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Ten Deadly Texans

by Dan Anderson and Laurence J. Yadon, Pelican Publishing, Gretna, La., 2009, $16.95.

Naturally, there were far more than just 10 such characters. In post–Civil War Texas, badmen virtually sprouted up between the Rio Grande and the Red River. The two Oklahoman authors, in fact, previously wrote 200 Texas Outlaws and Lawmen: 1835– 1935, as well as a similar book centered on their home state, 100 Oklahoma Outlaws, Gangsters and Lawmen: 1839–1939. By “10 Deadly Texans,” Dan Anderson and Laurence Yadon mean nothing short of the very meanest and baddest hombres to operate in the Lone Star State prior to 1935. “No doubt our selection of the 10 worst outlaws in Texas will be controversial in some quarters,” they acknowledge in the preface. They arrived at their selection by studying the works of such Western gunfighter and lawmen experts as Robert Barr Smith, who was consulting editor on the project.

Without further beating around the Texas brush, here are the top 10, more or less in chronological order: Cullen Baker, John Wesley Hardin, Wild Bill Longley, Pink Higgins, James B. Miller, Scott Cooley, Sam Bass, Marshall Ratliff, Clyde Barrow and Joe Palmer. Who was the deadliest? Hard to say. Among frontier representatives, Miller, Hardin and Longley each tallied at least 10 men, perhaps many more, and often these Texas terrors did not kill in self-defense or in fair fights. The last of this terrible trio to die was Miller, lynched on April 19, 1909, less than a month after Clyde Barrow was born near Telico, Texas.


Originally published in the December 2009 issue of Wild West. To subscribe, click here.