These five Texas Rangers at camp near Alice most likely investigated cattle rustling claims from the legendary King Ranch, which, as Emmett Robuck’s story shows, could bring an early visit from the Grim Reaper.
Texas Ranger Cpl. J. Walter Durbin (at right) said he had some 15 good men in Company D, though a few could be a “little fussy and dangerous” when drinking. Private Wood Saunders (at left) measured up splendidly—on both counts. This is one of my favorite photos because it shows how both Rangers carried their six-shooter Colts just forward of the hip, butt to the front, easily permitting a strong-hand cross draw.
This classic photo was taken either before or after the famous 1892 shoot-out in Shafter, Texas, where the Texas Rangers had been sent to protect a silver mine. (Standing, from left) Robert “Bob” Speaks and Jim Putman. (Seated, from left) Alonzo Van “Lon” Oden and John R. Hughes. Ira Aten had recommended Hughes to the Texas Rangers after Hughes ably assisted him in the 1886 pursuit of murderer Wes Colliers.
Harry Wheeler was the third and last captain of the Arizona Rangers. Wheeler enlisted as a private in 1903 and worked his way up the ranks to captain in 1907. Wheeler and Jeff Kidder, both experts with a pistol, were the Rangers’ top guns.
Private Bill Foster wears his Arizona Ranger badge and holds the standard Ranger 1895 Winchester .30-40 lever-action rifle as he stands to the left of Deputy Sheriff Clark Farnsworth in 1903. Two years later, Farnsworth would enlist with the Rangers.
Make no mistake about this “Rawhide Ranger.” Though posed in a photographer’s studio—with weapons prominently displayed as attention-grabbing props—Texas Ranger Ira Aten was a man fearlessly capable of standing alone during a dicey tumult, proving to be one nervy adversary throughout a number of gunfights.
Captain J.A. Brooks (far left) stands with some of his Texas Rangers at their Company A headquarters in Alice. At the age of 23, Emmett Robuck joined the Texas Rangers and enlisted in the force under Brooks.
Tom Rynning was appointed second captain of the Arizona Rangers in 1902; the following year, he posed for this photograph. Rynning was in the U.S. Cavalry during the Indian Wars, where he was engaged in 17 battles across the West. He was a lieutenant in the Rough Riders and was appointed to lead the Rangers by Gov. Alexander Brodie, who was his lieutenant colonel in the Rough Riders.
Statistically, the odds were stacked against this unsuspecting cluster of lawmen. At least five of these Company D Texas Rangers would die violently at the hands of others and, for that reason, this photo is among my top 10. (Standing, from left) Jim King, Bass Outlaw, Riley Boston, Charley Fusselman, Tink Durbin, Ernest Rogers, Charles Barton and Walter Jones. (Seated, from left) Bob Bell, Cal Aten, Captain Frank Jones, J. Walter Durbin, Jim Robinson and Frank L. Schmid.
The badges worn by the Rangers were five-point silver stars with “Arizona Rangers” engraved on the front. Officers had their ranks engraved on the front, while privates were assigned numbers. This early 1900s group of Arizona Rangers includes Capt. Thomas H. Rynning, shown third from left. Between 1901 and 1909, when the force disbanded, 107 men served in the Rangers. The average age was 33; the youngest was 22.