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    "Reformed" gunslinger John Wesley Hardin represents assassin "Killing Jim" Miller in court

    [John Wesley Hardin] Letter to Hardin Dictated by James "Killing Jim" Miller. One page, 8.5" x 11", February 13, 1895, Austin, Texas. As written: "I received your letter of the 5 and was glad to hear from you telegraph me at this Place when you start and I will meet you at Sirrablanco [Sierra Blanca, Texas] come over the sun-set rout come at once without fail will close/ J. B. Miller". The letter is written on the letterhead of "T. J. Coggin, General Merchandise, Staple and Fancy Groceries . . . Lordsburg, N. M."

    The son of a preacher and named after the founder of the Methodist church, gunslinger John Wesley Hardin (1853-1895) claimed to have killed forty-four men. He was arrested in 1877 at the age of twenty-four, and while serving a seventeen year prison sentence, he finished a law degree. When he was released from prison in March 1894, he began practicing law. But he never strayed far from the wrong side of the law.

    Hardin's cousin, James B. Miller (1866-1909), also lived a criminal lifestyle, eventually becoming a successful hired assassin who worked mainly in west Texas. (It is believed that in 1908, he murdered Pat Garrett, the lawman who had killed Billy the Kid twenty-seven years earlier.) In 1895, Miller curiously asked the newly-released Hardin to prosecute a man who had tried to kill him. Hardin accepted and went to El Paso to participate in the trial. Miller's urgent desire in this letter to meet Hardin at Sierra Blanca was certainly to discuss the upcoming trial. After the trial started, it moved slowly, so Hardin rented a room at Mrs. William Herndon's Lodging House and soon began frequenting many El Paso saloons. He was soon arrested at the Gem Saloon in April 1895 for cheating at a card game. Later on August 19, 1895, at the Acme Saloon in El Paso, Hardin was shot in the back of the head and killed by John Selman. Miller continued his nefarious activities, finally meeting his doom in 1909 at the hands of a lynch mob. The document, which has weakened at the folds, is reinforced on the verso with rice paper and encapsulated in Mylar. Age-toned; very good.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2009
    21st Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,430

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