|Clay Allison - 1840-1877|
|It was seldom that a successful cattleman of
and at times an elegant southern gentleman, could also have the
reputation o eing a top gunfighter. But Clay Allison did. He was a
of a stranger chained with bullets and swinging guns and bragging. He'd
hunt him down and have a street shoot out to unbelt the wretched
Yet this Texan himself, six feet two, was a vain and ballooned person
Originally, he hailed from Tennessee and had been a soldier in the
Army where he learned about easy-go killing. As a guerrilla he became
at the art of gunslinging. He liked black horses and loved to ride
town with spurs a.-jingle observed by the ladies.
He did some bloodletting in Indian Territory, cut down the breed type of competition, then moved down through Texas where he killed more men looking for gunpowder prominence. Then on up into New Mexico to unlimber his guns again, and back to the Panhandle.
His ranch lay around Las Animas, and any citizen could tell you, with eyes popping, how Clay hurrahed the town when drunk every Christmas with pistol blaz ing the sky as he raced his horse up and down the board walks like a roll of thunder. They'd tell you about the time Clay had an argument over a neighborly fence, and to decide the argument dug a grave and got down into it and fought to the death with knives. Clay buried the man respectable-like as a neighbor should be laid away. A marshal felt his oats in this matter and also one of Clay's bullets. Allison also cut down the marshal of Cimarron, New Mexico.
Tragedy and humor are cousins, so they say, and Clay liked to keep his teeth in good shape, but when the den tist pulled the wrong one he found himself jammed down into his own chair and his uppers pulled one by one. Clay also used the county funds to keep a hung-up jury in hard liquor. He also rode through Canadian without a stitch of clothing on, shooting at those who peeked during his frolic. A lot of old-timers knew about the time he thundered into court on his black so as not to be late and disturb the judge.
New Mexico bred a gunfighter by name of William Chunk, who drank deep at any bar he happened to fre quent and then invited any man alive to outgun him. A few spins of the weapon and a shoot-out of a bottle or two would punctuate what the man had declared uite dramatically, while he looked down his red nose at his trembling admirers. This was the kind of flea bitten, gunpowder gent Clay liked to bite into.
So the two met. Clay rang out change for a few rounds of drinks and then invited his surprised guest to dinner. The dining room cleaned out in a hurry of those who love to linger over their food, for they saw that glitter in Clay's eye and heard the thickness of his tongue and knew what to expect. Clay became suddenly irritated at the uncouth chomping of his guest's jaws and stopped them as still as death with a salad sticking out as he polished off Mr. Chunk. He left him lying at his feet, and then went on to complete his dinner, des sert and all and a second cup of coffee.
Wyatt Earp, while sheriff of Dodge, met up with this handsome gunslinger, but before Clay could make his play he felt the hard muzzle of Earp's gun in his belly pressing persistently and those cold blue eyes tell ing him to get on his black and out of town, which he did. He came back sometime later, with permission from Earp, to transact a cattle trade, and then left with no trouble.
Clay was-a man by tall acts who created tall tales, most of them true, and any respectable tobacco chewing bench philosopher or blacksmith shop commentator would tell you Clay was destined to die by the gun. But the wheel of fortune put him on the seat of a freighter wagon. It struck a chuckhole, the reins went every which way and when Clay fell down under the great wheel his back popped under the crushing weight, kill ing him instantly.