Friday, April 27, 2012

Wes Hardin obituary

My Great Grandfather was second cousin to John Wesley Hardin and related in a roundabout way to the Clements boys as well as Jim Miller who was pretty notorious even before he was suspected of ambushing and killing Pat Garrett. Hell, they were all related to each other on way or another.
I can remember Gramps bouncing me on his knee when I was a li'l bitty knuckledragger, maybe 4-5 years old and telling me that he can remember Wes Hardin bouncing him on his knee and telling him gunfighting stories. Anyways, I ran across this from when I was tracing family history a few years ago.

The Gonzales Inquirer,
Thursday, August 22, 1895.

San Antonio Express.
El Paso, Tex., Aug. 19. - (Special) -

John Wesley Hardin, the noted Texas desperado, is no more. He was shot and instantly killed to-night about 11:30 o'clock in the Acme saloon by Constable John Sellman. Hardin threatened Sellman's life several times during the evening but on meeting, Sellman was too quick for him.

Sellman, who is very cool and deliberate, but at the same time very quick, has killed a number of bad men and Hardin reckoned without his host when he ran up against him. Hardin fell dead with his boots on before he could get a shot at Sellman.

Wes Hardin, as he was familiarly known over Southwest Texas, was especially the most noted of the living Texas desperadoes. Hardin's early career was spent in DeWitt county, and he was a terror in that section in the '70s, or until he was sent to the penitentiary.

He was sentenced to fifteen years, but got a time allowance for good conduct, which enabled him to secure his discharge eighteen months earlier than would have been the case had he been compelled to serve out his full time.

Hardin during his incarceration concluded that upon his release he would take to the practice of law, and so spent the latter part of the period of his confinement in studying the intricacies of jurisprudence. He gave his attention principally to the criminal law, in which he expected to figure with distinction.

After spending some time in Cuero and afterwards at Gonzales, where he nearly got into trouble in the excitement of the county election last year, he came to El Paso about three months ago.

Hardin was the son of a Methodist preacher, and was born in Trinity county being 45 years of age at the time of his death. He was sent to the penitentiary from Lampasas county in 1876 for the killing of the sheriff of Comanche county, who was attempting to arrest him.

He was released in 1894, and stood his last trial for murder in Cuero in the same year. [According to The El Paso Times, the Cuero case was dismissed.]

In personal appearance Hardin was as typical a Texas desperado of the earliest type as was ever portrayed in a dime novel. He was of medium weight, nearly six feet tall, straight as an arrow and dark complexioned, with an eye as keen as a hawk.

As an expert shot he was the peer of either King Fisher or Ben Thompson in their palmiest days. He could shoot as quickly and aim as straight as either of them. It was almost sure death for anyone who was in front of his gun when Hardin drew a bead.

Seventeen scalps are said to have dangled from his belt and it is likely that the number of human lives that he has taken will exceed that number.

The trouble which resulted in his death last night was brought on by his telling Constable Sellman, in the Acme saloon, he did not like his (Sellman's) son, who was one of the party of officers who had arrested him, a few nights before. One word brought on another and it ended by his telling Sellman to get out in the middle of the street and he would come soon and he would come "smoking."

Sellman waited for him several hours but he did not come out. Then Sellman went into the saloon with a friend and, stepping up to the bar near Hardin they both watched one another through the mirror in front. After Sellman had taken his drink he says Hardin reached for his gun and he pulled his own and turned loose. The first shot crashed through Hardin's brain and killed him instantly. He received two more shots while falling to the floor. He had a gun in each hip pocket, but he did not get a chance to pull either. Thus ended the career of the man who has for several months been feared by the public in general.


davecydell said...

Would it be in my family tree.

Peter said...

Unlike that obit it is more likely that Sellman shot Hardin from behind, without warning while Hardin was staggering drunk. The fatal shot was a pass through head shot. I've read that during the Coroner's Inquest it was said that they could not really tell if the shot entered the front or the back. Someone commented that if the shot came from the front it showed good marksmanship. If it came from the back it showed good judgement.

I visited Wes' grave during one of my trips though El Paso. I doubt my little prayer did his soul much good.

wirecutter said...

Agreed. He was rolling dice with Harry Brown when he was shot. Wasn't looking for or expecting a fight.

Craig said...

This obit is one of historical significance. August 22, 1895 Marks the first time the media covered up an L.E.O. shooting a defenseless person engaged in a legal activity and gave the state sponsored murderer a a forum to sanitize his actions in the public eye. I'm sure Sellman was disappointed that Harding left his dog at home or he would have shot him too.

Anonymous said...

Hardin actually was sentenced to 25 years for the killing. He was such a pain he was always getting in trouble. He finally "found religion" and started teaching Sunday school in prison then got his law degree. Hardin came to El Paso to defend his cousin "Killin'" Jim Miller and decided to stay. As a side note, the First National Bank building, where Hardin had his law offices, was totally destroyed by fire on April 19. Check the television and newspaper websites for El Paso about it.

Rich T said...

JWH had a hideout on a friend parents ranch. 20+ years ago we would go spend the night out there and drink. Fish the ponds.

Here is the link to about where it was.,-94.940565&hl=en&ll=30.770196,-94.935951&spn=0.009218,0.015643&sll=30.770196,-94.94005&sspn=0.009218,0.023818&t=h&mra=mift&mrsp=1&sz=16&z=16