Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum: 1-35 and University Parks Drive | PO Box 2570, Waco, TX 76702-2570 | (254) 750-8631
Ranger Hall of Fame
The HALL OF FAME is the State designated memorial of the Texas Ranger service, commemorating the service and sacrifices of 30 Texas Rangers who gave their lives in the line of duty or made significant contributions to development of the service.
Coffee "Jack" Hays
Hays was born 28 January 1817 at Cedar Lick in Wilson County, Tennessee.
By the age of fifteen he had moved to Mississippi and began to
learn surveying. By mid-1836 Hays was in Texas where he joined
a Ranger company under Erastus "Deaf" Smith. He took part in a skirmish with
the Mexican Cavalry and assisted in the capture of Juan Sánchez. He
was appointed deputy surveyor of the Bexar District. Hays combined
his knowledge of Indian warfare with his rangering.
1840, Hays was appointed a captain of the Rangers. He proved himself
to be a fearless fighter and a good leader of men. His Ranger companies,
often mixed groups of Anglos, Hispanics and Indians, engaged in
battles and skirmishes with both the Comanches and other hostile
Indian tribes, as well as Mexican troops, throughout the early
years of the 1840s. Hays and his Rangers were involved in important
actions at Plum Creek, Cañon de Ugalde, Bandera Pass, Painted Rock,
Salado, and Walker's Creek. The battle at Walker's Creek marked
a turning point in Indian warfare with the first effective use
of repeating firearms in close combat with the Comanche.Hays
gained further respect as a fighter during the Mexican War. The First
Regiment, Texas Mounted Riflemen, under the command of Colonel
Jack Hays, served with the army of Zachary Taylor. Hays' men scouted
for the army and took part in the Battle of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon,
Mexico in 1846.
next year, another regiment under Hays helped to keep the communication
and supply lines open between Veracruz and Mexico City for the
troops under Winfield Scott. After the Mexican War, Hays left Texas,
following the gold rush to California in 1849. He was elected as
Sheriff of San Francisco in 1850. In 1853 he was appointed U. S.
Surveyor General for California. He was one of the developers of
Oakland, and held interests in land, banking and utilities. In
1876, Hays was a delegate to the Democratic national convention.
died 21 April 1883 and was interred in the Mountain View Cemetery in
for further reading:
K. Greer, Colonel Jack Hays, New York: Dutton, 1952
Wilkins, The legend begins, Austin: State House Press, 1996
Walter Prescott Webb, The Texas Rangers, Boston: Houghton
Wilkins, The Highly Irregular Irregulars, Austin: Eakin Press,
Vertical files, Texas Ranger Research Center, Texas Ranger Hall of
Fame and Museum, Waco, Texas