This Outlaw Became a Lawman, But a Dangerous One

This Outlaw Became a Lawman, But a Dangerous One

 

His name was Outlaw, but he was a lawman. And, he killed the one man he could have called a friend—the only Texas Ranger in history to kill another Ranger.

Baz (or Bass) Outlaw was born in Lee, Georgia, in 1854, exact date unknown.

In fact, little information exists about his early years, except for his burning desire to become a Texas Ranger.

But, he wouldn’t pursue the dream until he was 30 when he left home and headed for Texas.

Rumors persisted that Outlaw had fled Georgia, on the run from the law, because he murdered someone. Some speculate, however, that he started the rumor himself, although he never to tried to distance himself from it.

 

Various historical accounts say Outlaw went to the nearest Ranger station when he arrived in Texas, submitted an application, got approved, and assigned to Company E.

Before long, Outlaw gained considerable admiration among his fellow Rangers.

He stood under At 5-foot-9, and and weight about 150 pounds, unassuming in physical appearance. Underestimating, however, would be a mistake.

His gun skills were unequalled. Not only was Outlaw pinpoint accurate with pistol or rifle, he was quick on the draw, a skill rare among this peers.

The new Ranger was on the fast track to a success, thanks to a growing reputation as a proficient gunfighter, solid horseman, and capable tracker.

Expectations were high.

 

Gradually, however, a dark side began to emerge behind Outlaw’s cold demeanor, a nasty disposition fueled by large quantities of demon rum.

“Bass had one weakness that—at last—proved to be stronger than all his virtues,” said Texas Ranger Lon Oden. “Bass couldn’t leave liquor alone, and when Bass was drunk, Bass was a maniac; none of us could handle him, none of us could reason with him, we just stayed with him until he sobered up.”

Members of Company E complained so much, officials in 1887 transferred Outlaw to Company D, near Alpine, Texas.

Three years later, they promoted him a couple of times and then put him in charge of the unit.

Although he handed his new responsibilities well on the trail, he lacked competent administrative skills. Paperwork wasn’t his strong suit.

Furthermore, he failed to get a handle on his drinking, despite vowing several times to reform his ways.

 

Ranger officials finally realized Outlaw’s uncontrolled drinking and hair-trigger temper was too divisive, detrimental, and a danger to overall morale.

On September 18, 1892, he was dishonorably discharged from the Rangers.

Outlaw stayed around Alpine long enough for US Marshal Dick Ware, an ex-Ranger, to hire him as a deputy US marshal in the early Spring of 1894.

On April 5, Outlaw joined Ware and two other deputies on a trip to El Paso for court hearings against several outlaws and cattle rustlers. Deputies, at the time, were paid fees based on how much work they contributed in preparing cases to be heard, including serving summonses and completing paperwork.

Since Deputy Bufe Cline handled most of the case preparation, Ware presented him the fees. Outlaw, who contributed little to the cases, exploded, arguing the money should have been split evenly. He and Marshal Ware exchange strong words before Outlaw left the courthouse in an angry mood.

 

He grew increasingly belligerent and, while stumbling his way along Utah Street, ran into Constable John Selman—the same John Selman who, a year later, would shoot John Wesley Hardin in the back of the head.

When Outlaw boasted he was going to kill Marshal Ware, Selman tried to talk him into returning to his hotel room.

Outlaw refused and, instead, decided to visit his girlfriend who worked at Tillie Howard’s, a local bordello.

He went around to the back entrance and, liquored up, fired a shot, creating a disturbance.

Tillie, the madam, ran out of her house blowing a police whistle to alert authorities of trouble.

 

Among those responding was one-time fellow Texas Ranger, Private Joseph McKidrict, also in town for a court appearance, who had always admired and been friendly with Outlaw.

He came around the corner and asked Bass why he had shot his gun. Outlaw answered by pointing his gun at McKidrict and firing, striking the private in the head and back, killing him on the spot.

Outlaw then swung his gun toward Selman and fired again, almost hitting the constable in the face.

Selman returned fire, and the bullet hit Outlaw in the chest. The ex-Ranger staggered and, before falling, managed to snap off one more shot, wounding Selman in the leg.

Outlaw collapsed, and was helped to a nearby saloon.

The one-time Texas Ranger died four hours after killing a fellow Texas Ranger.

-tjr-

4 Comments

  1. Larry says:

    So are you saying Texas Rangers weren’t always good guys! How un-Texan!:)

  2. Tom Rizzo says:

    Well, sometimes bad apples tend to fall in the same carton with the good ones. But, heck, he could shoot straight.

  3. Cynthia says:

    Outlaw is not the only Texas Ranger to kill a fellow Texas Ranger. See my upcoming book with Globe-Pequot Press Death of a Texas Rsnger, A True Story of Murder and Vengeance on the Texas Frontier, scheduled for release June 3, 2014.

  4. Tom Rizzo says:

    Thanks for letting us know. Look forward to learning more about it.

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