A generous amount of booze flowed among the men gathered around a table in the darkened saloon, laughing in disbelief at the outrageous tales rolling off the tongue of outlaw and former lawman James McIntire.


On this particular night, McIntire regaled the group with a tale about when he served as deputy sheriff of Mobeetie, Texas.

According to McIntire, he kicked two deadly gunmen out of town for trying to run a scam involving the sale of phony gold bricks from a lost conquistador gold mine. The two scammers, he revealed, were Wyatt Earp and Mysterious Dave Mather.

Not surprisingly, it’s probably best to judge this story’s accuracy—and others—with a healthy dose of skepticism because of McIntire’s story-telling track record. 

His most outlandish story claimed he once died, went to heaven, and engaged in a face-to-face conversation with Christ. 

After a long conversation with Christ, McIntire said he was allowed to return to his body for several more years.  

This near-death experience appeared in his 1902 autobiography, Early Days in Texas: A Trip Through Hell and Heaven

After surviving a smallpox epidemic that struck the Oklahoma community, McIntire decided to write the book where he lived in 1901.

The story never caught on with the public. The book sold only a few copies, probably because of McIntire’s reputation for a vivid imagination. 

McIntire’s revelations always carried loads of shock value. For example, he once saw a companion killed and eaten by Comanche warriors.

McIntire also disclosed an incident where he fashioned a purse from the breast of a Comanche woman. These kinds of stories never failed to raise red flags about his credibility.

During his days on the frontier, McIntire wore many hats and straddled both sides of law and order.

Pinkerton Detective Charles Siringo, in one of his books, described McIntire as a man with “a nervous disposition” who “had shot and killed several men.”

Others described McIntire as “quick on the trigger.” 

Born Isaac McIntyre in Brown County, Ohio, in 1854, he preferred using his father’s name, Jim or James. As a teenager, McIntyre tried his hand as a telegraph operator and later worked on steamboats on the Ohio River. 

Seeking more adventure, McIntire headed West in 1873 and spent time ranching and hunting buffalo. He also got into the sheep-herding business.

After settling in Mobeetie for a while to operate a saloon, he won an election to the Wheeler County Commission. 

1879 McIntire traveled to Dodge City, Kansas, to join Ford County Sheriff Bat Masterson

The two men organized a group of gunmen on behalf of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. They fought for access rights to silver mines in Leadville, Colorado.

During McIntire’s varied career, he served as a Texas Ranger, became city marshal of Las Vegas, New Mexico, fought Indians, and turned outlaw.

At one point, authorities identified him as a suspect in the deaths of two men near Silver City, New Mexico, and posted a one-thousand dollar reward for his capture.

McIntire said his adventures included run-ins or associations with gunmen Billy the Kid, “Longhair Jim” Courtright, Sam Bass, “Mysterious Dave” Mather, and Dave Rudabaugh.

McIntyre eventually married and settled in Mountain View, Oklahoma.

After the publication of his book, he dropped out of sightHe died between 1910 and 1916, but exactly how and where is unknown.



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4 comments to “TO HEAVEN AND BACK”

  • Hi Tom,
    Go easy on the judgement of McIntyre’s “outlandish” story of his trip to Heaven. He probably embellished his adventures but many, many people have experienced that “trip to Heaven”, me included. Your recount of his story happened to me. I stood at a threshold and was beckoned to cross over by a warm inviting voice. What I saw and felt defies description. Most of us call it Heaven but I think it’s another dimension that we don’t or can’t understand. I simply said “oh no, not now…I have so much to do”…and I was released. If that is death…there is nothing to fear. This wonderous life we live here on planet Earth pales in comparison to what’s to come.

  • Hi Tom–thanks for reading the story and taking the time to share such an incredible story. Perhaps I’ll have to reconsider McIntyre’s journey to the afterlife because of your experience. Believing death is not to be feared is a powerful message you deliver and one most would welcome.

  • Shelley Sutton

    Hmm. I was going to suggest that perhaps McIntyre got too familiar with the hallucinogens found in the desert, considering some of his outlandish stories. But I do believe people have had near death experiences, seeing Heaven.
    I always thought Wyatt Earp was a good guy. Maybe thats because my Grandmother was so enamored with him.. she never missed a show. Everything came to a screeching halt when it came time for her “programs” (as she called them back then).

  • He Shelley–He may have stashed some away in the desert. Only a higher power would not for sure. And, you’re right, I’ve read several accounts of people experiencing heaven or “White bright light” that provided incredible calm. Wyatt Earp, like a lot of lawmen back then sometimes walked both sides of the thin line of law and order. BUt I like your Grandmother’s view of himn, as well as her loyalty. Thanks for stopping by.

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