John Wesley Hardin

Did you know that gunslinger John Wesley Hardin, old west gunslinger and outlaw, was captured in Pensacola? Hardin was infamous for shooting and killing 21 men, one for simply snoring too loudly.Wes Hardin was born in on May 26, 1853 in Bonham, TX to James G. and Elizabeth Hardin. His father, James, was a Methodist minister, lawyer and schoolteacherIt is unknown what kind of childhood Hardin had, but his teenage years were marked with violence. When he was 14 years old, he stabbed another boy as a result of differences at school. The next year, he shot a man. He fled from the law and went to stay with his brother north of Sumpter, Texas. He is said to have killed four while there. In 1871, Hardin is said to have killed 10 people on the Chisholm Trail, and got married. A year later, he killed four more before his arrest in Cherokee County, Texas. He escaped and tried keep a low profile by raising cattle but found himself in trouble before long. The leader of a small gang of outlaws, he killed a former Texas state police captain and a deputy sheriff in 1873-1874.In searching for a hiding place, Hardin and his gang settled on some property of his wife’s relatives in Florida and began their journey to the Florida panhandle. The rural property located outside of the small town of Jay, Florida, made for a perfect hideout. During his time in West Florida, Hardin is said to have killed from 1-5 people. The unrelenting Texas Rangers intercepted a letter from Hardin’s wife that they were living outside Pensacola. On July 23, 1877, William Dudley Chipley, Marshal Fransisco Comyns and his constables, Sheriff William Hutchinson and his deputies, Texas Rangers John Armstrong and Jack Duncan boarded a train which was occupied by Hardin and his gang at the depot in downtown Pensacola. Except for one member being shot, none of the gang were able to get to their weapons. They were arrested and returned to Texas. Hardin stood trial for murder and was sentenced to 25 years in state prison on June 5, 1878. He was shot and killed in 1895.

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Published by Mike Simmons

I am a retired sergeant with the Pensacola Police Department. I currently work as a coordinator at the George Stone Criminal Justice Training Center. I am married to the former Jerri Crabtree. We have three grown children and seven grandchildren. I volunteer with a boys' mentoring program known as "Royal Rangers."

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