Mankillers: Cullen Baker

     Previously, I posted about Wild Bill Longley, the true-life “mankiller”, who served as a model for a main character—a serial killer—in my newest novel about Reconstruction era Texas (as yet untitled).

     But there were scores of other hot-headed, amoral killers roaming the interior of Texas during the second half of the 1800’s.  Cullen Baker (pictured here) was born in Tennessee and served in the Confederate Home Guard in Arkansas during the Civil War.   The CHG was a homely-sounding name for a group of rangers who raped, pillaged and murdered their way through Arkansas and Missouri, indiscriminately killing unionists and confederates alike.   After the war, he and his gang members killed between 50 and 60 people, many of them freed slaves.

      By all accounts, he was a heavy drinker which not surprisingly fueled his killing temper, but he chose unwisely in love as his violent death was linked to his second wife.  There are two versions of his death.  The first recounts that he and a cohort were both poisoned by strychnine by his wife’s family and then shot to death.  The second version says that Cullen was shot by his wife’s lover, a school teacher, in his own home.

      The Western writer, Louis L’amour wrote about him in several novels, adding him to the pantheon of better known gunfighters such as Billy the Kid, and the James-Younger Gang.

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4 comments on “Mankillers: Cullen Baker

  1. Hmm, it seems like your site ate my first comment (it was super long) so I
    guess I’ll just summarise what I submitted and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I am also an newbie blogger but I am still new to
    the whole thing. Do you have any recommendations for first-time blog writers?
    I’d definitely appreciate it.

    • Dianna: So glad you wrote! And I’m sorry that wordpress ate your first response. It will do that sometimes. I am relatively new to blogging myself. The best advice I got about blogging was to keep it fairly short and write thematically and conistantly about things that you love. My blogs concern the background research and the historical facts to the fiction I write. My first 2 books were based in Colonial New England so I posted a lot of photos and interesting history about the places where I did research. My third novel is different. Titled Lucinda, it is set in Texas 1870 and I’ve been writing more about the true to life killers and lawmen of the era. If you’re an author it’s a great way to keep interest alive in your work in between publishing. But it’s also a way to promote and gain enthusiasm for your work, hobbies, and just a platform for your ideas and beliefs. Good luck!!

  2. Juliet H. Mofford says:

    Are you certain that’s a portrait of Cullen Baker, Kathleen? I’m pretty sure it’s Jesse Woodson James, a distant ancestor of my own!?

    • Hi, Juliet! It’s possible that it’s not Cullen Baker. I pulled the image off a website that featured photographs of Cullen Baker. It just goes to show that you can’t believe everything you see on the internet. I’ll do some further sleuthing. All the best, KK

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