The first Texas Rangers didn’t have badges. Matter of fact, they didn’t even have uniforms. For one, the newly formed Republic of Texas could hardly afford to pay the frontier force, let alone dress and supply them. Further, the Rangers themselves didn’t necessarily want to be identified. Often out-manned, their ability to blend in to the surrounding populace could be invaluable. Plus, a badge was virtually meaningless to the opposing forces of Comanche and Mexican bandits the Rangers faced. The only real identification a Ranger needed was his loaded six-gun.
The lone star as a symbol of Texas has murky origins. The first clear statement came in 1836, when George Childress, original signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, introduced a resolution at the general convention that “a single star of five points” be recognized as the “peculiar emblem” of the new republic. And that “every officer and soldier of the army and members of this convention and all friends of Texas, be requested to wear it on their hats or bosoms.”
Perhaps taking a cue from Childress, or wanting to distinguish themselves while breaking up feuds or in situations where several law enforcement agencies were involved, the first Texas Ranger badges were made by the Rangers themselves. Exceedingly symbolic and appropriate, using a Mexican silver coin the Rangers would cut a five-pointed star into the center of the soft metal or commission a jeweler to create one. The earliest surviving and authenticated Texas Ranger badge was worn by Ranger Ira Aten in the 1880s.
The first state-issued Texas Ranger badge came in 1900, and for the next three decades, the star-in-the-wheel badge—with varying details—was worn by the Rangers. In 1957, the Texas Department of Public Safety issued an enamel-on-polished-metal badge. By most accounts, the Rangers weren’t happy with the new design and saw it as too severe a break from the frontier tradition.
In 1962, Ranger Hardy L. Purvis, in honor of his late father, Ranger Captain Hardy B. Purvis, and his mother, presented the Texas Department of Public Safety with enough cinco peso Mexican Cuauhtamoc .900 silver coins for each of the sixty-two Rangers at the time. Since then, the Ranger badge has only had slight modifications. Modern Texas Rangers receive two badges when they are promoted to the Ranger Service, the silver badge made from a Mexican cinco peso coin and a bronze, silver-plated badge to carry in their identification case.