Wagons West Chronicles October Issue 2016 October Issue - Page 13

Wagons West Chronicles October 2016 13 STUDY OF WESTERN BAD MEN revolver as much articles of dress as their hats and boots–more so, indeed, for there are seasons when a man might travel with safety without boots, but he would hardly think it healthy to do so without his customary pistol. Since the revolutionary days the people who settled along the Appalachian range, particularly in the Southern slave states, have been distinguished for their lawlessness. It is only the other day that the country was horrified by the recital of the Hatfield-McCoy feud, when scarcely a month went by without the recital of a murder. It was so with the Hatfield-Turner feud in Kentucky, where judges were murdered on the bench, and sheriffs were made targets by the men they tried to arrest. These mountain desperadoes were so strong as to set the authority of governors at defiance, and the story of their barbarities presents a record as cruel and brutal as anything recited in the most lurid history of Indian massacres. As the country becomes more settled, schools will be established and law and order will take the place of that violence which has so long distinguished the sparsely settled portions of the south and west. The western bad man is therefore not a new character, but an old character, under a new name, who finds the methods of murder modified by his environment. A quarter of a century ago, or immediately after the war, the western desperado, who was invariably a gambler, and at times a fighter, was, physically, at least, a most picturesque character. William Haycock, or “Wild Bill” as he delighted to be called, was a fine type of this class. While connected with the government survey in 1867, I met this man at Fort Riley, Kansas, where he was then employed as an Indian scout. He Ben Thompson. was a most striking looking man, Black Hills. It is a curious fact that no men and at this time was, I think, about twenty-seven years of age. He was who have become conspicuous on dressed in a fanciful buckskin suit, the frontier and in the mining with the regulation string edges, camps as outlaws and desperados and was over six feet in height, are natives of New England. straight as an Indian, with long, Indeed, we find more Irish, dark hair, dark eyes, and easy tiger- French, Germans and even like movement which denoted Englishmen, amongst this outlaw great strength and activity. Wild class, than we do of New Bill was regarded favorably by the Englanders. As might be expectofficers of the fort, who believed ed, a majority of them come from him to be a brave, las abiding citi- the southern and western states, zen, but at the same time one of where from childhood they have the best horsemen and rifle shots been accustomed to carrying to be found along the frontier. firearms, and whose early training Women, whiskey and faro proved made them more familiar with tarthe ruin of Wild Bill. He drifted gets than with school books. In out of the government service, the early 70’s there was no man became a gambler and desperado, better known in Texas and along a “bad western man,” in fact, and the Rio Grande as far as Colorado died “with his boots on” in the than John Westley Harding. Tv Show 1951-1958 Wild Bill Hickok. An Old Character Dressed up with a New Name HE USUALLY HAILS FROM THE SOUTH. Some Noted Bad Men who have Died With Their Boots on The Careers of Wild Bill and Ben Thompson Bat Masterson and His Long List of Victims. April 30, 1894, Gazette, Fort Worth, Texas — There is a general impression, particularly in the east, that the lawless frontiersman is a comparatively recent addition to our criminal classes. This is a mistake. Ever since we have had a frontier ever since there has been any part of our country so sparsely settled as to be practically out of the reach or control of officers of the law, we have had this element with us, but its types have varied with the improvement in firearms and the nation’s general advance. It is a mistake to suppose that the lawless desperado is a peculiar product of the fa