Spiritual Lessons From The American West
Today it is known as the Texas Ranger Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Since its inception in the early days of Texas history under the leadership of Stephen F. Austin, it has been an integral part of Texas history and tradition. The Texas Rangers is the oldest statewide law enforcement agency in the United States. In 1823, Austin hired ten men to protect several hundred newly-arrived families following the Mexican War of Independence. These men soon acquired the name, “Rangers.” The Rangers gained official status and the title of “Texas Rangers” in 1835. Robert M. Williamson had the honor of being chosen their first major. Within two years, their number was raised to over three hundred men.
One of the duties of the Texas Rangers was to protect white settlers from the attacks of local Indian bands. They participated in skirmishes with Indians through 1846, when Texas was annexed into the United States and US Calvary took over that aspect of their work.
Several companies of Rangers were called upon to serve during the Mexican-American War of 1846. Serving as guides, participating in guerrilla warfare, and serving as fighting units in major battles, the Texas Rangers soon gained a distinguished reputation on both sides of the border. John Jackson Tumlinson Sr. was the first, but far from the last Texas Ranger to be killed in the line of duty.
Though disbanded and reorganized on numerous occasions through the years and various administrations, the Texas Rangers continued to serve the great Lone Star State with great honor.
Following the secession of Texas in 1861, many Rangers enlisted to fight for the Confederacy in the War Between the States. During the years between 1870 and 1873, the Texas Rangers were replaced by the Texas State Police, which were controlled by the carpetbag government of Texas. Soon overrun by graft and corruption, this unit was disbanded in dishonor and the newly elected governor, Richard Coke recommissioned the Texas Rangers and placed them under the Texas state legislature.
It was primarily during the years that followed that many of the great stories and myths of the Texas Rangers were born. During those years they captured or killed numerous notorious outlaws like the noted bank robber, Sam Bass and the celebrated gunfighter, John Wesley Hardin. During these years they again added to their fast-growing reputation by their part in the defeat of the feared Comanche, Kiowa and Apache Indians.
Though the Texas Rangers were some of the greatest heroes of the American West, they were still men and, as such, fallible. The greatest hero of all is infallible, inexhaustible, and incorruptible. He never changes and never gives up on His children, for is “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Heb. 13:8)
Continued next month