Wild West

views updated May 09 2018

697. Wild West

  1. Apache North American Indians of Southwest who fought against frontiersmen. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 123]
  2. Arapaho North American Plains Indians living along the Platte and Arkansas rivers. [Am. Hist.: EB, I: 477478]
  3. Bass, Sam (18511878) desperado whose career inspired ballads. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 244]
  4. Bean, Judge Roy (c. 18251903) legendary frontier judge who ruled by one law book and a six-shooter. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 252]
  5. Big Valley, The portraying cattle-owning aristocrats of the Wild West. [TV: Terrace, I, 99100]
  6. Billy the Kid (William H. Bonney, 18591881) Brooklyn-born gunman of the Wild West. [Am. Hist.: Worth, 27]
  7. Bonanza saga of the Cartwright family. [TV: Terrace, I, 111112]
  8. Boom Town originally, a western town that prospered suddenly, usually because of gold mines nearby. [Am. Hist.: Misc.]
  9. boot hill typical graveyard of gunfighters and their victims. [Am. Folklore: Misc.]
  10. Bowie knife throwing weapon invented by James or Rezin Bowie, frontiersmen in Texas. [Am. Folklore: EB, II: 207]
  11. Broken Arrow a series depicting Indianwhite man exploits. [TV: Terrace, I, 122]
  12. Calamity Jane (Martha Jane Canary Burke, c. 18521903) extraordinary markswoman and pony express rider. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 418]
  13. California Trail route used by pioneers, extending from Wyoming to Sacramento. [Am. Hist.: WB, 21: 440f]
  14. Carson, Kit (Christopher) (18091868) frontiersman, guide, and Indian fighter in the West and Southwest. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 466]
  15. Cheyenne North American Indians who made up part of the Wild West scene. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 562]
  16. Cheyenne cowboy of the strong, silent type. [TV: Terrace, I, 153154]
  17. Chisholm Trail route used by traders and drovers bringing cattle from Texas to Kansas. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 543]
  18. circuit rider frontier Methodist preacher who served appointments (services) in cabins, schoolhouses, and even taverns. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 561]
  19. Cochise (c. 18151874) Apache Indian chief who led the fight against white men in the Southwest. [Am. Hist: NCE, 589]
  20. Cody, Buffalo Bill (18461917) ex-Army scout who joined and led a famous Wild West show. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 390]
  21. Colt .45 six-shot revolver invented by Samuel Colt and used throughout the West. [Am. Hist.: WB, 4: 684685]
  22. Comanche North American Indian tribe; often figured in Wild West stories. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 607]
  23. Comstock Lode richest silver deposit in U.S.; famous during frontier days. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 418]
  24. Conestoga wagon horse-drawn freight wagon; originated in the Conestoga Creek region in Pennsylvania. [Am. Hist.: EB, III: 72]
  25. Crazy Horse (18421877) Indian chief who led Sioux against the white men in the northern plains. [Am. Hist.: EB, III: 225226]
  26. Custers Last Stand U.S. troops led by Col. Custer are massacred by the Indians at Little Big Horn, Montana (1877). [Am. Hist.: NCE, 701]
  27. Deadwood Gulch Wild West city in South Dakota where graves of Hickok and Annie Oakley are located. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 729]
  28. Death Valley Days vignettes depicting frontier life. [TV: Terrace, I, 195]
  29. Dillon, Matt frontier marshal of Dodge City. [TV: Gun-smoke in Terrace, I, 331]
  30. Dodge City onetime rowdy cowboy town under supervision of Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 776]
  31. Earp, Wyatt (18481929) U.S. cowboy, lawman, and gunfighter. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 819]
  32. Geronimo (18291909) renegade Indian of the Wild West. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 1076]
  33. ghost town town left vacant after gold strike; common during frontier days. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 1080]
  34. Gunsmoke Wild West television epic with Dodge City setting. [TV: Terrace, I, 331332]
  35. Hickok, Wild Bill (18371876) famous marshal of the West. [Am. Hist.: Hart, 371]
  36. High Noon western film in which time is of the essence. [Am. Cinema: Griffith, 396397]
  37. Holliday, Doc (fl. late 19th century) outlaw who helped Wyatt Earp fight the Clanton gang at O.K. Corral. [Am. Hist.: Misc.]
  38. Home on the Range popular song about the West where the buffalo roam and the deer and the antelope play. [Am. Culture: Misc.]
  39. Indian Territory area set aside for the Indians by the U.S. government. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 1331]
  40. James, Jesse (18471882) American outlaw of the Wild West. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 1395]
  41. Lone Ranger, The masked hero of the Wild West. [TV: Terrace, II, 3435; Radio: Buxton, 143144]
  42. O.K. Corral scene of famous gunfight between Wyatt Earp and the Clanton gang (1881). [Am. Hist.: WB, 6: 9]
  43. Oakley, Annie (18601926) sharpshooter; major attraction of Buffalo Bills show. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 1982]
  44. Oh, Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie popular song about life in the West. [Am. Culture: Misc.]
  45. Oregon Trail wagon-train route used by pioneers, extending from Missouri to the Oregon Territory. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 2016]
  46. Paladin archetypal gunman who leaves a calling card. [TV: Have Gun, Will Travel in Terrace, I, 341]
  47. Pecos Bill giant folk hero famed for cowboy exploits. [Am. Lit.: Hart, 643]
  48. Pony Express relay mail service during frontier days. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 2190]
  49. prairie schooner horse-drawn wagon used by pioneers; its white canvas top resembled a schooner sailing on the prairie. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 2209]
  50. Rawhide series depicting cowboys as cattle-punchers along the Santa Fe trail. [TV: Terrace, II, 235]
  51. Ringo, Johnny (fl. late 19th century) notorious outlaw who fought many gun battles in the Southwest. [Am. Hist.: Misc.]
  52. Santa Fe Trail wagon-train route extending from Independence, Missouri to Santa Fe, New Mexico. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 2421]
  53. Shane a classic, serious western film about a pioneer family protected by a mysterious stranger. [Am. Cinema: Halliwell, 651]
  54. Sioux confederation of North American Indian tribes; last battle fought at Wounded Knee. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 2527]
  55. Sitting Bull (18311890) Indian chief who united the Sioux tribes against the white men. [Am. Hist.: EB, IX: 243244]
  56. Slade the Terrible stagecoach agent and desperado known for shooting his enemies dead at the drop of a hat. [Am. Lit.: Mark Twain Roughing It in Magill I, 858]
  57. Texas Rangers established in 1835, a mounted fighting force to maintain law and order in the West. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 2723]
  58. Tombstone Arizona town known for its outlaws, prospectors, and gun battles (1800s). [Am. Hist.: EB, X: 36]
  59. Wells Fargo company that handled express service to western states; often robbed. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 2953]
  60. Winchester 73 repeating rifle manufactured by Oliver Winches-ter and widely used by the settlers of the West. [Am. Hist.: EB, X: 699]

Wild West

views updated May 14 2018

Wild West

The Wild West was the frontier areas west of the Mississippi River during the nineteenth century, especially after 1840. According to American myths and folktales, the Wild West was a place where law-abiding citizens faced constant threats from gun-slinging outlaws and Native Americans. Myths of the Wild West are rooted in true stories, but exaggerate the danger that westerners faced.

People who settled on the frontier owned guns and used them regularly for hunting and for protection. Settlers often built houses and hunted on land inhabited by Native Americans, and it led to disputes and sometimes violence. The federal government tried to move entire tribes of Indians away from white settlers and it led to wars.

The United States entered a period of great expansion in the 1840s. Settlers raced to California after gold was discovered there in 1848. The acquisition of land after the United States victory in the Mexican-American War (1846–48) opened the southwest to development. American settlements attracted not only settlers, but criminal opportunists as well.

Crime was common in the Wild West. Frontier towns often did not have any law enforcement, so banks, stagecoaches, and trainswere easy targets for robbers. Railroads sometimes hired private armies to take land for theirtracks from settlers, which occasionally led to disputes. Gunfights erupted over land disputes between cattlemen and sheepherders.

Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show

William F. Cody (1847–1917) was a former army scout and hunter who claimed to have killed over four thousand buffalo in an eight-month period. His nickname was Buffalo Bill.

In 1882 Cody organized a frontier celebration in North Platte, Nebraska . The celebration was such a success that Cody and Dr. D. W. Carver organized a traveling show in 1883 called the Wild West, Rocky Mountain, and Prairie Expedition. It became known as Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, and it traveled around the United States and Europe for over thirty years until 1916. The show featured cowboys and Indians performing stunts and battles, helping to form the American myth about what life was like in the Wild West.

There was some law and order in the Wild West. Law enforcement officers such as Wild Bill Hickok (1837–1876) and Wyatt Earp (1848–1929) tried to catch famous criminals such as Billy the Kid (c. 1859–1881) and Jesse James (1847–1882). When law enforcement was ineffective, citizens formed groups of volunteers to prevent and punish crime. In San Francisco in the 1850s, for example, the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance apprehended many accused criminals and executed some of them.

Wild West

views updated Jun 11 2018

Wild West the western U.S. in a time of lawlessness in its early history. The Wild West was the last of a succession of frontiers formed as settlers moved gradually further west. The frontier was officially declared closed in 1890.