One of the most famous, and deadliest, outlaws in the old west lived and died in El Paso. His life almost took a totally different path ... twice.

If you have been in El Paso more than a day or so, you've probably already heard the name John Wesley Hardin.

One of the best known characters from the days of the wild west, Hardin's name sits right there among biggies like Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, Billie The Kid and others who roamed the southwest.

Their lives were the stuff of legend and Hollywood has made a bunch of money entertaining us with their fascinating tales.

Many movies have been made about those guys and others but I only know of two movies about John Wesley Hardin. The Lawless Breed in the 50's and Hardin in 2015.

John Wesley Hardin got started down the wrong path at an early age, killing his first man when he was just 15 years old. There followed a life of prisons, jailbreaks, violence and more killing. It's said he killed 21 men Hardin claimed the number was actually 42.

Many people don't believe that one but Hardin once said: "They say I killed six or seven men for snoring. Well, it ain’t true. I only killed one man for snoring.” -

Migrants Cross Into Slovenia
Getty Images

Had he become a Preacher like his father was, and wanted him to be, things might have turned out very differently.

After whacking a few more people and serving some prison time, he somehow got himself pardoned, earned a law degree, and set up his practice in El Paso.

Would this be his salvation? A glorious new path? The ever-elusive "second chance" that so many seek?

Nope. Not so much.

John Wesley Hardin Headstone. Concordia Cemetary
photo via KVargas

By all accounts, he not only remained as mean as a snake, but he also began to drink heavily and liked to run his mouth.

When then Constable John Selman arrested Hardin's girlfriend, Hardin threatened to kill him. Later that month Selman, by way of reply, shot Hardin in the back of the head.

Hardin was not particularly well-liked so, Selman's claim of "self-defense" was accepted. John Wesley Hardin is buried in El Paso's historic Concordia Cemetery.

Buildings Lost Or Demolished In El Paso

More From KLAQ El Paso