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Assistant Superintendent James T. Washington County Convict Farm, Texas

Assistant Superintendent

James T. "Jim" Burch

Washington County Convict Farm, Texas

End of Watch: Sunday, October 10, 1897

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 22

Tour: Not available

Badge # Not available

Cause: Gunfire

Weapon: Shotgun

Offender: Killed

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Washington County operated a convict farm (work camp) for prisoners convicted of misdemeanors. This convict farm was a correctional facility managed by County Judge and Commissioners’ Court. Jim Burch was a guard and assistant superintendent. Prior to the incident Burch had some trouble with an inmate named Bob Carter who was a repeat offender.

Burch was standing under an awning on the sidewalk in Brenham when Carter came around a corner with a shotgun in his hand and walking fast. Carter raised the shotgun when only a few steps away and fired, tearing away the right side of Burch’s face and killing him almost instantly. Burch was drawing his Colt .45 caliber pistol the instant the suspect fired, and as he fell his pistol discharged and the bullet struck a building. Carter fled the scene. Sheriff Teague asked for the Santa Fe switch engine to take him to the convict farm about four miles north of Brenham to get the bloodhounds. Superintendent Dick Robertson at the county convict farm was Burch’s brother-in-law. Robertson accompanied Sheriff Teague back to Brenham.

Groups of officers and citizens were combing the area for Carter. Word was received that Carter would surrender to R.S Farmer provided the armed officers and citizens would return to town. Farmer and Carter took a circuitous route riding double on a horse and tried to reach the rear of the jail. As they got within 20 steps of the rear of the jail, Farmer was confronted by Superintendent Robertson and Constable R.H. Burch, Jim’s brother. Carter jumped from the horse and ran 15 feet before Constable Burch shot him twice with a shotgun. Sheriff Teague charged the constable with murder but he was never convicted.

Jim Burch was buried in the Prairie Lea Cemetery in Brenham. He was not married.

The Washington County Convict Farm no longer exists. The Sheriff operates the county jail today. On January 22, 1914, Constable Burch and Brenham Night Watchman John Lockett got into an argument and Lockett killed the constable.

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The officer was survived by his parents and seven siblings

October 20, 2017


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