Bill Longley


Gunfighter Bill Longley was a hell raiser for sure. He had the anti-Negro complex and took it out savagely with twin Colts and no-church conscience. They say he shot a black man dead for just sassing his pa.

He was born in 1851 in Austin County, Texas. His father had been a proud member of Sam Houston” army, so he understood guns and passed this heritage on to his son, who learned to use then so effectively.

Bill hated the free Negro. One night he rode hell-bent through Lexington and shot down eight black men. It is little wonder that he struck terror to the Negro heart. This was his inroad to gun throwing. He wore guns strapped to his waist and the tie-thongs went about his legs so that you didn’t have to guess whether he was a killer or not.

The Federals had a count against him and tried to ride him down. Bill killed a cocky sergeant and then lit out for Arkansas. His campfire lured a bum by name of Johnson (in reality a horse thief). The Feds rode up on them one night and strung them up to a tree, then switched the horses out from under them. Before riding off into the night, however, they took a shot at the dangling figures. Johnson strangled and died. Bill was lucky to have his rope struck by a stray bullet and landed on his feet very much alive.

Luck was with him when he ran into one of the bragging Feds who was telling about how he had hung a big fellow to an oak. He found himself looking into twin barrels of eternity and Bill Longley telling him to march. Bill led him to the same tree and hung him to the same limb.

Bill rode trail-herd to Abilene, Kansas, and the trail boss was a cussed wretch who liked to brag about his shooting and drawing ability. One night, by the campfire, he told Bill he could outdraw him. Bill unlimbered but forgot it was in fun and shot the man dead.

He was indeed a dedicated Texan. He heard a man loudly declare as he bellied up to the bar, that all Texans were “hoss thieves” and their women prostitutes. There was nothing for Bill to do but slap him across the mouth, which knocked him down, and then kill him. He rode out of Abilene when he heard that Wild Bill Hickok would not tolerate any shooting.

Bill often found money hard to come by, and so be had to pick a fight with a wanted man, cut him down, and then collect the reward from the sheriff. In this particular instance, he used some of the money to buy a pair of pistols. In those days, one had to spin the gun, try the balance, cock it, flick the barrel, and again try the balance. Bill did this and went to the trouble to put a couple of shells in the empty chambers, saw a Negro sauntering across the street, leveled off and killed him. He told the storekeeper casually that they were fine weapons and then paid for them. The sheriff came running and tried to place Bill under arrest. “I guess I’ll have to kill you, too, said Bill, and he shot the lawman in the belly.

The U. S. Government had put a bounty on his head in Fredericksburg, Texas, and the law grabbed him as he was eating dinner and took him to the U S. Marshal. The government refused to pay a reward. Bill sent a wire to his folks and they sent a rider on over with the money, and so Bill walked scot-free.

Bill drifted down into Old Mexico and shot up two or three Mexican gunslingers, then killed another man with his bare fists because he had no gun to match his. Near San Antonio, he shot another fellow and had to unload both guns before the man would settle down and die.

Bill made his fatal mistake when he avenged the death of his cousin by killing a man in public, which led to his capture and death sentence. In jail, he complained that he should have gotten a lenient sentence like John Wesley Hardin, another famous gunslinger.

Bill Longley was only 27 years of age in 1878 with 31 dead men to his credit. He lit his last cigar and climbed to the gallows. He literally smiled at his executioners, who themselves were trembling. When the trap was released, the rope slipped and Bill landed catlike on his feet. “This time hang the son of a bitch for good!” the jailer cried. And this time they did and Bill died in exactly 11 minutes – a great gunfighter.