In a previous blog I wrote about my outlaw cousin, John Wesley Hardin. Last week while researching an indirect line of my Hardin family, I discovered another cousin who became an outlaw.
Joseph “Joe” Hardin Clements, my 2nd cousin 3 times removed, was born December 1, 1849, in Gonzalez, Texas. He was named for Colonel Joseph Hardin (1734-1801), great grandfather of John Wesley Hardin. Hardin’s father’s sister, Martha (1817-1867) married Emmanuel Clements, and the Hardin and Clements cousins were close.
Joe enlisted in Company H of the 12th Texas Cavalry, (Parson’s Mounted Volunteers, Fourth Dragoons) CSA and served from 1861 to 1863. He was captured and sent to the Military Prison in Virginia, where he was exchanged back to the Confederacy. There is no further record for him after 1863. After the Civil War, he came back to Gonzales County, Texas where he married Sarah Jane Tennille (1856-1934) on August 5, 1870. They had one son, and one daughter. The family then moved to the Kimble County, Texas area. The marriage and the move did not deter Joe from his outlaw ways.
Little is known about Joe’s early years, but in 1871, he and his brothers Emmanuel and John “Gip” convinced John Wesley to accompany them on a cattle drive to Abilene, KS. Hardin admits to killing several men on that drive, and Emmanuel killed two of the Clements’ cowboys, for which he was arrested. Hardin had become acquainted with Wild Bill Hickok in Abilene, Texas, and he made arrangements with Wild Bill to let Emmanuel escape. John Wesley and Emmanuel often rode together, piling up indictments wherever they appeared. One or more of the other Clements boys occasionally joined the “party,” so much so that the individual activities are not clear. Joe seemed to have been part of the general mayhem perpetrated by the Clements clan for the next 25 years.
The Clement/Hardin cousins all fought on the Taylor side of the famed Taylor-Sutton feud. The Sutton–Taylor feud began as a county law enforcement issue between relatives of Texas Ranger, Creed Taylor, and a local law enforcement officer, William Sutton, in DeWitt County, Texas. The feud cost at least 35 lives and eventually included the outlaws John Wesley Hardin and Joseph Hardin Clements as two of its participants. It started in March 1868, not reaching its conclusion until the Texas Rangers put a stop to the fighting in December 1876.
In 1899, he moved to Hope, south of Roswell, New Mexico. By the 1920s he was a successful sheep rancher. He owned the Penasco River Ranch that sits between Hope, NM and Mayhill, NM, From there, he and his family moved to New Mexico, settling in the Lincoln and Chaves County areas where he became a prominent rancher. Joseph wanted his ranch to sit in Chaves County because that is where he did his business. Joe died on March 16, 1927, in Roswell, at the age of 77.