This Texas outlaw constantly had the stench of death all around him.

Public Domain/
Public Domain/

Who He Was

Let's start with the fact that James Brown Miller was occasionally referred to as "Deacon Miller" because a church-going man who just said no to booze and smoking. It just goes to show you that you can't always judge a book by it's cover or a man by his resume. Miller actually advertised that he would kill people for $150, so let's not try to make any case for mistaken identity here.

How He Started

Though the evidence was not conclusive, Miller may have started his murder spree in 1869 when he was just eight years old. His grandparents were found dead and he was arrested, but never was taken to court. This wouldn't be the only time he was accused of killing a family member either, because when he turned 19 years old he killed his brother-in-law with a shotgun while he was asleep on his porch. He was found guilty of this crime and was supposed to do life in prison, but the conviction was overturned on a technicality.

Public Domain
James Brown (Jim) Miller, his wife Sarah Francis “Sallie” (Clements) Miller, and child, probably son Claude C. Miller; circa 1890s/Public Domain

He Got The Feel For It

Miller went to work as a ranch hand and when his boss was killed, the killer later lost an arm after someone, most likely Miller, ambushed him with a shotgun. Later he became a deputy where he got a reputation for killing Mexicans "who tried to escape". He was involved in several disputes and shootings after that time but survived them because somewhere along the line he picked up the habit of wearing a steal breastplate under his vest.

His Texas Ranger Days

After a few more murders, Miller was hired to be a Texas Ranger and killed at least one person "during the course of his duties". It was shortly after this time he started advertising his $150 murder special. Miller was then involved in many more incidents, ambushes, and murders, but in the interest of time and space, we'll move on to his final days.

The Final Straw

Miller and some friends were arrested for the contract murder of an Oklahoma cattle rancher and lawman. Knowing that the accused would most likely be set free, the citizens of Ada, Oklahoma stormed the jail to lynch the men. While being strung up and waiting for his fate, Miller denied the crowd some of the justice at the end by yelling "Let 'er rip" and stepping off the box himself.

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