Francis A. Hamer was born on March 17, 1884, in Fairview, Texas. His parents were Frank and Lou Emma (Francis). He grew up on the Welch Ranch in San Saba County, Texas. The family moved to Oxford in Llano County in 1894, where Hamer worked at his father's blacksmith shop. In 1901 he and his brother became wranglers on the Pecos County ranch of Barry Ketchum. Ketchum's brother was the outlaw Tom "Black Jack" Ketchum. In 1905, Hamer was a cowboy on the Carr Ranch, where after capturing a horse thief, he was recommended by Sheriff D. S. Barker to join with the Texas Rangers.
Frank Hamer enlisted in the Ranger service on April 21, 1906, joining Company C. Company C was commanded by Capt. John H. Rogers. As a private, Hamer worked the country along the Rio Grande from horseback. In those days, a Ranger company traveled around its assigned area which was usually hundreds of square miles. They investigated reports of cattle rustling, smuggling from south of the border, and were continually on the lookout for wanted outlaws. It was still very much the wild west.
Being a Texas Ranger was not the glorious job that it has been romanticized to be. Rangers lived a very rugged life. They usually lived off the land, ranging where ever they were ordered to go, forgoing any romantic or familial attachments. Hamer was a commissioned Ranger from 1906 to 1933, however, there were periods of time where he had resigned for various reasons and sometimes better paying positions. During this time, aside from being a Ranger, He was the city marshall of Navasota, Texas, a special officer for the city of Houston, Texas, and a Prohibition Officer. Another reason he resigned was due to Ranger commissions being given out by the governor of Texas and the corruption of some of these officials. However, he was discharged in 1933 with the rest of the Rangers when Miriam Ferguson took the Governor's office for the second time.
Although he had resigned several times, Hamer had become a Ranger captain by the early 1920s. He had been involved in more than 50 gun battles and had been wounded 17 times. Hamer would not discuss his gunfights throughout his life and refused to talk about how many men he had killed. After Frank Hamer was discharged as a Captain from the Texas Rangers, he was sought after as a peace officer. He participated in several manhunts, the most famous of which occurred in 1934. It was during this year, he was commissioned as a special investigator for the prison system and tasked with ending the crime spree of Bonnie Parker, Clyde Barrow, and their gang.
At 9:15 AM on May 23, 1934, Frank Hamer had set up a ruse to have Bonnie and Clyde stop their car on a rural road near Gibsland Louisiana. Hamer and other deputies called for the pair's surrender, but with a car load of weapons at the ready, Bonnie and Clyde moved toward those weapons. Hamer was armed with a Remington Model 8 semi-automatic rifle with a special 15-round magazine (although some accounts have him firing a Browning Automatic Rifle) and along with his entire posse opened fire putting more than 100 rounds into the suspects and their vehicle.
Frank Hamer retired from all police work in 1949. He died in 1955 at the age of 71 of natural causes. He was buried in Memorial Park Cemetery in Austin, Texas next to one of his sons, Billy, a Marine killed in Iwo Jima.
Brother Frank Hamer was a Master Mason, receiving his degree in 1909 at Navasota Lodge #299, Texas.
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