William Preston “Wild Bill” Longley

William Preston “Wild Bill” Longley

Austin County, Texas, USA
Death 11 Oct 1878 (aged 27)
Giddings, Lee County, Texas, USA
Burial Giddings, Lee County, Texas, USA
Memorial ID 1400 · View Source
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Outlaw. Bill Longley was born on October 6, 1851 to a small farming family in Mill Creek, Texas. He spent his childhood between school and working the family farm, teaching himself how to use a gun hunting for food in the woods. Reaching his teenage years during the extremely divisive Reconstruction period, Bill developed a hatred of the Northerners and for ex-slaves in particular. On December 1866, when he was only 15, he and his father were walking through the town of Evergreen when a recently deputized former slave, drunk, insulted his father; Bill shot the man dead. On the run, he took up with a small gang and proceeded to terrorize and kill former slaves and anyone who he felt were "Yankee sympathizers" for two years until a group of vigilantes caught up with him. Longley was lynched on the spot; however, one of the vigilantes, as he rode away, turned and shot at the dangling body. One of the bullets hit him in the face, the other, by sheer luck, frayed the rope and he dropped to the ground, alive. In February of 1870, he killed a black man and a woman. When a reward was posted for his capture, Longley escaped north to Kansas. He claimed later to have been a trail driver in Abilene, killing both his trail boss and a horse thief named McClelland, but when he killed a soldier near Fort Leavenworth, he was arrested and convicted of murder. He escaped prison quickly, joining a mining expedition in Wyoming. In June of 1870 he enlisted in the US Cavalry, but promptly deserted. Captured and imprisoned for six months, he returned to his unit and deserted again in 1872. Returning to Texas, he found work as a cowboy in Comanche County, but continued his killing spree. From 1873 to 1876, he killed at least four more men, running off to Louisiana to escape the law; it was there, however, that the law finally caught up with him. Longley was returned to Texas to stand trial for the murder of one of his victims, Wilson Anderson, whom he had killed in 1875. On September 5, 1877, Longley was sentenced to be executed. On October 11, 1878, he climbed the gallows in front of a crowd of thousands. Publicly repenting of his crimes - although only confessing to eight murders when it was well over thirty - Bill Longley was hanged by his neck until dead and then buried just outside of the town cemetery grounds.

Bio by: Screwtape


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1400
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for William Preston “Wild Bill” Longley (6 Oct 1851–11 Oct 1878), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1400, citing Giddings City Cemetery, Giddings, Lee County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .