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Wild West Photos Showing What Life Was Really Like

The Wild West

Television and the movies make the Wild West seem like an exciting time to be alive. In reality, living in the Frontier during the 19th century was much more challenging than you may think. Here are some Wild West photos showing what life was really like.

Goldie Griffith

Goldie Griffith was part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. She was known for her abilities as a boxer and a wrestler. Also, she rode broncos and performed various acts that were typically performed by men. She even got married in Madison Square Garden. On a bet, she rode her horse from San Francisco to New York, which is over 3,000 miles. She was an amazing woman.

Texas Jack Vermillion

Texas Jack Vermillion was known as just, Texas Jack. He was a legendary gunfighter in the old West, and he often worked with the Earps during their vendetta rides where they searched for outlawed cowboys. He was on plenty of wanted posters for shooting a man during an argument about their card game.

Jesse James

Jessie James is one of the most notorious outlaws from the Wild West. He was a guerrilla fighter, the leader of a gang, a bank robber, a train robber, and a murderer. He and his brother formed the James-Younger Gang and were Confederate bushwhackers during the Civil War. And he was a real-life outlaw with a very long rap sheet.

Olive Oatman

Olive was traveling with her family through Arizona when she was 14-years-old. A group of Native Americans attacked her family, and she and her sister were sold to the Mohave people. While in captivity, her sister died of starvation. She has a blue face tattoo, which she believed to be a sign of slavery in the Mohave tribe. According to Mohave tradition, all members of the tribe receive face tattoos.

Santiago “Jimmy” McKinn

Santiago “Jimmy” McKinn lived with his family in the Lower Mimbres Valley, New Mexico when he was 11 or 12-years-old. He was out with his brother, Martin, one day when a group of Chiricahua Apache, who were led by Geronimo. The people killed Martin, and they abducted Santiago. When General George Crook rescued the boy, but he didn’t want to go back with his family. He wanted to stay with the Apache. Over time, they took to their language and their lifestyle.

Annie Oakley

Annie is one of the most famous names in the Wild West. She was born Phoebe Ann Mosey, and rose to fame when she was 15-years-old, thanks to her sharpshooting skills. When she was 8, she was trapping, shooting, and hunting to support her family after her father died. After she had made a name for herself, she married fellow marksman and former rival, Frank E. Butler. When the two joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, she became an international star.

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show

Since we have talked about Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show a few times so far, it is worth mentioning the show. Buffalo Bill earned a reputation in the Old West of being the most influential showmen ever. He was also a bison hunter and a scout. The show traveled, and it romanticized life in the Amerian Frontier. Variety acts were performed at the shows, which included a reenactment of the incident of Warbonnet Creek. They also had a parade and many circus acts.

Rose Dunn

Rose Dunn, aka Rose of the Cimarron, was romantically involved with an outlaw, George “Bittercreek” Newcomb when she was 15. His gang adored her for her calm demeanor and good looks. After a shootout with the US Marshals, the gang went into hiding. Later, Newcomb and another member of the gang showed up to visit Rose, and her brothers shot them on site. The legend says that Rose set him up to collect the $5,000 bounty that was on his head because he was wanted dead or alive.


Cowboys worked hard on the ranch and needed a way to unwind. This is why there were so many saloons back in the Wild West. This is a photo of a saloon in Old Tasacosa, Northern Texas. It was taken in 1907. Some Wild West saloons were open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These places were also popular haunts for soldiers, gold digger, travelers, and lawyers.

Charging Thunder

Charging Thunder was one of several Native Americans who participated in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. He was a Lakota chief, and he joined the crew when he was 26-years-old. While working with the crew, he married one of the American horse trainers. When the show ended, Charging Thunder became a British citizen and started working in Manchester’s Belle Vue Circus as an elephant trainer. After the circus, he changed his name to George Edward Williams, and he found a factory job.

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