Monday, June 18, 2012

Just a Few Tidbits About The Old West

Between the years of 1870 to 1885 (the heart of the Old West) there were 45 homicides in the then ‘wild cow towns’ of Kansas combined. Abilene, Ellsworth, Wichita, Dodge City and Caldwell. Of those 45 murders, (or shootings) 16 were committed by law men. And other than Ellsworth and Dodge City, none of those towns ever had more than five killings per year.

Abilene, once known as the wildest of cow towns, went for over two years without a single murder. Wild Bill Hickok was elected sheriff of Abilene in 1971—back then, before being made famous by overly inflated stories, he was known as “Duck Bill” because of his ‘somewhat on the large size’ nose. Buffalo Bill Cody fired Wild Bill from his stages shows because “Hickok had a voice like a girl.”

Another famous lawman—Wyatt Earp—was arrested for horse theft in Arkansas, and he and his brother Morgan were arrested for running ‘bordellos’ in Chicago before they made their way west. Though proclaimed to be a Buffalo Hunter, Earp never shot a buffalo, he did drive a wagon on a hunt once.

The first gold rush wasn’t to California in 1849, but to New Mexico in 1832.

Henry the Kid doesn’t have the same ring as “Billy the Kid” does it? Well, Henry McCarty, AKA, Billy the Kid, who supposedly shot 21 men before his young death, in fact, only shot about 4.

In the early 1800’s North America had over 300 different languages being spoken between its borders.

Saloons in Deadwood, SD were the first to start covering their floors with sawdust. The shavings would conceal the gold dust customers dropped and was swept up and sifted every night by the saloon owners.

Speaking of Deadwood, it was the second community in the US to have a telephone. The first being Washington D.C.

Cole Younger, who rode with Jesse James, after serving over 20 years in prison, got a job selling tombstones when he got out.

Camels were used as pack animals in Nevada until the late 1870’s. 

An estimated 350,000 people traveled the Oregon Trail. One in seventeen did not make it to Oregon. The most common cause of death was cholera.

A Colt Peacemaker cost $17.00 in 1873, therefore making it a very expensive weapon. Not really designed for anything outside of killing, they were not practical to own or buy—and stood out like a sore thumb. 

I've gathered the above tidbits while researching over the years and I can’t claim they are 100% accurate, but I usually don’t save something in my ‘interesting facts’ file unless I’m pretty-darn sure, meaning it’s been verified by more than one source. I pulled the file up this morning when I was reminded it was my turn to blog here at Cowboy Kisses today and I didn't have anything ready to go. I have to say, I'd forgotten some of these little tidbits and hope you enjoyed reading them. (I have many, many more, but figured this was enough for today.)

Enjoy your "cowboy" ;), and thanks for stopping by.


Alison E. Bruce said...

I am a trivia junkie so these tidbits are like gold in the sawdust to me.

Ellen O’Connell said...

Very interesting tidbits. I absolutely can understand a camel feeling as much at home in parts of Nevada as in parts of Africa.

Much as I hate to know it, the more you read about the Earps, the more you realize they were nasty pieces of work. I think I read somewhere that not one of the brothers ever married his "woman." James ran whorehouses all his life. Wyatt committed cold-blooded murder. The legend is really preferable.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Lauri, I did enjoy these tidbits. Just the sort of thing I also like to know. Thanks for sharing.

Lauri said...

Thanks, Ladies, I'm glad you enjoyed them. ;)

Meg said...

Love it, Lauri!! LOL about Billy's 4 killings. Not so hot after all. But I agree with Ellen - maybe the legends are better. ;-D

Jacquie Rogers said...

Great post, Lauri--I live for this stuff. :)

Lauri said...

I love this stuff, too, and yesterday, I used the Peacemaker tidbit while at Cabella's. The guy at the counter just gaped at me like I had two heads or something.