Law Enforcement Memorial

Special Deputy Hamill Poston Scott

End of Watch: May 1, 1907

Special Deputy Hamill P. Scott was born in Virginia and moved to a farm north of Fort Worth with his family in 1872. Deputy Scott initially worked for the Fort Worth and Denver Railroad, where he was involved in many gun fights with robbers and once nearly burned to death in a derailed, overturned train. Deputy Scott then served the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office for 10 years until he became a Claims Agent for the Railroad, ultimately leading to his commission as a Special Deputy by the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office. On Friday, March 22, 1907, Deputy Scott was working security at the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show when Tarrant County attorney Jefferson McLean was shot in the throat by a man named William Thomason. A citizen recognized Deputy Scott and informed him of the direction Thomason had escaped. Without hesitation, Deputy Scott went in pursuit of the killer. Suspect Thomason saw Deputy Scott chasing after him and hid behind some packing boxes in an alley near Houston and Throckmorton Streets. As Deputy Scott entered the alley, Thomason shot him in the arm, causing Deputy Scott to drop his gun. Thomason then fired a second shot, hitting Deputy Scott in the spinal cord and paralyzing him from the chest down. Thomason then took Deputy Scott’s gun and fled the scene; he was later apprehended by other officers. Deputy Scott survived for another six weeks until he passed away on May 1, 1907. He was 42 years old. Deputy Scott was survived by his wife Margaret Campbell Scott. It was reported the citizens of Tarrant County were deeply touched by the death of Deputy Scott and closed all Tarrant County offices, as well as many businesses, to attend the large funeral in his honor.

Deputy Sheriff R.W. “Dick” Townsend

End of Watch: April 4, 1886

R.W. “Dick” Townsend was born in Kentucky and moved to Tarrant County with his parents prior to the Civil War. In 1886, a railroad strike took place in Fort Worth. It was at this time Dick Townsend was appointed Special Deputy by the Sheriff. On April 3, 1886, a group of officers attempted to escort a train out of Fort Worth. The train was heading southbound when the officers noticed four strikers tampering with a track switch. Deputy Townsend and the other officers stopped the train to arrest the strikers. It was then that the officers spotted several other strikers with rifles, hiding in a ditch. Deputy Jim “Longhair” Courtwright ordered the men to put down their weapons, and they instead opened fire on the officers. While guarding the prisoners on the train, Deputy Townsend was shot just above the heart. He emptied one pistol then crawled back to the cab of the train engine.  Deputy Townsend passed away the next day, April 4, 1886.  He was 32 years old.

Sheriff John B. York

End of Watch: August 24, 1861

John York was elected as Tarrant County’s second sheriff in 1852, and then re-elected as the fourth sheriff in 1858. During the year 1861, Tarrant County did not have a courthouse, and the Sheriff’s Office was just a small, two-room brick building. Sheriff York’s accomplishments include construction of the first Tarrant County Jail at the corner of Jones and East Belknap Streets. There are a number of accounts of Sheriff York’s death, but the most plausible stem from ongoing differences with a Dallas attorney named A.Y. Fowler.  Fowler, a heavy drinker with a volatile temper, vowed revenge on the Sheriff after he removed Fowler from a local barbecue where he was causing a disturbance.  The following day, a visibly intoxicated Fowler approached Sheriff York in town and stabbed him repeatedly as the Sheriff reached to arm himself. Assuming Sheriff York was dead, Fowler walked away, only to turn around to see Sheriff York following him with his gun drawn. Sheriff York fired a shot, hitting Fowler directly in the heart, killing him almost instantly.  At that point, Bill Fowler, A.Y.’s brother, appeared and fired a shotgun at Sheriff York, hitting him in his upper body.  Sheriff York was moved to the Andrews Hotel, where he survived until 3 p.m. the following day. He was 36 years old.

Sheriff York is the first recorded Tarrant County Peace Officer killed in the line of duty. He was survived by his pregnant wife, three sons and three daughters.




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