Western Facts

A Cowboys Christmas Prayer
A Cowboys Dream
A Cowboys Prayer
A Cowboys Rules for his Gal
A Cowboys Wish
A Cowgirls Prayer
Always Remember
Annie Oakley
Calamity Jane
Outlaw Gangs and Gunfighters
Connie Douglas Reeves
Cowboy Dictionary
Cowboy Funnies
Cowboy Poems
Cowboy Quotes
Cowboy Wisdom
Cowboys in Heaven
Cowgirl Joke
Essential Cowboy Gear
Evolution of the Cowboy
Horses & Cowboys
How to Be the Best Gunfighter
It Might Have Been Me ~ It Might Have Been You
Just A Little Refresher Course In Personal Freedom
Law Dawgs
Lord, Always Keep Me Humble
Lucille Mulhall
Old Cowboys Prayer
Old West Poetry
Old West Wisdom, Old Sayings, and Famous Cowboy Quotes
Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association
Prorodeo Cowboys World Standings
Quiz 1
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Quiz Answers
Recipes: Breakfast
Recipes: Candy & Cookies
Recipes: Chili, Soups & Stews
Recipes: Entrees
Recipes: Pies
Recipes: Side Dishes
Rodeo Lingo
Rodeo Wisdom
Sayins to Make ya Laugh!
The Cowboy Way
The Old West Quiz
The Rattle Snake
Vanishing Breed
Western Facts
What A Cowboys Mama Teaches
Western Funnies
What all Cowboys and Cowgirls Know
What is a Cowboy
Ya know youre a Horse Lover When
Ya Know Your A Team Roper When...
Ya Might Be a City Girl
Ya Might Be From A Small Town If
You might be a city cowboy if:
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This fencing material which was made out of twisted wire with spaced coiled barbs, turned the open plains of the West into enclosed pastures and forever changed the society and economy of the region. It was the invention of Illinois farmer Joseph Farwell Glidden who received his patent in November 24, 1874. Ranchers could now isolate their cattle and control breeding



This was a .50 caliber Sharps rifle used by professionals for buffalo hunting. It was 16 pounds unloaded, with three-quarter inch, 120-grain black powder cartridges loaded for differing ranges. 



Frontiersman Daniel Boone was born in 1734 in Pennsylvania. His family to North Carolina in 1750. He went to Kentucky in 1767 abd again in 1769. He was hired to blaze a new trail from Cumberland Gap, Virginia to Kentucky River which he did. He brought his wife and daughter with him and founded Boonesborough. In 1778 he was captured by the Shawnee Indians but escaped five months later.


He raced back to Boonesborough to warn of an imminent attack by a joint force of Brtish soldiers and Shawnees. His preservation of the fort (Boonesborough) proved vital to continued westward migration and settlement. During the Revolutionary War, Boone served as a lieutenant colonel of the Fayette County militia; he was also a legislator, county lieutenant and deputy surveyor. He was captured by the British in 1781 but later released. He died in 1820.



This was a cemetery, especially for those who died with their boots on; also: bone yard, bone orchard, grave patch.



James Bowie was a Kentucky born frontiersman, settler and adventurer-turned-soldier.  He  fought for Texas in the Texas Revolution of 1835-36 and died in defense of the Alamo, but at the time of the siege, he lay sick from typhoid pneumonia. He was killed when Mexican troops overran the mission. A special knife with an 18-inch blade and curved tip was named for him - the Jim Bowie knife. 



This was the name given to the black soldiers of the U.S. army who fought Indians and policed the frontier in the years following the Civil War. The term was derived from the men's hair which the Indians thought resembled the fur of the buffalo.


Not all of the recruits were former slaves; most were free blacks of Northern parentage and many had served with distinction during the Civil War.



Colt was an inventor and manufacturer from Connecticut who patented his first revolver type handgun at his plant, Patent Arms Company in Patterson, New Jersey. His first pistol, marketed from 1836-42 was poorly made. Using the improvements offered by Captain Samuel H. Walker of the Texas Rangers, Colt produced his 1847 model, "The Walker Colt" which proved a great success. He received a government contract for 1,100 of the revolver for use in the Mexican War and thus was able once again to open a weapons plant, this time in Hartford, Connecticut. Gun sales soared , especially during the Civil War.


The next improvement was the move in 1873 from percussion cap-fired ammunition (loose powder and ball in a paper or linen cartridge) to newly invented metal cartridge containing its own primer and powder and bullet at the end of a copper or brass tube. The first pistol to fire this new ammo was called the "Peacemaker" and was often referred to as "the gun that won the West". Other inventions credited to Colt were a submarine battery used in harbor defense and a submarine telegraph cable.



This .45-caliber has long been considered "the gun that won the West."   Noted for its power and reliability, it was the most popular full sized revolver of the late 1800s.  Turned out by the Colt Fire Arms Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut, it sold for $17 by mail order.  A classic single action revolver, it remains in production today. 


The model 1873 revolver, commonly known as the Colt Single Action, Peacemaker, or Frontier, was actually developed in 1872, based on the patents granted to Charles B. Richards and W. Mason. In 1873, the US Army adopted this revolver along with its black powder centerfire cartridge of .45 caliber, and issued it to troops in 2 models, the Cavalry model with a 71⁄2 inch barrel, and the artillery model with a 51⁄2 barrel. Both were chambered in .45 Colt (also known as .45Long Colt or .45LC).

Colt also initially produced the same gun in .44-40 WCF and .32-20WCF for the civilian market.  The company later added more modern chamberings similar to the .38 S&W Special (.38Spl), the .44 S&W Special (.44Spl), .357 Magnum, .22LR.  Civilian guns also were available in various barrel lengths, varying from 43⁄4 inches and up to 12 inches.

During the period from 1873 and until 1893, the US Army bought about 37,000 Colts of both models. Commercial production was ceased in 1941, with the outbreak of the World War II, with about 370 000 guns having been made in all.   Then, in 1956, Colt brought the Single Action back into production due to the popular demand by the TV and film industry for "Wild West" era guns.  


The "First Generation" Single Action Colts were the ones made from 1873 until 1941 (serial numbers below 357860 and with no letters).  Colts made from 1956 until another cease in production in 1974 are called  "Second Generation" (serial numbers in the range from 0001SA to 73319SA).   Yet a “Third Generation”  Single Action Army models (.45 Colt, .44 Special, .44-40 and .357 Magnum) were offered in 1976 after the company developed newer equipment and production techniques.   Once again, in 1981, Colt dropped production, and for some time these legendary revolvers were available only as an expensive collectibles.  At the present time, Colt again offers these guns as regular products, in the .45LC, .357Mag and .44-40, and in all standard barrel lengths.


Comanche - The Horse That Survived the Battle of Little Bighorn

Comanche was known as the sole survivor of General George Custer's command at the Battle of the Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876.

The mustang was born about 1862, captured in a wild horse roundup, gelded and sold to the U.S. Army Cavalry on April 3, 1868, for $90. He was a bay, just over 900 pounds, stood 15 hands high with a small white star on his forehead and became the favorite mount for Captain Myles Keogh of the 7th Cavalry. Comanche participated in frequent actions of the Regiment and sustained some 12 wounds as a result of these skirmishes.

Two days after the Custer defeat, a burial party investigating the site found the severely wounded horse and transported him by steamer to Fort Lincoln, 950 miles away, where he spent the next year recuperating. Comanche remained with the 7th Cavalry and was never again ridden under orders excusing him from all duties. Most of the time he roamed the Post freely, visiting the flower gardens often. Only at formal regimental functions was he led, draped in black, stirrups and boots reversed, at the head of the Regiment.

When the Cavalry was ordered to Fort Riley, Kansas, in 1888, the elderly horse, still in moderate good health, accompanied them and continued to receive full honors as a symbol of the Little Bighorn tragedy.  Finally, on November 7, 1891, about 29 years old, Comanche died of colic.

The officers of the 7th Cavalry, wanting to preserve the horse, asked Lewis Lindsay Dyche of the University of Kansas to mount the remains: skin and major bones. Comanche is currently on display in a humidity controlled glass case at the University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, Dyche Hall, Lawrence, Kansas.



A poker hand consisting of a pair of aces and a pair of eights. Traditionally, Wild Bill Hickok was holding this hand when he was shot dead by Jack McCall. Some sources dispute the hand, saying that it really contained two jacks, not aces and two eights.



Drawing your gun "border style" consisted of pulling your pistol, worn backward in the holster, by putting your arm across the front of your body. This fancy stuff was popular down around the Mexican border.



The legendary Gunfight at the O.K. Corral occurred at about 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, October 26, 1881, in a vacant lot (lot 2, in block 17) behind a corral, in Tombstone, Arizona Territory.   At that time, a corral was like a livery stable.  Some of the fight also took place on Fremont Street in front of the vacant lot.  About thirty shots were fired within thirty seconds.  During the battle, the three Earp Brothers: Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil, along with their friend, Doc Holliday fought against the McLaury Brothers: Frank and Tom, and their cowboy friend, Billy Clanton. 

The conflicts leading to the gunfight were complex.   Both sides were in opposition due to a variety of concerns: politics, business, as well as other ideological factors.  The Earps were viewed by their enemies as badge-toting bullies who ruthlessly enforced the business interests of the town, while the McLaurys, the Clantons and their cowboy friends were viewed by their enemies as cattle rustlers, thieves, and murderers. 

The instigating factor leading to the shootout was the arrest by Virgil Earp and later release of Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury for carrying firearms within the city limits.   After they were disarmed and released, the two men joined Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury, who had just arrived in town. The men gathered at the OK Corral.

Virgil Earp now decided to disarm Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury and recruited Wyatt, Morgan and Doc Holliday to help him in this dangerous task.  Sheriff John Behan was in town and when he heard what was happening he raced to Fremont Street and urged Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury to hand over their guns to him.  They replied: "Not unless you first disarm the Earps".

Behan now headed towards the advancing group of men. He pleaded for Virgil Earp not to get involved in a shoot-out but he was brushed aside as the four men carried on walking towards the OK Corral.  When they reached the four men, Virgil Earp said: "I want your guns". Billy Clanton responded by firing at Wyatt Earp. He missed and Morgan Earp successfully fired two bullets at Billy Clanton. Meanwhile Wyatt Earp fired at Frank McLaury. The bullet hit him in the stomach and he fell to the ground.   Ike Clanton and Tom McLaury were both unarmed and tried to run away. Clanton was successful but Doc Holliday shot McLaury in the back. Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury, although seriously wounded, continued to fire their guns and in the next couple of seconds Virgil Earp, Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday were all wounded. Wyatt Earp was unscathed and he managed to finish off Billy Clanton and Frank McLaury.

Sheriff John Behan arrested Virgil Earp, Wyatt Earp, Morgan Earp and Doc Holliday for the murder of Billy Clanton, Tom McLaury and Frank McLaury. However, after a 30 day trial Judge Wells Spicer, who was related to the Earps, decided that the defendants had been justified in their actions.

In the 1950s, this 30-second gunfight came to be known as the “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” after a movie title.  It has been the subject of many books and movies ever since. 



Other names for gunfighter included gunslinger, gunman, shootist, pistoleer.  Some believe the term "gunslinger" to be a more modern term.  We do know that Bat Masterson used the term "gunfighter" in the newspaper articles he wrote about the lawmen and outlaws he had known. 


The names were given to men in the American Old West who had gained a reputation as being dangerous with a gun.  Often "gunfighter" was applied to men who would hire out for contract killings.   But, a gunfighter could either be an outlaw or a lawman depending on the chore at hand.  Outlaws most often engaged in murder or robbery, while a sheriff or lone avenger faced or tracked down the outlaw and brought him to justice, either legally or by execution. 



The Pony Express, which brought faster mail service from the East to California, was the brainchild of William Hepburn Russell who was a partner in the West's largest wagon-freight operation called Russell, Majors and Waddell. When the Butterfield Overland Mail Operation (St. Louis to San Francisco, a 2,800 mile route that dipped south to El Paso) was suspended in 1861, Russell convinced his partners to develop a new and simpler route from a staging area in St. Joseph, Missouri to San Francisco, using express riders to cover the ground in half the time than the Butterfield route.

There was a $600,000 government contract at stake, so the partners took the bait and issued Russell the credit to establish his Pony Express. Then, out came the ads for young, skinny fearless riders, "Orphans preferred". Russell hired 80 such men from the hundreds of responses. The riders received a Bible, a pair of Colt revolver and $125 a month to ride at high speed through some of the roughest and most dangerous terrain known to man. One hundred ninety stations in 5 divisions were established, 40 to 100 miles apart depending on the terrain, complete with bunk beds and feeding facilities; relay stations were established every 10 to 20 miles with small shelters, horses and stables.

On April 3, 1860, the Pony Express was formally begun - a 2,000 mile trek from St. Joseph to San Francisco. The sender had to pay $5 per half-ounce plus the regular 10-cents in U.S. postage. The Pony Express lasted 19 months and became a very expensive operation for Russell and his partners. When the transcontinental telegraph reached California, the Pony Express was discontinued. But it had successfully carried 34,743 pieces of mail. Its most celebrated rider was William F. Cody.



Rodeo is supposed to come from a Spanish word "rodear" which means "to encircle" and of course the Rodeo grew out of normal cattle ranch activities. Even before there were Rodeos for spectators, cowboys got together to test each other in contests related to their ranch and cattle work. Probably the first Rodeo (which wasn't called that as yet) was supposed to be held in Pecos Texas probably to celebrate the 4th of July. The first exhibition to offer "prize money" was held in Prescott, in the Arizona Territory on the 4th of July, 1888.

The cowboy riding and roping events of Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show and other traveling shows became so popular that many western towns created annual Cowboy Tournaments (Round-ups and Frontier Days, etc) such as the Calgary Stampede started in 1912, and as Cheyenne Wyoming has done since 1897. The actual term "Rodeo" was first given to cowboy exhibitions in 1916 and the first indoor Rodeo was held at the Stockyards Coliseum in 1917 at Fort Worth, Texas.

Early Rodeos had Chuckwagon races, and Markmanship contests much like the format of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Shows, but in 1929 the Rodeo Association of America was formed in Salinas, California, and most of the events became standard as we know them today. Some of the great names in Rodeo are Enos "Yakima" Canutt, (later to become a Hollywood stunt man) Will Rogers of Oklahoma, bronco rider Casey Tibbs of South Dakota (who was the model for the statue outside of the Rodeo Hall of Fame) and bull rider Jim Shoulders of Henryetta, Oklahoma.



This famous designer of the "Trademark" western hat that bears his name, was born in Orange New Jersey on May 5, 1830. His "Stetson Hat" has defined the look of the cowboy for many years. Stetson came from a family of Hatters (people in the hat business) and went out west for the first time for health reasons.

However, in 1865 he opened a one-man hat factory in Philadelphia, but sales were poor so rather than just copy other hat styles, he started to design his own. He was forced to make another trip out west for health reasons, and wound up in Colorado. This led him to design a western hat, after he saw the distinctive hats worn out west. He then returned to Philadelphia and his plant began to manufacture "Cowboy Hats" the business grew and by 1906 was producing two million hats a year.

He was a philanthropist who gave a lot of money to Baptist Churches and causes. He died in DeLand, Florida on February 18, 1906, and by that time had taken such an interest in the DeLand Academy, in the form of buildings and money, that they changed the name of the institution to the John B. Stetson University.


Levi Strauss (1829-1902)

Levi Strauss was one of the best-known beneficiaries of California's gold rush economic boom. He was born in Bavaria and came to San Francisco in 1850, one of the thousands hoping to stike it rich.

He was trained as a tailor and planned to manufacture tents and wagon covers for the Forty-niners, but found no market for these items. So instead, he used the stout canvas he had brought with him to make very durable pants which miners found perfect for their line of work. He quickly began selling these "wonderful pants of Levi's" as fast as he could make them.

Strauss opened a factory at 98 Battery Street in San Francisco and began adding copper rivets at the stress points in his pants. He then switched from canvas to a heavy blue denim material called “genes” in France, which became "jeans" in America. The company Levi Strauss founded remains one of America's leading apparel manufacturers, and even today, the garment he created, still known as "levis", represents the lifestyle and spirit of the American West: egalitarian, utilitarian and independent.

Following his success in the clothing business, he branched out to serve as a director of an insurance company, a utility company, several banks, and in a variety of charitable organizations. He died in San Francisco in 1902.



These were Indian fighting militiamen who were established in a Texas area that was freed of Mexican rule. After Mexican President Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana overthrew the Constitution of 1824, the Rangers organized themselves into a broader band whose intent was to seek restoration of the Constitution. Thus, "The Texas Rangers" was formally organized into a force of three 56-men companies to be deployed on the Indian frontier to protect the Texas citizenry against Indians and Mexican raiders.

Some of the most prominent rangers included: Ben McCulloch, the Tennessee frontiersman and friend of Davy Crockett's, William A.A. "Big Foot" Wallace, John Coffee "Jack" Hays. It was Hays who helped the Rangers earn their reputation for brutality during the war, men with "uncouth costumes, bearded faces, lean and brawny forms, fierce wild eyes and swaggering manners...fit representatives of the outlaws which make up the population of the Lone Star State", according to Samuel Chamberlain.

After the Mexican War, the Rangers returned to patrol the new state of Texas, trying to end Comanche Indian raids. Captain John S. "Rip" Ford was the famous frontiersman who is credited with killing many Comanches. IN the Civil War and Reconstruction eras, the Rangers continued their pursuit of Indian raiders, outlaws, and cattle rustlers. They tracked the bandit John Wesley Hardin all to the way to Pensacola, Florida . The Texas Rangers were reorganized in 1935 as a branch of the Texas Department of Public Safety and remain active today as the oldest law enforcement agency in America.


Tombstone, Arizona
"The Town too Tough to Die"

Founded: 1879
Incorporated: February 1881

Tombstone has a very storied history, particularly with the infamous gunfight at the OK Corral between the Earps (Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil Earp) and the Clantons (Billy Clanton and Frank and Tom McLowery) in 1881.

The town began when a man named Edward Lawrence Schieffelin came to Camp Huachuca with soldiers and left to begin prospecting in the area, searching for a rich ore deposit.  With Apache Indians nearby threatening settlers and others, he was told he would more likely find his tombstone rather than silver.  When he filed his first claim in 1877, he named it “Tombstone”.  As word filtered out about the rich silver lodes in the area, the town was given Tombstone as its name (1879) and plans for the town were laid out .  Prospectors came a plenty as did the people who would service them: equipment suppliers, bankers, saloons and, of course, ladies of ill repute.  Mining boomed in Tombstone for a good seven years until rising underground water caused operations to cease.

The famous gunbattle at the OK Corral was an indication of the lawlessness and violence that took place in Tombstone in its heyday.   The slogan, "The Town too Tough to Die",  came about after the town survived the depression and the moving of its county seat to nearby Bisbee during the 1930's.

Historical Events of Tombstone, Arizona

1877, August 1
Prospector Edward Lawrence Schieffelin stakes his first mining claim in the area.  He names it Tombstone.

1878, Oct
Weekly stagecoach service between Tucson and Tombstone was begun.

1879, Mar 5
The townsite of Tombstone was plotted.

1879, Dec 1
The Earp Brothers came to town.

1879, December
Tombstone was incorporated. William A. Harwood, Esq. became the first mayor.

1880, Feb 22
U.S. Mail service begins in Tombstone on a daily basis.

1880, July 27
Wyatt Earp was appointed the Deputy Sheriff of Pima County at the age of 32 and the first railroad from Tombstone to Tucson was completed.

1880, Sept 9
The Grand Hotel opens.

1880, Oct 28
Virgil Earp was appointed temporary City Marshall. At the time, he was the Deputy U.S. Marshal.

1880, Nov 9
Wyatt Earp resigns the office of Pima County Deputy Sheriff

1881, June 22
Sixty-six businesses were destroyed in a fire that started when a barrel of whiskey exploded at the Arcade Saloon.

1881, Oct 26
The Gunfight at the OK Corral took place around 2:30pm after quite a bit of arguing and physical fighting between the participants. It lasted only about 30 seconds, but once it was over, Tom McLaury, Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton were dead. Morgan and Virgil Earp were wounded, Doc (John Henry Holliday) had a scratch and Wyatt was unhurt.

1881, Dec 29
Wyatt Earp appointed Deputy U.S. Marshal over the telegraph.

The Tombstone County Court House was built, containing the county jail and other county offices. The City Hall was also built during this time.

Tombstone founder, Ed Schieffelin sells his holdings to become a millionaire and moves to California.

1882, May 25
A Second fire destroys most of the business district. The fire was again started in a saloon, this time, the Tivoli.

Boothill cemetery full and officially closed to burials.

1892, July
The original Bird Cage Theater closes permanently. Other names of the theater have been the Elite and the Olympic.

County Seat was moved from Tombstone to Bisbee.

1962 Sept 30
Tombstone named a National Historical Landmark.



In 1852 Henry Wells and William Fargo opened an office in San Francisco to serve the Gold rush prospectors who needed to send their Gold east. Within 15 years of founding in San Francisco Wells, Fargo and Company had absorbed or driven every serious rival out of business and had become the most important mail deliverer, bank, express agency, and stagecoach company in the West. The name of Wells Fargo is well entrenched in Western history and was so well known that miners swore only "By God and Wells Fargo."

At one time they were so efficient in the mail business that they were charging only six cents for a letter, while the Post Office was charging 25 cents, and the Post Office demanded they stop undercutting their prices. In 1850 the two partners merged their businesses with an express company owned by John Butterfield, (who later on operated a stagecoach line) and the new company was called American Express.

The importance of Stagecoaches declined after the railroad linked up to the West, but Wells Fargo acquired railroad rights as it cut back its Stagecoach operations, and it lost its lucrative mail contract in 1895 when the Federal Government took over all mail delivery services. Henry Wells made one inspection trip to San Francisco to see the new operation in 1852, William Fargo never ventured west of the Mississippi.

At the peak of their operations Wells Fargo employed a large force of Police and Detectives and more or less stopped the robbing of its Stagecoaches, by capturing about 240 what were called "Road Agents" including the famous Black Bart.

The dark green strongboxes were a company symbol that was carried in 100's of Western movies. Wells served as president of the American Express Company for 18 years. He died in Glasgow Scotland, and Fargo became president of the American Express Company in 1868. Fargo was active in Buffalo New York politics, he was twice elected mayor.



The main competition for Winchester was the Spencer Rifle, until Oliver Winchester bought out the Spencer Company and then produced the famous Winchester '73 (model of 1873) rifle, arguably the most famous rifle of all time.

The rifle was developed by the famous John Moses Browning of Utah, who designed many rifles, shotguns, and pistols, including the 1911 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP) that was adopted by the U.S. Government in 1911. The original Winchester '73 was in 44-40 caliber, which meant that it was 44 caliber (actually .429 diameter) and carried 40 grains of black power.

As the 45-70 was a 45 caliber slug with 70 grains of black powder, but in a much heavier rifle. The interesting fact about the 44-40 caliber was that it was used in six-guns as well, therefore a cowboy could use the same ammunition for both his six-gun and his rifle.

In the longer barrel of the Winchester '73 the cartridge developed more power than out of the shorter barrel of the six-gun, and the much longer sight radius (the distance the front and rear sights are apart) on the rifle made "aiming" a lot easier with the Winchester rifle, over the six-gun, coupled with the fact it held more cartridges than the six-gun (which in reality was usually carried with an empty chamber under the hammer, which made it a five-shooter) the Winchester could be carried with its hammer down on a round in the chamber, and could be fired rapidly and at longer ranges than the pistol, made a few cowboys the equal of many hostile Indians.

The Winchester '73 was the first center-fire repeating rifle that was really successful. It became known as the "Gun that Won the West" and is the most common rifle seen in Cowboy movies, and carries on in use today in competitive Cowboy Shooting where only older style rifles are allowed.

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