Chasing Thugs, Nazis, and Reds: Texas Ranger Norman K. Dixon

Chasing Thugs, Nazis, and Reds: Texas Ranger Norman K. Dixon

Chasing Thugs, Nazis, and Reds: Texas Ranger Norman K. Dixon

Chasing Thugs, Nazis, and Reds: Texas Ranger Norman K. Dixon

Synopsis

Texas Ranger Norman Dixon made the front pages of newspapers, but his rigid sense of integrity prevented him from discussing his cases with his wife or his sons, or anyone else, even decades later.

As a Ranger, Dixon broke up the largest oil field theft ring in Texas history, worked to solve the most infamous cold case in Texas history, sought the Phantom Killer, investigated a near-mutiny by cadets and veterans on the campus of Texas A&M, rushed to a rural county to head off a lynching, and kept watch over Texas during World War II. He became the go-to investigator for the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, governors, and the state legislature.

During the final years of his career, which coincided with the McCarthy era in the 1950s, he was the chief of internal security, charged with protecting Texans from the Red Menace.

Using Ranger Dixon's meticulously-kept diary entries, Kemp Dixon now tells his father's compelling story.

Excerpt

One day years after my father, norman kemp dixon, had passed away, my mother asked me to search for something in his file cabinet. I no longer recall what I was trying to find, but what I discovered was stunning: thirteen diaries laying out his daily activities as a Texas Ranger—morning, afternoon, and evening—from 1938 through 1950. He considered his work confidential, and his rigid sense of integrity prevented him from discussing his cases with his wife or his sons, or anyone else, even decades later.

In those diaries are many fascinating stories that begged to be told, such as his role in breaking up the largest oil-field theft ring in Texas history, his efforts to solve the most infamous cold case in Texas history (the murder of a socialite and her lovely daughter on a lonely West Texas highway), his attempt to catch the Phantom Killer in 1946 (the number-one story in Texas that year), his investigations of a near-mutiny by cadets and veterans on the campus of Texas A&M and of charges that Communists and a “nest of homosexuals” were on the University of Texas campus, and the story that began with a 4:00 a.m. phone call from a desperate rural sheriff asking that Dixon help him find the “unknown Negro” who had just raped a seventeenyear-old white girl. White farmers were beginning to roam the countryside, determined to carry out quick justice. There was no time to waste.

Along with the diaries was folder after folder containing newspaper clippings of his investigations; correspondence with everyone imaginable throughout his life, including his father, his brother, fbi agents, militaryintelligence officers, and his two supervisors (and role models) during most of his career—M. T. “Lone Wolf” Gonzaullas and Col. Homer Garrison; plus countless documents, such as his elementary-school report cards, Army Air Corps cadet transcript, id card for his clown-diving act at the Texas Centennial Exposition, Ranger commissions, and so on. Although his Ranger diaries ended in 1950—by which time he was the top security officer in the state, responsible for protecting Texans from the perceived threat of Communism—he continued saving items. One remarkable document is a 105page transcript of a report by an informant inside a Communist cell in Austin. It reads like a novel.

Digesting all the materials in his files left me with many questions that could be answered only through research. Thank goodness wonderful resources were available. I wish to thank the very helpful archivists at the Texas State Library and Archives in Austin, with special thanks to Donaly . . .

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