Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

April 21, 2010

John Wesley Hardin

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

I have always been a fan of western movies.  I don’t care for the lifestyle or violence, but they are always predictable.  You know the good guy will win!  Watching western movies for so many years, you get to know the names of the gunfighters, whether they were lawmen, bandits, or killers.

I recently became friends with a descendant of John Wesley Hardin.  Fascinated by this, I began to look into the true reputation of Hardin.  In the history of the West, Hardin ranks as one of the most prolific killers of all.  He is reputed to have killed at least 44 men.  And this was before he was 21 years of age!

His father was a Methodist minister and named his son for the founder of the faith.  Early in his life, John Wesley Hardin revealed a capacity for murder.  He killed his first person when he was 14 years of age.  His father felt it may have been justified, and encouraged his young son to flee.  Young Hardin stayed on the run for the next  ten years.

His propensity to kill continued.  Finally he was caught and arrested, surprisingly for a murder he did not commit.  He was being taken to Waco, Texas to stand trial when he escaped.  He stayed on the  run, but during this time married his childhood sweetheart.  Soon afterward, he again killed. When  federal forces sought him, he moved to Alabama and  assumed another name.  Under his new identity, he even helped law enforcement officers round up wanted men.

However, his false identity was discovered.  On a train in Pensacola, he was arrested and taken to Texas where he was  tried, convicted, and sent to prison. He was only 25 years of age.  While in prison, he studied theology and law.  His wife died while he was in prison. He had served only15 years of his 25 year sentence when the Governor of Texas pardoned him.  He opened a law practice in El Paso.  When he was 42 years of age, a policeman spotted Hardin and shot him, although Hardin had committed no crime.  The report was that he had threatened the policeman.  The policeman was not convicted as it seems Texas was satisfied that Hardin would never again kill.

Considering the sheer number and callousness of his killings, Hardin should have well outranked Billy the Kid in the Old West’s annals of infamy.  But none of these killers should be immortalized.  They are what they are.  They may be figures in history, but we should look with sorrow on their deeds and lives.

Hardin left grief in the heart of so many families.  My thoughts were upon his parents.  Can you imagine the heartbreak of the parents of John Wesley Hardin?  Certainly they loved their son, but only God knows the sorrow that was in their hearts.  Here was a son who had been given the name of a great preacher and minister of the gospel.  Perhaps the hopes of the parents were that this son would be such!

John Wesley Hardin reported that he returned to the faith of his childhood while he was in prison.  This turn in his life led him to the study of theology.  Yet, in the years of his life following his pardon, history records a life of debauchery.  Who can ever know what is in the heart of man?

It is a joy to report, however, that my friend, who bears the exact same name of his ancestor, is a committed Christian and churchman!  We are not bound by out heritage . . . or our name!

For those of us blessed with children who bring honor and joy to us, we thank God.  For so many parents who suffer a broken heart from the waywardness of their children, let us pray for them!  Let none of us ever give up on praying for our children.  God answers prayer.  God does wonderful things!  Pray for your children!

” Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”  (Matthew 18:19,20)

Lawson

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