Judge Roy Bean once killed a Mexican official in a dispute over a girl in California. A friend of the Mexican official hanged Bean; but, before he died, he was cut down by the contested damsel. Ever after, Bean was unable to turn his head due to the injury.
The oldest human skeleton ever found in the Western Hemisphere was discovered in 1953 near Midland, Texas. It is believed that the skeleton, the remains of a 30-year-old woman, is about 11,000 years old.
The term “red light district” came from the Red Light Bordello in Dodge City, Kansas. The front door of the building was made of red glass and produced a red glow to the outside world when lit at night. The name carried over to refer to the town’s brothel district.
Clay Allison was described in a physician’s report as maniacal” with a personality where “emotional or physical excitement produces paroxysmal of a mixed character.”
Estimates of how many people lived in North America before the arrival of the European explorers vary from 8.4 million to 112 million. This population was divided into about 240 tribal groupings speaking an estimated 300 different languages.
Buffalo, which were strewn across the Great Plains after the mass buffalo hunts of 1870-1883, were bought by Eastern firms for the production of fertilizer and bone china. “Bone pickers” earned eight dollars a ton for the bones.
Around 1541, the present state of Texas was called Tejas, a Spanish version of the Caddo word meaning “allies.”
Rumor has it that the tradition of spreading sawdust on the floors of bars and saloons started in Deadwood, South Dakota due to the amount of gold dust that would fall on the floor. The sawdust was used to hide the fallen gold dust and was swept up at the end of the night.
After serving more than twenty years in prison, Cole Younger got a job selling tombstones, worked for a while in a Wild West show with Frank James, and died quietly in 1916 in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, where he was known as an elderly churchgoer.
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 17 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.
Theodore Roosevelt was sent to live in North Dakota for health reasons. He fell in love with the West and wrote a book titled “Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail” before becoming a US president. The book was illustrated by famous Western artist Frederick Remington.
Samuel Clemens, struck by silver fever, tried his hand at prospecting in the town of Unionville, Nevada in 1862. Having more luck in trading mining claims than actually producing silver, he wound up leaving the area. A short time latter Clemens, changes his name to Mark Twain and becomes one of the greatest writers of American Literature.
On December 21, 1876, Clay Allison shot and killed Deputy Sheriff Charles Faber at the Olympic Dance Hall in Las Animas, Colorado. If it weren’t for Allison purposely stomping on the feet of other dancers, the law probably would never have been called.
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.
Though the term “stick ’em up” is widely used in Western films, it wasn’t actually coined until the 1930’s.
In 1855, Los Angeles, California was a rough cowtown, which averaged a murder a day. In one instance, the city’s mayor resigned his position so that he could head a lynch mob, which stormed the jail to remove and then hang an inmate. When the inmate objected to being hanged by Mexicans, the Americans in the crowd took the rope and did it.
Topeka, Kansas was the scene of many a gun battle, but the most bizarre incident occurred in the Kansas House of Representatives where Boston Corbett, the reported killer of John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln’s assassin, ran amuck. Corbett threatened to kill several state congressmen for stalling legislation; he finally surrendered his weapon without shooting anyone and was sent to an insane asylum.
In Tombstone, Arizona’s brief heydays, from 1878 to 1886, some $80 million in silver was mined.
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.
“Boys, I’ve found a goldmine.” – James W. Marshall whose discovery of gold started the California Gold Rush. The location was a sawmill where Marshall withdrew a gold nugget from the American River.
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.