John Wesley Hardin
On the Aug. 17 episode, Dr. Roth shares stories from the life of John Wesley Hardin, dubbed the “Dark Heart of Texas.” A ruthless outlaw, Hardin was once the most wanted man in the country after he gunned down Brown County Sheriff’s Deputy Charles Webb. He later was captured in Pensacola, Florida and served time at the Huntsville (Walls) Unit in Huntsville.
Dr. Mitchel RothIn the Old West, Hardin left a trail of victims along cattle drive routes from Texas to Kansas and became one the most well-known and feared of the gunslingers of the Reconstruction era. He had a hair-trigger temper and settled disputes with his gun. He bragged of killing more than 40 men during his career.
Hardin was affiliated with the Taylor Boys, a group of cattle rustlers that targeted herds moving across the Texas plain. When Native Americans in the area tried to “tax” cattle on their lands, Hardin shot the leader of the tribe as a message to others. He also shot Mexican cowboys he believes were trying to skim the herds.
The colt pistol was the weapon of choice for gunslingers in the Wild West.“I leave you as a warning to others that this what awaits you,” said Dr. Roth, explaining Hardin’s method. “This is the way he saw things in the strange world of John Wesley Hardin.”
Hardin also turned his sights on legendary lawman Wild Bill Hickok, Marshal in Abilene, Kansas. As the story goes, the two men had at least one encounter in the city and developed a mutual respect for one another.
Hardin served 18 years in the Huntsville Unit (commonly known as "The Walls") for murder, before getting out to become a lawyer in El Paso, where he would meet his own demise from a bullet.
Dr. Roth has written about Texas outlaw tradition, which was published in the East Texas Historical Quarterly and recently reprinted in book edited by Bruce Glasrud. During the “Gunslinger” docudramas, Dr. Roth lends insight into the life and crimes of John Wesley Hardin.
The Gunslinger series can be seen on the American Heroes Channel. “Gunslingers captures all the edge-of-your-seat drama of a classic Hollywood Western, but layers in all of the true facts from these legends that echo throughout history," said Kevin Bennett, General Manager of the American Heroes Channel.
The episode on John Wesley Hardin will debut on Sunday, Aug. 17 at 9 p.m. CST and a clip is available on the American Heroes Channel..