Aten, Calvin Grant (1868–1939)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: November 1, 1994

Calvin Grant Aten, Texas Ranger and Panhandle lawman, the third of four sons of Austin C. and Kate (Dunlap) Aten, was born on December 7, 1868, in Abingdon, Illinois. He was a younger brother of Ira Aten, in whose steps he followed as a lawman. Cal remained on the family farm until April 1, 1888, when he enlisted in the Frontier Battalion and was assigned to his brother's Company D, then commanded by Capt. Frank Jones. He later recalled how conspicuous he felt as he walked into the ranger camp near Realitos, in Duval County, without weapons. Ira handed him a gunbelt with a six-shooter and instructions to put it on. Aten served with distinction throughout the Rio Grande border country. His most noted escapade occurred on Christmas Day 1889, when he accompanied John R. Hughes and two others on a manhunt to Bull Head Mountain, in Edwards County. There they killed Alvin and Will Odle when the two wanted rustlers resisted arrest. Pressing family responsibilities caused Aten to resign from the battalion on August 31, 1890. He returned to Round Rock, where he served for several years as a constable and sheriff and, on May 2, 1894, married Mattie Jo Kennedy. The couple later moved to the Panhandle, where Ira was section foreman for the Escarbadas Division of the XIT Ranch and head of the ranch's police force. Cal Aten remained in the XIT's employ from 1898 to 1904 and afterward established his own farm and ranch near Lelia Lake, in Donley County, where he spent his remaining years. He died there on April 1, 1939, and was buried in the Citizens Cemetery in Clarendon.

Jack Martin, Border Boss (San Antonio: Naylor, 1942). Robert W. Stephens, Texas Ranger Sketches (Dallas, 1972).
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Texas Rangers

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

H. Allen Anderson, “Aten, Calvin Grant,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 21, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994