Gonzaullas, Manuel Trazazas [Lone Wolf] (1891–1977)

By: Brownson Malsch

Type: Biography

Published: January 1, 1995

Updated: August 23, 2019

Manuel T. (Lone Wolf) Gonzaullas, Texas Ranger, the son of Manuel and Helen (von Droff) Gonzaullas, was born in Cádiz, Spain, on July 4, 1891. His father, a native of Spain, and his mother, a native of Canada, were naturalized American citizens visiting in Spain at the time of his birth. Gonzaullas was a major in the Mexican army at age twenty, then a special agent in the United States Treasury Department for five years. He married Laura Isabel Scherer in Riverside, California, on April 12, 1920, and enlisted in the Texas Rangers the same year.

His first assignment was in the oilfields of Wichita County, where he served under Capt. Roy W. Aldrich. The first printed reference to him as "Lone Wolf" was carried in the Wichita Falls Daily Times of December 29, 1920. Along the Rio Grande, he later became known as El Lobo Solo. Gonzaullas was involved in control of gambling, bootlegging, bank robbery, riots, prostitution, narcotic trafficking, and general lawlessness from the Red River to the Rio Grande and from El Paso to the Sabine during the 1920s and 1930s.

Along with most others on the force, he was fired by Governor Miriam A. Ferguson the day after she took office in 1933. Recognizing the necessity of removing the rangers from personal control by the governor's office, the Forty-fourth Legislature authorized the establishment of the Texas Department of Public Safety in August 1935 and made the rangers a division of that agency. Gonzaullas was appointed superintendent of the Bureau of Intelligence of the new department. Under the leadership of Gonzaullas and DPS director Col. H. H. Carmichael the bureau turned to scientific analysis in the solution of crimes. It gained a reputation for having a laboratory second only to that of the FBI in Washington.

On February 14, 1940, Gonzaullas resigned from the bureau and returned to ranger service. He was made captain of Company B, headquartered in Dallas. In the following years one of his most notable assignments was to Texarkana, in connection with murders committed in 1946 by the "Phantom Killer." Gonzaullas's experiences there were used as the basis for the motion picture The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1977). He retired from the rangers on May 3, 1951, and went to Hollywood as a technical consultant for radio, television, and motion pictures, in particular the long-running 1950s radio and TV show Tales of the Texas Rangers. Lone Wolf Gonzaullas, a Mason and Presbyterian, died in Dallas on February 13, 1977, at the age of eighty-five.

Brownson Malsch, Captain M. T. "Lone Wolf" Gonzaullas (Austin: Shoal Creek, 1980).

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Texas Rangers
  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

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

Brownson Malsch, “Gonzaullas, Manuel Trazazas [Lone Wolf],” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 10, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/gonzaullas-manuel-trazazas-lone-wolf.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995
August 23, 2019

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