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By Bartee Haile

Always willing to oblige fellow Texans, Phil Coe agreed on Oct. 10, 1871 to give four dozen cowboys a guided tour of Abilene when they arrived the next day in the Kansas cowtown.

As adept at making friends as filling an inside straight, Philip Haddox Coe was so popular that a company of Confederates elected him their lieutenant. However, as soon as the sixfoot- four civilian learned a uniform went with the rank, he skedaddled to Mexico.

Coe returned to Texas after the southern surrender and opened a saloon in Austin. When it came to fleecing the patrons, he preferred the personal touch, but the brisk business soon required the services of a second cardsharp. So he hired Ben Thompson and got Texas’ fastest gun in the bargain.


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