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The University of North Texas Press, Denton, Texas is going to publish a book titled "A Lawless Breed, John Wesley Hardin, Texas Reconstruction, and Violence in the Wild West. Authors are Chuck Parsons and Norman Wayne Brown with foreword by Leon C. Metz. The biography exceeds 500 pages with over 80 Illustrations and three maps.

Did Hardin kill 20, 30, or 40 men? Did he kill a man for snoring? These authors decided a closer look was needed and questioned everything Hardin reported and then some!

In 1953 Hollywood produced a film titled The Lawless Breed staring Rock Hudson as John Wesley Hardin. That is the only film ever made about JW Hardin and it received poor reviews. 

We wanted to set the record straight and get to the real truths about one of the most deadly and feared gunfighters of the old west. Look for the book in May or June, 2013 and Chuck & Norm at WWHA Roundup in Boise, Idaho July 10-13, next year.  Hope to see you there!

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Both Leon Metz & Chuck Parsons are personal friends mine. Although Leon's book, JOHN WESLEY HARDIN, DARK ANGEL OF TEXAS is perhaps the most factually accurate book ever written about Wes, it did contain a couple of errors, one of which was blaming Jane Bowen Hardin's death on TB.  She actually died in a house fire on the Fred Duderstadt ranch near old Rancho, Texas, about 6 months before Wes got his pardon & was released from prison.  However, Leon was about a million miles from really understanding Wes.  That's because he's originally from West Virginia, which didn't undergo Reconstruction.  Texas did--& suffered the longest period of Reconstruction of any state in the South.  Texas didn't get rid of carpetbag government until 1874. 

If you look at the record of Wes's killings, you'll find that all but one--the murder, for that's what it was, of the Brown County Deputy Sheriff on the courthouse square in Comanche in 1874--would have been completely justified under Texas law if it hadn't been the Reconstruction era.  In every case but that one the person Wes killed was either out to kill him or do him grevious physical harm, or it was a 'fair fight'--that is, both men were armed & facing each other & the one facing Wes had come to kill him.  Chuck lives in Wes Hardin country & may have a better perspective on Wes's motivations than Leon did.  Incidentally, I have found historical support for 44 of his killings, including Charley Webb.  His brother-in-law, Joshua 'Brown' Bowen, was the one who actually killed the 'snoring man.'  He was hanged for that crime in Gonzales County.  There's a long & involved story abt how it came to be blamed on Wes.


 Thanks for the heads up.Now there's two books on Hardin that I'll have to pick up.

    Charley-I think that the snoring man was actually a schnorrer and was Captain Spaulding,the African explorer!  :)

Just curious, Anthony. Do you know what a "schnorrer" actually is? (I'm sure the Marx Bros. did.)

Charley. Thanks for your reply. Yes, Chuck and Leon are both super guys. Leon did us proud with his foreword for our book. What we did was start from the beginning of JWH's life. He was not born where he said he was nor did he kill all those he claimed. We looked at everything he wrote in his autobiography. We also had the lives of brothers Gip and Jeff to research and write about. Much of what we found has never before been published. We found photographs never before published as well. Chuck read my article on Jeff titled "In the Shadow of John Wesley Hardin" from WWHA journal and we got our heads together as we both wanted to do a complete history of this Hardin family.

Wes Hardin had a slew of cousins in Kent County which is near my place in west Texas. Of course Jeff Hardin's last wife was Mary Taylor, daughter of the famous Creed Taylor and when he was killed she eventually married again and the family went to Arizona by covered wagons. I located a grandson of Jeff Hardin and he grew up around Mary Taylor Hardin Blount and shared some of the stories she told.

It is still a while before the book will be out and this is the first announcement I have made.  We are very excited and proud to add this to the history of the wild west.

As far as the snoring man is concerned we did find new information on that so it may be a surprise when you read what we discovered. We proved and disproved many issues in this work. I'll leave it at that.

Thanks Charley.

I'm no expert, but I think you're confusing two different murders. Hardin shot Charles Couger in Abilene at the American House Hotel, supposedly while Couger was sleeping (Hardin claimed Couger was trying to steal his pants at knife-point). Brown Bowen shot Thomas Holderman a few years later, while Holderman was sleeping in his bedroll. He tried to make Hardin take the rap for the shooting but was hanged anyway.

Your information just may be wrong partner.  <S>

I'll look forward to reading this!  My main interest in the history of our country are the events that took place in the post-Civil War years, from 1865 to 1880.  Few in this country are aware of the punishing effects of Martial Law that was foisted onto the Southern states by a vengeful congress that took control after President Lincoln's assassination.  Modern historians have chosen to gloss over and make excuses for the North's actions during this time. Lincoln had dictated lenient surrender terms to General Lee, which were delivered by General Grant.  In them, the South was to be integrated back into the Union without punishment and every man guaranteed the right to regain all rights of citizenship if he swore alleigance to the Union. 

These terms were thrown out in the acts passed in '65, '66 and '67, all of them with the high-sounding titles of "Reconstruction."  When Grant was elected president in '68, and again in '72, he enforced this punishment vigorously, to say the least. They were anything but lenient, and did nothing to bring the country back together.  Every state that had succeeded was placed under martial law, twenty harsh categories prevented Southern White men from voting eligibility.  (Women did not have the vote at that time.)  The effect of this was that there was no Senatorial representation, and  very little H.R. representtion that could stand up for the rights of the south in Congress.  This harsh martial law remained in effect for 14 years after the war ended, and Texas was the last state released from this tyrannical oppression.  Many historians today believe that more animosity and division between North and South was created during this "Reconstruction" period than by the war itself.

Much of the westward migration from the South was brought about because of the conditions faced by those in the South at that time.  These Southerners, as a general rule moved into the Southwestern part of the country.  How much of John Wesley Hardin's lawless behavior was influenced by the government he lived under will be of major interest to readers of this new book.  Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

Robert. Thank you for your reply as well as your insight into reconstruction. Yes, Texas was not a good place to be for a white person during those years. Governor's Hounds by Donally Brice gives a good accounting of those reconstruction years.

If anyone wants signed copies by both authors and cannot attend one of our book signings let me know.   I will be happy to put them on my "To Mail" list.

Will there be a Kindle version?

That will be up to the publisher.  First they do the hardbound, later softbound.  I would think Kindle is likely.

If I remember correctly, Rock Hudson may have played Wes in a movie, entitled The Lawless Breed, and John McIntyre of Wagon Train played a dual role--as Wes' circuit-riding minister father and the father's brother.  Wes was actually named in honor of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.

That is correct. The movie The Lawless Breed was filmed in 1953. There were a number of actors who later became stars. A historian and writer Don Jay went with his family to see the film in 1954. His grandmother was Fannie Hardin Fox, 2nd cousin to J W Hardin. After the movie Don asked Fannie, "Aren't we kin to that Wes Hardin?"

"Heavens no, he was just trash" was her reply. .


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