Today’s Wayback Wednesday recognizes the 134th anniversary of Ben Thompson’s assumption of the position of City Marshal. The 134th anniversary of what was ostensibly a city police chief may not seem like an auspicious anniversary to revisit, but Thompson wasn’t your typical police chief.
In his life, Thompson was a gunfighter and professional gambler, served as a member of the Confederate Cavalry, was a hired gun for the first (and only) Emperor of Mexico and was indicted (and later acquitted) for murder while serving as the city’s highest-ranking law enforcement officer.
Thompson was born in Knottingly, England in 1843, and his family moved to Austin in 1851. Six years later, while working as a newspaper typesetter, Thompson shot somebody – presumably for the first time. His friend, 14-year-old Joe Brown, bet Thompson that he couldn’t shoot.