When the gun smoke cleared, four men were found dead at the hardware store in a rural East Texas town. But this December 1934 shootout was no anomaly. San Augustine County had seen at least three others in the previous three years, and these murders in broad daylight were only the latest development in the decade-long rule of the criminal McClanahan-Burleson gang. Armed with handguns, Jim Crow regulations, and corrupt special Ranger commissions from infamous governors “Ma” and “Pa” Ferguson, the gang racketeered and bootlegged its way into power in San Augustine County, where it took up robbing and extorting local black sharecroppers as its main activity.
After the hardware store shootings, white community leaders, formerly silenced by fear of the gang’s retribution, finally sought state intervention. In 1935, fresh-faced, newly elected governor James V. Allred made good on his promise to reform state law enforcement agencies by sending a team of qualified Texas Rangers to San Augustine County to investigate reports of organized crime. In East Texas Troubles, historian Jody Edward Ginn tells of their year-and-a-half-long cleanup of the county, the inaugural effort in Governor Allred’s transformation of the Texas Rangers into a professional law enforcement agency.
Besides foreshadowing the wholesale reform of state law enforcement, the Allred Rangers’ investigative work in San Augustine marked a rare close collaboration between white law enforcement officers and black residents. Drawing on firsthand accounts and the sworn testimony of black and white residents in the resulting trials, Ginn examines the consequences of such cooperation in a region historically entrenched in racial segregation.
In this story of a rural Texas community’s resurrection, Ginn reveals a multifaceted history of the reform of the Texas Rangers and of an unexpected alliance between the legendary frontier lawmen and black residents of the Jim Crow South.
Dr. Jody Edward Ginn is a former law enforcement investigator/administrator and U.S. Army veteran who has worked as a multi-media consultant to museums, filmmakers, and educational institutions/non-profits, and as an adjunct professor of history, for over 20 years. Dr. Ginn has also served as an expert commentator for numerous online podcasts, and for national and international print media outlets.
Notably, Dr. Ginn worked as a publicity consultant and on-screen expert commentator on the 2019 blockbuster Netflix Film, The Highwaymen, starring Kevin Costner, Woody Harrelson and Kathy Bates.
As a museum consultant and executive, Dr. Ginn has been involved in raising funds for historical projects – from traveling museum exhibits, to educational films, to full museum development projects – for over 20 years. Notably, Dr. Ginn built a network of development partners, donor contacts, and consultants while creating a comprehensive strategic institutional plan for the Texas Rangers Heritage Center (TRHC) in Fredericksburg. As the Executive Director for the TRHC, Dr. Ginn also worked extensively with business/financial consultants and major banks to secure financing offers for that project. Dr. Ginn simultaneously lead the effort preparing the project for construction, working in partnership with local officials, architects, and exhibit design firms, plus one of the largest construction companies in the world. Dr. Ginn also maintains close relationships with various state and local government officials, from his lengthy law enforcement career. Dr. Ginn brings this network of government, business, financial, and development professionals and contacts with him, to the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame and Museum redevelopment project.
An established and respected Texas historian, Dr. Ginn has authored numerous publications on various topics, including “Texas Rangers in Myth and Memory,” in Texan Identities…(UNT Press, 2016); “American Indians in the Republic of Texas…in Single Star of the West (UNT Press, 2017); and Palmito Ranch: From Civil War Battlefield to National Historic Landmark (Texas A&M Press, 2018). Dr. Ginn’s latest book is East Texas Troubles: The Allred Rangers Cleanup of San Augustine (OU Press, 2019), which chronicles the circumstances surrounding the origins of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).
Dr. Ginn’s personal connections to the Texas Rangers date back almost two centuries, when his Austin colonist Texas ancestors served as ‘Home Guard” Rangers during the Civil War. However, it was his research into the career of his great-grand uncle, Dan Hines – one of the first DPS Texas Rangers – that drew him into the world of professional Texas Rangers’ history. In addition to his historical connections to the Texas Rangers, Dr. Ginn also has strong professional ties to them, having trained under and worked with many current and former Texas Rangers, during his law enforcement career.