Congratulations to Cori Clevenger (M.Div., 2020.) Her paper, “John Wesley Hardin: Preacher’s Kid and Convicted Killer,” was selected as the recipient of the Walter Vernon Essay Award for 2019. As winner, Clevenger received a $250 prize and the opportunity to present a summary of the paper to the Annual Meeting of the Texas United Methodist Historical Society. The meeting was held in April at the Central Texas Archives Center in Arlington, at the invitation of the Central Texas Archives and History Commission in Ft. Worth and Arlington.

Hardin (1853-1895) was an American Old West outlaw, gunfighter, and controversial folk icon. The son of a Methodist preacher, Hardin got into trouble with the law from an early age. He killed his first man at age 14, he claimed in self-defense. Pursued by lawmen for most of his life, he was sentenced in 1877 at age 24 to 25 years in prison for murder. When he was sentenced, Hardin claimed to have killed 42 men; however, he was well known for wildly exaggerating or completely making up stories about his life.  Within a year of his release in 1894, Hardin was killed by John Selman in an El Paso saloon.