Arizona Ranger History
The Arizona Rangers are forever etched in Arizona’s history. At the time, the Arizona Territory was a very dangerous place. It was the last of the badlands, the only safe haven for outlaws and rustlers in the United States. Modeled after the Texas Rangers, they apprehended the most dangerous criminals so Arizona could become a State…
Brief History Arizona Rangers
In 1901, the Arizona Rangers were created to rid the Arizona Territory of outlaws and corruption. At the time, the Territory was very dangerous – the United States Congress had denied the Governor’s application for Arizona to become a State, in part because there was no law and order. They were well trained, well equipped and very effective at apprehending even the most dangerous of outlaws, evolving into one of the finest law enforcement agencies in the country. Modeled after the Texas Rangers, the Arizona Rangers were tasked with hunting down and arresting outlaws in the Territory, especially along the Mexican border. By 1908, most of the outlaws had been arrested, killed or had fled into Mexico. The Rangers were disbanded for political reasons in 1909. Shortly afterwards, Arizona became the 48th state. See what current Rangers look like
Notable Events in Arizona Ranger History
- This is one of the darkest days in Arizona Ranger history, even though no shots were fired. Mexican miners were not being paid fairly, so they went on strike. The Governor ordered the Arizona Rangers to Morenci at once. They were joined by the Graham County Sheriff and more than 60 deputies. It was not enough as thousands of armed strikers demanded fair treatment. The President ordered Federal Troops and the US Cavalry to dispatch immediately. Before they arrived, an unexpected flash flood roared down the canyon, sweeping many of the miners and their families away. Focus shifted to rescuing the victims. By the time the bodies had been recovered, Morenci was completely surrounded by U.S. Soldiers. The strike was over. The Arizona Rangers resented being ordered to help end the strike. Many of them sided with the miners and thought they were being treated unfairly. The Rangers were created to hunt down and arrest outlaws, not to suppress the oppressed. Several of the Rangers resigned from the organization as a result.
The Mexican miners at the Cananea Mine were being treated unfairly and they went on strike. During the Cananea Riot in 1906, managers of the mine stampeded horses and fired shots into a crowd of striking Mexican miners, killing two of them. The Mexican miners retaliated, burning a building with four Americans trapped inside. In response, and against the Governor’s orders, Captain Thomas H. Rynning joined a civilian posse of 275 men and rode to Cananea to assist the Mexican Federal Troops and State Mounted Police. Tensions flared and shots were fired. When the smoke cleared, more than twenty-five men, both Mexican and American lay dead. Captain Rynning went into Mexico against the Governor’s orders and had no authority and was not acting on behalf of the Arizona Rangers.
Arizona Ranger Jeff Kidder was the fastest gun of them all. He was ambushed by three Mexican Police Officers in Naco Mexico. Ranger Kidder drew his weapon and shot all three of his assailants before being arrested. Ranger Kidder died of his wounds the following day.
Arizona Ranger Killed in the Line of Duty
Arizona Ranger Carlos Tafolla was shot and killed during a shootout in the White Mountains. He was riding with a posse that was tracking the Bill Smith Gang. Ranger Tafolla and Deputy Bill Maxwell, of the Apache County Sheriff’s Office, were approaching the gang when one of the gang asked how they should surrender. As the suspect was approaching them he was dragging his rifle behind him and brought it up and shot Deputy Maxwell in the head, killing him instantly. Ranger Tafolla was shot twice in the torso and died that night about midnight. The suspect fled to Argentina and was never apprehended.
As Ranger Tafolla was dying, he pulled out a silver dollar and asked that it be given to his wife as it and his unpaid wages would be all that she would get. A two-year pension was later approved for her when the story was told.