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This is a guest post from Abigail. If any of you have an interesting tale to tell about the Old West, contact Mrs. M and see about becoming a guest blogger.
From Andi: Sometimes, living in the West can be downright scary. And one of the biggest reasons that it’s like that is the outlaws. I’ve met my fair share of these men, like Jed Hatton, Hugh Baker, Toledo, and – the worst of all – Procopio. The West seems to draw the kind of men who like to make their living robbing and killing. Thankfully, I’ve never met most of these. But Justin reads about them in the out-of-town newspapers that he orders, then tells me about them. Here’s some of the most infamous outlaws of my time.
1. Frank & Jesse James: These two brothers are probably some of the best-known robbers in American history. Interestingly, they were the sons of a preacher. They were known for robbing trains and stagecoaches. Frank and Jesse managed to avoid the Pinkertons (who were detectives), but their mother was injured and their 8-year-old brother killed in the process. How awful! Despite all the dangerous situations Jesse had gotten out of alive, he was shot and killed by a member of his own gang while hanging a picture on the wall. He was only 34 when he died. Frank, however, was acquitted of his crimes and is still alive as of today (1888). I remember thinking about Frank and Jesse James when cousin Daniel came out to live with us for the spring and summer. I saw Daniel and Johnny Wilson together and couldn’t help thinking their appearance together might be worse than Frank and Jesse James! Although Johnny didn’t live up to it, Daniel sure did. That rat.
2. Billy the Kid: This is another notorious outlaw. His original name is Henry McCarthy, though he also went by William H. Bonney. He committed his first crime when he was only fifteen. Of all the things to be jailed for, Billy had stolen and hidden some laundry! That seems even more ridiculous than when my friends and I were thrown into jail cells for playing in the horse trough (Trouble with Treasure).
Unlike many others listed here, Billy never robbed a bank or stagecoach. His focus seemed to be cattle rustling, (kind of like Macy’s three rotten brothers). Supposedly he was killed when he was only 21 years old by Sheriff Pat Garrett, though some said that it wasn’t Billy that Garrett shot. So Billy the Kid could be dead, or he could still be alive now. I may never know… and I actually hope I never find out!
3. Doc Holliday: Who hasn’t heard of this dentist turned gunman? John Henry Holliday – or Doc Holliday, as he was known – was diagnosed with consumption (tuberculosis) and told that he might live longer if he moved from the East to the drier climate of the West. Lucky us (not). Instead of only practicing dentistry out west, he became a gambler. Though he was a good friend of lawman Wyatt Earp, Holliday supposedly robbed stagecoaches. In 1881, Holliday, Earp, and some other men participated in the legendary Shootout at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. Holliday wasn’t wounded there, but he died in 1887 – at only 36 years old – from his consumption.
4. John Wesley Hardin: This man seems about as mean as they come. He may have killed more than twenty or thirty men. He even shot one man just for snoring! He was arrested by some Texas Rangers back in 1877, and now he’s serving his sentence in prison. His sentence lasts for several more years, so he shouldn’t be hurting anyone else for a while. Maybe by the time he does get out he will have changed his ways. Or perhaps it’s too much to hope that he dies in prison. They’re pretty awful places, according to what Riley has told me about his father’s post at Fort Alcatraz.
5. Calamity Jane: This outlaw stands out from the rest for one major reason: she’s a woman. Her name is really Martha Jane Cannary (or Canary). My sister Melinda would gasp to hear of all the unladylike things that Calamity Jane does. She dresses like a man, drinks quite a bit, and is a robber. People say that she has a kind side, but for me that’s kind of hard to believe about a person like Calamity Jane.
6. The Five Joaquins: This was a gang of Mexican outlaws led by the notorious Joaquin Murrieta. But Murrieta wasn’t the only Joaquin; there were four others: Joaquin Ocomorenia, Joaquin Carrillo, Joaquin Botellier, and Joaquin Valenzuela. Another prominent figure in this gang was Manuel Garcia, better known as “Three-Fingered Jack.” “The Five Joaquins,” as they were known, stole gold and horses, as well as murdered people. A group called the California State Rangers tried to catch them, but were unsuccessful until 1853, when the Rangers met with some armed Mexicans (possibly the Five Joaquins gang). When the encounter was over, two men, supposedly Murrieta and Three-Fingered Jack, were dead.
7. Procopio: No list of outlaws I compile would be complete without Tomaso “Procopio” Rodendo. He is certainly my least favorite out of this whole list. Procopio, or Red-Handed Dick, as he was sometimes called, was the nephew of Joaquin Murrieta. Early on, he was suspected of murder twice, but was freed both times for lack of evidence. He was finally sent to jail for cattle rustling. After he was out, he worked with bandito Tiburico Vasquez. As a result of Lucy’s and my frightening encounter with him, he was shot and killed by the posse in 1885 (Courageous Love).
Note: There is no certain date of Procopio’s death; some seem to think that he died around 1878, others not until the 1890s. We don’t even know how he died. However, Mrs. M has used this historical mystery to make this real-life outlaw fit into her book Courageous Love.
6 thoughts on “Outlaw “Roundup””
Wow, that is some interesting stuff! I’m glad I don’t live in the 1800s (: How funny that Billy the Kid was jailed for stealing some laundry. I hope it was worth it lol
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Whoa, cool post!
Great article. Informative and interesting. Thanks, Abigail.
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Nice post. It is hilarious that Billy the Kid was jailed for hiding some laundry! He better have had a good reason. (Billy) I shuddered at Procopio. His name brings chills to my spine. That horrible man! I am SO GLAD I do not live 1800! Thanks for the post!
Wow! I didn’t know Procopio was a real outlaw in the 1800s!
Cool post, Abigail!
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