Sheriff William M. Thompson

Sheriff William M. Thompson

Washington County Sheriff's Office, Texas

End of Watch Tuesday, June 14, 1870

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William M. Thompson

Three strangers arrived in Brenham and became abusive and insulted a female. A man passing by protested their treatment of the woman, and the three strangers drew their pistols and told him to go about his business. The man went to Sheriff William M. Thompson and filed a complaint to get warrants for their arrest.

Several hours later, Sheriff Thompson and Deputy Sheriff Crozier confronted the three men, one of whom was variously identified as Hansboro, Handsboro, Handsborough, Hansbrow, and Hertzberg. The sheriff tapped Hansboro on the shoulder, demanded his pistol, saying, “you are my prisoner.” The sheriff started to draw his pistol, but man drew his pistol quickly and fired, although his friends told him not to fire. Hansboro’s shot missed the sheriff. Deputy Crozier fired at Hansboro, striking Sheriff Thompson in the back and shoulder, coming out the left side. Hansboro fired at the deputy and would have killed him except the deputy was behind a post.

Hansboro was arrested by local citizens and placed in jail. Deputy Sheriff Tesdart formed a guard to protect Hansboro from being lynched, and took him to the train depot to be transferred to Galveston for safekeeping. While at the train depot, Sheriff Thompson’s wife approached Hansboro with a pistol and placed the weapon against his breast and pulled the trigger. The pistol did not fire and the deputy quickly disarmed her and had the train depart.

Sheriff William M. Thompson died the next day, Tuesday, June 14, 1870. He was survived by his wife. He was born about 1836 in Kentucky and was about 34 years of age at the time of his death. Thompson was elected on December 3, 1869 and served about six months. His funeral was held in Brenham, but his place of burial is unknown at this time.

The Houston Daily Union, November 21, 1870, reported that William Hansborough, charged with the murder of Sheriff Thompson came up for trial in the District Court and resulted in a verdict of acquittal.


  • Age 34
  • Tour 6 months
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Monday, June 13, 1870
  • Weapon Handgun
  • Offender acquitted

Most Recent Reflection

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On this 150th “anniversary” of your untimely departure, please know that no passage of time can erase your service and the sacrifice you made that day. Rest In Peace always.

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

June 14, 2020

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