Who was A.J. Royal and who killed him? The answers are residing in the Annie Riggs Memorial Museum. Opened to the public in 1955 in the former Koehler Hotel, the building was deeded to the Fort Stockton Historical Society for use as a museum by 14 heirs of Annie Frazier Johnson Riggs.
The museum, operated by the Historical Society, has an extensive array of displays, exhibits and fascinating educational information that paint a diverse mosaic of Fort Stockton’s past.
The Annie Riggs boasts 13 rooms and a hidden courtyard. The parlor, dining room and kitchen are replete with old photographs, furniture and collectables.
“The unique thing about this museum is that it is so well preserved,” Jim Hammond, director of the museum. “It is immaculate. Studies have indicated that it is one of the best preserved adobe structures in West Texas.”
The exhibit areas include archaeology, geology, religion, ranching, Hispanic Heritage, pioneers, and early businesses.
“Each room tells an individual story as they all have a different exhibit,” Hammond said. “But put them all together and you have the history of Fort Stockton.”
He also pointed out Fort Stockton is the only muncipality in West Texas that has a fort and city with independent histories which can stand on their own.
Though there was a degree of symbiosis between the two entities, their survival did not depend on it.
“If the town went away, the fort would have still been here. If the fort went away, the town would have still been here,” said Hammond.
You can discover the reasons for this phenomenon at the museum.
“If you take away the Gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Ariz., all you have is a dustbowl,” Hammond said. “You take away one gunfight here and you have another one. This town has a colorful history. Whether it was the sheriff being killed or the deputy sheriff being killed. The buildings where they were killed are still here. We had a wild-west town.”
The sheriff who was killed?
You guessed right. A.J. Royal. He was the Pecos County Sheriff from 1892 to 1894. According to Hammond, “The primary function of the museum is to promote the local history of the area, to get people involved and draw an interest and preserve our history.”
He believes local history can have an impact on the community.
“It gives us a better understanding of our past. Even the difficult history,” he said.
However, many of the people visiting the structure are from out of town. He said that approximately 10,000 people visit the museum each year. There is plenty to see and experience at the museum for any resident of Fort Stockton. But more importantly, you will be able to appreciate the formation of this unique community and gain an understanding of what shaped its character and culture.
Who killed A.J. Royal and why was he assassinated? Y
ou might not find out who killed A.J. Royal at the Annie Riggs Museum, but you will be intrigued by his story and the reasons why someone would want to end the life of the former sheriff.
The Annie Riggs Memorial Museum is located at 301 South Main in downtown Fort Stockton. The hours of operation are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. from September through May and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. between June and August. Admission fees are $3.00 for adults, $2.50 for seniors, $2.00 for children between 6-12, and children under six are admitted for free. For additional information about the museum, please call (432) 336-2167.