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29 Gunslingin’ Facts about Outlaws

Mathew Burke

“An outlaw can be defined as somebody who lives outside the law, beyond the law, and not necessarily against it.” – Hunter S. Thompson

Here are some a few facts about outlaws that you might not have known.


Outlaws Facts

29. What’s Up, Doc?

John Henry “Doc” Holliday was an outlaw gambler, gunfighter, and dentist in the 19th century. He was a known associate of Wyatt Earp and was involved in the famous shootout at the OK Corral, perhaps the most famous shootout in the American wild west. Doc was actually a lawman at the time of the shootout but later went on to get in many more confrontation leading to murder and assault charges being laid. He eventually died of tuberculosis at the age of 36.

28. A Complicated Webb

John Joshua Webb was a famous lawman who decided to pursue a life of crime, using his connections to his advantage. After an unsuccessful jail break, he was convicted of murder. This led him to flee to Texas and change his name to Samuel King. He eventually died of smallpox in 1882.

27. What Happens in Vegas…

Hoodoo Brown, real name Hyman G. Neil, was the leader of the Dodge City Gang that terrorized Las Vegas, New Mexico from 1879 to 1880. He was a high ranking politician who used his position to cover up his crimes. Eventually, the citizens of Las Vegas got sick of his corruption, hired vigilantes, and overthrew him.

26. Brotherly Love

Cherokee Bill was a quick-triggered outlaw who terrorized Indian Territory for two years before he was caught and hanged at the tender age of 20. His crime spree began after he shot a man for beating up his younger brother. So at least he was a good sibling.

25. The Family Business

Zip Wyatt, also known by aliases Wild Charlie and Dick Yeager, came from a family of criminals. His father was known as “Old Six-Shooter Bill,” while his older brother Nim, was a professional gambler known as “Six Shooter Jack.” Given his role models, it wasn’t surprising that Zip ended up in a life of crime.

24. Once You Go Black…

Thomas Edward Ketchum, also known as “Black Jack,” was a notorious outlaw who robbed trains and banks with the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang. He was hanged in 1901 after a failed robbery.

23. … You Go Postal

Isaac “Ike” Black was an outlaw in Kansas and Oklahoma who got his start stealing cattle. He gained more notoriety after teaming up with outlaw fugitive Zip Wyatt in the early 1890s, forming a gang, and robbing a well-known post office in Arapaho.

22. Two Sides of the Coin

John Selman headed up a group of vigilantes known as “Selman’s Scouts” who reportedly committed quite a bit of looting. However, because of the conflicts and lawlessness of the time, he was seen both as a hero and a villain. He ended up being shot in a gunfight over a card game.

21. The Family that Robs Together…

Thomas Coleman Younger was a member of the James-Younger gang along with his siblings Jim, John, and Bob and Jesse and Frank James. They robbed stagecoaches, banks, and trains. His criminal career ended after a botched bank robbery in 1876 to which he pleaded guilty to avoid the death sentence. He was later paroled, which is better than how most of these stories turn out.

20. Miller the Killer

James Miller, also known as Deacon Jim, was a seemingly upstanding citizen who regularly attended Methodist church and didn’t smoke or drink. He also happened to be a paid assassin with a going rate of $1,500 – $2,000 per job. He was eventually lynched by an angry mob for killing a former Deputy US Marshal. We guess he skipped the part in church where they said “thou shalt not kill.”

19. Playing Both Sides

Henry Newton Brown oscillated between lawman and outlaw for most of his life. He rode with Billy the Kid’s gang rustling cattle, became a deputy sheriff, was fired for picking fights with drunks, hired as an assistant marshal, cleaned out the town of criminals, but then quickly reverted to his outlaw ways and was lynched by an angry mob in 1884.

18. Death and Taxes

William “Curly Bill” Brocius got his nickname due to his head of thick curly hair. He led a gang of cattle rustlers in Tombstone, Arizona. While working as a tax collector, he accidentally killed Marshal Fred White (as one does). He was acquitted and lawman Wyatt Earp even testified on his behalf before later shooting him in retaliation for the death of his brother, Morgan Earp.

Wyatt Earp

17. Don’t Have a Cow

Sam Bass was a train robber who started as an honest man, running away from an abusive uncle and going to work at a sawmill before becoming a cowboy in Texas. Instead of delivering a herd of cattle, he sold them and kept the profit for himself. He then got into stagecoach and train robberies where he netted $60,000 from the gold train, the largest robbery in the history of the Union Pacific.

16. Class War

James Averell was a military man who defied a cattle baron, Albert J. Bothwell, and then was unjustly branded as an outlaw, and hanged. This was one of the many incidents that led to the Johnson County War, a conflict between ruthless cattle companies and smaller ranchers that has since been mythologized as one of the most well-known range wars of the American frontier.

15. True Romance

Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Champion Barrow, mostly famously known as Bonnie and Clyde, were legendary outlaws known for living fast and dying young. They formed the Barrow Gang and went on a robbing and killing spree across four states.

14. Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me

Harry Alonzo Longabaugh, also known as The Sundance Kid, was an outlaw and member of Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch Gang who committed one of the longest strings of successful train and bank robberies in history. He got his nickname for getting caught stealing horses in Sundance, Wyoming. Although his family refutes it, he was reportedly killed in a shootout in Bolivia.

13. Espinosas

Felipe and Jose Espinosa were cousins who formed a gang that terrorized the residents of the Colorado Territory in 1863. They came from Mexico where they witnessed the murder of six of their family members. They also felt that their land grant was not honored due to white settlers squatting on their property. Their solution: Murder all the white people. They did so successfully for a while until they were finally tracked down and killed by the US Cavalry.

12. Smurfette of Cell Block C

Pearl Hart was a Canadian-born American outlaw with a short-lived career as a stagecoach robber. After her abusive husband left her to fight in the Spanish-American war, she planned a robbery so she could return to her dying mother in Canada. She was caught, imprisoned, managed to charm her way to freedom, only to be recaptured and thrown into an all-male prison. She was ultimately pardoned after the governor learned she was pregnant.

11. If Only There Was a Wall

King Fisher was a well-known cattle rustler and bandit who gained popularity in South Texas because he carried out most of his raids across the border in Mexico. He was ambushed in a San Antonio theatre by a group seeking retribution against him.

10. A Straight Shooter

Fred Waite was part of the Regulators, Billy the Kid’s gang. He killed several people for the gang, including several sheriffs, but quit his life of crime to become a prominent politician (obvious career choice) among the Chickasaw nation until his death at the age of 42.

9. And a Star is Born

Robert Leroy Parker, better known as Butch Cassidy, was the leader of the Wild Bunch Gang. His last name, Cassidy, was a tribute to his friend and mentor Mike Cassidy who taught him how to shoot. He and his partner, The Sundance Kid, were immortalized in the aptly named film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

8. If Paris Hilton Had a Gun

Myra Maybelle Shirley Reed Starr lived the life of a privileged rich girl until the Kansas-Missouri War broke out and residents had to take sides. She married outlaw Jim Reed and earned the nickname “The Bandit Queen.”

7. A Methodist to his Madness

John Wesley Hardin was named after the founder of the Methodist church and committed his first murder at the age of 14, stabbing a boy who was taunting him. He spent the majority of his life running from the law until his capture in 1878. He claimed to have killed 42 men, but the newspapers only gave him credit for 27. Darn that mainstream liberal media.

6. It’s All Relative

Emmanuel “Mannen” Clements was John Wesley Hardin’s cousin and Jim “Killer” Miller’s father-in-law. His criminal family aside, he was also known as a cattle rustler and gunslinger who murdered a pair of brothers for challenging his authority on a cattle drive. He ran for Sheriff and lost that election because apparently voters saw “is a murderer” as a major character flaw.

5. Bury the Hatchet… in Your Skull

Geronimo was the leader of the Bedonkohe Apache. His Chiricahua name was “one who yawns.” In 1858, his camp was attacked by Mexican soldiers and his mother, wife, and three children were killed. In response, he became a warrior, joining the Chiricahua in raids along the northern Mexico and southern US borders. Now he’s best known as the thing people yell before they jump out of a plane.

4. Et Tu Rob? Et Tu?

Jesse Woodson James was a celebrity criminal, robbing banks, stage coaches, and trains with his gang. He was shot in the back of the head by his trusted friend, Robert Ford (you can’t trust guys named Rob Ford), who was angling to collect reward money.

3. Battle of the Bands

Haskay-bay-nay-ntayl, also known as the Apache Kid, was said to have been the fiercest Apache warrior, second only to Geronimo. As an Apache scout, he was enlisted by settlers to help fight off numerous Apache raiding bands before eventually going rogue.

2. Just Kidding Around

William H. Bonney AKA Henry Antrim AKA Billy the Kid is possibly the most legendary outlaw in all of Wild West lore. Working as a cattle guard, his boss John Tunstall was murdered and he and his fellow ranch hands were deputized to track down the murderers with a group known as The Regulators. Unfortunately, due to corruption, the governor sided with the murderers and he became the enemy, running from the law until he was tracked down and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett. He has since been sensationalized in movies, songs, and books.

1. Newton’s Cradle Full of Criminals

Willis, Doc, Joe, and Hess Newton were four sons of cotton farmers from Southwest Texas. Together, they formed the Newton Gang and pulled off more heists than the Dalton Gang, Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch, and the James-Younger Gang combined. And they did it without killing anyone. They eventually got caught, served their time, and lived long enough to sell the movie rights.

Sources: 1 2 3

 


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