Millard Gardner

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Millard Gardner (1903–1989) was a noted Texas lawman known as the "Dry Wolf" during Prohibition, later being elected Police Chief of Highland Park near Dallas, Texas.

Early life and family[edit]

Millard M. Gardner was born on August 16, 1903 at Dallas County, Texas. He came from a pioneer Texas family and it was said that the name Gardner was synonymous with "Rough on Rats". His father was Henry Gardner, a deputy sheriff, and his uncle, Dick Gardner, was a noted undercover narcotics detective. Gardner's brother, 6' 6 noted Dallas police sergeant Buryl Gardner was also another tough lawman in the family of note.

Career as a lawman[edit]

Gardner worked odd jobs during his youth, such as working for his father's contracting business and bossing a threshing rig in the Panhandle. While building houses, doctors ordered Gardner to quit. Out of work at age twenty - two he began his career in law enforcement. Gardner made his living as a bounty hunter from 1925 to 1927, serving summons from the courthouse and hunting bootleggers alone.

Gardner was a "one - man reign of terror" among bootleggers during Prohibition. They called him the "Dry Wolf". It was said that "Dry Wolf" Gardner would go to a speakeasy, have a drink, and walk out. Then he would raid the place.

Gardner set a record of the thousands of illegal alcohol he poured out and raided several moonshine stills along the Trinity River bottoms. The "Dry Wolf" would walk upon a shotgun guard at a still and take control. Although it was dangerous work, a newspaper reported, "Dry Wolf Gardner was too easy going to be afraid".

A medical problem in 1927 ended his career as a deputy sheriff and as a "one man prohibition squad". He then joined the Highland Park Police force and served as a motorcycle officer until an injury. Gardner then served in a squad car, being involved in car chases and standoffs with outlaws.

Highland Park[edit]

Gardner, at age 36, described as 6' 1, trim build with broad shoulders, tanned face, and always neatly groomed and wearing a suit, was elected as Chief of Police in Highland Park. The cigar - toting, handsome Millard Gardner kept Highland Park safe during his reign from 1939 until 1950, even being Provost Marshal of a nearby military base. However he retired from law enforcement, attending to his family.

Later life[edit]

Millard Gardner suffered the death of his brother, Buryl Gardner, in 1948, and later the death of his son, Hugh, in 1953 after a car accident. Afterwards, his other son, Henry Gardner, also a legend in police work, was elected as Police Chief of Highland Park, as well as being a firefighter. Millard M. Gardner died from lung cancer in 1989 at Dallas, Texas.


Dallas Morning News