5/26/1853 - Something wrong with the gene pool, in Bonham, Texas, a family with a member that fought for Texas freedom at the Battle of San Jacinto, another that signed the Texas Declaration of Independence, another that served in the Congress of the Texas Republic, a member judge with a county named for him, and a Methodist circuit preacher, school teacher, and lawyer welcome a new member to the Hardin Family ... one who will grow up to be the psychopathic killer, John Wesley "Wes" Hardin (he will be the second surviving son of a family with ten children and a direct descendant of North Carolina Revolutionary War hero, Colonel Joseph Hardin).
Named John Wesley (the founder of the Methodist denomination of the Christian church) by his father in hopes that he will someday become a minister, Hardin grows up in southwestern Texas, learning to shoot in part, by plugging away at effigies of President Abraham Lincoln. At eleven he shows what his grim future will be full of when an argument with a classmate escalates and he pulls a knife and stabs the boy in the chest and back (the youngster lives). His first murder (he'll claim self-defense of course) takes place when he is fifteen and bests a former slave named Mage in a wrestling contest ... upset at losing, when Mage accosts Hardin on the road later with a stick in his hand, the gunfighter-to-be simply pulls his .44 and pumps three bullets into his adversary. And so it begins, a bloody journey that will see Hardin kill between 42 (Hardin's own count ... AND HE DOESN'T INCLUDE IN THE TOTAL INDIANS, MEXICANS, OR NEGROES HE PLANTS BECAUSE HE DOESN'T THINK THEY ARE ACTUAL HUMANS) and 27 people between 1868 and 1874, using a one-motion, two-gun draw of crossed pistols that he practices daily (the butts of his pistols pointed inward across his chest, he draws his left gun with his right hand, and the reverse for his other side).
Truth or fiction, here are some of the most monstrous moments of his Wild West life:
*November, 1868 - Learning three soldiers are seeking him for the murder of Mage, Hardin sets up an ambush and kills two men with a shotgun, and guns down the third with his pistol.
*December 25,1869 - A bigger winner in a Christmas card game in Towash, Texas, Hardin is accused of cheating by a local hard case named Benjamin Bradly ... who foolishly curses Hardin on the street later that evening and pulls a knife, claiming he is going to cut out Hardin's liver, to which the gunman responds by calmly putting a bullet in the man's chest and head.
Hardin - Still A Teenager
*January, 1870 - The gunfighter vanishes a citizen called Judge Moore when the man won't give up the gambling funds, or pistols, he was holding for Hardin.
*January, 1870 - Hiding out from the Bradly killing at Horn Hill, Texas, Hardin quarrels with a worker in the circus that is performing there, and when the man punches him in the stomach, shoots him dead in the head.
*January, 1870 - Catting about in Kosse, Texas, Hardin is about to bed a saloon woman of loose morals, when her bedroom door is kicked in and her boyfriend/pimp demands money ... acting as if frightened and accepting of the situation, Hardin accidentally on purpose drops a large roll of cash on the floor, and when the blackmailer bends down to pick up his loot, pulls his weapon and shoots the man in the head.
*January, 1871 - Arrested for the murder of Waco, Texas city marshal Laban John Hoffmann (Hardin will deny the crime) and being taken to Waco, Texas to stand trial, Hardin produces a hidden gun he has bought from another prisoner, kills a guard, and rides off towards Gonzales, Texas.
*January, 1871 - Caught again, Hardin claims to kill three posse men named Smith, Jones, and Davis with their own weapons when the men become drunk trying to return the gunfighter to Waco.
*February, 1871 - Breaks the skull of a black man named Bob King with his pistol when Hardin catches the man cutting a beef cow out of the herd he is rounding up.
*February, 1871 - Hiding out with his cousin Mannen Clements on a cattle drive along the Chisholm Trail from Texas to Kansas, Hardin gets into a ruckus with a group of Mexican cowboys over a game of Monte ... game over, Hardin leaves the dealer with a busted skull from his pistol, and shoots two of the man's friends when they come to his aid (lucky, all three men survive their encounter with Hardin).
*May, 1871 - Out hunting wild turkeys for a change of chuckwagon cuisine, Hardin encounters a local Indian and kills the man just because he doesn't like Indians.
*May, 1871 - Near Bluff Creek, Kansas, Hardin kills an Indian for trying to collect a cattle "tax" on the herd crossing the warrior's former hunting grounds.
*June, 1871 - In action again when a following herd of Mexican cattle mixes with the beasts Hardin is driving north, the gunfighter claims to kill the Mexican trail boss, and when they try to defend their leader, five more protesting vaqueros.
*July 6, 1871 - Getting into an argument in an Abilene restaurant with an anti-Texan named Charles Cougar ... Hardin sends another victim to Boot Hill by way of a well placed head shot.
*July, 1871 - Joining a posse looking for Juan Bideno, a Mexican cowboy accused of killing Texas cattleman William Cohron, Hardin finds him in a cafe in Bluff City, Kansas ... and when Bideno refuses to surrender, kills him with yet another on target head shot.
*July, 1871 - When Abilene marshal Wild Bill Hickok, his weapon already drawn, demands Hardin give up his guns while in town, the killer turns the tables on Hickok with a trick called a "border roll" where guns presented butt first are then spun forward into a firing position. Whether the incident ever happened or not, what is known is that during Hardin's sojourn in the wild cow town, neither of the gunfighters kill each other.
Wild Bill Hickok
*August 6, 1871 - Tired after a heavy night of drinking and gambling, Hardin becomes irritated at his slumber being disturbed by the snoring come from the next room, so he pulls his pistol and fires a bullet through the wall, killing its occupant.
*September, 1871 - Hearing two black state policemen are looking for him in the town of Smiley, Texas, Hardin finds the men eating crackers and cheese in the local general store, introduces himself as the man they are seeking, draws, and empties his pistols at the men, killing one and sending the other to the local doctor with a bullet through his mouth.
*June, 1872 - The desperado wounds a lawman in the shoulder that tries to arrest Hardin in Hemphill, Texas.
*July, 1872 - Not happy about having been conned by Hardin about the gunman's bowling abilities, in Trinity City, Texas a man named Sublett goes at Wes with a shotgun ... struck by buckshot in the side, Hardin survives, but is only able to wound his assailant in the back when the man runs away after firing on the gunfighter.
*August, 1872 - Still recovering from his shotgun wound, Hardin shoots his way out of a posse trap in Angelina County, Texas.
*April, 1873 - Visiting a local saloon while in Cuero, Texas to sell cattle, Hardin gets in an argument with a half-drunk local deputy named J. B. Morgan ... when Morgan follows Hardin out of the saloon, guns are drawn and Morgan goes to Boot Hill.
*July, 1873 - Siding with his cousins in what is called the Sutton-Taylor feud, while having a horseshoe replaced, Hardin sees the leader of the Sutton faction, Jack Helm, passing by on the street ... reaction instant, Hardin grabs a shotgun and blasts Helm into eternity by way of a huge hole in the man's chest (hatred profound, Hardin's friend, Jim Taylor, then empties his pistol into the corpse).
The Jack Helm Killing
*May 26, 1874 - Celebrating his 21st birthday in Comanche, Texas, Hardin wins big at the day's horse races and goes to the nearby saloon for refreshments ... instead, there he is accosted by Comanche County Deputy Sheriff Charles Webb ... guns drawn, Hardin takes a bullet in the side, but survives ... Webb however hits the floor dead with a bullet in his forehead.
The aftermath of the Webb killing is that finally most of Texas has had enough of John Wesley Hardin ... so much so that when he escapes a posse and vanishes, his brother Joe, and two cousins, Bud and Tom Dixon, are grabbed up instead and lynched. Realizing Texas is too hot to remain in, Hardin and his family (he will marry twice, one that lasts only a single day before the bride realizes what she has gotten herself into, and fathers three children) relocate to Florida where he masquerades as a cattleman named J. H. Swain for three years (during this period, he ONLY kills two men ... two former Texas slaves that have seen through his disguise and try to arrest him in Gainesville, Florida). Alias and location discovered due to mail foolishly being sent to family members back in Texas, Hardin is arrested by Texas Ranger John Armstrong and several other officers ... but not until a major struggle takes place in which Hardin tries to draw on the Rangers, but his pistol catches on his vest and he can't bring it into play, his 19-year-old friend, Jim Mann, does pull and is gunned down, and the outlaw is put to sleep by several blows to the head by Armstrong's long barreled .45 revolver. Brought back to Texas for trial in the killing of Webb, Hardin is found guilty and sentenced to 25 years at the Huntsville state prison. Behind bars, Hardin uses his time well, becoming a model prison, reading religious books, helping others as the superintendent of the prison's Sunday school, writing his autobiography, and studying to become a lawyer. After 17 years a Huntsville, Hardin is paroled, passes his bar examination, and sets up shop in the town of El Paso.
Hardin's First Wife, Jane, And His Daughter, Neill
Texas Ranger John Barclay Armstrong
Everything in place for Hardin's story after prison to be one of change, forgiveness, and redemption, his tale instead goes the way it has been pointing since as a child, he first picks up a gun. Feuding over the treatment of the the "widow" (code for prostitute), Mrs. Beulah Mroz, Hardin pistol whips El Paso lawman, John Selmon Jr. ... pissing off 56-year-old senior, a gunfighter himself and constable of the town. After heated words earlier in the day between Hardin and the older Selmon (Hardin threatens to kill Selmon and his son), on August 19, 1895, Hardin thinks nothing more of the encounter and decides to play some cards and dice in the town's Acme saloon. Shooting dice with the town grocer, H. S. Brown, Hardin has his back to the establishments front door when Selmon Sr. enters with his gun at the ready. "You have four sixes to beat," are Hardin's last words, as Selmon fittingly shoots the gunman in the head, and then just to make sure Hardin is dead, pumps two more bullets into his opponent's body ... over and out, Hardin is 42-years-old when he finally is on the fatally wrong side of a gunning (no hero himself, though he shoots Hardin in the back of the head without warning, the Texas killer's reputation is so dark that the killing is ruled self-defense, but Selmon also goes out from lead poisoning ... drunk, on April 5, 1896, he picks a fight with the wrong man, fellow El Paso peace officer, George Scarborough, who, tired of yet another argument about Hardin's death, shoots Selmon without warning in the neck, and then with his adversary in the dirt of an alley, puts three more bullets into the old gunfighter's hip, knee, and side ... and Scarborough in turn will be killed by Wild Bunch outlaw, Harvey "Kid Curry" Logan, in April of 1900).
Hardin In Death - Note Where Bullet Came Out Near His
Gun Hardin Never Got To Pull On The Fatal Night
5/26/1853 ... a killer is born in Texas, named John Wesley Hardin!