‘Gone but not forgotten:’ the lawman, A.W. Grimes, and the outlaw, Sam Bass, who became local namesakes

Sam Bass (back row, far left) formed a band of outlaws who robbed trains, stagecoaches and banks in the late 1800's.
Sam Bass (back row, far left) formed a band of outlaws who robbed trains, stagecoaches and banks in the late 1800's.

Sam Bass (back row, far left) formed a band of outlaws who robbed trains, stagecoaches and banks in the late 1800's.

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A.W. Grimes served as a sheriff's deputy in Round Rock until his death in July 1878.
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For 137 years, a tombstone on the outskirts of Round Rock Cemetery with the words ‘Gone but not forgotten’ lay cracked and worn atop the grave of a man named A.W. Grimes. Locally, the name now rings familiar with A.W. Grimes Boulevard in Round Rock and the Deputy A.W. Grimes Law Enforcement Training Center in Hutto.

But this was not always the case. Grimes’ body lies in what was once called the Old Sam Bass Cemetery, located off Sam Bass Road, mere feet from the body of the infamous outlaw Samuel Bass.

The men—Bass an outlaw and Grimes a lawman—27 and 28, respectively, at the time of their deaths, died two days apart in July 1878 after engaging in a shootout in downtown Round Rock, less than 2 miles from where their bodies now lie.

The fateful day began when Williamson County Sheriff’s Deputy Grimes and Travis County Sheriff’s Deputy Maurice B. Moore noticed three individuals enter Kopperal’s Store on Main Street. According to documents provided by the Williamson Museum, the deputies suspected the men were armed. Carrying a pistol was illegal at the time in Round Rock.

Grimes approached the men and asked them to surrender their weapons. The Sam Bass gang opened fire. Moore was injured in the exchange. Grimes was hit five times and died before he could pull his gun, according to materials from the Williamson Museum.


Despite the inscription on Grimes’ tombstone, Bass captured minds and imaginations for years—in songs, movies and lore—moreso than the fallen Williamson County sheriff’s deputy.

But recent efforts—the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office replacing Grimes’ tombstone in 2015 and naming the training center after Grimes in 2018—aim to ensure his name and memory live on.
By Taylor Jackson Buchanan
Taylor Buchanan joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2018 after completing a master of journalism degree from the University of Texas. She worked as the senior reporter for Community Impact's Southwest Austin edition and is now the editor for the company's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition.


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