I am researching my mysterious ancestor named Lewis Gardner. He was born c. 1810 SC, migrated to GA where he married, fathered children, and farmed. He then migrated to MS where he owned a farm. His wife divorced him and he went to Texas after the Civil War. Lewis lived in Houston County for a time and spent his last years in Johnson County, Texas.

He probably got remarried, but family lore says that Lewis had a reputation as a bad man and that he was later supposedly killed by horse thieves at a place pronounced 'Natchez' near Brownsville, Texas.

Do you know of a place pronounced 'Natchez' near Brownsville?

Would you know of any Brownsville newspapers from about 1865 - 1880?

Any note of a mysterious gunfighter named Lewis Gardner in south Texas?

He was said to have been involved in a gunfight near the King Ranch and was also said to have been ambushed and supposedly killed in a gunfight while transporting horses to Louisiana to be sold.

Their was also supposed to have been a postcard of him taken at Brownsville, Texas.

Thank you,
Corey Gardner

I did a little digging on this one and here is what I found. Ancestry.com shows a Lewis Gardner, son of John Gardner born in 1810 in South Carolina. He died in 1880 in Dallas County, Texas. Not sure if this is your ancestor but might be. The Handbook of Texas has nothing on Nachez, Texas near Brownsville. I think you might want to spend some time doing research on this at the Barker Texas History Center at U.T. in Austin. Search their excellent vertical files and see what you find. The Barker Center also has the most complete collection of Texas Newspapers on microfilm available and should have Brownsville newspapers for that time period. Also, search King Ranch and see if you can't find something about the gunfight. I know there are several books on the King Ranch but do not have any in my library. The Barker should have this also. Good luck and let us know what you find about your gunfighter of South Texas. Gj


Thank you I will try that and a friend of mine told me that they had another great library in Houston.

I heard that most Brownsville events were mentioned in the Corpus Christi newspapers and that the Galveston papers mentioned a number of events as well.

Most people have researched northeast Texas and southwest Texas shootists, but you know that Brownsville was a wild town although nothing is really noted of their slingers of the sixes.

Lewis Gardner was born abt. 1810 SC and most internet references say he died abt. 1880 in Dallas County, Texas, but that's only because they figure he lived with his son Wiley Gardner, who was a prominent man in the Dallas area. The only record I have found of Lewis Gardner's death, is of his son's biography which stated that Lewis lived in Houston County for a time and spent his last years in Johnson County, which sounds right because I did find that he probably remarried to a wealthy widow around 1866, probably trading and selling horses. Their is a place called Neches north of Houston County as well as a Port Neches near Beaumont where Lewis was said to have lived for a time. The supposed postcard of him is what makes me think he earned his reputation as a bad man in Brownsville. He was in his fifties or sixties when he lived in Texas, he was said to have had a rough, dangerous look about him according to a probable descendant.

They did have a noted desperado named Jim Garner who was lynched for a shooting in 1866 at Corpus Christi.

I also research other gunslingers named Gardner, such as a gunman named "Lige" Gardner who was noted in the great book titled "Pages from a Worker's Life" by William Z. Foster. Elijah Gardner had worked as a timekeeper for the Southern Pacific railroad at Echo, Texas near Beaumont and he had suffered from Bright's disease. He used to say, "If I've got to cash - in I might as well take along some of my enemies". Gardner had killed a couple of white men and several blacks; he was saved from prosecution by his aristocratic connections (his family had owned many slaves and a big plantation and I believe Gardner had earned a reputation during the Reconstruction Era). He was polite, but gun in hand, he terrorized the Mexican laborers. Foster knew him around 1901 while working as a cook for a Southern Pacific repair crew and I guess the railroad hired Gardner as a timekeeper boss mainly because of his reputation as a gunman.

I am also researching a Gardner Gang who operated in the Southwest, I believe it was operated by a man named Jerry Gardner.

Thank you,

Add Comment
Comments are not available for this entry.