The Shootist

24 Jan

In an earlier post, I referenced an unused radio ad for my university in relaying a bit of Tennessee history. That post provided a brief biography of Grantland Rice, the famed sportswriter. With that being said, here is another footnote in my state’s history.

Did you know that one of the Old West’s most notorious killers was from Tennessee? In 1840, Clay Allison was born in Waynesboro, Tennessee. After serving in the Civil War, Allison moved west, and, among other things, became a cowboy, a rancher and a gunslinger, for which he coined the term “shootist”. His reputation as a killer grew with each shooting and lynching in which he was involved. However, Allison’s most famous episode took place when he and a friend decided to have a contest to determine which was the best dancer. To assist in this endeavor, the two men began shooting as each other’s feet, a scene that has been replayed in many western movies. Considering that Allison lived a life of violence and mayhem, he death was rather mundane. In 1881, he was riding a wagon to Waco, Texas when he fell off and died before reaching help.

4 Responses to “The Shootist”

  1. booksnob January 24, 2012 at 05:19 #

    Oh, i know I shouldn’t laugh but death by falling off a wagon is pretty effing hilarious.

    • Tennessean-Historian-Blogger January 24, 2012 at 14:50 #

      I know. There’s some funny crap that happens in history. Strange how it’s the mundane things that usually get us.


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    […] Real Name: Robert Clay Allison […]

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    […] the obvious ones like Sam Houston and David Crockett. However, I also talked about John Chisum, Clay Allison and Peter […]

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