Written by John Mowery for All Things Texas
(c) March 21, 2021
Maney Gault’s career as a Texas Ranger started in 1929 after his friend, Texas Ranger Capt. Frank Hamer, recruited him into the Headquarters Company in Austin. Like Hamer, Gault was as comfortable enforcing the law on horseback as in a patrol car.
All Things Texas has brought many stories of the life of Frank Hamer. But what about his partner Maney Gault? What was his life like?
Ben Maney Gault was born on June 21, 1886, in Travis County, Texas, to John McCain Gault and mother Minnie Rose "Linden" Gault. Maney Gault had been a stock and dairy farmer until crashing milk prices forced him to find work in a sawmill. This is when he began his career at a furniture manufacturing plant in Austin. Not much is written about Maney, in the early part of his life.
What is known is, he would become neighbors with a man by the name of Frank Hamer. As neighbors in the Riverside area of Austin, Hamer and Gault became tight, as did their feisty wives, Gladys and Rebecca. The late Frank Hamer Jr., a preteen then, remembered Gault being as “smooth as satin with a pistol,” but also proficient on the guitar. Captain Hamer was also a competent hill country fiddler, and the two spent many a night playing cards or dominoes, blue grass music, and sharing terse, wry, Texas-style stories.
It was a lively time on Riverside Drive. Hamer, whom Gault called “Pancho,” was a casual and careful sipper while Maney “enjoyed his whiskey” and both were known to “cuss up a storm,” much to the amusement of young Frank Jr., who came to think of Maney Gault as an uncle. This was years before Gault joined the Texas Rangers, but Hamer was already using his friend and neighbor for specialized undercover work. Maney might have been a cow man and mill worker, but Hamer recognized in him the ability to blend in and “talk his way through,” his lack of fear and the principled moral compass that Hamer valued above all else. He could also kick butt, literally, on more than one occasion. Hamer privately put his friend Maney underground during the rough-and-tumble days of Prohibition, illegal gambling and in lawless oil boomtowns like Mexia and Borger.
Three years after his role in tracking down and killing Bonnie and Clyde, Maney Gault returned to the Texas Rangers, earned the rank of captain and served ten years with distinction until his death in 1947.
In 1929 Frank Hamer recruited Gault to become a Texas Ranger. Hamer and Gault worked seamlessly together as Rangers up until Miriam “Ma” Ferguson was reelected as governor of Texas. Hamer and the Rangers had supported rival Governor Ross Sterling, so when the truculent “Ma” won, she fired every Ranger (that is, those who had not already resigned in protest like Hamer and Gault) for their partisanship. Texas became a haven for lawless types, from Machine Gun Kelly to the Barrow Gang. Ma Ferguson was known for generously granting furloughs to prisoners, issuing more than 4,000 pardons during her two non-consecutive terms as governor.
While Gault found work with the Texas Highway Patrol, Hamer took on sporadic detective and security assignments. That’s what he was doing when when Lee Simmons, head of the Texas Prison System, recruited Hamer to hunt down the Barrow Gang. Hamer would want is long time friend Maney Gault to assist him in this challenging task. The rest is history! Maney Gault, and Frank Hamer with the assistance of Louisiana law enforcement would bring Bonnie and Clyde's rampage across the country to an end.
Frank and Maney would remain close friends up until the time of Gault's death. When Gault died in 1947 from an unknown illness, Hamer was present at his funeral to say goodbye to his old friend and eulogize him. According to True West magazine, Hamer said of Gault, "[He was] a 23-karat fellow. He was as loyal a man as there ever could be. Never a better man or truer friend than Maney Gault."