The Official Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, Texas
Texas Ranger History: Timeline - The Ranging Tradition Years1821-1836

Mexican Independence from Spain

Early Mexican Flag
Mexican Flag

Moses Austin is commissioned an empresario by the Mexican government and authorized to bring settlers from the U.S. and Europe to the Mexican territory of Tejas (Texas).

Settlers are offered land in Tejas if they will become naturalized Mexican citizens, adopt the Catholic faith and learn Spanish. After an untimely death, Stephen F. Austin, (Moses Austin's son) assumes the commission.

American and European immigrants stream into the Tejas territory between 1821 and 1829.



Commanche Warrior Comanche Warrior

The Mexican government, wracked by political and economic turmoil following Independence, cannot protect its northern territories from attack by hostile Indians.

The pressure of Indian raids, two companies of "men . . . to act as rangers for the common defense" are formed under Stephen F. Austin's authority as empresario. These men are commonly regarded as the first Texas Rangers.  







Constitutional Flag
Flag of 1824

Mexico enacts a Constitution, based on the U.S. Constitution, establishing a republican government. However, it fails to define the rights of states within the Republic, which will become an issue leading to the Texas Revolution.  




ImageRanger companies engage in skirmishes with bands of Comanche, Karankawa, Waco, Tehuacani and Tonkawa Indians.

The lack of central authority among the various bands of Indians makes distinguishing hostile from peaceful bands difficult.







Mexico refuses an American offer to buy Tejas for $5 million.  




Mexico imposes strict limits on immigration to Texas from the United States. The Central Government fears that runaway immigration will result in Tejas becoming a de facto U.S. Territory.

Although immigration restrictions are later relaxed, this creates a schism between the naturalized Texas settlers and the Mexican Central Government.

Between 1823 and 1836 an estimated 50,000 settlers will arrive in Texas from the United States and Europe.



Illustration Flag of Tejas y Coahuila

June 26, 1832 - The Battle of Velasco is the first conflict between Mexican soldiers and Texas settlers. Mexican commander Domingo de Ugartechea surrenders after running out of ammunition.

Settlers propose recognition of Texas as a Mexican state. The Mexican Central Government rejects their request and Texas remains part of the state of Tejas y Coahuila.

Settlers hold the first of two conventions to protest Mexican Central Government treatment of the Texas settlers.


Illustration Stephen F. Austin

Stephen F. Austin journeys to Mexico City to petition for states' rights. The Vice-president, Gomez Farias, refuses to meet with him because President Santa Anna is never available. After many bureaucratic delays, Austin gives up and leaves for Texas.

On the long return trip, Austin is overtaken by Mexican troops and arrested for inciting revolution. He will be imprisoned without due process until September of 1835. After having pleaded with the Tejas settlers for moderation, he now becomes a fervent believer in the Texas Independence movement.

Samuel Colt patents his design for a revolving pistol, designed as a gentleman's pocket pistol. Although the Texas Rangers will use it with great success in the 1840s, initial sales are lackluster and Colt eventually goes bankrupt.


Illustration Antonio López de Santa
Anna Pérez de Lebrón

In a remarkable coup, President Santa Anna deposes his Vice-president, declares himself Dictator of Mexico, and ultimately suspends the democratic Mexican Constitution of 1824.

The settlers in Tejas view the new dictator, the suspension of the Constitution of 1824, the denial of states rights for Texas, and the imprisonment of Austin as ample justifications for a revolution and Independence.





The Gonzales Flag

September - In a conciliatory gesture, Santa Anna releases Stephen F. Austin from prison.

October 2 - A division of Mexican cavalry is sent to Gonzales to confiscate a cannon originally given to the local settlers for defense against raiding Indians. 51 settlers repulse the Mexican force under a banner bearing the words "Come and Take It." This marks the beginning of the Texas Revolution.

October 9 - Volunteers under George Collingsworth and Ben Milam capture the Mexican presidio (fort) of Goliad, near San Antonio and its supply depot. Volunteers under the command of Stephen F. Austin, camp near San Antonio and begin the Siege of San Antonio de Bexar.

Texas Flag of 1835

November 3 - A provisional Texas government is established by the "Consultation of 1835."

The Consultation authorizes recruiting of 25 Rangers, this is later increased to three companies of 56 men each.

In the coming fighting, loose organization makes it difficult to determine who fought as a member of the "Texian Army" and who served as a Ranger. Ranger and Army units often fight together with the same command structure.

December 9 - Mexican General Cos surrenders San Antonio to the Texian Army.


Alamo Illustration
The Alamo

January - Santa Anna leads the Mexican Army, arguably the best trained and equipped military force in the world, north to put down the rebellion.

February - Col. William B. Travis is sent to San Antonio, just ahead of a large force of Mexican troops, to remove artillery, destroy or remove supplies and perhaps raze the Alamo. His orders are to deny the former mission, and anything of value in it, to the Mexican Army. Finding little of value after the siege of San Antonio, Travis elects to ignore his orders and defend the crumbling walls of the Alamo to buy time for the organization of Texas troops.

James Fanin and his troops ignore orders from President Sam Houston to withdraw from the Presidio of Goliad. Like Travis' forces at the Alamo, they elect to stay and defend the post.

Flag Illustration
San Jacinto Battle Flag
Courtesy Star
of the Republic Museum

March 1- The Gonzales Ranging Company of Mounted Volunteers is the only group to answer Col. Travis' call for assistance in defending the Alamo. This party of Texas Rangers dies alongside the other defenders of the Alamo.

March - A Texas Ranger detachment rescues a child of Sarah Hibbons kidnapped by Comanches.

March 2 - The Texas Declaration of Independence is signed and the Republic of Texas born.

March 6 - After a two-week siege, a Mexican force estimated at 5,000 overwhelms the estimated 190 defenders of the Alamo. All of the defenders perish -- including the Gonzales ranging company and Hispanic citizens opposing Santa Anna's coup.

March 19 - After receiving news of the fall of the Alamo, some 300 Texians at Goliad under Fannin, including Rangers, soldiers and noncombatants, begin a retreat. Unfortunately, it is too late -- Santa Anna catches them on the open prairie and accepts their surrender after a small skirmish.

March 27 - On Palm Sunday, Fannin's entire command is marched into the fields near Goliad and executed at Gen. Santa Anna's order. An estimated 350 are slaughtered, a few escape. The massacres of 540 defenders at the Alamo and Goliad becomes a battle cry for the Texians "Remember the Alamo, Remember Goliad."

From February, until the battle at San Jacinto, the Tumlinson Rangers fight a rearguard action protecting colonists and the fragmented Texian Army retreating in front of the Mexican Army in the "Runaway Scrape."

April 21 - After a long strategic retreat to wear down the Mexican Army and stretch its supply lines, forces under Sam Houston surprise and defeat the Mexican Army at the Battle of San Jacinto in southeast Texas, ensuring Texas Independence.

May 14 - Santa Anna signs two treaties at Velasco. The first, a public document, declares that all hostilities are ended, that the Mexican army will immediately withdraw from Texas, and that all Texian prisoners will be released. The second agreement, a secret treaty, agrees to recognize Texas Independence in exchange for sparing and freeing Santa Anna.   Treaty Illustration

Santa Anna soon repudiates both agreements after his return to Mexico. However, he is removed from power and exiled. Mexican troops and Texans fight a series of intermittent border clashes for the next 10 years.

December 27 - Stephen F. Austin, the "Father of Texas", dies after serving two months as Secretary of State for the new Republic. Ironically, Sam Houston, not Austin, had been elected as the first President of the Republic.  

The Official Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, Texas