NO RANGER SERVED LONGER THAN CAPTAIN HUGHES

by Bartee Haile 

After almost three decades of frontier crime fighting, Capt. John Reynolds Hughes retired from the Texas Rangers on Jan. 31, 1915.

As a headstrong youth of 14, Hughes ran away from his Kansas home in 1869 and finished growing up in the Indian Territory. During his six years among the Choctaw, Osage and Comanche, he suffered a wound that partially paralyzed his right arm. He compensated for the disability by learning how to shoot with his left hand.

Hughes herded cattle on the Chisholm Trail until he saved enough for the down payment on a small spread outside Austin. In the summer of 1885, he took off after a gang of rustlers that had been stealing horses from ranches in the area, including his own. Catching up with the crooks in New Mexico, he singlehandedly slew several of the surprised thieves and handed the survivors over to the nearest sheriff. When word of the daring deed reached Texas Ranger headquarters, a recruiter was sent to sign up the remarkable rancher. At first Hughes declined the invitation countless Texans would have given their eye teeth for, but eventually agreed to enlist. He pinned on the ringed star, unpretentious symbol of the Lone Star guardians, on Aug. 10, 1887.

 

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