John Selman, Gunfighter

Overview

Leon Metz has pieced together, for the first time, all that is known of John Selman, a shadowy figure in Texas and New Mexico during the unsettled, often violent, period after the Civil War. Unlike many of his comrades—including the most notorious outlaws of his time—John Selman did not wish to become well known. Indeed, his penchant for assumed names indicates he did not wish to be known at all.

Selman was an enigmatic man of many parts: he was an oldest son, responsive to the ...

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Overview

Leon Metz has pieced together, for the first time, all that is known of John Selman, a shadowy figure in Texas and New Mexico during the unsettled, often violent, period after the Civil War. Unlike many of his comrades—including the most notorious outlaws of his time—John Selman did not wish to become well known. Indeed, his penchant for assumed names indicates he did not wish to be known at all.

Selman was an enigmatic man of many parts: he was an oldest son, responsive to the needs of his mother and siblings; a soldier with a talent for leadership—until his unexplained desertion from the Confederate Army; a husband and father; a rancher who struggled with, and murdered, would-be grangers; and a devoted friend to an evil influence named John Larn, with whom he seemed to kill for sport.

As the Southwest became more settled, so did John Selman. At the end of his career, when he was a constable in El Paso, Selman lost his anonymity for all time: He was the man who killed John Wesley Hardin. Metz explores the stories surrounding Hardin's death—some said Selman shot Hardin in the back. Including rare photographs, Metz presents his conclusions about this legendary gunfighter.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
The biography of a Southwestern gunfighter best remembered for having killed John Wesley Hardin, reprinted from the second edition of 1980. With a new 2 pp. preface by the author, and 37 historical illustrations of great interest. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher
"Selman was a typical frontier character. He grew up on the edge of civilization; fought with (and deserted) the Confederacy, became the leader of a hard-case gang in New Mexico during Lincoln County War days, and ended his career as a more-or-less respectable policeman in El Paso. He secured for himself a place in frontier history by killing John Wesley Hardin in the Acme Saloon on August 19, 1895. Eight months later, on April 5, 1896, be himself was shot and killed in an El Paso alley. Metz gathers up the scattered pieces of the Selman saga with extraordinary skill and puts them together in a well-told narrative.”—Journal of Arizona History

“This book goes much further than a discussion of the Hardin affair. It shows both sides of John Selman in an unbiased, factual way and describes a good many other interesting anecdotes in the life of Selman from his Civil War service to his escapades in Texas and New Mexico. While he did serve at times in various capacities as an officer of the law, his life story leaves little doubt in the mind's eye that here was basically a cold-blooded, vicious sociopath. . . . John Selman, before he, too, was gunned down, bad outlived all of the other gunslingers of the Old West and his passing really noted the passing of an era."—Annals of Wyoming

"This is quite a book about one of the West's most infamous gunmen, about whom very little bas been written. Mr. Metz has done a workmanlike job. His research was extensive and there are thirty-six pages of notes, a bibliography, and records of personal interviews."Denver Westerners' Roundup

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806115573
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/1989
  • Pages: 254

Meet the Author

Leon Claire Metz, a biographer and historian of the early Southwest, lives in El Paso, Texas. He is also the author of Pat Garrett: Story of a Western Lawman and Dallas Stoudenmire: El Paso Marshal, both published by the University of Oklahoma Press.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations 9
Preface to the Paperback Edition 11
Introduction 13
1 The Desertion 19
2 Death Becomes No Stranger 25
3 The Re-Enlistment 35
4 The Army Post at Fort Griffin 41
5 Sodom of the Plains 48
6 Hemp and Blue Whistlers 57
7 The Beginning of the End 68
8 The Clear Fork Hides 75
9 The Death of John Larn 82
10 The Escape of John Selman 90
11 King of the Outlaws 96
12 Captured 112
13 El Paso 129
14 The Death of Bass Outlaw 139
15 Enter Jeff Milton 151
16 John Wesley Hardin 159
17 Four Sixes to Beat 168
18 The Trial 182
19 A Higher Court 194
Epilogue 204
Notes 207
Acknowledgments 231
Bibliography 235
Index 245
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