JOIN THE WILLIAMSON COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE AS WE HONOR ALIJAH W. GRIMES. WILLIAMSON COUNTY DEPUTY SHERIFF A.W. GRIMES WAS MURDERED IN THE LINE OF DUTY BY THE SAM BASS GANG ON JULY 19TH, 1878. ALIJAH WAS ALSO A HUSBAND, FATHER, RETIRED TEXAS RANGER, AND LOCAL FREEMASON. IN RECENT YEARS HIS ORIGINAL TOMBSTONE HAD BEEN BROKEN IN HALF. WE WILL BE DEDICATING A NEW TOMBSTONE WHICH SHOULD WITHSTAND THE TEST OF TIME. THE ORIGINAL TOMBSTONE WILL BE DONATED TO THE WILLIAMSON MUSEUM.
A SPECIAL THANKS TO THE WILLIAMSON COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE, SAN GABRIEL MONUMENTS IN TAYLOR, TEXAS, OLD SAM BASS CEMETARY IN ROUND ROCK, TEXAS, WILLIAMSON MUSEUM IN GEORGETOWN, TEXAS.
Narrative of Ahijah W. Grimes by
Sergeant Craig Gripentrog
Traffic Enforcement/S.W.A.T. Supervisor
Williamson County Sheriff’s Office
A. W. Grimes was born July 5, 1850 in Bastrop Texas.
Through my investigations, I’ve found many sources call him Alijah. His true name was actually Ahijah. His was named after his mother’s father. Ahijah means the brother of Jehovah. He was a husband, father of 3, and brother.
AW Grimes has an honored family lineage. His Uncle Albert Grimes fell defending the Alamo. His grandfather Jesse Grimes was a Judge and a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence.
Like many Texas men of his time, AW Grimes was a Mason. He belonged to Gamble Lodge 244 in Bastrop, where his father was a charter member. He was initiated March 10, 1873, passed on April 26th, and raised on May 14th. AW Grimes’ lawman’s career began as Bastrop City Marshall in 1874. He was also elected to City tax assessor in 1875.
On September 21, 1876, the Bastrop County Commissioners Court appointed AW Grimes Precinct 6 Constable.
Nineteen days after his brother Albert joined the Texas Rangers, AW Grimes joined the Texas Rangers on September 20, 1877. He was in Neal Caldwell’s A Company of the Frontier Battalion. He left the Texas Rangers in December 1877. He then returned to Bastrop.
In 1878 he moved the family to Round Rock and went to work for Miller’s Exchange Bank.
Knowing of his prior law enforcement experience Williamson County Sheriff, Sam Strayhorn, appointed AW Grimes as a Deputy Sheriff and assigned him to the growing city of Round Rock.
The following is a brief history of the shootout that killed Deputy Grimes as told by Mike Cox in “The Texas Rangers Tales.”
Deputy Grimes and Travis County Deputy Moore were patrolling the streets of Round Rock. Deputy Moore observed three individuals enter a general store. He observed a bulge under his coat. Believing it was a firearm he told Deputy Grimes, “In Travis County, I take them guns away.” Deputy Grimes replied, “Well, in Williamson County I do the same.
Deputy Grimes approached one of the outlaws, patted him on the coat, and said, “Young man give me your gun.” To that, the outlaw replied, “You can have them both and the three outlaws started to shoot. Deputy Grimes was hit 5 times and died before he could pull his firearm and return fire. Deputy Moore was injured but managed to wound one of the outlaws.
After the gang wounded Travis County Deputy Moore and Killed Deputy Grimes, The Texas Ranger contingent shot 2 of the outlaws. He died the next day. Legend tells of Henry Highsmith (cousin) and Albert Grimes (brother) arriving in Round Rock in time to stand vigil outside one of the outlaw’s hospital room as long as he clung to life, vowing “ he will never leave this building alive.”
On the back is an abbreviated portion of a poem called the Thin Blue line by Kimberly Erb.
There is a line
the color of the sky
on a clear afternoon
There is a line
the hue of the ocean
on a bright sunny day
There is a line
the purest shade of a newborn's eyes
awakening for the first time
There is a line
that protects us from harm
in all we do
whether day or night
There is a line
no one can penetrate
no one can alleviate
There is a line
made of those who choose
to follow a calling, many do not hear
and still, more do not comprehend
They choose to walk
the path of fear, hate, and mistrust
taken by so few
but marked by so many
And when one leaves this line
they leave a legacy
but the line does not break
for the remaining must still protect
There may be emptiness
a loss, or sadness
but never a hole
not in this line
This line that holds
the ghosts of the souls who have gone
and the souls of the ghosts who will be
The Thin Blue Line
Jul. 5, 1850
Jul. 19, 1878
Round Rock Williamson County
Deputy Sheriff and former Texas Ranger. He was killed in a gunfight with the Sam Bass gang, 19 July 1878. It is difficult to fathom why on that Friday afternoon Ahijah A. Grimes challenged the three strangers who were approaching the general store. Ostensibly, it was due to the deputy sheriff he was with having told him he thought he had seen a pistol on one of the three, and since carrying such a weapon was illegal in Round Rock, Grimes was going to question them. Yet, not too many hours before, he had been told by two other lawmen that the Sam Bass gang was planning to rob the local bank and that a contingent of Texas Rangers was on the way from San Saba. Don't start anything; the two had told him, help is on the way. So, why would a former Texas Ranger and a current Deputy Sheriff of Williamson County challenge three strangers under such conditions? Perhaps he felt he was in no real danger. Perhaps the heroism of his ancestors came to the front. His uncle Alfred [AKA Albert] Grimes had fallen at the Alamo. Shortly thereafter, his grandfather Jessie Grimes, a judge, had signed the Declaration of Independence of Texas. Perhaps, momentarily, he had even forgotten about his wife (Charlotte A.) Lottie [nÈe Lyman] [1854/1939] and their three children. We will never know. He asked one of them about the gun. Yes, replied one of them, of course, I have one, and the three of them pulled their guns and, in a hail of bullets, mortally shot Grimes down. He was buried at the Round Rock Cemetery, not too far from where two of his three killers were buried, Sam Bass [q.v.] and Seaborne [q.v., under Seaborn] Barnes. The townspeople raised almost $200 for Grimes' family and gave her one of the outlaws' horses for compensation. On his headstone, the ironically bitter words "Gone But Not Forgotten" were chiseled, but for almost 125 years, he was forgotten. Songs were written about the outlaw Sam Bass. The road by the cemetery was named after Sam Bass. Baseball leagues in Round Rock were named after Sam Bass. For several decades in Round Rock, they have held a recreation of that gunfight, with more emphasis on Bass than on Grimes. Still, sometimes time has a way of correcting the errors and omissions of the past. On August 24, 2000, the City of Round Rock passed a resolution changing the name of Arterial "B" to A.W. Grimes Boulevard. And, placed next to his grave is now a metal cross, indicating he had been a Texas Ranger. (bio by Lone Star Time Traveler)
A Biography of Ahijah W. Grimes
Narrative by Benjamin Lyman Grimes III and Charles Bowman Grimes Great Grandsons of Ahijah W. Grimes
"The Forgotten Deputy," an article by Robert W. Stephen, begins by saying, "Among the weathered gravestones of the little cemetery in Round Rock, Texas, is the one bearing the inscription GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. But today, Ahijah W. Grimes, over whose grave the stone stands, is an almost forgotten lawman. His singular claim to fame was his death as a deputy sheriff in Round Rock on July 19, 1878-murdered by the Sam Bass Gang."
The following was written and provided by Benjamin Lyman Grimes III and Charles Bowman Grimes. Ahijah W. Grimes was born in Bastrop, Texas, on July 5, 1850. He was the second from the youngest of many children of Robert Henry and Elizabeth Highsmith Grimes. They were among the first pioneer families of Bastrop County.
Ahijah's grandfather was Jesse Grimes, for whom Grimes County is named.
Jesse signed the Declaration of Independence of Texas and led a life of Texas statehood and US political offices. He was Sam Houston's running mate as Lt. Governor after Statehood. While at Washington on the Brazos, his son Albert Calvin Grimes (A. W.'s uncle) died at the Alamo. In the Archives, there is a letter from William B. Travis asking Jesse Grimes to take care of his wife and child.
Ahijah W. Grimes was named for his other grandfather, Ahijah Morris Highsmith. His grandmother, Deborah Turner, was from prominent Mayflower Families. Many of the Turner's came with the Highsmith's, from Missouri, when they first settled Bastrop County in the early 1820s. Ahijah M. was, of necessity, an Indian fighter along with his son, Benjamin Highsmith (A.W.'s uncle). Ahijah M. and Benjamin were at the Battle of San Jacinto in the victory over Santa Anna.
A. W. Grimes' father, Robert, was the oldest son of Jesse Grimes. He was born in Duplin County, North Carolina, and probably was with his father as they migrated from North Carolina to Green County, Georgia, and on to Washington County, Alabama. We are unable to find the reason Robert H. moved to Bastrop County while his father stayed at Grimes Prairie near Navasota. Robert settled at Alum Creek, Bastrop County, and married Elizabeth Highsmith. He was part of Secrest's Washington County Cavalry during the Texas Revolution. He became Justice of the Peace in Bastrop County in 1846. He moved to Craft's Prairie in 1852 and went into the lumber mill business. He died in 1863. His wife, Elizabeth ( A.W. 's mother), later remarried James Hendon Wilkins in 1866.
Ahijah W. Grimes was born in 1850 among many brothers and sisters and Highsmith cousins.
His younger brother, named Albert Calvin Grimes (born 1855), became a noted Texas Ranger in the Panhandle and South Texas regions.
Interestingly........Many of the articles on Sam Bass have called A.W. Grimes "Caige."
Family folklore has his nickname as "High." The "W" (middle initial) of his name has not been identified. Most probable, the W was Woods as this was one of the Lincoln Co. Families. Ahijah worked as a printer as a young man in Bastrop. His father died when he was 13. He grew up among the Cottles, Turners, Grimes, and Highsmith families in Bastrop.
Ahijah W. Grimes married Charlotte (Lottie) Lyman in McDade, Bastrop Co., in 1874. Her Parents were Mayor Benjamin Lyman and Lelia Addie Dabney. Like A. W.'s father, Lottie's father had also been in the lumber business in Bastrop, which failed after the Civil War. He then moved to Lampasas, Texas, as a Federal Judge for the Bandera district. After A. W. was killed, Lottie moved, with her three children, to Lampasas also.
Ahijah Grimes lawman's career began as Bastrop City Marshall in 1874. He also won the election as City tax assessor in 1875. But he was defeated as County tax assessor in the elections of 1876.
His daughter, Elizabeth is born January 31, 1875, and a son Benjamin Lyman is born May 10, 1876. On September 21, 1876, the Bastrop County Commissioners Court appointed A.W. Precinct 6 Constable.
Nineteen days after his brother, Albert joined the Texas Rangers, A. W. joined the Texas Rangers on September 20, 1877. He was in Neal Caldwell's A Company of the Frontier Battalion. He left the Texas Rangers in December 1877. (Short enlistments in the Texas Rangers were not unusual). He then returned to Bastrop.
In 1878 he moved the family to Round Rock and went to work for Miller's Exchange Bank.
A third child, Mabel(Mae), was born in Round Rock. Henry Albert Highsmith, his cousin, operated a livery stable in Round Rock. The small town now had the railroad to spur its growth.
According to Mike Cox's research, Williamson County Sheriff, Sam Strayhorn, appointed A.W. Grimes as a Deputy Sheriff of Williamson County to handle the law enforcement of the growing city of Round Rock. Having Henry, his cousin, in town and all of his relatives in Bastrop and Lampasas, A.W. was a young man ready for the prime of his life.
After the Bass gang wounded Former Texas Ranger, Travis County Deputy Sheriff Maurice B. Moore and Killed Williamson Co. Deputy Sheriff Ahijah W. Grimes, The Texas Ranger contingent shot Sam Bass. He died the next day. Family legend tells of Henry Highsmith (cousin) and Albert Grimes (brother) standing guard to prevent Sam Bass from leaving the Round Rock Jail alive. Bass died there. Obviously Sam Bass did not die in the jail as many stories tell of the Hart Hotel billing the State for the blood stained sheets on Sam Bass' bed.
A. W.'s widow, Lottie, was given $200 and one of the horses from the Bass Gang by the town of Round Rock. The Houston and Texas Railroad also gave $250 in recognition of her husbands sacrifice. Elizabeth (age 3), Benjamin (age2), and Mabel (age 1) with mother Lottie left for Lampasas. The family grew up in the Lampasas area. Lottie later remarried a man by the name of Hart.
The oldest daughter, Elizabeth, married local Lampasas residents, Charles Witcher, divorced him and married Dr. W. D Frances.
She had no children and, in later years, ran a boarding house across the street from St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Lampasas. My brother Charles and I spent many weekends, growing up, running all over the Courthouse Square when we visited our Great Aunt and Grandfather there.
Benjamin Lyman spent his early years in the printing business. Benjamin may have learned his trade as his father, A.W., in Bastrop. In 1901 he was the publisher of the Elgin Eagle newspaper. In 1902 he married Susie Mae Highsmith. Her part of the Highsmith family also lived in Bastrop. In 1903 he sold the Elgin Eagle newspaper to W.C. Smith. Benjamin, Sr.(A.W.'s son) is in Cameron, Texas, with the newspaper when Benjamin, Jr. (A.W.'s grandson) is born. Ben Jr. is the only child of Ben and Susie. Ben, Sr. spent his whole life with Hill Printing and Stationery Co. of Waco, Texas. They had a stationery store in San Angelo for many years. They moved to San Angelo because Ben, Sr. was supposed to have had TB. In 1940 Susie died, and Ben. Sr moved to Elizabeth's boarding house in Lampasas and traveled West Texas for Hill Printing. Ben, Sr. and Susie saw their son, Ben Jr, Graduate from Texas A&M in 1929. Ben Sr. saw his grandson, Ben, and Charles, at Texas A&M. He died of a heart attack in 1956 as he left on a business trip at the age of 80.
Mabel, the youngest daughter, married William Cobb. Their son Moulten became a TV celebrity in the early years of television. He had the first television talk show in the Rio Grande Valley. He lived in Weslaco, Texas. He married late in life to a lady he had met years ago while at the University of Texas. They had no children.
Ben Sr., Elizabeth ("Auntie"), Mabel ("Mae"), and their families frequently met in Lampasas. Of these three children of A. W. and Lottie, only Ben Sr.'s son, Ben Jr., had children. He had two boys, Ben III and Charles. Each of these great-grandchildren had three children, and the family will increase in size again.
For Years, Sam Bass, who killed A.W. Grimes, has been the focal point of the celebrations of Round Rock as they celebrate their heritage. Captain Stan Simpson of the Round Rock Police Department has done more to change the focus of these celebrations from the "bad guys" to a focus on the good people of Round Rock and their efforts to build a good and law-abiding community. Our thanks to him.
Narrative by Benjamin Lyman Grimes III and Charles Bowman Grimes - - Great Grandsons of Ahijah W. Grimes