The 'Wild West' refers to the period after the Civil War, encompassing the early 20th century.
There is much legend surrounding the men of those times, with American outlaws and lawmen sometimes being interchangeable. Below are the top ten wild west outlaws in American history.
Butch Cassidy - (Robert Leroy Parker) was a notorious robber in late 19th Century Read more about the Butch Cassidy >>
His real name was Robert LeRoy Parker, and he was the leader of a criminal gang known as ‘The Wild Bunch’. He chose Cassidy for his last name as a tribute to his old friend and mentor, Mike Cassidy, who taught him how to shoot.
He partook in criminal activity for more than a decade at the end of the 19th century, and became notorious for robbing trains and banks in the old American West. The pressure of pursuit by law enforcement agencies forced him to flee the country with his friend, Harry Longabaugh (popularly known as The Sundance Kid). The two fled first to Argentina and from their to Bolivia. It is believed that the two died in 1908 during a shootout with the police.
A member of Butch Cassidy’s ‘The Wild Bunch’ Gang, Harry Alonzo Longabaug got his moniker when he caught trying to steal a horse in Sundance, Wyoming. He formed the gang with Cassidy after he was released from prison in 1986. He was a train and bank robber and one of the leaders of the gang most famous for the longest string of successful robberies in history.
He was so infamous that several ‘Wanted Dead Or Alive’ posters were posted throughout the country, with rewards for as much as $30,000 for any information leading to his capture and that of his gang-mates.
However, the pressure of pursuit by law enforcement agencies forced him to flee the country with Cassidy; first to Argentina and from their to Bolivia, where they are believed to have been killed during a shootout with the police at the end of a long chase in November of 1908.
An infamous American criminal couple that traveled through Central United States during the Great Depression, they were known for robbing banks and small stores. They are believed to have killed at least nine police officers and several civilians. They were finally apprehended by the law after a criminal career of three years and killed, in May 1934 near Gibsland, Louisiana.
Born in a mixed household with a mulatto father and a mother of African and Indian origin, his real name was Crawford Goldsby. He, along with his gang, terrorized the Indian Territory (a strip of land set aside by the Government for Native Indians’ reallocation) for over two years.
In January 1895, he was finally captured and taken to Fort Smith to await trial. In July 1895 he attempted to escape and failed.The second trial lasted three days, resulting in a guilty verdict. He was hanged on March 17th, 1896.
A notorious Mexican-American murderer, he killed an estimated 32 people in Colorado territory during the summer of 1863, and is widely believed to be the first serial killer in America. Hailing from Vera Cruz, Mexico, he had witnessed the gruesome killings of six of his family members during the Mexican-American war.
After moving to America with his brother Vivian and some cousins, he claimed that the land grant given to them by the government was not being honored; blaming the increasing number of white settlers squatting in their property with impunity.
Enraged at not having his needs met, Felipe sent a letter to Territorial Governor Evans, stating his intention to murder 600 ‘Gringos’ (foreigners) if they were not immediately granted property in Conejos County.
Aided by his brother, he quickly began his murder spree in the thinly populated area. He was forced to flee after law enforcement agencies began tracking him down. His hiding place was found out by legendary tracker Tom Tobin, who shot and then beheaded him after a brief gunfight.
The epitome of the Old West, Brown was an American gunman who played the roles of both lawman and outlaw during one lifetime. Brown became a part of Billy The Kid’s gang known as ‘The Regulators’. As a part of the gang, he later partook in the Lincoln County War.
They fled a year later. He found himself in Kansas, where he soon became Marshal and was an active lawman for three terms. In 1884, he attempted to rob Medicine Valley Bank in Kansas, but the attempt failed and he was imprisoned. Realizing that a lynch mob had gathered outside the prison and lynching was imminent, he tried to escape barrel past but was shot at point blank range.
A gunman, rustler and outlaw cowboy in Arizona during the 1880s, he had a number of armed conflicts and was one of the main accused named in the Morgan Earp assassination. He was killed in a shootout with the Earp posse, on March 24, 1982.
An American Confederate guerrilla during the Civil War, he later became an outlaw leader with the James-Younger Gang. His three younger brothers were also a part of the gang. As an outlaw, Younger robbed trains and stagecoaches. In September 1986, the James-Younger Gang tried to rob a bank in Minnesota but the robbery went awry. The James brothers fled but the Youngers were captured. They pleaded guilty and were sentenced to life in prison.
An American outlaw, bank and train robber, he was one of the leaders of the James-Younger Gang. After the war, he gained national fame as a notorious robber along with his brother Frank. The James brothers were most active in their own Gang, until a bank robbery went awry and got most of their members killed or captured.
Increasing pressure from law enforcement caused them to become overly cautious, even though they still continued their life of crime. Jesse was shot and killed by Robert Ford who was a new recruit and hoped to collect the reward on Jesse’s head.
A prominent leader and medicine man from the Bedonkohe band of the Apache tribe, he joined with members of three other Apache tribes to resist the US and Mexican military campaigns and the invasion of his people’s land by white settlers following the end of the war with Mexico in 1848.
During his final period of conflict, he surrendered three times and accepted life on the Apache reservations, which were trying to the free-moving Apache people. He surrendered for the last time in 1885, and was treated as a prisoner of war by General Miles.
As a prisoner, he was exhibited to Non-Natives to showcase the superiority of the Americans. He died at Fort Sill hospital in 1909, as a prisoner of war, and is buried at the Fort Sill Indian Agency Cemetery surrounded by the graves of relatives and other Apache prisoners of war.