Posted in Texas, Websites

Update on the “Sheriff’s” badge mystery, and more on the Texas Rangers

I posted a blog recently about a photo of my great-grandfather, Jack Gooch, and the mysterious “sheriff’s” badge he was sporting.

Jack Gooch sheriff  3 color adjusted and cropped

One reader suggested it might be a Texas Ranger badge, so I looked up the history of Texas Rangers and found some interesting resources for this unique segment of law enforcement.

The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum exists in Waco, Texas.

TX Ranger museum

It has a number of  online resources plus a research service.  Some of the interesting links on the site are oral histories, links to e-books, and “A Short Course on Fantasy, Replica, and Toy Texas Ranger Badges,” among others.

The Armstrong  Texas Ranger Research Center, a is an excellent starting place if you are trying to identify an ancestor as an early Texas Ranger.  You can schedule an on-site visit for individual help, or download a research request form for long-distance help. I was prepared to do this before I looked at the short course on Ranger Badges. I found an image of one that could possibly match Jack’s, and decided to scan my photo at a much higher resolution to see if I could identify the words on the badge.

Jack Gooch private detective badge cropped and enhancedDo you see what I see?  The image is reversed.  This means the photo I have was developed reversed, because I scanned it as it was originally found, encased in a cardboard frame.  And can you determine what it says? After adjusting the colors and contrast I believe it says, “Private Detective.”

Well, well,  whaddyaknow?  It is not a sheriff’s badge or even a Texas Ranger badge.  It is, in fact, a genealogist’s badge!  >wink<



I am an Accredited Genealogist® professional living in California. I have been researching and teaching since 1988.

11 thoughts on “Update on the “Sheriff’s” badge mystery, and more on the Texas Rangers

      1. I was looking at your picture and it would be easy to rotate the image on photoshop. I agree I think it reads “private detective” …….now that brings up another subject, where and who did he work for? So many questions, so little time

  1. Couldn’t find a winking emoticon. I liked this post!!- just found it but don’t know if it got attached. Sorry I will have to miss your class on Thursday. I will be at the DAR State Conference. I did send it to our 28 prospective members and hopefully we will see some of them at the meeting. Nancy


  2. Fascinating! I also put the picture in PhotoShop to see if I could get it clearer. I got it brighter and, with more contrast, but I didn’t figure out that the image was reversed. One really does have to be smart, imaginative, and a bit sneaky to catch the old folks.

    It’s still very possible that one or more other Gooch guys were Texas Rangers because they were in the right neighborhoods at the right time. I know that Elizabeth Gooch’s grandson, Thomas Franklin Owen – who may have been, what – a second cousin to Jack – was a Texas Ranger. A few years ago, I went to a delightful ceremony in Oklahoma for Thomas Franklin Owen in which he was honored as both a Confederate veteran and a Texas Ranger. I remember that the Ranger badge that they installed at his gravesite was a bit rounder than the one Jack was wearing. Our Gooch-Owen cousin Faye Chism organized this ceremony, with much of it performed by the Daughters of the Confederacy. So it’s entirely possible that one or more of Ben and John’s descendants also went Rangering. I’m sure you’ll post them if they did!!

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