Welcome, Ranger Center
By Ken Esten Cooke— Fredericksburg is envied by other municipalities for its attractions, from retail stores, to wineries, to museums and more.
On Tuesday, ground was broken on the Texas Rangers Heritage Center. The new $12 million facility will offer one more attraction for visitors who are taken by the Texas Hill Country, and those interested in learning more about its history.
Last week, the Standard-Radio Post ran a list of Gillespie County residents who had served in the Rangers during the 1800s, during this area’s nascent days of settlement. Many younger residents can barely fathom the hardships faced by the settlers in this new land, and the Texas Rangers were called to help protect these early families who were striking out to carve out a better life. With little protection other than their own personal weapons, the help was appreciated by settlers. Fredericksburg’s German settlers negotiated a peace treaty.
Gillespie County’s own history is deeply rooted in the Rangers, as the county was carved out from parts of Bexar and Travis counties and named after Robert Addison Gillespie, an early Texas Ranger officer. Gillespie was a successful merchant in La Grange, who took up the cause and ultimately paid with his life in 1846 during the Mexican War.
Tuesday’s ceremony showed an acknowledgement of the past between Rangers and Native Americans, but showed a mutual respect between cultures by including representatives of the Comanche Nation and allowing them to bless the land. As with Chief Quanah Parker’s friendship with President Theodore Roosevelt and prominent Panhandle Ranchers showed, it is a win-win when former adversaries choose to work together.
Today, the Rangers are an elite investigative law enforcement unit, and their history will fit in well with the values of the people of Fredericksburg. We look forward to seeing yet another attraction in the Texas Ranger Heritage Center.