Sheriff Isham Lafayette "Fate" Elder

Sheriff Isham Lafayette "Fate" Elder

Karnes County Sheriff's Office, Texas

End of Watch Monday, September 6, 1886

Add to My Heroes

Isham Lafayette "Fate" Elder

Sheriff Isham Fate Elder was shot and killed along with his brother, Deputy Sheriff Bud Elder, and Deputy Sheriff Jack Bailey. Local citizens Hiram and Henry Pullin were also killed while Deputy Sheriff V.O. Barfield, Deputy Sheriff William G. Butler, Deputy Christopher P. Dailey, and County Attorney F. R. Graves were wounded in the exchange of gunfire.

Shortly before noon on Monday, September 6, 1886, Sheriff Elder was sitting outside a polling place at Daileyville. Sheriff Elder observed two men ride into town, one of whom was wanted in connection with a murder that had occurred at Floresville in Wilson County. The two men dismounted and each took a Winchester rifle from a saddle scabbard. It was a violation of the law for carrying firearms within one-half mile of a polling place by anyone except lawmen.

The two men were employed by a wealthy rancher who believed Sheriff Elder had assisted in the killing of his son some 20 months earlier. The two immediately began shooting at Sheriff Elder. The sheriff drew his pistol and attempted to fire, but his pistol misfired. Another son of the rancher approached the sheriff from behind and fired a shot into the back of his head. Sheriff Elder fell to the ground dead.

Deputy Bud Elder was then fired on by the two men and seriously wounded but was able to wound the rancher. An unknown person then walked up to Deputy Elder and shot him in the head, killing him instantly.

Deputy Jack Bailey realized the bad tactical situation he was in and ran for the cover in a yard near the store with his pistol in his hand. As Deputy Bailey was in the yard, someone shot him and he fell. As Deputy Bailey was laying face up on the ground, he was then shot two more times. It later was determined that Deputy Bailey had never fired his gun. He had been shot in the right leg, and his knee was shattered, so doctors had to amputate his leg. He died from his wounds the following day.

Sheriff Elder had served as sheriff for 20 months. He was survived by his wife and three children.

All three lawmen were buried at Helena Cemetery but only Deputy Bud Elder's grave site can be located.


  • Age 34
  • Tour 1 year, 8 months
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Rifle
  • Offender Deceased

ambush, murder suspect, retaliation

Most Recent Reflection

View all 9 Reflections

No passage of time will ever erase your service and sacrifice and may you always rest in peace knowing that your fellow law enforcement will always remember and thank you.

Detective Cpl/3 Steven Rizzo
Delaware State Police (Retired)

September 6, 2020

Want even more control of your Reflection? Create a free ODMP account now for these benefits:

  • Quick access to your heroes
  • Reflections published quicker
  • Save a Reflection signature
  • View, edit or delete any Reflection you've left in the past

Create an account for more options, or use this form to leave a Reflection now.