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Old West

1859 – Billy the Kid, American criminal, born (alternative date)

On This Day – 23 November 1859

Henry McCarty (17 Sept 1859 – 14 July 1881), better known under the pseudonyms of Billy the Kid and William H. Bonney, was a 19th-century gunman who participated in the Lincoln County War and became a frontier outlaw in the American Old West. Continue reading “1859 – Billy the Kid, American criminal, born (alternative date)”

1882 – Jesse James is killed by Robert Ford

3 April

Jesse Woodson James (5 September 1847 – 3 April 1882) was an American outlaw, guerilla, gang leader, bank robber, train robber, and murderer from the state of Missouri and the most famous member of the James-Younger Gang. Jesse and his brother Frank James were Confederate guerrillas or Bushwhackers during the Civil War. They were accused of participating in atrocities committed against Union soldiers, including the Centralia Massacre. After the war, as members of various gangs of outlaws, they robbed banks, stagecoaches, and trains. The James brothers were most active as members of their own gang from about 1866 until 1876, when as a result of their attempted robbery of a bank in Northfield, Minnesota, several members of the gang were captured or killed. They continued in crime for several years, recruiting new members, but were under increasing pressure from law enforcement. Continue reading “1882 – Jesse James is killed by Robert Ford”

1847 – Sam Colt’s first major commercial revolver – Colt Walker

The Colt Walker was a single-action revolver with a revolving cylinder holding six charges of black powder behind six bullets (typically .44 caliber lead balls). It was designed in 1847 as a collaboration between Captain Samuel Hamilton Walker and American firearms inventor Samuel Colt. Continue reading “1847 – Sam Colt’s first major commercial revolver – Colt Walker”

1847 – Samuel Colt sells his first revolver pistol to the United States government

4 January

Samuel Colt (19 July, 1814 – 10 January, 1862) was an American inventor and industrialist from Hartford, Connecticut. He founded Colt’s Patent Fire-Arms Manufacturing Company (today, Colt’s Manufacturing Company), and made the mass production of the revolver commercially viable. Continue reading “1847 – Samuel Colt sells his first revolver pistol to the United States government”

1853 – Gadsden Purchase: The United States buys land from Mexico

30 December

The Gadsden Purchase is a 29,640-square-mile (76,800 km2) region of present-day southern Arizona and south western New Mexico that was purchased by the United States in a treaty signed on 30 December, 1853 by James Gadsden who was the American ambassador to Mexico at that time. It was then ratified, with changes, by the U.S. Senate on 25 April, 1854, and signed by 14th President Franklin Pierce, with final approval action taken by Mexico’s government and their General Congress or Congress of the Union on 8 June, 1854. The purchase was the last territorial acquisition in the contiguous United States to add a large area to the country. Continue reading “1853 – Gadsden Purchase: The United States buys land from Mexico”

1890 – Hunkpapa Lakota leader Sitting Bull is killed

15 December

Sitting Bull (c. 1831 – December 15, 1890) was a Hunkpapa Lakota holy man who led his people as a tribal chief during years of resistance to United States government policies. He was killed by Indian agency police on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation during an attempt to arrest him, at a time when authorities feared that he would join the Ghost Dance movement. Continue reading “1890 – Hunkpapa Lakota leader Sitting Bull is killed”

1848 – Native American genocide

A major genocide was conducted on Native Americans who resided in the Great Basin (California), a watershed which had supported the tribes for more than 14,000 years. Continue reading “1848 – Native American genocide”

1848 – California Gold Rush

4 December

The California Gold Rush (1848–1855) was a period in American history which began on 24 Jan 1848, when gold was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, California. The news of gold brought—mostly by sailing ships and covered wagons—some 300,000 gold-seekers (called “forty-niners”, as in “1849”) to California. Continue reading “1848 – California Gold Rush”

1861 – Tom Horn is born

Thomas “Tom” Horn, Jr. (21 Nov, 1860 – 20 Nov, 1903) was an American Old West scout, who carried out varied roles as hired gunman, Pinkerton, range detective, cowboy, and soldier. Continue reading “1861 – Tom Horn is born”

1876 – Northfield Minnesota

7 September – On this day

A bold daytime robbery on the Northfield Minnesota bank, by the James-Younger gang suddenly finds itself surrounded by armed angry townspeople and is nearly wiped out. Continue reading “1876 – Northfield Minnesota”

1836 – Texas elects a president

5 September – On this day

Sam Houston is elected as president of the Republic of Texas, which earned its independence from Mexico in a successful military rebellion. Continue reading “1836 – Texas elects a president”

1886 – Geronimo surrenders

4 September – On this day

Apache chief Geronimo surrenders to U.S. government troops, after a long struggle trying to defend his homeland. Continue reading “1886 – Geronimo surrenders”

1855 – US Army avenges a ‘massacre’ with a massacre

3 September – On this day

The Battle of Ash Hollow, also known as the Battle of Blue Water Creek, was an engagement of the First Sioux War, fought between United States Army soldiers under Brigadier General William S. Harney and a band of the Brulé Lakota along the Platte River in present-day Garden County, Nebraska.

The battle, which the American force won while killing Brulé women and children as well as warriors, was a punitive expedition for the so-called “Grattan Massacre” in August 1854 and for raids by Lakota in its wake during the year following. Continue reading “1855 – US Army avenges a ‘massacre’ with a massacre”

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