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Only Known Photo of Cullen Baker - History's Most Notorious Outlaw

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Found in family “Civil War chest” and amazingly surviving over 150 years of floods and fires… the only known picture of Cullen Montgomery Baker. What is commonly known as a Tin Type photo, it is believed to be an Ambrotype which was the product of choice for photographers who plied their trade throughout the Ark-La-Tex region during the mid-1800's. 

Those living in Northeast Texas and the Ark-La-Tex region have likely heard tales of Baker, there have been well over a dozen books and magazine articles written about his life. He was certainly a controversial figure both after the Civil War and maybe even more so today. Baker was no angel; he was possibly the deadliest outlaw in history killing an estimated 200+ who supported Reconstruction. In 1973 the Cullen Baker Country Fair was founded as a sort of family reunion to bring home those Bloomburg and Cass County descendants who migrated their families away from our small rural communities in search of opportunities the larger urban centers had to offer. After a 2-year hiatus due to Covid restrictions, the fair resumed again November of 2022.  

During his youth, Baker's family migrated from Tennessee along with many other Cass County pioneers and his father would establish a large farm just North of Bloomburg, he would spend a majority of his life in the region. He married two women in the area, fathering one known child. In 1869 he would be murdered at his father-in-law's farm and his body transported down the Jefferson, Texas for collecting the government's reward money. Baker is buried in Oakwood Cemetery near Diamond Bessie's gravesite. 

Baker’s weapon of choice was an 1847 Colt .44 which he is seen holding in this photo, only 1,100 were produced with a majority of those issued to Confederate soldiers. Baker was known to draw left-handed which matches the negative photo showing the correct side of the 1847 Colt. Unfortunately, there are no previously known photos of him despite what may be seen online or in books, but here there is certainly provenance and clues that point directly to this being an image of history’s most notorious outlaw, Cullen Montgomery Baker.

Cullen small.jpg

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I believe Vestal's is the most historically accurate. She's from the area (actually a cousin of mine) and grew up hearing stories from the old-timers. Orr was involved with killing Baker and obviously tells the story from his perspective. All good reads here:


o   L’Amour – The First Fast Draw

o   Chapman – The Robin Hood of Caddo Lake: Life and Legend of Cullen Baker

o   Hartman – I Rode with Cullen Baker

o   Bartholomew – Cullen Baker: Premier Texas Gunfighter

o   Eason – Cullen Baker: Purveryor of Death and other Stories

o   Crouch/Brice – Cullen Montgomery Baker: Reconstruction Desperado

o   Teel – Cullen Montgomery Baker: Champion of the Lost Cause

o   Taylor – Swamp Fox of the Sulphur

o   Orr – Cullen Baker: From Childhood to Death

o   Vestal – The Borderlands and Cullen Baker

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