The Lawless West

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
The lawless west was full of lawmen and towns that had no law at all. These towns were often found with numerous wanted outlaws or gamblers. This story only characterizes a few of my favorite legends of the wild west.

Submitted: December 14, 2007

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Submitted: December 14, 2007



Jim Heitmeyer



My stories and articles that I have written wouldn’t be complete


unless I added one of my favorites, the wild old west and some of the


characters that hit their mark in history. I hope you enjoy your read here.


A short article of my favorites.

Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp, (Born:19-Mar-1848 Died:13 Jan 1929)

Wyatt Earp used the M1873 Colt Peacemaker .45 single-action revolver as his sidearm. Wyatt was named after his father's commanding officer when he served as Captain of Cavalry in the Mexican War.  At least six Earots fought in the colonial wars including the Revolution. "Wyatt Earp, gambler, gunfighter and lawman, drifted through the West working at a variety of jobs from confidence trickster to assistant marshal. During his stay in Tombstone, Arizona, he befriended Doc Holliday, who joined with the Earp brothers against the Clanton Gang in the famous Gunfight at the O.K Corral (1881). Earp collaborated in the writing of his biography "Wyatt Earp.  
John Henry Holliday, (Born: 14 August 1851 Died: 08 November 1887)

"Doc" Holliday was known to have used a knife, small nickel-plated derringer, or a double-barrell shotgun.
Doc was a good dentist after completing his dentistry school. During this time he contracted tuberculosis. Doctors recommended that he move west for his health. He moved to Texas and then to Tombstone, Arizona. It wasn’t long before he and Wyatt Earp became best of friends. Some writers claimed that Doc had killed Johnny Ringo .. but would have been impossible because Doc was in Denver, Colorado at the time of Ringo’s death, unless the alibi he had was made up by friends or other sources.
"He was the most skillful gambler, and the nerviest, fastest, deadliest man with a six-gun I ever saw." This was the tribute paid to Doc Holliday by Wyatt Earp, who was something of a tough character himself.

Patrick "Pat" Floyd Garrett,: ( Born: 1850 Died: 1908)





Pat Garrett generally used a sawed-off Winchester rifle and

a Colt .44 pistol.

Patrick Floyd Garrett was born in 1850. Pat Garrett was a tall, rangy individual.

He married Polinaria Guiterrez. They had seven children. 1880 Pat Garrett went to

New Mexico Territory and was elected sheriff of Lincoln County. He was ordered by

Governor Wallace (author of "Ben Hur") to bring Billy the Kid in. 1881 Pat Garrett shot

and killed his old friend, Billy the Kid, in the bedroom of Pete Maxwell at Fort Sumner in

New Mexico Territory. Pat Garrett was shot and killed by Wayne Brazil in Las Cruces,

New Mexico in 1908. Pat Garrett was buried in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

John Wesley Hardin, (Born: 26 May 1853, Died: 19 Aug 1895) at the age of 42.

     Favorite Weapon: Hardin used matched Colt .45s, which he kept in special chest pockets sewn into his vest or tucked into his waistband between his shirt and undershirt.
He was credited with forty killings in stand-up gunfights, ambushes and running battles on horseback. It had been said that whenever Hardin rode out of a town, dead men were always left behind. By the time he reached his 20th birthday, John was regarded as one of the deadliest gunfighters in the West, had killed a number of men, had a confrontation with Wild Bill Hickock in Abilene, and was wanted by the Texas State police and the Texas Rangers.
John Wesley Hardin was killed by John Selman, Sr. when Selman shot Hardin in the back of the head in the ACME Saloon in El Paso, TX. Wes Hardin's last words were, "Four sixes to beat."
 John Peters Ringo,  ( Born: May 3,1850 – Died: July 13, 1882)      
Johnny Ringo carried a Colt .44 revolver.

He was better known as Johnny Ringo, was a cowboy who became a legend of

the American Old West because, among other things, of his affiliation with the Clanton

Gang in the era of Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, in Tombstone, Arizona.

That group of outlaws was known commonly as "the cow-boys" around Tombstone,

and Ringo himself was called "the King of the Cowboys". Unfortunately for the reputation

of this gunfighter, there is no record that he ever actually had a single gunfight

(he did shoot several unarmed men). Even his violent death may have been at his own hand.



Timothy Isaiah "Longhair Jim" Courtright    


If he is remembered at all today, it is as "Longhair Jim," a colorful sobriquet like

"Wild Bill" Hickok, "Bat" Masterson, or "Billy the Kid" that should have helped him attain

legendary gunfighter immortality. But he had two strikes against him. First, he practiced

his craft in Fort Worth, Texas, which, although one of the wildesttowns of the frontier

West, never achieved the widespread notoriety of Abilene and Dodge City, Kansas, or

Lincoln, New Mexico. Second, his fifteen minutes of fame came from being on the losing

end of a gun battle with Luke Short. Popular history likes its legendary gunfighters to be

killers, not victims. So Courtright’s remarkable story went unappreciated until well into the

twentieth century.


The Gunfighter Era

The gunfighter era was an outgrowth of the Civil War. Some outlaws were

spawned of the Civil War as were Quantrill's Raiders.

The average year of birth was 1853. The average year of death was 1895.

About 1/3 of all gunmen died of "natural causes." Many gunmen did not die violently

and lived a normal life span (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.

Most professional gunfighters died in states or territories where the most

shootings occurred: Texas, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, California, Missouri,

and Colorado.


The "occupations" of the various gunmen were often those that used firearms

in ordinary pursuits. They often carried firearms as a job requirement.

There were 110 gunmen who were law officers, 75 who were cowboys,

54 as ranchers, 46 as farmers, 45 as rustlers, 35 as hired guns, but also men

who had been soldiers, miners, scouts, teamsters, actors, butchers, bounty

hunters, etc.


Gunfighting soared in the 1870s: As recorded in western history, there

were Six fights in TX and KS in 1870, 22 in 1871, 13 in 1872, 27 in 1873,

14 in 1874, 13 in 1875, 22 in 1876, 21 in 1877, 36 in 1878, 14 in 1879.

In the 1880s: 25 in 1880, 27 in 1881, 15 in 1882, 9 in 1883, 17 in 1884,

7 each in 1885-6, 20 in 1887, 10 in 1888, and nine in 1889. 1895-96 were

bad years, 19 fights in each, but after 96, the fights began to slow down.

The lawmen, were the people who enforced the laws in these rough, lawless

towns of hell and calamity, and most gunslingers and outlaws were the people

who broke these laws. Most outlaws paid the price for their crimes after meeting

their fate by a violent means of death.

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