More Photos of the Old Wild West You Won’t Believe Exist!

The Wild West was a challenging time to be alive. It was an era of cowboys, Native Americans, saloons, outlaws, and of course, gunfights. Are you curious to find out if this time looked as accurate as it does in movies?
 
Here are some more amazing photographs that can take us back.

Deadwood, South Dakota

As part of the Omaha Board of Trade, a procession of stagecoaches carries passengers down a mountain road near Deadwood, South Dakota. This image was captured in 1889.

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This place was later the setting of the famous, and incredibly good HBO western series Deadwood, which showed the history of the town.

Western Settlement of Tomapah, Nevada

This photo of the main street in the Western Settlement of Tomapah, Nevada was always full of people.

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The covered wagons brought goods to the trading posts which was either to be used for sale or for trade.

Buffalo Bill

In this photo, we see two native Americans beside a cowboy on a bale of hay. These three guys were part of the Buffalo Bill show.

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Cool photo, Indeed!

Sacheen Little Feather

In this photo, we see Sacheen Little Feather, who became one of the leading activist voices for the Native American civil rights.

 

She gave a speech at the 45th Annual Academy Awards asking Marlon Brando to decline his award to protest the treatment of Native American people in show business.

Fans of Buffalo Bill

If you think these people were going into battle, you might have been wrong. This image shows the large group of Native Americans lining up in the 1890s.

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They were lining up for the Famous Buffalo Bill Wild West Show to participate. Now, that is a long line!

Brulé Sioux Native Americans

Here we see a photo of the Brulé Sioux Native Americans when they traveled horseback across the plains.

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They are sometimes referred to as Burnt Thigh Nation and were called Brulé by the French settlers.

Barbara Rush in, Taza, Son of Cochise

Many of the portrayals in most Hollywood films were of Native American Tribe Women.

 

In this image, we see Barbara Rush from the 1954 film, Taza, Son of Cochise, wearing a Native American Costume. In the movie, she was the chief of the Chiricahua Apache tribe and a key leader during the Apache wars.

The Land Rushes

In this 1900’s Image, we see a man on his horse while waving his hat. Back then, groups would race to claim the land they were interested in.

 

Sometimes, as many as 50,000 people participated in these races just to get a chunk of the land for themselves. Now, that’s competitive.

The Crow Indians

In this photo, we see eight Crow Indians on horseback, silhouetted by the rising sun behind them in 1908.

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This image was taken in Montana. These Indians were known to live in large areas around the Yellowstone River, which consisted of modern-day Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota.

A Sioux Woman

. Here we see a young Sioux woman wearing a special ceremonial dress for a specific occasion.

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Most of these Native American tribes have their own taste when it comes to clothing and garments, which is why other tribes could pick them out from a distance.

The Gold Rush

Here we see a group of Gold Rush prospectors posing with their gear and a horse before they go out into the site and search for their riches.

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The photo was taken in 1867 in the Northwest U.S.

The Peace Commission

This is a photo of Dodge City Peace Commission back in June of 1883.

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The city was known for being a lawless town, until Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson, who formed the Peace Commission to help maintain the security and maintain the order of things.

Monument Valley

We see a Native American Cowboy riding his horse to the edge of this cliff located in Monument Valley.

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Such a beautiful photo! Due to the popularity of the setting, many Hollywood films were shot here and has become the epitome of the American West Image.

Broncho Charlie Miller

One of the last remaining survivors of the Pony Express is this Broncho Charlie Miller. Miller performed later on in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

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This express helped establish communication between the East and the Western United States, which eventually made letter writing more expedient across the country.

Little House on The Prairie

In this photo, we see a family of settlers posing in front of a covered wagon. Makes you wonder what was inside huh?

 

In 1803, the Louisiana Purchase began the massive expansion of Americans into western territories.

Gender Roles in Native American Culture

Back then, gender roles were quite progressive as compared to other areas for Native American Culture. Men and women learned the same skills, which included sewing, cooking, riding horses, skinning leather, and using weapons.

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In the photo that was taken back in 1910, we see a young Piegan woman wearing a traditional beaded dress on top of a hilltop.

“Wild” Bill Hickok

One of the most famous frontiersmen of the Old West was “Wild” Bill Hickok. He gained his reputation because of his tales of adventure.

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Unfortunately, in 1876, he was killed while he was playing a game of poker. Some disgruntled men shot him, allegedly because of a poker game the day before. When he was shot, he was holding two pairs of aces and eights, which at the time was known as a “Dead Man’s Hand”

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show

Finally, a proper photo of the famed entertainer of the late 19th Century, William Frederick Cody or otherwise known as Buffalo Bill.

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This photo was taken in 1900. His famous Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show was a touring performance act that displayed the stories of many Native Americans and Cowboys.

Annie Oakley, a Pure Talent

Another photo of Annie Oakley on this list. As we mentioned before, Annie Oakley was known for her incredible sharpshooting talents as part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

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If you are not aware of the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, as we previously mentioned, it was one of the most famous traveling shows back in the old west. Oakley, seen here in an image from 1899, was born on August 13, 1860, and died on November 3, 1926. In this photo, you can even see how serious she is with her shooting, and it would probably be a good idea not to piss her off.

The Louisiana Purchase

The timeline of the Wild West sometimes referred to as the Old West, generally begins around the time of the Louisiana Purchase (in 1803) The Wild West in American history is often characterized by the western expansion of settlers to develop land west of the Mississippi River. But even though the expansion officially stopped, it doesn’t mean the West was truly settled by then.

 

In this photo, we see a photo of the perfect cowboy vs. Indian image. It’s great a photo too because is exactly what we would imagine the old west be, the same as in the movies.   The expansion of the west certainly did not come without its consequences. In fact, you didn’t need to search too far to find out of death stories or bloodshed on the frontier. When it wasn’t warring groups shooting at one another, it was frontiersmen and women who faced long odds to survive the journey. The old west was definitely a tough time for many people.

The Cowboys Playing Poker

Have you tried watching those old western movies, only to find a group of cowboys playing a game of poker before getting into a bar fight? Well, to make it more interesting, people actually took gambling seriously back then no matter how illegal it might have been.

 

In fact, gambling back then was a big deal, especially in the 19th century. Believe it or not, some of the first structures built in the old west were gambling halls. It was a favorite past time, so if you were hanging out at the saloon, the first thing you’d expect to see are girls, bar fights, drinking, and poker games!

Maggie: A Girl of the Streets

A novella written by Stephen Crane called “Maggie: A Girl of the Streets” The plot had centered around a young girl from Bowery, whose life had taken an unfortunate turn because she was seduced by a friend of her brother’s, which eventually ended her life tragically.

 

The story was considered risque at the time because it was followed by a second novel called “George’s Mother” written by the same author.

Rufus Buck Gang

This photo of rugged young looking dudes was known as the Rufus Buck Gang. Originally formed by a guy named Rufus Buck, this multi-racial gang of outlaws robbed ranches and stores in the late 1890s in the Arkansas Oklahoma area.

 

They were eventually captured outside Muskogee, OK, and received a death sentence for killing several men including a US Marshall named John Garrett.

A Bullet Dance

The photo you see before you are of the several men firing their guns at another man’s feet in an unknown old western saloon, which was possibly located in Wyoming.

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Back then, the only way a poor man could avoid getting shot, as if he jumped as fast as he can, which was called a “Bullet dance” As you can see, we don’t think it was all fun and games for these guys!

Rotgut Liquor

Back then, any kind of liquor was not cheap, especially Rotgut Liquor. For saloons to generate more money, owners would dilute their good liquor by adding other ingredients into it, like ammonia and turpentine. Woah, that sounds like a dangerous combination!

 

Besides, hard liquor, some of the most popular drinks included the Allston Cocktail, which was made with peppermint schnapps, gin, lemon juice, and a classic mix of brandy and soda called B&S. No wonder people were always drunk! The drinks back then were super deadly!

Chicago Joe

This photo is of the Queen of the Red Light District, Josephine Airey or otherwise known as Chicago Joe. She was a business owner and popular prostitute from Helena, Montana.

 

Aside from being the successful madam that she is, she also owned a few brothels, theaters, dance halls, and saloons, as well as a whole lot of land. Wow!

The Respectable Madams

Prostitution was a big thing back in the old west. Even though it was mostly illegal, brothels were common and in plain sight. Some respectable madams even donated most of their profits back to society.

 

Since working in the gold mines was mostly lonely and cold, that’s when scarlet women and madams came along.

Pear Heart

Known for her stagecoach robberies, Pear Heart was another woman from the old west that had a lot of spunk! She was the gutsy gal that escaped from prison and reached celebrity status during her lifetime.

 

Although she is a famous robber, she was well educated and came from a wealthy family.

Poker

Poker is another favorite pastime in the old west. If you were not a gambler, you weren’t a cowboy. It was a popular form of entertainment.

 

This game was originally developed in the United States during the 19th century and was documented as early as 1836, in a book called “Dragoon Campaigns to the Rocky Mountains.”

The Gypsies

Like many other things in the old west, Fortune telling was a favorite pastime. When you think of a fortune teller you think Gypsies or Romani People.

 

Common fortune telling methods are through tarot card reading, palm reading, and crystallomancy. Most of these methods are still used today.

The Anti-Saloon League

Back in the Wild West, women were not given equal rights to a drink at the saloon. Unless they were saloon girls, prostitutes, or dancers, women were barred from even entering almost all saloons up until World War I.

 

Women who were denied a drink that helped found the Anti-saloon League, which was the most powerful prohibition lobby.

Bill Brazen

This guy is the first masked robber on our list. This photo is of William Whitney Brazelton, otherwise known as Bill Brazen. Back then he was a well-known stage robber and an overall outlaw.

 

The above photo shows Brazen wearing his signature face mask, which he used to hide his identity from his victims.

Apache Spirit Dancers

This photo is of the Apache Spirit Dancers, this group consists of several Native American tribes that originated in the Southwestern United States.

 

The dancers are believed to hold the ability to summon the spirits from the underground realm. These spirits could help protect Apache people from harm.

Shoshone Falls, Idaho

Another one from Timothy O’ Sullivan’s collection of gorgeous photos, this landscape is of the Shoshone Falls, Idaho, which is located in Snake River.

 

These falls are so giant that they are referred to as the “Niagara Falls of the West.” They became a great tourist attraction and remain so to this day.

Bath House Hot Springs, Arkansas

This photo is of the Bath House Hot Springs, Arkansas. It is known to have medicinal properties and was a popular place to go to among Native American Tribes.

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Up until now, it still remains the same, but it also houses the oldest Federal Reserve in the United States.

Whirling Horse

Another member of the famous Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show was Whirling Horse. All the Native Americans on the show were called “show indians.”

 

In one of their shows, they would usually reenact historical battles, and perform some of their native dances for their audience. It’s nice to find out about their culture, you know?

Timothy O’ Sullivan’s Self Portrait

This is a picture of Timothy O’ Sullivan himself. Now we are starting to wonder who took this photo of him.

 

Actually, he became a civil war photographer after becoming part of the war himself. After the Civil War ended, O’Sullivan set out to explore the Western landscape and embarked on a long cross-continental expedition.

Pyramid Lake, Nevada

This photo is of Pyramid Lake, Nevada, which was the naturally occurring sink of the Truckee River Basin in Reno, Nevada near Lake Tahoe.

 

As you might have assumed, this lake is extremely salty, and if you were to take a dip in it, you wouldn’t like the taste of the water.

Gold Hill, Nevada

Here’s another nice nature photo. This one is of the Gold Hill, Nevada, which is located just south of Virginia City.

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It became a famous place for mining of the Comstock Lode. It was once a mining city, but now it only has a total of 191 inhabitants. It’s almost a ghost town.

Colorado Browns Park

This photo is of the Colorado Browns Park, which was located on the Utah Colorado Border. It was originally called Brown’s Hole. This isolated mountain valley contains Flaming Gorge Dam and ends at Dinosaur National Monument.

 

Historically, it has been a safe haven for many outlaws like Butch Cassidy and Tom Horn.

The Railroad Workers

In the old west, there were a lot of railroads. Of course, nothing would have been possible without the railroad workers.

 

Unfortunately, because of the labor problems and financial problems, most companies refused to provide Chinese workers with a place to stay, which meant that they became extremely overworked.

Villa of Brule

This photograph is of the Villa of Brule near Pine Ridge, South Dakota. It was taken by John C.H. Grabill.

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There even a great Indian camp on this villa, which is why you can see so many teepees. This photo was taken in 1891, and it looks like something out of a photo book!

Johnny Ringo

Do you want to know who was the most well-known outlaw in the old west? It was Johnny Ringo. Johnny and his group were called the Cochise County boys.

 

They were the ultimate menaces back then. Johnny and his gang were involved in the shooting of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.

Utah Big Cottonwood Power Station

Here’s another beautiful scene. This is a photo of the Utah Big Cottonwood Power Station. It’s located in Salt Lake City, Utah, and you can see the Pelton wheel working in the Stairs Power Station.

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Are you a nature junky? Located near the Big Cottonwood Canyon, this would be the best place for you! This canyon is also great for catching fish, and up until now it still remains the same beautiful scene.

Black Canyon, Colorado

Have you guys heard of the Black Canyon of Colorado? It’s one of the famous landmarks in Nevada and Arizona.

 

The Canyon is also surrounded by beautiful mountains, and full of hot springs. We think it’s absolutely gorgeous!

Timothy O’Sullivan’s Darkroom Wagon

We all know how important wagons were back in the old west. The Wagon that’s in this photo is actually Timothy O’Sullivan’s Darkroom wagon.

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Yup, he also had a wagon! All the photos that you see on this list that came from him, were all developed in this wagon you see before you.

Alfred A. Hart

Another influential photographer to add to the list is Alfred A. Hart, who was named the official photographer of the Western half of the transcontinental railroad in the 1860s.

 

This photo you see in front of you is a line of cliffs in the Palisades, Nevada. Ain’t it a beauty?

The Rodeo Queens

Believe it or not, cowboys weren’t the only ones who joined the rodeo back in the old west. In fact, some women were brave enough to join.

 

. These girls you see in the photo are called the Rodeo cowgirls or Rodeo queens. Some of the most famous cowgirls at the time were Calamity Jane, and Dale Evans.

Sturgis, South Dakota

This photograph is the image of the frontier life in Sturgis, South Dakota. It was taken in the Library of Congress.

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The photographer behind this amazing photo is John C.H Grabill. The majority of Dakota Territory’s people were mostly prospectors, cowboys, hunters, and teams of oxen.

John C.H. Grabill

Here’s another great photographer, John C.H. Grabill. He mostly took photographs of the Dakota Territory. He also had a studio in Chicago. The photo you see here is of the Deadwood Coach. It was iconic in stagecoach existence.

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The stagecoach was also included in all of Buffalo Bill’s shows throughout Europe and America.

Buffalo Soldier

Remember Bob Marley’s iconic song Buffalo Soldier? Well, now we know where he got the term. In 1890, nobody was sure who this specific soldier was, but his face will forever be known.

 

The term Buffalo Soldier was given to black soldiers by the Native Americans and it stuck ever since.

Pagosa Hot Springs

The image you see in front of you is of the Pagosa Hot Springs in Colorado, which is still around up to this day.

 

These waters were known to have minerals, which could supposedly cure any ailments that you might have had. The man you see in the photo is trying to get better.

Morgan Earp

As we mentioned, there wasn’t just one Earp man in the wild west, but they were a whole group.

 

Morgan Earp is one of them, and he was Wyatt Earp’s brother. Morgan only spent his time in Tombstone, Arizona confronting outlaw cowboys like his brother.

Timothy O’ Sullivan

Ah, the famous photographer of the Native Americans, Timothy O’ Sullivan. Finally, we will be talking about the guy that single-handedly took all of those gorgeous photos back in the Wild West.

 

This awesome photographer was born on Staten Island, New York. He became one of the most influential photographers in the Civil War.

Sterling Griffith

Remember Goldie Griffith who we mentioned was one of the toughest and roughest women in the old west?

 

Remember we also mentioned that she was married to fellow Buffalo Bill performer Harry Griffith? In this picture, you can see their beautiful baby boy, who was born on May 9, 1913.

Sioux Indian Teepees

One of the largest tribes to have lived in the Great Plains was the Sioux Indians. As you can see in the photo, they built teepees.

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Although we are not very sure where this photo was taken exactly, it is probably safe to guess that it was somewhere in the Dakota Territory.

Old Mission Church

One very good example of the Spanish Colonial era is the Old Mission Church, located in New Mexico.

 

This church was established back in 1630, and the mission itself was relatively small. The church was inhabited by Franciscans for some time. Now, it is a tourist attraction in Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico.

Doc Holliday

Another incredibly well-known gunfighter during the wild west was Doc Holliday. As we have mentioned earlier on in this list, he was also a good friend of Wyatt Earp.

 

At 20 years old, Holliday became a dentist, but later on, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and became a gambler in Arizona.

Aboriginal Life Among the Navajo Indians Near Old Fort Defiance, New Mexico

This photograph that was taken by Timothy O’Sullivan titled the “Aboriginal Life Among the Navajo Indians Near Old Fort Defiance, New Mexico” was printed in 1873.

 

As you can see, the photo shows the Navajos at their home. They were known for being very intelligent, and are one of the most wealthy Aboriginal tribes in the U.S.

Louisa Earp

We have heard plenty about the Earp Men so far, but not so much about the ladies. Louisa Earp was Morgan Earp’s Wife. Behind every great man, there is a woman, and that’s exactly what the case for Morgan Earp.

 

Although they seemed to be the perfect couple, no one really knew that they got married.

Wyatt Earp

Who can forget Wyatt Earp? Yes, he is a real person, and he was a good friend of Doc Holliday. .

 

In the old west, he was known as a proficient gambler, but even though he was known for that, he still had a normal day job as a deputy sheriff in Arizona.

Wheeler Survey Group

The happy-looking people in this photo were called the Wheeler Survey Group. These guys were led by Captain George Montague Wheeler, who was on an expedition to survey the Western United States.

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Their expedition led to the creation of topographic maps of the Southwest, from 1869 to 1879.

Soiled Doves

The old west was filled with Prostitutes and elite madams. In fact, some of them were so successful and popular among the crowd, that they ended up becoming millionaires.

 

Despite the harsh conditions they had to endure, these women came from all parts of the world to do what they are known for.

General Custer’s Men

The photo you see before you is a photograph of the Dakota Territory, which is now North and South Dakota. The photo also shows General Custer’s men crossing the plains.

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If you don’t remember your history lessons back in school, General Custer was an officer of the United States Army during the Indian and Civil wars.

Billy the Kid

Now, we go to the old west’s favorite outlaw, Billy the Kid. He wasn’t always named Billy the Kid. His real name was Henry McCarty.

 

In case you were wondering why he became so famous, he was known for having killed at least 8 men at a young age, and was one of the notorious gunfighters during that time.

Maiman

The Native American man that we see in the photo is named Maiman. He was a Mojave Native and worked as a guide-interpreter in the 19th century, especially during the 1870s in Colorado.

 

Maiman would help Photographer Timothy O’Sullivan would help find some of the best locations for taking beautiful photographs.

Charging Thunder

One Native American who joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show was named Charging Thunder.

 

This Lakota chief joined the crew when he was only 26 years old. He married one of the American horse trainers in the crew and became a British citizen. Then he started working in Manchester’s Belle Vue Circus as an elephant trainer.

The First-Ever Saloon

We all know that saloons were popular in the old west. The first-ever saloon was established in Wyoming in 1822. Bartenders were the most respected men back then.

 

They were proud in the appearance of their saloon, as well as in their abilities to pour drinks. Most saloons were used for prostitution and gambling.

Gould and Curry and the Savage

Mining for gold was also huge in the old west. In this photo, we see the silver mine in Virginia City, Nevada. There were two major mines back then: Gould and Curry, and the Savage.

 

The miner that you see in the photo was approximately 900 feet underground. Scary, huh?

The Cowboy Look

In the wild west, cowboys were more than just animal herders. In fact, they even had a term called “The Cowboy Look” This term described exactly the look you see in the movies.

 

Cowboys used to wear a bandanna, leather gloves, chaps, boots, a pair of sturdy jeans, and of course the well-known cowboy hat.

Bob’s Saloon

One of the most popular establishments located in Jordan Montana was Bob’s Saloon. In this photo, we see a group of cowboys just taking a breather outside the saloon in 1904. The photo was taken by LA Huffman.

 

The owner, Robert Leavitt, was a cowboy too and was also one of the first settlers in Jordan.

Old Tasacosa, Northern Texas

In this photo, we see a bunch of cowboys enjoying a drink and a quick chat with the bartender at the Saloon. This was in the year 1907 in Old Tasacosa, Northern Texas.

 

Saloons were open 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week. People went there to let off some steam and relax.

Charley Nebo

So, who are these two very fine-looking men you might be wondering? In this photo, we can see Charley Nebo and his friend. Nebo was born in 1842 to an English Father and Canadian Mother.

 

Like all the other men in this list, he too was a well-known cowpoke that lived in Texas, New Mexico, and Nebraska.

Buffalo Bill’s Group

Here’s a rare photo of Buffalo Bill’s group. We see John Burke, John Nelson, A Sioux Native American, and some other men. Here we can see these cool men gathered around a log cabin.

 

Lucky for all of us, we snagged this rare photo so we can get a glimpse of what they looked like.

The California Gold Rush

Are you familiar with the California Gold Rush? This unforgettable time in the old west began in 1848. It attracted people from all over the world to try digging up some gold.

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The women you see in the photo took part in the search for gold and brought their husbands along with them.

Big Nose Kate

Did you know that there were also quite a few outlaws back in the old west that was female gunslingers? Yup!

 

Let’s take Big Nose Kate, for example, she wasn’t just an outlaw but she was also Doc Holliday’s wife. She helped him escape from jail by setting the entire establishment on fire.

Fannie Porter

Laura Bullion, who is shown in the photo, was a Wild Bunch Member and has even been said to have worked at the brothel for a certain time frame.

 

Another woman, Porter, was an ex-prostitute but she was also respected by many criminals for her sincere and warm attitude.

Rose Dunn

Another woman on our list is Rose Dunn. Like the others, she was also considered a western legend back in her time.

 

At the age of 15, Rose Dunn, otherwise known as Cimarron, was romantically involved with an outlaw named George “Bittercreek” Newcomb. Everyone in Newcomb’s gang loved her looks and cool demeanor.

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show

What was Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show all about? It was usually about traveling.

 

His show romanticized life in the American Frontier. The acts included reenacting and a wide variety of other acts, one of their most popular was the Incident of Warbonnet Creek, a parade, and many other circuses like acts.

Annie Oakley

Annie Oakley was one of the most well-known shooters in the Wild West.

 

Annie rose to fame at the tender age of 15 because of her sharpshooting skills. She was born Phoebe Ann Mosey. By the age of 8, she started hunting, shooting, and trapping to support her family.

Jimmy Mckinn Santiago

This is a photo of Jimmy Mckinn Santiago. Mckinn lived in New Mexico. At 11, he got abducted by a group of Chiricahua Apache. Mckinn was with his brother Martin at the time, unfortunately, Apache killed his brother.

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He was rescued but surprisingly he did not want to go back, but instead he wanted to stay with Apache.

Olive Ann Oatman

This rare image shows Olive Ann Oatman. Her family was captured and killed in 1851. She and her sister were captured by a Tribe called the Tolkepayas and then were sold to another tribe.

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Her sister died of hunger. Luckily for her, she was able to return home after spending five years imprisoned with the Mohave.

The Notorious Jesse James

One very well-known outlaw back then was named Jesse James. He and his brother formed the James-Younger Gang. It’s safe to say that these two were inseparable, and had a sibling bond like no other.

 

They were accused of committing multiple monstrosities against Union soldiers during the war, including many robberies.

The Legendary Gunfighter of the Old West

Have you guys ever heard of the Legendary Gunfighter of the Old West? His name was John Wilson Vermillion. He was on wanted posters because he once shot a man during a card game.

 

There was a time when someone asked him why he was given the name Texas Jack and replied, “because I am from Virginia.”

Buffalo Bill’s Girl

This is Goldie Griffith. She was part of the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and she’s the kind of girl that can knock a guy out with one punch! In fact, that’s what she was known for.

 

Aside from her being a boxer, she was also a professional wrestler and rode broncos, along with other acts.