My Outlaw Cousin – John Wesley Hardin -This Apple Fell Far From The Tree!

John Wesley Hardin
John Wesley Hardin

A few months ago one of my cousins and I were having a conversation about the Hughes/Hayes family history. We were discussing how we had diverse characters that made up that history. Not only do we have Revolutionary War heroes, pioneers, and indentured servants but we have whiskey makers, bigamists, and outlaws. Last year I had discovered that the Outlaw part was more than just an inside joke about one of our cousins.

John Wesley Hardin was one of the West’s most vicious and notorious gunfighters and outlaw. He was also my 2nd cousin 3x removed. He was the son of James Gibson “Gip” Hardin who was a Methodist Preacher. He was named after the founder of the Methodist Denomination, John Wesley.

John Wesley Hardin was born May 26, 1853 in Bonham Texas. In his autobiography John states that he was 15 years old the first time he killed a man. Over the course of his life he killed approximately 42 men, one just for snoring! He was killed August 19, 1895 while in a Saloon in El Paso, TX.

Picture taken after his death.
Picture taken after his death.

If I were to write about all the things John Wesley had done it would fill a book. As a matter of fact it has filled several books. If you would like to read more about him, just Google his name and there will be plenty of information about him.

It makes one wonder how this young man of whom people have said “had no soul and showed no remorse for what he had done” could descend from men of true character and virtue. As stated above his father was a Methodist Preacher. His Grandfather, Benjamin P. Hardin, was the Justice of the Peace and 1st Sheriff of Wayne County, TN. He was also a General Assemblyman for the State of Tennessee and a founder of Wayne County, TN.

Colonel Joseph Hardin
Colonel Joseph Hardin

I think the one of the most interesting facts about him is that he was the Great Grandson of Revolutionary War hero Colonel Joseph Hardin, who was a legislator from North Carolina, the “lost” State of Franklin, and the Southwest Territory before its statehood as Tennessee. He was a signer of the Tryon Resolves, an Assemblyman for the North Carolina Colony, a pioneer, a Patriot and a Patriarch.

I guess John Wesley Hardin is living proof that sometimes the apple does fall far from the tree!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

22 thoughts on “My Outlaw Cousin – John Wesley Hardin -This Apple Fell Far From The Tree!

    1. Cathy,

      I know he was really bad! When I told my youngest Grandson who is 7 about Hardin being a relative he said “What’s so cool about that? He was mean!” Out of the mouths of babes..LOL

      Thanks for reading the Blog.


  1. I recently found out I am related to John Wesley as well. Colonel Joseph Hardin is my great great great great great grandfather. I’m so curious to learn more!

      1. I’d love to know where he fits in my history. I’m a grandson to Harold Lloyd Hardin from east Texas. Son of Leslie Bruce Hardin. Ex-wife gave me a book with a few stories of John’s .

  2. John Wesley Hardin is my great great great great great uncle! I love tracing back my family history and it’s fascinating to read comments from so many distant unknown relatives who are doing the same thing!

  3. How do you trace your family history if you don’t know any names beyond grandparents? All of my grandparents are passed, so I don’t know where to go from here. My maiden name is Hardin, and my grandfather told me we were descendants of JWH, but he “don’t know how all that family tree stuff works”.

    1. Do you use or to search for information? I only had my Grandparents and Great Grandparents name that were written in my baby book when I first srarted. If you need help let me know.

      1. My family history is complicated, I think… Can we work together to see what we can find? How do you prefer to be contacted for genealogy services?

  4. I’m also trying to look into my family tree, and I know we are related to John w Hardin which is through my grandfather’s mother Ruth Christian side but I’m stumped!!

    1. If you give me your great grandmothers info…date of birth, where she was born and her husband name and I will see if I can connect some dots. Just a heads up, we are moving tomorrow and it may take a few days to get settled.

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