Old West History Archives


One of the aspects of the Old West that has always intrigued me was the vigilantes. I can understand the frustration with how many times crime was running rampant, with towns popping up ahead of the town’s infrastructure…which included the law.

And even in more developed towns, the law was handicapped because of the number of lawmen, the territory they had to cover, the technology and even that sometimes the lawmen were also the outlaws.

Probably the most amazing aspect of the vigilantes is that they were usually known by everyone…sometimes pictures were taken…yet I’m not aware of any vigilante being tried for his actions.

Why am I talking about this at this time? This is the birthday of one of the Old West’s most famous vigilantes, John X. Beidler or just “X” as he was known by everyone.

He was a leader of the Montana vigilantes. Unlike most vigilantes, who tried to remain unknown, X relished the notoriety. He was the principal hangman for at least five of the vigilante’s victims, and he survived several narrow escapes in his relentless pursuit of dangerous men.

After Montana was rid of “The Innocents”…the name of the outlaw gang…the vigilantes disbanded.
As an old man X fell on hard times and lived off the charity of people who remembered his service as a vigilante.

When he died in Helena, Montana, in 1890, his death certificate listed his occupation as “Public Benefactor.”



On July 25 back in 1853 Joaquin Murrieta was supposedly killed by California Rangers led by L.A. Deputy Sheriff Harry Love.

Joaquin and his gang had been terrorizing Anglos in Central California, and the state had put a reward of $6,000 on his head.

Just before the reward deadline had run out Harry Love and his men ran into a group of Mexican outlaws and engaged in a fire-fight.

When I said the reward was “on his head” it was literally that. Love brought in Joaquin’s severed head in a jar of whiskey.

Since there were several Spanish outlaws with the name of Joaquin, many said it wasn’t “the Joaquin.”

But Harry Love didn’t care. He got his $6,000 and later he took Joaquin’s head on tour for a $1 a look.


Did you know that back in the 1870’s the United States was ruled by an Emperor? Well, even back then most of the citizens didn’t know it. Our Emperor was Emperor Norton, and he lived in San Francisco.

If you visit this link you’ll get the full story:



Friday I picked up a DVD of the mini series TV adaption of Louis L’Amour’s Sackett books…I got it at Walmart for $5.00.

And Saturday afternoon I watched it. It was made in 1979. The movie starred Tom Selleck, Sam Elliott, Glenn Ford and Ben Johnson as well as a slew of other great character actors like Slim Pickens, Jack Elam and Buck Taylor.

I had watched it when it originally came out, but sure did enjoy seeing Tom Selleck and Sam Elliott back when they were much younger…just as I was.

It was well worth the $5.00 investment.

What ever happened to Jeff Osterhgage who played Tyrel Sackett?


We’ve all heard about bringing a knife to a gun fight. Well, on this date back in 1900 that’s just what James, Morgan, Virgil and Wyatt’s little brother did.

After participating in Wyatt’s ride of vengeance because of the cowboy’s wounding of Virgil and killing Morgan, Warren went to live with his parents in Colton, California

With Warren regularly getting into trouble, his father got fed up with him and sent him packing. Warren ended up in Willcox, Arizona where he did a little cowboying and a lot of drinking. On July 6, 1900, Warren got crossways with a John Boyet. Some say it was because of a woman, others say it was a carry-over from the Tombstone days. In a confrontation, Warren kept pushing Boyet, until Boyet finally pulled his gun and killed Warren. This was a case of bringing a knife to a gunfight. For, it was discovered that Warren didn’t have a gun. But he did have a knife.

It seems that, to his dying day, Warren was trying to live up to the reputation of his brothers Wyatt and Virgil by being able to buffalo a man, and disarm him.

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