The untold story of a slain Williamson County deputy and the outlaw who killed him

Story behind A.W. Grimes and Sam Bass

On July 19, 1878, Williamson County Sheriff Deputy A.W. Grimes was shot and killed in the line of duty.

But some worry the man accused of killing him has more fame than the officer himself.

You've probably driven along A.W. Grimes Boulevard or Sam Bass Road in Round Rock, but many don’t know who those people are.

Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody wants to change that.

You can see the name Sam Bass written all over Round Rock: from business signs to street signs.

"Sam Bass Road has been here forever, I mean it’s one of the oldest roads in Round Rock,” said Round Rock resident Rufus Honeycutt.

There's even a gravesite for him at the Round Rock Cemetery off of Sam Bass Road.

"Actually I wish we didn't have it here," said Honeycutt.

He said it's because Bass was an outlaw.

"He was coming to Round Rock to rob the bank,” said Honeycutt.

Back in 1878, Williamson County Sheriff Deputy A.W. Grimes, who was a constable in Round Rock, tried to stop Bass.

"Sam Bass pulled out his pistol and shot him and killed him,” said Honeycutt.

A road bearing Bass' name has run through town for more than 100 years.

"A lot of people know about the road, not a lot of people know about the history of the man,” said Honeycutt.

In the late 1990s, Honeycutt worked to get the same honor for the officer, Deputy A.W. Grimes.

"He only lived to be 27, and he spent most of his life serving the people of the state of Texas, and I thought he deserved to have some real recognition,” said Honeycutt. "I grew up here in Texas and I grew up believing right is right and wrong is wrong."

Now, Chody wants A.W. Grimes to be more than just a road.

"We've had four deputies killed in the line of duty, most of them, three of them, within the 1800s, one in the 1980s, but we've done a bad job -- I think -- of recognizing those deputies,” said Chody. "I think we've done a horrible job as a community, recognizing, especially Deputy Grimes, when you look at the other person who was that killed him, how we celebrate the other side instead of the true hero in this case which was Deputy Grimes."

Chody visited Grimes' gravesite Wednesday.

"It bothers me a little bit to see the outlaw's name on the road as you exit the cemetery to visit the true hero, in my eyes," said Chody.

“A.W. Grimes was just an ordinary citizen, grew up in Bastrop County, joined the Texas Rangers," said Honeycutt.

Grimes was a Texas Ranger before joining the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office in the late 1800s.

"He's somebody that represented law and order, and he was trying to make a difference in his community,” said Chody. "I think it’s my duty as the representative of the Williamson County Sheriff's Office, as the sheriff, to let people know, we're here to represent the good, and we want to echo his name and that's what we're doing."

He wants to see more honor given to Grimes and not Bass.

"What if right now we named a road or celebrated days of current officers who were killed in the line of duty, their killers, there would be an uproar, and rightfully so,” said Chody. "Everyone knows who the outlaw is, but some people don't know who A.W. Grimes is."

Chody would like to see the name of the road changed but realizes that can be difficult.

Honeycutt tried to change the name of Sam Bass Road a few years ago but was unsuccessful.

"I think people would like to have done it, but that means every business on Sam Bass Road would have to change their mailing address and all [of] their advertising and stuff, and nobody was really highly motivated to do that," said Honeycutt.

Locally,  Chody has been active in the Police Lives Matter group.

"It's no secret that I have a passion for officers in the line of duty -- killed in the line of duty," said Chody.

He said this is a life that is important, no matter how long ago, it was taken.

"Let us not forget, I don't care if it was 1700 or 1800s, people paid that price. But the sad thing about it is, people do forget, and I think this is a classic case of that,” said Chody. "I think we have a duty to his family, you know his ancestors now, I think we have a duty to represent A.W. Grimes and celebrate his life, and the good that we have."

The sheriff hopes they can create a day to honor Deputy Grimes.

"The way things are today, we really do need to recognize the true heroes, we spend way too much time talking about the people who are doing wrong, and very little talking about the people who do things right," said Honeycutt. "People need to know the story, and need to know why these people really worked hard for the people of Texas to make sure things were right."

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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