William Preston Longley was born on October 16, 1815. We don’t know him as William Preston, but as Wild Bill Longley, a sadistic and murderous Old West gunman.
Although little is know about him as a young man, it’s generally accepted that before he was 20 years old, Longley had already killed several men. He was short-tempered and he frequently killed simply because he believed he had somehow been slighted or insulted. He had a particularly strong dislike of blacks.
Legend has it that Longley was once hanged along with a horse thief; but shots fired back by the departing posse cut his rope, and he was saved.
After killing a minister, Wild Bill fled Texas. But he was captured and returned to Lee County, Texas, where he was tried and found guilty of murder. Sentenced to hang, during his final days Longley became a Catholic, wrote long letters about his life, and claimed that he had actually only killed eight men. On the day of his execution, October 28, 1878, he climbed the steps to the gallows with a cigar in his mouth and told the gathered crowd that his punishment was just and God had forgiven him.
A noose was put around his neck, and he was hanged. Unfortunately, the rope slipped so that Longley’s knees hit the ground. After the hangman pulled the rope taut once more, Wild Bill Longley slowly choked to death. It took 11 minutes before he was pronounced dead.