John Wesley Hardin

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Poster of John Wesley Hardin

John Wesley Hardin Poster

John Wesley Hardin rode through Texas, leaving 24 dead men behind him.

So say some historians – and others said it was more. Hardin was so feared during his heyday that Texas mothers used to frighten unruly children with the threat, “Be careful – ‘case ole Wes Hardin gets ya!

But how tough was he? Hardin was violently unstable, and wisely most people stayed clear of this unbalanced son-of-a-buck. But no matter how tough you are – there’s always someone tougher. And in the old west there was always a Sheriff/Marshal/Ranger tougher than the outlaws they chased.

In Hardin’s case there may have been two: Special Ranger Jeff Milton and US Marshal George Scarborough. It happened in about 1895 in El Paso.

Wes had been out of jail for a about a year (after serving 17 years for killing Sheriff Webb) and was trying to establish himself as a lawyer – having studied the subject in prison. Soon he was strutting the streets with a married woman, Mrs. McRose.

At the time Mister McRose was holed up on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande. Seems the Texas Law wanted to talk to him about some herds of steers disappearing. Months later the law finally caught up with McRose and the gang he rode with and they got shot up good – killing McRose.

Hardin was drinking hard at the time, and not happy with haveing the grieving widow all to himself, he had to start running his mouth. Wes told all that’d listen that’d he’d paid Ranger Milton and Marshal Scarborough to take care of Martin McRose.  When Special Ranger Jeff Milton heard that, he went looking for Hardin, and finding him in Con Ryan’s Parlor Saloon.

MILTON: Hardin, you’ve been telling people you paid me to kill McRose. You’re a god-damned liar!

HARDIN: You can talk to me like that when I’m not armed.

MILTON: You’re lying again. You’re always armed. And you can go for your gun right now or tell all these men here and out loud that you lied.

HARDIN: Gentlemen, when I said that about Captain Milton I lied.

Scarborough got a written apology.


Texas Rangers badge

Texas Rangers Company D – Frontier Battalion

Texas Rangers Company D – Frontier Battalion

In the old west Texas’ most violent citizen was John Wesley Hardin. After killing Sheriff Charley Webb in 1874 he went on the run, until on August 23, 1877, Frontier Batallion Lieutenant, John Armstrong, caught up with him in Pensacola, Florida. Ranger Armstrong, with drawn Colt boarded the train and entered the car in which Wes Hardin and four companions were sitting.

Upon seeing the Ranger, with drawn pistol and big-brimmed western hat, Hardin, is reported to have yelled, “Texas by God!” which prompted the men to go for their pistols.

When the smoke cleared, one of Hardin’s companions was dead, Wes was out cold from a blow to the head, and Armstrong was staring down the other three with his smoking six-shooter.

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