They were surely more civilized from the new settlers, more hygiene conscious for sure. Wyatt Earp spent most of his time as Tombstone’s lawman in the early 1880s putting out chimney fires and rounding up stray hogs. According to historian Bernard de Voto, the expedition turned the nation’s eyes westward, and few were more delighted with what they saw than the legion of fur trappers who followed in their footsteps. In fact, the era known as the Wild West, or the American Frontier, began after the Civil War in 1865 and ended around 1895. Whether picking a fight over a poker game or trying to rob a female stagecoach passenger, these small guns often fired large-caliber bullets, much to the distress of many an outlaw. Regardless of the vision of the Wild West one may have, the old west was nothing like what it has been portrayed on a cinema screen for the better part of last century. Rated 5 out of 5 by FireAuthor from A Broad Survey of the Wild American West This Great Course is a broad survey of the taming and expansion of the American West, even as the western border kept moving until quite soon, historically speaking, it abutted the sea. The idea of Wild West gunfights having any resemblance to European dueling is best left in dime novels and movie theaters where it belongs. Being town marshal hadn’t stopped Courtright from trying to extort Short. Reconstruction of C. hesternus – By Sergiodlarosa – CC BY-SA 3.0. What is the gunfighter myth of the Wild West? Drawn-out standoffs were almost non-existent, as were single gunslingers choosing to fight multiple opponents single-handed unless they absolutely had to. In fact, some historians even contend that the Wild West "was a far more civilized, more peaceful and safer place than American society today." The most notable and well-known took place in Arizona, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. It didn’t stop Courtright killing him, either. Designed to make a nation of virtuous farmers after the Jeffersonian ideal – which envisaged America as an agrarian republic – the homesteading boom advanced the settlement of the West considerably. The frontier area west of the Mississippi River during the late 1800s included the territories of Dakota, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Colorado. Unlike the Natives, emigrants wore long and thick clothing which obviously made things worse for them while traveling in high temperatures. Jefferson received skins and samples, maps and notes and even a live prairie dog but no news of a water route to the Pacific. “5 Ridiculous Myths Everyone Believes About the Wild West.”
The wild west also leaves out that 1 in 3 cowboys were african american, the movies usually only show white cowboys. Myth of the West: Lonely But Free I’ll Be Found. Some might argue they did not discover anything that American Indians or British fur traders had not already seen. Another fact which was totally ignored by the western filmmakers was the presence of camels in 19th century Wild West. Similar guns were made for women and nicknamed ‘muff pistols’ because they were often carried in the fur-lined hand-warmers fashionable among women of the time. Here, Robert Walsh debunks the myths and shares what really happened. However, in the Old West, not every Tom, Dick, or Harry would've been involved in big-time card games because gambling card games were an even bigger deal than they are portrayed as being. Native Americans were nothing like the barbarians and killers that western movies portray them as; they were rather clean, thinking, spiritual and mostly peaceful people, much like any community of humans. For many, however, the promise of the ‘Golden State’ was illusory. He’ll probably indulge in a drawn-out, climactic gunfight, standing opposite his opponent in the middle of a street for several minutes, each waiting for the other to make the first move. Many of the first migrants were men searching for gold but whole families migrating to Oregon would leave abruptly. The cowboy was, undeniably, one of the distinctive features of westward expansion. Famed marksman Tom Horn (later hanged for murder) was a sheriff’s deputy and a Pinkerton detective while performing contract murders at the same time. Legendary gunman Ben Thompson was a firm devotee of the shotgun, as was John ‘Doc’ Holliday’ of OK Corral fame. And no wonder: the lawlessness of the time provided plenty of drama, and the lonely windswept territories, mountainous and arid, provided the cinematic backdrop. That they did so is due, in no small part, to Sacagawea, wife of a French trapper, who guided them across the Rocky Mountains.
Explore 10 true stories of the Wild West, some of them stranger than fiction. The stereotypical ‘gunfighter’s rig’ beloved of movie directors the world over didn’t exist during the period. The character of the Wild West was truly developed through migration of Chinese coming to work from China on rail-roads, and Eastern US citizens rushing to west and california to find gold on the oregon trail, however many people imagined the land to be run by cowboys and bandits. The rate of homicide was significantly low; there were no choreographed gun-bouts, no mass hangings; to put it in one term ‘west was never the way you may remember from the western movies’. Gunfights like those in the ‘Spaghetti Westerns’ directed by Sergio Leone are wonderful viewing, but bear almost no relation to reality.
While it’s true that life in America’s Old West was rugged and harsh, made so by the untamed terrain and lack of amenities, Hollywood’s portrayals of mass murders, daily gunfights, gallant cowboys, and raging Natives is merely an exaggerated version of what dangerous accounts historic American westerners really experienced in their daily lives on the frontier. Karen Jones is senior lecturer in American and environmental history at the University of Kent with research interests in the 19th century, frontiers of empire and encounters with the natural world. It sure does look good, though. That, at least, is the Hollywood version of events. Equally notorious killer Ben Thompson became Chief of Police in Austin, Texas, despite having previously served a sentence for murder. H- Sitting Bull is an iconic figure for the American Wild West, as he was chief and a leader for his tribe during battles such as the Sioux War. Only then is a ‘cap and ball’ revolver fully loaded. In reality, the Cowboys at the time did not wear such headgear, purely because it was not practical and did not go with their overall rough and rugged attire. The cost of a mere cup of water started from one dollar, five dollars and in some places went as high as one hundred dollars. However, during and after the American Civil War a large number of camels were either killed or ran into the wilderness. The ‘Peacemaker’ could be reloaded simply by shaking out the spent metal cartridges and replacing them. With the frontier closed and the West ‘won’, the gun became good for business. Calamity Jane capitalised on her fame by selling photographs of herself in Yellowstone National Park, treading the boards in Wild West shows and writing an autobiography (though she was illiterate).
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