Old West Lifestyle & Stories


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.”


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