Frontier Facts & Trivia

Doc Holliday

Doc Holliday

Doc Holliday claimed he almost lost his life a total of nine times. Four attempts were made to hang him and he was shot at five times.

For acts of bravery during service with the U.S. Army in the Indian Wars, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1872. But in 1917, the year of his death, it was withdrawn because of his status as a civilian scout.

Sometimes cowboys referred to beans as “Deceitful Beans” because they talked behind your back.

The most publicized woman of the Old West, Calamity Jane, was little more than a camp follower of gunmen, a one-time bordello tart and, in later years, a hopeless alcoholic.

“Keep your ear to the ground” referred to the practice of plainsmen listening to the ground to hear hoof beats. It became the westerner’s warning to stay alert.

Allen Street, Tombstone, Arizona, 1882

Allen Street, Tombstone, Arizona, 1882

The famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral did NOT occur at the O.K. Corral. When the Earps and the Clantons shot it out in Tombstone, Arizona in 1881, their famous battle took place in a vacant lot between Fly’s Photograph Gallery and the Harwood house on Tombstone’s Fremont Street. However, the O.K. Corral was located nearby and somehow its name became attached to the famous shootout.

The famous Lewis and Clark expedition covered 7,789 miles. Thomas Jefferson estimated that the trek would cost $2,500, but, in fact it cost $38,722.25.

The first indoor toilet installed in the White House was when John Quincy Adams became president in 1825. Causing some debate and many jokes, it gave rise to the slang term of “Quincy” for an indoor toilet.

Only one man was ever killed in a gunfight with Wyatt Earp while he was in Dodge City, Kansas. On July 26, 1878, a drunken cowboy named George Hoyt traded shots with Earp and lost.

Annie Oakley, 1899

Annie Oakley, 1899

Annie Oakley, who’s real name was Phoebe Anne Mozee, never lived farther west than Ohio.

It was estimated that 90% of women living in Deadwood, South Dakota in 1876 were prostitutes.

Kit Carson was described by a relative as “being unafraid of hell or high water”, as reliable as “the sun comin’ up” and with morals as “clean as a hound’s tooth.”

The first gold rush in the United States was not the California Gold Rush of 1849. Rather, it took place across northern Georgia in 1828. It was here that mining terms such as bonanza, gold digger, placer, gold region, and gold belt were coined.

Charles Goodnight, on his first cattle drive to Colorado invented the chuckwagon by revamping an Army surplus wagon. Devising the cowboy version of meals on wheels, the wagon was complete with compartments for bacon, beans, coffee, spices, flour, and liquor.

After surviving decades of notorious outlaws, retired U.S. Deputy Marshal and Cromwell, Oklahoma marshal, Bill Tilghman was shot and killed by a corrupt Prohibition Officer in 1924. He was 70 years old.

From 1789 to 1850, the United States acquired over 450 million acres of Indian land for 490 million dollars, averaging about $1.08 per acre.

George Custer disobeyed orders by charging into one of the largest gatherings of Indians in American history. He and his entire command were killed in less than half an hour.

Judge Isaac Parker

Judge Isaac Parker

Sixty-Five U.S. Deputy Marshals were killed in the line of duty between 1875 and 1891 while enforcing the law for “hanging Judge” Isaac C. Parker of Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Bannack, Montana Sheriff Henry Plummer secretly led a band of outlaws who robbed or killed more than a hundred victims. His hidden life was eventually discovered and in 1864, he and his gang were hanged by  Montana Vigilantes.

In 1876, the lawless town of Deadwood, South Dakota averaged a murder a day.

During the Wild West days in Billings, Montana, the cowboys and scarlet ladies of every saloon performed impossible dances atop bars, tables, and in some instances upon atop the pianos.

Wyatt Earp once operated saloon in Nome, Alaska. In the late 1890’s U.S. Marshal Albert Lowe slapped an intoxicated Earp and took his gun away after Wyatt threatened to demonstrate how guns were handled “down Arizona way.”

About 1/3 of all gunmen died of “natural causes,” living a normal life span of 70 years or so. Of those who did die violently (shot or executed), the average age of death was 35. The gunfighters-turned-lawmen lived longer lives than their persistently criminal counterparts.

1776 miles of track were laid during the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad from Sacramento, California to Omaha, Nebraska.  On April 10, 1869, 10 miles of track was laid in one day. This outstanding achievement has not been surpassed to this day in this country.

The Battle of Little Big Horn also known as Custer’s Last Stand took place on June 25, 1876. Lieutenant Colonel Custer’s forces—including more than 200 of his men were wiped out in less than 20 minutes.

America’s first train robbery is believed to have occurred on October 6, 1855 in Jackson County, Indiana. The two bandits, John and Simeon Reno, took $13,000 from the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad.

Lewis and Clark never knew it, but the Spanish sent out four expeditions between August, 1804 and August, 1806 to try and stop them. However, the Spaniards were turned back by Indians. However, their last mission, they came within 140 miles of them in Nebraska.

Prostitution was tolerated in Deadwood, South Dakota until the last brothel closed down in October of 1980.

There were about 45,000 working cowboys during the heydays of the cattle drives. Of those, some 5,000 were African American.

Three bandits who robbed the Adams Express car in a passenger train near Bannack, Montana were rounded up by vigilantes and promptly hanged, a fate that became all too familiar in the lawless West when citizens, angered over vacillating courts, meted out their own brand of swift justice and self-satisfying justice.

From 1778 until 1871, the U.S. Government ratified 370 treaties with the Native American Tribes. After 1871, acts of Congress, executive orders and executive agreements replaced the rarely enforced treaties.

One of the earliest cattle barons of the great Southwest was the unlikely Jesuit explorer and mapmaker, Father Eusebio Franciso Kino. He came to southern Arizona in 1687 to found missions, but while he was there he introduced European livestock and ways to plant grain to feed them.

In Colfax County, New Mexico, Chunk Colbert invited Clay Allison to dinner with the plan of killing him. Colbert chatted amiably through the meal and then drew on his guest, his gun barely clearing the tabletop before quick-draw Allison shot him dead. Later, Allison would say of the event, “I didn’t want to send him to hell on an empty stomach.”

When Thomas Jefferson became president in March, 1801, two-thirds of the American population lived within 50 miles of the Atlantic Ocean.

At Yellowstone National Park, molten lava lies just 10-30 miles beneath the surface of much of the park, resulting in more geysers and hot springs than anywhere else in the world.

Black Bart, Outlaw

Black Bart, Outlaw

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