Wes Hardin’s Child Bride: One of the Old West’s Shortest Marriages The marriage lasted only five days before the bride headed for home.

Child Bride Callie Lewis True West Magazine
Wes Hardin’s child bride Callie Lewis.

John Wesley Hardin was released on February 17th, 1894 after serving more than fifteen and a half years of a twenty-five year sentence behind bars. Two years earlier his wife Jane died of an undisclosed illness.  He moved to Gonzales to be near his children but soon moved on.

He headed for the Hill Country to a town called London, where, after a brief courtship, he married 15-year-old Carolyn “Callie” Jane Lewis, whose parents owned a local hotel.  Legend has it he won her in a poker game with her father. Callie became infatuated with the legendary gunman and they decided to marry and move to Kerrville.

The marriage lasted only five days before the bride headed for home.  Hardin biographer, Leon Metz, put the correct perspective on John and Callie’s wedding: “Callie was fifteen and one-half and acted every bit of it; John Wesley Hardin was forty-one and feeling every day of it.”

Hardin had lost nearly sixteen years of his youth in the state prison. He must have thought his adolescence was simply dormant until recalled; he did not realize until now that it was gone forever. Furthermore, the headstrong, tempestuous nature of Callie, which had originally charmed and fascinated Hardin, was starting to irritate him.

Soon after, he moved west to El Paso where he opened a law practice. J.W. hadn’t given up on love and soon he was warming the bed of a buxom, blonde, ex-prostitute named Beulah M’rose.

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Marshall Trimble

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and the Wild West History Association’s vice president. His latest book is 2018’s Arizona Oddities: A Land of Anomalies and Tamales. Send your question, with your city/state of residence, to marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu or Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327.