Sheriff James Thomas "Tom" Garvey

Sheriff James Thomas "Tom" Garvey

Fort Bend County Sheriff's Office, Texas

End of Watch Friday, August 16, 1889

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James Thomas "Tom" Garvey

Reconstruction in the South officially ended in 1877, but the Republican Party had gained a stronghold in many counties with the support of freed Black voters. A feud broke out in Fort Bend County in 1888 between wealthy, white Democratic “Jaybirds," and Republican “Woodpeckers,” who had power since Reconstruction. The feud crossed racial, social and politics lines. Assassination and violence had become commonplace. Fort Bend County Sheriff Tom Garvey was a leader of Woodpeckers, and opposed the efforts of the Jaybirds to return to power through violence. The town was an armed camp. The Governor sent Texas Rangers to maintain order.

On August 16, 1889, the Jaybirds faced Woodpeckers in front of the courthouse. Sheriff Garvey and a crowd of armed men warned the Rangers to get out of the way since this was none of their business. A Ranger sergeant and four privates on horseback tried to block the two sides. A gun battle erupted and Sheriff Tom Garvey, his uncle, former Sheriff J. W. Blakey, Jaybird leader, H. H. Frost, and a bystander were killed outright and many participants were wounded. Ranger Private Frank Schmid, Jr., was severely wounded, and died from his wounds on June 17, 1893.

Sheriff Garvey was appointed in October 1886, and was elected on November 2, 1886. He was re-elected on November 6, 1888. Ranger Sergeant Ira Aten, who was trying to maintain order that day, was appointed sheriff on August 21, 1889.


  • Age 29
  • Tour 2 years, 10 months
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Shot and killed

Most Recent Reflection

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Rest in Peace Sheriff James T. (Tom) Garvey. Thank You for your Service and Sacrifice Protecting the citizens of Fort Bend County, Texas.

I Pray for Peace for your Family, Friends and Co-Workers. I also Pray the scum who murdered you burn forever in hell.


B. Sherwood Senior Special Agent retired
Port Terminal Railroad Police Houston, TX

August 13, 2016

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