Department: Missoula County Sheriff Rank: Undersheriff Age: 38 Tour of Duty: Unknown End of Watch: Monday, July 1, 1878
A week before his death, Undersheriff James R. Thompson had ridden his horse in 100-degree temperatures from Missoula to the Flathead Agency, nearly sixty miles. Thompson was in pursuit of Bill Brown, who had escaped from the Missoula County Jail. Upon arriving at the Agency, Thompson collapsed and despite a doctor's efforts, passed away a week later from apparent sunstroke. The newspaper at the time referred to it as brain fever.
Thompson never managed to arrest the escaped prisoner and return him to Missoula. He was survived by his brother, David Thompson, and his wife.
We do not know as much as we would like about Undersheriff Thompson. We know that he felt personally responsible for the escaped prisoner and believe that is the reason he pushed himself so hard in pursuit of Brown in such extreme conditions. If anyone reading this has further information, we would appreciate hearing from you.