Old West Myth & Fact Archives

Who Coined The Phrase “Hold Up?”

As a young man Bill Miner tried his hand at mining gold in California and later had a mail delivery service in San Diego. Not doing well at either, he started looking for some easy money. So… Bill robbed his first stage. Not being a success at this either, he was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in San Quentin. While in San Quentin Bill Miner “got religion” and was released after serving 10 years.

Moving to Colorado, Bill left California and his religion behind. He robbed a number of trains and stagecoaches until he was captured and imprisoned. A jailbreak was followed by more robberies and another arrest. This time he was sentenced to a 25-year term in San Quentin. Again Bill Miner got religion and was released after serving 10 years.
A trip to Georgia for contributions from various trains and banks got him arrested again. This time he was sentenced to a life term.The religion ploy having run its course, Bill went back to the escape route. But he wasn’t any more successful with this activity than any other in which he engaged. He tried escaping three times, only to be captured and brought back to prison. Finally, in 1913, Bill Miner died in his cell.

Now, the phrase that Bill Miner coined that is used today took place on March 18, 1881. During a stagecoach robbery Bill made sure the passengers couldn’t go for their guns by telling them “hands up.” This was the first time this phrase was used. Later robbers varied the phrase by telling their victims, “hold your hands up” which later identified their activity as a “hold up.”

First Photo Of A Crime In Progress

Anton Veith was a Milwaukee newspaper editor traveling out West. On August 15, 1900, he was on a stage on its way to Yosemite. Carrying on idle conversation with fellow passengers, Anton asked them what they would do in the case of a holdup, and they had their entire fortune on them. One said he would give it up; he could make another fortune, but didn’t have another life. Another said that a bullet didn’t always hit its mark, and he would run the other way.
A little later that day the stage pulled to a stop, and Anton heard a voice say, “Get Down!” It was a holdup. The robber had a gun slung over his shoulder, and a pistol in his hand. No one on the stage had a gun, not even the driver and guard. Anton said the robber was careless, and on several instances, he felt he could jump him, but no one else was willing to help.
The robber was kind to the women, allowing them to stay in the stage. And most of the men were able to hide some of their money and valuables. The robber even gave Anton back his heirloom pocket watch.
Anton had his camera with him, and he brazenly asked the robber if he could take a picture of the robbery in progress. Amazingly, the robber agreed. The picture Anton took shows the robber, gun in hand, and the male passengers all in a line. Following the picture, the robber had everyone load up and told the stage to drive off.
A copy of the picture was turned over to the legal authorities. But, despite the picture, and an extensive hunt for the robber, as happens many times today, he was never found.

Teton Jackson – Killer

  Harvey Gleason was over six feet tall. He had a shabby beard, ruddy face with flaming red hair and black eyes. By his mid 40s, he had supposedly killed several soldiers and deputy marshals.

   But, people didn’t know him as Harvey Gleason, everyone knew him as Teton Jackson. He got his name from his favorite area, the Teton Mountains. For a living Teton Jackson stole horses… Not one or two at a time, but hundreds. For about eight years, Teton and his men stole horses during the summer and hid out among the Teton Mountains during the winter.

    While in Eagle Rock, Idaho, Teton killed a man. When the sheriff came to investigate the shooting, he found the victim frozen stiff on the ground. Needing evidence of the killing, and unable to transport the whole body, the sheriff brought in just the head.
Finally, livestock associations in Idaho and Wyoming started putting up rewards for Teton.  And, money talked.  A sheriff found Teton, and brought him in.  He was tried and on November 5, 1885, sentenced to 14 years in prison.  Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.  But, relief was short lived.  For nine months later, Teton escaped from jail.  Even though Teton was free for two years before he was recaptured, few horses were stolen because his gang’s numbers were drastically reduced by posse bullets and jail.
   After four years in jail, Teton received a pardon for good behavior. He continued that good behavior for the next 35 years, marring a Shoshone woman, and doing some guiding, always riding a horse with his brand on it.


Dodge City’s Most Famous Gunfight

Levi Richardson was a buffalo hunter who, because of the lack of buffalo, had become a freighter. He was a well-liked, hard working individual who was known for his proficiency with a pistol and rifle… As well as a quick temper.

Frank Loving, also known as “Cock-eyed” Frank because his eyes tended to look toward each other, was an ex-cowboy turned gambler. Loving, unlike Richardson, was known to be cool, with a steady nerve. Both men were spending some time in Dodge City, Kansas.
Now comes the catalyst… a woman. It seems that Levi Richardson fell in love with a young woman. Unfortunately, for him, she loved another. And, that person was none other than Cock-eyed Frank Loving.
It was about 8:00 Saturday evening, April 5, 1879. Richardson was warming himself at the potbelly stove in the Long Branch Saloon, when Loving came in and took a seat at one of the gambling tables. Richardson followed him to the table. A few, less than genteel, words were exchanged. With both men standing face to face, Richardson went for his gun. He pulled off a shot as Loving was drawing his pistol. Loving’s first shot misfired. Seeking cover, Loving ran behind the potbelly stove. But Richardson was right behind him taking two more shots.
Fortunately, for Loving, after that first misfire, his gun performed flawlessly. Using cool deliberation, Loving shot Richardson in the chest, side and arm. He died on the spot. Loving, on the other hand, suffered only a scratch on the hand. After the smoke settled, both guns were checked. In the fracas, both men had emptied them. The amazing thing about the gunfight was that with lead flying everywhere in a crowded room, no bystander was hit.

Poker Alice

Born in England, Alice Ivers was educated in a female seminary. She came to the United States and eventually settled down in Colorado where she married Frank Duffield, a mining engineer.
Frank enjoyed playing poker, and Alice went with him and watched. Sometimes, when Frank was at work, Alice would sit in on games. When her husband was killed in a mine explosion Alice turned to cards full time. She did so well that soon the miners were calling her “Poker Alice.”
In Silver City, New Mexico she “broke the bank.” Feeling flush, she headed to New York and proceeded to spend it all.

She returned to Colorado and worked for Bob Ford, the person who shot Jessie James… That is, until Ed Kelly killed him.

Poker Alice always dressed like a lady; even though she was constantly puffing on a cigar. Like most gamblers, Alice carried a pistol, and she wasn’t afraid to use it either. One night a drunken miner pulled a knife on the dealer at the next table. Alice shot the miner. Poker Alice ended up marrying the man whose life she saved. Later, when she owned her own establishment, she shot and killed a trouble-making customer.
 At one point she owned a sheep ranch. Busy gambling, she hired George Huckert to tend the sheep. When George’s unpaid wages got to be over a thousand dollars, Poker Alice married him, because “It would be cheaper to marry him than pay him off.”
At the age of 79 on February 27, 1930, Poker Alice died. Even though she gambled all her adult life; married three times; killed a man; smoked cigars constantly; and ran a combination gambling and whorehouse, Poker Alice’s early religious upbringing stayed with her, because she never gambled on Sunday, and when she owned establishments of her own, they were closed on Sunday.
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