Arkansas October 11, 2018
Not Many Folks Remember The Dark Tale Of The Arkansas Assassin
Born in Van Buren, this Arkansan became one of the most homicidal outlaws in the Old West. “Deacon” Jim Miller assassinated lawyers, Marshals, and anyone that got in the way of his “job duties.” Let’s recount the dark history of one of Arkansas’ most sinister natives.
"Deacon" Jim Miller may not have the notoriety like Belle Starr or "Pretty Boy" Floyd, but this Arkansas native certainly made a stain in Old West history.
The Arkansan outlaw killed 12 men in gunfights, with about half of those being hired hits. In addition to these murders he also killed dozens of Mexicans while serving a short stint as a Texas deputy. Although he died before the age of 50, Miller's reign was a dark whirlwind of chaos in the South.
He was born in Van Buren in 1861 and killed his first victims at merely eight years old.
Although he was never prosecuted for the crime, Miller was arrested for the murders of his grandparents in 1869. This dark atrocity sets the tone for the rest of Miller's life. At age 19 Miller killed again, this time shooting his brother-in-law after an argument. The Arkansan's crime soon spread to Texas and later Oklahoma.
His signature look was a long black coat and hat, but it wasn't just a fashion statement.
By the 1890s, Miller settled down in west Texas and was well-liked in the town of Pecos. He earned the nickname "Deacon" because he regularly attended and actively participated in his Methodist church. He was polite. He never drank or smoked. The only thing folks thought was odd about the man was his black coat he wore at all times (this was the Texas desert, after all).
After becoming deputy sheriff of the town, he soon had issues with the Pecos Sheriff, George A. "Bud" Frazer. This was due to the fact that Miller killed many Mexicans (Miller would claim self-defense or that they resisted arrest) and had let criminals gain control of the town. At the peak of the months-long feuding, Frazer tried to shoot Miller. Miller was saved because of his long black coat - well, actually, he was saved by the large steel plate hidden underneath the coat, but regardless, Miller lived. He had Frazer charged with attempted murder.
In 1900, Miller began advertising for his assassination work.
His last hit on a former Deputy U.S. Marshal would be his demise.
Disgruntled ranchers Jesse West and Joe Allen used Berry B. Burell to hire Miller to kill former U.S. Marshal Allen Augustus "Gus" Bobbitt. Miller did succeed in killing Bobbitt but not before the fatally wounded man could tell his wife that it was Miller who shot him. Miller had fled to Texas but was caught by a Texas Ranger and returned to Ada, OK to stand trial. Although Bobbitt's final words were heard, most of the evidence was weak. Miller still had a strong chance of acquittal but that was not a chance the residents of Ada were willing to take.
The night before the trial was to take place, a lynch mob broke Miller, West, Allen, and Burell out of prison. The mob took the men to an abandoned stable and tied nooses around their necks. Miller's last requests were that his ring be sent to his wife and that he wore his hat while he hanged. These requests were granted (as you can see in the picture on the far left) but his other request that he wear his black jacket was denied. Miller's last words were "Let 'er rip!" as he stepped off the box. His body was buried at the Oakwood Cemetery in Fort Worth, TX.
Postcards of the famous Ada hanging can still be found around the Oklahoman town.
Did you know that such a notorious killer came from Arkansas? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
For more dark tales, read about the state’s
worst serial killer. Or, if you’d like a palate cleanser, check out these lovely fall trails.