Monday, September 19, 2016

5 Little known Shooters by Paty Jager

I tend to write villains into my historical western romances and therefore am always on the lookout for a good bad guy to use as a model for my fictional characters. Here are five real bad guys I came across in my research.

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1) Clay Allison - Born in 1840 in Tennessee. He started out as a dirt farmer but the Civil War changed his future. During the war he learned how to kill and became skillful at it. He enjoyed "scouting" or spying as it mainly was during that war. During his scouting he was caught. The night before he was to be shot, he killed a guard and escaped. He was known for an erratic mental condition due to a head wound from his youth. The Tennessee Light Artillery said he was suicidal and discharged him after one year.  He hired on with Loving and Goodnight in Texas. On a trail drive, they passed a small town and Allison rode down main street wearing only his sombrero, boots and gun belt after drinking too much. When the sheriff tried to arrest him he started shooting, scaring the lawman. He went on to be one of the most psychotic, deranged gunmen that ever lived.

2) John Larn - Came from Alabama, drifted to Colorado tried to "borrow" a horse and was caught. He killed the cattleman objecting. Two months later he shot the lawman arresting him. In Texas he hired out on a cattle drive. He killed three men and tossed them in the Pecos. On the return trip he had problems with the trail boss and took several other unhappy drovers through the camp causing havoc. Seven men were wounded and two killed. He eventually hired on with another ranch and married the owners daughter. Around his wife he was a gentleman and never killed anyone. There were wars between the grangers and the cattle barons.In 1876 Larn was twenty-five years old and elected as sheriff. He hung many rustlers and cleaned up the area. Then he and a partner started rustling themselves and killed hired hands to prevent having to pay them. He made himself the least liked lawman in Shackleford, Texas. Two years after becoming sheriff, he was gunned down while locked in his own jail.

3) Bass Outlaw - He was five-foot four and fully dressed and armed, he weighed one hundred and fifty pounds. He was a Texas Ranger for being of short stature. He was a nice fellow, who could ride harder and cuss harder than any other ranger. He was also known for being sympathetic, tender and patient when the need arose. But he had one flaw. He couldn't leave liquor alone.When he drank he was a homicidal maniac.

4) Pearl Hart - Born around 1871 in Ontario, Canada. She left home at seventeen. She took up with a young miner who didn't believe in working hard. Pearl would lure men into her room and her miner would hit them over the head and take their cash. When this didn't get them the amount of money they wanted, they started robbing stage coaches. Pearl cut her hair and wore men's clothing. They were as bad at robbing stages as they had been luring men into her room. They made one heist of about $400. But after they took off, they became lost and ended up not far from the robbery and were captured by the posse. Pearl told a tale story of a sick mother and that's why she needed the money and the jury released her. The judge didn't like that and had her rearrested for carrying a gun.She spent a limited time in jail, convincing the courts she was pregnant. The only men she'd spent time with alone were a clergyman and a governor. They gave her a discreet pardon and asked her leave Arizona.  She was arrested around the country for pick pocketing and prostitution. She also rode in the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. She lived to be ninety after marrying a rancher.

5) Jack Slade - Born in Carlyle, Illinois, he served in the Mexican War.  After the war, he worked as a trouble shooter for the Overland Stage. He was short, round, and schizophrenic. He married a pretty girl. Jack worked, fought, and drank with enthusiasm. Slade was sent to take care of a man who had stolen company horses. In the shootout he stopped thirteen slugs. He lived after a long convalescence. He offered $500 to anyone who brought in the man who shot him. Four cowboys brought the man in. Slade tied him up to a post and started shooting his legs and arms while swigging whiskey. When the man passed out from the pain, Slade put the barrel in the man's mouth and pulled the trigger. Then he cut off the man's ears and wore them on his watch fob for years. HIs drinking became a problem and after sending the Virginia City milk wagon over a steep hill while drunk, a vigilante group strung him up. When his wife arrived she claimed the body, dipped him in alcohol and sent him to Salt Lake City to be buried in a Mormon grave site.

There are bits and pieces from each of these real-life people that gives me fodder for villains in my westerns. How about you?  Have your read a book about or watched a movie that the villains could have come from one of these?

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 25+ novels and over a dozen novellas and short stories of murder mystery, western historical romance, and action adventure. She has a RomCon Reader’s Choice Award for her Action Adventure and received the EPPIE Award for Best Contemporary Romance. Her first mystery was a finalist in the Chanticleer Mayhem and Mystery Award and is a finalist in the RONE Award Mystery category.  This is what readers have to say about the Letters of Fate series- “...filled with romance, adventure and twists and turns.” “What a refreshing and well written love story of fate and hope!”

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Source: A Gallery of Notorious Gunmen From the American West: The Shooters by Leon Claire Metz 

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