Who and what were the real tamers of the Old West? Can we find the answer by studying the dates and events that are historically recorded, or by studying tombstones and graves from the late 1800s?
History and tombstones document who lived and died and when. They can and do give us a bunch of information such as dates of battles, killings, deaths, and they tell us about the good and the bad, but they can’t and don’t always tell us who is responsible for taming the Old west, and how.
During the taming, times were hard, and there were good men and bad men. Sadly enough, there were more were bad than good, but both were as hard as nails. They had to be to in order to live during the most violent times in American frontier history.
Should the taming credit go to the good guys such as Hickok, the Earp’s, the Masterson’s, Tillman, and Mossman? Or, to the outlaws themselves who killed and ravaged and because they did this, the good guy came forth? Was bringing justice in and ending the cruel deeds of the outlaws what really tamed the Old West?
Here is a partial list of a few individuals who lived during that era and who played a part, one way or another, of domesticating our country.
- Manuel Garcia, a famed outlaw. It was said by many that he was a “son of Satan, too evil to walk upon the earth.” He was a member of one of the Old West’s most notorious outlaw gangs that terrorized the territory of California for years. His unholy lust for blood was often satisfied because he was willing to take on the task of killing others when other members of the villainous Joaquin Murrietta gang refused to do so. Garcia was a true terrorist of the Old West, living during a time when gunfighters rule He was allegedly killed by Captain Harry Love’s troopers on July 25, 1853. Here we have a villain (Manual Garcia) and a hero (Captain Harry Love), and I’m sure their stories are a part of what tamed the Old West.
- Dallas Stoudenmire – a Confederate soldier, professional gunman, and lawman. Around 1880, he was the sixth man in eight months to hold the office of town marshal in El Paso, Texas. The town had its hands full trying to deal with gamblers, gunslingers, vagabonds, burglars, thieves, murderers, prostitutes, and refuges from Mexico. He tamed the town and then turned on the very town that hired him. He killed four men in five seconds. Was Stoudenmire a good guy or a bad guy? He was both and he used his gun to settle arguments either way. He was responsible for both the taming the Old West and for making it so wild.
- The many renegades, names unknown, who lay in wait to prey on the peaceful wagon trains!
- Lawmen and villains shooting it out.
- Rugged individuals, civilians and soldiers, fighting Indians.
- Women who cooked meals, tended to the children, and did innumerable tasks day in and day out for their families to keep them alive during the many hardships that had to be endured in trying to settle a new country.
- Children who were born during that time, and who survived the many hardships to play a part in shaping our nation.
The lawmen and villains shooting it out are remembered. But there are those who are little remembered and long forgotten to the pages of western history because they are overshadowed by the gunmen and outlaws. The forgotten ones are the people who tried to live on the frontier, build homes, and grow food. They wanted to make the Old West a safe place to live and raise their families. I think these folks were true heroes and actually the ones responsible for the taming of the Old West. They truly were the toughest of them all.