Rare Photos of the Old Wild West
Have you ever imagined how it would be living during the Old Wild West? You must have seen lot of the so called “western movies”, characterized by saloons, cowboys, gunfights, Native Americans and lots of mustaches… Useless to specify why this period fascinates a lot of us. Without this time, our world wouldn’t be the same today! Here are some incredible photographs that you won’t believe exist:
1) Goldie Griffith
Goldie Griffith was the so-called cowgirl we all imagine when we think about the women in the Old Wild West. She was a part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and was known for her mean abilities as wrestler and boxer. But that’s not all: she also rode wild horses and performed other acts. In a while she became very popular and well-known by everybody. She did such things like riding a horse for over 3000 miles from San Francisco to New York. She was known as “the gol darndest gal who ever sat leather”. Not just her carrier, but also her private life was fulfilling and she got married in Madison Square Garden!
2) Texas Jack Vermillion
Texas Jack, nee John Wilson Vermillion, was known for working in the Earp Vendetta Ride during the search for outlawed cowboys. Beside Texas Jack, he was also known as “Shoot-Your-Eye-Out Vermillion”. Why? It’s quite simple: it was rumored that he once shot a man in the eye. His other name, Texas Jack, was on all his wanted posters on which he was on for shooting a man during an argument at cards. When somebody asked him the origin of that name he told that it was because he was from Virginia… Wait, what?!
3) Jesse James
Jesse James was a notorious American bandit… but that’s not all! James was born in Missouri and with his brother, they formed the James-Younger Gang. He was the leader of a gang, a guerrilla fighter, train and bank robber and last, but not least, he was a murderer. A quite exciting life huh? He was accused of committing multiple monstrosities against Union soldiers during the war and many infamous robberies.
4) Olive Oatman
Olive Oatman was only 14 years-old when her family decided to move from Illinois to California. During the travel they were attacked by native Americans who kidnapped Olive and her sister and killed their parents. Mary Ann, Olive’s sister died some years late, whereas Olive not just survived but she also married a Mohave man and they had 2 babies. Eventually she was “rescued”. Nowadays she is very well known for the blue tattoo that she got during the period she lived with the Mohave. Lot of people tought it was a a sign of slavery, but that is inconsistent with tribal traditions: all members of the tribe receive face tattoos.
5) Santiago ‘Jimmy’ McKinn
Santiago “Jimmy” McKinn was an 11 year-old boy who lived in New Mexico with his parents and his older brother Martin. One day when the siblings were out, a group of Apache killed Martin and kidnapped Jimmy. The boy lived with his captors for six months, taking up their language and lifestyle. At the end he was so integrated that when General George Crook rescued him, he didn’t want to go back to his family and preferred to stay with the Apache.
6) Annie Oakley
Phoebe Ann Mosey, known as Annie Oakley is probably one of the most famous faces of the Wild West. She was only 15 years old when got famous thanks to her outstanding sharpshooting skills. To support her poor family after her father’s death, by the age eight she began trapping, shooting and hunting. Young Annie married fellow marksman and former rival Frank E. Butler, after making a name for herself as a trained shooter. Together they reached international fame joining Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show.
7) Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show
Even if you not an “old-wild-west-maniac”, you must have heard at least once about Buffalo Bill, one of the most influential showmen ever. He had a “wild” reputation throughout the Old West. When he wasn’t out in the wild, hunting bisons and scouting around, he was working his show! But, exactly in what consisted the Wild West Show? They were a series of traveling shows that romanticized life in the American Frontier. Variety acts, including reenacting the incident of Warbonnet Creek, a parade, and many other circus-like acts.
8) Rose Dunn
This young woman is well-known for the love affair she had with outlaw George “Bittercreek” Newcomb around the age of 14 or 15. Not just Newcomb but also all his gang adored Rose for her good looks and cool demeanor. The gang went into hiding after a shoot-out with US Marshals. Eventually Newcomb and another gang member returned to visit Rose, but things didn’t went as they supposed. Indeed Dunn’s brothers shot at them to collect the bounty on Newcomb’s head. He was wanted “Dead or Alive”.
Outlaws and brothels usually go well together. Fannie Porter was an ex-prostitute, that “succeed” and opened eventually her own brothel. She was very respected among criminals for her discretion, as well as for her warm and sincere attitude. She never turned in her costumers. Butch Cassidy and Kid Curry, the Sundance Kid and other members of the gang were some of her more frequent clients. Laura Bullion, who is said to have worked at the brothel for a time, became a Wild Bunch member. Indeed, lot of girls became involved with the gang members.
10) Gun Toting Women
Old Wild West is most of the times recalled for its male characters as outlaws and bandits. What could surprise you, is knowing the importance of women’s role in that society. Indeed there were quite a few female gunslingers and outlaws back in the old Wild West, but they were very emancipated and quite similar to women in the 21st century (except for the guns and the crimes!). Big Nose Kate, for example, was said to have helped her husband, famed outlaw Doc Holliday escape from jail by setting it on fire. You might have heard about Calamity Jane (Hollywood made some movies about her incredible life): she wore mens’ clothes, was a part time prostitute and performed in wild west shows. More legendary gunslingers were 15-year-old sharpshooter Lillian Smith and the skillful shooter Pearl Hart. And last but not least, Mary Fields, also known as “Stagecoach Mary”: she was an emancipated slave that wasn’t afraid to start a fight.
11) Gold Rush and women
It was 1848 when the so-called Gold Rush started in California. It attracted many men and women from all over the world to work in the gold fields. At first the percentage of women was quite low, creating plenty of opportunities for those that were in the area: besides gold panning, other popular occupations were housekeeping, cooking, washing clothes, acting and dancing. Some women followed their husbands and families, but a lot of them arrived on their own in search for wealth.
12) Buffalo Bill’s troupe
We have already talked about Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show: so here you are some of the people that would likely travel all over the world performing for people who wanted to get a glimpse of the Wild West! John Nelson, John Burke, a Sioux Native American, and several other stern cowboys were part of the cast. The show amused the public with various performances.
13) Charley Nebo
Charley Nebo (the one on the left), born in 1842, was a well known cowboy. His father was English while his mother Canadian. He lived in New Mexico, Texas and Nebraska. During the civil war Nebo served in the Union Army. He ended up being honorably discharged, and eventually became a stockman after he had suffered a painful injury that left him handicapped. It was 1878 when he started working for John Chisum’s cattle empire. Not all his friends were respectable: renowned robber, Billie the Kid for example was one of those.
14) The Saloon
If you think that being a cowboy meant always hard work on horseback at the ranch, you’re wrong. After a long work day or while having a break, they went to the saloons to enjoy each others company and most of all, have a drink. This particular image was took in ca. 1907 in a saloon in Old Tasacosa, Northern Texas. It was the perfect place to relax, play cards and negotiate. Some saloons were open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. The clientele was various: also gold diggers, soldiers, travelers and even lawyers were part of it.
15) Bob Leavitt’s Saloon
Robert Leavitt, was a cowboy and also one of the early settlers in Jordan. When he arrived in Jordan he opened a Saloon that became a popular establishment in Montana. This photo was taken in 1904 by L.A. Huffman: a group of cowboys is seen relaxing in front of the saloon. Entertainment in the saloon was guaranteed: dancing girls, card games, dice games, bowling and even piano players and theatrical skits was some of the activities in the saloon.
16) The Cowboy Look
First thing you think of when you hear talking about Old Wild West is COWBOYS. Isn’t it? They were so much more than mere animal herders. The origin of the name comes from Spanish word “Vaqueros”, livestock herder riding on horseback. Becoming a cowboy was difficult: it required skill and plenty of physical ability, developed from an early age. The cowboy look became iconic in the years and it included: bandanna, chaps, leather gloves, a sturdy pair of jeans, boots and don’t forget, a wide brimmed cowboy hat! Although some of them were African American, Mexicans and American Indians, the majority of cowboys were white men.
Virginia City, in Nevada had two major mines: the Gould and Curry and Savage. After the discovery of silver deposits, people came from all over the country (and the world) to work in the mines: at its peak, the city boasted of 25,000 residents. Things changed quite a lot since then: in 2010, only around 850 people lived in Virginia City. The miner in the picture is 900 feet underground, and yet all he has for light is a burning magnesium wire. Incredible huh?
18) Barmen in an Old West Saloon
Cowboys went to the Saloon after a long work day to relax, play cards and have a drink. The clientele was various: not just cowboys but also gold diggers, soldiers, travelers and even lawyers were part of it. It was in 1822 when the very first saloon was established in Wyoming, but it didn’t take a lot before they popped up all around the American Frontier! By 1880 saloons became very popular in all the West. Bartenders prided themselves on their drink pouring abilities, as well as on the appearance of their saloons. Most of them were used for gambling, prostitution and opium dens.
19) Charging Thunder
Charging Thunder was a Native American man working in the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. He joined the crew when he was only 26 years old. Stage romance: he married one of the American horse trainers in the crew. Charging Thunder ended up working in Manchester’s Belle Vue Circus as an elephant trainer, after quitting the Buffalo Bill’s show and eventually became a British citizen. After the circus he found a factory job and changed his name into George Edward Williams.
20) A Mojave
During this gallery you might have seen already some of the artworks of photographer Timothy O’Sullivan who lived in America in the 1870s. Unlike many other photographers at the time, Timothy didn’t work in a studio, but instead preferred to take pictures of his subjects in their natural “habitat”. In this picture you can see Maiman, a Mojave Native American who worked as a guide and interpreter in 19th century Colorado. He often guided the photographer around and help him find the best locations.
21) Billy the Kid
Henry McCarty, AKA Billy the Kid, is one of the most well-known outlaws of the Old West. This young man was born in New York City and later resided mostly in New Mexico. Billy is known for having killed at least 8 men at a very young age and was one of the most notorious gunfighters of the time! Eventually, after multiple crimes, he was arrested and jailed. He tried to escape and it was in that moment that Sheriff Pat Garrett shot him and he died. He was only 21 years old. But his legacy didn’t end there: there was a rumor that said the outlaw didn’t die in the gunfight. That’s why over the next few decades numerous people committed crimes and imputed them to Billy the Kid.
22) General Custer Crossing the Dakota Territory
Besides Timothy O’Sullivan, W.H. Illingworth was another famous photographer of the time, but unlike the rest of them, he was English. In the 1860s and 1870s, Illingworth once accompanied an expedition through the Black Hills of the Dakotas to the Montana Territory. In that occasion he took this picture featuring General Custer’s men crossing the plains. As you may remember from your history books, General Custer was an officer in the United States Army during the American Civil War and the Indian Wars.
Depending on the region, prostitutes had different, surprisingly poetic nicknames like “fallen frails,” “doves of the roost,” “nymphs du prairie” and “fallen angles”.In California, they were labeled “soiled doves” by the cowboys, and “ladies of the line” or “sporting women” by the California ’49er. These scarlet women were considered fixtures in the old Western towns, some were so popular and successful they became millionaires. Despite the harsh conditions they had to endure, they came from all over the world.
24) Wheeler Survey Group
Led by Captain George Montague Wheeler, this incredibly happy looking group of men had a giant expedition to survey the Western United States. They were called the Wheeler Survey group and led to the creation of topographic maps of the Southwest! It was a huge expedition and it took almost 1o years, from 1869 to 1879. Wheeler Peak in Nevada, Wheeler Peak in New Mexico, and Wheeler Geologic Area in Colorado were named after Captain Wheeler. That’s not a bad deal!
25) Wyatt Earp
Wyatt Earp was a proficient gambler in the Wild West and had a working job as a deputy sheriff in Arizona. He was also a good friend of Doc Holliday with whom he shared various interests. He became popular when during a gunfight at the O.K. Corral in which he killed three cowboys. From then on he was known as a regarded shooter. Until his death in 1929 he continuously clashed with cowboys.
26) Louisa Earp
You might have noticed the same surname: no she wasn’t Wyatt Earp’s sister neither her mother but his sister in law! Indeed she was Morgan’s (Wyatt’s younger brother) wife. They say that behind every great man, there’s a great woman, and that’s certainly true of him. Though nobody knows how they met or got married, Morgan Earp was married to Louisa Earp. After both living in Montana for some time, they moved to to California. Expecting it to be a short trip, Morgan left behind his wife when he moved to Arizona. Unfortunately the two never met again.
27) Navajo Indians
This picture is called “Aboriginal Life Among the Navajo Indians Near Old Fort Defiance, New Mexico” and was printed in 1873. The author is Timothy O’Sullivan. It features the Navajoes at their home, an abandoned military post, back in the Old Wild West. Navajoes are one of the most wealthy aboriginal tribes of the United States and are known for being very intelligent and fierce. In this picture we can see the ears of corn that they cultivate and the looms for making blankets.
28) Doc Holliday
Doc Holliday is one of those man who gained a reputation for being a deadly gunman. He was a good friend with Wyatt Earp: they shared some interests like gambling and gunfighting. Most incredible thing: when he was 20 years old he became a dentist! He practiced the profession until he was diagnosed tuberculosis, then he became a gambler in Arizona. Why not huh?
29) Old Mission Church
Established way back in 1630, this is one of the earliest examples of a Spanish Colonial era mission. Despite his dimension, he mission itself is quite complex. You can visit it still today: it’s a long-standing piece of adobe history. During the Pueblo Revolt, the mission played an important role and was inhabited by Franciscans for some time until Mexico gained independence. Now, it is a tourist attraction for Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico!
Have you ever heard of The Sioux Nation of Native Americans? If not, you must know that it is one of the largest tribes to have lived on the Great Plains. In the Sioux Nation cohabit 3 different tribes namely Western Dakota, Eastern Dakota and the Lakota tribes. As a part of their lives on the great plains, they built the teepees that you see here. Their source of livelihood was most of all the bison hunt, especially for those who were nomadic.
31) Sterling Griffith
Goldie Griffith was the so-called cowgirl we all imagine when we think about the women in the Old Wild West, not exactly the type of lady that gets married and starts a family. Against every prediction she did get married… with a colleague of the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show: the performer Harry Griffith. To be precise they got married on May 9, 1913 at Madison Square Garden, New York. They never had the best of the lives or the best marriage ever, but they did give birth to an adorable baby boy, Sterling. Goldie Griffith took her son to Nederland, Colorado where she raised him alone. When in Colorado, the family trained dogs and opened a number of restaurants.
32) Timothy O’Sullivan
Timothy O’Sullivan was a very talented photographer who joined in 1871 a geological survey to take picturesque photographs everywhere that he went and allowed him to travel around the United States. He was born on Staten Island, New York, and would go on to become one of the most influential photographers of the Civil War era. In some years he garnered a solid reputation for his photography of the American Western landscape. This is one of his most famous pictures: it represents a group of Native Americans and is exactly what you’d expect from the Old West! Isn’t it?
33) Morgan Earp
Morgan Earp is Wyatt Earp’s brother, Louisa Earp’s husband and Doc Holliday’s friend. He often spent his time in Tombstone, Arizona confronting outlaw cowboys, just like his brother. The Earp brothers interfered so much that they all had targets on their heads! Eventually Morgan was killed by ambush and Wyatt took matters into his own hands and avenged his brother’s death outside of the law. Exactly as it was a western movie!
34) Personal hygiene
As you may suppose personal hygiene in the 19th century hadn’t nothing to share with 21st century’s one. Back in those days having a shower wasn’t a piece of cake: they had to make do with what they had… the Pagosa Hot Springs in Colorado for example! They are renowned for their mineral waters, which supposedly could cure any ailments and rejuvenate any person. Don’t you just want to take a dip in these waters too?
35) Buffalo Soldier
“Buffalo soldiers” was the way the soldiers of the 10th Cavalry of the United States Army were called between 1866 and 1951. But, from where it comes? This name was coined by Native American during the Indian Wars and it was referred to black soldiers. The name has stuck ever since! This picture is an amazing piece of history: nobody knows who this specific buffalo soldier is, but his face will forever be remembered in history!
36) The infamous Deadwood Coach
Ladies and gentlemen, here you are the infamous Deadwood Coach that Buffalo Bill always carried in all of his Wild West shows throughout America and Europe. A true legend! Can you image how many incredible adventures this coach has seen? The picture was taken by another famous photographer of that time: John C.H. Grabill. Although Grabill had a studio in Chicago, he spent a lot of time in the Dakota Territory. The Deadwood Coach is perhaps the most historic and well-known stagecoach in existence!
37) Ox Teams at Sturgis
Who needs cars when you’ve got a wagon? Dakota Territory was full of hunters, prospectors and cowboys, many of which used teams of oxen. The picture above represents a quite usual scenery in South Dakota: it is the front page of the largest surviving collection of John C.H. Grabill’s works and which is currently located in the Library of Congress. Can you even imagine living in a town like this?
Not just cowboys, but also cowgirls contributed to the winning of the West! If you believe they were cute little girls in cowboy boots and fringe… you’re wrong! They rode broncos, shot guns, and sometimes even performed just like cowboys. You may have heard of Annie Oakley, Calamity Jane, and Dale Evans. These are some of the most famous ones. Rodeo queens, also known as Rodeo cowgirls, were a large part of the Old Wild West!
39) The Palisades
Alfred A. Hart was “The only official photographer of the Western half of the transcontinental railroad in the 1860s”. It’s a fancy title, isn’t it? He took this photograph of the Palisades, which is a line of cliffs on the Western side of the Hudson River in New York. They are renown for their beauty and their picturesque place on the New York skyline. Back in those days nobody would have tought that one day, in that place, it would have been a city such as the Big Apple.
40) Wagon Trail
Sand dunes stretching for miles at a time… It is a very peaceful picture isn’t it? It is also very interesting if you think that that wagon was the darkroom used by photographer Timothy O’Sullivan! Taking photos at that time was nothing like taking them today: all of the photographs that we’ve seen here would have been developed in this very wagon. Also the footprints you see in the image belongs to O’Sullivan. He walked out to snap the pic! The picture was taken in Carson Sink, Nevada.
41) The Black Canyon of the Colorado
Isn’t it absolutely beautiful? The El Dorado Mountains and Black Mountains of Arizona surrounds the Black Canyon of the Colorado: one of the most famous landmarks of Nevada and Arizona’s beautiful landscape! It is located on the Colorado River where the Hoover Dam would eventually be built. Don’t you just want to take a swim? Black Canyon is full of hot springs and makes for beautiful landscape photography… And Timothy O’Sullivan knew it!
42) Big Cottonwood Canyon
Big Cottonwood Canyon is located in Salt Lake City, Utah and is one of the most bio-diverse places in the U.S: it houses many different species of plants and animals. Big Cottonwood Canyon is an extremely popular destination for hiking, rock-climbing, and camping and it’s also a great place to go fishing! This was true of the canyon in the 19th century and still holds true today. The perfect place to do nature research!
43) Johnny Ringo
The Cochise County Cowboys was a group of outlaws based in Arizona and Johnny Ringo was one of its most famed members. He and his “colleagues” were considered the menace of Tombstone (is a curious name, isn’t it?) for quite some time! Do you remember the shooting of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday? Well, Johnny Ringo was involved in it.
44) Villa of Brule
This image is from the John C.H. Grabill Collection at the Library of Congress. The photograph, taken in 1891, represents the Villa of Brule near Pine Ridge, South Dakota. White Clay Creek is in the foreground and a Lakota teepee camp is in the background. A great Indian camp lies on this villa, and in the photograph, you can see some of this! How many teepees can you count?
45) Chinese Railroad Workers
Without these Chinese workers, the railroad would have never been built! They were a huge part of the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, and have a complicated and long history with the foundation of the West. During construction a lot of problems occurred as financial and labour problems. Workers were paid significantly less than white workers and companies refused to provide them with room and board and were severely overworked.
46) Browns Park, Colorado
Historically, Browns Park besides being the birth place of outlaw Ann Bassett, it has been a haven for bandits like Tom Horn and Butch Cassidy. Its original name was Brown’s Hole and it is located on the Utah-Colorado border. The Park is an isolated mountain valley that contains Flaming Gorge Dam and ends at Dinosaur National Monument. Pretty cool huh?
47) Gold Hill, Nevada
Gold Hill, Nevada became famous for its mining of the Comstock Lode and is located just south of Virginia City. Though it now only has about 191 inhabitants, once was a very prosperous mining city! If it gets any smaller, it’ll become a ghost town… Gold Hill is well known for the former Bank of California building and its historic Hotel, which is Nevada’s oldest hotel, among several other historic places.
48) Gambling Hall Poker Game
During this time, gambling was an incredibly popular sport and it was even considered to be a profession by many – though it could often lead to trouble, so watch your chips! Being a big deal in the Wild West, the first structures built in the west were gambling halls! In these places the 3 W’s happened: wagering, whoring, and whiskey-drinking. Seems fun right?
49) Pyramid Lake, Nevada
Pyramid Lake is super salty, as the only way for water to leave is through evaporation! It is the naturally occurring sink of the Truckee River Basin in Reno, Nevada near Lake Tahoe. The idea of taking a bath in it isn’t so attractive, but the lake is interesting for other reasons! Near this lake several big battles of the Paiute War were fought. The area has been fought over deeply due to its abundant amount of fish. Guess they like the salty water!
50) Timothy O’Sullivan
After fighting in the war himself, Timothy O’Sullivan actually became a Civil War photographer. He wanted to document the horrors of war and share them with everybody. O’Sullivan set out to explore the Western landscape and embarked on a long cross-continental expedition after the Civil War ended. That’s why we’ve seen so many of his photographs… but none of the man himself! Who knows who took his photograph…
51) Whirling Horse
You must have heard at least once of Whirling Horse! He was another member of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. “Show Indians”, this was the way Native Americans of the show were known, though they all came from various Native American tribes. They reenact historic battles and perform their native dances for the public. They also portrayed aspects of their culture, in some cases portraying themselves as victims of western expansion, when Native Americans were taken away from their homelands. After years of US propaganda against Native Americans, this Show helped cool tensions and public opinion towards the end of the American-Indian Wars. Many of these Native Americans would go on to become silent film stars, playing similar roles after participating in the Wild West Show!
52) Canyon de Chelly, Arizona
This photograph, taken by Timothy O’Sullivan, is of the Canyon de Chelly in Arizona which is one of America’s national monuments on the boundaries of the Navajo Nation. In the past, these canyons have housed the Pueblo people. Wouldn’t you live there? O’Sullivan is one of the best-known photographers of the 19th century, though he also photographed around the Western U.S. for a beautiful collection of photography, is widely known for his work during the American Civil War.
53) The Bath House
Although today Hot Springs in Arkansas is considered the perfect destination for a weekend dedicated to relax, historically it was famous for its supposed medicinal properties. The place was legendary amongst Native American tribes. Headache? Hot Springs. Insomnia? Hot Springs. The solution is always the same! For sure the hot springs still attracts a lot of tourist, but for an interesting combination, this place also houses the oldest federal reserve in the United States.
54) Shoshone Falls, Idaho
This landscape of the Shoshone Falls depicts the gorgeous falls located in Snake River, Idaho. This waterfall usually is called the “Niagara of the West”, although is way taller than Niagara Falls! In the 19th century its location was an important trading and fishing location for Native Americans. Things changed nowadays and it became more a tourist attraction. What a pity!
55) Apache Spirit Dancers
The Apache spirit dancers, pictured in the photo, hold the ability to protect the Apache people and also to summon the spirit of supernatural beings. According to common Apache belief, their ancestors used to live alongside these supernatural beings. They are believed to be living in underground realms as well as the mountains around them. The Apache tribes had to adapt to their own territories and live off the land, relying on scarce food sources and harsh climate in those areas. They consist of several Native American tribes originating in the Southwestern United States.
56) Bill Brazen, the Masked Robber
Bill Brazen, born William Whitney Brazelton, was an overall outlaw and a known stage robber during the second half of the 1800s. We don’t know a lot about him, but it is said that originally he came from San Francisco, and that he claimed his first victim when he was only fifteen years old. The photo above was taken post mortem, after Brazen was shot to death by a five-man posse led by Sheriff Charles A. Shibell in 1878. He used to hide his identity from his robbery victims by wearing his signature face mask.
57) Enjoying a Brew
Up until World War I, access in saloons was denied to women, unless they were saloon girls, prostitutes or dancers. And even if they were allowed to enter, it was mostly through the back door. That means that respectable women had a hard time getting their share of hard liquor or beer! A few decades later, in 1893, it was respectable women like those who were denied service that helped found the most powerful prohibition lobby in America: the Anti-Saloon league.
58) Fortune Tellers
Back in those days, fortune telling was a popular pastime. Fortune tellers were mostly Gypsies or Romani people. Most of them emigrated to North America in the late 19th century, though Romani slaves were shipped to America as early as 1492. The most used methods were Tarot card reading, palm reading and crystallomancy, in which a crystal sphere is used to predict a person’s future. Fun fact: even automated fortune telling machines existed and some of them can still be found today.
59) Jackpot Poker
According to gaming historians, Poker originated from either the Persian game of As-Nas, or a French game named Poque. Together with other games of chance as well as Faro, three-card monte and several types of dice games, it was very popular most of all in the saloons. Later on, games like bowling and billiard were also introduced. Poker was documented as early as 1836, in a book named “Dragoon Campaigns to the Rocky Mountains” by James Hildreth, though it developed mostly during the early 19th century in the United States.
60) Pearl Hart
Pearl Heart is out of any doubt one of the most notable figures of the Wild West. Though she was well educated and came from a wealthy family, Pearl is well known for her stagecoach robberies and gutsy escape from prison. Hart was locked in an all-male prison, after robbing a stagecoach in Arizona. But even in that terrible situation, she never break down, rather she used that fact, as well as the admiring guards, to her advantage. Hart wasn’t always involved in serious crime. She also got married and had 2 children in young age, but after suffering physical abuse from her husband, she left him several times and eventually broke free and moved to Phoenix. Rumors says that she later turned to stagecoach robbery to earn money for her ill mother.
61) Hiding in Plain Sight
Even though brothels were common and in plain sight, prostitution was mostly illegal in the Wild West. Anyways, some madams donated much of their profits back to society and were considered respectable women. With some exceptions, most of the prostitutes were young and largely illiterate. Scarlet women and madams came along, offering “comfort” and “companionship” to the miners, who felt quite lonely after working in the cold goldmines all day long. If business was good, a whole red light district would come to be.
62) Josephine “Chicago Joe” Airey
Josephine Airey, also known as “Chicago Joe”, was the Queen of the Red Light District in Helena, Montana. She was a famous prostitute and a successful businesswomen: Airey owned brothels, a theater, dance halls and saloons as well as plenty of land. She became the most influential landowner in Helena. Airey and her husband were famous among citizens for their lavish parties. However, in 1883, Airey posted a notice in the local newspaper ordering the gambling houses and the saloons in the area not to let her husband gamble or to cater to him.
Being liquors and spirits expensive also back in the days of the Wild West, saloon owners would dilute their good liquor by adding other ingredients to generate more profit. For example they mixed turpentine and ammonia in the drinks and called them with intimidating names, like Tarantula Juice and Coffin Varnish. Other popular alcoholic drinks in the Old West included a classic mix of brandy and soda called B&S and the Allston cocktail, made with gin, peppermint schnapps, and lemon juice. Among saloon patrons the favorites were champagne and wine.
64) Bullet Dance
It wasn’t all fun and games for everyone at the saloon: in this picture you can see several man shooting at another man’s feet in a western-saloon probably in Wyoming. To avoid the bullets, the poor man had no choice but to jump as fast as he could, in what is called a “bullet dance”. Since the bartender was aiming his gun directly at the man’s head, we can suppose he wasn’t very impressed with his dancing skills.
65) Rufus Buck Gang
Rufus Buck was a famous outlaw, leader of the Rufus Buck Gang, a multi-racial gang of outlaws that in the late 1890s robbed stores and ranches in the Arkansas-Oklahoma area. This group of rugged looking young men were responsible for a number of heinous crimes and killed several men, including a U.S. deputy marshal named John Garrett. Eventually, after being captured outside Muskogee, OK, they received a death sentence, and were hanged in 1896.
66) A Girl of the Streets
“Maggie: A Girl of the Streets” was a novella written by Stephen Crane in 1893. It was considered risqué at the time: it told the story of a young woman, called Maggie, who ended up tragically after being seduced by a friend of her brother. After a difficult childhood lived in poverty and with an alcoholic, violent mother, Maggie tries to improve her life but with no results. As the title may suggest, after being rejected by her family and friends, Maggie is eventually implied to end up in the streets, as a prostitute, until she dies. The story was followed by a second novel titled “George’s Mother”.