A Biography of Ahijah W. Grimes
an article by Robert W.
Stephen’s, begins by saying ”Among the weathered grave stones of
the little cemetery in Round Rock, Texas, is the one bearing the
inscription GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. But today Ahijah W. Grimes , over
whose grave the stone stands, is an almost forgotten lawman. His singular
claim to fame was his death as a deputy sheriff in Round Rock on July 19,
1878-murdered by the Sam Bass Gang.”
The following was written and provided by: Benjamin Lyman Grimes III and Charles Bowman Grimes
W. Grimes was born in Bastrop, Texas, on July 5, 1850. He was the
second from the youngest of many children of Robert Henry and
Elizabeth Highsmith Grimes. They
were among the first pioneer families of Bastrop County.
grandfather was Jesse Grimes, for whom Grimes County is named. Jesse
signed the Declaration of Independence of Texas and lead a life of Texas
statehood and US political offices. He was Sam Houston’s running mate
as Lt. Governor after Statehood. While at Washington on the Brazos, his
son Albert Calvin Grimes (A. W. ‘s uncle) died at the Alamo. In the
Archives, there is a letter from William B. Travis asking Jesse Grimes to take care of his wife and child.
W. Grimes was named for his other grandfather, Ahijah Morris Highsmith.
His grandmother, Deborah Turner, was from prominent Mayflower Families. Many of the Turner’s came with
the Highsmiths, from Missouri, when
they first settled Bastrop County in the early 1820’s. Ahijah M. was,
of necessity, an Indian fighter along with his son, Benjamin Highsmith (A.W.’s
uncle). Ahijah M. and Benjamin were at the Battle of San Jacinto in the
victory over Santa Anna.
W. Grimes’ father, Robert, was the oldest son of Jesse Grimes. He was
born in Duplin County, North Carolina
and probably was with his father as they migrated from North
Carolina to Green County, Georgia and on to Washington County, Alabama.
We are unable to find the reason Robert H. moved to Bastrop
County while his father stayed at Grimes Prairie near Navasota.
Robert settled at Alum Creek, Bastrop County and married
Elizabeth Highsmith. He was part of of Secrest’s Washington
County Cavalry during the Texas Revolution. He became Justice of the
Peace in Bastrop County in
1846. He moved to Craft’s
Prairie in 1852 and went
into the lumber mill business. He died in 1863. His wife Elizabeth ( A.W.
‘s mother), later remarried a James Hendon Wilkins
W. Grimes was born in 1850 among many brothers and sisters and Highsmith
cousins. His younger
brother, named Albert Calvin Grimes (born 1855) became a noted Texas
Ranger in the Panhandle and South Texas regions .
of the articles on Sam Bass have called A.W. Grimes
folklore has his nickname as “High”. The “W” (middle initial) of
his name, has not
been identified. Most probable the W was Woods as this was one of
the Lincoln Co. Families. Ahijah worked as a printer as a young man in Bastrop. His
Father died when he was 13. He
grew up among the Cottles,
Turners, Grimes and
Highsmith families in Bastrop.
W. Grimes married Charlotte
(Lottie) Lyman in McDade, Bastrop Co. in 1874. Her Parents were Mayor
Benjamin Lyman and Lelia Addie Dabney. Like A. W.’s father, Lottie’s father had also been in the
lumber business in Bastrop, which failed after the Civil War. He then
moved to Lampasas, Texas,
as a Federal Judge for the Bandera district.
After A. W. was killed Lottie moved, with her three children, to
Lampasas also .
Grimes lawman’s career began as Bastrop City Marshall in 1874. He also
won the election as City
tax assessor in 1875. But he was defeated as County tax assessor in the
elections of 1876.
daughter, Elizabeth is born January
31, 1875 and a son Benjamin Lyman is born May 10 , 1876. On September
21, 1876, the Bastrop County Commissioners Court appointed A.W. Precinct
days after his brother, Albert joined the Texas Rangers, A. W. joined
the Texas Rangers on September 20, 1877. He was in Neal Caldwell’s A
Company of the Frontier Battalion. He left the Texas Rangers in
December, 1877. (Short enlistments in the Texas Rangers were not
unusual). He then returned to Bastrop.
1878 he moved the family to Round Rock and went to work for Miller’s
Exchange Bank. A third
child, Mabel(Mae), was born in Round Rock.
Henry Albert Highsmith, his cousin, operated a livery stable in
Round Rock. The small town
now had the railroad to spur its growth.
to Mike Cox’s research, Williamson County Sheriff, Sam Strayhorn,
appointed A.W. Grimes as a Deputy Sheriff of
Williamson County to handle the law enforcement of
the growing city of Round
Rock. Having Henry, his cousin, in town and all of his relatives in
Bastrop and Lampasas, A.W.
was a young man ready for the prime of his life.
the Bass gang wounded Former Texas Ranger, Travis County Deputy Sheriff
Maurice B. Moore and Killed Williamson Co. Deputy Sheriff Ahijah W.
Grimes, The Texas Ranger contingent shot Sam Bass. He died the next day.
Family legend tells of
Henry Highsmith (cousin) and Albert Grimes (brother) standing guard to
prevent Sam Bass from leaving the Round Rock Jail alive. Bass
died there. Obviously Sam Bass did not die in the jail as many
stories tell of the Hart Hotel billing the State for the blood stained
sheets on Sam Bass’ bed.
W.’s widow, Lottie, was
given $200 and one of the horses from the Bass Gang by the town of Round
Rock. The Houston and Texas Railroad also gave $250 in recognition of
her husbands sacrifice. Elizabeth (age 3), Benjamin (age2), and Mabel
(age 1) with mother Lottie left for Lampasas.
The family grew up in
the Lampasas area. Lottie
later remarried a man by the name of Hart.
oldest daughter, Elizabeth, married local Lampasas
residents, Charles Witcher, divorced him and married Dr. W. D
Frances. She had no children and in later
years ran a boarding house across the street
from St. Mary’s Episcopal
Church in Lampasas. My
brother Charles and I spent many weekends, growing up, running all over
the Courthouse Square when we visited our Great Aunt and Grandfather
Lyman spent his early years in the printing business. Benjamin
may have learned his trade as his father, A.W., in Bastrop. In 1901 he
was the publisher of the Elgin Eagle newspaper.
In 1902 he married Susie Mae Highsmith. Her part of the Highsmith
family also lived in Bastrop. In 1903 he sells the Elgin Eagle newspaper
to W.C. Smith. Benjamin,
Sr.(A.W.’s son) is in Cameron, Texas with the newspaper when Benjamin,
Jr. (A.W.’s grandson) is born. Ben Jr. is the only child of Ben and
Susie. Ben, Sr. spent his whole life with Hill Printing and Stationery
Co. of Waco, Texas. They had a stationery store in San Angelo for many
years. They moved to San Angelo because Ben, Sr. was supposed to have
had TB. In 1940 Susie died
and Ben. Sr moved to Elizabeth’s boarding house in Lampasas and
traveled West Texas for
Hill Printing. Ben, Sr. and Susie saw
their son, Ben Jr, Graduate from Texas A&M in 1929 . Ben Sr.
saw his grandson ‘s, Ben and Charles, at Texas A&M. He died of a
heart attack in 1956 as he left on a business trip at the age of 80.
the youngest daughter married a William Cobb. Their son Moulten became a
TV celebrity in the early years of television. He had the first
television talk show in the Rio Grande Valley. He lived in Weslesco,
Texas. He married late in
life to a lady he had met years ago while at the University of Texas.
They had no children.
Sr., Elizabeth (“Auntie”), Mabel (“Mae”) and their families met
frequently in Lampasas. Of these three children of A. W. and Lottie, only Ben
Sr.’s son, Ben Jr., had children. He had two boys, Ben III and
Charles. Each of these
great grandchildren had three children and the family will increase in
Years, Sam Bass, who killed A.W. Grimes has been the focal point of the
celebrations of Round Rock as they celebrate their heritage. Captain
Stan Simpson of the Round Rock Police Department has done more to change
the focus of these celebrations from the “bad guys” to a focus on
the good people of Round Rock and their efforts to build a good and law
abiding community. Our
thanks to him.
Benjamin Lyman Grimes III and Charles Bowman Grimes
|Great Grandsons of Ahijah W. Grimes|