The Famous Wild West Outlaws, Cowboys & Notorious Men
The Notorious Men of the Wild West

The Notorious Men of the Wild West

Khalid Elhassan - December 4, 2019

The Notorious Men of the Wild West
Clay Allison. True West Magazine

3. An Unlikely End

The lynched man’s family vowed revenge on Clay Allison, but when an uncle of the victim cornered Allison, the latter proved quicker on the draw and shot him dead. Allison was arrested for murder, but charges were dropped after an inquiry determined that he had acted in self-defense.

In 1876, a constable in Las Animas, Colorado, informed Allison that it was illegal to carry guns within the town limits. The result was a gunfight that left the constable dead. Allison was charged with manslaughter, but charges were dropped because the constable had fired first. Surprisingly, for a man so violent, Allison died in a routine accident in 1887 when he fell off a wagon, and its wheel rolled over and snapped his neck.

The Notorious Men of the Wild West
Frank Stilwell. Wikimedia

2. The Psychopath

In 1877, a cook in Arizona served Frank Stilwell (1856 – 188) tea instead of coffee, so Stilwell shot him dead. In 1879, he staked a claim and worked a mine in Mojave, Arizona, and got into an argument with another miner over claim-jumping. Stilwell ended the argument by grabbing a rock and smashing his rival’s face until he was dead. He was arrested for murder, but charges were dropped for lack of evidence.

In 1881, Stilwell was hired as a Cochise County sheriff’s deputy, but was canned for “accounting irregularities”. Soon thereafter, he robbed a stagecoach near Tombstone, Arizona, and was tracked down and arrested by lawmen Wyatt and Virgil Earp. Stilwell produced alibi witnesses, and the charges were dropped for lack of evidence. The Earps, in their capacity as US Marshals, then charged Stillwell with the federal crime of interference with a mail carrier. It created a perception that Stillwell was being persecuted, and led soon thereafter to the assassination of Wyatt’s brother, Morgan Earp.

The Notorious Men of the Wild West
Statue in the Tucson Depot, at the spot where Wyatt Earp, in the company of Doc Holliday, killed Frank Stilwell. Wikimedia

1. Wyatt Earp’s Vengeance

Stillwell was seen fleeing the scene of Morgan Earp’s shooting, and Wyatt Earp formed a posse to hunt the suspects. Soon thereafter, Wyattlearned that Stillwell planned to murder his other brother, Virgil, in Tucson when the train carrying him and Morgan’s coffin to California stopped there. Wyatt formed an escort to accompany Virgil, and on March 20th, 1882, spotted Stillwell and two associates waiting in ambush near Tucson’s train station.

Stillwell and his friends ran for their lives when they spotted Wyatt, but Stillwell stumbled. By the time he got back on his feet, Wyatt Earp was upon him. “I ran straight for Stilwell,” he later recounted. “It was he who killed my brother. What a coward he was. He couldn’t shoot when I came near him. He stood there helpless and trembling for his life. As I rushed upon him he put out his hands and clutched at my shotgun. I let go both barrels, and he tumbled down dead and mangled at my feet.


Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

History Extra – How wild was the Wild West?

Charles C. Chaney Index Page – John King Fisher: Texas Gunslinger, Outlaw, and Lawman

Daily Beast – The Secret Story of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s Last Tango

Encyclopedia Britannica – Butch Cassidy

Historic Nebraska – Sam Bass and the Big Springs Robbery

History Junkie – Charlie Bowdre Facts

History Net – Clay Allison: Good Natured Holy Terror

Indiana Genealogy Trail – Jackson County Indiana: The Legend of the Reno Gang

Legends of America – New Mexico Bad Boy Clay Allison

Legends of America – James Miller, Hired Killer of the Old West

Legends of America – Reno Gang & the 1st Big Train Robbery

National Geographic History Magazine, January 17th, 2019 – Jesse James: Rise of an American Outlaw

Northfield Historical Society – The Bank Raid

Spartacus Educational – Frank Reno

Texas State Historical Association – Fisher, John King

Texas State Historical Association – Hardin, John Wesley

True West Magazine, May 2nd, 2008 – Brazen Bill Brazelton Shot to Blazes

True West Magazine, January, 2016 – Charlie Bowdre’s Wardrobe Malfunction

Wikipedia – Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch

Wikipedia – Frank Stilwell

Wikipedia – Union Pacific Big Springs Robbery

Wild West Org – Wild West Outlaws and Lawmen

The Grunge – The Crazy Real-Life Story of John Wesley Hardin

History Net – Deacon Jim Miller: Killing in Deacon’s Clothing

History Collection – 5 Deadly Gunfighters of the Old West

Texas Hill Country – Man in the Long Black Coat: Jim Miller, the Old West’s Deadliest Psycho

History Collection – America’s First Serial Killers and Many More Deadly Historic Figures

True West Magazine – Did John Miller Was Killed Pat Garrett?

The Ada News – 1909: Four Men Lynched, No One Convicted

The Oklahoman – Ada Citizens Recall Tales of Hangings

Daily Telegraph – Reno Gang’s Great Train Robbery of 1868

History Collection – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s Escapades, and Other Lesser-Known Historic Events