Sheriff Pat Garrett is best known for having killed the outlaw Billy the Kid in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. He was born in Alabama in 1850 and moved with his family to Louisiana where they owned a plantation but their business was destroyed by the Civil War and his father died a few years after the war’s end. Fewer people probably know that when he was younger, he spent some time working as a cowboy in the vicinity of Dallas, Texas. He then went on to work on the LS Ranch out in the Panhandle area (now Oldham and Hartley counties).
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William Clarke Quantrill was known as a leader of a pro Confederate band of guerrillas during the Civil War. He was born in Ohio in 1837. By the age of sixteen, he had become employed as a school teacher in Ohio. He was from a large family the father of which was reportedly abusive, but who died when Quantrill was still a young adult. Quantrill left home when he was still under twenty and moved to Illinois where he was working in a rail yard. He was involved in an altercation in which a man was killed, with Quantrill claiming self defense, but Quantrill was not charged with the killing due to a lack of evidence. During the rest of the 1850s, Quantrill drifted between jobs and locations winding up in the state of Kansas by the end of the decade. One of his jobs was to capture runaway slaves for bounties, which he was likely doing at the outset of the Civil War. He formed a pro Confederate band of raiders having learned guerrilla tactics in other outfits. His band included Frank and Jesse James, brothers Jim, Bob and Cole Younger, Archie Clement, William T. “Bloody Bill” Anderson and other individuals.
On Sunday, October 23, 1960, the Texas Prison Rodeo performance in Huntsville was slated to have a personal appearance by actor John Wayne, in Texas to promote the release of his film “The Alamo” in Houston the following week. Scheduled to appear with Wayne was pop singer Frankie Avalon, who had been cast as the character known as “Smitty” in the film. Wayne’s production was only the fourth of fifty-one film or television projects that Avalon appeared in, but he was at a peak of his career in pop music. The previous year, his recording “Venus” was Number 1 for five weeks. Between 1958 and 1962 between two and three dozen of his recordings hit the Billboard chart. The rodeo arena was expected to be filled to capacity at around 30,000.
A paragraph in a 1939 issue of a newspaper in Decatur (Illinois, not Texas) began “No. 1 Name of the year, so far, is that of Sheriff Smoot Schmid of Dallas, Texas.”
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His birth name was George Kelly Barnes, but he was better known as “Machine Gun Kelly.” George was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1895 and lived much of his early life there. He was in his 20s during the years of Prohibition (1920s and 1930s) when it was illegal to make or sell alcohol products. He became a “bootlegger” who trafficked in illegal alcohol products, and this was a major source of income when he was in his twenties. He was briefly married to Geneva Ramsey when he was about 19 years old. Ramsey and Barnes had two sons, but were later divorced.
“Cherokee Bill” was a name adopted by Crawford Goldsby, a youth born February 8, 1876 at Fort Concho in Texas. He was actively an outlaw for several years, mostly across the Red River in Indian Territory, before he was apprehended. His father was George Goldsby and his mother was Ellen Beck Goldsby. His father was of mixed blood, part black and part white, and was a Buffalo Soldier in the 10th U. S. Cavalry. His mother was also of mixed blood, part Cherokee, black and white. Crawford was probably named for his father’s brother, also known as Crawford Goldsby, who lived and died in Alabama.
John Henry “Doc” Holliday was born August 14, 1851 in Griffin, Georgia to Henry Burroughs and Alice Jane McKey Holliday. He was an educated man, having first studied at Valdosta Institute, Valdosta, Georgia. He learned to shoot and play cards when he was still a youth. It is generally thought that he lived in the southeastern United States, fairly close to home, until his 20s.