The Old West is ripe with characters from different walks of life. This entry into our History Heroes in no exception as we explore the life of Jim Miller an American Outlaw, Cowboy, Lawman, Saloon Keeper, and Assassin.
Jim was a ruthless man and had twelve successful gunfights to his name but got his nickname “Deacon”
because he did not drink or smoke and attended church religiously.
Jim was born to Cynthia Miller and her young husband, a stonemason named Jacob in 1866 a year after the American Civil War in Van Buren Arkansas. Death would be an unchanging shadow in Jim’s life and it started early with the death of both parents at the age of seven. Jim was sent to his grandparents in Tennessee but they too perished a year later. Jim at eight years of age was arrested for his grandparents murders but was never prosecuted for their deaths.
Young Jim found himself living with his older sister Georgia and her husband’s family for about ten years. When Jim was nineteen he had an argument with his brother-in-law and murder him while he slept by shooting him in the head with a shotgun. Jim was arrested for this murder and was convicted, however Jim would never spend a day in prison for this crime because his conviction was overturned on a technicality.
Once released from custody Jim bummed around as a Cowboy and Saloon Keeper until 1891 when he would marry the cousin to another famous American Outlaw John Wesley Hardin. Sallie Clements and her new husband Jim moved to Pecos Texas where he was a shady deputy sheriff and town marshal. In 1900 Jim and Sallie moved to Fort Worth Texas and opened a boarding house where Jim advertised his services as an assassin. Jim would be credited or connected to many murders including Pat Garrett’s death during the first eight years of 20th Century.
In 1909 Jim would take his final assignment in Oklahoma when some ranchers hired Jim to kill a stubborn neighbor to get his land and for retribution of a perceive personal umbrage. During the assassination of Mr Allen Bobbitt, Deacon Jim ran out of luck and was captured and arrested for the murder. Jim would never see the inside of a court room because an angry mob broke into the jail and lynched Jim for his misdeeds.
“Deacon” Jim inhabits an interesting and violent time period in American History that sometimes placed villains in the role of anti-hero or local legend like Butch Cassidy, Billy the Kid and John Dillinger. To learn more about “Deacon” Jim and his time period go to your local library and check out; Draw: The Greatest Gunfights of the American West by James Reasoner and Shotgun for Hire: The Story of “Deacon” Jim Miller, Killer of Pat Garrett by Glenn Shirley.