Nowadays we take the ability to take a photo for granted, considering there are cameras everywhere we look. But there was a time when taking a photo was a major ordeal that some people never experienced in their lifetime. Especially back in the time of the Wild Wild West with the outlaws, and the covered wagons, and the gunfights in the town streets… just think of what it would’ve been like if cameras were accessible as they are today! Lucky for us, some rarely seen photographs from the Wild West have surfaced over the years, provides us a direct look into one of the most fascinating eras in history.
The Original Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers were a division of the statewide law enforcement agency that was notorious for tracking down criminals and investigating serious crimes. They originated in 1823 when Stephen Austin recruited 10 men to act as protectors of roughly 600 families that had recently relocated to Texas after the Mexican War.
Rufus Buck Gang
The Rufus Buck Gang consisted of a very diverse group that ranged from African American to Creek Indian that terrorized the Oklahoma-Arkansas area in 1895. Most famously they went on a 13-day crime spree that resulted in numerous robberies and murders.
It’s fairly safe to say that Wyatt Earp reached legendary status considering his name is still very well known today thanks to Hollywood films like Tombstone among many others. Earp was a highly respected, and slightly feared lawman that once served as a U.S. Deputy Marshal. However, it was most likely that his involvement in the shootout at the O.K. Corral and the wrath that followed that really put his name on the map.
The Tipi, or also know as the Teepee, was used by many people all over the world in one form or another. The Sioux Indians used long wooden poles to create a base and wrapped it with buffalo hide. In the photo is said to be Slow Bull of the Sioux Tribe in front of his home.
Best Dressed Cowboys
Being a real cowboy was nothing even close to a glamorous life. It was dirty, sweaty and stinky work that usually lasted from sunup to sundown. But you wouldn’t know it by looking at photos of vintage cowboys because they were known for overdressing for photos, when or if they had a chance to take one.
Rose Dunn grew up around the gang lifestyle and when she was just a teenager she fell in love with George “Bittercreek” Newcomb, a well know Outlaw of the time. According to reports, she stood by her man till the bitter end, even shooting at U.S. Marshalls that had cornered and shot Newcomb.
Wild Bill Hickock
Very few gunslingers of the Wild West achieved legendary status, but one that most certainly did was none other than Wild Bill Hickock. Known as the “fastest hand in the West” for his lightning-quick draw on his pistol. In the end, it didn’t matter how fast he was because he was shot in the back while playing cards.
Ms. Olive Oatman, unfortunately, has quite the horrific story attached to the early parts of her life but luckily she persevered and not only survived, but thrived. She lost both parents at the young age of 14 and then was taken and sold as property which resulted in a facial tattoo, among many other horrible things. However, she did escape and went on to have a good life with a husband and a child.
Life in a Saloon
Just like bars and clubs nowadays, every Saloon had their own style as well as the type of people that frequented them. One saloon that became popular was the Kraemer’s Saloon in Monroe Michigan. According to reports, it was common for drinks to be priced much higher than retail cost, and women were highly revered and very well protected. Anyone caught disrespecting one of the ladies was very quickly dealt with.
Borax Miners in Death Valley
Miners used to travel to Death Valley because it was known for producing the mineral Borax. However, because the conditions were so extreme they required massive teams of mules with 20 or more to carry supplies to keep the men alive.
The Genuine Cowboy
This photo is of the fairly unknown cowboy by the name of Charlie Nebo and his friend, Nicholas Janis. Nebo was once part of the Texas Rangers before he was honorably discharged due to a broken leg. He was also said to be close friends with William Boney, better known as Billy The Kid.
Nothing was more important to a man in the late 1800’s than his gun, which was never more than an arms reach away. Especially if you were a known gunfighter like John Wesley Hardin who was a notorious Texas Outlaw. According to reports, Hardin was a mean and ruthless man that apparently shot a man just for snoring.
Birdseye View of Lakota Camp
This is a photo of the birdseye view of the Lakota Camp near the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1891, which happens to be the location of the Wounded Knee Massacre that had taken place the previous year.
One of the most famous native Indians in history would likely be the leader of the Bedonkohe band of the Chiricahua Apache tribe, more commonly known as Geronimo. He also played a major part in uniting other Indian tribes against Mexico and the United States.
Terry’s Texas Rangers
A small group of volunteers for the Confederate States Army assembled behind Colonel Benjamin Terry to fight in several battles during the Civil War. They called themselves Terr’s Texas Rangers and were said to have fought in almost 300 different engagements.
Jesse James was one of the most notorious outlaws of the Wild West because of the countless murders and robberies he was responsible for. He was the leader of the James-Younger gang during the late 1800’s but it was a fellow gang member that shot him in 1882 in an attempt to collect the bounty on James’ head.
George Armstrong Custer
George Armstrong Custer, or more commonly known as General Custer, was the calvary commander for the Union Army during the American Civil War. He was also famously known for “Custer’s Last Stand” where he was defeated at Little Bighorn by the Indians.
Life on the Prairie
Your average couple enjoying a nice lunch next to their covered wagon and horses in the Kansas territory circa the late 1800’s. Think of it as your modern day RV’s only with your entire life is in there. But it was those courageous people that ventured out west to start civilization as we know it.
This Canadian-born female was known because she was a female outlaw who had performed multiple stagecoach robberies, including one of the last recorded in the United States. She dressed like a man in order to try and blend in and not bring attention to herself.
Tiburcio Vasquez was Hispanic outlaw that managed to evade law enforcement for over 20 years before they caught up to him in 1875. However, because he was also known for fighting the unjust laws applied to Mexican Americans at the time he is regarded as a hero by some.