Gunfighter Clay Allison killed

Gunfighter Clay Allison killed

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Clay Allison, eccentric gunfighter and rancher, is believed to have died on July 3, 1887, in a freak wagon accident in Texas.

Born around 1840 in Waynesboro, Tennessee, Allison seemed to display odd tendencies from a young age. When the Civil War broke out, he joined the Confederate Army but received a rare medical discharge for a condition that doctors called “partly epileptic and partly maniacal,” resulting perhaps from an early childhood head injury.

After spending some time as a cowhand for the famous Texas ranchers Oliver Loving and Charles Goodnight, Allison started his own ranch near Cimarron, New Mexico. For a time, he got along well with the local residents, but his tendencies toward violent rages soon became apparent. In October 1870, Allison led an angry mob that seized an accused murderer named Charles Kennedy from the local jail and hanged him. Such vigilante justice was not unusual, but many townspeople were shocked when a wild-eyed Allison decapitated Kennedy and displayed his head on a pole in a local saloon.

In 1874, Allison’s dangerous reputation grew when he beat a famed gunfighter to the draw, coolly shooting his opponent squarely above the right eye. A year later, Allison joined another lynch mob and helped hang suspected murderer Cruz Vega from a telegraph pole. Again, merely killing the man did not satisfy Allison’s blood lust. He shot Vega’s corpse in the back and then dragged it over rocks and bushes until it was a mangled pulp.

In 1881, Allison married and moved his ranch to the Texas Panhandle. His wife eventually bore him two daughters, and perhaps family life mellowed him. His behavior, however, remained extremely eccentric, and he occasionally lapsed into violent rages. Once he rode nude through the streets of Mobeetie, Texas. On another occasion, he visited a dentist in Cheyenne, Wyoming, who began drilling on the wrong tooth. After having his bad tooth repaired by a different doctor, Allison returned to the offending dentist, pinned him down, and extracted a tooth with a pair of pliers.

On this day in 1887, Allison died while driving a freight wagon to his ranch north of Pecos, Texas. A sudden jolt threw Allison from the wagon and a wheel rolled over his head, crushing his skull and neck. In 1975, Allison’s remains were moved to a grave in downtown Pecos where a granite headstone made the questionable assertion that he was a “Gentleman and Gunfighter” who “never killed a man that did not need killing.”

Chunk Colbert

Chunk Colbert (died January 7, 1874) was an Old West gunman, known for having been killed by noted gunfighter Clay Allison.

From West Texas, Colbert had earned a reputation as a "gunfighter". He is said to have killed seven men in Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado. However, the only confirmed killing is that Charles Morris in Cimarron, New Mexico, a man he believed was involved romantically with his wife.

On January 7, 1874, Colbert and Allison entered the Clifton House, an Inn in Colfax County, New Mexico. They had finished a friendly quarter-mile horse race. Nevertheless, there was distrust between the men, since Allison was said to have mistreated Colbert's uncle, Zachary Colbert, a ferryman who had tried to overcharge Allison's family when they crossed the Brazos River. [1] In the middle of their meal, Colbert suddenly tried to draw his revolver. However, the barrel struck the table. Allison quickly drew and fired, striking Colbert in the head. Asked why he had accepted a dinner invitation from someone likely try to kill him, Allison replied: "Because I didn't want to send a man to hell on an empty stomach".

1. John Wesley Hardin

Some say the worst bad man that Texas ever produced.

John Wesley Hardin was easily the deadliest gunfighter of all time and one of the darkest characters in the Old West. He was a kind of a guy who will shoot first and ask questions later. This American outlaw and gunfighter claimed to have killed 42 men though the newspapers attributed only 27 killings.

He was so quick tempered with a gun that it has been said that he once killed a man for snoring. Hardin committed his first murder in 1868, when he was just 15 years old (gunned down an ex-slave) and then proceeded to kill three Union soldiers before going on the run.

Hardin was known for carrying two pistols in holsters strapped to his chest, which he claimed facilitated the quick draw, and he used them to gun down three more people in various gunfights soon after his flight. At age 17, he was arrested for the murder of a Texas City Marshal, but he was able to escape. At 25, he was finally arrested by a team of Texas Rangers, and eventually served 17 years in prison before being released at the age of 41.

Shortly after his release, he was shot in the back of the head by John Selman Jr. in the Acme Saloon in El Paso, Texas, while playing dice.

Clay Allison’s “Gentleman Gunfighter’s” Grave

Wild West character and gunfighter Clay Allison considered himself more of a “shootist” than a gunman. A master with a six-shooter, he is credited with killing more than 20 men, and quoted as saying he “never killed a man who didn't need killing.”

Allison was commonly thought of as an eccentric gunfighter and rancher. Born around 1840 in Waynesboro, Tennessee, Allison displayed odd tendencies from an early age, resulting possibly from an early childhood head injury. He was discharged from the Confederate Army on rare medical discharge for a condition that doctors called &ldquopartly epileptic and partly maniacal.&rdquo

Out of the army he ventured into being a cowhand for the famous Texas ranchers Oliver Loving and Charles Goodnight. Eventually he would start his own ranch near Cimarron, New Mexico. He mostly got along with local residents, but his tendencies of violent rages became apparent. Many stories have been recounted about his extreme behavior&mdashlike riding nude through the streets of Mobeeie, Texas, or decapitating an accused murder.

In 1874, Allison&rsquos dangerous reputation grew when he beat a famed gunfighter to the draw. Allison was married and moved his ranch to the Texas Panhandle. He and his wife eventually had two daughters, and perhaps family life mellowed him. His behavior, however, remained extremely eccentric, and occasionally he lapsed into violent rages.

In 1887 Allison died while driving a freight wagon to his ranch north of Pecos when a sudden jolt threw him from the wagon and a wheel rolled over his head, crushing his skull and neck. In 1975, Allison&rsquos remains were moved to a grave in downtown Pecos, where a granite headstone made the questionable assertion that he was a &ldquoGentleman and Gunfighter&rdquo who &ldquonever killed a man that did not need killing.&rdquo

Clay Allison’s “Gentleman Gunfighter’s” Grave
100-198 S Oak St
Pecos, Texas
Open in Google Maps

Clay Allison shoots Chunk Colbert.

That night Colbert invited Allison to dinner at the Clifton House and Allison accepted. Guessing that there might be trouble, Clay was very cautious but, the talk was friendly as they enjoyed a large meal spread out before them. When they were seated it Colbert laid his gun in his lap and Allison laid his gun on the table. After the meal was finished Colbert suddenly reached for his gun under the table and leveled it towards Allison. The perceptive Allison followed suit and when Colbert's gun nicked the table, the shot was deflected and Allison shot him in the head. Later Allison was asked why He had accepted to have a meal with him and answered, "Because I didn't want to send a man to hell on an empty stomach." Colbert was buried in an unmarked grave behind the Clifton House.

"I didn't want to send him to hell on an empty stomach." -- Allison said after shooting "Chunk Colbert" at Dinner

Charles Cooper, a friend of the late Mr. Colbert, witnessed the shooting. Less than two weeks after Colbert's death, Cooper was seen riding with Allison on January 19, 1874. He was never seen again. People started talking, thinking that Allison had killed him, but others thought that Clay simply intimidated the man into leaving. No evidence was ever found to prove the suspicions that Clay had killed the man, but this event would come back to haunt him during the Colfax War.

The next few years Clay's reputation expanded at the same pace as the booming town of Cimarron. The new owners of the Maxwell Land Grant were aggressively exploiting the resources of the grant and were busy with their attempts at evicting the squatters, settlers, farmers and small ranchers living on the land. The power behind the grant was a group of politicians and financers called the "Santa Fe Ring." Melvin W. Mills, the lawyer that Allison had thrown a knife at several years before, and Dr. Longwell, who had treated Clay's bullet wound, jumped on the bandwagon and joined the political forces behind the "Ring." In a bitter 1875 election, Dr. Longwell was made probate judge, while attorney Mills was made a state Legislator.

As the burgeoning Cimarron settlement was trying to adjust itself to the influx of prospectors, gamblers, and politics, it found itself in the midst of great conflict between the land grant company and the settlers of the area. Sheriffs served eviction notices and retaliation began. Grant pastures were set on fire, cattle rustling increased and officials were threatened at gun point. Grant gang members made nighttime raids of area homes and ranches with threats of violence. The mightily opposed residents formed their own organization which they called the Colfax County Ring, which some said was lead by Clay Allison.

During this time when Cimarron was in the need of salvation, Parson Franklin J. Toby enlisted with the Methodist Circuit Riders, delivering his sermons in Cimarron, Elizabethtown, Ute Park, Ponil and Sugarite. Having always had a respect for men of the cloth, Clay Allison was one of the first to welcome the minister. Tolby loved Cimarron, planning on making it his home, and quickly sided with the settlers in their opposition against the land grant men. He was very open about his opposition, saying that he would do everything that he could to stop the land grant owners. On September 14, 1875 the 33 year-old minister was found shot in the back in Cimarron Canyon, midway between Elizabethtown and Cimarron, near Clear Creek.

Rumors began to circulate that the new Cimarron Constable, Cruz Vega was involved in the murder of the Methodist circuit rider. Tolby's fellow minister and friend, Reverend Oscar Patrick McMains, took up the fight against the "grant men" after Tolby's murder.

Despite a $3,000 reward for the murderer, no progress was being made on finding Tolby's killer and McMains was becoming impatient. The pastor turned to Allison for help, who was more than ready to play judge on horseback.

On the evening of October 30, 1875 a masked mob, who was said to have been lead by Clay Allison and the Minister McMains, confronted Vega. The constable denied having anything to do with the murder, blaming it on a man by the name Manuel Cardenas, who had been hired by his uncle, Francisco Griego and mail contractor Florencio Donaghue. Obviously, the mob did not believe him and he was pummeled and hanged by the neck from a telegraph pole. Unable to stomach the violence, the Reverend McMains panicked and fled midway through the session.

After finding Vega's body later Sunday morning, Francisco "Pancho" Griego, Vega's uncle, claimed the corpse and on Monday morning he and a friend transported the boxed remains to the Cimarron cemetery. Suddenly, Clay rode up with his cowboys and informed Griego that Vega was not to be buried in the same cemetery as his victim, Tolby.

Angry but helpless, Griego, along with several mourners, left and began preparing for a burial outside the graveyard. Following them, Allison further instructed that Vega was not to be buried inside of the city limits. Finally, the remains were placed about a half-mile west of the St. James Hotel.

Later that same day, November 1, 1875, Francisco "Pancho" Griego, along with Cruz's eighteen year-old son and Griego's partner Florencio Donahue began making threats to the townspeople in response to Vega's death. Looking for trouble, they wandered into the St. James Hotel. Allison was in the saloon when Griego accused him of being involved in the hanging of Vega. Griego began fanning himself with his hat in an attempt to distract Allison while he drew his gun. But Allison was not fooled and fired two bullets in killing Griego instantly. The saloon was closed until an inquiry could be held the next morning, and according to local accounts of the day, the saloon closing was the most unfortunate aspect of the whole incident. Allison and his men ran rough-shod over Cimarron all week, spreading general chaos. On Thursday they were said to have paraded into the local newspaper, brandishing a knife at the editor and on Friday night, took over Lambert's Inn, where Allison was said to have stripped naked, and performed a war dance over the spot where he had shot Griego, wearing a red ribbon tied around his private parts. On November 10, Allison faced the charges in the killing Griego, but the charges were dropped when the court ruled the shooting a justifiable homicide.

"Cimarron is in the hands of a mob" -- Santa Fe Mexican, November 9, 1875.

In the meantime, Manuel Cardenas, the man who Vega had implicated prior to his death, was arrested and questioned in Elizabethtown. He claimed that Vega had shot the minister, adding that Santa Fe Ringers Mills and Longwell were also behind the killing. When word of this got out, Mills barely escaped a furious lynch mob in Cimarron as he alighted from a coach Longwell fled in a buggy to Fort Union and safety just ahead of pursuers, Clay and his brother John.

However, during his protracted hearing, Cardenas retracted his earlier accusations against Mills and Longwell, stating that he had been coerced at gunpoint, at which time, Mills and Longwell were cleared. However, the vigilantes obviously didn't believe his testimony and when Cardenas was escorted back to the jail, he was shot to death. Believing that Allison was the head of the vigilantes, this last shooting so enraged the Mexican population of Cimarron that they were determined to have Clay's scalp. Armed Mexican bands roamed the street and the atmosphere was so charged that Sheriff Orson K. Chittenden and Deputy Burleson hid Clay for a time at the Chittenden ranch, 20 miles south of Springer. When Allison again began to go about Cimarron, he was said to be a walking arsenal, accompanied by forty-five cowboys.

The truth about Tolby's murder later suggested that the parson unfortunately witnessed Griego shooting a man in an argument. When the man later died, Tolby planned to seek an indictment against Greigo, who set up Tolby's murder to silence him. The Santa Fe Ring was dragged into it after Cardenas was "questioned" at gunpoint in Elizabethtown by Joseph Herberger. Evidently Herberger had been promised a political position by Ring men Mills and Longwell, during the earlier elections earlier in 1875. When the two had failed to follow through, Herberger reportedly forced Cardenas to implicate them. Cardenas later retracted his statement about the Ring men. It was never known who killed Cardenas.

Between the Ring men, the anti-grant vigilantes, and the Mexicans, who had solicited the support of the native Indians, Cimarron was out of control. The Reverend McMains was busy enlisting additional aid from the settlers, telling them that the anger of the Mexicans and Indians was the work of the Grant men, urging them to place themselves at the disposal of Allison. Eventually, guards were posted at all entrances to Cimarron and no one was allowed to leave town without Allison's permission. On November 9, 1875 the Santa Fe New Mexican informed the public that Cimarron was in the hands of a mob. Cimarron was in the midst of the Colfax County War, which took approximately 200 lives.

Heaping more fuel on the fire, Governor Samuel Beech Axtell, a Santa Fe Ring tool, signed a document on January 14, 1876 that attached Colfax to Taos County. He claimed the change would mean improved law and order. The citizens reacted in a fury over the bill, correctly surmising the interference of the Santa Fe Ring

At about 11 p.m. on January 19, 1876 Allison and two other men, reacting to a scathing editorial where the paper had pointed a finger at Clay Allison as a leader catering to mob violence, broke into the News and Press office and set off a charge of black powder. Then they threw the press into the Cimarron River. Later, he returned to the newspaper office and paid $200 for damages.

Governor Axtell, bothered by Allison's antics and spurred on by the attorney Mills, was quoted as saying that he "intended to have Allison indicted and punished, or compelled to leave the county." On February 21, 1876 the governor gave life to a dormant Allison warrant by issuing a $500 reward for Clay, "who is guilty of the crime of murder in killing Charles Cooper", Chunk Colbert's friend who had disappeared back in January 1874.

In May or June 1876, as Governor Axtell passed through Cimarron in a stage coach, Allison climbed aboard and rode with him to Trinidad, Colorado. Clay asked what kind of man it was who had so interfered with his personal freedom. Axtell countered by asking why Allison did not surrender himself on bail and face his judgment like a man.Clay replied that he had no objection if he could get a fair trial, but that he would "never submit to a real trial in Taos County by greasers." The governor responded that he would demand a fair trial for Allison. And later, Allison turned himself in.

Represented by Charles Springer, the trial was held in Taos. Springer's main defense was that a body had never been found and everyone was simply guessing Cooper had been murdered, because he had not been seen. Allison was acquitted and Axtell, true to his promise, declared him a free man. Clay's most loyal companion was his brother John and on December 21 1876, having just come off the trail, the two decided to have some fun in Las Animas, Colorado. Spotting a local social going on, the two drunk cowboys crashed the party, dancing with very some very unwilling partners.

Charles Faber, the deputy sheriff and town marshal, asked the Allison brothers to remove their weapons but his request went unheard. Faber then left, deputized two local men and with shotgun in hand, led them back into the social. As they came through the door, someone shouted "Look out!" When John reached for his gun, Faber shot him. Standing at the bar, Clay spun around and fired four shots at Faber, one proving to be fatal. John had already been shot in the chest and arm, and was shot yet again in the leg as Faber's shotgun discharged when he fell. The two deputized men ran from the dance hall, Allison behind them in pursuit, but lucky for them, they escaped.

Clay ran back into the dance hall, calling for a doctor, and slid over to his brother, bringing Faber's body with him. To John he said, "Look here! John, this is the s.o.b. that shot you. Everything's going to be all right. You will be well soon!" Both Clay and John were arrested and charged with manslaughter, but the charges were later dismissed on grounds of self-defense. John recovered from his wounds.

Finally, the restless Clay moved on. On March 3, 1877 he sold his ranch, land and stock to his brother John for $700. He spent a brief period of time in Sedalia, Missouri but finally established himself in Hays City, Kansas as a cattle broker.

I have at all times tried to use my influence toward protecting the property holders and substantial men of the country from thieves, outlaws and murderers, among whom I do not care to be classed." Clay Allison, in response to a Missouri newspaper which reported him with fifteen killings under his belt.

The numerous stories of Clay Allison's exploits made him a feared western legend by the time he arrived in Dodge City, Kansas in September, 1878, several years before Wyatt Earp would become famous. The local newspapers would note his visits to the city, often describing his daring deeds. He was described by the Kinsley [Kansas] Graphic (Kinsley is 36 miles northeast of Dodge City), on December 14, 1878 as: "His appearance is striking. Tall, straight as an arrow, dark complexioned, carries himself with ease and grace, gentlemanly and courteous in manner, never betraying by word or action the history of his eventful life."

An often written about event was the "showdown" between Wyatt Earp, Dodge City Assistant Marshal and the self-proclaimed "shootist" from New Mexico. According to the stories, Allison planned to protest the treatment of his men by the Dodge City marshals and was willing to back his arguments with gun smoke. In the charged atmosphere of Dodge City, this might have been a very real possibility.

At the time, Dodge City had a reputation for being hard on visiting cattle herders, with stories circulating that cattlemen had been robbed, shot, and beaten over the head with revolvers. Indignant, the cattlemen responded that the marshals were all pimps, gamblers and saloon keepers.

As a regular practice, Dodge City authorities always disarmed the cowboys when they arrived in Dodge City, however, if one got by and went for a gun, he was immediately shot down by the Dodge City marshals. George Hoyt, who had at one time worked for Clay Allison, had been shot to death while shooting a pistol in the air in the streets of Dodge City.

There are several versions of the story of the showdown. Some say that Allison and his men terrorized Dodge City, while Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson fled in fear. Others, including Wyatt Earp himself, would say that Earp along with Masterson pressured Allison into leaving. The most likely version of the account however, is that

Allison was talked into leaving by a saloon keeper and another cattleman, with little or no contact with Wyatt Earp at all. This version, which was later written about by famous Pinkerton Detective Agent, Charles Siringo, who was present during the event, is mostly likely the true story.

Historians basically surmise that Allison might have came to Dodge City looking for trouble, but nothing really happened. While Allison and his men went from saloon to saloon fortifying themselves with whiskey, Earp and his marshals began to assemble their forces. But in the end, Dick McNulty, owner of a large cattle outfit and Chalk Beeson, co-owner of the Long Branch Saloon, intervened on behalf of the town, talking the gang into giving up their guns.

By 1880 Clay had moved to a ranch in Hemphill County, Texas, next door his brother-in-law, Lewis Coleman. On January 17, 1881, it was stated in a local newspaper that "three of the Allison brothers moved on the Gageby." Though John and Monroe may have joined Clay at some point, they continued using their Colfax County ranch for several years.

While in Texas, Allison's reputation was kept alive by reports of his unusual antics. Once he was said to have ridden nude through the streets of Mobeetie, whooping and hollering and declaring that drinks were on him at the local saloon. When the shocked ladies called upon the sheriff to intervene, the officer demanded that Allison get down from his horse. Instead, Allison spurred the steed to full speed up and down main street, then got off his horse, leveled his gun at the sheriff and marched him into the bar. He then forced the sheriff to drink until he couldn't stand up, and satisfied, went back to horse.

In October, 1883, Allison sold his ranch in Hemphill County and the couple returned to the Seven Rivers region in New Mexico where Clay continued to ranch. On August 9, 1885, Clay's first daughter, Pattie Dora was born in Cimarron.

In the summer of 1886, Clay had just finished a long, hard trail drive that took him to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Having a terrible toothache, he visited a local dentist, who, having already heard of Allison's reputation, trembled with the thought of who was in his chair. The dentist started working on his tooth, but Clay soon realized that it was the wrong tooth, pushed his way out of the dentist chair and went to find another dentist. After the new dentist pulled the correct tooth, an angry Clay returned to the first dentist, held him down in the dental chair and pulled one of his molars with a pair of forceps. Attempting to extract a second, the dentist's screams were heard and men came and pulled Allison away from the petrified dentist.

Shortly thereafter, the couple moved again, this time to Pecos, Texas, 50 miles south of the New Mexico line. On July 1, 1887, Allison was hauling a load of supplies to his ranch from Pecos when a sack of grain fell from the wagon. Trying to halt it's fall, Clay fell from the heavily loaded wagon and in the next instant the wagon wheels rolled across him, breaking his neck. As the horses reared and lurched forward, his neck was further crushed by the heavy buckboard, almost decapitating him.

7. Dallas Stoudenmire

Although not as well known as someone like Wild Bill Hickok or Wyatt Earp, Dallas Stoudenmire was a feared lawman in his day, and is known for participating in more gunfights than most of his contemporaries. After being wounded several times while fighting in the Civil War, Stoudenmire moved to the lawless city of El Paso, Texas to serve as sheriff. Only three days into his tenure, he became involved in one of the West’s most legendary battles, what is common known as the “Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight,” in which he shot three men. A few days after the fight, friends of the men Stoudenmire had shot hired the town drunk to assassinate him. But Dallas was able to get the drop on him and supposedly shot the man eight times, killing him. This only marked the beginning of what would be a bloody campaign for Stoudenmire as sheriff. Less than a year after these incidents, he would kill as many as six more men in gunfights while in the line of duty, eventually gaining a reputation as one of the most feared lawmen in Texas. Stoudenmire’s luck would not last forever, though, and in 1882 he was killed when a discussion between he and a group of his enemies escalated into a gunfight in which he was shot three times.

Why Clay Allison Up and Killed Chunk Colbert

"On January 7, 1874, [Clay] Allison killed a gunman named Chunk Colbert, who was known to have already fought and killed seven men by this time. After first racing their horses, Colbert and Allison entered the Clifton House, an inn located in Colfax County, New Mexico, where they sat down together for dinner. Colbert had quarreled with Allison years earlier, as Allison had physically beaten Colbert's uncle, Zachary Colbert, when he tried to overcharge Allison for a ferry ride across the Brazos River. During their meal, Colbert suddenly drew his pistol and attempted to shoot Allison however, the barrel of his gun struck the dinner table, allowing Allison to quickly draw his own revolver. He fired one shot, which struck Colbert in the head. Asked afterward why he had accepted a dinner invitation from a man likely to try to kill him, Allison replied, 'Because I didn't want to send a man to hell on an empty stomach."

----- Note: Allison later became a rancher and cattle broker in Pecos, where he was killed in a freak accident at the age of 46 and where he is buried.

Connections: From Buckboard to Concorde (Part 2)

Jesse Lee Johnson and wife Dora—widow of “gentleman gunfighter” Clay Allison (see Part 1)—were almost forty years old at the turn of the century when they began their rise to social and business prominence in their adpoted hometown of Fort Worth. Dora’s daughters Patti and Clay—children of Clay Allison—and Jesse Lee and Dora’s son, Jesse Lee Jr., were, respectively, fifteen, twelve, and nine years old.

By 1905 Jesse Lee Johnson Sr. had helped to found Cicero Smith Lumber Company and was a director of Martin Bottom Loyd’s First National Bank, along with Samuel Burk Burnett.

As her husband began his rise in business, Dora became involved in civic affairs. The top clip is from 1902, the bottom clip from 1910.

Daughters Patti and Clay practically grew up on the society pages of the Star-Telegram. These seven clips are from a single page.

The two Clay Allisons: These clips are from 1904. The Clay Allison of the clip on the left was then a girl of sixteen. Her namesake father, subject of the clip on the right, had been dead seventeen years.

The two daughters of Clay Allison married in 1908 (Patti Dora Allison) and 1911 (Clay Pearl Allison).

When son J. Lee Johnson Jr. married in 1917, the Star-Telegram on April 1 devoted an entire page to the women of the wedding.

J. Lee Johnson III was born in 1918.

Mrs. Dora Johnson—Robert Clay Allison’s widow—died in 1926. Jesse Lee Johnson Sr. died in 1937.

Jesse Lee Johnson Sr. is buried in Oakwood Cemetery.

Patti Dora Allison Byars—older daughter of Robert Clay Allison—died in 1971.

The name—and bloodline—of Robert Clay Allison lived on in his younger daughter. Mrs. Clay Allison Parker’s family seemed at times star-crossed: In 1960 her niece was convicted of murder without malice in the killing of her estranged husband in Houston. In 1962 Mrs. Clay Allison Parker and her granddaughter were killed when their car, driven by her husband, J. Loyd Parker Sr., hit a truck. In 1963 her great-niece was murdered in Arizona.

And in 1963 Mrs. Clay Allison Parker’s son, J. Loyd Parker Jr., who blamed his father for the car crash that had killed Mrs. Parker in 1962, shot and killed his father.

J. Loyd Parker Sr. was perhaps the most prominent Fort Worth murder victim since William Clark. Parker’s son initially was ruled insane but later ruled sane, tried, convicted, imprisoned, and paroled. J. Loyd Parker Jr. died in 1985.

The Johnson line of the former sheepherder and the widow of gunfighter Clay Allison fared far better, giving decades of civic leadership to Fort Worth.

J. Lee Johnson Jr. was, like his father, an officer of First National Bank. He was a director of the Fort Worth & Denver railroad, the chamber of commerce, and the Stock Show. He was also a TCU trustee and active in the Red Cross, Casa Manana, Texas Boys Choir, Fort Worth Opera Association, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Association, and Tarrant County Savings Bond Committee. He was a past president of the Exchange Club and of the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. He was known as the “father of the United Fund” of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. He died in 1974.

J. Lee Johnson III continued the civic leadership of his father. In 1946 he married Ruth Carter, daughter of Amon Carter and heir to leadership of the Carter Foundation. In 1961 Johnson became vice president and director of Carter Publications (Star-Telegram and WBAP). He was president of the chamber of commerce. Boards he served on included those of the University of Texas, Texas Law Enforcement Foundation, Fort Worth parks, Cook Children’s Medical Center, Saint Joseph Hospital, Stock Show, and Better Business Bureau.

And in 1973, when the Concorde supersonic jet touched down at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, J. Lee Johnson III, grandson of the widow of gunfighter Clay Allison, was vice chairman of the airport board and for a decade had worked to make the airport a reality. He died in 2002.

Why Clay Allison Up and Killed Chunk Colbert

"On January 7, 1874, [Clay] Allison killed a gunman named Chunk Colbert, who was known to have already fought and killed seven men by this time. After first racing their horses, Colbert and Allison entered the Clifton House, an inn located in Colfax County, New Mexico, where they sat down together for dinner. Colbert had quarreled with Allison years earlier, as Allison had physically beaten Colbert's uncle, Zachary Colbert, when he tried to overcharge Allison for a ferry ride across the Brazos River. During their meal, Colbert suddenly drew his pistol and attempted to shoot Allison however, the barrel of his gun struck the dinner table, allowing Allison to quickly draw his own revolver. He fired one shot, which struck Colbert in the head. Asked afterward why he had accepted a dinner invitation from a man likely to try to kill him, Allison replied, 'Because I didn't want to send a man to hell on an empty stomach."

----- Note: Allison later became a rancher and cattle broker in Pecos, where he was killed in a freak accident at the age of 46 and where he is buried.

Home Brewed Mojo

7/1/1887 - In a lonely area of Texas, near where the Pecos River separates Texas from New Mexico, the violent life of cattle broker, rancher, and sometimes gunfighter, Robert Andrew "Clay" Allison, comes to a sudden and abrupt end by way of heavy roll of a wagon wheel.


Born near Waynesboro, Tennessee on September 2, 1841 to a Presbyterian minister and farmer, Jeremiah Scotland Allison (he passes away when Clay is only five years old), and his wife, Mariah Ruth Brown Allison, Clay grows up as the fourth of nine children the couple produce. Just in time for the American Civil War, though he has a club foot, Allison enlists in the service of the Confederate states at the age of 21 on October 15, 1861. A member of Captain W. H. Jackson's light artillery battery, the youth is discharged though after only three months due to an old head injury that causes him to easily anger, have terrible headaches, and suffer wild mood swings . both his peers and superiors fear him, because when drink is added to the mix, he can display psychotic behavior in the blink of an eye (while home, Allison will kill a corporal in the Third Illinois Cavalry that tries to loot his mother's home). Bodies needed by the South, in search of as many violent men as possible, his condition is ignored by the men he next rides beside, the horsemen of the 9th Tennessee Cavalry, led by the man who will become known as the "Wizard of the Saddle," General Nathan Bedford Forrest. During his time with Forrest's cavalry, Allison participates in the battles of Chickamauga, Fort Pillow, Brice's Cross Roads, Tupelo, Second Memphis, Third Murfreesboro, Nashville, and Wilson's Raid, surviving them all and surrendering with Forrest on May 4, 1865 at Gainesville, Alabama. Briefly held as a prisoner of war and sentenced to be shot as a spy, Allison escapes after being said to kill one of his guards. Civil War over, seeking a fresh start, and distance from the rumored killing of a corporeal in the 3rd Illinois Cavalry that comes on to the family farm looking for booty and breaks a vase given by his father to his mother to commemorate the couple's wedding anniversary, Clay and some of his family next take up residence in the Brazos River Country of Texas. There, the wild tales of his malicious temperament continue.


Brice's Cross Roads

Not agreeing with the price Zachary Colbert is asking to take customers and their freight across the Brazos River, he beats the ferryman unconscious and crosses to the other side for free. Cowboying for Charles Goodnight, Oliver Loving, M. L. Dalton, Lewis Coleman (Allison's brother-in-law) and Irwin W. Lacey, he rides through portions of Texas (on a return trip to the state in 1878, Allison will lead a group of local citizens in fighting off a Comanche raid), New Mexico, and Colorado, taking time to engage in a fight with a man named Johnson over rights to a water hole . a fight in which a single grave is dug, the two men jump in, and then go at each other with Bowie knives, with only Allison leaving the hole. Paid off in product after driving a cattle herd to New Mexico in 1870, Clay and his brothers, Monroe and John, begin their own ranch with a herd of three hundred cattle in 1870 in New Mexico near the junction of the Vermejo and Canadian Rivers. Moving from cowboy to rancher does not settle down Clay at all, and tales are soon told about the territory of town visits in which he drunkenly shoots out lights and makes individuals he doesn't like "dance"with his six-shooters. Black heart on display, in 1871 Clay leads a lynch mob that pulls suspected killer Charles Kennedy out of his Elizabethtown jail cell . he then wraps a rope around the man's neck and rides up and down the town's main street until Kennedy is way beyond being dead . corpse in tow, Allison then decapitates his victim and stakes the man's head on a fence post. He is also a menace to himself . after a successful summer robbery of mules from the command of General Gordon Granger at Fort Union, Allison returns to the scene of the crime in the fall, and in barely getting away, accidentally shoots himself in the foot. Wound and robbery survived, beyond the clubfoot he already possesses, for the rest of his life he will walk with a pronounced limp.


Ready for his next bout of drunken mayhem after recovering from his wound, Allison takes a disliking to a local Wilson, but when Wilson quickly makes his presence scarce, Clay finds alternate victims at the County Clerk's office, pinning the clerk, John Lee, to a wall with a flung knife through the man's sleeve, then crossing the street to where Lee has run, and performing the same trick on a young lawyer named Melvin Mills . like Wilson, both men survive by vanishing from the area. Hardly a great catch, and yet, in 1873 Allison meets, woes, and marries Dora McCullough from Sedalia, Missouri (his brother meanwhile marries Allison's sister) . by all accounts of the times, the two love each other madly, and at least when Dora is around, the maniac is a different man (there is a 21-year difference in their ages, 39 to 21, with Allison the older, when the pair marry . they will have two children, Jeremiah and Mariah)..


In 1873, Allison also meets the only man he is unable to out-draw with a gun, Colfax County Deputy Sheriff Mace Bowman. Friends (as much as Allison can be friends with anyone other than his own family), one evening the men are having drinks at Lambert's Inn when booze addled talk turns to the speed of Wild Bill Hickock's draw is discussed . with Allison claiming he could outdraw the pistolero, and Bowman laughing, claiming Allison couldn't even outdraw the lawman. Almost fighting words, the men then make a bet of a gallon of whiskey as to who is the fastest draw and move to the center of the saloon to see who is faster. Pace off and then draw, when Allison goes for his gun he is shocked to see that Bowman's weapon is already out and pointing at his chest . game over if Bowman was the homicidal maniac Allison is, instead of a killing, Allison never draws, but he does pay off the bet . and for a modest fee, then begins taking gun fighting lessons from Bowman (whom he never confronts again). Or there is the more involved story in which after Allison acknowledges Bowman superiority with a pistol, the men strip and begin dancing in their underwear, then to see who is the better dancer, as if they are bullying dudes from the east coast, fire at each other's feet until they run out of ammo and the night's festivities come to an end.

Early Cimarron

The Clifton House

Allison Vs. Colbert

A magnet for trouble, Allison is soon involved in the series of disputes involving the region's Maxwell Land Grant (1.7 million acres) that will come to be called Colfax County War (a clash that will take over 200 lives over the course of the decade) . and as these things naturally seem to go, he is on the side opposite the power hungry group of corrupt politicians, judges, and lawmen (many of the same men who will provoke the Lincoln County War of Billy the Kid infamy) known as the Santa Fe Ring that includes the lawyer he threw a knife at (now a state legislator) and the doctor that initially treats Allison's leg wound and has patched up Allison victims in the past (now a probate judge). Also against the "Ring" is Parson Franklin J. Tolby of the Methodist Circuit Riders who delivers sermons throughout the region. When the 33-year-old Tolby is found shot in the back in September of 1875, Allison is enraged. Asked to help discover the parson's killer by the man that replaces Tolby, Allison leads a masked mob that grabs and beats the alleged murderer, new Cimarron Constable Cruz Vega, before lynching him from a telegraph pole (Vega denies involvement, but claims that the murder was done by Manuel Cardenas, at the behest of Vega's uncle, Francisco Griego and a mail contractor named Florencio Donaghue . then, after Vega's hung corpse is taken down, Allison pours more gas on the already ignited situation by refusing to let the constable be buried in the local cemetery (he is unworthy of being buried in the same place as Tolby per Allison) or within the city limits of Cimarron. Outraged, Griego, Vega's 18-yer-old son, Luis, and Griego's partner, Florencio Donaghue ride into town and begin making threats as to what they will do to the killers of Cruz. Finding Allison at the town's St. James Hotel, Griego talks to Allison about the death over drinks, which of course eventually leads to Griego pulling his gun while fanning himself with a hat to distract Allison . who undistracted (the shooting will be ruled self-defense), clears leather quicker and puts three fatal bullets in Griego (a killing which Allison will celebrate by getting drunk, stripping, and on the spot where Griego goes down, performing a war dance with a red ribbon tied around his private parts.

Parson Tolby

The situation in the region does not improve when alleged assassin Manuel Cardenas is arrested and questioned by authorities in nearby Elizabethtown . the Hispanic gunman will claim that Vega killed Tolby on orders from Allison's two long time enemies, the lawyer and the doctor, Melvin Mills and Robert Longwell (the two men flee the area and barely survive lynch mobs looking to mete out a little rope retribution, and will eventually be cleared when Cardenas retracts his statements). Not believed by many, a vigilante group (most suppose is led by Allison and his brother) shoots Cardenas to death being escorted to the local jail (the true story is that Tolby witnessed Griego shoot a man during an argument, and is killed because he can testify to what he has seen). And this killing in turn leads to the Mexican-American community in the area seeking payback, hunting Allison. For a time, the Cimarron gunman will be hidden by Sheriff Orson K. Chittenden on the lawman's nearby ranch, and when in town, Allison is escorted by a group of more than forty armed cowboys (seething about an editorial documenting Allison's depredations on the region, two assistants will help Allison blowing up the office of the News & Press, and throwing the newspaper's press into the Cimarron River. Finally, Governor Samuel Beach Axtell gets involved, and after Allison is promised a fair trial and gets acquitted of Cooper's murder (the trial takes place in Taos, New Mexico), the area returns to a semblance of normality . a normality in which Allison can once more be a drunken cowboy maniac!

Dr. Longwell

Governor Axtell

No charges pending against him or Hispanic horsemen looking to string him up, Allison decides to celebrate his good fortunes of the moment with his brother John, and so the two men join a raucous dance at the Olympic Dance Hall in Las Animas, Colorado. Sloshed, the two men ignore a request to check-in their guns, then draw complaints from the assemblage for dancing with unwilling partners, insulting various revelers, and deliberately stepping on the toes of other couples. Fed up at the drunks, town marshal and deputy sheriff Charles Faber leaves the dance, grabs a shotgun, and then with two freshly recruited deputies, returns to the Olympic to arrest the Allisons. John out on the floor dancing while Clay imbibes at the bar, Faber steps into the dance hall with his weapon at the ready as someone in the crowd, seeing his weapon, shouts, "Look out!" Spinning at the warning, John is hit by a blast from Faber's shotgun that hits him in the chest and shoulder. At the same time, Clay pulls his revolver and sends four bullets Faber's way, one of which hits the lawman in the chest and kills him, though in falling, the shotgun goes off again and now John also has multiple leg wounds. Immediately recognized they are over-matched, the two deputies flee as Allison empties his guns at the men (and hits nothing but air), then drags Faber's body over to where his brother is bleeding on the floor, assuring John that he has been avenged (John will recover from his wounds, and an arrested Clay will get off once again because witnesses testify that Faber fired first). Deciding to change the base of his operations, in 1877 Clay sells his ranch and stock to his brother John and moves first to Sedalia, Missouri and then to Hays City, Kansas where he establishes himself as a cattle broker.

Reputation proceeding him, there are soon tall tales of Allison backing down Dodge City's Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson when the pair demand that Allison and his cowboys check their guns at the jail while in town and the order is refused, along with rumors that instead, Earp cause Allison to back down. Whichever the case (another rumor has cattle rancher Dick McNulty and Long Branch Saloon co-owner, Chalk Beeson talking Allison and his men into giving up their guns), Allison moves again in 1880, this time to Hemphill County, Texas, where a new tale of Allison lunacy is soon added to his already large resume . riding nude down the streets of Mobeetie and screaming about drinks are on him at the local bar, Allison ignores the sheriff's order to get off his horse, takes another ride about town, then at gunpoint, forces the sheriff into the saloon and pours rotgut down the lawmen's throat until the man is too drunk to stand, before remounting his horse and riding out of town. A human tumbleweed, in 1883 Allison is back in New Mexico, ranching in the state's Seven Rivers region. And of course, there he creates yet another incident of violence. Stopping after a long trail ride in Cheyenne, Wyoming to get a terrible toothache fixed, a nervous dentist becomes flustered and starts working on the wrong tooth . causing Allison a second toothache. Up and out of his chair in a flash, Allison locates another dentist in town who pulls the right tooth, relieving Allison's pain, but not his rage. Returning to the first dentist, Allison forces the man into his own chair, then uses a pair of forceps to pull a healthy molar from the man's mouth . he is just attacking another tooth, when drawn by the dentist's screams, citizens send Allison on his way (a bowdlerized version of the incident will be recreated in the 1948 Bob Hope comedy, The Paleface).

The Dentist Scene

One more move before the end, in July of 1887 Clay Allison is in Pecos, Texas, about 50 miles south of the state's border with New Mexico. Forty-seven years old, Allison skips the usual gunman abrupt leaving of meeting a quicker shootist or becoming the guest at a neck-tie party, and instead accidentally crafts a more fitting ending to the bizarre life he has led. Drunk as usual, Allison is hauling a load of supplies from Pecos to his ranch when a sack of grain falls off the wagon. Trying to stop the sack from falling, Allison reaches back but becomes unbalanced and falls to the ground, which causes the wagon's horses to rear and then gallop forward . carrying the wagon right across Allison's neck, which is instantly snapped, killing the gunman (and almost decapitating Allison). A violent life ended violently, just not by bullets or rope . 7/1/1887.

Clay Allison

Tombstone. .

10. Sam Bass

Sam Bass started out an honest man. He had a simple and modest dream of moving to Texas and becoming a cowboy. Eventually he did just that but decided after one season he didn’t like it. While transitioning from simple farmer to famed outlaw might be a stretch for some, Bass did it seamlessly. He began robbing banks and stagecoaches and became rather proficient at it.

After his 7th stagecoach robbery, Bass and his gang turned their sights on bigger prizes and decided to rob trains. They eventually robbed the Union Pacific gold train from San Francisco, netting over $60,000, which is to this day the largest single robbery of the Union Pacific. He was wounded by Texas Rangers on the way to rob a small bank in Round Rock and died two days later on his 27th birthday.

Watch the video: Clay Allison - Texas Gunfighter


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