Preston "Wild Bill" Longley 1851-1878
William Preston "Wild
Bill" Longley was born on Mill Creek in Austin County, Texas 6 Oct
1851, the son of Campbell Longley. The Henry Anderson family is on the
1850 census in Austin County near the Campbell Longley family. In 1853
Campbell bought a farm about three miles west of Evergreen (just north
of Giddings), Washington (now Lee) County, Texas and the 1860 census shows
that the Longley and Anderson families must have moved together from the
Mill Creek area to the Evergreen area as the brother, Cale Longley, of
Campbell is a next door neighbor of Henry Anderson who married Caroline
Willingham, parents of Wilson Anderson.
The 16 Sept 1877 issue of the Galveston News printed an extensive story
on Bill Longley as "related by Longley to a News reporter";
this story and several others concerning Bill Longley are reprinted in
THE HISTORY OF LEE COUNTY, TEXAS.
Bill Longley's first troubles occurred when, after a conflict, he killed
a Negro near Evergreen shortly before 10 Dec. 1866. To avoid the authorities
Bill left the area to go westward and obtained employment as a cowboy
with John Reagan of Karnes County, Texas. In April 1867 on his way home
he was mistaken for Charlie Taylor of the Taylor party and was chased
by a Calvary Regiment; Bill escaped after killing one of the soldiers.
This encounter resulted in a $1,000 reward being offered for his capture
by the military authorities; Bill soon left for Arkansas.
Bill Longley wandered wide and far with trouble his constant companion.
He relates stories of outlaws and killings in Arkansas, Texas, Indian
Territory, Missouri, Nebraska, Wyoming Territory, Iowa, Kansas. For a
while Bill used the name Tom Jones. Finally, Bill returned home to his
father's farm in Texas, but left again after a mob was going to capture
him for the $1,000 reward previously offered by the military. Trouble
and killings traveled with Bill as he attempted to work at various ranches
in western Texas and he finally returned home to his father's ranch only
to leave soon after for Mason County where he traveled under the name
William Henry. Here he was recognized by the sheriff of Mason County,
Mr. Finley, who befriended, followed, and finally, with the help of a
posse, captured Bill and took him to Austin to collect the $1,000 reward.
In Austin Finley was informed by Governor Davis that the reward could
not be collected; William Patterson of Austin, a cousin of Longley's,
gave Finley $500 in gold, and Bill Longley was released.
After a short stay at his father's farm, Bill left and wandered across
the state always encountering trouble. Again he returned home and heard
of the death of his cousin, Cale Longley, son of Cale Longley Sr., and
that Cale had been killed by Wilson Anderson on 31 March 1875. Other stories
related that Cale Longley was killed when his horse went under a limb
and knocked him off as he and Wilson Anderson, his next door neighbor,
were returning home from Giddings, but this story did not satisfy Bill
who went to the field where Anderson was at work and shot him with a double-barreled
After killing Anderson, Bill was on the run again; he used the names Jim
Patterson and William Black; he finally wound up in De Soto Parish, LA
were he was arrested by Sheriff Milton Mast of Nacogdoches, Texas after
being recognized by a deputy of the sheriff of De Soto Parish. Bill Longley
was returned to Giddings, Lee County, Texas where he was charged with
the murder of Wilson Anderson; Bill is credited with killing thirty-two
Bill was tried 3 Sept 1877 in Lee County, convicted of the murder of Wilson
Anderson, and hanged 11 Oct 1878. "The widow of Wilson Anderson,
who attended the execution with her two children, was satisfied that Longley
Dr. Katherine Willingham Woerner
(1) Summer/Fall 2002 Daughters
of the Republic of Texas newsletter, Daughters' Reflections
(2) History of Lee County, Texas.
(3) Yeats, John W. "Facts of Longley Hanging Explained", HOUSTON
POST-DISPATCH, Magazine Section, Houston, Texas, October 25, 1931, p.