Night Watchman John Luckie Elsberry

Night Watchman John Luckie Elsberry

Southern Pacific Railroad Police Department, Railroad Police

End of Watch Friday, August 16, 1895

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John Luckie Elsberry

Night Watchman John Elsberry was shot and killed in Valentine, Texas, while responding to a robbery.

During the night two masked men entered the general store in Valentine in Jeff Davis County. Asleep inside the store were U.S. Customs Inspector E.E. Townsend, a store employee and a railroad brakeman. The armed men took $325 from the safe. Unbeknownst to the robbers, a witness saw the men wearing pulled-up bandanas and carrying rifles as they entered the store. The witness ran to the railroad section house and summoned Night Watchman Elsberry, the railroad company’s experienced night watchman and a former senior Captain of the Southern Pacific Railroad’s watchmen in El Paso.

Night Watchman Elsberry went to the back door and knocked. The store employee hinted that they were being robbed so he fired one round to warn the robbers and alert the men around the store. The two robbers fled out the back door, directly at Watchman Elsberry, and started firing as they ran. The posse of eight citizens also opened fire. The men heard a cry of pain and Watchman Elsberry call out, “Oh my God! I’m shot!” Upon investigation Watchman Elsberry was found shot through the body by the robber’s .40-82 Winchester rifle. He died within minutes at the scene. The two robbers escaped into the night.

Two brothers were arrested and indicted. One produced an alibi, but the other was convicted of the robbery and sentenced to 15 years in prison. However, he was acquitted of Watchman Elsberry's murder. He appealed the robbery conviction and was later acquitted. The crime remains legally unsolved.

Night Watchman Elsberry was survived by his wife and three children. His place of burial remains unknown.


  • Age 41
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Location Texas
  • Weapon Rifle
  • Offender Acquitted


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Condolences to his family and his kids

Carson loveless

February 11, 2024

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