the convention of Texans who met to proclaim their independence from Mexico. They also sent three men, Sam Houston, John Cameron and John Forbes to parlay, with the Indians. The impromptu-wax seal created by Stewart, who served as secretary of the convention, was on their commissions.

As Stewart stated it in his letter of 1835, the star is "A fitting emblem of a new star arisen-in the galaxy of states (nations)." Thus, marked the beginning of a five-pointed star officially accepted in the flag of the "Lone Star State," and the first state law enforcement badge.

The new badge of the Texas DPS, placed into service around July 1 (figure 1), is a modern version of the old Ranger badge with a five-pointed star surrounded with a royal blue background and silver or gold letters that spell out TEXAS. The lettering on the outer circle is in royal blue and the background is gold or silver, depending upon the wearer's rank.

TEXAS RANGERS NOW WEAR NEW BADGES
OF MEXICAN SILVER
October, 1962

The following article was released by the Texas Department of Public Safety in 1962 when the Texas Rangers were issued the current gold and silver badges.

Colonel Homer Garrison, Jr., Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety and Chief of the Texas Rangers, announced in October, .1962, that the Texas Rangers are going back to the tradition steeped Mexican silver badge worn by their predecessors during frontier days.

Garrison said the new official Ranger badge, issued to each of the 62 members of the Force, is a replica of the historic original badge which old-time Rangers carved out of a Mexican five peso silver dollar when Texas became a State and their duties changed from military to law enforcement.

The best information available indicates that the five-pointed star on the badge symbolized the "Lone Star" of Texas. The points are supported by an engraved wheel, which is termed the "wagon-wheel" badge.

Each badge is made from a Mexican five Peso silver coin. The oak leaves on the left side represent strength and the olive branch on the right signifies peace. These are taken from the Texas Great Seal. The cutout center star has engraving on it and the center of the star is reserved for the Company designation or the rank of Sergeant or Captain or Senior Captain. The edges still often have the coin lines and the coin is still highly visible on the reverse of the badge. The five point "Lone Star" with a "wheel" around it is common in Ranger and other Texas badges from the late 1800's.

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The Official Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, Texas