W. L. “Will” Wright
1868 – 1942
William Lee Wright was born in Lockhart, Texas, February 19, 1868. He was reared in Dewitt County, before moving to Wilson County. At the age of 24, Wright became deputy sheriff of Wilson county until he joined the Rangers. From this point forward Wright served in law enforcement in one capacity or another for the rest of his life.
W. L. Wright joined the Frontier Battalion in 1898 continuing to serve in the State Rangers until 1902. In 1917, after serving for fifteen years as sheriff of Wilson County, he was appointed as Captain of Company “D” Texas Rangers, stationed out of Laredo. He was authorized to recruit sixteen men, purchase a team and wagon, pack mules and camping equipment. Their main duty was patrolling the Mexican border and the brush country of south Texas.
During prohibition Capt. Wright’s Rangers were instrumental in capturing bootleggers smuggling tequila into Texas from Mexico. In 1925 Wright retired, but in 1927 he voluntarily returned to service and served as a Captain until his final retirement — at age 71 — in 1939.
In submitting his resignation after 39 years in the Rangers Capt. Wright wrote: “I am proud that I served my beloved state as Captain of the Rangers. I am proud that I have served with some of the best men on the border.”
Wright returned to Floresville, Texas where he died on March 7, 1942, at the age of 74.
Suggestions for further reading:
- William W. Sterling, Trails and Trials of a Texas Ranger, Norman, 1968
- Maude Gilliland, Horsebackers of the Brush Country
- Maude Gilliland, Wilson County Rangers, 1977
- Vertical Files, Armstrong Texas Ranger Research Center, Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, Waco, TX