Old West Outlaws
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Outlaw Sam Bass tried to head down the righteous path. In 1876, he and partner Joel Collins decided to drive cattle from Texas to Nebraska. The effort was successful and the young men made a fair amount of money. But they lost it even faster, gambling it away at the sporting tables in Deadwood, Dakota Territory.
Historians believe Billy the Kid and his fellow Regulators were hiding in this rock house at Stinking Spring on December 23, 1880, when Pat Garrett and his posse attacked them, killing Charlie Bowdre and capturing The Kid, Billy Wilson, Tom Pickett and Dave Rudabaugh.
Arkansas Tom joined up with the Doolin Gang when he was 22. The next year, he was captured after the Battle of Ingalls. He spent 17 years in prison before his two preacher brothers managed to get his sentence commuted. He went to Hollywood, attempting to make it big in the movies, but that didn’t work out—so he went back to the outlaw trail. He was caught after a Missouri bank robbery in 1917. Released in 1921, he robbed another bank. Three years later, he was killed in a gunfight with police.
In the “official” telling of the events leading up to the death of the Kid, deputies Poe and McKinney claim they noticed a lone figure approaching on the inside of the fence. He is hatless and in his stocking feet. And, most tellingly, he’s buttoning his pants. Bob Boze Bell doesn’t believe this, and he's convinced it didn’t happen.
These four men claimed to be Billy the Kid’s pallbearers: (l.-r.) Charlie Foor, Jesús Silva, Vicente Otero and Paco Anaya, but Foor was not. Silva and Otero helped build The Kid’s coffin, and they dug his grave in the old cemetery. The additional pallbearers were Saval Gutierrez and Antonio Savedra.
If you can't beat 'em...then ambush them. Irish gunfighter Jim Leavy was a feared shootist. He had killed at least two men in face-to-face confrontations—and he’d backed down others who didn’t want to try their luck. But he finally pushed things too far. He was in Tucson on June 5, 1882 when he got into an argument with faro dealer John Murphy. The pair finally agreed to a shootout the next day. But Murphy knew Leavy’s reputation. Later that night, he and two pals ambushed and killed Leavy.
Jim Leavy wasn’t first, but he was accurate. It was rare when two proficient shootists had it out in the Old West. But it happened on March 9, 1877 in Cheyenne, WY. Charlie Harrison and Jim Leavy got into an argument over a game of cards. The insults and confrontation continued out into the street. Then the two went for their guns. Harrison got off the first shot, which went wild. Levy took a bit of time to aim and hit his target. Harrison died the next day.
Self defense? That’s what Selman claimed after shooting Wes Hardin in the back of the head. John Selman shot John Wesley Hardin to death on August 19, 1895 in El Paso’s Acme Saloon. He put a bullet in the back of the gunfighter’s head—and was tried for murder. It should have been an open and shut case. But Selman claimed that Hardin had seen him in the bar mirror and was going for his gun.
The basic facts are well known. John Selman gunned down John Wesley Hardin on August 19, 1895 in El Paso’s Acme Saloon. They’d been verbally fighting for some time, and Selman decided to end it—which he did with one shot to the back of the gunman’s head. But there was more. Selman walked up to the body and continued firing. One shot hit Hardin in the breast. Another went into his arm. The other missed entirely. Selman’s best shot was the first, the kill shot.
Alfred Packer, who remains one of the country’s most infamous cannibals, led a strange and almost lurid life—even during his time in prison and to the end of his days. The most celebrated Colorado convict was wooed and loved—despite his life sentence for eating his camping compadres...
The Kid’s body was carried from the bedroom where he was killed in Pete Maxwell’s house to a workbench in the fort’s carpenter shop. Hispano women washed his body and prepared him for his wake and prayer vigil, which was immediately held and continued until morning.