Deputy Sheriff David Neil

Deputy Sheriff David Neil

Smith County Sheriff's Office, Texas

End of Watch Saturday, September 27, 1851

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David Neil

Sheriff John N. McKinley arrested Joseph Pierce with a warrant charging Pierce with assault with intent to commit murder. Sheriff McKinley placed Pierce in the log jail house at Old Canton, in southeast Smith County. Threats were made by relatives and friends of Pierce to rescue him from the custody of the sheriff. The sheriff assembled a posse to guard the jail. During the attack on the jail a shootout and fight with knives and an axe resulted in the death of Deputy Sheriffs David Neil and James Holden. Sheriff McKinley and Posseman Thomas Brock were wounded. A bystander was killed when a bullet went though a door. Among the attackers, Robert Pierce and Isaac Moore were shot and killed, and Peter Crawford was severely wounded but escaped. Robert Pierce was reportedly the attacker who killed the two deputy sheriffs.

Peter Crawford was charged with the murder of Deputy Sheriff Neil and Joseph Pierce was charged with the assault with intent to kill Sheriff McKinley. The records also show that from 1852 to 1857, numerous unsuccessful attempts were made to locate and arrest Peter Crawford and Joseph Pierce.

David Neil was survived by his wife and two children. No cemetery records for the burial location have been located.


  • Age 27
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Unknown weapon
  • Offender Not available

Most Recent Reflection

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Deputy Sheriff Neil,
On today, the 170th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Smith County. And to your Family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.


United States Border Patrol

September 27, 2021

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