John King Fisher, rancher,
outlaw, and lawman, 5'-9" 135 lbs, was born in Collin County [northeast
of Dallas] in 1854, the son of Joby and Lucinda (Warren) Fisher. Just
before the Civil War the family moved to Florence, Williamson County [north
of Austin]. In 1869 Fisher was accused of stealing a horse after he borrowed
it without telling the owner. He was arrested by a posse but reportedly
escaped with the help of the horse's owner, who had decided not to press
charges. Fisher made his way to Goliad, Texas [north of Corpus Christi]
where he was arrested again, this time for housebreaking, and sent to
prison. After being pardoned four months later, he moved to Dimmit County
and established a ranch on Pendencia Creek [near Eagle Pass and the border
of Mexico, southwest of San Antonio]. The region, known as the Nueces
Strip, was a lawless area, where cattle rustling was the major industry.
Fisher, relying on both patronage and intimidation, quickly established
himself as one of the leaders of the Strip, and his ranch became a haven
for drifters, criminals, and rustlers in the region.
He apparently rode with Mexican rustlers, even killing as many as ten
before emerging as the leader of the bunch, which sometimes amounted to
as many as one hundred. It was reported that he traded stolen Mexican
cattle for stolen Texas cattle with the eventual president of Mexico,
He was an imposing figure, once described by Texas Ranger N. A. Jennings
as wearing an ornamented Mexican sombrero, a black Mexican jacket embroidered
with gold, a crimson sash, and boots, with two silver-plated, ivory-handled
revolvers swinging from his belt [also Bengal tiger skin chaps]. In the
section where he reigned, Fisher was feared and respected. A certain road
branch bore the sign: "This is King Fisher's road. Take the other."
Fisher reportedly placed the sign to distinguish between his private road
and the public road, but many at the time viewed it as evidence of the
extent of Fisher's power and control.
In addition to operating his ranch, Fisher was evidently engaged in cattle
rustling in Texas and Mexico, and his escapades led more than once to
violence. He was arrested at various times by the famous Texas Ranger
captain Leander McNelly and his successor Lee Hall. Charged with murder
and horse and cattle theft, he managed to avoid conviction, but his legal
ordeals took their toll, and Fisher decided to live a quieter life. He
married in April 1876 and later bought a ranch near Eagle Pass.
At some point during this period, he owned the Sunset Saloon.
In 1881 he was appointed deputy sheriff of Uvalde County. He became acting
sheriff in 1883 after the sheriff was indicted. He turned out to be an
efficient and popular lawman and made plans to run for the office in 1884.
But on the night of March 11, 1884, in the Vaudeville Variety Theater
in San Antonio, Fisher and his companion, noted gunman Ben Thompson, were
involved in a shootout brought on by a quarrel between Thompson and the
theater's owners. Both Fisher and Thompson were killed in the melee.