McDuffie, Dan LaFayette (1883–1931)

By: Christopher Long

Type: Biography

Published: April 1, 1995

Updated: January 24, 2020

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Dan LaFayette McDuffie, Texas Ranger, was born in Prescott, Arkansas, on February 16, 1883, the son of J. C. McDuffie. Around 1886 the family moved to Bowie County, Texas, where the elder McDuffie became a successful farmer. At an early age Dan began training as a law-enforcement officer with his uncle W. D. Hays, chief of police in Texarkana. At age eighteen McDuffie was appointed deputy constable, and the following year he was appointed to fill the unexpired term of the constable, who had died. In 1903 Sheriff T. C. Morris commissioned him deputy sheriff responsible for all of western Bowie County. In 1904 McDuffie was elected constable in New Boston, where he served until 1910. Subsequently he served as chief deputy sheriff of Bowie County. He ran twice unsuccessfully for sheriff and later served as deputy United States marshal, special agent for the northern division of the Cotton Belt Railroad, and a federal prohibition agent. In 1923 he won fame during a campaign against local moonshiners by confiscating some eighty illegal stills. On July 7, 1931, McDuffie was appointed to Company B of the Texas Rangers, active in the East Texas oilfield. He went to Gladewater on a case and was driving with Gladewater chief of police W. A. Dail when they received report of shots fired. When they arrived on the scene McDuffie was shot by Jeff Johnson, a former policeman, and died a short time later. He was buried in Reed Hill Cemetery, a short distance from New Boston. The service was attended by 2,000 people, including law-enforcement officers from around the state. A state historical marker was placed at the site in 1967.

Marker Files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin.

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

Christopher Long, “McDuffie, Dan LaFayette,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 18, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 1, 1995
January 24, 2020