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Bloody Bill Longley: The Mythology of a Gunfighter

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Overview

William Preston “Bill” Longley (1851-1878), though born into a strong Christian family, turned bad during Reconstruction in Texas, much like other young boys of that time, including the deadly John Wesley Hardin. He went on a murderous rampage over the last few years of his life, shotgunning Wilson Anderson in retribution for Anderson’s killing of a relative; killing George Thomas in McLennan County; and shooting William “Lou” Shroyer in a running gunfight. Longley even killed the Reverend William R. ...

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Bloody Bill Longley: The Mythology of a Gunfighter, Second Edition

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Overview

William Preston “Bill” Longley (1851-1878), though born into a strong Christian family, turned bad during Reconstruction in Texas, much like other young boys of that time, including the deadly John Wesley Hardin. He went on a murderous rampage over the last few years of his life, shotgunning Wilson Anderson in retribution for Anderson’s killing of a relative; killing George Thomas in McLennan County; and shooting William “Lou” Shroyer in a running gunfight. Longley even killed the Reverend William R. Lay while Lay was milking a cow. Once he was arrested in 1877, and subsequently sentenced to hang, his name became known statewide as an outlaw and a murderer. Through a series of “autobiographical” letters written from jail while awaiting the hangman, Longley created and reveled in his self-centered image as a fearsome, deadly gunfighter—the equal, if not the superior, of the vaunted Hardin.
Declaring himself the “worst outlaw” in Texas, the story that he created became the basis for his historical legacy, unfortunately relied on and repeated over and over by previous biographers, but all wrong. In truth, Bill Longley was not the daring figure that he attempted to paint. Rick Miller’s thorough research shows that he was, instead, a braggart who exaggerated greatly his feats as a gunman. The murders that could be credited to him were generally nothing more than cowardly assassinations.
Bloody Bill Longley was first published in a limited edition in 1996. Miller separates fact from fancy, attempting to prove or disprove Longley’s many claims of bloodshed. Since the time of the first edition, diligent research has located and identified the outlaw’s body, the absence of which was a longstanding myth in itself. This revised edition includes that part of the Longley story, as well as several new items of information that have since come to light.

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Editorial Reviews

Bill O'Neal

“Rick Miller’s research has always been excellent. As a policeman, attorney, and longtime county judge, Rick knows how and where to dig. Longley’s hanging had a grisly twist, and rumors persisted that through a ruse Longley escaped death. Rick has addressed this common theme with fresh research about Longley’s end and burial. I found it interesting and persuasive.”—Bill O’Neal, author of The Johnson-Sims Feud and The Johnson County War

Chuck Parsons

"Miller has gathered together an unbelievable amount of information on Longley, his family, and his times. His military experiences have never before been discussed in any detail. . . . Longley was not a noble character but certainly was an interesting one. Miller does not attempt to glorify his deeds but presents his biography-history without sermonizing. . . . For the outlaw-lawman buff, this work is a must.”—Chuck Parsons, NOLA Quarterly

From the Publisher

“Rick Miller’s research has always been excellent. As a policeman, attorney, and longtime county judge, Rick knows how and where to dig. Longley’s hanging had a grisly twist, and rumors persisted that through a ruse Longley escaped death. Rick has addressed this common theme with fresh research about Longley’s end and burial. I found it interesting and persuasive.”—Bill O’Neal, author of The Johnson-Sims Feud

"Miller has gathered together an unbelievable amount of information on Longley, his family, and his times. His military experiences have never before been discussed in any detail. . . . Longley was not a noble character but certainly was an interesting one. Miller does not attempt to glorify his deeds but presents his biography-history without sermonizing. . . . For the outlaw-lawman buff, this work is a must.”—Chuck Parsons, NOLA Quarterly

"Using hundreds of primary sources, Miller examines Longley's fanciful tales one by one, takes them apart, and shows how most of them could not have happened. Stripped of embellishments, falsehoods, and melodramatic flair, then reduced to the facts, Miller tells the story of a brutal fiend, imbued with no other feeling than a desire to kill. He has produced a page-turning account of how a legend was born."—Denver Westerners Roundup

"Rick Miller's Bloody Bill Longley peels away the folklore encasing a once-notorious Texas outlaw. More cowardly braggart than badman, Longley boasted of 32 victims and probably killed six or seven. On trial for murder, he wrote self-serving letters to the newspapers, pleading that he was a victim. Longley's career documents the climate of violence prevailing in post-Civil War Texas."—True West

"[Miller] is right that the folkloric quality built up around Longley and others did not die with them, and his book is an interesting look at the process that shaped much of America's cultural memory. Best of all, however, it reads like an old fashioned western yarn, embracing its subject's hyperbole for the whizzing bullets and dustry trails of Texas and the Old West."—Southwestern Historical Quarterly

"There was a moment when Bill Longley stood outside his father's gate and railed not only at the finality of his father's rejection of his outlaw lifestyle, but the justification. . . . In this second edition, [Miller] includes much new and needed information that has come to light about the hanging, the hoax that it was faked, and the archaeological information on the burial, and the exhumation of the grave and identification of the body. Overall it is an excellent book.—Dennis McCown, Journal of South Texas

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781574413052
  • Publisher: University of North Texas Press
  • Publication date: 3/20/2011
  • Series: A. C. Greene Series , #10
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 788,670
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

RICK MILLER is the author of biographies of Sam Bass (Sam Bass & Gang), Jack Duncan (Bounty Hunter), and Eugene Bunch (The Train Robbing Bunch). He served as chief of police in both Killeen and Denton, Texas. Currently, he is the elected County Attorney of Bell County, Texas. He lives in Harker Heights, Texas.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2013

    Regret Buying

    Hope author's othrr books are better. Big mistake buying this book. If I could give a "0" rating I woulf have. Don't buy!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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