Upton County, Texas
Born July 21, 1851 Mitchell, Indiana
Died July 21, 1878 Round Rock ,Texas
The End of a Bandit
How Sam Bass Met a Violent Death In a Texas Town
In the little town of Round Rock, in Williamson county, Tex., not more than 80 miles distant from Austin, repose the remains of one of the most desperate highwaymen that ever operated in our section,” said Mr. I. N. Crocker of the Lone Star State to a reporter.
It was in the spring of 1878 that Sam Bass met his fate in this sleepy little town, and when he died with his boots on the southwest was rid of a criminal who was easily the peer of Jesse James, though he hadn’t quite as long a run as that noted outlaw. Bass was a product of Michigan—at least, his sister, a gentle girl, came down from some town in that state to see that his body was decently interred.
Bass had collected about him a company of as hardened thieves as ever engineered a hold up. The gang had robbed a number of trains in Missouri and Arkansas and concluded they would make one more good haul in Texas before riding across the border into Mexico, where they proposed to stay in retirement for a season.
Bass had planned the looting of the only bank at Round Rock as an easier job and doubtless a better paying one than tackling a train, which feat had been performed too often to be thoroughly safe. By changing his program to raiding a village bank there might be more lucre and less risk.
So on that lovely morning in May when he and his fellow thieves rode into the unsuspicious town they chuckled to think what an easy job it would be to transfer the bank’s cash to their pockets. So thoroughly certain were they of getting off with the plunder that they were in no haste about the matter. One wanted to get a shave, another went into a restaurant and so they scattered singly over the place, but there was no understanding as to the time of attack, and a rendezvous was fixed upon.
Meanwhile, unknown to the bandits, a squad of mounted Texas rangers had been pressing hard upon the trail of the bad men, and within an hour after the Bass outfit entered Round Rock, Sergeant Dick Ware, with eight or ten rangers, also reached the scene. He wasn’t aware of the presence of the robbers, nor did thy dream that the officers of the law were in that vicinity.
Neither did any citizen of the town have the remotest idea of the identity of certain rough men, strangers in the place. But they might be cowboys from some distant west Texas cattle ranch, for the presence of such was too common to occasion notice.
The climax came quite by accident. One of the ruffians who had sauntered into a store to make a few purchases, in reaching for his purse to make payment, disclosed a big Colt’s revolver. The Texan law against carrying guns was strict, and it so happened that the man who saw the weapon was none other than the town marshal, as brave a fellow as ever lived. He walked up to the desperado and said quite courteously:
“My friend, I’ll have to relieve you of that six shooter.”
“I’ll give it to you, then,” said the robber with an oath, and in a second had drawn his weapon and fired upon the marshal, who fell dead at the report.
Upon this the robber rushed out of the store, and immediately his comrades came running to the spot, but no faster than did the rangers with their Winchesters, ready for action. In a second it seemed as if both sides had the situation revealed, and the robbers turned to run to where their horses stood tied, a block from where the murder of the marshal occurred. Before he had run 50 yards Dick Ware had sent a bullet into the head of Barnes, Bass’ lieutenant, which laid the highwayman low.
Bass, mortally wounded, managed to get upon his horse, which he urged to breakneck speed. The animal ran for about three miles till he reached the open prairie and stopped to graze. As he did so his rider, unable to sit longer in the saddle from loss of blood, fell to the ground.
When they found him a few hours later, he was dying. He recognized Sergeant Ware as the man who had killed him and said he wanted Ware to have his horse. He regretted their procrastination in robbing the bank, for if they had only known the rangers were so near they could have finished the job and escaped.
San Jose Mercury News, Published August 02, 1899
Submitted by Cathy Danielson
Sam Bass Tombstone
Cause of death: He was mortally wounded by a Texas Ranger named George Harrell on July 19, 1878, just moments after Bass and one of his gang, Seaborn Barnes, had shot and disabled Morris Moore, a one-time Texas Ranger
Burial: Round Rock Cemetery
Round Rock, Williamson County, Texas
Plot: West Side, Near Fence
GPS (lat/lon): 30.62113, -97.69775
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