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Guard William Isham Taylor | Harris County Convict Camp, Texas Harris County Convict Camp, Texas

Guard

William Isham Taylor

Harris County Convict Camp, Texas

End of Watch: Wednesday, February 18, 1914

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 32

Tour: Not available

Badge # Not available

Cause: Drowned

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Many Texas counties maintained “convict camps” and “poor farms” under the auspices of a county administrator, and not under the county sheriff, to house prisoners convicted of misdemeanor crimes. The “convict guards” were armed correctional officers. At 8:00 a.m. four convict guards were in charge of prisoners at the Harris County Convict Camp No. 2 alongside the Houston Ship Channel. Several prisoners made an escape attempt by running towards the ship channel, but they stopped when ordered by guards to surrender, except Sam Jones and Joe Brown. The guards released dogs on the escaping prisoners, but Brown escaped on foot when the dogs went after Jones. Jones attempted to flee into the ship channel. Guard Leroy (Roy) Bailey ran into the water which was about three feet deep where Jones was standing, and started to shoot the prisoner, when Guard William Isham Taylor said, “Don’t do that, we can get him without having to shoot him.” Bailey put his pistol in his belt and attempted to capture Jones. They started struggling. Apparently the men stepped into a hole and went under water. Bailey shouted for help and Guard Taylor came to his rescue. Bailey allegedly grabbed onto Taylor and both men drown. Jones swam to shore and escaped with dogs in pursuit. The bodies of Bailey and Taylor were recovered by sheriff’s deputies and city police divers. County Commissioner W.H. Lloyd, in charge of the convict camp, said the two guards “died like heroes, and showed their loyalty by not using their guns.”

Sam Jones was arrested about 3:45 p.m. that day hiding at his brother’s house. He had been convicted on a charge of assault and fined $1.00 and costs amounting to $25.20. Being unable to pay his fine and costs, Jones was sentenced to county jail and then the county convict camp. His bond had been made but the paperwork had not reached the camp when he escaped. The newspaper reported the Harris county grand jury was investigating the deaths of the two county guards, but it is unknown at this time as to the disposition of the cases against Sam Jones and Joe Brown.

Taylor was 32 years of age and single. He was buried in Prairie Lea Cemetery in Washington County. He was survived by his parents.

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Related Line of Duty Deaths

Guard Leroy Bailey
Harris County Convict Camp, Texas
End of Watch: Wednesday, February 18, 1914
Cause: Drowned

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Rest in peace, Guard Taylor. Greater Houston C.O.P.S. will never forget your sacrifice to our great State of Texas.

Greater Houston C.O.P.S.
February 18, 2012

 

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