John Wesley Hardin


John Wesley Hardin Index || Obituary Index

Jan 23, 1896, Cuero Daily Record

El Paso, Texas, August 19 - John Wesley Hardin, the noted Texas desperado, is no more. He was shot and instantly killed 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 easily 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 '70's, 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.

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. On his way out here he stopped in San Antonio and renewed many old acquaintances of former days. Hardin, however, could not restrain his old propensity to drink and gamble and when in his cups was very quarrelsome and threatening.

One night shortly after his arrival he made a losing of $75 against a crap game in one of the gambling houses. Being exasperated at his loss he pulled his pistol and compelled the dealer to hand him the money back. He then walked out to the middle of the room, flourished his pistol and declared if any --- didn't like his style, let him say so and "get out in the road."

On another occasion, in a poker game with four men, he lost a big pot and compelled the winner to give it back to him.

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. The jury failed to agree at the trial, and as it was an old case in which it was difficult to secure testimony the case was subsequently dismissed.

Hardin was as typical a Texas desperado of the earliest type as was ever portrayed in the dime novel. He was of medium weight, nearly six feet tall, straight as an arrow and light complexioned, with an eye as keen as a hawk. As an expert shot he was the peer of either King Fischer 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 the 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. Louis Dreyfous, formerly a San Antonio gambler was dealing monte once at Cuero in the early days of Hardin's career. Hardin walked up to the table where Dreyfous sat. He wore two pistols and a very boyish look. Dreyfous had heard of Hardin's exploits but did not recognize Hardin when the latter walked up to where the game was being dealt. Hardin asked for a "lay-out" but Dreyfous remarked that he was too fresh and did not need so many six-shooters.

Hardin laughed his peculiar laugh and the men about the table began to fall back. Dreyfous asked what was the matter, when one of the players whispered in his left ear, "Why, you blessed idiot, that is Wes Hardin." Dreyfous ran out of the room as fast as his legs could carry him and has never been seen since in that vicinity.

Fortunately for him Hardin considered Dreyfous' ignorance as a good joke, calling for a fresh dealer and the game proceeded until Hardin "busted" the game.

Hardin has recently been engaged in writing a history of his life. He expected to make a fortune by its sale after publication and soon expected to complete this autobiography. The book will have to be finished by another pen than his, but will not prove the less thrilling.

Hardin has a national reputation as a desperado and the news of his tragic taking off is being sent all over the world by the enterprising newspaper correspondents.

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