Shotgun John Collins

Shotgun John Collins

Shotgun John Collins (November 22, 1851 - December 3, 1922) was a little known, though well associated, gunfighter of the Old West.

Born Abraham G. Graham, in Horry County, South Carolina, Collins was raised in an old plantation environment, with a well respected South Carolina family. His great grandfather, Captain Edward Connor, served in the South Carolina Militia during the American Revolution, under Francis Marion, aka "The Swamp Fox". His father, Hosea A. Graham, had married his first cousin, later Martha Ann Graham, and while Collins was still a child the family moved to Texas.

While still in his teens, Collins was sought by lawmen for cattle rustling, and fled Texas for the New Mexico Territory. While in White Oaks, New Mexico, around 1879, he became associated with Billy the Kid, and for a time rode with him. Billy the Kid was wanted at the time, and moving around often, and for a time Collins accompanied him, but eventually they went their separate ways. He also met Wyatt Earp, then working for Wells Fargo, as well as Pat Garrett. He later worked as a buffalo hunter, and a US Cavalry Scout during the Army's struggle with Geronimo and the Apache. He also owned his own small ranch for a time in New Mexico.

Collins had changed his name from Graham to his great grandfathers name when he left Texas, going by John Collins, to avoid trouble with the law on the earlier cattle rustling issue, but sometimes went by John Graham. Collins also worked, for a time, riding shotgun for Wells Fargo, and during this time his bond with Earp became strong. It was during this period that he became known, due to the numerous shootings he was involved in associated with his work, and from which his nickname "Shotgun" came.

Collins drifted for a time, through El Paso, Texas, and later to Dodge City, Kansas. At times he took part in outlaw activities, while at others he served as a member of posse's. In 1883 he came to Dodge City with Wyatt Earp to support Luke Short during what became known as the Dodge City War. In the famous photographs in which Wyatt Earp, Luke Short, Bat Masterson, Charlie Bassett, M.F. McClain, Neal Brown, William H. Harris, and W.F. Petillion are pictured, as well as a less circulated copy that excludes Petillion and includes Bill Tilghman, Collins was present, as well as Johnny Millsap, "Texas Jack" Vermillion, and several others considered part of the "Dodge City Peace Commission". However they chose not to be in the photograph.

Although little known today, Collins was respected in his day as a gunman, by his fellow gunfighter associates, as well as being well known to the public. He was never involved in any well known gunfights, with most of his notoriety coming from his days riding shotgun for Wells Fargo, and his association with the other members of the Dodge City Peace Commission. Some accounts say he was killed in a gunfight in the 1890s, but this is not the case. In reality, he did die in a gunfight, but at the age of 71, in El Paso during a dispute.

External links

* [ Shotgun John Collins]
* [ Dodge City Peace Commission]
* [ List of Little Known Gunfighters]
* [ Bat Masterson Association with Shotgun Collins]
* [ Old West Tales]
* [ Wyatt Earp]
* [ In Support of Luke Short]
* [ Wyatt Earp]
* [ Shotgun Collins]
* [ Western Stars game]

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