19th century badass gunslinging Texas Ranger John Coffee Hays is the ultimate rea-life asskicker whose story bizarrely ties together the more well-known tales of Sam Houston, Andrew Jackson, Chuck Norris, Clint Eastwood, Zachary Taylor, Wyatt Earp, and the dude with the shotgun who smokes all those fucking buffalo when you go hunting in The Oregon Trail. In a gunfire-filled life that makes even the most tobacco-soaked gritty dime-novel adventure story look like the Letter from the Editor in a Victoria’s Secret catalog, this hard-ridin’ Texas Ranger busted skulls from Tennessee to California, survived hundreds of battles against ridiculous Punisher-style odds, and now goes down in history as one of the most famous and important members of the United States’ most well-known state police force.
Born in Cedar Lick, Tennessee in 1817, John Coffee Hays was the nephew of American badass and future presidentAndrew Jackson. Hays’ dad was a high ranking American officer who had fought alongside Andy Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812, but both Hays’ dad and mom died of yellow fever when Jack was just 15 years old… leaving Jack and his six siblings parentless. The kids were sent to Mississippi to live with their relatives, and Hays started working as a land surveyor… which was a hell of a lot more dangerous job in 1832 than it is these days.
Basically, back in the 1830s, there was a ton of Louisiana Purchase territory that hadn’t been mapped, surveyed, or charted effectively yet, and land surveyors in these days basically went out into the unknown fucking wilderness with a rifle, some food, and a few nerdy math tools and tried to survive by camping out in the middle of nowhere while they took measurements and drew maps. Wild animals, Indian attacks, cold, starvation, and exposure to the elements were constant threats to these small surveying teams, but Hays was more than up to the task of Bear Gryllsing his way through the backwoods in pursuit of the noble cause of geography. Described as a quiet, well-spoken, fairly skinny dude, he really shined in situations where he got to pull his gun and start kicking ass: According to his buddies, he was basically a completely different person – a “monster” – when his life was on the line.
Hays did the land surveying gig for a while, but when shit started going down with Goliad and the Alamo in Texas he decided he wanted to get in on the action. He rode for Texas in 1840, introduced himself to Sam Houston as the nephew of Andrew Jackson, and was immediately given an officer’s position in a relatively-new organization charged with providing order on the sprawling frontier – the Texas Rangers.
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