Monday, January 02, 2006

The Gentleman Gunslinger

Robert "Clay" Allison 1840-1887

Called the Gentleman Gunslinger, Clay Allison was born in 1840, in Tennessee. Even at a young age it was known he had some mental problems. He joined the Confederacy during the Civil War, but was let go for mental instability. He rejoined and became a spy and guerrilla where he began building his reputation as an unbalanced killer. A Union soldier unwisely found this out when he showed up on the Allison farm announcing he was taking valuables off the property. Clay voiced his disagreement with gunshot, killing the soldier. Clay then moved to Texas where he found work as a "cowboy" driving cattle herds across the trails. In 1870, in New Mexico, Allison led a lynch mob into a jail and grabbed convicted murderer Charles Kennedy. Kennedy was lynched, then his body mutilated by Allison who then rode through town with his head affixed to a pole. Clay's reputation with the fast draw and dead accurate shot earned him a reputation among the frontier as a fearsome gunfighter. His name alone is said to make people release their bowels then and there. Allison continued building his reputation in gunfights in New Mexico. In 1875, in Colfax County, Cruz Vega was in jail for murder (supposedly someone who Allison liked) when Allison and a lynch mob stormed the jail and dragged him to a telephone pole where he was strung up, protesting his innocence. While he was dangling, Allison felt pity and shot him in the back to end his misery. A month later, Vega's son, and two other men met Allison in Cimmaron and invited him in the bar. Sensing a trap, the lights went out. When they came on, gunman Francisco Pancho Griego (who was with Allison) was lay dead and Allison gone. In 1876, Allison shot and killed deputy sheriff Charles Faber as he shot at his brother with a shotgun. Allison is said to have had an encounter with the legendary Wyatt Earp in Dodge City, Kansas. Some say the encounter never happened, others say Wyatt and his friend, Bat Masterson fled in terror (which I don't believe). Stuart Lake details the encounter in his book Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshall.
Wyatt had angered many a cowboy and their supporters with his zero tolerance policy regarding carrying guns in the city limits. Many Texan cowboys found themselves pistol whipped and in jail when they challenged the law. A high ranking politician, Bob White, tried to interfere when Wyatt arrested a wealthy cowboy and found himself in jail. Enraged, White sought to get rid of Earp by sending for Clay Allison, who came into Dodge. Earp and Clay met outside a saloon when Clay tried drawing his pistol and found Earp's in his side. Allison then backed off, and as he did, revealed White's plot to have Earp killed.
Allison moved back to Texas where he married and had two children. On July 1, 1887, outside Pecos, TX, he was driving a wagon with supplies, very drunk. He fell off the wagon and the wagon wheel crushed his head. He was buried in Pecos (as seen above). He is quoted as saying he never "killed a man who didn't need it."


Anonymous Becca said...


I wish you would tell this story. I'm a 38-year-old native Texan and did not know about it until my 20s. I think all citizens of this planet should know about it. Before March 18, 1937, no one could smell a gas leak because gas does not have an odor by itself. Because of this tragedy, a "smell" was added to gas. It's still considered the worst school tragedy ever in the U.S.

Thanks, and keep up the good work.

Tuesday, 24 January, 2006  

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