Ware, Richard Clayton (1851–1902)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: August 1, 1995

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Richard Clayton Ware, Texas Ranger, sheriff, and United States marshal, the oldest son of Benjamin F. and Mary Jane (Price) Ware, was born on November 11, 1851, on the family plantation near Rome, Georgia. In 1870 he came with his family to Texas and settled near Dallas. Ware joined the Frontier Battalion on April 1, 1876, and was assigned to Company E under Lt. B. S. Foster. He continued to serve in that company under lieutenants Nelson O. Reynolds and C. L. Nevill. In July 1878 Ware was among the rangers sent to accompany Maj. John B. Jones to Round Rock to intercept Sam Bass and his gang. Ware was in a barbershop being shaved when the outlaws entered the town and killed Deputy Sheriff A. W. "High" Grimes. He rushed from the shop only partially shaved and fired his gun at the fleeing outlaws. One shot killed Seaborn Barnes, and another, it is thought, was the bullet that fatally wounded Sam Bass. Although Lieutenant Nevill's official report, based on the coroner's verdict, credited George Herold (or Harrell) with the fatal shot, several eyewitnesses, including fellow ranger Chris Connor, attributed it to Ware. Even the dying Bass declared that the man who felled him had lather on his face. The controversy over who really killed Sam Bass was never entirely resolved. In 1880 Ware was transferred to Company B of the Frontier Battalion under Capt. Ira Long and sent with them to Hackberry Springs in Mitchell County. Ware resigned from the company in 1881 to become the county's first sheriff. He had won that job by a single vote, and not long afterward his opponent was killed by Ranger Jeff Milton while resisting arrest. Ware was reelected until November 11, 1892, when his deputy defeated him. President Grover Cleveland appointed Ware U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Texas on May 11, 1893. He held that office at Colorado City headquarters until January 26, 1898, when the McKinley administration replaced him. Ware was a Mason, an Oddfellow, and a lifelong bachelor. He moved to Corpus Christi for his health and later to a Fort Worth hospital in 1902. He developed heart trouble, which resulted in his death on July 2, 1902. He was buried in Colorado City.

Corpus Christi Caller, July 4, 1902. H. Gordon Frost and John H. Jenkins, "I'm Frank Hamer": The Life of a Texas Peace Officer (Austin: Pemberton Press, 1968). J. Evetts Haley, Jeff Milton (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1948). Robert W. Stephens, Texas Ranger Sketches (Dallas, 1972). Thomas Thompson, The Ware Boys: The Story of a Texas Family Bank (Canyon, Texas: Staked Plains, 1978). Walter Prescott Webb, The Texas Rangers (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1935; rpt., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1982).

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

H. Allen Anderson, “Ware, Richard Clayton,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 20, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/ware-richard-clayton.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 1, 1995