Inspector John S. H. "Jack" Howard

Inspector John S. H. "Jack" Howard

United States Department of the Treasury - United States Customs Service, U.S. Government

End of Watch Wednesday, February 12, 1913

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John S. H. "Jack" Howard

In February 1913 mounted Customs Inspector Jack Howard and Inspector Joe Sitter, along with a brand inspector with the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, were scouting along the Rio Grande near the settlement of Pilares. They found Francisco "Chico" Cano, one of a band of Mexicans who had been smuggling horses and mules.

The officers arrested Cano and left the next morning to take their prisoner to Marfa to appear before the United States commissioner. They had gone about a mile and a half and were riding single file through a deep canyon. Hidden behind the boulders were five or six Mexicans, members of the gang of smugglers, two of them brothers of the prisoner.

When Inspector Howard reached a point directly below them, the men opened fire at a range of about fifty yards. Inspector Howard was hit in the chest and his horse was killed. Inspector Sitter and the brand inspector were shot off their horses. The brand inspector was shot through the left thigh while Inspector Sitter took a grazing bullet that entered above his left temple and exited behind the ear.

Despite their wounds, the officers drew their weapons. Inspector Howard retrieved his rifle from his dead horse but was too badly injured to use it. Inspector Sitter and the brand inspector were able to return fire, although they couldn't spot their attackers among the boulders. The battle lasted for about 30 minutes before the attackers finally left along with Cano. The three wounded lawmen lay in the mountains for 15 hours until they were transported to a general store in Pilares. A posse and a doctor arrived the next day. Inspector Howard died on the night of February 12th, 1913. Inspector Sitter and the brand inspector survived.

Inspector Howard was survived by his wife. He was buried in the Howard Cemetery in Boerne, Kendall County, Texas.

On May 24th, 1915, Customs Agent Joe Sitter and Private Eugene Hulen, of the Texas Rangers, were shot and killed in the same area by the same bandits led by Cano. Cano again fled into Mexico and died there on August 28th, 1943.


  • Age 41
  • Tour 12 years, 1 month
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Location Texas
  • Incident Date Monday, February 10, 1913
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Never apprehended

arrest, escape attempt, smuggling, transport

Most Recent Reflection

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Rip inspector John s. H "Jack Howard you will never be forgotten you are a hero. And to that guy inv Texas born non relation has no respect at all and his comment is very rude

James Morris Vistor to pay respects to fallen officers.

February 13, 2017

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