Not to be confused with Sam Bass as in the last chapter, Bass Outlaw was a different character. Outlaw was his true last name. He was one of the nicest fellows you could encounter in El Paso when sober, which he seldom was. He became some what a homicidal maniac when drunk.
He had a vast inferiority complex like some small men. He stood about five-foot four with his boots on, and adding the weight of his revolver weighed about 150 pounds. In a time where a mans masculinity was measured by his stature, he was sensitive about his size. He seemed to feel he had to prove his manhood.
He hardly fit the impression of a Texas Range but he served for a long while and ever attained a promotion. the rangers always short of manpower, because of low pay and long hours along with dangerously duty, kept him on even when they should have dismissed him. Also they kept him because he also exhibited a charm, when sober.
Ranger Alonzo Oden described him as a officer and friend who, “Who could laugh louder, ride longer, and cuss harder than the rest of us; but could be more sympathetic, more tender, more patient than all of when necessary.” The evaluation ended with; “Bass had one weakness which proved stronger than all his virtues. He couldn’t leave liquor alone. None of us could handle, none of us could reason with him, we just stayed nearby until he sobered up.”
Outlaw (his real name) killed a man in Georgia, sometime before 1885 and he immediately fled the state. In Alpine, Texas he enlisted in the Texas Rangers, he received a promotion to corporal in 1890. two years later he was promoted to sergeant, filling the spot left open when Charles H. Fusselman was killed by horse thieves. He might have achieved higher rank except that he was forced to resign by Captain Frank Jones because of his excessive drinking while on duty.
Outlaw spent some time hunting for treasure believed to have been buried near Sanderson, Texas, by the robbers of a passenger train. Outlaw and Captain Jones and other rangers had pursued the robbers and their $60,000 haul. Finally after a shootout near Ozona, Texas, the leader was shot. eventually the other gang members were captured but no-one revealed the location of the $60,000. the money sacks were being used to carry Coffee cans and supplies indicating that the money had been hidden.
Outlaw searched the canebrake repeatedly for the treasure but never found it and neither did anyone else. He asked for and received a job from United States marshal Richard Ware ( remember him from the Sam Bass chapter?).
On april5, 1894 Ware and Outlaw were in El Paso for Court hearings. Also with them was a deputy marshal who had been given the task of serving subpoenas. the person who served the subpoenas kept the fees. Dick Ware had not given Outlaw any work, and Bass began to sulk. This led to drink, and trouble.
Bass in his drunken stupor met constable John Selman and Frank Collinson, a buffalo hunter. The two men listened to Outlaw curses and threaten Ware on Utah Street, and cautioned him to sober up.
paying no attention to the warning Outlaw and the two men proceeded to the house of Tillie Howard, El Paso’s best know and flamboyant madam. Selman and Collinson sat in the parlor while Bass wandered into the back. Shortly later they heard a gunshot, looking at Collinson, Selman said “Bass must have dropped his gun.”
In the back yard Tillie began to blow her whistle which she wore around her neck. It was standard procedure when a madam need police assistance. the noise startled Outlaw and he rushed across the yard too grab it from her. At the same instant John Selman walked onto the back porch.
Ranger Joe McKidrick was in the neighborhood only by chance. He ran down the street, hurdled the fence and demanded “Bass, why did you shoot?”
“do you want some too,” Outlaw snarled and shot McKidrick in the head and in the back after he had fallen.
Every one stood there stunned, including Outlaw. Old, John Selman reacted first, he leaped of the porch drawing his pistol. As he hit the ground Outlaw fired right into his face missing by inches causing deep powder burns. Blinded Selman fired by instinct , striking Outlaw above the heart.
Neither man went down, Stelman unable to see stood there holding his eyes, while Outlaw staggered backward to the fence, trying to raise his gun for a second shot. finally braced against the fence Outlaw managed to steady his gun and fire to more shots one hit Selman just above the right knee and the other severed a artery in his thigh.
Outlaw managed to stagger over the fence out into the street where he surrendered to another Texas Ranger Frank McMahon who with a bystander carried Bass to the Barnum show Saloon, placed on the bar the Dr. said there was nothing to be done for him. He was transferred to a prostitutes bed in the back. four hours later he died, calling out “Oh god help Me” and “Where are my friends?” no one answered.
McKidrict was sent to Austin for burial. His real name turned out to be Joe Coolly. He had changed to keep his mother from learning his whereabouts.
John Selman struggled to a carriage after the shooting and was taken to a Doctor Alward White who confined him to bed for two weeks. Selman spent the rest of his life (which wasn’t long) with a cane. He never fully recovered the full use of his eyes and was virtually night blind. He became meaner by the day and finally put three slugs in John Wesley Harden , the most deadly gunman in Texas history (remember him?).
Old John Selman was tried in October of 1894 for the murder of Outlaw Bass. Judge C. N. buckler instructed the jury to return a verdict of not guilty.
Bass Outlaw is not a well known figure in western history, and this is the first account of him I have encountered. He appears in a short paragraph in a second book. I suppose there are any number of men like hi in our history of the old west that we will never hear about.
One again this is my disclaimer the only knowledge I have of these people are what I lean from the books I have at hand.
Thanks for ridding the owl-hoot trail with me again.
till next time.