William Harrison Head


Traded His Colts 45’s for Horse and Saddle.

William Harrison Head Kirk Chapel/Schoolhouse

William Harrison Head was born May 10, 1852 in North Carolina. His parents were remembered to him only as “Ma” and “Pa.”  A lot transpired in his young life from the time his parents gathered up their meager possessions in the Tarheel state and headed west to Texas. That was during the days that a lot of people nailed a sign to the door that read G.T.T….Gone To Texas.

The Head family got as far as Illinois or Missouri when tragedy struck. After an illness with fever the elder heads died leaving the youngsters to be taken in by another family. The family took him, a sister, and a little brother. It was believed to have been a family named Johnson who took the needy children in tow. He only remembered in later years that he called his sister, “Sis,” no other named was recalled.

The Head Children were taken by the Johnsons to Texas and at times the children lived with different families. After all, things were rough in post war Texas too. When he was twelve years old young William Harrison Head took stock of his surroundings and did what he thought was best. He struck out on his own. He began to work odd jobs where he could find them. He learned the cowboy’s trade and how to handle himself on the range. He later spoke of working the great cattle magnate John Chrism on cattle drives from Texas to Kansas and northward. Ironically, Chrism had been born in the edge of Madison County, TN. he had worked his way in to Texas and then New Mexico before becoming known as the largest cattle dealer in the west.

William Harrison Head eventually wound up working for the Texas Rangers. It is not clear if he was a Texas Ranger or just worked in the capacity of serving papers and bounty hunting for them. It is known that he owned and wore a pair of Colt .45  revolvers on a heavy leather gun belt. These are not exactly the tools of a carpenter or brick mason, so he must have considered himself a professional lawman.

Sometime around 1892, the Texas lawman took a hankerin’ to move. At that point he left Texas, took a train and got off at Pocahontas TN. His friend in Pocahontas was Ben Carr, a well to do land owner. Carr have Head a job working in timber. Carr either bought or traded horses for the two Colt .45’s and gun belt. It wasn’t long before Head married Amanda Kirk. Their first born was Dan Head, born April 7,1894.

William Harrison Head lived until October 23, 1923. He had become a Baptist Preacher and preached in a log church at Kirk’s chapel in McNairy County. When he died they buried him in Kirk’s Cemetery, fifteen feet from the church where he preached. What became of the Colt’s and gun belt still remains unknown.

source: Bill Wagoner’s Wagon Spokes