Johnny Cash, country music’s well-known outlaw and famous Folsom Prison resident, was, on at least two occasions, on the other side of the badge, including in the Lone Star State. In 1959, while in San Antonio for a concert, Cash was awarded an honorary Bexar County Sheriff’s deputy badge. The badge is now available to view with an online search, having been up for auction by Barrett Jackson in Arizona.
As his career was taking off, Cash, who had previously been in San Antonio in the Air Force many years before, was awarded the honor by then-Sheriff Owen Kilday. According to the San Antonio Express, Kilday figured “young Mr. Cash, the son-in-law of Tom Liberto of San Antonio, has done his bit toward curbing juvenile delinquency and gun toting with his best-selling recording, advertising youth to ‘leave that gun at home, don’t take that gun to town, etc.’” Later in life, 1979 to be exact, Tennessee presented Cash with a deputy sheriff commission card, granting him permission to actually enforce the law in Davidson County. The story of Cash’s issuance of the Bexar County Sheriff’s Deputy badge was originally posted in March 17, 1959 in the San Antonio Express.
San Antonio often referred to Johnny Cash as “San Antonio’s adopted son” and his arrival in the area would prompt much media coverage. Cash’s arrival in town would often be marked by San Antonio newspapers. On the edge of a very lucrative deal with Columbia Records, and by then a very well-known country singer, reporters referred to him as “San Antonio’s adopted son.” Johnny and Vivian Cash were married until 1966 and had four daughters, including singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash. The end of their marriage occurred after multiple affairs, including a very high-profile romance with June Carter, later to become June Carter Cash.