Erath County commissioners on Monday set things into motion toward erecting a monument on the courthouse grounds in memory of Erath County Sheriff James Mastin who was killed in action in 1877.

Mastin was fatally shot in the head on June 21 of that year by Bonaparte “Bone” Wilson as Mastin and his deputy went to arrest Wilson for horse theft. After he killed the sheriff, Wilson escaped but was later hunted down by a posse of 10 Texas Rangers and killed in a gunfight.

Mastin was a Mason and Kenneth Leatherwood, also a Mason and representing the organization, addressed the Commissioners Court regarding the proposed monument.

As he explained, “We have raised all the funds needed to create and place the monument so no county funds are being requested.”

He said that funds almost sufficient to pay for the monument and the labor involved for its installation were raised at the first meeting about the matter.

“Between the Masonic Lodge, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Sons of the Confederate Veterans and private donors, we have the funds to pay for this and people are very enthusiastic about the idea,” Leatherwood said. “What we propose is a 32-inch wide, 40-inch high monument and we were thinking maybe on the east side of the courthouse, but of course that’s your decision.”

County Judge Tab Thompson, pointed out, “Of course we can’t place a monument on the courthouse grounds for everybody that wants to honor someone. However, since James Mastin was the Erath County Sheriff in 1877, I think the idea for this monument meets a sufficiently high standard and should be put in place.”

After his statement, the commissioners voted to proceed with gathering details as to what is involved and approved the concept.

From the Officer Down Memorial Page website: “On Thursday, June 21, 1887 Erath County Sheriff [James] Mastin was shot and killed when he and a deputy went to a farm near Stephenville to arrest a horse thief. After searching the house the officers went back outside.

“The suspect suddenly stepped from behind a tree and opened fire on the officers, mortally wounding Sheriff Mastin. The deputy returned fire, wounding the suspect, who then escaped. A posse of Texas Rangers located the man [Wilson] on September 15, 1877, and killed him in a shootout.”

To read the news story that ran in the Stephenville Empire in 1877 about the death of Wilson, visit www.tinyurl.com/Empire-1877.