Outlaws of the Wild West

In the 19th century, land west of the the Mississippi was often referred to as “The Wild West”. The less regulated structure and society of the American frontier enticed those with a sense of adventure,  including many with a disregard for the law. The outrageous, illegal and often lethal acts of a colorful cast of outlaws is largely glorified today. Trying to separate fact from myth can be a challenge.

Learn a little about the real identities and actions of a few of these outlaws.

Billy the Kid was a teen outlaw who reportedly - and inaccurately- killed more than 20 people before being fatally shot at twenty-one.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were part of a gang called The Wild Bunch. They organized a legendary train robbery.   

Doc Holliday  formerly a dentist, moved West hoping to cure his tuberculosis. A gunman and gambler, he is also credited for saving Wyatt Earp's life.

Confederate soldier turned outlaw, Jesse James was shot by Robert Ford, a member of his own gang who wanted the $10,000 bounty.  A photo that reportedly shows the two of them has recently emerged, though it has yet to be authenticated.  Even through photography, the truth of history escapes us!

Belle Starr, known as the “Bandit Queen”, outlived several outlaw husbands and partners she collaborated with before being fatally shot herself. Her murder remains unsolved.

Want to learn about an outlaw not featured here? Just ask a librarian!

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