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 Texas : Features : Columns : All Things Historical


A RANGER'S RANGER

by Archie P. McDonald, PhD
Archie McDonald, PhD

Texas Rangers are icons of Texas history and folklore. The first Rangers were hired by Stephen F. Austin to "range" about his colony in the 1820s to protect it from hostile Indians. Texas Rangers fought so fiercely during the Mexican War that they were called Diablos--devils by opponents, and one of the better units in the Civil War was known as Terry's Texas Rangers.

"The Lone Ranger" starring Brace Beemer was an important radio program in the 1930s and 1940s, an early television program featured the late Clayton Moore in the same role, and today "Walker, Texas Ranger," remains a long running prime time show. The traditional "One Riot, One Ranger" conveys the mystique of these ultimate lawmen who are unique to Texas.

Robert Nieman has written an insightful book with Texas Ranger Glenn Elliott titled Glenn Elliott: A Ranger's Ranger. Elliott was born in Flat Springs, Texas, near Bonham and the Oklahoma border, in 1926. He was educated in the Windom schools and received an appointment to West Point, but did not attend because "at fifteen I was too young...and by the time I was old enough I didn't want to go." Instead he served in the Army, married, and worked in various jobs before settling on a career in law enforcement.

Elliott became a Texas Highway Patrol officer in 1949 and a Ranger in 1961; primarily he worked in the Longview-Marshall area. Elliott turned down opportunities for advancement to captain, choosing instead to remain in field work where he felt he was effective.

Elliott helped solve murders and apprehend fugitives, as one would expect, but he also was involved with school integration cases and maintaining law and order during labor disputes at Lone Star Steel. He helped protect presidents, senators, and governors when they visited his area.

When Elliott retired from the Rangers in 1987 he was given a tribute by Paul Harvey, who had become a fishing buddy of Elliott's, on his nationally syndicated radio show.

Attitudes toward Texas Rangers among other Texans depends on many things, especially whether or not one is a law breaker or a law abider. Both sides respected Glenn Elliott.


All Things Historical
OCTOBER 22-28, 2000
Published by permission.

(Archie P. McDonald is Director of the East Texas Historical Association and author or editor of more than 20 books on Texas)

 
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