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Gunfighter Summaries - T

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AmbushJim Taylor (1852-1875) - The son of Pitkin Taylor, Jim swore revenge on the Sutton faction when his father died in 1873 during the Sutton-Taylor feud . He quickly assumed his father’s leadership role and aimed for Sutton faction leader, William Sutton. On April 1, 1873, he led a band of men to a Cuero, Texas saloon and shot at Sutton through the door, wounding him. He again tried to kill him in June, but Sutton was able to escape. In July, Jim Taylor and John Wesley Hardin shot down Jack Helm. Finally, when Sutton, along with his wife and friends, Gabriel Slaughter and his wife, tried to leave the country by boarding a steamer at Indianola, Texas on March 11, 1874, the two men were shot down by Jim and his brother, Billy. Retaliation from the Sutton group continued until December 27, 1875, when Jim was charged by a Sutton posse in Clinton, Texas and he was killed. After his death, the feud finally began to lose its steam.   

 

John "Jack" Hays Taylor (1842-1869) - A gunfighter, Jack was the son of renowned Texas Ranger, Creed Taylor. Though Jack inherited his father's talent with guns, he obviously didn't follow in his footsteps as a hero. The Taylors were an anti-Reconstruction southern Texas family and staunch Confederate supporters, which would later lead to the notorious Sutton-Taylor feud. However, before that began, Jack already found himself in trouble. In November, 1867, Jack and his brother Phillip were visiting in Fort Mason, Texas when they were harassed by Union soldiers. When one of the soldier's knocked Jack's hat to the ground, Taylor calmly drew his pistol and shot him. More soldiers quickly gathered around the Taylor brothers attempting to arrest them, but a gunfight broke out and the Taylors shot and killed an army sergeant before fleeing out of town. In the meantime, the Sutton-Taylor feud was brewing on their home ground of DeWitt County, Texas

 

On August 23, 1869, the Suttons, who were also law officers, had an excuse to go after the Taylor brothers due to the killing of the soldiers. As Jack and Phillip were riding in the early morning near their father's ranch, they came upon a posse of Sutton "Regulators" led by Jack Helm. When the Sutton group opened fire on the pair, Jack and Phillip fought back. When the smoke cleared Phillip was wounded but able to escape. However, Jack was killed, but not before he had hit five of the "Regulators."

 

Phillip G. Taylor, aka: Do'boy (1843-1871) - A gunfighter and son of Creed Taylor, Phillip was with  his brother, Jack, when he killed to cavalry soldiers at Fort Mason, Texas. The Taylors were an anti-Reconstruction southern Texas family and staunch Confederate supporters and the killing of the soldiers gave the reconstructionist Suttons an excuse to go after the pair during the notorious Sutton-Taylor feud. On August 23, 1869, the Suttons, who were also law officers, ambushed the Taylor brothers as they were riding in the early morning near their father's ranch. Led by Sutton "Regulator" Jack Helm, the group opened fire on the pair, and Jack and Phillip fought back. When the smoke cleared Phillip was wounded in the arm, but able to escape. However, Jack was killed, but not before he had hit five of the "Regulators."

 

Phillip was again attacked the following month when he was at the house of a friend on September 7th. As Phillip, along with two friends named Keeleson and Cook were leaving the home of William Conner on the Neches River, they were ambushed by Sutton Regulators. Kelleson was killed, but Taylor and Cook retreated and fought back. However, when they ran out of ammunition, they were forced to surrender. Amazingly, they were not killed immediately and were able to escape that evening. The next time, Phillip would not be so lucky. In November, 1871, he was in Kerrville, Texas, where he was trying to get a job that belonged to a man named Sim Holstein. The two soon quarreled about it and when Taylor pulled his pistol and fired, he missed. Holstein; however, didn't, pumping three shots into him. Phillip lived for six hours, bitterly cussing his nemesis before he died.

 

Pitkin Taylor (18??-1873) - A gunman and brother to renowned Texas Ranger, Creed Taylor Pitkin led the Taylors in the Sutton-Taylor feud which began in 1868. The Sutton faction, many of which were lawmen, had been aggressive in killing off the Taylors and Pitkin's death would be no different. Typical of the methods often utilized by the Sutton group, they tricked him into coming out of his house in the October of 1872. Hiding in a cornfield, Sutton sympathizers lured him out the door by ringing a cowbell. When Pitkin came out of the house he was shot and seriously wounded. Though he initially survived, he died six months later. His son, Jim Taylor, swore revenge upon his killers, further fueling the feud. 

 

 

 

William "Billy' Taylor (18??-1875) - The son of Pitkin Taylor, and brother of Jim Taylor , Billy fought with other family members in the Sutton-Taylor feud, especially after his father was killed. On March 11, 1874, Billy and his brother Jim killed William Sutton and Gabriel Slaughter as they tried to flee Texas on board a steamship bound for New Orleans. Billy was later arrested for the crime and jailed in Indianola but when that seaside town was hit with a hurricane on September 15, 1875, the prisoners were let out in order to spare their lives. Though they were ordered to return, they didn't. Later that year, Billy's brother Jim was killed by a Sutton posse in Clinton, Texas on December 27, 1875 and the feud was soon over. in 1877, Taylor was arrested and was placed in an Austin, Texas jail, along with other notorious inmates which included John Wesley Hardin, Johnny Ringo, and members of the Sam Bass Gang. He was later released and in 1878 found himself in jail again in Cuero, Texas charged with horse theft, assault, and forgery. However, either the charges were dropped or he received a short sentence, because he was said to have been in Kimball County in 1881. Afterwards, he moved to Indian Territory, where family members said he became a lawman and was killed in the line of duty. 

 

Edwin "Ed" Tewksbury (18??-1904) - A gunman and lawman, Edwin moved with his family to the Pleasant Valley of Arizona in 1880 where they raised cattle. Some years later, with his father, John, and brothers, James and John, Jr., they began to raise sheep, which to the local cattlemen, was abominable. The Tewksburys quickly found themselves at odds with the Hash Knife cowboys and the nearby ranching family of the Grahams. The cowboys believed that sheep ruined grazing land for cattle and began to ambush the Tewksburys. The feud between the two factions became known as the Pleasant Valley War. The first time, when several cowboys tried to sneak up on the Tewsburys at their camp in 1887, Edwin spied them, shouted a warning and Jim Tewsbury shot and killed one of them. Later that year, on September 2nd, their camp was ambushed again and John Tewsbury, Jr. and a man named Bill Jacobs were killed. The hostilities in the area soon ended; however, years later, John Graham was shot and fatally wounded on August 2, 1892 near Tempe, Arizona. Before he died the next day, he stated that the shooters were Ed Tewksbury and John Roades. The two men were arrested but eventually were acquitted. Later, Edwin became a constable in Globe County, then deputy sheriff of Gila County. He died of natural causes in Globe, Arizona.

 

James "Jim” Tewksbury (18??-1888) - Brother of Edwin Tewksbury, Jim was also involved in the Pleasant Valley War against opposing cowboys. After the Graham's offered a $500 reward for the death of any sheepherder and a $1,000 reward for the deaths of patriarch, John Tewksbury and his son, John, Jr., Jim got actively involved in the feud. The Tewksburys were forced to move their herds from camp to camp and when several cowboys planned to ambush them, Jim killed one of the Hash Knife cowboys. On August 10, 1887, eight cowboys retaliated by storming his home. In the ultimate gunfight, cowboys Hampton Blevins and John Paine were killed, and three others wounded. Though the feud was winding down, Jim did not survive long, as he died of consumption the following year. 

 

Ben ThompsonBenjamin "Ben" Thompson, aka: Shotgun Ben (1843-1884) - Born in Knottingly, Yorkshire, England on November, 2 1843, the Thompson family immigrated to the United States in 1851. Settling in Austin, Texas, Thompson became a printer working for various Austin newspapers. At the age of 15, he wounded his first man, in an argument about his shooting abilities. By 1859, Thompson had moved to New Orleans where he worked for a bookbinder and killed his first man when he saw him abusing a woman. When the Civil War began, he returned to Texas, enlisting with the 2nd Texas Cavalry. After fatally shooting a teamster in an argument in May, 1865, he fled to Mexico. More...

Billy ThompsonWilliam "Texas Billy” Thompson (1845-1897) – Brother to more famous gunman Ben Thompson, Billy was described as "mean, vicious, vindictive and totally unpredictable.”  When Billy was just a boy, he and brother, Ben, emigrated from Yorkshire, England with their family to Austin, Texas in 1851. During the Civil War, both men enlisted in the Texas Mounted Rifles. After the war, federal troops remained in Texas for several years and in March, 1868; Billy was involved in a gunfight with Private William Burk. After killing the soldier, the Thompson fled. Two months later he killed another man in Rockport, Texas and when a warrant was issued for his arrest, he was on the run again, first to Indian Territory and then to Kansas.

While in Abilene, Kansas, Billy made the acquaintance of a dance hall girl and prostitute named Elizabeth "Libby” Haley. Better known as "Squirrel Tooth Alice,” the pair quickly began an affair that would eventually lead to marriage and nine children. Making his living as a gambler, he and his brother Ben, were both in Ellsworth, Kansas in April, 1873. Four months later, in August, Billy killed Sheriff Chauncey Whitney and was on the run again.

Constantly in trouble for one thing or another, Billy and Libby were constantly moving. He was finally caught up with by Texas Rangers in October 1876, and was extradited to Kansas. Amazingly, he was acquitted of the murder of Sheriff Whitney. Afterwards, he made his way to Dodge City, Kansas. Later, he was known to have been in Colorado and Nebraska, before he and Libby finally settled down in Sweetwater, Texas. There, he purchased and worked a ranch, while she established a brothel in town. In 1884, he was reportedly in San Antonio and witnessed his brother being gunned down by assassins. Amazingly, he took no revenge on his brother’s killers. On September 6, 1897, William Thompson died from a stomach ailment at the age of 52.

Tom Tucker - A cowboy, lawman, and gunman, Tucker seemingly best liked using his shooting skills in feuding. While working with the Hash Knife Outfit in Arizona, he got involved in the Pleasant Valley War until he was nearly killed in a shoot-out. After he recovered, he then made his way to Tularosa, New Mexico, where he hired on with cattle baron, Oliver Lee, and soon got caught up in Lee's feuds with area ranchers. Somewhere along the line, Tucker also worked as an under sheriff in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He died in Texas.

Davis "Dave" Tutt (1839-1865) - Tutt was born in Yellville, Arkansas and because of his father's involvement in the Tutt-Everett Feud he became experienced with gunfighting at an early age. He joined the Confederate Army in 1862, where he worked as a wagon master. When he was released, he made his way to Springfield, Missouri, where he primarily "worked" as a gambler. In July of 1865, he met Wild Bill Hickok, when they were both playing cards in the same saloon. On one day when they were playing Hickok lost at the gaming table and when Bill couldn’t pay up, Dave Tutt took Hickok's gold pocket watch for security. Hickok growled that if Tutt so much as used the timepiece, he would kill him. However, on July 21, 1865, the two met in the public square and Tutt was proudly wearing the watch for all to see. This insult of course led to a gunfight. At a distance of about 75 yards, the two faced off. Tutt's shot missed but Hickok's hit the other man in the chest. The wounded man then stumbled for about twenty feet before he finally fell to the ground dead. Dave Tutt's body was buried in the Springfield City Cemetery, but was later moved to the Maple Park Cemetery, where it it is today. The site is marked with a gravestone showing a carved pocket watch, playing cards and pistols.


 

© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated April, 2017.

 

Photo still from the 1903 film, The Great Train Robbery.

Photo still from the 1903 film, The Great Train Robbery.

This image available for photographic prints  and downloads HERE!

 

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