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Glen Ely

Texas History Travelers Take Note: Best BBQ Brisket in the Metroplex? It’s BBQ On The Brazos

By | Texas Talks: The Texas History and Travel Blog | No Comments


When out visiting historic sites, Texas History aficionados are often on the lookout for some tasty Texas BBQ. Now there’s always a lively debate about the best BBQ joints in the Metroplex and in Texas. Forget the storied reviews you may have read ranking the best BBQ brisket in the Metroplex. If you’re looking for top-shelf brisket in the Fort Worth/Dallas area, nothing comes close to BBQ on the Brazos in Cresson, Texas. Fact is, it takes the Metroplex crown, hands down. BBQ on the Brazos is located in a Texaco convenience store on Highway 377, just west of the intersection with Highway 171. Pit master John Sanford has it going on and is a master at his craft. Here’s a picture of Sanford with with well-respected BBQ reviewer Leonard Clark Jackson of Fort Worth, who also ranks Sanford’s brisket as the best in the Metroplex. And when sampling the brisket here, do not neglect the standout sides: the Cornbread Salad and Chili Mac & Cheese are especially noteworthy. And if you like Banana Pudding, look out, this is some of the best you’ve ever tasted. For real, this place is so good that you’ll find yourself making the drive every week, even if it is 20 miles each way! Their phone number is 817-396-4758.

Excellent Enchiladas on Fort Worth’s North Side-Enchildas Ole

By | Texas Talks: The Texas History and Travel Blog | No Comments

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Speaking of Fort Worth’s North Side (see previous post), we highly recommend grabbing a meal at Enchiladas Ole, 901 North Sylvania Avenue, Fort Worth, TX 76111.

Chef and owner Mary Perez (pictured on the left above) serves up exemplary enchiladas every day of the week except Sunday.

Perez’s sauces are simply outstanding. Our favorite is the Hatch Green Chile sauce served on chicken enchiladas.

This is one place you definitely don’t want to miss.

The Most Lethal Outlaw: Billy the Kid, John Wesley Hardin, or “Deacon” Jim Miller?

By | Texas Talks: The Texas History and Travel Blog | One Comment

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Welcome to TEXAS TALKS, the new Texas History & Travel blog at www.texashistory.com.

Who was the most deadly outlaw in the Old West? Billy the Kid, John Wesley Hardin, or “Deacon” Jim Miller?

According to Miller biographer Glenn Shirley, in comparison to Miller, The Kid and Hardin “were merely sensational gunfighters.” Miller, Shirley says, “was the most dangerous man in the Southwest.” Though notorious in his heyday, Miller currently lies in obscurity in Oakwood Cemetery on Fort Worth’s North Side while The Kid and Hardin still receive much press. J. B. Miller was born in Arkansas on October 25, 1861, and after his parents died, spent his early years with his grandparents in Coryell County, Texas. The grandparents died in a double slaying when he was eight and authorities arrested Miller for their murder but the case never went to trial. Next, he lived with his sister and her husband near Gatesville, Texas. Miller apparently didn’t get on with his bother-in-law, who died from a shotgun blast when Miller was 13. Officials indicted Miller, but the teen escaped justice once more.

Within a few years, he became a drifter, traveling across Texas to New Mexico and then back to Texas. Miller was not a typical outlaw. He didn’t imbibe alcohol or swear and he attended church regularly. With his white shirt, tie, and dress coat, he looked like a preacher, and people nicknamed him “Deacon.” But Miller was far from being a saint. His eyes were “pale blue . . . and so cold looking” that they gave men goose bumps. Lawman Dee Harkey said that Miller “was what you would call a moral man unless you knew his avocation. He was just a killer and seemed to love it. He would kill any man for money.” Miller became a deputy sheriff in Reeves County, Texas in 1891, the same year he married Sallie Clements. Clement’s father, Emanuel, was a cousin of John Wesley Hardin. Within a year, Miller’s boss, Sheriff Bud Frazer, had fired Miller for his poor job performance. Afterward, Miller and Frazer had two gunfights. In both confrontations, Frazer’s shots should have killed Miller. Miller, however, was only wounded, saved by a steel breastplate that he wore under his white shirt and coat. By 1896, Frazer was no longer sheriff. In September of that year, in a saloon in Toyah, Texas, Miller unloaded on Frazer with both barrels of his shotgun. After two trials, Miller was acquitted in Frazer’s death. “Deacon” Jim had escaped justice once more.

In 1900, Miller and his wife Sallie moved to Fort Worth and Sallie opened a boarding house across from the courthouse on Weatherford Street. Soon “Deacon” Jim was advertising his services as a professional hit man, “he would kill anyone for a price.” During the next decade, he traveled throughout West Texas and Oklahoma carrying out contract killings. Miller’s luck finally ran out in February 1909 after he ambushed Gus Bobbitt of Ada, Oklahoma. Authorities apprehended Miller and his three cohorts and imprisoned them in the county jail. Not willing to entrust the case to the judicial system, a mob of forty men wearing masks went to the jail early on the morning of April 19, 1909, took the four men, and hung them from a rafter in a nearby barn. This time, “Deacon” Jim Miller did not escape justice. Today, Miller (who once bragged he had killed fifty-one people) lies next to his in-laws, the Clements, in Oakwood Cemetery, located just off North Main Street in Fort Worth.

Above is a picture of noted historian Harwood Perry Hinton, Jr. at Miller’s grave in Oakwood Cemetery.

For more on Miller, see Glenn Shirley, Shotgun for Hire: The Story of “Deacon” Jim Miller (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1970) (All blog quotations).

A Trip to Henry Skillman’s Butterfield Overland Mail Station in Loving County, Texas

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Here is West Texas author Patrick Dearen sitting in a very DRY Pecos River bed right below the site of Skillman’s Station in Loving County, Texas. Skillman’s Station was used by the Overland Mail Company on its Butterfield Overland Mail Route (St. Louis to San Francisco) from September 1858 through May 1859. Noted field researcher Joe Allen of Comanche, Texas found this 1854 Seated Liberty coin at the station site located on a high sandy bluff overlooking the Pecos River. It took us more than ten years of field work and archival research to confirm the location of this old stage stop. Loving County Judge Skeet Lee Jones gave a huge assist in this effort. Station namesake Henry Skillman, one of the most famous Butterfield stage drivers and legendary West Texas frontiersman, served as a Confederate spy during the Civil War and was killed in the Big Bend (at present-day Presidio, Texas) by Union forces on April 15, 1864. For more on Skillman’s Station and Henry Skillman, see: https://texashistory.com/product/the-texas-frontier-and-the-butterfield-overland-mail-1858-1861/  and also see Chapter Two in: https://texashistory.com/product/where-the-west-begins-debating-texas-identity/

"A Masterpiece of Scholarship"


"Texas & Western History at their best, beautifully written . . . filled with compelling stories."


"This is a monumental work . . . Ely’s narrative is sweeping, comprehensive, and eloquent."


"The writing is superb. Ely’s masterly . . . definitive study deserves a wide audience."


Best Book Award, Westerners International

Lowman Book Prize, Texas State Historical Association

Gold Award, Non-Fiction Book of the Year in History, Foreword Indies Awards

Best of the West Book Selection, True West Magazine

Elmer Kelton Book Prize, Academy of Western Artists

Southwest Books of the Year Selection, Arizona Libraries




First Place Book Prize, Texas State Genealogical Association

Bronze Award, Non-Fiction Book of the Year in Social Sciences, Foreword Indies Awards

Silver Medallion Book Award, Will Rogers Medallion Award

Finalist, Kate Broocks Bates Award, Texas State Historical Association

Finalist, Ramirez Book Prize, Texas Institute of Letters

Richardson Book Prize, West Texas Historical Association