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Texas Ranger Lee Hall: From the Red River to the Rio Grande, by Chuck Parsons, University of North Texas Press, Denton, 2020, $29.95

It took a set of rugged individuals to establish the Texas Rangers in Western legend, and in recent years historians have plucked out many such individuals for special attention. Jesse Lee Hall is not the first of those to have been meticulously researched and written up by author Chuck Lyons, but he might rate among the most adventurous, though he spent only four years (1876–80) as a Texas Ranger.

Those years were anything but dull. Succeeding the dying Captain Leander H. McNelly, Hall upheld the “Ranger ideal” McNelly espoused. Though he was not directly involved in any epic shoot-’em-ups, the men he led brought in such hard cases as King Fisher, John Wesley Hardin, Sam Bass and seven key members of the Sutton faction, effectively ending the bloody Sutton-Taylor Feud.

Parsons reveals it was love and a lady’s ultimatum that prompted the Ranger to quit the force. However, Hall ultimately proved one of those restless characters who just couldn’t settle for a settled life with wife Bessie. His craving for adventure later led him to chase horse thieves, serve as an agent for the Comanches and Kiowas at Anadarko, Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma), command soldiers of the 1st U.S. Infantry Regiment in the Philippines (after having failed to be accepted into Colonel Theodore Roosevelt’s Cuba-bound Rough Riders) and guard gold shipments in Mexico with the Sultana Rangers.

—Jon Guttman