Since its original printing in 1952, the publication of the Handbook of Texas has been made possible through the support of its users. As an independent nonprofit, TSHA relies on your contributions to close the funding gap for the online Handbook and keep it a freely accessible resource for users worldwide. Please make a donation today to preserve the most comprehensive encyclopedic resource on Texas history. Donate Today »


Lou Rodenberger

MALTBY, WILLIAM JEFF (1829–1908). William Jeff Maltby (Captain Jeff), Texas Ranger and pioneer, was born in Sangamon County, Illinois, on December 17, 1829. After a year's service as a volunteer in Gray's Battalion, Arkansas Volunteers, in 1846–47, he became a civilian employee of the United States Army in Fort Smith, Arkansas. From 1849 to 1855 Maltby served the army as a teamster, wagonmaster, scout, and dispatch-bearer. He helped build several Texas frontier forts including Fort Belknap, Fort Clark, and Fort Concho. In 1856 at Fort Clark, Maltby operated a stage stop on the road from San Antonio to El Paso. He moved to Burnet County and married Mary Francis McKiney on June 7, 1857. During the Civil War Maltby served one year with the Seventeenth Texas Volunteer Infantry. In 1863 he returned home and organized neighbors into a minute men militia as a Texas Ranger sergeant to protect the area from raiding Indians. After a court martial initiated by Reconstruction officials in 1864, Maltby signed a Union loyalty oath and began ranching in partnership with G. C. Arnett in Burnet, Lampasas, Llano, and San Saba counties. He organized early cattle drives to Calvert, Texas, New Orleans, and Kansas. When the Frontier Battalion of the reorganized Texas Rangersqv was formed in 1874 under Maj. John B. Jones, Maltby was appointed commander of Company E. He served in this capacity from May 5 to December 13, 1874, and took part in the struggles between the Rangers and Indians and white desperadoes. In 1875 he returned to Burnet County and moved his family to a Callahan County farm in 1878. In later years Maltby was a West Texas booster and well-known horticulturist. He accompanied the Texas Agricultural Exhibit to Chicago in 1891. Jeff and Mary Maltby had eight children. In 1906 he published Captain Jeff, which narrates his experiences as frontiersman, Texas Ranger, and Indian fighter. Historian Rupert N. Richardson says in the introduction to the 1965 facsimile edition of Maltby's memoirs that, although the author's account may be exaggerated and sometimes inaccurate, his observations are valuable for the unique perspective they give on early Texas frontier life and times.


Chuck Parsons, James Madison Brown, Texas Sheriff, Texas Turfman (Wolfe City, Texas: Henington, 1993). Walter Prescott Webb, The Texas Rangers (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1935; rpt., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1982). Robert Lee Williamson, A History of Company E of the Texas Frontier Battalion, 1874–1879 (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1952).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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

Handbook of Texas Online, Lou Rodenberger, "MALTBY, WILLIAM JEFF," accessed September 20, 2019,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on September 29, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...