Bass Outlaw … Ranger Lone Wolf

Our newest anthology “Give Me a Texas Ranger” came out last month, but along with promoting and celebrating a new release, I was knee deep in writing the next of the “Give Me …” series “Give Me a Texas Outlaw”.  Of course I’ve had Texas Rangers and outlaws on my mind for months, so what better to write about than a Ranger named Bass Outlaw?

One of my favorite ways to create a character is to tailor them after a real person (preferably none of your family). While visiting East Texas, I found a book about Bass Outlaw, an ex-Texas Ranger short on stature and long on attitude. Bass Outlaw a/k/a Ranger Little Wolf was a moody, strange, and little known Ranger. I mirrored one of my characters in “Texas Ranger”, Muley Mullinex, after him. It was a simple plan for him to be the town’s darlin’ during the day but when he went on a binge he would be my antagonist. However, from the get go Muley proved to be as obstinate on paper as Bass Outlaw was in real life.

Not to be confused with a much better known Ranger, Sam Bass, Bass Outlaw, whose name was thought to be Sebastian Lamar Outlaw was the black sheep of a genteel Georgia family. He had an inferiority complex we might call the “little man syndrome” today, since he was around 5’4” and weighed maybe 150 lbs. His eyes, cold and unfriendly, were pale blue. He sported a mustache best described as bushy, not the heavy, flowing types worn by the likes of Doc Holliday or Wyatt Earp which were the fashion of that era. If it wasn’t for his prowess with a rifle and a pistol he would not like have commanded any attention at all.

Beginning in E Company, Outlaw soon earned a solid reputation for himself as a quick draw with a deadly accurate shot. He could ride with the best, learned readily how to track even the faintest signs and was earmarked as a Ranger with a future. He climbed the ranks and historians have noted that he could have easily become a legendary Ranger such as William J. McDonald and James Gillette, but Bass Outlaw’s hair-trigger temper changed the course of his life … and history.

The personification of a prairie wolf, earned him his nickname, Lone Wolf. He was a loner, never volunteering anything about his past, never asking anyone about theirs. A moody, sullen, often cantankerous individual, he still possessed the qualities the Rangers required in those days on a wild and unsettled frontier. He was brave, wily and determined in battle. Outlaw was unpredictable in that he was either withdrawn or dangerously aggressive depending on his mood … and the amount of alcohol he’d consumed.

His head was on the chopping board more times than not, but generally after a good dressing down, his Captain would decide not to fire the arrogant lawman because of some heroic deed he’d done.

Bass Outlaw, Top Row, Second from Left

Like all lone wolves, his luck ran out. In 1893, after his Company had moved to a remote part of Texas southeast of El Paso, Bass was placed in charge of the unit while Captain Jones was away on business. 

 One day, after chugging rotgut once too often, Bass left the compound with no one in command and joined a poker game with a former Ranger which lead to his undoing. Bass lost the game and his temper, but had enough sense to know not to shoot up the place. Another former Ranger, Sheriff Jim Gillett, grabbed Bass and pulled him outside, managing to settle the dispute before there was any gunfire.

Needless to say when Captain Jones returned and got wind of the going ons he was furious and fired Bass Outlaw on the spot, ordering him out of camp pronto. 

Although it was a mess of his own makings, until Bass Outlaw drew his last breath, he held a grudge against the Rangers. His bone of contention was at first with Gillett, because he thought the sheriff had ratted him out. Later, Bass learned that the lawman had not reported his behavior.

Gillett was spared, as he was not the Ranger that Bass was destined to kill.

Bass Outlaw stayed out of trouble for a while and took on other jobs, including prospecting for gold and hidden treasures. Failing at all, he eventually caught the attention of the El Paso U.S. Marshall, another ex-Ranger, who hired him as a deputy.

Famed Ranger John Hughes predicted, rightfully so, that Little Wolf would someday kill another Ranger. This proved true when Outlaw entered into a squabble with a constable in El Paso by the name of John Selman, after going into a rant over a soiled dove. Outlaw shot him three times. Leaving the saloon, still sullen and dangerous, Outlaw was confronted by a young Ranger, Joe McKidrict, where Outlaw shot him dead. It is reported that was the only incident where a Texas Ranger has ever been killed by an active or former member of the fabled organization.

Ironically, John Selman recovered. Although the gunpowder damaged his vision and he walked with a cane, he killed the infamous John Wesley Hardin in a saloon in El Paso. Two years later, Selman was killed by Deputy U.S. Marshal George Scarborough in another El Paso saloon.

A witness to Bass Outlaw’s demise stated his last sound was a whimper, the kind a wolf tends to make when he knows his time is finished. For Bass Outlaw there were no flowers, no eulogy and no mourners … not even the soiled dove who proclaimed to love him. He was buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in El Paso, and his tombstone reads: “B.L. Outlaw, 1854-1894, 1st Sgt. Co. D. F. B., State Forces, Deputy U.S. Marshall.”

Now you can see why writing Muley Mullinex fought me tooth and toenail all along the way.  In “Give Me a Texas Ranger,” I referred to Captain Arrington, Hayden McGraw’s superior. Other than Mullinex, Arrington, and McGraw, do any of you remember the name of a fourth Texas Ranger I used in my story? 

I’m givin’ away an autographed copy of “Give Me a Texas Ranger” to the first person posting the correct answer.

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Phyliss
A native Texan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Phyliss Miranda still believes in the Code of the Old West and loves to share her love for antiques, the lost art of quilting, and the Wild West.

Visit her at phylissmiranda.com
Updated: August 31, 2010 — 12:52 pm

26 Comments

  1. This is just a guess, but is it Wynn McCord?

  2. Is It Wolf Hayward?

  3. Linda, what a great guess and a fantastic Ranger, but Wynn McCord was Jodi’s Ranger. Rebekah, you’ve given me the name of the best Ranger Jodi’s ever written, in my estimation. I absolutely love Wolf and remember him making snow angels! Unfortunately, both of these fabulous Rangers weren’t created by me, but thanks for the compliment.

  4. Hi Phyliss! I love the names these guys have. They’re so descriptive and they’ve all got such interesting stories. There were strong men indeed!

  5. Phyliss, Bass Outlaw certainly lived up to his name. Like you said, he probably suffered from the “little man” syndrome. I’ve really enjoyed learning about this particular Ranger. I’ve heard about him for years but never knew his story. Thank you so much for blogging on him. What struck me was the ease with which he moved from good guy to bad. Didn’t take any effort at all. But then the West was littered with men who couldn’t make up their minds if they wanted to be good and decent or a mean outlaw. Wyatt Earp definitely comes to mind on that as does Doc Holliday and a scores of others.

    Hope you get lots of comments today and get to give away that book. I love your story in GIVE ME A TEXAS RANGER. It was so funny. I love writing with you on these anthologies. Couldn’t ask for better writers.

  6. What a great character. I hate that he ended up shooting a Texas Ranger, though. The west was just full of fascinating men and women.

  7. Thanks, Vicki. Names get to be a challenge sometimes, as you know. At the moment with six anthologies and four authors, we have to keep up with 24 stories and names. Then there’s the other individual ST’s. Since our new Christmas anthology revisits Kasota Springs, Texas, it’s even more challenging to make sure we don’t walk on one another. I like strong names and work very hard to make sure the name fits the character…or at least the way I see them.

    Agree with you Mary about killing a Ranger. When I started working on the whole who killed who in El Paso, I thought … hum, the OK Corral didn’t have anything on El Paso. Bass Outlaw was interesting, and certainly not the typical Texas Ranger we write about; however, there were plenty just like him.

  8. Thanks, Linda. I think the best part of working with you three gals is sharing our ideas and developing our characters. That’s so much fun, and I’ve learned so much. There were a lot of colorful Texas Rangers for sure. My hero in “Outlaw” is a Ranger but not working in his official capacity, although the heroine doesn’t know that. I really enjoyed writing “Texas Ranger” mainly because I let my characters tell their story and it wasn’t anything like what I’d plotted out. Now that’s fun. I had one reviewer say that she applauded me for not giving away who the antagonist was until the very end. The reason … I didn’t know myself, so it was easy not to give it away. Like I said in my post, I’d plotted it to be Mullinex but he just didn’t cooperate. LOL

  9. Hi Phyliss! Fascinating character. Like Mary, it’s too bad that he ended up shooting a Texas ranger, but then not all Texas rangers were good guys.

    Ever seen that movie Geronimo — those Texas rangers were bad guys.

    I wish so much that we still had that part of the West with us today. We’ve lost much of it and with it a bit of our spirit, I think. Maybe that’s why I, too, write so much about the West. 🙂

  10. Phyliss, you always make me laugh. I guess it’d be awfully hard to give away a secret if we don’t know what the answer is! I feel that way as I write this Christmas anthology. I have no idea what’s going to happen next. The funny thing is I’ve never been a seat of the pants writer.

  11. Hi Phyliss,
    What a great character, but I’m not the least bit surprised that he killed a Texas Ranger. People tend to live up to their names and Outlaw did that.

  12. Hi Miss Karen Kay … I’ve seen the movie. Thanks for reminding me. Since the Rangers are so legendary and are remembered mostly as heros, sometimes we forget that some of them weren’t all that nice, but isn’t it wonderful that hero is the first word we think of when we hear Texas Ranger? I’m like you, wish today had some of the ol’ west left around. We need it.

  13. Hi Phyliss!

    What a great post! I had never heard of Bass Outlaw until you posted this. Very interesting! Everytime I read something like this, I’m struck again by how rough and tumble life was in the west, and remember again why I love to write western romance and read it. Thanks for this awesome information!

    Cheryl P.

  14. Hi Phyliss, Bass Outlaw is too fantastic a name not to share! Yowza, what a post you have here. I love all the stories in Give me a Texas Ranger which is a Kindle keeper, so I won’t be submitting a name. Send a copy to somebody else. oxoxox

  15. Hi Margaret and Cheryl, sometimes like you, I wish I lived in the rough and tumble old west without some of the problems of today but would certainly rather write about it! Since I live in the Texas Panhandle we have a little bit of a unique situation since our part of Texas was only settled about a hundred and thirty years ago, so we really still have some of that flavor left over. As a matter of fact, when we write about real people and real ranches in this area most likely we know some of the grand kids of those people. Our settlers seemed to have stuck around here. I love writing about the west for sure.

  16. Tanya, gotta love anyone who uses the word “keeper” with the name of our book! Thanks. So far, I’ve received one guess … so guess away. Thanks for stopping by.

  17. Too bad I don’t have my copy to look up the answer, but I did enjoy your story, Phyliss! Keep up the good work, ladies. These anthologies are great.

  18. Thanks for stopping by, Nat, and for your nice comments. As you know, we began writing the anthologies based on one only, then another one, then two more twice again over. We’re excited about the Christmas anthology.

  19. Very interesting, Phyliss. A fun way to learn some of our Texas history and pictures some new characters from those days! You made this one really come alive.

  20. Ranger Hayden McGrew Is this the fourth one?

  21. Thanks, Janda. Glad you liked him. He was fun to deal with. Edna, sorry but Hayden McGraw was my hero, although he was a Texas Ranger. Captain Arrington was a real Ranger who was over the Panhandle Rangers; and the other two were McGraw and Mullinex (fictional). I mentioned one other real Ranger. Glad you stopped by.

  22. I thought my question was going to be too easy, but I guess it was harder than I thought. I apologize. I used Bass Outlaw, not as a character, but as a reference. In Chapter 4 after Hayden proclaims Patience to be his wife to save her from a hangin’, he thinks to himself how stupid could one man be … he really doesn’t know her from Bass Outlaw.

    Since I made the question too difficult how about me giving a book to Linda Henderson who was the first person to comment at 1:30 in the morning!!! Linda, please email me at phylissmiranda@aol.com and give me your snail mail address. I’ll get the book off to you.

    It’s time to meander back up to the big house and fix me a big glass of sweet tea and think about the day. Thanks to everyone for dropping in. Hugs from Texas, Phyliss

  23. Phyliss,

    Your book sounds great Cannot wait to read it

    Walk in harmony,
    Melinda

  24. Avatar

    Congratulations, Linda. You will enjoy the book.

    I can’t believe I missed this post yesterday. Enjoyed it as usual, Phyliss. Too bad not all the good guys are always good.

  25. Thank you, my information is on the way.

  26. Interesting writing about “creating” a character. I’ve seen a lot of writing about this family member on the internet. As you may well imagine, most is rehashed from others’ writing. His name was Bazzlin Lamar Outlaw as hinted at on the photo of his tombstone. Sebastian Outlaw is a different person. Bazz or Bass as his nickname came to be, was known as the Little Wolf and not The Lone Wolf. He did, in fact come from a well to do family in Georgia. He was one of the guys no one wanted to hang out with, but, didn’t mind going on a patrol with because he didn’t hesitate to shoot and he was fast and good. We have some hints as to what led this man to his ways and eventual death, but, we will probably never know them all. May he rest in peace.

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