Graham and Young County


After the defeat of the Confederacy during the Civil War, Federal Troops slowly began to filter back into the area to reoccupy old forts along the Texas frontier.

The late 1860's were a time of intense frustration and concern for both Indians and Texas Settlers. With the Federal garrisons that were supposed to protect settlers and monitor Indian activity undermanned, Indians slipped off reservations to raid and return with little that could be done, To protect the citizens of Young County from Indian attacks, Fort Belknap was established in Young County in 1869.


In 1871, three Kiowa Chiefs Satank, Satanta, and Big Tree, gained notoriety for the Salt Creek Massacre, also known as the Warren Wagon Train Massacre.   They had left the reservation and made their way to the young county area settling on an ambush location near Salt Creek. That morning, a military party passed by on its way to Fort Belknap, but the Indian shaman told the Chiefs to let it pass, better targets were coming. Ironically, in the military party was an officer named  General William Tecumseh Sherman, commander of the Army who was passing through the area to determine the validity of reported Indian incursions from the reservations in Oklahoma.  Later that day, the Indians spotted a wagon train and swept down the hill to attack, killing the wagon master and seven teamsters, as well as looting all the wagons and taking their plunder back to the reservation. When General Sherman heard the news from a teamster who escaped the slaughter, he ordered ruthless reprisals. He also reversed an earlier order that prohibited soldiers from pursuing Indians on to the reservations. Sherman traveled to Fort Sill, where he personally arrested Satank, Satanta, and Big Tree and ordered them transported back to Texas to be tried for murder. It was the first time in United States History that Indians were tried in a criminal court for Murder.

Satank was killed during an escape attempt, but Satanta and Big Tree were put on trial. By early July both had been sentenced to hang. In the weeks that followed, hundreds of Indians left the reservation and joined their relatives on the Staked Plains. To avert all-out carnage, Governor Edmund J. Davis commuted the sentences to life in prison. The Indians were eventually paroled,  He was released and soon returned to his raiding.  He was rearrested and while serving another prison term at the new state of the art Huntsville prison. but Satanta, despondent over incarceration pretended to be sick and jumped through a window on the third floor of the infirmary to his death in 1878. In the book Ghost stories of Texas, it is reported guards have seen his ghost reenacting his death on the now deserted third floor. It is rumored that Satanta was the role model for the character Blue Duck, in the McMurtry novel, Lonesome Dove.


The City of Graham Texas was founded less than a year after the Salt Creek Massacre in 1872 by two brothers from Kentucky, Colonel Edwin Smith Graham and Gustalvous Adolphus Graham. These two men had purchased land from the Texas Emigration and Land Company. Upon their arrival in the area in 1869, and they  purchased a nearby Salt plant on Salt Creek. The brothers have the distinction of having drilled the first gas well in the state of Texas while searching for additional sources of salt water. At the time of its founding, law enforcement in the area consisted of a Town Marshall and a County Sheriff.


In 1888, the bloodiest gun battle of the Old West occurred just outside the city of Graham involving the Marlowe family. The Marlowes had recently moved from Oklahoma to Young County. One of the brothers was falsely accused of horse theft  and murder. The Sheriff, eager to collect the reward bounty, proceeded to the family place and while attempting to make the arrest, a deputy was  shot and killed. All four brothers were arrested on trumped up charges and loaded into a wagon for transport to Fort Richardson. near Jacksboro. Townsfolk, believing the charges justified and outraged at the death of the deputy, ambushed the wagon at a location near Old Finis Rd. Two of the brothers were killed, and two  escaped, later clearing their names and their brothers.  The town of Marlowe Oklahoma is named after the family.  The story is retold int he book A Pilgrim's Shadow, by Alan Huffines, and the John Wayne movie, The Son's of Katie Elder was loosely based on the  story of the Marlowe tragedy.


The first recorded location of the Graham Police Department was on the northwest corner of the intersection of Third Street and Elm.from 1917 to 1976, where 526 Pizza currently operates. The original cell is used as a storage closet.


In the 1920's and 30's with the depression and the dust bowl storms, criminals grew bold and ran wild through the Midwest and Southwest, and especially in Texas. On December 23, 1927 in Cisco Texas, and enterprising criminal by the name of Marshall Ratliff came up with a disguise he thought was fool proof. Dressed as Santa Claus, Ratliff, Robert Hill, Henry Helms and Louis Davis Held up the First National Bank in Cisco.

Bank robbery had become such a problem at that time that  Banks were offering rewards that paid more for the robbers dead than alive.  Ratliff's problems began when he walked into the bank and was swarmed by children who had sen him enter. He had a hard time convincing bankers he was robber auntil weapons were brandished and the word soon spread through town. Poor townspeople, seeing an opportunity to collect a bank reward two days before Christmas, grabbed their guns and rushed to the bank. In the process of trying to escape, an officer was killed, the town shot up and the robbers wounded. The getaway car was so shot up it broke down shortly after leaving town and while stealing another car, the robbers left their stolen money in the first car. One of the largest manhunts in Texas History began. A Texas Ranger by the name of "Lone Wolf" Gonzales even procured an airplane and flew over the Brazos River and Young County area searching for the suspects.  It was the first recorded report of an airplane being used by law enforcement to search for a suspect, and it happened here in Young County. All suspects were later arrested and Ratliff was eventually lynched on the town square in Breckenridge after an attempted escape cost the life of a jailer.


In the period  between march and April of 1934, the notorious gangsters, Bonnie and Clyde were reported to be in the North Texas area. Famous for their robberies of banks, gas stations and small stores, the gang is believed to have killed at least nine police officers and murdered several civilians. Armed with fully automatic weapons taken froma National Guard robbery, small town law enforcement officers armed with shotguns and five shot revolvers were no match in a straight shootout. The pair were eventually ambushed in Louisiana and killed.

At that time, there were no radios in police cars. for patrol officers to be notified that there was a call for service, the dispatcher would turn on a large red light mounted on the courthouse. When the patrol officer saw the light was on, they would go to dispatch, get the information on the call, and then proceed to the call.


In 1976 the Graham Police joined with the Young County Sheriff Department and officed out of a "state of the art" facility located at the corner of Second and IOak. The jail had central heat and air conditioning, as well as color televisions, before they were installed in the local high school, and inmates were referred to as "Guests of the County".

Several guest managed to escape the facility before all design flaws were corrected.


In 1984, Richard Donald foster, AKA "Stony Armadillo was charged with the murder of a store clerk in Springtown Texas and arrested. Foster escaped twice from the Stephens County jail in Breckenridge and fled to Possum Kingdom Lake. Two large manhunts resulted, with one ending with a chase of the suspect in a stolen car all the way to Breckenridge Texas where he ran into a bank and held employees hostage for house before surrendering to Stephen County and Federal law Enforcement.

In 1987, The Graham Police Department was located at 456 Oak Street, the current location of the Graham Municipal Court.  The facility proved to be too small and police were eventually moved to their current location of 903 Loving Highway in 2002.

2009- current

Graham Police and law enforcement officials have been involved in several high profile investigations and reflect the dedication and professionalism of Law Enforcement Officers of the past as well as today.


The first case of Capital Murder of an Infant was investigated, and a suspect arrested was filed in Graham Texas. 

DNA forensic precedents, were set during the investigation into the murder of Candice Shields.

Graham was one of the first departments in the state to incorporate body worn cameras for all officers on the department.

In 2009 the Graham Police Department added its first Police Canine Unit, implemented a Bike Patrol Unit and added to its Crime prevention Unit.

As the needs of the community continue to grow, the men and women of the Graham Police Department will strive to meet those needs and provide a safe community for all our citizens.