Private John F. Gravis

Private John F. Gravis

Texas Rangers, Texas

End of Watch Monday, August 4, 1890

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John F. Gravis

Company D of the Texas Rangers under Captain Frank Jones was moved to the Trans Pecos area in far West Texas on May 30, 1890. The Shafter settlement in Presidio County was a mining town and there had been a number of disturbances.

On Monday, August 4, 1890, a fight broke out at a dance at a private residence in Shafter. Ranger Private John F. Gravis was at the dance when a wild gunfight erupted in which several people were killed. Gravis was shot and instantly killed in the shooting. Captain Jones arrived with several rangers and began rounding up suspects. He returned to Marfa with seven men under arrest for murder. Other rangers and a civilian posse brought in another dozen suspects. Rangers later arrested three men fleeing to Mexico. While one newspaper account in September 1890 reported that a man was to be tried at Marfa for the murder of Private Gravis, it is unknown if anyone was ever convicted.

John F. Gravis enlisted in the ranger service on February 24, 1890 and had served for a little more than 5 months when he was killed. The newspaper reported that his body was shipped to his home in Laredo, Webb County, Texas. His place of burial has not been located. There is no information as to whether Gravis was married or had any children.

As a postscript, Ranger Captain Frank Jones would be killed in the line of duty on June 30, 1893 in El Paso County.


  • Age 22
  • Tour 5 months, 1 week
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Unknown weapon
  • Offender Not available

Most Recent Reflection

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Rest in peace always knowing that your service will never, ever be forgotten as no passage of time will ever erase your sacrifice.

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

August 4, 2020

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