The Arizona Rangers
James Harvey McClintock in 1913
Arizona Rangers in
1903. Available for prints
organization of the Arizona
Rangers was on the recommendation of Governor Murphy to
the Legislature of 1901. The first Captain appointed was
C. Mossman, a Northern
Arizona cattleman, who proceeded
with an organization of a company that, at first, consisted of only
twelve men, with Dayton Graham of Cochise County as first lieutenant.
Mossman made his organization wholly non-political and men were
sought for enlistment on account of their records as efficient
officers, good shots and good frontiersmen, well acquainted with the
country. In some cases, men were enlisted whose previous records would
not have entitled them to distinguished consideration in a Sunday
school, but who had a reputation for courage and endurance. Such
men usually gave a very good account of themselves.
According to Mossman: "I have never known a body of men to take a more intense
interest in their work. They were very proud of the organization,
proud of the record that they were making, and there was great
emulation among the men to make good."
Every section of the territory had its
representatives so that wherever the command might be called there
would be some ranger familiar with the country, water holes, trails,
etc. During the first twelve months after organization, 125 arrests
were made of actual criminals, who were sent to the penitentiary or
back to other states to answer for crime. The deterrent effect of
these many captures was great, serving to drive from the territory a
large percentage of its criminal population.
Organized in August, the rangers proved
effective from the first. In November two of its members, Carlos Tafolla and Dean Hamblin, reinforced by four Saint Johns cattlemen,
chased the Jack Smith band of
into the Black River country south of Springerville. The
were headed for Mexico with a band of stolen horses and were surprised
while in camp.
After apparent surrender, they dodged behind trees and
opened fire. Tafolla and a cattleman named Maxwell were killed
and two of the outlaws
wounded. The latter escaped in darkness, on foot, leaving their camp
outfit and horses behind. Captian Mossman, with three more rangers were soon on the trail but the
gang stealing fresh horses managed to escape in the snows of the New
Mexican mountains. Tafolla's widow was pensioned by the Legislature.
Captain Mossman early established amicable
relations with the Mexican authorities and an agreement was entered into
with Lt. Col. Kosterlitsky of the Mexican Rurales that either should have
the privilege of chasing outlaws
across the border and they should work in unison with the definite
objective of ridding the Southwest of the "rustler" element.
In 1903 the force embraced twenty six
officers. Six years after organization report was made that the rangers in
that time had made 4000 arrests of which 25% had been for serious
felonies. The best work was against horse and cattle thieves.
Special value was found in the fact that the
Rangers were independent of politics and were not controlled by
considerations that often tied the hands of local peace officers. This very feature, however, led to occasional trouble with disagreeing
Cornwall Wheeler. Available for photo prints
After Governor Brodie assumed office a change
was made in the
leadership of the Arizona Rangers, to the position being appointed
T.H. Rynning, who had been a lieutenant of
Rough Riders. Under him the
organization did splendid work, especially in the labor troubles in
and Morenci. At the latter point, one episode most worthy of mention
was when a band of several hundred rioters, coming over the divide from
Chase Creek, encountered a few rangers, commanded by Sergeant Jack Foster. Foster was hailed and a demand was made upon him for his guns. The
sergeant, remembering his experience in the Rough Riders, deployed his men
along the crest of a ridge and laconically answered:" If you want the
guns, come and get them." The rioters concluded to move on and
Foster saved both his rifles and his self-respect.
The history of the rangers under whatever
leadership was one of devotion and of rare courage, well worthy of a
separate volume. Some of it is told in this work but much is left unchronicled.
There is the story how Ranger Frank Wheeler, with Deputy Sheriff John
Cameron, killed Herrick and Bentley, former convicts wanted for horse
stealing, in the course of a battle in the rocks, after the fugitives had
been tracked for five days. There might be mentioned, as typical, the encounter in Benson of
Captain Harry Wheeler with a desperado named Tracy wherein the latter died
with four bullet holes in his body and Wheeler received wounds that
disabled him for months. There was the case of Willis Wood, an
of the worst type, who was taken by
[Thomas] Rynning from a roomful of the
Rynning resigned to become superintendent of the territorial prison during
the period of its reconstruction at Florence and March 21, 1907 was
succeeded by his lieutenant, Harry Wheeler, later sheriff of Cochise
County. Wheeler notably was successful in handling difficult border
conditions. But politics finally caused the disbandment of the rangers*.
James Harvey McClintock in 1913, compiled and edited by
of America, updated May, 2017.
*Note: As McClintock's writing of the Arizona Rangers occurred in 1913,
he couldn't have known that they would be revived. In
1957, the group was re-established by by several original
The present day
Arizona Rangers are an unpaid, all volunteer, law enforcement support and assistance civilian auxiliary.
Currently, they work co-operatively at the request of and under the direction, control, and supervision of established law enforcement officials and officers. The also provide youth support and community service and work to preserve the tradition, honor, and history of the
original Arizona Rangers.
Officers of Arizona
Old West Lawmen
Old West Outlaws
Notes and Author: James Harvey
McClintock was born in Sacramento in 1864 and moved to
the age of 15, working for his brother at the Salt River Herald
(later known as the Arizona Republic). When McClintock was 22
he began to attend the Territorial Normal School in Tempe, where he earned
a teaching certificate. Later, he would serve as Theodore
Roosevelt’s right-hand-man in the Rough Riders during the Spanish-American
War and become an Arizona
State Representative. Between the years of 1913 and 1916,
McClintock’s published a three volume history of Arizona
called Arizona: The Youngest State (now in the public domain,)
in which this article appeared. McClintock
continued to live in Arizona
until his poor health forced him to return to
where he died on May 10, 1934 at the age of 70.
The article is not verbatim as spelling errors
and minor grammatical changes have been made.
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