This history of the Texas Rangers as an agency of law enforcement is a complicated one and the historical record is not neutral. This research guide attempts to avoid perpetuating inherent bias, power, and racism and promotes the researcher's candid evaluation and interrogation of the historical record. While UTRGV Special Collections & Archives is tasked with access and preservation of our collections, we do not approve, endorse, or support the attitudes, prejudices, or behaviors found among these materials.
This research guide seeks to provide researchers with information regarding the early history of the Texas Rangers by providing students with suggestions for primary or secondary source materials, including archival and digital collections, books and episodes for further research. This guide only contains information about the organization’s history and origins, not the modern iteration of the Texas Rangers. (See also Lynching of Ethnic Mexicans.)
Founded in 1823 by Stephen F. Austin, the Texas Rangers is a law enforcement agency with statewide jurisdiction that started out as a group of citizens, who served as the first protectors of the Texas frontier following the Mexican War of Independence.
The Texas Rangers would go through several changes after its initial inception. In 1835 the Rangers would be split into three companies consisting of a captain and 56 men. The Rangers were mostly tasked with protecting the Texas frontier settlers from Native Americans and took part in many historic battles such as the Battle of Plum Creek in 1840.
The Texas Ranger companies also played a role in the Texas Revolution, Mexican American War, U.S. Civil War, and the Mexican Revolution. During this time the Rangers reputation would spread further throughout Texas, serving as both a military unit and a police force.
John Randall Peavey, 1892-1985. During his long career in law enforcement he served as a deputy sheriff, as chief scout for the U.S. Army border troops from 1916 to 1920, and as assistant chief of the Valley sector of the U.S. Border Patrol. He also served as a Texas Ranger and after his retirement, he continued to hold a commission as a special Ranger.
See also the John R. Peavey Scrapbook. Scrapbook of John R. Peavey reflecting his days as a U. S. Border Patrolman in the Rio Grande Valley. WARNING: Graphic content and offensive language are present.
Texas Rangers: Mostly newspaper clippings and articles from the 1950s about the early history of the Texas Rangers.
Anderson Yancey "A.Y." Baker (1874-1930) A. Y. Baker joined the Texas Rangers in 1896.
The born-digital collection consists of images and recordings of the Jesus Bazán and Antonio Longoria marker dedication ceremony. This marker commemorates the double murder of Jesus Bazán and his son-in-law, Antonio Longoria, on September 27, 1915 along a dirt road near their ranch outside of Edinburg.
John Randall Peavey (Parts 1-9), 1981. Peavey reflects on his life history spanning the early family history and 1905-1915 period through his Sheriff's campaign of 1946. This interview was conducted by Hubert J. Miller in between December 22-23, 1981.
Delia Ramirez Alaniz Oral History, 1987. Delia Ramirez Alaniz talks about life as a child: family, education, religion, and funerals in Havanna, Texas. She also talks about marriage and land grants. Additionally, she talks about how one of her teachers stated a Tabasco school on fire, how Texas Rangers killed a Mexican, Patricio Perez and Senovia Perez, A.Y. Baker of Edinburg, how Juan Cortina is a relative, Clay Henry Davis, Josefa De La Garza Perez, land title for Fort Ringold, Porciones 70, 71, 72, 78, 80, 81, 88, 104, the history of Havana, Matias Tijerina, the Walkers, and how the Great Depression wasn't felt in the ranches. Interview conducted in Spanish by Ruben Alaniz in 1987.
Antonio Villegas Sr. Oral History, 1978-09-10. Antonio Villegas Sr. talks about Los Tubitos Ranch, Aniceto Pizana, Luis De La Rosa, Las Norias raid, Captain W.M. Hanson, land selling, 1915 Olmito railroad derailment, Texas Rangers, Military Highway, Juan Cortina, Jesus Acevedo, ca1915 burning, and Japanese soldiers who came to South Texas. Oral recording took place on 10 September, 1978 in Pharr, Texas.
Maria Brewster Castillo, 1987. Mary Brewster Castillo (1916-1998) tells how the Brewster family came from Mississippi or Alabama in covered wagons during the late 1800's. Her father was John Manuel Brewster, a Texas Ranger and physician. She talks in great detail about memories of her father and the early history Hidalgo County and Chapin (prior to Edinburg), including how people traveled between Texas and Mexico. She discusses A.Y. Baker, former Texas Ranger and mayor of Edinburg. Interview conducted on 31 March 1987 by Norma Linda Canales. Learn more about Mary.
Explore the rich historical heritage of the Rio Grande Valley. The series includes articles written by scholars from a variety of institutions across the United States and Northern Mexico. Users can browse or search the collection for relevant articles.
William Bennett is a former student assistant at Special Collections & Archives. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in mass communication at UTRGV with minors in history and anthropology. William hopes to pursue a career in either broadcast or print journalism in the future, but he still has an interest in history. During his time with Special Collections & Archives, William collaborated and assisted with the creation of several exhibits and events and compiled resources for research guides.
The research guides compiled by UTRGV staff and students are intended to assist patrons who are embarking upon new research endeavors. Our goal is to expand their knowledge of the types of resources available on a given topic, including books, archival materials, and websites. In so doing, our compilers have taken care to include collections, digital items, and resources that may be accessed not only through UTRGV but also via other institutions, repositories, and websites.
We wholeheartedly respect the research interests of others. Therefore, please contact us if you wish to submit a resource for consideration, or if you have a question about or an issue with a specific cited resource.
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