Deputy Sheriff Rufus H. Day

Deputy Sheriff Rufus H. Day

Henderson County Sheriff's Office, Texas

End of Watch Tuesday, December 23, 1879

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Rufus H. Day

Deputy Sheriff Rufus H. Day, and an assistant, was transporting three prisoners they had arrested in Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma). The three prisoners, Henry Smith, a Baptist preacher, and two brothers named Owen had been indicted in Henderson County for horse theft. They were on their way back to Henderson County when the group stopped at a farm house in Van Zandt County, Texas, to spend the night. Smith got possession of Deputy Day's pistol and shot and killed him. The three prisoners escaped, but were soon captured.

In May 1883, Henry Smith was tried in Van Zandt County and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Deputy Sheriff Rufus H. Day. In October 1880, Elmer Owen was tried in Henderson County and sentenced to five years in prison for horse theft.

Rufus H. Day was survived by his wife and children. He was buried in the Athens City Cemetery.


  • Age 40
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun
  • Offender sentenced to life in prison

Most Recent Reflection

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Deputy Sheriff Day,
On today, the 140th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Henderson County. And to your Family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.


United States Border Patrol

December 23, 2019

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