Elijah S. Briant – School Teacher Turned Lawman

Elijah S. Briant

Elijah S. Briant

Elijah “Lige” S. Briant was a school teacher, surveyor, sheep owner, and Sutton County, Texas Sheriff.

Briant was born in Simpson County, Kentucky, in 1861, and when he grew up, he headed to Texas in the early 1880s. Described as a very quiet and dignified person, he first worked as a school teacher in Coleman but later joined up with U.S. surveyors plotting the boundaries of Colorado, Wyoming, and Arizona. When that job was complete, he returned to Sonora, Texas, where he served as postmaster from 1893 to 1807 and worked and owned sheep.

In 1898, he was elected as the Sutton County Sheriff at a time when the area was overridden with lawless elements. But Briant seemed to fear very little and soon began to clean up the area. In 1900 he was wounded by a robbery suspect but continued to serve as sheriff. The following year, on April 2, 1901, he and his deputies, along with former sheriff Henry Sharp and Constable W.D. Thomason, went after Wild Bunch members Will Carver and Ben Kilpatrick, who were known to be hiding in the Ogden Building at Sonora, Texas.

Like many of the outlaw captures of the Old West, the two outlaws refused to give up and, instead, opened fire on the lawmen. When the smoke cleared, Will Carver was dead, and Kilpatrick was wounded. Briant received a $1,000 reward for killing Carver, but would later say that he regretted the shooting. Later, he became a county judge before moving to San Antonio, Texas, in 1918 and to San Angelo in 1920. There he worked in the land and stock commission business. He died in San Angelo on December 22, 1933, and was buried at the Fairmont Cemetery.


© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated November 2022.

Also See:

Lawmen of the Old West

Lawmen & Gunfighters Photo Gallery

Texas – The Lone Star State

Who’s Who in American History