Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wild West Myths

Hi everyone. First I want to say how excited I am to be a part of this wonderful blog. It's great being able to join the ladies here.

A little about me, I write historical cowboy romance {at various publisher stages} and most recently I've dived into hands on research for a contemporary cowboy romance series. I've also been poking around a bit in the Civil War era.

Today I wanted to keep my first post light and hopefully fun. No matter what the topic, I love hearing about how things were said to be versus how they really were.

1) Myth: It's often said that settlers were constantly battling the Indians. Murderous ambushes were at every dusty turn.
Truth: There were, no doubt, messy and blood battles with Calvary. However, the random attacks on settlers were few and far between. There were hundreds of thousands of settlers and it's tracked that, in reality, several hundred, at most, died this way.

2) Myth: Train robberies were everywhere.
Truth: In reality, train robbery was very hard to pull off and didn't span over numerous years {1865-1875}. Trains generally had hired mercenaries riding to protect their trains. Would anyone go unprotected knowing there was potential danger? Evidently only to make a good story ;) It's said that from 1859-1900 less than 12 robberies took place.

3) Myth: The West was filled with murder.
Truth: Not in reality {again, makes for great story telling though}. An estimate of 70 out of every 100,000 people died this way. It's way better than our statistics in this day and age.

4) Myth: Cowboys were created in the Wild West.
Truth: The cowboy was actually a Mexican cattleman known as vaqueros. They created the original cowboy lingo {most still used today} as well as wore chaps and had rodeos. So they are rumored to be 20 o 200 years of cowboy before "our" cowboy showed up.

In reality, most of the violence was, in fact, government instigated and caused. There wasn't a ton of attacks or murders for random settlements. The dangerous Wild West was new and a difficult life, but, in reality, they really were pretty safe.

I'm not sure if I was a little disappointed to learn this or not. I mean, don't we all remember John Wayne and his movies. Hundreds of people died in each movie and it gave the original West a picture that allowed us to think of how brave everyone was. How tough it was. How dangerous each day had to be.

On the other hand, I'm relived to see it wasn't exactly quite a rough as thought. Yes, day to day life was still very difficult. You had settlements that tried to provide everything, by hand, for the people in it. Could you image doing that with your city or town in this day?

I was also surprised to see that the West, in fact, had camel. Yes, camel. Those you won't see in many {if any} westerns. It was also filled with a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. It was not 95% white.

I'm pleasantly sure that our westerns and cowboy stories won't change...but it's nice to know there wasn't constant death surrounding those that brought life to the frontier.

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