Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Homicides, Old West Cow Towns, And Today

By Terry McGahey
Associate Writer/ Old West Historian

I get a kick out of how the far left enjoys comparing the murder rates in this modern age to the lawlessness of the "Wild West".

I can't tell you how many times I have heard the term "cowboy" used for someone who may go beyond the normal, or go on his own, in a manner which may be considered out of the box or too straight forward.

We can thank Hollywood for the Western movies which overestimated the killings from that time period and over zealous leftist politicians who love to use the term "having the wild west mentality" to do their best to scare folks into allowing them to pass more gun control laws because they fear the armed public.

Reality is much different than the myths which we have been led to believe about the "Wild West".

A study done by Robert Dykstra, called "The Legends of the Wild, Wild West", proved that the Wild West era was more civilized, more peaceful and a safer place and time period to live in than what it is now in our civilized modern society.

Over a fifteen year period, from 1870 to 1885, there were only forty five homicides reported which averaged only one and a half murders per cattle season in all five Kansas cow towns combined. Again, that's a fifteen year period!

These towns were Abilene, Ellsworth, Wichita, Dodge City and Caldwell. One of the most interesting statistics is that the largest number of murder rates took place with the advent of the officers of the law in those towns who were supposedly hired to prevent killings. So why did the numbers increase after that?
Only Ellsworth and Dodge City ever reached a peak of five killings in one year.

In reality, the cowboys who hit these towns after maybe three months on the trail were mostly looking for a bath, new clothes, boots, a new hat and maybe a "soiled dove" to spend some time with.

Sure, many of them got rowdy but for the most part they were the one's who did turn in their weapons to the designated depositories. They didn't go around shooting each other up as the movies and such would have us believe.

Remember, the term "cowboy" came from the reality that many of these cowhands were in their early to mid twenties or even teenagers for heaven's sake. Yes, they grew up faster than our teenagers today because they had to. But many were still teens with teenage mind sets, and had playful tendencies no different than the teens today. Many of these kids only carried guns to look more as adults.

Also, I would like you to think about this. There was no federal government intrusion out West during that time period and even though some of the towns initiated a non-carrying of weapons ordinance many towns folks carried concealed weapons anyway. That's no different than many people still do today, even in places like the gun hating area of Southern California where it is illegal to do so for any reason -- unless of course you are wealthy or well connected enough to receive a concealed weapons permit.

People are people, no different today than back in the 1800s. The major difference between then and now is the time itself and the brainwashing against firearms, which has been promoted by our own government officials as well as our school systems and colleges in these -- our supposed civilized times.

If you truly believe that man is civilized, take most people, stick them up in the Rocky Mountains for four weeks. If they survive, you will not see a civilized being at that point. We are only so called civilized because of society.

The next time you hear some news correspondent or progressive politician mention how we live with an "Old West mentality" because of a shooting, think about this: If we really did have the "Old West mentality", we would actually be living in a more polite, kinder and safer environment over all than we do now.

The numbers don't lie.


  1. Outstanding, well written, eloquently stated.... and above all else, accurately true

  2. I would be interested in the crime rate during the Wild West in cities like Chicago or San Franciso?

  3. I believe that we are living in a newer version of the Wild West. The president is the villain, the gun owners are the heroes, and Washington D.C. is the new Abilene. And the war between Russia and Ukraine is like a range war in a Hollywood Western. Things are getting out of hand. But if you take a look at the 1800s, people back then had it much worse than we do now. Shootings, stabbings, robbery, and yes, even rape. The Old West was a place full of violence. And if you were arriving from back East, you either stuck it out or you went back home. Having a .45 on your hip was almost never allowed but that didn't stop rowdy cowboys from causing trouble. Gunfights in the "real" Old West as opposed to the "reel" Old West happened from ambush. There was a pretty good chance that you would get shot in the back on your way home from the Long Branch. And if that didn't kill ya, then a fatal stab wound from a pick-pocket would definitely do the trick. Or you could be poisoned by your own lover.. Ah, yes. Endless possibilities. If you weren't attacked by hostile Native Americans or robbed by Mexican bandidos, you were pretty much okay. But if you went into battle with an empty gun or no gun at all, you were pretty much screwed. But that's how it usually was in the Old West. And sadly, it's still like that today. I just hope for the day when we have flying cars and our toys will be made in America once again and that we can once again buy guns in the mail. Until then, we're stuck with Oh No Joe Biden and Come On Now Harris. But that's another topic for another time. Thanks for the article, Tom.


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