Previously, I posted about Wild Bill Longley, the true-life “mankiller”, who served as a model for a main character—a serial killer—in my newest novel about Reconstruction era Texas (as yet untitled).
But there were scores of other hot-headed, amoral killers roaming the interior of Texas during the second half of the 1800’s. Cullen Baker (there is no known photo of Cullen Baker, so the image above is of Jesse James, another notorious killer) was born in Tennessee and served in the Confederate Home Guard in Arkansas during the Civil War. The CHG was a homely-sounding name for a group of rangers who raped, pillaged and murdered their way through Arkansas and Missouri, indiscriminately killing unionists and confederates alike. After the war, he and his gang members killed between 50 and 60 people, many of them freed slaves.
By all accounts, he was a heavy drinker which not surprisingly fueled his killing temper, but he chose unwisely in love as his violent death was linked to his second wife. There are two versions of his death. The first recounts that he and a cohort were both poisoned by strychnine by his wife’s family and then shot to death. The second version says that Cullen was shot by his wife’s lover, a school teacher, in his own home.
The Western writer, Louis L’amour wrote about him in several novels, adding him to the pantheon of better known gunfighters such as Billy the Kid, and the James-Younger Gang.