Old West Myth & Fact Archives

Bloody Bill Anderson

"Bloody" Bill AndersonThe Anderson family resided in Jefferson County, Missouri. Although they were farmers, the Anderson men had a tendency to augment their income with armed robbery. From these family roots sprung Bloody Bill Anderson.
 
In 1862, Confederate Quantrill raided the town where the Andersons lived. As a result, Union troops came to the area, and four days later, two of the Anderson men were hanged as Confederate sympathizers. This angered 25-year-old Bill Anderson to the point that he dropped his plow and joined Quantrill’s raiders.  
 
Later Bill Anderson’s three sisters were arrested for being spies. And, while in prison, the building collapsed killing one of them. As you can imagine, this pushed an angry Bill Anderson over the edge. Any civility he had was gone to the point people started calling him “Bloody” Bill Anderson. Becoming one of Quantrill’s chief lieutenants, at the massacre of Lawrence, Kansas, the men under his command supposedly killed more people than anyone else. At a raid in Centralia, Missouri, he was responsible for prisoners being stripped and shot.  
 
October 27, 1864, just a year and a half after he joined Quantrill, Bloody Bill Anderson was shot and killed by Union soldiers. A silk scarf reportedly was found with 53 knots in it. Supposedly, the scarf belonged to the sister who was killed with the collapse of the jail. And each knot represented a person killed.  
 
But then there were other reports that someone else was riding Bloody Bill’s horse, and he was shot instead. Bloody Bill realizing this was a good opportunity to get the bloodhounds off his back, quietly went to Texas and then Oklahoma. I’m sure he met up with Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and all the other outlaws who were also fortunate enough to have had someone else die in their place.  

How Tombstone, Arizona Was Named

Ed Schieffelin - how Tombstone, Arizona was named.On April 1, 1877, a young prospector named Ed Schieffelin arrived at Fort Yachuca in southern Arizona. He told the soldiers he was going into Apache country and trying his hand at prospecting. They told him that the only thing he would find there would be his tombstone. That is how Tombstone, Arizona was named.
 
By October he had run out of supplies and money. Not willing to give up, he kept looking, and was finally rewarded with the discovery of a silver vein 7 inches wide by 50 feet long. Ed Schieffelin named his mine the “Lucky Cuss.” Remembering the remarks of the soldiers that all he would find would be his tombstone, Ed, along with his brother Al, founded the Tombstone Mining District.    
 
As soon as the word got out of a silver strike, prospectors came from everywhere. Next came the gamblers and ladies of the evening. Within 3 years the town comprised of almost 500 buildings, with more than 100 of them selling liquor, and half of these places were “houses of ill fame.”  
 
Tombstone did have two newspapers and a hall built to attract legitimate theatrical endeavors. There were also churches and schools that incidentally, were supported by a tax on the gambling halls and houses of ill repute.
 
Nine years after that first discovery of silver, water flooded the mines, and the population of Tombstone dwindled down to a few hardy souls. But, during that short period, the people who came through Tombstone read like a who’s who of the Old West. This was not only because of the attraction of silver, but the rest of the west was settling down, and this desert town in the Arizona Territory was the last hurrah for wild men looking for excitement.  

County Seat War

In October of 1887 a vote was held in Gray County, Kansas to determine the county seat. The winner was Cimarron. But the citizens of Ingalls weren’t happy with the outcome. And they took their case to the courts. For over a year the courts did nothing, which lead to the County Seat War.
           
County Seat WarFinally Asa Soule, from Ingalls, decided to take the situation into his own hands. He figured that as the crown or miter was the authority of a king, the records of a county were the authority of a county seat. So, on January 11, 1889 he deputized a group of men to steal the county records. These lawmen weren’t novices. They included Bill Tilghman, Neal Brown and two of Bat Masterson’s brothers, Jim and Tom.
               
Early Sunday morning the group rode quietly into Cimarron. Neal Brown and the two Mastersons started carrying out the records as the others stood guard. Then an alarm was sounded, and guns started firing. The three record carriers were caught inside the courthouse. The rest got away with the records. More than two hundred men started shooting at the courthouse. In the process, one citizen was killed.
 
For more than 24 hours the men were trapped inside. Then mysteriously a truce was called and the three men were allowed to leave town unscathed. What happened? Well, Bat Masterson heard about his brothers’ plight, and he telegraphed Cimarron stating, if either of his brothers were hurt he would “hire a train and come in with enough men to blow Cimarron off the face of Kansas.”
 
Oh yes, four years later another election was held and Cimarron again won.       
   
County Seat War

Wyatt Earp, Boxing Referee

Wyatt Earp, Boxing RefereeWyatt Earp had left behind his days in Tombstone. He was now living as a gentleman in San Francisco. Because of his interest in boxing and his celebrity status, on December 2, 1896, Wyatt was asked to referee a championship-boxing match between Fitzsimmons and Sharkey. The purse was $10,000. Winner take all. Here is the story of Wyatt Earp, Boxing Referee:
           
Things didn’t start out well for Wyatt. He arrived at the arena with a gun. It had to be taken away by the police.
               
Boxing was considered the sport of the common man… but this match was different. Prominent businessmen, police commissioners and superior court judges were there. Even women attended the event… Most wore veils, but some were brazen enough to go bare faced.
 
Fitzsimmons was the favorite, and most of the money was on him. Even though Fitzsimmons told his corner men at the end of the third round that he would finish Sharkey in the next round, it didn’t happen. Sharkey held up his side of the fight until the seventh. And then he started fading.
 
Now Sharkey had a reputation of sneaking in low blows, and maybe this experience was used to accomplish what happened next, because in the eighth round Sharkey, after a mix-up of blows, fell to the mat claiming a foul. Referee Earp, agreed, and declared Sharkey the winner.
 
No one in the arena saw the foul, and people started mumbling about a fixed fight. Fitzsimmon’s people took it to court. The judge declared that since boxing wasn’t legal, the courts were not in a position to make a determination on the outcome of the fight.
 
Proof of a fixed fight was never established. But right after the fight, Wyatt Earp chose to leave the city by the bay.        

Texas Rangers: Why Are They Called Rangers?

Texas Rangers: Why Are They Called Rangers?In 1826 Stephen Austin authorized a force of men to fight Indians. This group was the inspiration that inspired the Texas Legislature to form the Texas Rangers on November 24, 1835. They were formed, not as a law enforcement group, but to protect the Texas frontier from Comanche Indians and Mexican banditos crossing over the border. Why are they called Rangers? They were called Rangers because their job was to “range” over wide areas.
           
A private in the Texas Rangers would receive $1.25 per day. With this he took care of his food, clothing, ammunition and horse.
               
When the Civil War broke out, Texas went on the side of the Confederacy. Although the Rangers, as a group didn’t join the Confederacy, some of the members did. They formed a group called “Terry’s Texas Rangers.” And incidentally, this group was credited with originating the rebel yell.
 
After the Civil War; the conquest of the Indians; and Texas becoming a state, the Texas Rangers became the law enforcement agency of Texas.
 
Probably the most unique individual job the Rangers engaged in involved Judge Roy Bean, the law west of the Pecos. The Texas Rangers liked Roy Bean because he always handed down swift judgments. His justice may have been convoluted, but it was immediate, leaving the Rangers free to bring in more lawbreakers.
 
In 1896 Judge Bean was putting on a heavyweight prizefight, which was highly illegal in Texas. Although the fighters and the fans came from the U. S., the actual fight took place on a river sandbar just inside Mexico.
 
Making sure that all Texas laws were observed, a group of Texas Rangers stood on the Texas border, and observed the fight that, unfortunately, only lasted 90 seconds.        
 Page 2 of 11 « 1  2  3  4  5 » ...  Last »