LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - The wild and lawless days of the old Texas west is the passion of an East Texas man who has a speaking series called 'Gunfighter-ology.'
From the moment you meet Bill O'Neal of Carthage, you realize he knows more about the old Texas west than anybody.
Appointed by Governor Perry as the official Texas state historian, O'Neal has authored dozens of books, mostly on the old Texas west.
"I've written 42 books and about 300 articles and book reviews," he says. "There’s nothing more dramatic than life and death conflict. There was more gunfighting in Texas than any other state. More blood feuds, the revolving pistol evolved here in Texas.".
He's researched over 500 shootouts.
"One of the things I found was that 160 of those 500 gunfights occurred here in Texas. We had more gunfighters from Texas, we had more gunfighters killed in Texas," Bill says.
The street shootout was rare. Most times it was whoever shot first.
"Well, that almost never happened. Most of the gunfights were spontaneous affairs," O'Neal says.
But he says the sidearm or six-shooter was not most often used. More often it was a rifle.
"An awful lot of guys preferred to utilize a rifle. So, these guys were courageous," O'Neal says.
His great-grandfather was a trail driver, his grandfather another cowboy. They lived through the wild west.
Some famous, some not so famous.
"The big fight in Tascosa had the Catfish Kid. Somehow there’s not a ring to it," he says.
It's a time that stays with us to this day.
"It is a time of some romance. Consider being the first person in a wide open country," Bill says.
O'Neal is just the third person to hold the title, State Historian of Texas.
He says his research shows, yes, Pat Garrett 'did' gun down 'Billy the kid.'
His books can be found on
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