Joseph Alfred SladeJoseph Alfred "Jack" Slade, (January 22, 1831 – March 10, 1864), was a stagecoach and Pony Express superintendent, instrumental in the opening of the American West and the archetype of the Western gunslinger.
Born in Carlyle, Illinois, he was the son of Illinois politician Charles Slade and Mary Dark (Kain) Slade. During the Mexican War, he served in the U.S. Army that occupied Santa Fe, 1847-48. After his father's death, Slade's mother married Civil War General Elias Dennis.
He married Maria Virginia (maiden name unknown) around 1857. In the 1850s, he was a freighting teamster and wagonmaster along the Overland Trail, and then became a stagecoach driver in Texas, around 1857-58. He subsequently became a stagecoach division superintendent along the Central Overland route for Hockaday & Co. (1858–59) and its successors Jones, Russell & Co. (1859) and Central Overland, California & Pike's Peak Express Co. (1859–62). With the latter concern, he also helped launch and operate the Pony Express in 1860-61. All were critical to the communication between the East and California. As superintendent, he enforced order and assured reliable cross-continental mail service, maintaining contact between Washington, DC, and California on the eve of Civil War.
While division superintendent, he shot and killed Andrew Ferrin, one of his subordinates, who was hindering the progress of a freight train, in May 1859. At the time, shooting deaths of this kind in the West were rare and Jack Slade's reputation as a "gunfighter" spread rapidly across the country.
In March 1860, Slade was ambushed and left for dead by Jules Beni, the corrupt stationkeeper at Julesburg, Colorado, whom Slade had removed. Slade remarkably survived, and in August 1861, Beni was killed by Slade's men after ignoring Slade's warning to stay out of his territory.
Slade's ferocious reputation, though, combined with a drinking problem, caused his downfall. He was fired by the Central Overland for drunkenness in November 1862. During a drunken spree in Virginia City, Montana, he was lynched by local vigilantes on March 10, 1864, for disturbing the peace. He was buried in Salt Lake City, Utah, on July 20, 1864. __NOTOC__ Provided by Wikipedia