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Cullen Baker the Outlaw
By Frances Fox
Taken from Ye Olde Ancestors, January 7, 1992
Written permission given by the New Boston Genealogy Society
to post this information to the Bowie County TXGenWeb site.



R H Watlington was a school teacher and a farmer from Greensboro, North Carolina.  He was born in 1841, the same year Bowie County, Texas was formed, and died at Old Boston in 1821.  He came to Texas in 1866 and settled in the southeastern part of the county.

R H Watlington wrote about the neighbors and their families:  Collin M Akin, Col. John King, Mister Keezle, "Uncle Mose" Day, Dabney Allen, and Marion Spear who could build a "cat chimney".  He described the towns of Boston, Hooks, and New Boston and Jefferson in the 1870's and 80's.  He described many county officials:  Johnson K Springer, Judge Hubbard, Judge Dillard, Thomas C Morris, and Hon. Charles A Wheeler, to name a few.  Bet he wrote at least five chapters about an outlaw he met after he had been in Texas only a month, Cullen Baker.

Cullen Baker stopped at the home of R H Watlington one night saying that he was sick and wanted to stay the night because he did not feel like riding on to his home which was five miles away.  He said he operated a ferry at Line Ferry on the Sulphur River.  The next morning he wanted to find some "black root" to make a tea for his chills.  R H Watlington showed him a place in the woods where the "black root" was and the man promised to remember his kindness and rode away.  He described Cullen baker as about 35 years of age, medium size, long blond hair, beardless, and very quiet.

In the spring of 1867 a troop of 18-20 United States Soldiers (Union) came to Boston under a Captain Davidson and established the "Freedman's Bureau" according to law.  It was reported that Cullen Baker had committed a crime and a sergeant and four men were sent to bring him in for trail.  When they reached the home of Cullen Baker, he was not there but his two unmarried sisters were.  Cullen baker's wife had died and his two sisters were keeping house.  The soldiers were rude to the women and went through their trunks and took some jewelry including Baker's watch and things belonging to his dead wife.  When Cullen Baker came home, his sisters told him what had happened and he was furious.  He got on his mule and started out to Boston.  This took place in July of 1867.  When he reached Boston, he stopped at a saloon on the east side of the square and wrote a note to the commanding officer of the garrison demanding an immediate surrender.  When the commanding officer came out with 16 men, Cullen Baker started shooting with his shotgun, killing one soldier and wounding several others.  The soldiers retreated to their barracks.  Cullen Baker escaped with a flesh wound in the arm.

General Buell at Jefferson had an army of 2000 soldiers, Union soldiers.  He offered a reward of $2500 for the capture of Cullen Baker, dead or alive.  General Buell sent two companies of cavalry to hunt down this "bandit".  The soldiers searched around but could not seem to find Baker.  They were sent back several times but never did succeed.

After Cullen Baker's wound healed, he began to gather a gang of men on Mush Island, maybe twenty men were in the group that followed Cullen Baker.  They began to terrorize the people in the surrounding counties, both white and black.  They killed several Union soldiers and some blacks for the mere sport of killing.

The next time R H Watlington saw Cullen BAker, he was on the porch of a neighbor at Mooresville.  He looked so different that Watlington did not recognize him.  He was red-faced and loud.  He reported that he had been to Boston the evening before and had killed Lieutenant Kirkman.  The Freedman's Bureau at Boston was discontinued after that.  Eventually the gang turned against Baker when he tried to hand is brother-in-law, Tom Orr.  Baker's father-in-law, a Mr Foster, helped do him in.  Mr Foster drugged a jug of whiskey and saved it back for him.  One night Cullen Baker and the only man that was still with him, named Kirby, came to Mr Foster's house and demanded supper and whiskey.  They staggered into the yard and fell down.  Mr Foster sent for Tom Orr who brought a friend named Davis.  They shot Baker and Kirby and collected the reward.  Their bodies were carried that night to Jefferson by wagon and delivered to the garrison commander by Orr and Davis.



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