Prohibition Officer James Aaron "Dick" Watson

Prohibition Officer James Aaron "Dick" Watson

Texas Rangers, Texas

End of Watch Thursday, February 21, 1924

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James Aaron "Dick" Watson

Governor Pat Neff made prohibition a top priority and wanted the Texas Rangers to stem the number of liquor stills. Governor Neff had Dick Watson, an undercover agent, sent into Somervell County. Watson was acting as a special prohibition enforcement officer under the direction of Texas Rangers. By August 1923 Watson had enough evidence. Rangers organized a posse of area lawmen and made the raids, destroying 23 stills and arresting 50 men. One moonshiner was killed in a shootout.

Rangers organized another undercover operation in the Corsicana oil fields in Navarro County to shut down vice dens. Watson acted as the undercover officer. In February 1924 lawmen arrested scores of gamblers and bootleggers. Although later denied by local officials, Ranger Marvin “Red” Burton’s personal notes indicated that Watson started working as a plainclothes detective for the Corsicana Police Department about two weeks before his death.

The trial of the County Attorney in Somervell County started in February 1924 and Watson was the state’s principal witness. During the trial Rangers Burton and R.D. Shumate were staying with Watson at a Cleburne hotel. After his testimony, the rangers decided to take Watson to a Glen Rose boardinghouse for his safety. Watson went to visit a friend nearby. As Ranger Burton was talking to a man on the town square he heard a shotgun blast. The ranger found Watson dead on the floor. Two assailants had fired a shotgun through the closed window. The blast struck Watson in the face and neck, killing him. Fifteen or more people were arrested and six men were charged with the murder of Watson; however, no one was ever indicted.

Prohibition Officer Watson was a WWI veteran.

Watson is buried in the Marystown Cemetery in Johnson County. He was survived by his wife and two-year old son.


  • Age 28
  • Tour 2 years
  • Badge Not available
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Shotgun
  • Offender Not available

Most Recent Reflection

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Officer Watson,
On today, the 100th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice-not just as a Law Enforcement Officer but for our Country as well when you served with the U.S. Army during World War I. And to your Family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.

BPA Mike Casey
United States Border Patrol(Retired)

February 21, 2024

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