There are very few weeks that go by that someone does not contact me about an ancestor they believe to have been a Texas Ranger so I thought I would pass along a little information in case you are also in the hunt.
First of all, you have to remember that many men ranged the Texas frontier in the mid-nineteenth century, and they often referred to themselves as rangers or Texas rangers, which they were in the literal sense of the word.
During the war years and up until 1874, the organization which we call the Texas Rangers did not exist, or maybe I should say was inactive. If your ancestor ranged during those years, I think I am safe to say that he was not the Texas Ranger that you picture.
Of course there is a very simple way to answer your questions on this subject once and for all. You simply need to consult the Ranger Records at the Texas State Archives in Austin, and it may be that your local librarian should be your first contact since he or she might be able to obtain the information for you.
Should you choose to go the Austin route, these records are Record Group 104 of the Adjutant General’s Papers. You will be able to find a list of everyone who ever served as a Ranger as well as the dates served.
You can also call the desk at 512-463-5455 for more information, and you can always visit the web at http://www.tsl.state.tx.us. It has actually been some years since I have done this type of research, but I am assuming that phone numbers and web addresses are still the same. I hope this helps!
Photo from LegendsofAmerica.com