Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

August 7, 2011

Bad Day at Round Rock

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

I don’t know when the expression “Bad Day at Round Rock” came into my life . . . but it did!  It may have come from an old western movie or from some Texas friends when I was in college.  It was an expression that we used among ourselves when the day had not gone well.

It is the title of a book . . . and many newspaper articles.  It refers to a true western adventure in Round Rock, Texas.  Round Rock is a beautiful, central Texas town.  I have visited there on occasions . . . and yes, there is a round rock!  There is also a historical marker identifying an event.  That event was the shootout between the Sam Bass gang and law enforcement officers.

The Sam Bass gang, obviously, was a gang of outlaws.  The Texas authorities in 1878 set out to capture them at any cost.  With the commencement of this endeavor, the next four months were known as the “Bass War.”  This elevated the gang to legendary status.

The gang made plans to come to Round Rock.  Hearing that they were headed there, Texas Rangers arrived to reinforce the local sheriff and his men.  Some of the gang members were spotted . . . and a gun battle began.  Both law enforcement officers and gang members were killed.  Sam Bass was shot, but escaped out of town only to be found a couple of days later under a tree severely wounded.  He was taken back to town where he died from his wounds.  He was later buried in the Round Rock cemetery.

So, from this event comes the expression “Bad Day at Round Rock.”

Sam Bass had no regard for human life or the misery that he created for people.  No one can be the judge, but it is easy to place labels on such a person.  Ruthless!  Violent!  Selfish!  Mean!  A killer!  And we could add other words.  What would be in the heart of such a man?  Again, I carefully choose my words . . . but it would be hard for me to believe that God had reign in his life!

But . . . though one man might be that way . . . it does not have to be carried through for generations.  I know that it did not in Sam Bass.  I knew well his grandson.  That grandson was one of the most loving and caring young men I have known.  What made the difference!   Again not judging the grandfather’s life, but I am sure of what made the difference in the life of his grandson — it was the power and presence of Jesus Christ.  Joel had given his life to Christ . . . and responded to God’s call in his life.

I also knew the grandson of one of the Texas Rangers who participated in that shootout.  He, likewise, exhibited the power of Christ in his life.  We should rejoice that the actions of one generation does not condemn the next to the same life style.  Christ can make a difference in every life.  We become individually responsive for ourselves!

“So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.”  (Romans 14:12)


There was another Bad Day at Round Rock.  It is the story of “The Immortal Ten.”  I am well acquainted with that event.  I will share it with you soon.


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