Wednesday, June 11, 2014

#WildWest #Facts #DidYouKnow

The more I write my historical cowboy books, the more I discover about the truth of the West. It's not as wild and black or white as most movies and books would have you believe.


Wyatt Earp was neither the town marshal or the sheriff in Tombstone, Arizona at the time of the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral. His brother Virgil was the town marshal, who had temporarily deputized Wyatt, Morgan and Doc Holliday prior to the gunfight.

The Oregon Trail, from Independence, Missouri to Fort Vancouver, Washington measured 2,020 miles. An estimated 350,000 emigrants took the Oregon Trail but one out of seventeen would not survive the trip. The most common cause of death was cholera.

Mike Fink was a keel boatman along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and an expert marksman. However, he loved his drink and was a known brawler. One of his favorite games was to shoot a mug of brew from the top of some fellow's head. However, on one night in 1823, he had drank so much that it didn't matter how good were his shooting skills. This time he missed and killed the guy who was wearing the mug on his head. In no time, the dead man's friends retaliated by killing Fink. For whatever reasons, his legend was being told for decades along with the likes of Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill.

The Colt Peacemaker, the weapon that became known as "the gun that won the West” was a .45-caliber manufactured by Colt’s Fire Arms Manufacturing Company in Hartford, Connecticut in 1873. At the time it sold for $17.00.


Though the term "stick 'em up" is widely used in Western films, it wasn't actually coined until the 1930's.

The Infamous Dalton Gang only operated for one year and five months, beginning with a train robbery in Wharton, Oklahoma on May 9, 1891 and ending at the shootout at Coffeyville, Kansas on October 5, 1892.

The main characters of the Dalton Gang – brothers, Grat, Bob and Emmett all wore badges before moving to the other side of the law.

Jesse James was shot in the back by Bob Ford on April 3, 1882, in St. Joseph, Missouri. Professed to be a friend of James, Ford was reviled for shooting James from behind and was forever known as a "coward.” Ten years later, he himself was himself shot to death in Creede, Colorado.


On November 24, 1835, the Republic of Texas established a force of frontiersmen called the "Texas Rangers”. The rangers were paid $1.25 per day for their services. The members of The Texas Rangers were said to be able to "ride like a Mexican, shoot like a Kentuckian, and fight like the devil."

The famous Goodnight-Loving Trail was established in 1866 between Fort Belknap, Texas and Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Oliver Loving was later killed by Indians on the trail bearing his name. Goodnight, on the other hand, died a wealthy man in his nineties in 1929.

During the course of his 21 year tenure at Fort Smith, Judge Isaac Parker sentenced 160 men and women to death for convictions of Rape or Murder; of this total, only 79 men actually were executed on the gallows. The Judge only handed down the death sentences, he did not attend the executions or participate in them in any official capacity.

On September 8, 1883, Sitting Bull, the main chief of the Lakota tribes, delivered a speech at the celebration of the driving of the last spike in the Northern Pacific railroad joining with the transcontinental system. He delivered the speech in his Sioux language, departing from a speech originally prepared by an army translator. Denouncing the U.S. government, settlers, and army, the listeners thought he was welcoming and praising them. While giving the speech, Sitting Bull paused for applause periodically, bowed, smiled, and continued insulting his audience as the translator delivered the original address.

The Long Branch Saloon really did exist in Dodge City, Kansas. One of the owners, William Harris, was a former resident of Long Branch, New Jersey and named the saloon after his hometown in the 1880’s. The Long Branch Saloon still exists in Dodge City and can be seen at Dodge City’s Boothill Museum.

The famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral only lasted about thirty seconds.

Mattie Earp, Wyatt Earp’s second wife, who was with him in Tombstone during the O.K. Corral gunfight committed suicide with an overdose of laudanum on July 3, 1888 in Pinal, Arizona. She was despondent because Earp had left her for another woman.

Despite Hollywood’s depiction to the contrary, Jesse and Frank James were never cowboys. Both were raised on a farm in Missouri, where many of their crimes occurred.


Jesse James was called "Dingus" by his friends.

4 comments:

Ginger Jones Simpson said...

Great post, Amber. I enjoyed reading your contribution.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Interesting facts, Amber. Thanks for sharing.

Amber Bentley said...

Thanks. I'm finding so many fun things s I do more and more research :)

Alison E. Bruce said...

A lot stuff I didn't know or know fully. Great! My favourite bit was about Sitting Bull. Good for him!