John Wesley Hardin

  It was alleged that John Wesley Hardin killed 42 men in his lifetime and he killed one man just for snoring. He was born in 1853 in Bonham Texas and was the son of a Methodist preacher and named after the founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley. At the age of 8 Hardin witnessed a man being stabbed to death in a drunken brawl. At the age of 9 he tried to join the Confederate Army. At 14 he nearly killed a classmate with a knife after another boy accused him of writing a poem on a wall that disparaged a girl in their class. The boy charged at him with a knife but but Hardin stabbed him twice with a knife of his own. When he was 15 Hardin challenged his uncles former slave Maje to a wrestling match.and Hardin won. Maje was angry that Hardin won and he ambushed him the next day as he rode by. Hardin pulled his revolver and shot him five times. He rode to get help for Maje but he died 3 days later. This was just after the Civil War and Texas was under the control of Union forces. Hardin's father urged him to hide out to avoid prosecution. Authorities sent 3 Union soldiers out to arrest him and they found Hardin but he killed all of them. He said ..".I waylaid them, as I had no mercy on men whom I knew only wanted to get my body to torture and kill. It was war to the knife for me, and I brought it on by opening the fight with a double-barreled shotgun and ended it with a cap and ball six-shooter. Thus it was by the fall of 1868 I had killed four men and was myself wounded in the arm". From this time until his death in August 1895 Hardin was involved in shooting after shooting. 

  On one occasion he and another man were sleeping in a hotel in Abilene Kansas when a man began snoring in the next room. The two men began shooting through the wall and ceiling killing a man named Charles Cougar in the next room. Hardin claimed later that they were actually shooting at a armed man who had entered their room intending to rob or kill them. Snoring can be bad for your health they say. The only man that he seemed to have respect for was Wild Bill Hickock and Harding avoided clashes with him. He realized that Hickock would be coming after him for firing his gun in the city limits. Harding and his men were escaping half dressed out of a second floor window when they saw Hickock with four policemen enter the front door of the hotel from their upstairs room Harding escaped justice again. However Hickock and Hardin would die in similar fashion. Hardin would eventually spend seventeen years in prison. In El Paso Texas a lawman named named John Selman Jr. arrested an acquaintance of Hardin who was a part-time prostitute for brandishing a gun in public. Hardin confronted Selman and they got into a violent argument. Selman's 56 year old father, John Selman Senior , who was also a well known gunman. got into an argument with Hardin on the afternoon of August 19, 1895. Shortly after midnight while Hardin was playing dice at the Acme Saloon Selman Sr. entered the saloon, He walked up behind Hardin and shot him in the back of the head killing him instantly. Then as Hardin lay motionless on the floor he pumped three more slugs into him. Selman was arrested, and tried but it ended in a hung jury. Before he could be re-tried Selman was killed by a U.S. Marshall in a dispute over a card game. He who lives by the sword dies by the sword. 

  On August 27, 1995, there was a confrontation between two groups at the site of Hardin's grave. One group, representing the great-grandchildren of Hardin, sought to relocate the body to Nixon, Texas, to be interred next to the grave of Hardin's first wife. The other group, consisting of local El Pasoans, sought to prevent the move. At the cemetery, the group representing the descendants of John Wesley Hardin presented a disinterment permit for the body of Hardin, while the El Pasoans presented a court order prohibiting the removal of the body. Both sides accused the other parties of seeking the tourist revenue generated by the location of the body. A subsequent lawsuit ruled in favor of keeping the body in El Paso


  1. Rather than being influenced by his Father's religion, he was taken in by blood lust when he witnessed the drunken man being stabbed. As an eight-year-old, he made the decision to settle scores by killing. We wonder how his Father, a preacher, could not have had more influence on him. What a sad, tragic and destructive life.


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