Upton County, Texas
JOHN WESLEY HARDIN
John Wesley Hardin was born May 26, 1853, a son of a Methodist circuit rider. At the age of nine he had to be restrained from joining the Civil War, and at fourteen he toted a knife. Wes was acquitted of stabbing a schoolmate, with almost fatal results. In the year of 1869, in Polk County, Texas Wes and a cousin, wrestled a Negro man named "Mage" and threw him down. Going home the following day, Wes came upon Mage, who threatened to kill him, so he shot him beginning his outlaw days. It is said Wes relative's sent him on the run, with the Yankee soldiers chasing after him. He met up with a mixed detachment who were staging an ambush to trap him, and opened fire, adding to his tally one Negro and two white soldiers. He moved on from there to Navarro County, with his father and for a short period taught school. He became a skillful gambler at poker, seven-up and euchre. He became quite taken up with race horsing during this period.
While in Navarro County, he joined up with his cousin, Simp Dixon. Wes described Simp as one of the most dangerous men in Texas. While in the Richland bottom one day, Wes and Simp were confronted by a squad of soldiers, who fled from the outlaws, but not before Wes and Simp managed to each kill a soldier. Wes's tally had now gone up to five by the time he was seventeen. His cousin Simp was about nineteen when he was gunned down by United States Soldiers. He wound up in Arkansas for a short time in 1869, found himself in a gambling row with a desperado named Bradley, who he managed to escape from. Later he met Bradley and on even terms he added another to his steadily growing tally. He then moved on to Brenham, stopping along the way at a circus with a friend named Barrickman at Horn Hill. Here he added another tally to his list. Killing a canvas man who struck him in the face, for accidentally bumping into his arm while he was attempting to light his pipe.
Trouble seemed to go hand in hand with Wes Hardin, while in the town of Kosse visiting a brothel he shot and killed a gentlemen friend of a lady of the profession who attempted to extort money from him by playing the badger game. After hightailing it out of Kosse, he wound up back in Brenham where he attempted his hand at farming with his Uncle. It was in Brenham that he began to run with Phil Coe, an earned his nick name of Seven-up. The carpet baggers organized a State Police about this time a Wes decided it was time to move on from Brenham. He settled for a while in Round Rock, and even went to school there for a day. He passed the diploma exam, and decided it was not safe for an outlaw with a price on his head to be. He made for Shreveport Louisiana to the home of his relatives. On the way he was picked up in Longview, accused of being the barber shop murderer in Waco. Two guards named Stokes and Smolly were to transport him to Waco. The guards believing him to be a mere frightened young boy threatened him with death if he attempted to escape. While under the guard of Smolly, he managed to get a gun and shot the guard dead, stealing his horse and making for his father's home at Mount Calm. Years later after moving herds through Kansas, fighting and killing Indians Wes found himself back in Gonzales County. Many times he was arrested and either was let out or escaped from jails. Wes had many friends in the area that were willing to help him then. In a factual account Sheriff Charles Webb from Brown County, was shot and killed by Harding. Sheriff Webb had set out to capture or kill Harding. After the shooting a mob attacked Wes' brother Joe, his cousins Tom and Bill Dixon and hung them. Wes retreated to New Orleans where he was joined by a wife and child. Later they moved to Florida where his days of freedom came to a close. On July 23, 1877 the Outlaw was captured by Jack Duncan a Dallas County detective for the killing of Sheriff Webb.
Wes Harding was sentenced to serve twenty five years in the Huntsville Penitentiary, where he studied law and theology. He was pardoned February 17, 1894 and he moved to Gonzales County to practice law. He later moved to El Paso the border town with Juarez. There he had a lady friend by the name of Mrs. McRose. Harding upon returning from a trip to Juarez learned Mrs. McRose had been fined for carrying a gun by a young policeman named Selman. Later on the evening of August 19, 1895 he encountered the young Selman's father, Old John Selman outside of the Acme Saloon. Words were said and the older man demanded Harding get a gun and face him. Harding entered the Saloon and soon after Selman followed him inside. It was said Harding was at the end of the Bar shooting dice when Selman entered, and gave no sign of knowing Selman was even there. Selman claimed Harding went for his gun, and he drew shooting Harding once in the head and again in the body. The account of the fatal injury state he was shot in the back of his head. Wes Harding was buried in Old Concordia Cemetery. Old John Selman died April 5, 1896 while in a shoot out with Deputy United States Marshall George Scarborough.
Bob Herring was born in Eastland County, Texas in 1870. At an early age he became a horse thief, stealing his first horse at the age of fifteen and fled to Indian Territory.. It was there in he that he met up with Joe Baker and two other outlaws. Herring foiled a plot by Baker and the other two men only known as, Buck and Six toes, to do away with him. He managed to thwart them, and taking the gold they had robbed from a group of cattleman in Vernon, Texas he made his escape toward the Wichitas. It is said he buried on Flat Top Mountain his loot. Before his death while in prison in Huntsville, it is said he gave to his relative directions to find his treasure. Bob Herring died in 1930.
John Dillinger died July 22,1934, shot by Department of Justice operatives as he was leaving a Chicago theatre. Dillinger was born June 22, 1903 in Indianapolis, Indiana, the younger of two children born to John Wilson Dillinger (1864-1943) and Mary Ellen "Molly" Lancaster (1860-1907), who had married August 23, 1887 in Marion County, Indiana. When Dillinger quit school to work at a machine shop and would often stay out all night, his father moved the family out to Mooresville, Indiana. Dillinger's wild and rebellious behavior was resilient despite his new rural life. After trouble with his father and the law, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, but deserted within a few months and eventually was dishonorably discharged. After he was discharged from the military, Dillinger returned to Mooresville where he met and married Beryl Hovious, in Martinsville on April 12, 1924. However she stated then her age was 19 and she was born August 5, 1904.
He attempted to settle down, though he had difficulty holding a job and preserving his marriage. The marriage ended in divorce on June 20, 1929. Dillinger served time at the Indiana State Prison at Michigan City, until 1933, when he was paroled. Within four months, he was back in jail in Lima, Ohio, but the gang sprang him, killing the jailer Sheriff Jessie Sarber. Most of the gang was captured again by the end of the year in Tucson, Arizona, due to a fire at the Historic Hotel Congress. Dillinger alone was sent to the Lake County jail in Crown Point, Indiana. He was to face trial for the suspected killing of Officer William O'Malley during a bank shootout in East Chicago, Indiana, some time after his escape from jail. During this time on trial, the famous photograph was taken of Dillinger putting his arm on prosecutor Robert Estill's shoulder when suggested to him by reporters.
On March 3, 1934, Dillinger escaped from the "escape-proof" Crown Point, Indiana county jail which was guarded by police and National Guardsmen. Dillinger escaped using a fake handgun carved from either soap or wood and blackened with shoe polish, although this was disputed by some witnesses. On Dillinger's last day, a woman would be his downfall. Dillinger attended the film Manhattan Melodrama at the Biograph Theater in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. Dillinger was with his girlfriend, Polly Hamilton, and Anna Sage, whose real name was Anna Cumpanas, a brothel madam in Gary, Indiana. To keep from being deported Anna Sage cut a deal to give up the wanted Dillinger. Sage had recognized Dillinger from a newspaper photograph. When they exited the air-conditioned theater that hot summer night, Sage tipped off the FBI agents, who opened fire as Dillinger ran, drawing his weapon, killing him. Dillinger was buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.
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