Cruger, William R. (1840–1882)

By: J. R. Webb

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: September 26, 2019

William R. Cruger, frontier sheriff, the sonof Nicholas and Elizabeth (Robert) Cruger, was born on May 30, 1840, at Albany, Georgia. He moved to Shackelford County, Texas, in 1874, assisted in the county's organization, and named the county seat Albany for his birthplace. Fort Griffin was then a thriving town and had become a rendezvous for outlaws, thieves, and other desperate characters. In 1876 John M. Larn was elected sheriff and appointed Cruger deputy sheriff. Early in 1877, in an attempt to restore order in a Fort Griffin saloon, Cruger participated in a gunfight in which three men were killed and he and the county attorney were wounded. Larn resigned, and Cruger was appointed his successor on April 20, 1877. His jurisdiction over thirteen unorganized Texas counties extended to the New Mexico line. Acting on a warrant from the Albany court, Cruger arrested Larn, who on the night of his arrest, June 23, 1878, was shot and killed in an Albany jail, presumably by members of the Fort Griffin Vigilance Committee. This was the last vigilante killing in the county. Cruger was reelected sheriff and served until his resignation on July 20, 1880, when the commissioners' court passed a resolution attesting to his courage and fearlessness as a law officer and declaring that the thanks of the citizens of the western frontier were due him for ridding the frontier of lawless characters. Cruger was married to Mary R. Boynton; they had one child. On May 29, 1882, while serving as city marshal of Princeton, Tennessee, Cruger was shot and killed by a drunken prisoner whom he had failed to search. He was buried in Albany, Georgia.

Dallas Herald, January 27, 1977. J. R. Webb, "Henry Herron, Pioneer and Peace Officer during Fort Griffin Days," West Texas Historical Association Year Book 20 (1944).


  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Sheriffs

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

J. R. Webb, “Cruger, William R.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 23, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 26, 2019