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Gunslingers and Iconoclasts

2 minutes read

The baddest men in the USA always end up in Texas.

More shootouts have occurred in Texas than any other state in the US.

More gunfighters have lived in Texas than any other state.

Arguably the Wild West's single greatest murderer lived in Texas. Jim Miller, also known as "Killer Miller," attended Methodist Church every week, abstained from alcohol and tobacco, and killed at least 12 people.

There have been more blood feuds in Texas than any other state.

At age 36, the journalist William Cowper Brann moved to Austin to work for the Austin Statesman.

He decided to invest most of his personal savings into a new newspaper he called The Iconoclast. It failed quickly.

In 1894, he moved to Waco and tried again to launch The Iconoclast. This time it worked, gaining a circulation of 100,000 people.

Brann became known as an absolutely brutal critic of... everything. He was merciless against the Baptists, the British, wealthy East Coast elites, the Vanderbilts, the New York social scene, blacks, Episcopalians, the nearby Baylor University, and many other targets.

In 1897, Brann was kidnapped by offended students at Baylor, who demanded that he retract his allegations against Baylor (which seemed to focus on sexual misconduct by faculty and administrators).

In 1898 he was shot in the street by a Baylor supporter. Bran turned around and shot him back. Both died the next day.

Brann's tombstone is in the shape of a lamp. Engraved upon one side is simply the word Truth.

The weather could be better. The landscape is nothing to write home about. There are no grand social pyramids to worship for power and fame, like the West Coast Hollywood complex or the East Coast Paper Belt.

In the summer heat, I sometimes find myself second-guessing the decision to build my family here.

But for the American man who insists on freedom at any cost—up to and including his own life—there appears to be a unique historical spirit that beckons from the Lone Star state.

The baddest men in the country always end up in Texas.

Historical facts from Texas Gunslingers (2014).

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