RUDOLPH L. BIESELE, Editor
Jeff Milton: A Good Man with a Gun. By J. Evetts Haley. Nor-
man (University of Oklahoma Press), 1948. Pp. xiii+43o.
Drawings by H. D. Bugbee. $5.00.
This is the fascinating profile of a man who lived principally,
and honorably, by his gun. Jeff Davis Milton (1861-1947) lived
dangerously and flamboyantly most of his life in the then sparse-
ly-settled areas of Texas, Arizona, Mexico, and New Mexico. In
the varied capacity of Texas Ranger, privately-employed stage-
coach guard, police officer, and the like, he survived several bul-
lets, ambushes, and the natural hazards of the uncharted plains
country to die peacefully in Tucson.
He was, indeed, a good man with a gun. But by his own state-
ment Milton never killed "a man that didn't need killing." And
when he shot animals it was strictly for meat. The evidence
voluminously offered in this biography seems to substantiate the
statement. Jeff Milton was probably a William Wallace on
horseback, a man who simultaneously possessed a deadly trigger
finger and a strict code of honor.
Evetts Haley became interested in Milton when he met the
former Ranger at a Texas Ranger reunion in 1932. Thereafter,
for a period of eleven years, he meticulously ran down informa-
tion concerning the fabulous personality. The trail, he reports
in a prefatory note, took him from the Canadian River to the
Gulf of California.
Much of the story here so well presented was obtained from
conventional sources-old newspapers, state records, letters, and
the like. Added to this were conversations with a multitude of
witnesses of the exploits of Milton. These reminiscences were
weighed and reduced to writing. Research into all phases of the
subject's career was obviously carried out painstakingly and with
great care for the ultimate, truthful impression.
What you get, then, is the story, not only of a "character" but
the reflection of the life of an era and the day-by-day existence
of an old-time Ranger. The Milton travels took him to the early
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 53, July 1949 - April, 1950. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101126/. Accessed October 21, 2014.