If you said the words Wild West to someone, no doubt they would picture a mustached man sitting at a card game in an old saloon surrounded by cowboys and prostitutes. A player opposite him would be hiding an extra card up his sleeve, and soon enough he would be called on it and face off in the city square. Both players would step back and there’d be a long moment before the cheater moved for his hip holster, however he wouldn’t be fast enough. The gamer would draw his revolver and shoot the cheater dead between the eyes. Nonchalantly, the cowboys and prostitutes would go back to their drinks like it didn’t happen.
The Wild West has long been depicted as lawless, violent, and chaotic. The West was populated with strangers from various backgrounds, countries, and nationalities who wanted to get their hands on gold. Farmers and business people deserted their lives to look for gold and a prosperous life. ...view middle of the document...
These were in the bloodiest of the famous cattle towns. Most towns averaged two murders a year, and not all were those of shootings. It is proved that you were most likely to be murdered in Baltimore in 2008 than in Tombstone in 1881.
It would seem that there would have been a lot of bank robberies, homicides, and very little law and order during the Wild West, but that is not true. Bank robberies were almost non-existent in the Wild West despite what all of the movies say. From 1859-1900, there were only about a dozen or so robberies. However, towns back in those days were much smaller with a sheriff’s office, general store, and bank usually clustered together for convenience. Trying to rob a bank with the sheriff’s office just a few doors down would not be the smartest idea. In fact, these crimes only became a problem during the 1920s when cars allowed for easy escapes.
Agencies including land clubs, cattlemen’s associations, mining camps, and wagon trails provided the necessary basis for an organized society in which property was protected and conflicts were resolved. In the Wild West, homicides were also relatively rare. Between five major cattle towns from 1870-1885, only forty-five murders took place over the fifteen years.
All this is not to say that hatred, violence, and murder did not exist during the Wild West but the amounts that happened were far less than what has been shown in the media. Yes, old westerners did not get along well with Native Americans, but, they would not ambush each other from anywhere, at any time. Of the hundreds of thousands of pioneers who traveled, only a few hundred died in clashes with Native Americans. During this same time, settlers killed over four hundred Native Americans. This isn’t a low number, but it does prove that settler were not as wild killers as they seem to be depicted in the media.
Overall, the Wild West was a lot different than how we live today. We don’t carry guns in bars, or steal each others’ cows. However, being in this situation, old westerners were not as wild as they seemed to be.