Presentation Pair of Grips to Frank Hamer, Texas Ranger

for a Smith & Wesson .44 Hand Ejector First Model (New Century, Triple Lock, .44 Military - Model of 1908)

With letter of authenticity from Frank Hamer, Jr.

See below for pictures of the Posse, Bonnie & Clyde

Frank Hamer, Texas Ranger

by Hans-Christian Vortisch

"One riot, one Ranger."
-- Captain William McDonald

Captain Frank A. Hamer was probably the most famous of the 20th-century Texas Rangers, that old-fashioned law enforcement agency responsible for upholding the law in Texas.

Francis Augustus Hamer, usually called Frank or nicknamed "Pancho," was born on March 17, 1884 in Fairview, Texas. As a youth, he worked in the blacksmithy of his father, and then started working a farm at age 16, together with his brother. They got in an argument with the landowner, during which the man shot Hamer with a shotgun. Hamer could escape, and after having recovered, the boy went straight for the landowner and killed him in a duel.

This was only the first of many shootouts. Throughout his life, Hamer took part in over 50 gunfights and killed at least 20 men and one woman -- "not including Mexicans," as they used to say in those days. It was also far from the last of his many gunshot wounds; he was injured 23 times. When Hamer died, his body was covered with dozens of bullet and knife scars, and he still had some bullets and shot pellets under his skin.

In 1901 Hamer started working as a wrangler on the ranch of Barry Ketchum (brother of Tom "Black Jack" Ketchum, p. OW102), and continued to work as a cowboy for several years, until he helped catching a horse thief in 1906. This earned him a recommendation from the local sheriff to the Rangers.

He was already an accomplished outdoorsman and expert shot with rifle and revolver. In April 1906, he joined Company C of the Texas Rangers, where these skills were much in demand and further honed. He would endlessly practice his aim, and was able to shoot a hole into a silver dollar at 15 yards with his revolver. In addition, he had also learned Savate (p. MA99) from a French martial artist, and became famous for his kicks to bring down renitent offenders.

Hamer patrolled the South Texas border until 1908, when he resigned to become marshal of Navasota, Texas. In 1911 he left that post as a special officer in Harris County, but in 1915, he rejoined the Rangers. During the troubled period of the late 1910s and early 1920s, the Rangers received much criticism for excessive force and latent racism, but also managed to bring some order to the border area that was plagued by smuggling, bootlegging, and banditry.

Hamer was absolutely fearless, but also without mercy. Neither characteristic necessarily makes for a good policeman, but at the time, they were thought highly of in a man of the law. He was ambushed four times by enemies, and twice left for dead. Hamer eventually caught up with all of his ambushers; none survived.

In 1920 he left the Rangers again for a short spell as a prohibition agent. He soon returned and was made Senior Ranger Captain on January 1, 1922, commanding all Texas Rangers. Hamer moved to Austin, Texas, where he made his permanent home. He had married Gladys Johnson in 1917, and the couple had two sons, Frank Jr. and Billy. As late as the 1920s, the Texas Rangers were mainly concerned with cattle thieves, as well as smugglers crossing the Rio Grande (the latterís trade soaring with the beginning of the prohibition, the tequileros working 1,000%-profit deals). Many of these criminals were Mexicans, which didnít improve the somewhat slanted outlook the Rangers often had towards anyone who wasnít white.

In 1928, Hamer left the Rangers and became a bounty hunter for the Texas Bankerís Assosciation. He was instrumental in exposing murderous police officers (including among the Rangers), who framed and killed innocent people in order to collect a standing reward of $5,000 for any dead bank robber. Hamer rejoined in 1929, but finally retired from the Rangers in 1933, forestalling being sacked like all other remaining Rangers by controversial Texas Governor Miriam "Ma" Ferguson.

However, in April 1934, he took up a commission to hunt down the infamous Barrow Gang (better known as Bonnie & Clyde) as a special agent for the Texas Highway Patrol. He was paid a measly $180 a month; asked about this, he commented that "crime doesnít pay, not even for those who fight it." Hamer picked up their trail in Texarkana, Texas, but always seemed to be a day behind the murderous pair. He traced the gangsters for 102 days through several states, until he finally ambushed them with the help of several other lawmen on a dirt track in the backwoods of northwest Louisiana on May 23, 1934.

His posse consisted of Officer Murray Gault from the Texas Highway Patrol (also a former Ranger), Dallas County Deputies Bob Alcorn and Ted Hinton (the only two lawmen who knew Bonnie & Clyde by sight), as well as the local officers Sheriff Henderson Jordan from Iverson County and Deputy Prentiss Oakley from Bienville Parish. They set up a camouflaged ambush site opposite a decoy truck on a side road in the vicinity of Plain Dealing, Louisiana, and waited more than seven hours in the bushes until the pair drove up in a stolen Ford V8 around 9:10 a.m. Accounts differ whether the outlaws got so much as a call to surrender (at least Hamer, Alcorn, and Hinton had a previous record of shooting first, asking later), but in any case the six officers ventilated the outlawsí car with 167 shots (emptying their shoulder arms and their side arms, and possibly even reloading) before they could do anything. It was instant "death for Bonnie and Clyde."

"I hate to bust the cap on a woman, especially when she was sitting down, however if it wouldn't have been her, it would have been us."
-- Captain Frank Hamer

Hamer became nationally famous overnight and received a citation medal from Congress. During the late 1930s and 1940s Hamer worked for various private companies as a strike-breaker and riot-control agent. He retired in 1949, and died at home on July 10, 1955.

THE POSSE

POSSE OF SIX

 

LEFT TO RIGHT, STANDING: Prentiss Oakley, Ted

Hinton, Bob Alcorn and B.M. "Maney" Gault

KNEELING: Frank Hamer and Henderson Jordan

 

Part of the arsenal that was discovered in

the Barrow "death car" on May 23, 1934



 

"THE INVENTORY"

Three .30 cal. Browning automatic rifles

One 20 gauge "sawed-off" shotgun

One 10 gauge "sawed-off" shotgun

One .32 caliber Colt automatic pistol

One .380 caliber Colt automatic pistol

One .45 cal. Colt "double action" revolver

Seven .45 caliber automatic pistols

One-hundred rounds of machinegun clips

Three-thousands rounds of ammunitions

 

 

Highway Patrolman on left beside Sheriff

Smoot Schmid,inspects the Barrow "death car"

while Frank Hamer (on the right, with his back

to the camera) talks with other officials.

Frank Hamer warrant

c

Frank A. Hamer enlisted in the Texas Rangers in 1906. He remained an active peace officer, both in the Ranger organization and in other law enforcement positions until 1932. He retired from active duty that year, but retained his commission as a ranger. On February 1, 1934, Marshall Lee Simmons, head of the prison system, asked Hamer to take the new position of special investigator for the Texas prison system. Hamer was assigned to track down the nationally known outlaws Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker.

The criminal duo broke into the Texas State prison in Huntsville to rescue a gang member, and shot their way out of two previous attempted arrests. Hamer and former Ranger Manny Gault decide to take no chances. On May 23, 1934, they set up an ambush near Gibsland on a rural Louisiana road and poured a hail of bullets into the car, killing the outlaws. The United States Congress awarded Hamer a special citation for catching the pair.

Description

Hamer was a tall, fit man, perpetually tanned and with brown hair and blue eyes. Like most rural American police officers of the early 20th century, he was always dressed in cowboy boots, dark trousers, white shirt, dark tie, and dark jacket, topped with a wide-brimmed hat and a cigarette between his lips.

For most of his career, Hamer carried an engraved .45 Colt M1873 SAA revolver with 4.75" barrel (pp. HT110, OW86, W:D71) called "Old Lucky," either in a holster on his right side, or, when he was no longer required to ride a horse, simply tucked into his waistband. When expecting a gunfight, he also took a .44 S&W Hand-Ejector revolver with 6.5" barrel for backup. His favorite longarm was a .30-30 Winchester M1894 lever-action rifle (p. HT114).

However, for the hunt on Bonnie & Clyde, he replaced the S&W revolver with a .38 Colt Super Auto pistol (pp. HT108, W:D71) and the lever-action rifle with a .35 Remington Model 8 semiautomatic rifle (p. W:D72) with 20-round magazine extension (both weapons offering superior penetration against bullet-proof vests and the heavy Ford V8 sedans Clyde Barrow was partial to).

Hamer also owned many other guns. When the posse assembled in a hurry in a Louisiana hinterwald small town, three of the men could not bring their own long arms, and were outfitted from Hamerís personal rolling arsenal -- Gault got Hamerís .25 Remington Model 8 semiautomatic rifle, Alcorn his .30-30 Winchester M1894 carbine, and Hinton his .30-06 Colt R80 Monitor machine rifle (a variant of the M1918 BAR, pp. HT114, W:HS21, which was the chosen armament of the outlaws).