The Wild West

Each month on our new site we plan to bring you features of the old west, This month we tell you a little bit about the history, the cowboy and the cowgirl. In addition to this we will give a small bio of a famous outlaw, cowboy, cowgirl and indian. For interest and the trivia entusiast, you never know when this might come up in the pub quiz.

History of the Wild West

History of the Wild West

The American Old West or Wild West comprises the history, geography, peoples, lore, and cultural expression of life in the Western United States, most often referring to the period of the latter half of the 19th century, between the American Civil War and the end of the century. More encompassing and more accurate, however, is the inclusion of the entire 19th century. Through treaties with foreign nations and native peoples, political compromise, technological innovation, military conquest, establishment of law and order, and the great migrations of foreigners, the United States expanded from coast to coast, fulfilling the call of Manifest Destiny. In securing and managing the West, the federal government greatly expanded its powers, as the nation grew from an agrarian society to an industrialized nation. First promoting settlement and exploitation of the land, by the end of the 19th century the federal government became a steward of the remaining open spaces. As the American Old West passed into history, the myths of the West took firm hold in the imagination of Americans and foreigners alike.


The Cowboy and the Cowgirl

The Cowboy and the Cowgirl

A cowboy is an animal herder who tends cattle on ranches in North America, traditionally on horseback, and often performs a multitude of other ranch-related tasks. The historic American cowboy of the late 19th century became a figure of special significance and legend. A subtype, called a wrangler, specifically tends the horses used to work cattle. In addition to ranch work, some cowboys work for or participate in rodeos.
Cowgirls, first defined as such in the late 19th century, had a less-well documented historical role, but in the modern world have established the ability to work at virtually identical tasks and obtained considerable respect for their achievements.
There are also cattle handlers in many other parts of the world, particularly South America and Australia, who perform work similar to the cowboy in their respective nations.


Cowboys

Cowboys

Central to the myth and the reality of the West is the American cowboy. His real life was a hard one and revolved around two annual roundups, spring and fall, the subsequent drives to market, and the time off in the cattle towns spending his hard earned money on food, clothing, gambling, and prostitution. During winter, many cowboys hired themselves out to ranches near the cattle towns, where they repaired and maintained equipment and buildings. On a long drive, there was usually one cowboy for each 250 head of cattle.

Before a drive, a cowboy’s duties included riding out on the range and bringing together the scattered cattle. The best cattle would be selected, roped, and branded, and male cattle were castrated. The cattle also needed to be dehorned and examined and treated for infections. On the long drives, the cowboys had to keep the cattle moving and in line. The cattle had to be watched day and night as they were prone to stampedes and straying. The work days often lasted fourteen hours, with just six hours of sleep. It was grueling, dusty work, with just a few minutes of relaxation before and at the end of a long day. On the trail, drinking, gambling, brawling, and even cursing was often prohibited and fined. It was often monotonous and boring work. Food was barely adequate and consisted mostly of bacon, beans, bread, coffee, dried fruit, and potatoes. On average, cowboys earned $30 to $40 per month. Because of the heavy physical and emotional toll, it was unusual for a cowboy to spend more than seven years on the range. As open range ranching and the long drives gave way to fenced in ranches in the 1880’s, the glory days of the cowboy came to an end, and the myths about the cowboy began to emerge.

Many of the cowboys were veterans of the Civil War, particularly from the Confederacy, who returned to ruined home towns and found no future, so they went west looking for opportunities. Some were Blacks, Hispanics, and even Native Americans, Britons, and Scotsmen. Nearly all were in their twenties or teens. The earliest cowboys in Texas learned their trade, adapted their clothing, and took their jargon from the Mexican vaqueros or “buckeroos”, the heirs of Spanish cattlemen from Andalusia in Spain. Chaps, the heavy protective leather trousers worn by cowboys, got their name from the Spanish “chaparreras”, and the lariat was derived from “reata”. All the distinct clothing of the cowboy—boots, saddles, hats, pants, chaps, slickers, bandannas, gloves, and collar-less shirts—were practical and adaptable, designed for protection and comfort. The most enduring fashion adapted from the cowboy, popular nearly worldwide today, are “blue jeans”, originally made by Levi Strauss for miners in 1850.<Actinic:Variable Name = '151'/>

The modern rodeo or “Frontier Day” show is the only American sport to evolve from an industry. It exists on both the amateur and professional level, and it remains a favorite form of entertainment in many towns of the West. Rodeos combine the traditional skills of the range cowboy—calf and steer roping, steer wrestling, team roping, bronco riding, and horsemanship—with the showmanship of bull riding, trick riding, barrel racing, and comic relief.<Actinic:Variable Name = '152'/>


James-Younger Gang

James-Younger Gang

The James-Younger Gang was a legendary 19th century gang of American outlaws that included Jesse James.

The gang was centered in the state of Missouri. Membership fluctuated from robbery to robbery, as the outlaws' raids were usually separated by many months. At various times, it included the Younger Brothers (Cole, Jim, John, and Bob), the James Brothers (the infamous Jesse James and his brother Frank), Clell Miller, Arthur McCoy, Charlie Pitts, John Jarrette (who was married to Cole's sister Josie), and Bill Chadwell (alias Bill Stiles). Contrary to frequent report, the James brothers and Younger brothers were not related, at least not by blood. Starting in 1879, after the demise of the James-Younger Gang, The James brothers committed further crimes with Clell Miller's brother Ed, the Ford brothers (Robert and Charles), Bill Ryan, Dick Liddil, and the Hite Brothers Wood and Clarence.

The James-Younger Gang had its origins in a group of Confederate bushwhackers who fought in the bitter partisan conflict that wracked the divided state of Missouri during the American Civil War. This group's postwar crimes began in 1866, though it did not truly become the "James-Younger Gang" until 1868 at the earliest, when the authorities first named Cole Younger and both the James brothers as suspects in the robbery of the Nimrod Long bank in Russellville, Kentucky. It dissolved in 1876, after the capture of the Younger brothers in Minnesota after the ill-fated attempt to rob the Northfield First National Bank. Three years later, Jesse James organized a new gang and renewed his criminal career, which came to an end with his death in 1882. During the gang's period of activity, it robbed banks, trains, and stagecoaches in Missouri, Kentucky, Iowa, Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, and West Virginia.




Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp (March 19, 1848–January 13, 1929) was an American farmer, teamster, sometime buffalo hunter, officer of the law in various Western frontier towns, gambler, saloon-keeper, miner, and boxing referee. He is best known for his participation in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, along with Doc Holliday, and two of his brothers, Virgil Earp and Morgan Earp. He is also noted for the Earp Vendetta.

Wyatt Earp has become an iconic figure in American folk history. He is the major subject of various movies, TV shows, biographies and works of fiction.





Chief Sitting Bull

Chief Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull, also nicknamed Slon-he or "Slow"; (ca. 1831 – December 15, 1890) was a Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux holy man, born near the Grand River in South Dakota and killed by reservation police on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation during an attempt to arrest him and prevent him from supporting the Ghost Dance movement.

He is notable in American and Native American history for his role in the major victory at the Battle of the Little Bighorn against Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment on June 25, 1876, where Sitting Bull's premonition of defeating the cavalry became reality. In the months after the battle, Sitting Bull fled the United States to Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan, Canada, where he remained until 1881, at which time he surrendered to American forces. A small remnant of his band under Chief Wambligi decided to stay at Wood Mountain. After his return to the United States, he briefly toured as a performer in Buffalo Bill's Wild West show.

After working as a performer, Sitting Bull returned to the Standing Rock Agency in South Dakota. Because of fears that he would use his influence to support the Ghost Dance movement, Indian Affairs authorities ordered his arrest. During an ensuing struggle between Sitting Bull's followers and the police, Sitting Bull was shot in the side and head by American police after they were fired upon by his supporters. His body was taken to nearby Fort Yates for burial, but in 1953, his remains possibly were exhumed and reburied near Mobridge, South Dakota by Sioux who wanted his body to be nearer to his birthplace. However, some Sioux and historians dispute this claim and believe that any remains that were moved were not those of Sitting Bull.


Geronimo

Geronimo

Born Goyathlay, Goyaalé: "one who yawns" June 16, 1829 Gila River, Mexico


Died February 17, 1909 (aged 79) Fort Sill, Oklahoma

Occupation Medicine man

Known for A famous Apache Warrior



Geronimo (Chiricahua: Goyaalé, "one who yawns"; often spelled Goyathlay or Goyahkla in English) was a prominent Native American leader of the Chiricahua Apache who defended his people against the encroachment of the United States on their tribal lands for over 25 years.

Geronimo was born to the Bedonkohe band of the Apache, near Turkey Creek, a tributary of the Gila River in the modern-day state of Arizona, then part of Mexico, but which his family considered Bedonkohe land.

Geronimo's father, Tablishim, and mother, Juana, educated him according to Apache traditions. He married a woman from the Chiricauhua band of Apache; they had three children. On March 5, 1851, a company of 400 soldiers from Sonora led by Colonel Jose Maria Carrasco attacked Geronimo's camp outside Janos while the men were in town trading. Among those dead were Geronimo's wife, Alope, his children, and mother. His chief, Mangas Coloradas, sent him to Cochise's band for help in revenge against the Mexicans. It was the Mexicans who named him Geronimo. This appellation stemmed from a battle in which he repeatedly attacked Mexican soldiers with a knife, ignoring a deadly hail of bullets, in reference to the Mexicans' plea to Saint Jerome. The name stuck.






Billy the Kid

Billy the Kid

Henry McCarty was born on November 23, 1859 and died on July 14, 1881, at the hands of Sheriff Patrick Garrett,

He was better known as Billy the Kid, but also known by the aliases Henry Antrim and William H. Bonney, was a 19th-century American frontier outlaw and gunman who participated in the so-called Lincoln County War. According to legend, he killed 21 men, one for each year of his life, but he most likely participated in the killing of fewer than half that number.

McCarty or Bonney, the name he used at the height of his notoriety was 5 ft 8 in-5 ft 9 in (173-175 cm) tall with blue eyes, a smooth complexion and prominent front teeth. He was said to be friendly and personable at times, and many recalled that he was as "lithe as a cat". Contemporaries described him as a "neat" dresser who favored an "unadorned Mexican sombrero". These qualities, along with his cunning and celebrated skill with firearms, contributed to his paradoxical image, as both a notorious outlaw and beloved folk hero.


Wild Bill Hickok

Wild Bill Hickok

James Butler Hickok (May 27, 1837 – August 2, 1876), better known as Wild Bill Hickok, was a folk hero of the American Old West. His skills as a gunfighter and scout, along with his reputation as a lawman, provided the basis for his fame, although some of his reported exploits are fictionalized.
Born and raised on a farm in rural Illinois, Hickok went west at age 18 as a fugitive from justice, first working as a stagecoach driver, before he became a lawman in the frontier territories of Kansas and Nebraska. He fought for the Union Army during the American Civil War, and gained publicity after the war as a scout, marksman, actor, and professional gambler. Between his law-enforcement duties and gambling, which easily overlapped, Hickok was involved in several notable shootouts. He was shot and killed while playing poker in the Nuttal & Mann's Saloon in Deadwood, Dakota Territory (now South Dakota).

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