Complete List of Old West
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Like today and all of history, Scoundrels
have unfortunately always been more than abundant. But, in history,
they could often get away with their lies, cheating, tricks, and cons
for much longer than they can today, as they moved from place to
place, repeating the same old tricks before another new audience.
Without the media
technology of today, these thieves and swindlers simply took the same
con-game to a new place where they weren't known and repeated it again
Sometimes, they changed
their names, but often weren't even required to, as back in the days
most people didn't ask questions of a newcomer's past.
From pimps, to card sharks, shell game
artists, and simple picket pockets, here you'll find a wealth of
unsavory characters of the
Charles Allen, aka: Big
- After the turn of the century, Big Time Charlie ran one of the most
illicit prostitution rings in Denver,
(1829-1878) - Along with John Slack, Arnold was a confidence man who
masterminded the famous 1872 Diamond Hoax in San Francisco,
Arnold walked away with more than half a million dollars.
Samuel Bennett (1791-1853)
– From Shreveport, Louisiana, Dr. Bennett was one of the best known
"thimble artists” to ever cruise the Mississippi River.
Lou "The Fixer"
Blonger, aka Louis H. Belonger (1849-1924) – The leader of the Blonger
Brothers, Lou was the organizer of an extensive ring of confidence
tricksters that operated for more than 25 years in Denver,
Albert John Bothwell
(1855-1928) - A self-important cattle baron of
Bothwell was one of the main instigators of the infamous
Johnson County War.
Edward "Big Ed" Burns - Burns was a conman and
crime boss who worked in some of the most infamous camps of the Old West,
including running a bunko gang in
during the time that the
Earps were in nearby
Later he joined up with the Soapy Smith Gang in Denver.
H. Devol (1829-1903)
- Probably the greatest riverboat
gambler in the history of the Mississippi River, Devol
was also a con artist, a fighter, and a master at manipulating men and
Dolan (1848-1898) -
One of the primary instigators of
New Mexico's Lincoln County War,
James Dolan attempted to control the
economy of Lincoln County in the 1870s.
Mike Fink (1770?–1823?)
- An excellent marksman, Fink soon gained a deadly reputation for
demonstrating his shooting skills by shooting mugs of beer off people's
Johnson Gallagher, aka: Corn Hole
Johnny, Three-card Johnny, Chuck-luck Johnny (1847-??) - Gambler
"Swiftwater" Bill Gates (18??-1935) - An
American frontiersman and fortune hunter, Gates became a fixture in the
Klondike Gold Rush. Making a fortune, only to squander it drinking,
gambling and getting married multiple times (when he was already married.)
William "Canada Bill" Jones (18??-1880) -
One of the greatest card
sharps in history, Jones practiced his three-card monte hustle on the
Mississippi River.James "Umbrella Jim" Miner
One of best known shell game men on the Mississippi River, James Miner was
called "Umbrella Jim" for his habit of beginning his con game under an
Murphy (1831 or 1834-1878) - An Irishman who immigrated to the United
States, Murphy was a
Veteran, cattleman, and businessman, whose greed ultimately spawned
New Mexico's Lincoln County War.
John Slack -
Along with Phillip Arnold, Slack was one of the perpetrators of the 1872
Diamond Hoax in San Francisco,
Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smith II (1860-1898) - The most
famous bunko man in the
Old West, Smith was a con artist and gangster who
had a major hand in the organized criminal affairs and operations of
Denver and Creede,
as well as Skagway, Alaska from 1879 to 1898.
Al Swearengen -
Al Swearengen was a terrible man
who ran a
- Operating in the 1840's, Thompson was a con artist whose deceptions caused the term
"confidence man" to be coined.
B. "Lucky Bill" Thornton (182?- 1858) - A proficient shell game
operator who plied his "trade" in
Joseph "Yellow Kid" Weil (1877-1975) -
One of the most famous American con artists of his era, Weil stole over
eight million dollars running various scams and was one of the inspirations for the Academy-award winning film The Sting.
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