ARKANSAS HISTORICAL QUARTERLY; Volume 26, Autumn 1961, p 229

 

Cullen Montgomery Baker

The Arkansas-Texas Desperado

 

BY BOYD W. JOHNSON

 
UNLIKE JESSE JAMES, HENRY STARR, JOHN A. MURRELL, AND OTHER DESPERADOS WHO lived in neighboring states, Cullen Baker's activities were not confined to an occasional crime spree in our state (1). Baker spent long periods of time in Arkansas, married two Arkansas girls, and was killed in his state. Operating much of the time as he did from his hide-out in the Sulphur River swamps near the Arkansas-Texas state line, it is difficult to tell whether some of his crimes were committed in Arkansas or Texas.
Baker is one of the frontier characters we wish Texas could lay sole claim to, but too many of his dastardly crimes were committed in Arkansas for us to ignore him from the historical standpoint.
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1. Listed below are the main sources for this paper, but it should be pointed out that none of them is very
reliable. However, they do agree on most respects as far as the overall events are concerned. It would have been extremely difficult for Thomas Orr to have been objective in his biography of Cullen Baker, who was Orr's worst enemy. Frank Triplett and Ed Bartholomew have based their treatments' of Baker on Orr's work and on highly questionable newspaper accounts, while Powell Clayton's account of Baker is that of a man writing about an enemy of his administration. See: Ed Bartholomew, Cullen Barker, Premier Texas Gunfighter Houston: The Frontier Press of Texas, 1954); James Orr, Life of the Nortorious Desperado Cullen Baker, From Childhood to His Death, With a Full Account of All the Murders He Committed. (Reprinted in Bartholomew, Cullen Baker, 85-139); Frank Triplett, History, Romance, and Philosophy of Great American Crimes adn Criminals (New York and St. Louis: D. Thompson & Co., 1884); and Powell Clayton, Aftermath of the Civil War in Arkansas (New York: The Neale Publishing Co., 1915).

 

 

 

 

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