John King Fisher


Life in Old Mexico leaves its stamp on many men. It did on John King Fisher, the good-looking, swaggering gunslinger who wore a big, black mustache and good-natured smile. He had the elegance of a Mexican gentleman, much the same as young Billy the Kid attained by living with the Latins. His fine pearl-handled pistols and silver spurs with bells made him quite a figure as his boots rang along the walks and his silken tie fluttered over his shoulder. He often wore laced shirts, garments which nobody dared remark about unless the comments were complimentary.

King Fisher rated with the best gunfighters, with Ben Thompson and John Wesley Hardin, etcetera. His gunhand moved with unseeing swiftness and ease, his hip aim was deadly, even at some distance.

Fisher spent most of his time below the border, and it was some amusement to him to be set upon by bandidos and then whip out his guns and cut them down, always leaving one or two to flee so they could spread news of the dreadful American gunfighter. Many of the bandits took to their heels when they saw the man with the gringo spurs and big pistols and orange silk tie and red scarf at his waist.

Lawmen spent much time and money trying to track down King but had no luck in nailing him. He would slip away every time, out the back door maybe, or be hiding behind some curtain with a gun on the back of the bartender.

King killed many border gunslingers; cut them down without giving them any quarter whatever other than the chance to go for the gun. Mexicans who saw him unlimber never tired of telling about the uncanny swiftness of the gringo killer.

One night King came into a cantina where a find fandango was in progress. He got liquored up and started to shoot up the place. A bald-headed fellow told him to go some place else with his shooting, whereupon King saw his sweaty bald- pate and shot at it to see if the bullet would ricochet.

Then the gunslinger settled down. He started to live a quiet life back in Texas and added no more illegal dead men to his score of over 20. He took on a deputyship in Uvalde County and became a very efficient and trustworthy lawman. He had to travel to Austin on official business, to extradite a man, and here he met his old friend, Ben Thompson, who was a renowned killer himself and who had once been City Marshal of Austin. Ben suggested they have a few rounds of drinks and then paint the town. When it was time for King to return home to Uvalde, Ben decided to accompany him as far as San Antonio. After reaching this destination, they continued to raise hell and drink up the town. Ben suggested they attend a good vaudeville show at the old Harris Theatre. (Ben had shot dead the owner of this bar and theatre some months before this.) So away they went to visit the Harris Theatre, in which they were suddenly ambushed and both Fisher and Thompson slumped to the floor with their guns half out of their concealment.

Fisher had lived by the gun as had Ben Thompson, a violent and hectic life, and he had some 26 dead men to his score. King Fisher was among one of the most deadly border gunfighters to have ever lived and old-timers living along the Texas-Mexican line tell tales in which his name appears time and again as they heard the same stories told by their fathers who had seen the great gunfighter in action.