University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

A Guide to the John Wesley Hardin Papers, 1870-1895



Descriptive Summary

Creator: Hardin, John Wesley
Title: Hardin (John Wesley) Papers
Dates: 1870-1895
Abstract: The John Wesley Hardin Papers, 1870-1895, consist of three original letters to W. B. "Billy" Teagarden from Hardin as well as volumes of photocopied correspondence, legal statements, petitions, indictments, depositions, bills, receipts, and other financial and legal documents of Hardin.
Accession No.: 1947
Extent: 6 in.
Language: Materials are written in English.
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Born in Bonham, Texas, John Wesley Hardin (1853-1895) was the son of Methodist preacher James G. Hardin and his wife Elizabeth. In 1868, during Reconstruction, Hardin killed a black man after an argument and several soldiers who tried to capture him. Three years later on the Chisholm Trail, Hardin, now a cowboy, traveled to Abilene, Kansas, killing 10 more people en route.

After his return to Gonzales County, Texas, Hardin married Jane Bowen, with whom he had three children. During this time he killed four more people, then surrendered to the Cherokee County sheriff in 1872 only to brake out of jail later that year. After a new career in stock raising, Hardin allied with Jim Taylor during the Sutton-Taylor Feud (1873-1874) and killed former police captain Jack Helm, who had sided with William Sutton.

In 1874, Hardin killed deputy sheriff Charles Webb of Brown County. The Hardin family fled to Alabama and Florida, where the Texas Rangers captured him in 1877. The next year he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for Webb’s murder. During imprisonment at the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville, Hardin tried to escape numerous times. However, he reformed, becoming superintendent of the prison Sunday school and studying law. In 1894, he was pardoned and the next year established a law practice in El Paso.

After taking client Martin Morose’s wife as his mistress, Hardin hired law officials to assassinate Morose. One of the gunmen, Constable John Selman, killed Hardin, perhaps for not paying Selman for the hired murder. Published the next year, Hardin’s autobiography claimed he killed only in self-defense and showed he considered himself a respectable and leading figure of the community.

Source:

Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "Hardin, John Wesley," http://www.tshaonline.org /handbook/online/articles/HH/fha63.html (accessed July 19, 2010).


Scope and Contents

The John Wesley Hardin Papers, 1870-1895, consist of three original letters to W. B. "Billy" Teagarden from Hardin as well as volumes of photocopied correspondence, legal statements, petitions, indictments, depositions, bills, receipts, and other financial and legal documents of Hardin. Although a few letters date before his imprisonment, the correspondence, legal records, and financial documents primarily describe Hardin’s life in prison and relate to his work while studying and practicing law after his release. The majority of the correspondence date to Hardin’s years in prison (1877-1894) and are from Hardin to his wife Jane.


Restrictions

Use Restrictions

The collection is open for research.


Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Hardin, John Wesley, 1853-1895 -- Archives.
Hardin, Jane Bowen, d. 1892.
Subjects
Criminals -- Texas.
Frontier and pioneer life -- Texas.
Places
Huntsville (Tex.)

Related Material

See also the John Wesley Hardin Collection at the Southwestern Writers Collection/Texas State University-San Marcos.


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

John Wesley Hardin Papers, 1870-1895, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.


Detailed Description of the Papers

 

Inventory

box
2D270 Three original letters to W. B. "Billy" Teagarden, 1892
Photocopy of indictment, 1874
box
2R31 Vol. I, January 1870-1877
Vol. II, September-December 1877
Vol. III, January-May, 1878
Vol. IV, June-December 1878
box
2R32 Vol. V, January-November 1879
Vol. VI, April 1880-December 1884
Vol. VII, August 1885-December 1889
Vol. VIII, March 1890-November 1893
Vol. IX, January-June 1895
Vol. X, August-December 1894
Vol. XI, January-July 1895
Vol. XII, November 2, 1894, undated
Vol. XIII, undated