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Bloody Bill Longley

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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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Chapter 1 A Good-Hearted Boy

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Chapter 1

A Good-Hearted Boy

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he menacing clouds and threat of rain did not deter the hundreds of people flocking to the small Texas town of Giddings to see Bill Long­ley die. The newly constructed wooden gallows waited silently some six hundred yards northwest of the railroad depot, where passengers alit by the score from incoming trains.

Although the execution was not scheduled until later in the afternoon of this dark, ominous October day, the main street of Giddings and the surrounding prairie teemed with the growing crowd from an early hour. They came by train, by carriage, by wagon and horseback, and on foot, black and white mingling single-mindedly as they awaited the carrying out of the court’s order and the end of the self-proclaimed mankiller’s odyssey. Stories circulated about a last-minute escape attempt and there were rumors that Long­ley had already survived one hanging.

Bill Long­ley had been confined now for not quite a year and a half, fighting this day as vigorously as he had willingly defied the conventions of his time. When captured, he had boasted of killing thirty-two men, even penning his memoirs in a Giddings newspaper and relishing the sensation he created throughout the state. He adopted for himself

 

Chapter 2 These Desperate Scoundrels and Out Laws

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he Civil War ended in 1865, and Texas struggled to restore some equilibrium throughout its many communities. Young Bill Long­ ley reportedly dropped out of his schooling and acquired a six-shooter and a horse, like many other young men in those unsettled times. And thus began the confusing mixture of fact and fiction that complicates a straightforward telling of Long­ley’s short criminal career.

Some have written that in 1866, fifteen-year-old Long­ley jumped a train in order to go to Houston, where he could get his hands on a pistol. This seems a little contrived, given the ready availability of firearms. However, as the story goes, in the teeming streets of Houston, he saw firsthand how “the newly-freed Negroes had taken over the new State Police and created clashes with the white man.”

Long­ley supposedly took up with another young white man, and having nowhere to stay, they decided to bed down in an alley.

According to the story, they were confronted by a blue-uniformed black policeman swinging a lead ball on a leather thong, commonly called a mace. The officer demanded to know what they were doing and, instead of searching them, ordered them to undress. Long­ley’s

 

Chapter 3 Murdering, Robbing, and Ravishing

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y Long­ley’s scenario, he left Washington County in the spring of 1869 and headed for Arkansas. At some point, as he reached the Texas-Arkansas-Louisiana border area, he said that he fell in with a Tom Johnson, whose family lived in Lafayette County, Arkansas, just east of the Texas state line where Texarkana is located. Johnson was allegedly a “noted horse thief” and a member of the gang of terrorists led by the notorious Cullen Baker. When Long­ley asked where he might find accommodations that night for himself and his horse,

Johnson invited him to his father’s farm.1

Cullen Montgomery Baker was known as the “Swamp Fox of the

Sulphur,” leading a band of cutthroats all over northeastern Texas, western Arkansas, and northwestern Louisiana. Repeated raids on blacks, on white supporters of the Union, and on Union troops themselves, dealing death and terror, led Union army troops in the area to focus on his gang, in addition to other marauding groups. Allegedly,

 

Chapter 4 I Kept on Pumping Lead

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ong­ley said that he decided that the most practical way to get to Utah was by joining one of the many cattle drives headed north through the Indian Territory and terminating at the railhead at

Abilene, Kansas. According to him, he rode north to near Gainesville, in Cooke County not far from the Red River, and ran upon a large herd. The boss of the herd, a man named Rector, who Long­ley said came from Bee County in southwest Texas, hired Long­ley to go along on the drive, offering him pay of a dollar a day. Rector also furnished

Long­ley with an extra horse so that the horse Long­ley was riding could be turned out with the other extra horses on the drive in order to rest and gain a few pounds. Long­ley said that he picked out a horse and joined the trail drive as it headed into the Indian Territory.

Fuller quoted a letter from Long­ley that described his days with the trail drive as tedious, “following a big herd of cattle, seeing that none drop out by the wayside or are stolen and in the days of which

 

Chapter 5 We Set Out in Fine Spirit

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hatever happened in Kansas, Long­ley continued northward, first to Omaha, Nebraska, then on to Cheyenne in Wyoming

Territory, where he said that he joined a party of miners preparing for an “exploring expedition” into the Big Horn range of mountains.1 He was welcomed by the leaders forming the group, including a Captain

Kuykendall, and on their instructions obtained necessary supplies and readied to leave immediately.2

The record backs up Long­ley’s account at this point. Judge W. L.

Kuykendall, late in 1869, had pondered the feasibility of organizing a semi-military group of prospectors to venture into the country above the North Platte River to displace the Sioux Indians there and look for gold. Discussing the idea with others, Kuykendall placed an advertisement in the Cheyenne newspaper for a meeting at McDaniel’s Theater. Elected president of the Black Hills and Big Horn Association at the meeting by eager prospectors, Kuykendall began recruiting an expedition, and ultimately, according to him, two thousand men volunteered, each agreeing to bring with him a “repeating gun,” one thousand rounds of ammunition, and rations for six months.3 According to

 

Chapter 6 A Man of Low Instinct and Habits

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comparison of Long­ley’s version of his adventures in the Northwest with the official record concerning Camp Stambaugh truly reveals his artful ability to mix fact with fiction in order to project the desperado image he sought. The truth does not do much for that image.

When Long­ley was captured in 1877, according to the account given by Fuller, he claimed that after the Kuykendall expedition broke up, he was broke and stranded, so he applied to the army quartermaster for a job as a teamster. He said that his job was to drive a sixmule team between Camp Brown and Fort Bridger hauling supplies and equipment. Because of the Indian threat, he said that there were usually four or five wagons in each caravan, guarded by a detachment of cavalrymen. Long­ley alleged that on September 15 (probably 1870, although no year is given), a caravan was attacked by some 130 Indians between South Pass City and the Green River on a creek that he called the Dry Sandy, which lies to the southeast of South Pass. Long­ ley said that after much shooting and yelling and the loss of one of their men, the Indians were driven off. As will be seen, Long­ley could

 

Chapter 7 The Worst Indian

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s a matter of record, Bill Long­ley deserted from the army on

June 8, 1872, but he does not turn up for the record again until

July 1, 1873, in Texas. As before, his version of events in his life during this interim period can be only repeated, not corroborated, and, unfortunately, the sole accounts are lengthy versions of prose colored by Fuller’s poetic flourishes.

To begin with, Long­ley claimed that after his feet recovered from his experience in the snowstorm, he went to Camp Brown. There, according to him, he was hired by the army quartermaster, a man named “Captain Gregory,”1 and placed in charge of the animal corral.

As Long­ley told it:

I had been there about one month when I discovered that the quartermaster was tricky, and as he had great confidence in me he told me we could make a lot of money if we could handle the business as he directed. We had several hundred mules inside the corral. He was getting one hundred and fifty dollars per month, and I was getting seventy-five. He would issue full

 

Chapter 8 Who in the Hell Are You?

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fter his 1877 arrest, Long­ley claimed that “after leaving the

Indians, he went to Iowa and ‘knocked around’ for a month or two, and then revisited the state of Kansas.”1 There was no mention by Long­ley of the beautiful Dolores Gomez or any injuries received while trying to outdistance pursuing Mexican bandits, as Fuller later wrote. Very likely, Long­ley leisurely began his way back to Texas without intending much in the way of adventure.

Long­ley said that he ultimately arrived in Morris County in the east central part of Kansas, stopping at the village of Parkersville (now

Parkerville) “to take stock and form his plans for the future.”2 Parkersville, some ten miles northwest of the county seat, Council Grove, was on a branch line of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway that ran from Junction City, north of there, to Parsons in the far southeastern part of the state.3 The main street of the town paralleled the railroad line, and it was likely that Long­ley arrived there by train.

 

Chapter 9 Desperate-Looking Character

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lthough Fuller did not mention it in his account, Long­ley claimed that after he left Bell County, he went southwest to Mason

County, where he moved about under the alias of “William Henry.” He said that he attended a horse race at old Fort Mason, which had been abandoned by the army in 1869, and met James J. Finney, the sheriff of Mason County.1 A former blacksmith,2 Finney was first appointed county sheriff in October 1869 under the military government of

Reconstruction, then elected in his own right in November 1872.3

Long­ley said that Finney suspected his true identity because of descriptions that the lawman had received, but the two talked, drank, and gambled for four or five days. Long­ley claimed that he was suspicious of the sheriff. By mere chance, according to Long­ley, when

Finney was ready to spring his trap, Long­ley happened to ride up to

Fredericksburg in Gillespie County. He had not been there but a few hours when Finney and another man arrived in town, talked with

 

Chapter 10 Shot Him Dead

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etween July 1873 and Christmas 1874, there is no real record of

Long­ley’s whereabouts. We only have his story that, after being released in Austin, he killed a man in Frio County and then worked for Dr. McIver in Madison County. The 1877 account of his adventures found in the Galveston Daily News had him leaving Madison

County, which is in East Texas northeast of Bryan, visiting his parents again briefly in Bell County, then riding on to old Fort Ewell on the

Nueces River in LaSalle County, at the junction of the San Antonio and Laredo roads. The fort had been established in 1852, but abandoned in October 1854 when army troops there were transferred to

Fort McIntosh on the Rio Grande above Laredo.1 Fort Ewell and Dog

Town, forty miles northeast on the Frio River, became two principal stage stands between San Antonio and the Rio Grande. Fort Ewell was not much of a town, being principally occupied by Mexicans and a storekeeper known as Peg Leg Stuart.2

Long­ley said that he was at Fort Ewell only a short time when he got into a fight with “a noted gambler named Dave Clark.” He said that he shot Clark “a couple of times” but did not kill him.3

 

Chapter 11 Bill Was Still Fighting

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he Lee County sheriff mounting the search for the Long­ley brothers was James McKeown, the father of Bill’s early criminal companion, Johnson. Sheriff McKeown was elected as Lee County’s first sheriff on June 2, 1874.1 But the posse led by James McKeown never came close to the fleeing brothers, who headed north after leaving Burleson County.

Jim later recalled2 that they initially steered clear of settlements where they might be recognized. Camping out in the open each night,

Jim hunted and killed swamp rabbits to eat with the bacon and bread they had brought with them. They approached the Brazos River, heading toward Bryan, and encountered a black man with three yokes of steers that he was taking to Caldwell. The two outlaws, apparently feeling their oats, made the man “dance,” riding on after rewarding him with a half-quart of whiskey. One can only suspect what happened to the other half-quart.

Riding into Bryan, Bill stopped at a saloon to get more whiskey.

 

Chapter 12 I Will Not Be Captured

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I Will Not Be Captured

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Jim Brow[n] if I ever kill any man in that country it will be eather for killing some of my kinfolks or els it wil be in resisting being captured for if the court knowes its self I will not be captured in that country alive tho I wil come there just when I pleas. I wrode by your house the first Monday night in August 1875. I stoped near the old yard fence and stood for an hour and my mind run back over my whole life and I thought of my childhood and the hapy hours that I had passed in the old cabin home.

Oh what dreadful thoughts pierced my hearts intermost core for a little while but I cursed my weekminded soul and treated myself to a drink of good old brandy and wrode on with a bold heart. It hurt me very bad when I heard that Johnson McKeown had bin hunting me with the intention of betraying me and geting me in to a snair to be killed for I loved him like a brother. Oh the hapy hours that I have passed with Johnson but now they are oer.

Two nights before I passed your house I was at home and my own Dear Father told me never to put my foot in his house again. and Brother Jim quit me and said I was too bad for him and my kinfolks is all so D___D cowardly. they don’t want me to come about them so I stil alone tread the living land destitute of friends but G___d the world and every son of a bitch that don’t like me for I am a wolf and it is my night to howl. I expect to get killed sometime but you may bet your sweet life that I will keep the flys off of the son of a bitch that does it while he is at it.

 

Chapter 13 The Last of “Pea Time”

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he murder case against Jim Long­ley, arrested in August 1875, was severed from that of his brother. His lawyer asked for a change of venue, likely because of hard feelings in Lee County about the murder of Wilson Anderson, and the court agreeably transferred venue of the case to the district court in Fayette County at La Grange.

Jim was released on a high $5,000 bond, his father, Uncle Cale, and

H. C. Jones acting as sureties.1

Still on the move, Bill said that he left Uvalde County about January 20, 1876, ten days after Shroyer was killed. Riding with three unidentified men, he rode east. Approaching Castroville, in Medina

County west of San Antonio, the three men revealed that one of them had a brother in the jail there for killing a Mexican. Concluding that

Long­ley was “a pretty solid sort of fellow, one who would do to tie to,” they asked him if he would help them get him out. Long­ley said that they offered him $250 and that he reluctantly agreed, provided that he was in charge of the operation.

 

Chapter 14 Plenty of Ammunition

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fter killing the Reverend Lay, Bill Long­ley left Delta County, but there is only his fanciful account of where he was for the next year, as provided in Fuller’s heavily edited Adventures of Bill

­Long­ley.

According to Long­ley, on June 13, 1876, he rode north from Delta

County and camped near the Red River as it grew dark. He hid off the main road, ate a cold meal that he had gotten at Mr. Lane’s place, then slept on his saddle blanket. The next morning he took a ferry across the river and said that the ferryman told him of several parties who had crossed the night before into the Indian Territory looking for a man who had killed a preacher. Long­ley said that the ferryman looked at him with suspicion as Long­ley asked him questions, but Long­ley said that he learned that most members of the posse believed that the fugitive was still in Texas and that they planned to set up on roads leading into the Indian Territory and waylay Long­ley when he headed north.

 

Chapter 15 We Want Him

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ill Long­ley likely visited his parents in Bell County in the late fall and perhaps early winter of 1876, during which time Dick

Sanders may have left him and returned home. It is also possible that in March 1877 Long­ley and Sanders might have been in Kerr County.

From March 10 to March 20, a detachment of Texas Rangers from

Company C, responding to some source of information, was sent into the county to look for them.1 The Rangers returned empty-handed.

No doubt concerned that the authorities would get wind of his whereabouts in his old haunts, Long­ley said that he went to East Texas, and he ultimately made his way into Nacogdoches County, across the

Angelina River. An educated guess would place this trip in the spring of 1877.

For whatever reason, Long­ley decided that he would detour around the town of Nacogdoches, rather than ride through it. Fuller, who himself was a resident of Nacogdoches, and speaking again in third person, said that the outlaw had “heard something” about Nacogdoches Sheriff Milt Mast and his deputy, Bill Burrows, and did not want to get into “fresh trouble.”2 About four or five miles west of the

 

Chapter 16 The Most Successful Outlaw

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hile he sat in the Lee County jail awaiting trial, Long­ley continued his letter writing. Ink, pen, and paper were provided by Sheriff Brown, and he was allowed to write to anyone he wished, provided that Brown saw the letters. He wrote his father, Campbell, telling him not to employ any counsel for him, that the state would be bound to appoint one for him because it was a death penalty case.

According to Brown, Long­ley wrote his father that he only wanted a lawyer to postpone his case for six months, and that if he could not escape in that time, he deserved to be hanged.1

Long­ley’s murder trial was initially set for August 24, 1877, and

Samuel R. Kenada was his attorney, perhaps appointed by the court because this was a capital case that could result in the death penalty upon conviction, although Long­ley later claimed that he was hired for fifty dollars. Kenada, born in Alabama around 1839, came to Texas and settled in the Evergreen community where he was both a merchant and a farmer.2 He and his family moved to Burton, about halfway between Giddings and Brenham, where he studied for the law.

 

Chapter 17 I Have Killed A Many Man

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fter Long­ley was sentenced on Tuesday, September 11, 1877,

Jim Brown discussed with Judge Turner his concerns about the security of the Lee County jail while Long­ley was awaiting the outcome of his appeal. Turner agreed that it was “not a safe jail for the confinement” of Long­ley, and ordered that he be conveyed to the Travis County jail in Austin “for safekeeping during his appeal.”1 Turner initially ordered Long­ley sent to Galveston, but crossed it out in favor of Austin.

Apparently there was no room for Long­ley in Austin where John

Wesley Hardin was currently being detained. Brown sent a telegram that evening to Sheriff Christian Jordan in Galveston: “I want to imprison Bill Long­ley with you. Answer instanter. Can you take him?”2 Jordan promptly responded that the county commissioners of

Galveston County had prohibited him from receiving prisoners from other counties until the county jail could “be placed in a more secure condition.” On the 13th, Brown again telegraphed him: “By request of many citizens I telegraph you again to take Wm. Long­ley for safekeeping. He is convicted of murder and is threatened by mob.”3

 

Chapter 18 Same Old Rattling Bill

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ong­ley now languished in the well-guarded Galveston County jail until Judge Turner returned to Giddings in August to open the term of the district court. Although constrained by an iron bar connecting his ankles and affixed to chains,1 he kept himself occupied with a prolific frenzy of interviews, as well as writing letters when he could obtain writing materials and postage. Much of what he was reported as saying and wrote during this period gives insight into Long­ley’s mindset as he sought to both justify himself and rationalize his selfcreated reputation, at the same time beginning to reconcile himself to his pending fate. But throughout his writings can be detected a continuing glimmer of hope that he might yet avoid the hangman.

In one interview with a Chicago reporter, Long­ley boasted of yet another killing that he had not previously mentioned. This involved an alleged duel with a man named Grady in Mexico, supposedly in revenge for the killing of a friend of Long­ley in Texas. Long­ley also claimed that he was at this time invited, but declined, to participate with Mexican bandits on a raid into Texas.2 As with his other claims,

 

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