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CJ Professor To Discuss Famous Outlaw In “Gunslingers”

Aug. 15, 2014
SHSU Media Contact: Julia May, Beth Kuhles

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headshot Mitchel Roth
Mitchel Roth

SHSU criminal justice professor Mitchel Roth is taking on a legend of the Wild West in “Gunslingers,” an American Heroes Channel series that tells the tales of the villains and heroes of a bygone era.

On the Aug. 17 episode, Roth—who is also a historian—shares stories from the life of John Wesley Hardin, dubbed the “Dark Heart of Texas.” The episode will debut on Sunday, Aug. 17 at 9 p.m. CST.

A ruthless outlaw, Hardin was once the most wanted man in the country after he gunned down Brown County Sheriff’s Deputy Charles Webb. He later was captured in Pensacola, Florida, and served time at the Huntsville, Texas (Walls) Unit.

In the Old West, Hardin left a trail of victims along cattle drive routes from Texas to Kansas and became one the most well-known and feared of the gunslingers of the Reconstruction era.

“He had a hair-trigger temper and settled disputes with his gun,” said Roth. “He bragged of killing more than 40 men during his career.”

Hardin was affiliated with the Taylor Boys, a group of cattle rustlers that targeted herds moving across the Texas plain. When Native Americans in the area tried to “tax” cattle on their lands, Hardin shot the leader of the tribe as a message to others. He also shot Mexican cowboys he believed were trying to skim the herds.

Hardin also turned his sights on legendary lawman Wild Bill Hickok, the marshal in Abilene, Kansas.

“As the story goes, the two men had at least one encounter in the city but later developed a mutual respect for one another," said Roth.

Hardin served 18 years in the Huntsville Unit for murder, before being released and becoming a lawyer in El Paso, where he met his own demise from a bullet.

Roth has written several pieces about Texas outlaw tradition. One of his latest works was published in the East Texas Historical Quarterly and recently reprinted in book edited by Bruce Glasrud.

“’Gunslingers’ captures all the edge-of-your-seat drama of a classic Hollywood Western, but layers in all of the true facts from these legends that echo throughout history," said Kevin Bennett, general manager of the American Heroes Channel.


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