A. J. Royal, Pecos County sheriff, son of Ethel Joseph and Mary Frances (Ousley) Royal, was born in Lee County, Alabama, on November 25, 1855, the only son in a family of five daughters. He left the family farm and moved as a young man to Fort Worth, Texas, where he worked for the railroad. He married Naomi Obedience Christmus on January 19, 1879, in Coryell County, and the couple moved to Junction, where Royal operated a saloon and a ranch. Reportedly, he was indicted for murder there. In 1889 he took his family to Pecos County, where he farmed. The Royals had six daughters and one son. In Pecos County Royal quarreled with one of his employees and killed the man on the street in Fort Stockton. In 1892 he was elected sheriff of Pecos County. While sheriff, he won the Koehler Saloon in a card game, but the owner died before signing it over. On August 6, 1894, Royal had a shoot-out with James Rooney in the saloon.
As sheriff, Royal was a controversial figure. Some citizens thought he used his power to terrorize those who disagreed with him, especially several prominent people. Others considered him a tough lawman who fought hard to establish law and order. During the campaign for reelection he reportedly allowed a Mexican-American prisoner to escape in exchange for being allowed to make a campaign speech to Hispanic voters. He was subsequently arrested by the United States marshal for letting a federal prisoner escape. Royal was defeated in the election. On November 21, 1894, he was murdered in his office at the courthouse by an unknown assailant. Tradition in Pecos County states that nine leading citizens met together and agreed that Royal should be killed. No one was ever charged with the crime.
Is history important to you?
We need your support because we are a non-profit organization that relies upon contributions from our community in order to record and preserve the history of our state. Every dollar helps.
Pecos County Historical Commission, Pecos County History (2 vols., Canyon, Texas: Staked Plains, 1984). Mary Alice Happle Townsend, "Andrew Jackson Royal," Permian Historical Annual 24 (1984). Clayton W. Williams, Texas' Last Frontier: Fort Stockton and the Trans-Pecos, 1861–1895 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1982).
Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Julia Cauble Smith,
“Royal, Andrew Jackson,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 11, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
June 1, 1995