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He Rode with Butch and Sundance: The Story of Harvey "Kid Curry" Logan

Description: Pinned down by a posse, the wounded outlaw’s companions urged him to escape through the gulch. “Don’t wait for me,” he replied, “I’m all in and might as well end it right here.” Placing his revolver to his right temple, he pulled the trigger for the last time, thus ending the life of the notorious “Kid Curry” of the Wild Bunch. It is long past time for the publication of a well-researched, definitive biography of the infamous western outlaw Harvey Alexander Logan, better known by his alias Kid Curry. In Wyoming he became involved in rustling and eventually graduated to bank and train robbing as a member—and soon leader—of the Wild Bunch. The core members of the gang came to be Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, George “Flatnose” Currie, Elzy Lay, Ben “the Tall Texan” Kilpatrick, Will Carver, and Kid Curry. Kid Curry has been portrayed as a cold-blooded killer, without any compassion or conscience and possessed of limited intelligence. Curry indeed was a dangerous man with a violent temperament, which was aggravated by alcoholic drink. However, Smokov shows that Curry’s record of kills is highly exaggerated, and that he was not the blood-thirsty killer as many have claimed. Mark Smokov has researched extensively in areas significant to Curry’s story and corrects the many false statements that have been written about him in the past. Curry was a cunning outlaw who planned and executed robberies on par with anything Butch Cassidy is reported to have pulled off. Smokov contends that Curry was the actual train robbing leader of the Wild Bunch—there is no concrete evidence that Cassidy ever robbed a train. He also presents new evidence that is virtually conclusive in resolving whether or not Curry was the “unknown bandit” who was killed after robbing a train near Parachute, Colorado, ...
Date: August 15, 2012
Creator: Smokov, Mark T.
Partner: UNT Press

The Johnson-sims Feud: Romeo and Juliet, West Texas Style

Description: In the early 1900s, two families in Scurry and Kent counties in West Texas united in a marriage of fourteen-year-old Gladys Johnson to twenty-one-year-old Ed Sims. Billy Johnson, the father, set up Gladys and Ed on a ranch, and the young couple had two daughters. But Gladys was headstrong and willful, and Ed drank too much, and both sought affection outside their marriage. A nasty divorce ensued, and Gladys moved with her girls to her father’s luxurious ranch house, where she soon fell in love with famed Texas Ranger Frank Hamer. When Ed tried to take his daughters for a prearranged Christmas visit in 1916, Gladys and her brother Sid shot him dead on the Snyder square teeming with shoppers. One of the best lawyers in West Texas, Judge Cullen Higgins (son of the old feudist Pink Higgins) managed to win acquittal for both Gladys and Sid. In the tradition of Texas feudists since the 1840s, the Sims family sought revenge. Sims’ son-in-law, Gee McMeans, led an attack in Sweetwater and shot Billy Johnson’s bodyguard, Frank Hamer, twice, while Gladys—by now Mrs. Hamer—fired at another assassin. Hamer shot back, killed McMeans, and was no-billed on the spot by a grand jury watching the shootout through a window. An attempt against Billy Johnson failed, but a three-man team shotgunned the widely respected Cullen Higgins. Texas Rangers and other lawmen caught one of the assassins, extracted a confession, and then prompted his “suicide” in a Sweetwater jail cell.
Date: August 15, 2010
Creator: O'Neal, Bill
Partner: UNT Press

The Deadliest Outlaws: the Ketchum Gang and the Wild Bunch

Description: After Tom Ketchum had been sentenced to death for attempting to hold up a railway train, his attorneys argued that the penalty was “cruel and unusual” for the offense charged. The appeal failed and he became the first individual—and the last—ever to be executed for a crime of this sort. He was hanged in 1901; in a macabre ending to his life of crime, his head was torn away by the rope as he fell from the gallows. Tom Ketchum was born in 1863 on a farm near the fringe of the Texas frontier. At the age of nine, he found himself an orphan and was raised by his older brothers. In his mid-twenties he left home for the life of an itinerant trail driver and ranch hand. He returned to Texas, murdered a man, and fled. Soon afterwards, he and his brother Sam killed two men in New Mexico. A year later, he and two other former cowboys robbed a train in Texas. The career of the Ketchum Gang was under way. In their day, these men were the most daring of their kind, and the most feared. They were accused of crimes that were not theirs, but their proven record is long and lurid. Their downfall was brought about by what one editor called “the magic of the telephone and telegraph,” by quarrels between themselves, and by their reckless defiance of ever-mounting odds. Jeffrey Burton has been researching the story of the Ketchum Gang and related outlaws for more than forty years. He has mined unpublished sources, family records, personal reminiscences, trial transcripts and other court papers, official correspondence and reports, census returns, and contemporary newspapers to sort fact from fiction and provide the definitive truth about Ketchum and numerous other outlaws, including Will Carver, Ben Kilpatrick, and ...
Date: August 15, 2009
Creator: Burton, Jeffrey
Partner: UNT Press