HARDIN, JOHN WESLEY (1853-1895).
John Wesley (Wes) Hardin, outlaw, son of James G. and Elizabeth Hardin, was born in Bonham, Texas, on May 26, 1853. His father was a Methodist preacher, circuit rider, schoolteacher, and lawyer. Hardin's violent career started in 1867 with a schoolyard squabble in which he stabbed another youth. At fifteen, in Polk County, he shot and killed a black man as a result of a chance meeting and an argument. With the Reconstructionqv government looking for him, he fled to his brother's house, twenty-five miles north of Sumpter, Texas, where in the fall of 1868 he claimed to have killed three Union soldiers who sought to arrest him. Within a year, he killed another soldier at Richard Bottom.
In 1871 Hardin went as a cowboy up the Chisholm Trail.qv He killed seven people en route and three in Abilene, Kansas. After allegedly backing down city marshall Wild Bill Hickok, who may have dubbed him "Little Arkansas," Hardin returned to Gonzales County, Texas, where he got into difficulty with Governor Edmund J. Davis'sqv State Police.qv Hardin then settled down long enough to marry Jane Bowen. Out of that marriage came a son and two daughters.
Hardin added at least four names to his death list before surrendering to the sheriff of Cherokee County in September 1872. He broke jail in October and began stock raising but was drawn into the Sutton-Taylor Feudqv in 1873-74. He aligned himself with Jim Taylor of the anti-Reconstruction forces and killed the opposition leader, Jack Helm,qv a former State Police captain. In May 1874 he started two herds of cattle up the trail; while visiting in Comanche he killed Charles Webb, deputy sheriff of Brown County.
From that time, Hardin was constantly pursued in Texas. He went with his wife and children to Florida and Alabama, adding one certain and five possible names to his death list before the Texas Rangersqv captured him in Pensacola, Florida, on July 23, 1877. He was tried at Comanche for the murder of Charles Webb and sentenced, on September 28, 1878, to twenty-five years in prison. During his prison term he made repeated efforts to escape, read theological books, was superintendent of the prison Sunday school, and studied law. He was pardoned on March 16, 1894, and admitted to the bar.
In 1895 he went to El Paso to appear for the defense in a murder trial and to establish a law practice. Despite efforts to lead a decent life, he was soon in trouble. He took as his lover the wife of one of his clients, Martin Morose, and when Morose found out about the affair, Hardin hired a number of law officials to assassinate him. On August 19, 1895, Constable John Selman,qv one of the hired killers, shot Hardin in the Acme Saloon, possibly because he was not paid for the murder of Morose. Hardin died instantly and was buried in Concordia Cemetery, El Paso.
His autobiography, completed to the beginning of his law studies in prison, was the subject of some litigation and was published in 1896. Hardin was an unusual type of killer, a handsome, gentlemanly man who considered himself a pillar of society, always maintaining that he never killed anyone who did not need killing and that he always shot to save his own life. Many people who knew him or his family regarded him as a man more sinned against than sinning. The fact that he had more than thirty notches on his gun, however, is evidence that no more dangerous gunman ever operated in Texas.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Mollie Moore Godbold, "Comanche and the Hardin Gang," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 67 (July, October 1963). John Wesley Hardin, The Life of John Wesley Hardin As Written by Himself (Seguin, Texas: Smith and Moore, 1896; new ed., Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1961). Leon C. Metz, John Selman (New York: Hastings House, 1966; 2d ed., Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980). Chuck Parsons, The Capture of John Wesley Hardin (College Station, Texas: Creative Publishing, 1978). C. L. Sonnichsen, The Grave of John Wesley Hardin: Three Essays on Grassroots History (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1979).
Leon C. Metz
"I never killed anyone who didn't need killing."
John Selman was born in Madison County, Arkansas on 16th November, 1839. His family moved to Grayson County and on 15th December, 1961, he joined the 22nd Texas Cavalry but deserted 15 months later.
Selman moved to Stephens County before enlisting in the State Militia in 1864 and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in April 1865. After marrying Edna de Graffenreid he fathered his first son. The family moved to Colfax County but returned to Texas and soon afterwards was accused of killing a couple of Native Americans.
In 1874 Selman joined up with John Larn to form a vigilante committee. They were credited with killing several outlaws and later began working as rustlers. Larn was caught and lynched but Selman was able to escape to Lincoln County. Selman now formed a gang that included his brother Tom Selman, Edward Hart and John Gross. Later that year Selman killed Hart in a dispute over who should be leader of the gang. Over the next months Selman and his gang was responsible for the murders of six men.
Selman moved to Fort Davies in 1879 and attempted to settle down in a place called Chihuahua. He continued to be involved in criminal activities but in November 1892, he became constable at El Paso.
In 1895 he got involved in a dispute with John Wesley Hardin after his son arrested Hardin's girlfriend for vagrancy. On 18th August, 1895, Selman shot Hardin in the back of the head while he was standing at the Acme Saloon Bar.
John Selman was murdered by George Scarborough on 6th April, 1896. It was claimed that Selman killed between 12 and 30 men during his lifetime.
Constable "Uncle" John Selman 1839 - 1896
The man who killed John Wesely Hardin
Coming from a good family in Georgia, Bass grew up to be a refined gentleman, but he had a serious drinking problem that continually got him into trouble. After he allegedly killed a man in Georgia in 1855, Bass fled to Texas where he became a Texas Ranger. He was soon promoted to a sergeant but, when discovered drunk on duty in Alpine, Texas, he was dismissed. later, he obtained an appointment as a U.S. Deputy Marshal but was continually reprimanded for drinking. In 1889, while Bass, along with U.S. Deputy Marshals John Hughes and Walter Durbin, were guarding bullion shipments from a silver mine in Mexico, a drunken Bass fought with a Mexican worker and shot him. That same year, Bass, along with fellow U.S. Deputy Marshals, John Hughes and Ira Aten, and Deputy Sheriff Will Terry, planned an ambush near Vance, Texas on the fugitive Odle brothers. Before the night was over, Outlaw shot down both Will and Alvin Odle. On April 5, 1894, when Bass was in El Paso, Texas, he got drunk and fired a shot into Tillie Howard's brothel. When challenged by Constable John Selman and Texas Ranger Joe McKidrict, Bass pointed his gun at the two men, shooting McKidrict's in the head. He then shot at Selman, missing but almost blinding the constable with the gun powder blast. Selman quickly returned fire and shot Outlaw in the chest. Staggering back, bass fired twice more, wounding Selman, before he stumbled to the ground. Surrendering, Outlaw was led to a nearby saloon where he collapsed and died four hours later.
Bass (Baz) L. Outlaw (18??-1894)
Texas Ranger/ Lawman/Sometime Gunfighter
Was a little known, though well associated, gunfighter of the Old West. Born Abraham G. Graham, in Horry County, South Carolina, Collins was raised in an old plantation environment. His great grandfather, Captain Edward Connor, served in the South Carolina Militia during the American Revolution, under Francis Marion. His father, Hosea A. Graham, had married his first cousin, later Martha Ann Graham, and while Collins was still a child the family moved to Texas in covered wagons in 1859.
While living in Limestone County Texas teenagers Abe Graham, alias John Collins and John Wesley Hardin were partners, futhermore coming from stanch Confederate families. Hardin writes in his biography that John Collins was once married to one of his cousins (Tabitha Cox born in Bonham, Fannin County Texas)and comments while he was in Austin jail he met some noted men naming John Collins, Pipes and Herndon of the Bass gang, John Ringo, Mannings Clements and Brown Bowen.
Collins was sought by lawmen for crimes including cattle rustling, and fled Texas for Mexico. After that time cattleman John Collins moved into Ulvade Texas and became one of the five glorious Uvalde Minutemen, including Captain J. J. H. Patterson, Henry Patterson, W. B. Nichols, Tom Leakey and John Collins. These five fearless Minutemen did what the Texas Rangers could not do! After that time John Collins migrated into Lincoln County New Mexico Territory in the mid 1870's and was in and around there for about five years. He became associated with Billy the Kid and fought in and all during the Lincoln County War on the McSween/Chisum/Cowmen's fraction. When the war was over both sides were still up in arms. The people who fought in the war were being persecuted and backwashed. Collins moved to the western part of Old Socorro County New Mexico. Collins Park in the Elk Mountain of today's Gila National Park was in tribute to John Collins. Billy the Kid was wanted at the time, and moving around often, and for a time Collins accompanied him. April 1879 John Collins was in Rynerson's Territory court in Lincoln New Mexico for rustling cattle and stealing horses.
He also met Wyatt Earp, then working for Wells Fargo, as well as Pat Garrett. He later worked as a buffalo hunter, and a US Cavalry Scout during the Army's struggle with Geronimo and the Apache. He also owned his own small ranch for a time in New Mexico.
Collins had changed his name from Graham to his great grandfathers name when he left Texas, going by John Collins, to avoid trouble with the law on the earlier cattle rustling issue, but sometimes went by John Graham. Collins also worked, for a time, riding shotgun for Wells Fargo, and during this time his bond with Earp became strong. It was during this period that he became known, due to the numerous shootings he was involved in associated with his work, and from which his nickname "Shotgun" came.
Collins drifted for a time, through El Paso, Texas, and later to Dodge City, Kansas. At times he took part in outlaw activities, while at others he served as a member of posses. In 1883 he came to Dodge City with Wyatt Earp to support Luke Short during what became known as the Dodge City War. In the famous photographs in which Wyatt Earp, Luke Short, Bat Masterson, Charlie Bassett, M.F. McClain, Neal Brown, William H. Harris, and W.F. Petillion are pictured, as well as a less circulated copy that excludes Petillion and includes Bill Tilghman, Collins was present, as well as Johnny Millsap, "Texas Jack" Vermillion, and several others considered part of the "Dodge City Peace Commission". However they chose not to be in the photograph.
John Graham, alias John Collins was with Uncle John Selman at the Wig Wam Saloon in El Paso Texas when he was murdered by George Scarborough and later testifies against Scarborough in the Selman murder trial. He was never involved in any well known gunfights, with most of his notoriety coming from his days riding shotgun for Wells Fargo, and his association with the other members of the Dodge City Peace Commission. He died in a gunfight at the age of 71, in El Paso, during a dispute.
Ironically the Old Ghost Horseman wasn't a bad man or a good man. He was a product of the times! He was on census through out the Old West as John Collins, John Graham and Abraham Graham with wives and children. Outlaw "Shotgun" Collins was buried in an unmarked grave under his given name Abe Graham in the Catholic Section of El Paso's Concordia Cemetery in the same section as his old partners John Wesley Hardin and John Selman.
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Shotgun John Collins
(November 22, 1851 - December 02, 1922)