Deputy Sheriff Rufus H. Day

Deputy Sheriff Rufus H. Day

Henderson County Sheriff's Department, Texas

End of Watch Tuesday, December 23, 1879

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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Sheriff Rufus H. Day was married to my 2nd great grandmother, Eliza Janes Day. I have written a book on my mother's family, the Williams Family History Book, written by me in 1972, at the request of my grandfather, Judge Alviin Luke Williams of Ft. Worth, Texas and District Judge of Fairbanks, Alaska, 1961-1966, when he retired back to Ft. Worth, Texas. His mother was Bessie Mae Owen, daughter of David Randolph Owen of Athen, Henderson Cty., Tx. A Book on the Owen Family History was written in 1961, by Bonner Frizzell, later updated in 1994, Dallas, Texas by another author, I have both copies of those books. The 1961 book was written while my grandfather, Judge Alvin Luke Williams was in Fairbanks, Alaska. He contributed to that book. I am a writer and historian on my family history, of which Officer Day was married to my 2nd great grandmother, Eliza Day.

Dona Floyd Kimmons-DAR
Daughters of the American Revolution

April 18, 2017

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