I’ve heard there was a passenger on the Titanic named William P. Longley, and that someone from the family of Wild Bill Longley identified the traveler as the outlaw. Evidently, Longley faked his death only to sink along with the Titanic. Is that true?

I’ve heard there was a passenger on the Titanic named William P. Longley, and that someone from the family of Wild Bill Longley identified the traveler as the outlaw. Evidently, Longley faked his death only to sink along with the Titanic. Is that true?

George McGee
Dover, Arkansas

That tale is about as true as Jesse James not dying at the hands of Bob Ford. Wild Bill Longley was one of those nefarious Texas badmen who ran with a pack of murderers and rapists, until his capture in 1877. He wrote his memoirs from his cell, claiming to have killed 32 men.

Sentenced to hang, he must have figured he’d have to do some tall explaining to St. Peter because he dropped his number to eight. In jail, he found religion and was baptized. On October 11, 1878, the day of his hanging, he sang “Amazing Grace,” prayed and told stories, and then he went to the scaffold to meet his Maker. Wild Bill Longley’s hanging wasn’t pretty; when he dropped, his feet touched the ground and he died of strangulation. His body was buried in Giddings, Texas.

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