Graham Barnett: A Dangerous Man

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University of North Texas Press, May 15, 2017 - Biography & Autobiography - 400 pages
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Graham Barnett was killed in Rankin, Texas, on December 6, 1931. His death brought an end to a storied career, but not an end to the legends that claimed he was a gunman, a hired pistolero on both sides of the border, a Texas Ranger known for questionable shootings in Company B under Captain Fox, a deputy sheriff, a bootlegger, and a possible “fixer” for both law enforcement and outlaw organizations. In real life he was a good cowboy, who provided for his family the best way he could, and who did so by slipping seamlessly between the law enforcement community and the world of illegal liquor traffickers. Stories say he killed unnumbered men on the border, but he stood trial only twice and was acquitted both times. Barnett lived in the twentieth century but carried with him many of the attitudes of old frontier Texas. Among those beliefs was that if there were problems, a man dealt with them directly and forcefully—with a gun. His penchant to settle a score with gunplay brought him into confrontation with Sheriff W. C. Fowler, a former friend, who shot Barnett with the latter’s own submachine gun on loan. One contemporary summed it up best: “Officers in West Texas got the best sleep they had had in twenty years that Sunday night after Fowler killed Graham.”



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it was him or me
He shot dovewith a rifle
a Fair Man but he expected my brothers and me to live by his strict rules
When I put my hand in my pocket he knew it was all over
I was shot all to pieces
I knew Graham was in some kind of trouble
To faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent on me as an officer in the Ranger force
Wild WestWont do
as frequently occurs jealousy and enmity between rival gangs developed
He would kill you in a holy second
I wasnt surprised when they told me
It was all too true
Death steals everything except our stories

Come on in youre as welcome as a corpse
No he isnt going to kill me He hasnt nerve enough
I want you to send him a telegram and tell him that I am the biggest damn liarin the state of Texas

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About the author (2017)


James L. Coffey is a former education consultant who worked with school districts in West Texas and lives in San Angelo, Texas. Russell M. Drake is a newspaper man who worked in Texas and California and lives in Veribest, Texas. John T. Barnett is Graham Barnett’s grandson and lives in southern California.

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