History

The Texas Hill Country’s 5 Most Notorious Outlaws

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An outlaw’s badge of honor is their moniker; it was a status symbol of sorts, so when an outlaw has numerous nicknames take note. Jim “Deacon” Miller, “Killer” Miller or “Killin’ Jim” was a very bad dude. The clean-cut, non-smoking, alcohol-free, church attending “Deacon” Miller was widely considered one of the most violent outlaws of his day.

The eventual son-in-law of Mannen Clement, Miller’s claim to fame was earned behind the barrel of a shotgun, his weapon of choice. Miller’s first target was his brother-in-law, whom Miller shot while sleeping, a man he publicly loathed to the core. Despite being arrested and eventually charged in the murder, Miller’s appeal eventually set him free on a technicality.

After moving west to Pecos, Texas, Jim gained respect by becoming a successful sheriff’s deputy, businessman and churchgoer, but under that squeaky exterior, Jim was suspected of cattle rustling. The sheriff later fired Miller, leading to a bloody feud that brought the Clement family to his aid against the sheriff.

Miller eventually moved on to Dallas, and became a successful real estate mogul, but his thirst for blood could not be quenched, as he continued to work as a gun for hire, Miller would take jobs for as little as $150. Despite several arrests, Miller managed to evade incarceration as crucial trial witnesses had a tendency to disappear.

Eventually, after the law could not nail him down, a restless mob overcame jailers in Ada, Oklahoma. The throng demanded a confession to which Miller allegedly took responsibility for 51 murders. After shouting, “Let ’er rip,” Miller leapt from the platform, hanging himself in front of the angry crowd.

3. Sam Bass (1851-1878)

The Texas Hill Country’s 5 Most Notorious Outlaws
Photo: lifecoachforprofit.com

Sam Bass is one of the most well-known outlaws of his time, even though history shows he was not a terribly successful one. After saving most of his money working in north Texas as a farm hand and teamster, Bass invested in a racehorse, eventually making enough money to quit his job and live off his income as a card player. It was a failed venture into gold prospecting that plunged Bass into a life of crime.