Texas Ranger History: A Brief History of the Texas Rangers - Part I
A Brief History of the Texas Rangers
by Mike Cox
Capt. Frank Hamer on Horseback
© 1999, Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum
Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum
One of the best known Rangers who made the transition from horse to car was Frank H. Hamer. He first joined the Rangers in 1906. Hamer left the force occasionally to take other law enforcement jobs, but by 1921, he was captain of Ranger Co. C, stationed in Del Rio. At the beginning of 1922, he was transferred to Austin, where he would spend the next decade as a Ranger captain.
One of the major problems facing the Rangers during Hamer's tenure as Senior Ranger Captain was bank robbery. The situation got so bad, the Texas Bankers Association offered a standing $5,000 reward for bank robbers. There was one catch--the money would be paid for dead robbers only.
As the Depression took hold in Texas, unscrupulous types began setting up phony holdups, hiring men to rob a bank and then killing them in the act so the reward money could be collected. This was a situation the Rangers could not solve with force. Instead, Hamer went to the press, exposing what was happening. Hamer's move paid off--the banking association's reward policy was changed.
As Senior Ranger Captain, Hamer reported to the state's adjutant general, a man appointed by the governor. A governor also could appoint Rangers, or influence a selection. As governors changed, Ranger leadership usually changed. Though history shows many good men wore the Ranger badge in the 1920s and 1930s, the system was rife with politics and ripe for abuse.
When Gov. Miriam "Ma" Ferguson took office in 1933, Adjutant General W.W. Sterling resigned his office. Forty Rangers, including Capt. Hamer, left with him.