There is a custom among the Former Texas Ranger Association to mark the graves of former Texas Rangers with a marker known as the Ranger Cross. The grave marker is a cross with the Ranger badge attached to it to commemorate the lives of Texas Rangers.
Local Early resident, Bobbie Hamer Hubbard, the Hamer family and former Rangers gathered together on March 3, at the Austin Memorial Park in Austin to mark the grave of former Texas Ranger, Frank Augustus Hamer with the Ranger Cross.
Several years prior, Hubbard had learned about the Rangers cross from her brother, a member of the FTRA. She and her family had placed a Rangers Cross at the grave of her grandfather, a former Texas Ranger, in Del Rio. She and her brother wanted to put one at the site of their great-uncle Frank Hamer’s grave as well.
Hubbard said, “Anyone who is related to a member of the Texas Rangers can do this (the ceremony and the Rangers cross) for their relative.”
The ceremony is free to the relatives of any Texas Ranger. It and the Ranger cross are funded through grants from the Texas Historical Foundation and donations from Ranger decedents to the FTRA.
Hamer was one of the most famous and influential Texas Ranger commanders of the early 20th century. He played a key role in shaping the rangers from frontier lawmen into the early - modern criminal investigators.
Hammer’s career spanned over 20 years, beginning when he was just 19 - years old in 1906 and ending in 1932, when he resigned in protest against the re-election of Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, the first female governor of Texas whose first term was plagued by accusations of corruption. Though he resigned he retained a special Ranger commission.
Two of his most notable contributions during his career included when he took on the Texas Bankers Association “reward ring”, known for what he labeled as the “perfect … murder machine” in 1928 and in 1930, during the height of the Jim Crow era, defending the rights of an African American man named George Hughes, who was accused of assaulting a white women, against a mob of thousands inflamed by racial animosity and rumors of rape and mutilation. George Hughes did not survive his trial, but it was this trial that would bring international attention to race relations in the state of Texas.
“It is this never-ending fight against corruption and injustice that is Frank’s true legacy,” said Hubbard.
In 1934, Hamer was retained as a special investigator by the Texas prison system to help take down the infamous gangsters Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, the Bonnie and Clyde. After a nearly three month investigation, Hamer and the Texas and Louisiana law enforcement ambushed and killed both near Gibsland, Louisiana.
Hamer retired to Austin where he passed away on July 10,1955.
Hamer was later inducted into the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame, which is the state designated memorial of the Texas Ranger service.
Hubbard said, “The association would like to mark all of the graves of former Texas Rangers, but some they simply don’t know about.”
For more information on the Former Texas Rangers Association or the Ranger Cross, visit www.formertexasrangers.org.