Monday, August 22, 2011

In Texas, You Just Never Know...!

Parts of this story could almost be from today's headlines!

One thing about the old west in Texas...the Law was willing to do whatever it took to go after the bad guys. At least, what they considered to be the really bad guys!

As this story points out, often the lines were blurry at best!

Aug 22, 1898:

Hired killer Jim Miller joins Texas Rangers

The hired assassin Jim Miller briefly joins the Texas Rangers, demonstrating how thin the line between outlaw and lawmen often was in the West.

Many lawmen in the Old West had never been on the wrong side of the law themselves, but more than a few moved easily between the worlds of lawbreaker and law enforcer. James Brown Miller was one of the latter. During his 47 years, Miller worked as a deputy sheriff, a city marshal, and Texas Ranger. He was also a gambler, a swindler, and one of the deadliest professional killers in Texas.

As a young man, Miller was accused of committing several murders-including the double killing of his own grandparents-but the charges never stuck. By age 27, he was living in Alpine, Texas, where he reportedly offered to kill a local judge for $200. That offer was apparently rejected, but thereafter he became a professional killer, charging between $50 to $2,000, depending on the victim and the client's ability to pay. By his own account, he committed more than 50 murders.

Although Miller was arrested on several occasions, he proved hard to convict. The wealthier clients who hired him often provided expert legal counsel, and he was a careful killer who took pains to cover his tracks. Law enforcement agencies also found men like Miller useful, and they often were willing to overlook his checkered past if they needed help in capturing or killing a dangerous outlaw. The famous Texas Rangers even hired Miller, temporarily appointing him a Special Ranger on this day in 1898.

Miller's luck eventually ran out. In 1909, two Ada, Oklahoma, ranchers paid Miller $2,000 to kill August Bobbitt, with the promise of an additional $3,000 to pay for his defense in the event Miller was arrested. Miller killed Bobbitt with a shotgun, his favored weapon for assassinations. This time, however, Miller's victim was a well-liked man who left a widow with four children. Local citizens were outraged by the cold-blooded murder and demanded action. Miller and his two clients were quickly arrested and jailed, but none of them had a chance to mount a legal defense. A mob of Ada vigilantes stormed the jail, extracted the men, and lynched them in a nearby barn. Miller was 47 years old.

One thing you have to admit about the old west..payback was a bitch and often the payback was almost immediate! Certainly not like today!

How about some coffee on the patio this morning? I would enjoy the company!


Gorges Smythe said...

So much for ten year's of appeals!

Ben in Texas said...

Wonder what happen to the ranchers who hired him?

Momlady said...

While vigilantes aren't necessarily the answer today, public hangings might deter some people.

Argentum Vulgaris said...

The old saying HJ, 'You need a thief to catch a thief."


Old Jules said...

Change names, dates, places and you've got Tom Horn. Probably a lot more of that went on than we're aware of. All those feuds in Texas before and after the Civil War usually involved one side or the other owning law enforcement. But not just in Texas. New Mexico history is loaded with it, too.

Dizzy-Dick said...

Too bad it still can't be like that around here. Might clean things up real fast.

JoJo said...

Great Post. The good old west sure had some crazy ideas for law enforcement. Love reading these stories as you know.
Coffee on your warm patio sounds great.Its 59 here this morning.

HermitJim said...

Hey Gorges...
Does sort of shorten the whole process, doesn't it?

Thanks for coming by today!

Hey Ben...
They were hanged right along with Miller! At least, according to the article!

Rangers must have been quite a wild and wooly bunch back then!

Right or wrong, justice wasn't long coming!

Thanks, buddy, for coming by today!

Hey Momlady...
I do believe you are right about that! Could be making a come-back someday!

Thanks for dropping in today! Enjoy the family visit!

Hey AV...
Seemed to work back then!

Good to see you again, my friend! Thanks for coming by!

Hey Jules...
Probably a lot of it went on back then!

As always, the ones with the money made the rules! Still the same today!

I sure do thank you for coming by this morning!

Hey DD...
Might take a lot of them around certain parts of the state!

What can you do when LEOs sometimes are part of the problem!

Thanks, my friend, for coming by today!

Hey JoJo...
Only 84 this morning at 9:40 AM. Not too bad, I guess! Supposed to be back in the 100's again!

I'm glad you liked the history!

Thanks, sweetie, for coming by today!