When you hear Wild West or Old West, what do you imagine?
Gun shootings, outlaws, massive old trains and bars full of temptations. This period has inspired plenty of bestseller books and movies. What exactly happened that America ended up, as such a dangerous place?
The Wild West covers the time after the Civil War, the rest of the 1800’s, and all the way to the early part of the 20th century. During this period there were two waves of poor, low-qualify immigrants from Europe. The first wave came from the North and West Europe (Scandinavians, Germans, British, etc.) and later the second mostly Poles, Irish and Italians. These people were poor and unskilled. They had a struggle finding work and place to live.
What do you think happened when they become too many?
You guessed right; it becomes crime paradise. This environment gave birth to some of the notorious bandits. Here are some of their profiles:
Let´s start with Billy the Kid
Since an early age, he has been involved in criminal activities and spent all his life on the run from the authorities, fought and survived during Lincoln County War. Billy got caught few times but always manage to escape thanks to his gang. Legend has it; he has killed 21 people. His luck turned upside down on July 14, 1881, when a local lawman named Pat Garrett finally got Billy. Billy was at a ranch near Fort Sumner, New Mexico. There he was on a date and was distracted. Garrett used this to enter the house and surprised him. Two bullets finished this story.
Second on our list is Robert Leroy Parker
Who? Maybe you know him as Butch Cassidy. He got his nickname from his job as a butcher. He was a thief and murder most famous with train and bank robberies.He started as a low profile outlaw, mostly stealing small stuff. In 1894 he was found guilty of stealing a horse and spent two years in prison. After that experience, he joined a gang called the Wild Bunch. From there his criminal career kick started. The got involve in many heists and got famous with planning intensely any one of them. In difference with Billy the Kid, no one knows what happen to Butch Cassidy. Some say he was killed, others that he lived long years under fake names.
Now the last and the most charming, the Robin Hood of the West – Jesse James
He was a lovely man who got know to steal from the rich and be kind to the poor. His family was wealthy, and for him and his brother Frank, the future was on the family farm. One summer day of 1863 changed that. Union soldiers brutally attacked Their home. Later both brothers joined the Confederate guerrilla combatants. They learned how to use weapons and formed a gang. They made a name for themselves by robbing more than 20 banks from 1860 to 1882.
Jesse didn’t live long. There was a bounty on his head, and two members of his band, Charlie, and Bob Ford decided to claim it. After breakfast on April 3, 1882, Jesse turned to straighten a picture on a wall of his home, and Bob shot Jesse in the back of the head. Jesse died instantly at age 34.
All of them were living a dangerous life, but this was the environment of the era. Some born criminal, other pushed by the circumstances they ended up as one of the most famous criminals of all time.