On this day in History Ira Aten, one of the last the Texas Rangers from the days of the Wild West dies at his home in Burlingame, California. He was 89 years old.
Aten was a member of the famed Texas Rangers. The Rangers initially were a band of law enforcement officers created during the Texas Revolution of 1835. They had been formed to protect the people of Texas from Mexcian bandits, hostile Indians, and lawless cowboys. Texas was one of the wildest parts of the wild west and its close proximity to Mexico made it all the more lawless. The Rangers often acted alone and they were commissioned to track down and apprehend wrongdoers. They have been portrayed in many films and are one of the best-known group of lawmen from the old west. Their ability to get the bad guys made them legends of the wild west. There are still Texas Rangers upholding law and order.
Born in 1862, Aten was of the final generation of Americans helped to tame the wilderness frontier. Aten first lived on the frontier , when his family moved to a farm in central Texas. His father was a minister and the young boy witnessed him giving the last rites to a dying outlaw. Aten was determined to survive in a violent world–he practices his skills with a pistol and became a very good marksman. It was something that he would need.
Aten joined the Texas Rangers in 1882. He was evidently a tough young man because the Ranger were some of the toughest guys on the frontier. He had the hazardous job of patrolling the Rio Grande River, the border between Mexico and the USA. This was a very dangerous posting. Here there were many bands of cattle thieves, and outlaws would try and cross into Mexico. From across the river, there was the threat of Mexcian bandit raids. In May 1884, Aten and six other Rangers spotted two rustlers near the Rio Grande. When the Rangers tried to capture the men, a gun battle broke out. Several of the Rangers were wounded and one died. Aten shot the two outlaws and he was able to capture them and bring them to jail.
Aten was to serve with the Rangers for many more years. All through the 1880s and 1890s, the Rio Grande area was lawless and violent. He was one of the Rangers who helped to pacify this lawless area. Aten was to serve many years with the Rangers and eventually moved to California.
By 1900 the frontier was gone and with it the wild west. Aten, when he died was one of the last links to a by-gone era and a vanished way of life that helped to mold America.