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John Wesley Hardin

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Poprivit, Aug 3, 2007.

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  1. Poprivit

    Poprivit Member

    Nov 17, 2006
    Las Vegas (Bring money)
    Here's a story I wrote a while ago about a famous Old West gunfighter:D

    The Life and Times of John Wesley Hardin

    John Wesley Hardin was born of a preacher man May 26, 1853. Unfortunately for a lot of men, he elected not to follow in his father’s footsteps and took up a career as a shootist instead. JW’s younger years set the stage for his later nefarious career. During a playground altercation, at age 14, he stabbed another schoolmate over a minor matter. He killed his first man, a Negro, over another argument, and fled to his brother’s house north of Sumpter, TX. In the fall of 1868, the government came looking for him, and he’s credited with planting three Union soldiers while they were trying to apprehend him. He was fifteen at the time.
    Hardin used a cap and ball revolver for those murders, and put it to play again when he stopped for a shot of whiskey and ran afoul of an Arkansas gunfighter. The gunfighter drew first, but John Wesley shot better. The gunfighter bled out on the barroom floor with a look of agonized dismay etched on his face.
    Three more fell to his gunplay; a circus roustabout, a hothead just like him in Kosse, TX, and one more gunman in Waco. But he couldn’t outdraw the law and he was arrested and imprisoned. Deputy Jim Smolly died in the escape that saw Hardin free and off to his Pa’s home where he was advised to head to Old Mexico before the law caught up to him and gave him a short drop on a long rope.
    Riding between Belton and Waco, he was caught by two members of the State Police. That night, after both lawmen drifted off to sleep – a bad mistake and their last – Hardin grabbed a 12-gauge shotgun and blasted them into eternal sleep.
    The year 1871 found John Wesley, his cousins Joe, Jim, Gyp and Manning Clements out in the mesquite and greasewood rounding up a herd of longhorns to take on the long drive to Abilene. Hardin was very useful when they had to fight “greasers” and Indians as they traveled down the Chisum Trail. Somehow during all this, Hardin found time to marry Jane Bowen and produce a son and two daughters in between killing drifters, lawmen and assorted riffraff.
    It was during this time that the famous encounter between Hardin and Wild Bill Hick. Abilene in the 1870s was a wide-open frontier town consisting of clapboard shacks and tents where brawling, hell-raising cowboys from Texas went looking for a good time after many long, hot days staring at the south end of a longhorn heading north. Their idea of a good time was to possibly take their first bath in months, get slicked up and head out for the saloons and whorehouses for a night of drinkin’, shootin, and sinnin.’ John Wesley and his flea-bit cousins were no different except in one respect. They hated the stuffed-shirt dandy Hickock and lawmen in general and wanted as many as possible planted in Boot Hill.
    One evening, Wes and his relatives were walking the town, looking for something to drink or shoot, when they ran into notorious killer Ben Thompson, all purdied up in a fancy plug hat and looking like the town undertaker. They tried to get Ben to kill Hickock, but he said that if they wanted Wild Bill dead, they would have to do it themselves, and good luck.
    A short time later, Hardin met Wild Bill and both of them got along fine. Hickock even adopted a paternal attitude towards the young killer who once had bragged that, “Thus by the fall of 1868 I had killed four men (he was 15 at the time.). Bill drank and caroused with Hardin, and even went so far as to give him fatherly advice. Throughout this association, Hardin never forgot that Hickock would shoot him down without remorse if the situation showed the need.
    Their association came to an end one fateful night when John Wesley committed one of his most heinous crimes. He was staying at the American House Hotel during his sojourn in Abilene, and one night began firing his gun through his bedroom wall to stop the snoring of the tenant. His first shot woke the man, and when he sat up, Hardin’s second shot killed him. Hardin knew he was in big trouble and Wild Bill would soon be after him, and kill him without any consideration.
    Hardin climbed from his second story room clad only in his undershirt and pants – just in time to see Hickock, backed with four policemen, arrive at the hotel’s entrance. “I believe that if Wild Bill found me in a defenseless condition, he would take no explanations, but would kill me to add to his reputation.”
    Hardin then jumped into the street and ran to a haystack where he spent a hidden night. The next morning he stole a horse and made his way back to his cow camp outside town. He left Abilene the next day, never to return. In later years he was want to say, “They tell lots of lies about me. They say I killed six or seven men for snoring. Well, It ain’t true, I only killed one man for snoring.”
    By May of 1874, he had killed Jack Helm, a former State Police captain and leader of the anti-Reconstructionist opposition. That May was another eventful time for John Wesley, for he ended the life of a Deputy Sheriff of Brown County, Charles Webb. This was the killing that drove Hardin out of Texas. He moved his wife and children to Florida, then Alabama. He managed to keep his trigger finger well-exercised during these times, though, by adding one certain and five probable kills to his name. One wonders what his wife and children thought as he pursued his career of exterminating his fellow man. Jane could only wonder at Hardin’s long absences from home, but she stuck by him and evidently remained loyal and uncomplaining.
    The Texas Rangers don’t give up, though, and he was captured on July 23, 1877 in Pensacola, Florida. The trial for the murder of Deputy Webb was short, and Hardin’s prison sentence was long – 25 years. During his incarceration he made repeated efforts to escape, read the Bible, was Superintendent of the prison’s Sunday School and studied enough law to be admitted to the bar. He was pardoned on March 16, 1894 after having served almost seventeen years.
    The next year saw Hardin move to El Paso to defend a murderer. While he was there, he took a lover who was wife of one of his clients, Martin Morose, and when Morose found out about the affair, Hardin hired a number of law officers to kill him. Hardin had been living a hard, drunken life since prison, and at age 42, his reactions and abilities with a gun were in serious decline. When his mistress was arrested for carrying a pistol, John Wesley was overheard making threats against the arresting officer, an officer named John Selman.
    August 19, 1895, John Selman walked through the doors of the Acme Saloon, where Hardin was shooting dice at the bar with cronies, and with Hardin’s back to him, proceeded to shoot him dead. The bullet that killed Hardin passed through his head, bounced off the back bar mirror and came to rest among the bottles kept there. The saloon keeper promptly dropped the bullet into an apothecary jar and there it was exhibited for many a year.
    John Wesley Hardin was said to have dispatched 44 men in 10 years. Others may have surpassed him in numbers of dead, but few could match him for callousness and disregard of human life. A jury acquitted Selman, probably figuring he had done the State of Texas a favor.

    John Wesley Hardin
    Born: May 26,1853
    Killed: Aug. 18, 1895
    Buried: Concordia Cemetery, El Paso
    Note: Small irony - his killer, John Selman, lies nearby.
  2. AirForceShooter

    AirForceShooter Member

    Oct 31, 2004
    Central Florida
    Hardin was a psycho.
    For real.

  3. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

    May 21, 2004
    "Land of (dis)Enchantment"
    My SASS persona, Rev. Hiram W. Read, is also buried in Concordia Cemetery in El Paso. He also died in 1895, but of old age on February 6th, about six months prior to John Wesley Hardin's death.

    The Rev. Hiram W. Read was born in Connecticut on July 17, 1819, and after pastoring in New York he was appointed as a missionary to California. While passing through Santa Fe in 1849 he was asked by Gen. Kearny to remain as Chaplain at Ft. Marcy. During that period he planted the First Baptist Churches in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, and also served as Chaplain and Physician during an expedition to southern New Mexico and Arizona, during which he saved at least one man's life and survived several Indian attacks.

    Leaving New Mexico after a few years he went east where he pastored in Virginia until the beginning of the Civil War. Upon the onset of hostilities he entered the Union Army as a Chaplain. After being captured by Confederate forces he was almost executed as a traitor due to his recent residency in Virginia, but was exchanged for a captured southern Chaplain, John Broaddus.

    After the war he was appointed postmaster of Arizona, and traveled to Prescott with over a quarter million dollars worth of postal instruments. Following this service he headed to Nevada to plant churches, and finally ended up in El Paso, TX, where he was affectionately known as "the Baptist Bishop". Quite a colorful character, and probably someone who would have known, and been known by, John Wesley Hardin.
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