Monday, June 12, 2017

Robert Clay Allison

...After the war Allison, like many another young Southerner, could not abide the unrelenting reminders of defeat around his home. In the autumn of 1865 he migrated with relatives to the Brazos River country of Texas, where he became a cowpuncher and trail hand driving cattle into New Mexico. Five years later he acquired his own ranch in Colfax County, New Mexico. Already he had come to be feared - particularly when in his cups - and people around him believed that he had killed many men, although nobody alive could vouch for the details. In any event Allison, when sober, resented his sinister reputation. When he learned that a Missouri newspaper had accused him of 15 killings, he wrote an indignant letter to the editor: "I have at all times tried to use my influence toward protecting the property holders and substantial men of the country from thieves, outlaws and murderers, among whom I do not care to be classed." It was almost inevitable that Allison would someday find himself confronted by a foe whose regard for human life was as slight as his own. The challenger was an outlaw named Chunk Colbert, who claimed seven kills. For no apparent reason other than the desire to burnish his reputation for gunslinging superiority, Colbert felt that Allison would make a suitable eighth. He invited his proposed target to dine with him at a Colfax County inn. Allison accepted with every appearance of amiable good fellowship, and the two men enjoyed a leisurely meal. The charade ended just as the coffee cups arrived at the table. Colbert reached for his cup with his left hand; but his right was slowly bringing his gun up from below the table. Allison went for his own weapon. Colbert fired in desperate haste, but his gun had not quite cleared the table top and the bullet went through the wood and was harmlessly deflected. Allison then calmly plugged his host just above the right eye. Later, asked why he had consented to dine with a man he knew intended to kill him, he said, "Because I didn't want to send a man to hell on an empty stomach."...more

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