On October 19, 1907 Deputy William F. Smithson was visited at his residence by a supervisor from the American Borax Company plant in Daggett. Newton Millett asked for Smithson’s assistance in arresting one of his employees, Ed Silver. Earlier in the day Silver assaulted Millett in a dispute over pay.
Deputy Smithson’s assistant John Williams joined the two and they went looking for Silver. It was near dusk when the three found Silver in front of Millett’s house. As Smithson stepped forward and addressed the suspect, Silver suddenly shot Deputy Smithson five times in the chest, stomach and shoulder. Smithson retuned fire before staggering away. Williams drew his .38 Smith and Wesson and began shooting at Silver. The two traded shots until both emptied their guns. Silver was shot once in the leg and fled into the desert.
Newton Millett’s wife had been trying to hold Deputy Smithson up, and as Williams arrived at his side Smithson said, “Don’t let me die here.” Williams ran to the billiard room to get help and several of the towns’ men carried Smithson to the pool room while another ran to summon the town physician. It was determined Deputy Smithson’s condition was too grave for transport to Santa Fe hospital in Los Angeles. With his wife Sharon by his side, Deputy Smithson passed away on the morning of October 20, 1907.
Silver was later apprehended and convicted of the murder of Deputy Smithson. Although sentenced to death by hanging, Silver died in San Quentin Prison in 1912 of acute peritonitis.