Between 1-13 November 1835, some 31 Texas colonists, calling themselves Texians (many of them from Tennessee), met to discuss and decide what to do about grievances with Mexico. Frontier defense was a major problem–Indian raids and general lawlessness both plagued these democratic settlers. And provision for the Texas Rangers was included in the Organic Law of the Republic of Texas signed on 13 November 1835.
The Texas Rangers were founded by a hand-written call-to-arms from Stephen F. Austin. The Governor of Tejas, Jose Trespalacios, had approved the formation of a small force of militia to protect settlers from marauding Indians.
The first group of Rangers, referred to as a ranging company, included American frontiersmen, Mexican vaqueros, and a few friendly Indian scouts. But this militia was inadequate to the need as settlers from the American states flooded into Texas over the next few years.
As the discussion proceeded, the number of Rangers was to be 25, then 35, and finally set at a battalion of 150, divided into three detachments under the command of a Major. The Rangers were a military force for the express purpose of frontier protection.
Over the next 100 years, with changes in the law in 1844, 1874, 1901, 1911, and 1935 (amended in 1937), the Texas Rangers moved from the jurisdiction of the Adjutant General to the Department of Public Safety under a Public Safety Commission. From a largely volunteer frontier militia force to a highly trained, paid law enforcement organization recognized world-wide for its special nature.
Most of us owe our knowledge of these Rangers to John Wayne and Chuck Norris.
Afton Reintjes, who worked with me for many years and still accepts phone calls for me when I am out of town, has researched George Washington Smith. This worthy ancestor served not only in the Texas Rangers. He was a veteran of the War of 1812, First Seminole War, 1816-18, the War for Texas Independence, the Mexican War, and served in the Greys during the War Between the States (Civil War). And he may have served in Johnston’s Army to Utah. General Johnston was in Collin County TX when he received orders to take that mission–and if George Washington Smith was available, Afton is certain he would have served. She hasn’t found a roster yet to confirm it!
A few years back, she was instrumental to getting a Texas Star/DAR headstone for his grave.
If you suspect that an ancestor or other relative may have served in the Texas Rangers, contact the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, I-35 and University Park Drive, PO Box 2570, Waco TX 76702-2570. 254-750-8631 http://www.texasranger. org
This website is beautifully organized with the right links and access to lists of men, history, books to buy, and bibliography. Your favorite Tennessee genealogist, Arlene Eakle http://arleneeakle.com
PS If your Tennessee ancestor had kin who joined the Texas Rangers, their files and data may unlock your pedigree. So please don’t conclude that this archive has nothing for you until you check it! In a library survey at the Fort Worth Public Library conducted by Donald Martin, then Genealogy Librarian, over 75% of Texas respondents were seeking Tennessee ancestors. Break your losing Streak!
PPS Even if you don’t have a true Texian in your family, check the Texas Rangers for your Tennessee roots.